Electric Vehicles

NHTSA getting serious about vehicle battery safety risks with new initiative

Electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles are gaining prominence among buyers, but they still face safety obstacles.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Mfg. Inc.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that they are establishing the a Battery Safety Initiative for Electric Vehicles. This initiative is designed to coordinate research and other activities to address safety risks relating to batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs).

This move by the NHTSA, which has received flack for not taking the threats of Tesla's battery and hands-free-ish driving capability seriously, has long been anticipated. However, the problem isn't isolated to Tesla.

Not only will the research collect and analyze data related to electric vehicle battery safety, the NHTSA will examine field incidents including special investigations of electric vehicle crash and non-crash events related to battery safety. This research includes evaluations of the health of a battery including the role of prognostics, diagnostics, and intervention.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E The Ford Mustang Mach-E is just one of the new RVs arriving in the U.S. market.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Battery Management System (BMS) cybersecurity will also be considered. The government agency will explore the risks and vehicle-side measures related to wired and wireless charging communications and other vehicle connectivity paths, such a telematics, that could allow for access to a vehicle's BMS. Many electric vehicle. makers allow owners to download an app that connects to their vehicle that schedules charging, electricity flow, and other EV-specific commands.

High-voltage battery charging failure modes and effects analysis are also part of the efforts. NHTSA will evaluate the safety of extremely fast charging (350 kilowatts to 1 megawatt) and wireless vehicle charging. They will also take into account the advances in battery management systems and work to develop test regulated procedures.

Additionally, the NHTSA has charged its workers with developing Phase 1 of Global Technical Regulation (GTR) No. 20 for Electric Vehicle Safety into the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. These regulations were adopted by the United Nations World Forum in 2018 and contain requirements for in-use operational safety, post-crash electrical safety, and battery fire safety.

Once that is complete, the NHTSA will participate in the development of Phase 2 of the GTR No. 20 for Electrical Vehicle Safety. The issues being considered in the second phase include safety as it relates to battery thermal runaway, water immersion, and vibration resistance.

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Toyota's ready to make a big announcement.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation2

Auto Shanghai has another surprise in store. Toyota will debut an electrified vehicle next week and ahead of that moment, the company has leaked teaser photos and video featuring the model on its social media channels.

One of the posts, available on Twitter and Instagram, showcases the vehicle and a series of conceptual, perhaps inspirational, related items. A light shines as a reflection in an eye. A design on paper leads to a math equation. A laser, perhaps a plasma cutter, is focused on an object. Watch the see the rest.


It passes by quickly, but in there is the shape of a crossover. We've captured the moment in a still photo below so you can take a longer look. From the body design quickly shown here, the SUV is shaped more like the Toyota Venza than the Toyota RAV4. The key here is the rear side window, which is more triangular, like the Venza, than the squared-off RAV4''s.

202 The shape of the vehicle is similar to the Toyota Venza.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Corporation

2022 Toyota Venza EV

The face of the vehicle, shown in another social media post (this time on Instagram) and at the top of this article, shows a pared back vehicle face. The height of the vehicle confirms that it's in fact a crossover body style.

We do know that Subaru and Toyota have been working on an electric SUV for a while. While Subaru is likely calling the vehicle "Evoltis" there's some indication that Toyota may be reviving the "Celica" name for the EV. Batteries, after all, are made up of cells.

As of right now, we have to take the wait-and-see approach. One thing's for sure. We'll know more next week.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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