FIONA research project to create open software platform with standardized interfaces
Basis for location-based services
Two demonstrators in the pipeline: a navigation assistant for the visually impaired and a guide on the smart phone
Stuttgart – Navigation systems have long since established themselves as a valuable tool for outdoor use, with many drivers relying on their in-car devices to guide them on the roads. Such systems draw on GPS signals, and thus work only outdoors. For indoor environments, we have yet to see fully viable navigation solutions. This is a barrier to the development of location-based services (LBS), which have the potential to help people in a variety of ways. Possible applications include a service that would function like an electronic white cane to aid the visually impaired in navigating through indoor spaces, and a smart phone app that would help people to get their bearings in public buildings.
An open, independent platform Though location-based services are an extremely attractive business proposition, their potential has so far remained virtually unexploited. What is missing is a uniform underlying structure – an open and independent platform upon which LBS providers can build their services. It is this platform that the FIONA (Framework for Indoor and Outdoor Navigation Assistance) research project is seeking to create. Ten partners from industry and research in five states have joined together to develop a software framework that will facilitate the development of location-based services. Though there are a number of indoor positioning technologies already available, they are limited either by their technology or their cost. This relatively new market is heavily fragmented. There are hardly any firmly established standards, and small and large companies manufacture components that are not compatible with one another.
Defining interfaces Project partners will agree on an architecture and implement it so that components from different manufacturers can be combined in a single system. It is at the interfaces between components that the need for standardization is greatest. How does a localization system communicate with a navigation system? What information is necessary and what is optional? How often must data be transmitted and at what level of detail? What happens when there is a malfunction? These are but a few of the many questions that need to be addressed.
Demonstrator prototypes To demonstrate the effectiveness of the framework, the project team intends to showcase two applications. The first is a navigation assistant, which will accurately guide the blind and visually impaired from building to building (as on shopping trips, for instance), as well as from room to room, and will alert them to any obstacles. In an aging society, where the number of people with visual impairments is on the rise, this kind of service will certainly be in demand. The second demonstrator will be a virtual tour guide for places such as museums, shopping malls, airports, and factory floors. In the form of a smartphone app, the virtual guide will direct users through buildings and provide relevant information according to the type of building and their current location within it. This might be information about works of art, items on a shopping list, flight details or machines in need of repair.
Promoting innovation Both applications show how results from FIONA can be used in practice. FIONA will offer LBS providers a reliable framework for their services, making it quicker and cheaper to develop new products and stimulating competition among suppliers. As a transnational project, FIONA can also strengthen Europe’s position on the LBS market, which is expected to see rapid growth over the coming years.
A transnational project FIONA brings together large and small companies as well as research institutions from several EU member states: Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The project team includes specialist developers from the fields of positioning, obstacle recognition, navigation, security, and human-computer interaction as well as system integration experts. Robert Bosch GmbH in Stuttgart is heading up the project, and is working with three partners in Germany: the Fraunhofer Institute for Embedded Systems and Communication Technologies ESK in Munich, Infineon Technologies AG in Neubiberg, and the University of Applied Sciences in Ulm. FIONA is part of the ITEA 2 (Information Technology for European Advancement) cluster program under the umbrella of Europe’s EUREKA research initiative, and is receiving funding of 1.9 million euros from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project is scheduled to run until February 2016.
Wanted: innovative ideas and new applications for a high-precision laser module used for distance measuring
Start-ups to receive a development budget of 25,000 euros, access to a high-tech prototyping workshop, office space, coaches, and mentors
First round of the program set to begin in April 2015
Start-ups can apply until February 27, 2015
Stuttgart – Bosch and UnternehmerTUM, the Center for Innovation and Business Creation at Munich Technical University (TUM), are launching an accelerator program for start-ups that is based on Bosch technical innovations. The participating start-ups will receive exclusive access to innovative product platforms and professional support. As a result, they will be able to develop potential new products and business models faster than usual. In the past, such access was reserved to established customers. “Cooperation with the TechFounders accelerator program has opened up the possibility to make new Bosch product platforms available to selected start-ups,” says Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH. “This open innovation approach is an extension of our internal research and development activities.”
Wanted: start-ups with innovative ideas in areas where high-precision laser modules for distance measuring can be applied Bosch is launching the first accelerator program on April 20, 2015, and will be making a high-precision laser module for distance measuring available to the participating start-ups. This Bosch innovation has made it possible to enhance products with information on distance. The Bosch Power Tools division is currently using the technology in room measurement products for professionals and DIY enthusiasts. By cooperating with TechFounders, Bosch stands to gain access to applications in other sectors. For instance, new applications could be developed in areas such as robotics, sporting equipment, automation tools for industry, or gadgets for personal use. This is why Bosch has made the module for distance measuring available as an open development platform and opened up the module’s interfaces.
