Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Visa-Rambus deal; Chinese drones; Huawei news.


Visa agreed to acquire the token and electronic ticketing business of Rambus for $75 million in cash. The business involved is part of the Smart Card Software subsidiary of Rambus. It includes the former Bell ID mobile-payment businesses and the Ecebs smart-ticketing systems for transit providers. Meanwhile, Rambus expanded its CryptoManager Root of Trust product line. “Security is a mission-critical imperative for SoC designs serving virtually every application space,” Neeraj Paliwal, vice president of products, cryptography at Rambus, said in a statement. “The Rambus CryptoManager Root of Trust family offers tailored secure silicon IP solutions which chip architects can incorporate to meet the specific security needs of their designs.”

Arteris IP reports that Uhnder’s automotive radar-on-a-chip uses the Arteris FlexNoC IP as the on-chip interconnect. “Our choice of on-chip interconnect IP was very important to our success because of the unprecedented extent of on-chip integration and our huge bandwidth requirements. The Arteris FlexNoC interconnect IP helped us to surpass our performance goals while avoiding routing congestion in our tightly integrated single-chip radar,” Uhnder CEO Manju Hedge said in a statement.

The Wi-Fi Alliance introduces the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements, a standardized approach to Wi-Fi network diagnostic data collection. “Wi-Fi Data Elements delivers a standardized set of data models that encompass key performance indicators for Wi-Fi and enables remote monitoring and troubleshooting. Marvell is pleased to contribute to a program that also provides the necessary foundation for Wi-Fi EasyMesh self-organizing Wi-Fi networks,” says Mark Montierth, vice president and general manager, Marvell Semiconductor.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, says Illuvatar CoreX standardized on the Veloce Strato emulation platform for verifying its artificial intelligence cloud training system-on-a-chip chipset and proprietary software.

Synopsys announces the expansion of the automotive Center of Excellence collaboration with Infineon to speed development of automotive electronic systems and deliver Synopsys Virtualizer Development Kits (VDKs) for Infineon’s third-generation AURIX microcontroller family. Synopsys VDKs for Infineon AURIX microcontrollers enable Infineon’s tier 1 and OEM customers to develop software, perform regression testing, and fault injection up to 18 months before silicon availability.

Internet of Things
DJI, the China-based manufacturer of drones, is repurposing a warehouse in Cerritos, Calif., to assemble a new version of its Government Edition model, which is said to be popular among federal and local government agencies. The privately held company hopes its “Made in America” model will satisfy certain federal requirements for data security.

Researchers at Intel Labs and the Center for Research and Advanced Studies at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico worked together on a framework for self-guided drone navigation in “cluttered” unknown environments. The team turned to artificial intelligence tech to come up with a real-time, on-device family of algorithms.

Firefighting agencies in Southern California are making use of the WiFire program developed by the WiFire Lab at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. The program uses big data analytics to provide predictions on how wildfires will develop. The software considers forecasts from the National Weather Service, vegetation readouts from the U.S. Department of the Interior, and satellite data from NASA.

KitchenAid’s SmartOven+ is now available, priced at $3,199 for the single configuration and $4,799 for the double configuration. The ovens connect with Google Home and Alexa.

The FIDO Alliance has established an IoT Technical Working Group to develop an industry standard for onboarding IoT devices. An authentication method could go a long way in preserving the cybersecurity of IoT devices. “The IoT space is particularly fragmented, and there’s a need to standardize that,” says Andrew Shikiar, the FIDO Alliance’s executive director.

The House Administration Committee approved the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act bill on a 6-3 party-line vote, moving the legislation to the House floor. The bill would require voter-verified paper ballots and provides $600 million of funding for the Election Assistance Commission to distribute to states. It would also prohibit voting machines from being connected to the Internet and outlawing voting machines made in a foreign country.

This week in Huawei – some American chip vendors, such as Intel and Micron Technology, have resumed shipments to Huawei Technologies, claiming the products in question are not “American-made,” and thus not subject to the federal government’s ban on doing business with Huawei. In other news, the embattled Chinese company sued the U.S. Department of Commerce, questioning whether telecommunications equipment shipped to the U.S. and later sent back to China is covered by Export Administration Regulations. A server and an Ethernet switch that were sent to a California testing laboratory, then was being shipped back to China without an export license. The equipment was seized in Alaska by federal agents, and Huawei seeks the return of that equipment. Meanwhile, Huawei characterized its talks with Verizon Communications and other American companies about use of its patents as a common business activity, and not as retribution for the government’s actions against the telecom vendor. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, potentially prohibiting Huawei from pursuing patent claims in U.S. courts.

