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Hyundai Motor Group and Baidu Fortify Partnership to Expedite Next Generation Connected Car Era

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Hyundai Motor Group and Baidu Fortify Partnership to Expedite Next Generation Connected Car Era

– Hyundai and Baidu strengthen cooperation for connected car technologies
– Partnership to co-develop connected car service that provides wide range of in-car content based on big data, maps, AI, and portal services
– Hyundai Motor Group vehicles embedded with Xiaodu In-Car OS to be developed for volume production
– Partnership to advance in-vehicle voice recognition services based on Baidu’s natural language processing and Hyundai’s noise cancellation technologies
– Joint efforts to speed up launch of intelligent vehicle-to-home services continue

Hyundai Motor Group (Hyundai) and Baidu today announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for Internet of Vehicles (IoV), signaling their commitment to strengthening cooperation on next-generation connected car technologies.

The newly-signed MOU will see the existing partnership — between the world’s fifth-largest auto-making group and the leading Chinese language Internet search provider — reinforced to accelerate development of disruptive innovations in vehicle connectivity.

As a first step on the partnership’s roadmap, Hyundai and Baidu will co-develop a connected car service that provides a wide range of in-car content — real-time traffic status and live information about the user’s end-destinations for example — based on big data, maps, artificial intelligence (AI) and portal services. Through such a service, Hyundai and Baidu expect to meet the growing demand for connectivity services among consumers in China and beyond.

Hyundai and Baidu will also collaborate on creating Hyundai Motor Group vehicle models embedded with Xiaodu In-Car OS for volume production. This plan aims to advance the application of AI in IoV through next-generation technologies and product innovation. Released at the Baidu Create 2018 AI developer conference earlier this month, Xiaodu In-Car OS is an AI-based IoV solution that is open platform, end-to-end and multi-mode. Currently, it consists of four components: dashboard, smart rearview mirror, infotainment and an in-vehicle robot.

Xiaodu In-Car OS was demonstrated at Baidu Create 2018 by a Kia Sportage. Its in-vehicle robot displays a wide range of emotions to interact with the driver and serves as a hub for seamless communication with the vehicle. The robot interactively responds to passengers’ spoken commands for various functions such as navigation, ventilation, media and door locks. In addition, Xiaodu includes a safety feature which warns drivers when it detects fatigue and careless driving.

Another key area of the Hyundai-Baidu cooperation will be voice recognition services based on Baidu’s natural language processing technology. Baidu’s leading voice recognition technology will be coupled with Hyundai’s proprietary noise cancellation technology, which filters out ambient background noises to enhance precision, enabling versatility for in-vehicle voice commands.

With a shared understanding that internet of things (IoT) is a centerpiece of connected mobility, Hyundai and Baidu have also agreed to continue efforts in speeding up the launch of intelligent vehicle-to-home services. The partnership’s ultimate goal is to secure an upper hand in the competitive IoT market.

“The convergence of the ICT and automotive industry is happening at an unprecedented rate, motivating us to develop and provide new possibilities for our customers,” said Kyowoong Choo, Director and Head of Infotainment Development Group at Hyundai Motor. “Through our partnership with Baidu, we will develop industry-leading connected-vehicles that exceed customer expectations.”

Hyundai’s partnership with Baidu dates back to 2015, when the two companies jointly developed and launched ‘CarLife’, an in-vehicle infotainment platform. Hyundai further strengthened its ties with Baidu in 2017, when the automaker became the first to equip its Chinese market vehicles with Baidu’s connected navigation system and voice recognition technologies. Last month, Hyundai officially announced that it will take part in Apollo, Baidu’s open autonomous driving program.

“Apollo’s industry-leading intelligent driving technologies and solutions provide end-to-end ecosystem support for our partners. We look forward to collaborating with Hyundai to achieve volume production of AI-enabled vehicles and to provide a safe, convenient and comfortable driving experience to our customers,” said Tan Su, General Manager of Baidu Internet of Vehicles.

China serves as strategic hub for connected-cars

Last year, Hyundai opened its first global Big Data Center in Guizhou Province, China, to gather and analyze massive volumes of data collected from the company’s connected-cars. The new facility allows Hyundai to significantly expand its connected-car R&D capabilities, advance its market projections, and enhance business operations in China.

The Big Data Center in China lays a foundation for building a China-focused Car Cloud, as Hyundai Motor plans to leverage expertise in connected-car technologies gathered through years of experience with its Hyundai Car Cloud operation in Korea, which was established in 2013.