On offer: professional and financial support Creative start-ups from any industry are invited to apply, provided that they recognize the potential of the technology and aim either to equip their products and technologies with it, or to develop new innovative applications. The start-ups will receive intensive support from TechFounders coaches, as well as from experienced Bosch mentors and entrepreneurs. In addition to this, the teams will be allocated office space and given access to TechShop, a high-tech prototype workshop. Bosch Power Tools will provide the required tools free of charge. Furthermore, start-ups will receive a development budget of 25,000 euros. The UnternehmerTUM program is unique because it does not require the start-ups to offer equity in their companies in exchange for participating. Interested start-ups can apply until February 27, 2015, at www.techfounders.com.
“Many of the innovations made by Bosch’s Power Tools division are not relevant for our market. However, they have the potential to enable solutions in other sectors that could set new standards. Together with TechFounders, we are looking for entrepreneurs that are willing to tackle this challenge,” says Henk Becker, member of the Bosch Power Tools executive management.
Robert Bosch Venture Capital Bosch institutionalized its cooperation with start-ups and young entrepreneurs in 2007 with the founding of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH. The subsidiary finances innovative start-ups that are strategically relevant for Bosch. “We look forward to cooperating with UnternehmerTUM and TechFounders. Over the course of the program, we will support the participating start-ups with our vast experience,” says Dr. Claus Schmidt, managing director of Robert Bosch Venture Capital GmbH.
UnternehmerTUM – Center for Innovation and Business Creation at Munich Technical University (TUM) UnternehmerTUM supports start-ups and established companies in the process of setting up and expanding their businesses as well as with market entry. The UnternehmerTUM fund offers seed capital for promising young technology companies with international market potential. With more than 20 rapidly-growing spin-offs and over 1,000 participants in its training program, UnternehmerTUM plays a leading role in Europe.
TechFounders accelerator program In launching the TechFounders accelerator program, UnternehmerTUM is pooling its strengths. For many years already, it has offered a platform for cooperation between established companies and start-ups, and TechFounders is the latest evolution of this platform. TechFounders offers start-ups access to a high-tech ecosystem, experienced mentors and industrial partners, as well as a development budget of 25,000 euros. Bosch is TechFounders’ second industrial partner, after the BMW Group.
ProveIT project receives funding from German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy
Focus on developing a software platform for informed manual interventions in connected logistics systems
Aim: cost-effective and reliable supply chains
Stuttgart – Industry and commerce now depend more than ever on reliable logistics. In practice, however, supply chains face numerous challenges from disruptions such as traffic jams, technical issues, missing goods, and any number of other unforeseeable circumstances. This then calls for manual correction. In the ProveIT project (production plan based recovery of vehicle routing plans within integrated transport networks), researchers are now developing an IT platform that will give dispatchers the tools they need to make objectively assessed and dependable interventions in connected logistics systems. The aim is to build up reliable, cost-effective supply chains that are not disrupted due to misguided reactions and interventions. Following approval by the German parliament, the research project is receiving funding of 2.8 million euros from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Robert Bosch GmbH is acting as the lead partner.
Logistics chains and the butterfly effect The logistics sector still lacks this sort of decision aid. As supply chains become more and more complex, covering large areas and running according to tight schedules, any disruption – as well as any reaction to a disruption – has a knock-on effect on the entire logistics network. Without access to a reliable set of data and a high-performance IT platform, it is extremely difficult for logistics employees to assess what corrective action makes sense in any given situation. The ProveIT platform will supply dispatchers with the information they need to respond correctly to disruptions. It is also designed to restore disrupted transport networks to their normal operational state quickly. Reliable logistics networks are also a core component of connected industry (industry 4.0).
Incorporating production data The project team is drawing on a range of familiar technologies, including vehicle tracking using GPS and software for transport planning. What's new is that production information is also incorporated into the decision making process. How urgently does the auto plant, say, need the materials it ordered? Is it a case of topping up supplies, or will production break down if the materials are not delivered promptly? Big data relating to unit sales of products and the traffic situation can also be incorporated into the platform, which will pool all this information and provide users – both companies and logistics service providers – with a range of services for planning and managing logistical processes. For instance, if actual data begin to depart from target data, the platform will warn users and display appropriate responses. The responses offered will take into account the implications for the whole transport network, considering actions holistically rather than in isolation. To enable the platform to factor in real-time data such as vehicle position or delivery status, the project partners are also developing an application that truck drivers can use on their mobile devices.
