The global chip shortage continues to cause problems for automakers to the point where some are shipping vehicles without all of their advertised features.
BMW, for example, is shipping some of its new cars without support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, according to a recent report by Automotive News.
In an email to affected customers, the German auto giant confirmed that some vehicles built between January and April of this year contain chips that require updated software in order to be able to offer Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The necessary update will be rolled out “by the end of June at the latest,” the automaker said.
The issue is reportedly the result of BMW changing chip supplier in a bid to deal with the shortage in the most efficient way possible. In other words, changing supplier prevented it from halting shipments while it waited for the chips to come in. Instead, it’s been able to add the new supplier’s chips and then ship the cars, the only challenge being that it needs to roll out updated software to activate certain features.
It’s not clear how many customers and vehicle models are impacted by BMW’s decision to ship vehicles without CarPlay and Android Auto, but Automotive News’ own research suggests the situation involves the automaker’s American, British, French, Italian, and Spanish markets.
While the issue may be an unwelcome annoyance for customers, it shouldn’t prove to be too much trouble provided BMW delivers on its promise to resolve the problem by the end of next month. It’s certainly better than the automaker holding on to the vehicle until the functionality can be added.
Digital Trends has reached out to BMW for more information on the situation and we will update this article when we hear back.
BMW’s decision to ship vehicles without all of the advertised features is similar to moves made by other car companies in recent months. Ford, for example, also cited the global chip shortage for its decision to ship some of its Explorer SUVs without particular features, though it promised to add them when the chips become available.
In Ford’s case, it meant shipping some of its Explorers without functionality for rear seat controls that operate heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, though they are controllable from the driver’s seat.
Caused by pandemic-related supply chain problems and other factors, the chip shortage isn’t expected to end anytime soon, with Intel’s chief saying last month that it could take several more years for his company to get on top of the situation.
You probably won’t see Rocket League’s flying cars in the real world any time soon, but BMW and esports brand LVL might offer the next best thing. They’re teaming on Das Race Goal, a Rocket League-style esports platform that has remote-controlled cars play soccer for charity. Players worldwide will steer the vehicles in a real arena while grabbing virtual powerups and activating “special effects.”
The initial event takes place December 12th at 1PM Eastern and will be streamed live on LVL’s Twitch channel. This inaugural competition will have six three-player teams compete in Munich’s BMW Welt stadium to raise awareness and funds for the United Nations Population Fund’s Skills for Life programs, which aim to improve education and healthcare for youth in the Caribbean and Latin America. Each team will have an esports player (including members from Cloud9, Fnatic, G2 Esports and OG), a social media influencer and a young gamer involved in the UN’s efforts.
Thomas Fellger, chief of Das Race Goal partner Icon Group, stressed this wasn’t just a one-off tourney — it was part of a “long-term partnership” that could help the UN’s long-term rights initiatives. At the least, this could add the thrill of real-world elements to a video game format that already has a loyal following.
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BMW has standardized on a new technology unveiled by Nvidia, the Omniverse, to simulate every aspect of its manufacturing operations, in an effort to push the envelope on smart manufacturing.
BMW has done this down to work order instructions for factory workers from 31 factories in its production network, reducing production planning time by 30%, the company said.
During Nvidia’s GTC November 2021 Conference, members of BMW’s Digital Solutions for Production Planning and Data Management for Virtual Factories provided an update on how far BMW and Nvidia have progressed in simulating manufacturing operations relying on digital twins. Their presentation, BMW and Omniverse in Production, provides a detailed tour of how the Regensburg factory has a fully functioning, real-time digital twin capable of simulating at scale production and finite scheduling based on constraints down to work order instructions and robotics programming on the shop floor.
Improving product quality, reducing manufacturing costs and unplanned downtime while increasing output, and ensuring worker safety are goals all manufacturers strive for, yet seldom reach consistently. Achieving these goals has much more to do with how fluid and real-time the data from production and process monitoring, product definition, and shop floor scheduling is shared across manufacturing in a comprehensible format each team can use.
Overcoming the challenges of achieving these goals motivates manufacturers to adopt analytics, AI, and digital twin technologies. At the heart of these challenges is the need to accurately decipher the massive amount of data manufacturing operations generate daily. Getting the most value out of data that any given manufacturing operation generates daily is the essence of smart manufacturing.
