Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

BMW to build EVs, batteries in US; $2.8B to US battery projects; Apple M2; CISA industrial control warnings.


Automotive, mobility

The BMW Group will invest $1.7 billion in its U.S. operations to build electric vehicles and batteries, mostly in South Carolina. BMW will drop $1 billion in its South Carolina plant for EV production and $700 million for a new battery-assembly facility in the state. BMW also agreed to purchase battery cells from Japan-based Envision AESC, which plans to construct a new battery cell factory in South Carolina.

Rolls-Royce unveiled its first EV, the Spectre, with a $413,000 price tag, available in 2023. The car weighs 6,559-pound, goes from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (Chevy Bolts take 6.5 seconds), has a 260-mile range, and produces 664 ft-lb of torque and 577 horsepower. Inside the special doors (called Starlight Doors) and interior ceiling are more than 4,000 tiny points of light — branded as stars — on a dark background.

This week, the U.S. Biden Administration announced its American Battery Materials Initiative, to domesticate the mining and manufacturing of battery materials (cathode and anode), such as lithium, graphite, silicon oxide, and nickel, for EVs and the electricity grid. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) also announced the first projects it is funding via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to expand domestic manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles and the electrical grid. DOE has awarded $2.8 billion in grants for 20 manufacturing and processing companies in 12 U.S. states. (The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has a total of $7 billion for grants.) When combined, the EV and battery investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS & Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act will total more than $135 billion.

A U.S. Department of Energy graphic shows the companies it has granted money for battery technology and manufacturing. Source: DOE

A U.S. Department of Energy graphic shows the companies it has granted money for battery technology and manufacturing. Source: DOE 

Waymo will expand its autonomous taxi service to Los Angeles. The service is currently operational in Phoenix and San Francisco.

Volkswagen will invest €2.4 billion with China’s Horizon Robotics, a provider of computing solutions for smart vehicles in China, to boost Volkswagen’s presence in the China’s automotive market. Software company CARIAD and Horizon Robotics will enter a joint venture to development an optimized full stack ADAS/AD solution for China with the goal of integrating numerous functions on one chip to increase the stability of the system, along with saving costs and energy. Volkswagen will use the software/hardware that results from the JV as its ADAS/AD solutions for VW’s BEV (battery electric vehicle) models in China.

Apple iPhone assembler Foxconn showed off two new electric vehicle (EV) prototypes, and told the world it wants to someday dominate in EV assembly as it does in small device assembly. “But we will start small, which is about 5% in 2025,” said Liu Young-way, Foxconn’s Chairman.

ZeroAvia is using Ansys’ simulation and engine control tools in designing the hydrogen-electric powertrain for its ZeroAvia’s aircraft.

TeraWatt Infrastructure, a San Francisco startup, is developing an EV charging network for heavy- and medium-duty trucks. The network will have charging centers 150 miles apart on Interstate 10, a U.S. highway that covers 2,460 miles from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Fla. TeraWatt is planning to cover the California, Arizona, and New Mexico stretch with its stations not more than a mile from highway exits. The stations, which will range in size between four to 100 acres, will have dozens of DC fast chargers, pull-through charging stalls, and on-site driver amenities.

Renesas completed its acquisition of Steradian, which designs 4D imaging radar chips. Radar is used in ADAS in automotive.

Applied EV, an Australian company that makes digital control systems and modular vehicle platforms for commercial applications, is using the Siemens Xcelerator software and services in its design and build of its autonomous vehicles. Applied EV makes Digital Backbone (DBB), a  software control system for electric and autonomous applications.

StellantisJeep brand unveiled its the first fully electric SUV, the Jeep Avenger, at the Paris Auto Show. The electric powertrain has a 400-volt electric motor with 115 kilowatts, 260 Nm of maximum torque, and a 54 kWh battery. The range is 400 km (248 miles) in EU-required WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) cycle, but Stellantis reports 550 km in the urban cycle. The car will be made in Europe. One nice feature is you can link your phone to car and find your car more easily in a parking lot by checking your phone.


Apple plans to pause its use of memory chips from China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), according to Nikkei Asia, after the U.S. tightened its regulations.

A new vulnerability similar to logjam is showing up in Apache Commons Text versions versions 1.5 through 1.9. A malicious hacker could use the CVE-2022-42889 vulnerability to execute or contact with remote servers via a set of default lookup instances that include interpolators.

French, Spanish, and Latvian authorities, with help from Europol and Eurojust, broke up a car theft ring that used fraudulent tools to install software in the cars of two French manufacturers to gain access to and start cars without a key fob. The tools were marketed as a diagnostic solution, but instead replaced the original software of the vehicles. Thirty-one suspects — among them software developers, device resellers, and car thieves — were arrested in three countries.

CISA, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, warned of and updated information on weakness in two industrial control systems this week. The control systems could bring down vital infrastructure, such as power grids, if they are compromised. The companies already have responded with updates. Advantech’s R-SeeNet system has some flaws in versions 2.4.17 and 2.4.19 that make it vulnerable to path traversal attacks (2.4.19 and older, see CVE-2022-3387) and stack-based buffer overflows (2.4.17 and older CVE-2022-3385 and CVE-2022-3386). Path traversal attacks mean an attacker could delete PDF files by remotely exploiting vulnerable PHP code. For stack-based buffer overflows, an attacker can remotely execute code by overflowing the stack buffer. R-SeeNet is a monitoring program that pulls data from routers. Advantech recommends users update to version 2.4.21 or later and following CISA guidelines. Hitachi Energy’s Transformer Asset Performance Management (APM) Edge is vulnerable because it relies on an uncontrolled component. Hitachi Energy says it will provide an update to APM version 4.

Last week CISA warned about other industrial control systems with vulnerabilities, sending out 25 industrial advisories. The agency warned about vulnerabilities in Siemens, Hitachi Energy, and Mitsubishi Electric.

A tutorial “High-Level Approaches to Hardware Security,” explains concepts in IC hardware security using two hardware security problems — the scan chain-based side-channel attack and logic locking of digital designs. The tutorial material also has open access digital resources.

Pervasive computing

Apple announced its next iPad Pro will have Apple’s new custom M2 chip. Apple announced its M2 in June and debuted it in July in the MacBook Air. The 5nm M2 has an 8-core CPU, a 10-core GPU, and 16-core neural engine that can process 15.8 trillion operations per second. When compared with the M1 in the last iPad, Apple says M2’s CPU is up to 15% faster, the GPU’s graphics are 35% faster, and neural engine 40% faster. The new chip is powering Apple Pencil hover, ProRes video capture and playback of both 4K and 8K video, and Wi-Fi 6E, among other applications. Included is a new image signal processor (ISP) that reduced image noise. Apple’s new operating system, the macOS Ventura, is designed in conjunction with the M2 to optimize performance. The new OS will be released next week.

Keysight enhanced its software automated testing of 5G smartphones, called the Nemo Device Application Test Suite, which provides automation and AI to help wireless service providers and application developers assess smartphone users’ real-world interactions with native applications. Keysight uses real traffic data captured by a native mobile app to create the new device test app method, which wireless service providers use to optimize 5G network performance.

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