Bringing together partners from industry, IT development, and research Together, the members of the project consortium possess all the expertise needed to develop and run the ProveIT platform. Robert Bosch GmbH is heading the project and, like ZF Friedrichshafen AG, is an industrial user of the platform. The logistics service provider Geis has assumed responsibility for the planning of transport operations and operational implementation. The IT providers LOCOM and PTV are developing system solutions for transport planning and management, while the Research Center for Information Technology (FZI) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is overseeing the components used to manage irregularities and disruptions. Responsibility for the global concept and scientific approach lies with the Institute for Materials Handling and Logistics (IFL) at the KIT. In the first phase of the project, the consortium will build up a common system architecture, which will then be tested and refined in pilot operation.
More efficient logistics ProveIT won't just benefit industry and its suppliers; commerce and transport companies stand to gain as well. The project provides improved tactical support by stabilizing logistics systems in the event of disruption and bringing them back on schedule. This makes supply chains more cost-effective – the project partners anticipate that ProveIT will be able to reduce total mileage by 5 percent for a given transport volume, with all the savings that brings in terms of energy, costs, and CO2 emissions. The project is due to run until fall 2016.
More than 680 million euros invested in India since 2010
Substantial increase in number of innovations per year
Excellent growth potential for motorcycle powertrain systems
Bangalore/Stuttgart – The Bosch Group is forecasting further strong growth for India over the next few years, and expects to see positive economic development in the country over the medium and long term. Accordingly, the company sees India as a key pillar of its growth strategy in Asia Pacific. “Over the past ten years, Bosch has doubled its sales in Asia Pacific to 11.1 billion euros in 2013. By 2020, we are aiming to double our sales in the region again,” said Dr. Volkmar Denner, the chairman of the Bosch board of management, during a press briefing in Bangalore, India. Denner forecasts that after registering projected economic growth of around 4.8 percent this year, India will likely grow by 6 percent in 2015. This makes the country one of the global engines of growth alongside China. “We expect to see India establish itself as the world's fifth largest vehicle manufacturer by the end of this decade,” Denner said.
The Bosch Group has been active on the subcontinent since 1922. In 2013, the company generated sales in India of approximately 1.2 billion euros, a three-fold increase over ten years ago. Bosch currently employs 27,000 associates at ten production sites and seven R&D locations in India. Since 2010, the Bosch Group has invested around 680 million euros in the expansion of manufacturing and research facilities there, of which some 160 million were invested in the current year alone.
Innovative solutions from India India is home to the technology and services company's largest development center outside Germany, employing 10,500 engineers. “We develop innovative solutions there which are used in products around the world,” said Steffen Berns, president of the Bosch Group in India. The rising number of patents filed testifies to the successful work at the center: from 20 registered innovations in 2008, this figure rose to 220 last year. “That's a more than ten-fold increase within five years,” Berns said. Among the innovations developed by the Bangalore-based center is a compact retina camera with special software that can detect conditions such as cataracts at an early stage. This fast and cost-effective eye diagnostic tool was specifically designed to meet the needs of the Indian market, and can be easily put into use in similar regions as well.
Dynamic growth in two-wheeler market Bosch also sees excellent opportunities in the booming two-wheeler market: last year it registered a growth rate of 14 percent, making it one of the most dynamic markets in India. “We predict that the number of two-wheelers sold annually on the subcontinent will reach 27 million by 2020,” Denner said. Worldwide, the number of motorbikes and electric e-scooters sold is expected to increase from 100 million today to 150 million by the end of the decade. By comparison, Bosch forecasts that some 110 million new cars will be sold worldwide in 2020.
Against this backdrop, Bosch is also entering the global motorcycle market with new powertrain systems. Especially in Asia and India, efficient powertrains can play an important part in reducing environmental impact. For this reason, Bosch has developed an affordable and robust engine management system that is specially designed for the Indian and Asian markets. Currently, many machines in Asia are still fitted with carburetors. It is precisely here that Bosch believes its technology offers a decisive advantage: “Compared with the mechanically controlled carburetor, and depending on situation, the electronically controlled fuel-injection system can reduce fuel consumption by up to 16 percent,” Denner said. This also significantly reduces emissions and conserves valuable resources. In addition, Bosch already supplies safety solutions for two-wheelers including ABS and the new MSC motorcycle stability control, which improves safety when braking and accelerating, even when the rider is leaning into a bend.