Hyundai eyes autonomous vehicles for the masses

The autonomous Ioniq vehicle is a normal car, not a science project, says a top Hyundai executive. (AFP)
Updated 05 January 2017
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Hyundai eyes autonomous vehicles for the masses

LAS VEGAS: Hyundai’s Ioniq draws little attention as it maneuvers the streets of Las Vegas.
The mid-sized sedan is one of a number of autonomous cars roaming the city’s streets during the high-tech Consumer Electronics Show.
The South Korean automaker wants to stand out by being ordinary: Making a self-driving car for the average consumer.
“The autonomous Ioniq concept is a normal car, not a science project,” said Mike O’Brien, vice president of Hyundai North America, during a demonstration.
“We believe in democratizing this technology.”
Hyundai’s unremarkable car stands in contrast to others being shown at the huge tech show, which include a number of pricey models with more horsepower and luxury features.
Many automakers are planning for autonomous vehicles but O’Brien says Hyundai “can deliver at an affordable price point” for the average consumer.
In the demonstration, the Ioniq was able to use its turn signal, change lanes, stop at a red light and yield to pedestrians.
In one instance, it began to accelerate with a green light but then suddenly braked.
Vehicle technology manager Andre Ravinowich said the sudden shift came because “the car in front started moving, but braked” and the Ioniq acted to avoid getting too close.
Engineers are working to refine the algorithms which govern these kinds of decisions, based on data collected from sensors in the car and other information.
Hyundai and other automakers are using a technology called LIDAR, or light detection and ranging, for remote sensing of vehicles, pedestrians and other things in the environment.
Ravinowich said there are still a few hurdles before autonomous driving becomes mainstream.
“Technology-wise it’s not too far away, we’re closer than a lot of people think,” he said.
But he said that it will also depend on government regulations and infrastructure which is compatible with the new electronics.
“A lot of regulations need to change, infrastructures need to be in place,” he said.
The tests show the system is not perfect. When the Ioniq was behind an idled truck, the operator behind the wheel (as a safety precaution) had to manually use a turn signal to indicate a lane change to overtake the truck.
“It’s still something we need to work on,” Ravinowich said.
Hyundai has offered no date for when it would have an autonomous vehicle ready but some others have set a target for around 2020.


Qatar to invest 10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

Updated 6 sec ago
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Qatar to invest 10.85bn in key sectors of French economy: Elysee 

PARIS: France and Qatar have sealed a strategic partnership under which Qatar has agreed to channel €10 billion ($10.85 billion) into start-ups and investment funds in France between 2024 and 2030, the French presidency said in a statement. 

The investments “to the mutual benefit of both countries” will target key sectors ranging from energy transition, semiconductor, aerospace, artificial intelligence, digital, health, hospitality and culture, it added. 

The investment was announced as Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s ruling emir, started a two-day visit to France on Tuesday, his first state visit to the country since his accession to the throne in 2013. 


Saudi Arabia aims for 150k new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy, says minister

Updated 6 min 41 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia aims for 150k new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy, says minister

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is poised to create 150,000 new jobs in chemical plants and renewable energy facilities, with a commitment to achieving 75 percent localization, said a top official. 

During the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh, Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman emphasized that the energy sector has the biggest chance to achieve that localization target compared to any other sector.    

The minister said: “We see somewhere around 150,000 jobs being created, including not only working in chemical plants and with heavy wind or renewable facilities but also we see a lot of jobs are coming through the localization programs. We also are committed to a localization program which is 75 percent.” 

He added: “This is what we are going try to achieve with using this approach just to give you an idea of how we are thinking and how much it is being elaborated.” 


Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

Updated 52 min 25 sec ago
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Technology revolution to transform 70% of global business practices, minister says

RIYADH: Global estimates suggest that technology adoptions and expansion are set to transform 70 percent of business practices globally, according to a top official.

Speaking during the opening of the Human Capability Initiative held in Riyadh, Saudi Minister of Education Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Benyan highlighted that global estimates indicate a potential disruption of 40 percent of workers’ skills within the next four to five years thanks to these changes.

“During the next two days, over 250 global leaders and experts will join us to share their knowledge and insight on how to unleash potential for humankind capability and catalyzing international corporations to maximize resilience in times of uncertainty,” Al-Benyan said.

He added: “Technology adoptions and expansion are set to transform 70 percent of business practices globally. As economists continue to navigate these dynamic labor market landscape, it is more critical than ever to work inclusively to promote positive human capability outcomes.”


UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

Updated 28 February 2024
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UAE economy to grow by 5% in 2024, minister reiterates 

RIYADH: The UAE’s economy is projected to grow by 5 percent in 2024, a leading member of the government has reiterated.

In an interview with Emirates News Agency, also known as WAM, Minister of the Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri said that more than 73 percent of the national economy is now non-oil, a historic first for the country.

His projection is in line with recent assessments by the Ministry of Finance and S&P Global, which forecast growth of 5.7 percent and 5 percent respectively.

“This achievement reflects the confidence of the private sector and investors around the world in the UAE’s investment environment,” Al-Marri said. 

The minister added that the private sector is a key pillar in the new economic and investment landscape and is at the heart of global changes and challenges. 

“And in implementation of the directives of the wise leadership, the UAE has identified the most sustainable and flexible economic sectors, which have reached more than 16 sectors, including health technology, agriculture, education, financial services, artificial intelligence, and other sectors that contribute to the sustainability of economic sectors and enhance the strength of the national economy,” Al-Marri highlighted.


More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

Updated 32 min 44 sec ago
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More opportunities for women awaiting in the petrochemical industry: SABIC official

  • Only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female

RIYADH: Saudi women should explore more opportunities in the petrochemical industry, as only 25 percent of the sector’s workforce are female, said a top official. 

Speaking at the Human Capability Initiative in Riyadh on Feb. 28, Faisal Al-Suwailem, executive vice president of corporate human resources at Saudi Basic Industries Corp., said that the industrial sector in the Kingdom has been witnessing a sharp rise in female employment over the past three years. 

“If we take a look at the petrochemical industry, in the last 20 years, I have seen a great increase in the participation of females in the petrochemical industry. However, if you look at the number of women in the petrochemical industry, it is still about 25 percent. So, I believe we still have room to grow,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “In the industrial sector, the hiring of females has increased 93 percent over the last three years. We have right now over 63,000 females working in plants around the Kingdom.” 

Al-Suwailem further pointed out that Saudi Arabia has surpassed the female workforce target outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

“Let us first look at Vision 2030, and under the thriving economy for female participation in the labor market, the baseline target was set at 22.8 percent, and now we are at 34.5 percent,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added that SABIC stands out as one of the companies offering structured training programs aimed at nurturing and enhancing the skills of young individuals.

Al-Suwailem also underscored that SABIC offers scholarship programs that provide equal opportunities for both men and women. 

“SABIC is a national champion for sure in petrochemicals, but it also has a proven record of being a national champion for development, job creation, learning and contribution to the gross domestic product,” said Al-Suwailem. 

He added: “SABIC’s scholarship program, which is meant for Saudi bright young talents, is right now equally split between men and women.” 

For her part, during the same panel discussion, Cabinet Secretary and Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Kenya Florence Bore said that the country is preparing its youth to adapt themselves to procure jobs in the international market. 

“Our focus currently is on labor migration, and even as you focus on labor migration, it is one of the areas where we get foreign remittances,” said Bore. 

She added: “Kenya has been undergoing lots of changes in the workplace. We have both the informal and formal jobs. The informal sector is really growing at a faster rate than the formal jobs. And because of that, you will find most of our Kenyans are now venturing out for jobs in the international market.”