In the continuing trade spat between China and the U.S., the federal Department of Commerce added several Chinese companies and a research institute to its “entity list” of Chinese companies that are now prohibited from buying microchips and other products from American suppliers. That is the same list where Huawei Technologies was placed last month. Sugon, a supplier of supercomputers, and three of its chip design subsidiaries are among the latest additions to the list.

Symantec issued its latest Cloud Security Threat Report, saying 73% of survey respondents said they experienced a security incident due to immature security practices. Another 93% said they are challenged by keeping tabs on all cloud workloads. Rapid7 released new Cloud Configuration Assessment capabilities in its InsightVM vulnerability management offering.

Researchers at Boston-based Cybereason report hackers have broken into more than 10 cellular networks in the past year or so, collecting call detail records on certain individuals, which weren’t identified. “You could see straight away that they know what they’re after,” said Amit Serper, head of security research at Cybereason. “They would exploit one machine that was publicly accessible through the internet, dump the credentials from that machine, use the credentials stolen from the first machine and repeat the whole process several times.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued an internal report, Considerations for Managing Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity and Privacy Risks. NIST says government agencies should understand the challenges IoT devices pose to cybersecurity and privacy.

Chronicle, Alphabet’s cybersecurity unit, is being folded into Google Cloud. Chronicle CEO Stephen Gillett said in a blog post that the malware analysis and security threat investigation tools his unit was pitching to large corporations were complementary to the security tools offered by Google’s cloud computing business. “Customers from each of our organizations have asked about using these solutions together, and combining our efforts will enable this,” he wrote. Chronicle now has more than 100 employees.

Hiroto Saikawa, Nissan Motor’s CEO, was re-elected to the company’s board this week, as shareholders complained about Renault, the company’s partner in the Renault Nissan Alliance. Saikawa apologized to the shareholders about the financial misconduct charges surrounding the automotive manufacturer since the arrest and detention of Carlos Ghosn in Japan. “There’s a responsibility for the past, and there’s another responsibility, responsibility for the future,” Saikawa said. A lifelong employee of Nissan, Saikawa finds himself in an unforgiving spotlight as he tries to keep the company on the road in the wake of the Ghosn scandals, this analysis notes. Nissan and Renault had earlier resolved some of the disputes that had arisen between the partner companies in recent months.

Apple confirmed its acquisition of Drive.ai, which has ceased operations this month. Dozens of Drive.ai engineers were hired by Apple, while 90 employees in California were laid off. The purchase price was not disclosed. Drive.ai had raised $77 million in venture capital and was once valued at $200 million. Its investors included New Enterprise Associates, Nvidia GPU Ventures, and Northern Light Venture Capital.

Tesla’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nev., is becoming a key element to the car tech company’s future, Barry D. Wood writes in this opinion piece. “This is where half of the world’s electric-vehicle batteries are produced. Panasonic, occupying 30% of the building, produces the cells, 4,000 of which go into a pan beneath the floor of every Tesla Model 3 electric car. It’s a three-shift, 24-hour operation,” he notes.

Baidu brought out its Apollo Lite vision-based vehicle framework. The technology is said to be capable of leading to Level 4 autonomy.

For all the hype around self-driving cars, most people in the industry not named Elon Musk say full vehicle autonomy won’t be realized for about a decade. Advanced driver-assistance systems, which will be an element of autonomous driving, are already available, in the form of Tesla’s Autopilot and Cadillac’s Super Cruise, this analysis notes.

Panasonic will work with the Utah Department of Transportation to develop smart roadways for connected cars. Panasonic Corporation of North America will build upon its work in Colorado with the Utah project. “This will be the first fully extensible, scalable open platform, specifically tailor-made for roadway operators, municipalities, and transportation mobility centers,” said Jarrett Wendt, executive vice president of Panasonic North America. “The premise being that there’s been an awful lot of piloting and smaller-scale activity over the last 20 years related to technology on one side, kind of waiting for the technology to catch up.”

New York State is moving forward in legalizing the rental of electric scooters and electric bicycles. The proviso is that e-scooters will not be allowed in the metropolitan mass of Manhattan. “Our state leaders appear ready to enshrine e-bikes and e-scooters into state law and answer the call to bring more transportation alternatives to New Yorkers,” said Paul Steely White, the director of safety policy at Bird.

Pittsburgh-based Argo.ai is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to establish the Carnegie Mellon University Argo AI Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research. The center will work on smart sensor fusion and other aspects of AV technology.