Defining What A Factory of the Future Is
McKinsey and the World Economic Forum (WEF) are studying what sets exceptional factories apart from all the others. Their initial collaborative research and many subsequent research studies, including the creation of the Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production Platform, reflect how productive the collaborative efforts of McKinsey and the WEF are today. In addition, McKinsey and WEF have set high standards in their definition of what a factory of the future is, as they’re providing ongoing analysis of the select group of manufacturers’ operations for clients.
According to McKinsey and WEF, lighthouse manufacturers scale pilots into integrated production at scale. They’re also known for their scalable technology platforms, strong performance on change management, and adaptability to changing supply chain, market, and customer constraints, while maintaining visibility and cost control across the manufacturing process. BMW Automotive is an inaugural member of the lighthouse manufacturing companies McKinsey and WEF first identified after evaluating over 1,000 companies. The following graphic from McKinsey and WEF’s research provides a geographical view of lighthouse manufacturers’ factory locations globally.
Above: McKinsey and WEF’s ongoing collaboration provides new insights into how manufacturers can continue to adopt new technologies to improve operations, add greater visibility and control across shop floors, and keep costs in check. Source: McKinsey and Company, ‘Lighthouse’ manufacturers lead the way—can the rest of the world keep up?
BMW’s Factories of the Future Blueprint
The four sessions BMW contributed to during Nvidia’s GTC November 2021 Conference together provide a blueprint of how BMW transforms its production centers into factories of the future. Core to their blueprint is getting back-end integration services right, including real-time integration with ProjectWise, BMW internal systems Prisma and MAPP, and Tecnomatix eMS. BMW relies on Omniverse Connectors that support live sync with each application on the front end of their tech stacks. Front-end applications include many leading 2D and 3D computer-aided design (CAD), real-time visualization, product lifecycle management (PLM), and advanced imaging tools. BMW standardized on Nvidia Omniverse as the centralized platform to integrate the various back-end and front-end systems at scale so their tech stack could scale and support analytics, AI, and digital twin simulations across 31 manufacturing plants.
Excel at customizing models in real-time
How BMW deployed Nvidia Omniverse explains why they’re succeeding with their factory of the future initiatives while others fail. BMW recognized early that each system’s different clock speeds or cadences integral to production, from CAD and PLM to ERP, MES, Quality Management, and CRM, needed to be synchronized around a single source of data everyone could understand. Nvidia Omniverse acts as the data orchestrator and provides information every department can interpret and act on. “Global teams can collaborate using different software packages to design and plan the factory in real-time, using the capability to operate in a perfect simulation, which revolutionizes BMWs planning processes,” says Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
Product customizations dominate BMW’s product sales and production. They’re currently producing 2.5 million vehicles per year, and 99% of them are custom. BMW says that each production line can be quickly configured to produce any one of ten different cars, each with up to 100 options or more across ten models, giving customers up to 2,100 ways to configure a BMW. In addition, Nvidia Omniverse gives BMW the flexibility to reconfigure its factories quickly to accommodate new big model launches.
Simulating line improvements to save time
BMW succeeds with its product customization strategy because each system essential to production is synchronized on the Nvidia Omniverse platform. As a result, every step in customizing a given model reflects customer requirements and also be shared in real-time with each production team. In addition, BMW says real-time production monitoring data is used for benchmarking digital twin performance. With the digital twins of an entire factory, BMW engineers can quickly identify where and how each specific models’ production sequence can be improved. An example is how BMW uses digital humans and simulation to test new workflows for worker ergonomics and efficiency, training digital humans with data from real associates. They’re also doing the same with the robotics they have in place across plant floors today. Combining real-time production and process monitoring data with simulated results helps BMW’s engineers quickly identify areas for improvement, so quality, cost, and production efficiency goals keep getting achieved.
Above: BMW simulates robotics improvements using Nvidia’s Omniverse first before introducing them into production runs to ensure greater accuracy, product quality, and cost goals are going to be met.
For any manufacturer to succeed with a complex product customization strategy like BMW has, all the systems that manufacturing relies on must be in sync with each other in real-time. There needs to be a common cadence the systems are operating at, providing real-time data and information each team can use to do their specific jobs. BMW is achieving this today, enabling them to plan down to the model-by-model configuration level at scale. They’re also able to test each model configuration in a fully functioning digital twin environment in Nvidia’s Omniverse, and then reconfigure production lines to produce the new models. Real-time production and process monitoring data from existing production lines and digital twins help BMW’s engineering, and production planning teams know where, how, and why to modify digital twins to completely test any new improvement before making it live in production.