In addition to opening its Big Data Center, Hyundai also signed a memorandum of understanding with China Unicom, China’s second-largest telecommunications provider, to co-develop a predictive-analytics platform.

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Oil set for steady gains as economies shake off pandemic blues – Reuters poll

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Oil set for steady gains as economies shake off pandemic blues - Reuters poll 1

By Sumita Layek and Bharat Gautam

(Reuters) – Oil prices will stage a steady recovery this year as vaccines reach more people and speed an economic revival, with further impetus coming from stimulus and output discipline by top crude producers, a Reuters poll showed on Friday.

The survey of 55 participants forecast Brent crude would average $59.07 per barrel in 2021, up from last month’s $54.47 forecast.

Brent has averaged around $58.80 so far this year.

“Travel and leisure activity look set to catch up to buoyant manufacturing activity due to the mix of stimulus, confidence, vaccines, and more targeted pandemic measures,” said Norbert Ruecker of Julius Baer.

“Against these demand dynamics, the supply side is unlikely to catch up on time, leaving the oil market in tightening mode for months to come.”

Of the 41 respondents who participated in both the February and January polls, 32 raised their forecasts.

Most analysts said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) may ease current output curbs when they meet on March 4, but would still agree to maintain supply discipline.

“With OPEC+ endeavouring to keep global oil production below demand, inventories should continue falling this year and allow prices to rise further,” said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

Oil demand was seen growing by 5-7 million barrels per day in 2021, as per the poll.

However, experts said any deterioration in the COVID-19 situation and the possible lifting of U.S. sanctions on Iran could hold back oil’s recovery.

The poll forecast U.S. crude to average $55.93 per barrel in 2021 versus January’s $51.42 consensus.

Analysts expect U.S. production to rise moderately this year, although new measures from U.S. President Joe Biden to tame the oil sector could curb output in the long run.

“A structural shift away from fossil fuels” may prevent oil from returning to the highs of previous decades, said Economist Intelligence Unit analyst Cailin Birch.

(Reporting by Sumita Layek and Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; Editing by Arpan Varghese, Noah Browning and Barbara Lewis)

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Japan’s jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures – Reuters poll

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Japan's jobless rate seen up in January due to COVID-19 emergency measures - Reuters poll 2

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s jobless rate is expected to have edged up in January as service industry businesses suffered renewed restrictions on movement to fight spread of the coronavirus in some areas, including Tokyo, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Friday.

While industrial production activity picked up in Japan, emergency curbs rolled out last month such as asking restaurants to close early and suspending the national travel campaign hurt the jobs market, analysts said.

The nation’s unemployment rate likely rose 3.0% in January, up from 2.9% in December, the poll of 15 economists found.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio, a gauge of the availability of jobs, was seen at 1.06 in January, unchanged from December, but stayed near September’s seven-year low of 1.03, the poll showed.

“As the impact from the coronavirus pandemic prolongs, it is hard for firms, especially the service sector, to expect their business profits to improve,” said Yusuke Shimoda, senior economist at Japan Research Institute.

“So, their willingness to hire employees appear to be subdued and it is difficult to see the jobs market recovering soon.”

Some analysts also said the government’s steps to support employment and existing labour shortages will likely prevent the jobless rate from worsening sharply.

The government will announce the labour market data at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on Tuesday (2330 GMT Monday).

Analysts expect the economy to contract in the current quarter due to the emergency measures to counter the spread of the disease.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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China’s economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 – central bank adviser

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China's economy could grow 8-9% this year from low base in 2020 - central bank adviser 3

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s gross domestic product (GDP) could expand 8-9% in 2021 as it continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, Liu Shijin, a policy adviser to the People’s Bank of China, said on Friday.

This speed of recovery would not mean China has returned to a “high-growth” period, said Liu, as it would be from a low base in 2020, when China’s economy grew 2.3%.

Analysts from HSBC this week forecast that China would grow 8.5% this year, leading the global economic recovery from the pandemic.

If 2020 and 2021’s average GDP growth is around 5%, this would be a “not bad” outcome, said Liu, speaking at an online conference.

China is set to release a government work report on March 5 which typically includes a GDP growth target for the year.

Last year’s report did not include one due to uncertainties caused by the coronavirus. Reuters previously reported that 2021’s report will also not set a target.

(Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Muyu Xu; Editing by Sam Holmes and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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