BYD Co. opened its first plant in Canada, a 45,000-square-foot facility in Ontario that will assemble electric buses for the Toronto Transit Commission. The transport agency will initially receive 10 buses, with an option for 30 more. BYD is an electric vehicle manufacturer in China, financially backed by Warren Buffett. The EV company has a similar plant in Lancaster, Calif.

General Motors will spend an additional $20 million to upgrade its equipment at the Arlington Assembly plant in northern Texas. The plant will produce full-size sport utility vehicles.

Toyota Motor will invest $2 billion in developing electric vehicles in Indonesia, starting with hybrid vehicles. “From 2019 to 2023, we will progressively increase our investment to 28.3 trillion rupiah ($2 billion),” Toyota president Akio Toyoda said in a statement.

Ford Motor is reducing its European operations and eliminating 12,000 jobs by the end of 2020. The company has already closed a plant in Russia, plans to shutter facilities in France and Wales, and will reduce production at factories in Germany and Spain. “Ford will be a more targeted business in Europe, consistent with the company’s global redesign, generating higher returns through our focus on customer needs and a lean structure,” said Ford Europe president Stuart Rowley. “Implementing our new strategy quickly enables us to invest and grow our leading commercial vehicle business and provide customers with more electrified vehicles, SUVs, exciting performance derivatives and iconic imported models.”

Capgemini has agreed to acquire Altran, an engineering and digital services company, for €3.6 billion (about $4.1 billion) in cash. The business consultancy expects to complete the transaction by the end of 2019. Capgemini said its customers in aerospace, telecommunications, and other high-tech markets want to tap outsourced engineering resources. It will assume €1.4 billion (nearly $1.6 billion) in Altran’s debt as part of the deal.

TDR Capital, a private equity firm, is in advanced negotiations to purchase BCA Marketplace, a used-car auctioneer in the United Kingdom, for £1.91 billion (about $2.42 billion). TDR has until July 18 to make a firm takeover offer for BCA, the board of which is likely to recommend the transaction under those financial terms, which are for 243 pence per share.

Extreme Networks agreed to acquire Aerohive, a vendor of cloud management and edge networking technology, for an enterprise value of $210 million in cash. The acquisition is expected to close during Extreme’s first quarter of the fiscal year 2020.

Cambium Networks raised $69.6 million in its initial public offering, selling 5.8 million shares at $12 per share. The pricing was below the earlier range of $13 to $15. The stock trades as CMBM on the Nasdaq. Cambium finished its first day of trading at $9.70 a share, down $2.30 and 19.2% for the day.

Linx raised $308.32 million from its IPO, selling 32.8 million shares at $9.40 per share. The Brazilian provider of business management software-as-a-service to Latin American retailers trades as LINX on the New York Stock Exchange. Linx finished its first day of trading on the Big Board at $9.09 a share, down 31 cents and 3.3% for the day.

Traton, the Volkswagen trucks unit, fared weakly in its market debut. The new stock closed at €26.45, down €0.55 or about 2% from its initial pricing of €27.00. VW sold 11.5% of Traton’s equity in the IPO and brought in €1.55 billion (about $1.76 billion) for the parent company.

Velodyne Lidar hired bankers for an IPO, Business Insider reports, citing sources familiar with the process. The San Jose, Calif.-based company has reportedly been talking with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, Royal Bank of Canada, and William Blair as potential underwriters. The LiDAR supplier hopes to go public by the end of this year and wants to exceed its private valuation of $1.8 billion.

China Mobile is raising a $4.36 billion industry fund for 5G cellular communications. It has already received financial commitments for up to one-third of that amount. China’s largest mobile carrier will also invest $436 million in developing 5G content, such as ultra-high-definition videos and games. China Mobile this year plans to build more than 50,000 5G base stations in China and to provide 5G services in more than 50 cities.

IBM will partner with Cloudera, building on IBM’s longstanding relationship with Hortonworks, which Cloudera acquired in January. Under the new deal, IBM will resell the Cloudera Enterprise Data Hub, Cloudera DataFlow, and Cloudera Data Science Workbench, while Cloudera will begin to resell IBM’s Watson Studio and BigSQL.

Market Research
Juniper Research forecasts the mobile edge computing market will be worth $11.2 billion by 2024, up from an estimated $1.3 billion this year, for an average annual growth rate of 52.9%. Siemens, Bosch, Amazon Web Services, VMware, and Telit are the top five edge computing vendors. Juniper’s report, Edge Processing in IoT, is available here.

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