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Over the past years, Vivo has been steadily rising in the smartphone market where it now belongs among the world’s Top 5 phone brands. Just like any other big phone maker these days, Vivo also has its own sub-brand, the independent iQOO that’s aiming for a younger market with different tastes and different needs. One of those needs is speed and performance, particularly for gaming. That’s exactly what the new iQOO 7 series is promising to deliver, especially the iQOO 7 Legend that slaps on BMW’s Motorsport name to emphasize its monster gaming specs.
The iQOO 7 Legend boasts of the latest Snapdragon 888 as the source of all its power, though the 4000 mAh with 66W Flash Charge support is the literal power source of the phone. 8 or 12 GB of LPDDR5 memory and 128 or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage also speak to its fast character. Lending a bit of credence to that is BMW M’s tri-color scheme running down the phone’s back, not just as a theme but as an integral part of its design.
The iQOO 7 Legend is built for gaming and not just because of its raw processing power. Under the 6.62-inch 120Hz FHD+ display lies special pressure-sensitive sensors that deliver a more tactile feedback when using on-screen controls. Dual linear motors on the left and right sides of the phone (when held horizontally) also try to recreate the feel of game controllers while Monster Beat dual speakers promise better audio fidelity that more discerning mobile gamers often look for.
Although not exactly underpowered, Vivo also has the iQOO 7 that looks and feels more like a traditional high-end premium flagship, one that runs on a Snapdragon 870 processor. It shares many similarities with its BMW-branded sibling, like the 48MP main camera with OIS and 13MP wide-angle and macro shooter. It does only get a 2MP monochrome depth sensor, though, instead of the iQOO 7 Legend’s 13MP Pro Portrait camera.
Both phones run Vivo’s Funtouch OS 11.1, based on Android 11, which brings with it its Extended RAM function that allocates 3GB of internal storage to be used as memory for caching running apps. After a successful launch in China, Vivo is bringing the iQOO 7 series to international markets starting with India. Availability and prices in other countries haven’t been announced yet.
BMW introduced the i4, its smartest and most futuristic sedan to date. Fully electric, connected, and powerful, it’s a toned-down version of the Concept i4 developed to give buyers a battery-powered alternative to the 3 Series.
Like the design study, which was presented online in March 2020, the production model wears a giant grille that will fuel chatter for months on end. Some will love it, some will hate it; what’s certain is that it won’t go unnoticed. BMW is applying this styling cue across its range, and its market research reveals buyers like the more assertive look.
Moving beyond the grille, the i4 wears a fastback-like design characterized by a long hood and an almost coupe-like roofline. Only a few color-coded styling cues (and the lack of exhaust tips out back) hint at the electric powertrain lurking underneath the body. Designers penned the i4 to look like a sporty BMW first, and an electric car second.
And yet, you won’t find a straight-six engine between the fenders. Although full technical details won’t be released until closer to the i4’s on-sale date, BMW announced the portfolio will include several variants, including one that puts 530 horsepower under the driver’s right foot, and one capable of driving for up to 300 miles on a charge. In its quickest configuration, the i4 will take roughly four seconds to sprint from zero to 60 mph.
Interior photos, like much else, remain under wraps for the time being. We know that the big news inside will be a cutting-edge infotainment system named iDrive 8 that gains natural voice recognition technology, among other features. BMW explained artificial intelligence technology will allow the software to learn how you like to sit, where you like to go, what you like to listen to, and who you like to call for a more personalized in-car experience.
BMW will publish additional information (including pricing) about the i4 in the next few months, and sales are tentatively scheduled to start before the end of 2021. Its main rivals, at least in terms of pricing, will be the Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2, though the segment that the i4 will land in is going to get very crowded, very quickly.
Looking ahead, BMW expects that about 50% of its annual sales will come from EVs by 2030. It will offer an electric model in 90% of the segments it’s currently present in by 2023, meaning its range will grow with battery-powered versions of the 5 Series, the 7 Series, and the X1, and its Mini brand will be entirely electric by 2030.