Week In Review: Auto, Security, Pervasive Computing

AV engineer pardoned; EV plan reveals; SEMI workforce models.


Former U.S. president Donald Trump pardoned the former Google engineer who plead guilty to taking Google’s self-driving car trade secrets before becoming the head of Uber Technologies’ self-driving car unit. Anthony Levandowski was sentenced 18 months in prison in August after pleading guilty in March to one count of a 33-charge indictment, according to a story in Reuters. He admitted to downloading only one file, which the court valued at $500K to $1.5M. He had yet to serve prison time because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Levandowski co-founded self-driving truck company Pronto.ai, which produced a timelapse video (with ominous voice over) showing a car driving autonomously from U.S. west to east coast.

Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz showed off its fully electric crossover with a 265-mile (426 km) range, the EQA. The car will go on sale in Europe in February. Other electric vehicle news: VW announced its approach to electric vehicles called Trinity, while it is delaying its electric minibus ID Buzz. An electric version of the red double decker bus on London streets will be designed by BYD UK and Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL).

Cadence has entered a definitive agreement to acquire NUMECA International, which makes computational fluid dynamics (CFD), mesh generation, heat-transfer technologies, and multi-physics simulations and optimizations. NUMECA’s products are used by designers and engineers in automotive, marine, aerospace, and power generation sectors. Next-generation products and systems require comprehensive multi-physics engineering solutions encompassing IP, semiconductors, IC packaging, modules, boards, complex mechanical structures and more,” said Tom Beckley, senior vice president and general manager of Cadence’s Custom IC & PCB Group, in a press release. “With the addition of NUMECA’s technology to the Cadence portfolio, we are broadening our system analysis capabilities and integrated design solutions, addressing critical customer challenges in areas such as internal and external flows, acoustics, heat transfer, fluid-structure interaction and optimization.”

NI and Konrad Technologies signed a strategic agreement to develop test systems and solutions for autonomous driving software and hardware validation.

Samsung reportedly plans to open a 3nm chip factory in Austin, Texas, according to a Bloomberg article that says plans are subject to change. Samsung is the latest to consider fabs on U.S. soil, which may help appease U.S. government concerns over technology security. TSMC is already planning a fab in Arizona. Samsung may have the plant operational by 2023.

Pervasive computing — IoT, edge, cloud, data center, and back
Intel’s Data Center Group made $6.1 billion, up 16% year over year.

Ansys’s HFSS Mesh Fusion product is helping engineers predict EM interactions in components and complex electronics systems. It will be useful in many industries, including “numerous highly sophisticated applications, including 5G communications, autonomous driving and many more,” said John Lee, vice president and general manager at Ansys, in a press release.

The U.S. Department of Defense says it is incorporating five AI ethics standards into its use of the technology. The standards boil down to five words reliable, governable, equitable, traceable, and responsible use of AI in DOD systems.

Bell flight tested a cargo drone with a fixed, aerodynamic payload pod, according to a story in Aviation Week.

Samsung Foundry certified Siemens EDA’s Analog FastSPICE (AFS) Platform for early design starts on 3nm GAA process technology. AFS is a nanometer circuit verification tool for analog, RF, mixed-signal, and custom digital circuits.

SEMI’s SEMI Works program, launched in 2019 to help develop the semiconductor industry workforce, had a busy 2020. Accomplishments were, according to a blog by Mike Russo, vice president of Industry Advancement and Government Programs at SEMI, a completed catalog of workforce requirements that SEMI member companies identified for the semiconductor industry. Called the Unified Competency Model, it is a data-informed workforce training standard adopted and published by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration. Also accomplished were the first SEMI Certified college program for technicians; first industry approved apprenticeship program for technicians, adopted and endorsed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

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