Automotive in the spotlight in Frankfurt, while defence takes the stage in London

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The Frankfurt Motor Show and London’s biennial DSEI defence exhibition lead the agenda this week.

The biennial Frankfurt International Motor Show starts its 66th edition this week and UK-based companies will be there in force, as witnessed last week when manufacturers met in Greenwich for a pre-show send-off.

Senior executives and their marques gathered for the event with business secretary Sajid Javid and those in attendance heard first hand how a combination of factors have led to a turnaround in a sector where new car registrations hit a 42nd consecutive month in August.

Looking forward, The Engineer was curious to know, amongst other things, if EU-mandated tailpipe emissions standards represent a hindrance or welcome challenge for the automotive sector and a consensus appeared to form around a global view on the issue. Yes, there are clear challenges in reducing CO2 but the EU isn’t the only territory to demand emissions standards and that factor should be viewed as an opportunity.

For example, according to last week’s Euler Hermes report Auto Market – a live wire, the Chinese market experienced a burst of growth that went from 6.5 million registrations in 2008 to 20 million by 2014.

By the end of 2016 China is set to extend new vehicle emissions standards that are reportedly similar to the standards adopted in the EU in 2009, so whilst current EU regulations can present technological headaches today, the wider economic outlook has the potential to redress the balance tomorrow.

The public are welcomed to Frankfurt from Thursday where they will be able to explore the future of motoring in the New Mobility World exhibition area.

Exhibitors include Bosch, who gave The Engineer’s Stuart Nathan a glimpse into the future in Stuttgart in the Spring.

The motor show organisers say New Mobility World will revolve around the connected car, automated driving, e-mobility, urban mobility, and mobility services.

Like 3D printing, autonomous driving appears to be one arena striking a chord with the public and the media alike, not least here at The Engineer where we’ve regularly followed and discussed these trends.

Should, however, manufacturers of manually operated vehicles be repositioning to meet demand for autonomous? Maybe not just yet, given one fundamental argument that has hamstrung the technology from the start, namely: who would be responsible in the event of an accident.

Furthermore, as Euler Hermes note: the availability of a 100% autonomous car on our roads currently seems like a far off prospect considering the high purchase price involved and the need to invest heavily in road infrastructure. Added to this, the entire fleet of existing vehicles on the road would need to be changed to ensure full interconnection between vehicles.

Another biennial event rolls into London this week in the form of DSEI, which incorporates six zones constituting land, air, naval, security and Special Forces, medical innovation and unmanned platforms.

Previewing such a multi-faceted show would take all day so let’s consider unmanned platforms for one moment. The Royal Navy’s new Type 26 Frigate will be designed to embark – amongst many things – unmanned aerial and underwater vehicles (more on that in the Sept. 2015 edition of The Engineer). Just last week a report was published that predicts how networks of unmanned surface and underwater vessels will “radically change the nature of maritime operations.”

The report – from Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ and Southampton University – can be downloaded at this address: http://eu-e.marketo.com/lp/025-CXE-092/GMTT2030_LP-for-Report-Download-1.html

It isn’t unusual for the occasional protester to make his or her feelings known at DSEI, and fracking clearly elicits similarly strong emotions from those opposed to the practise.

Fracking is clearly an divisive subject but with exploration licences granted and planning rules skewed toward developers, the often-controversial process will continue gathering pace during the term of the current government.

By way of a recap, hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – involves blasting shale rock with sand, water and chemicals. This opens up fissures in the rock to release recoverable oil or methane gas.

Players in the game are not above seeking process improvements, which is why Briefing now turns to GE Oil & Gas and Statoil who’ve issued their final call for entries in their second Open Innovation Challenge, whichis focused on water use in shale oil and gas development.

They say the Open Innovation Challenge is looking for ways of reducing fresh water usage, as well as treating and reusing water from development activities.

They add: “the first challenge, addressing the use of sand in unconventional operations, received more than 100 submissions from over 30 countries. The winners, haled from a cross section of businesses including the medical, industrial and semiconductor industries. The positive response and excellence of the winning submissions underscores the value of open innovation and the significance of industry collaboration to bring great ideas not only to the table, but to reality.”

The Challenge can be addressed by academics, engineers, individual innovators, or companies and up to five winners will be awarded an initial cash prize of $25,000 each, with an additional $375,000 available as a discretionary prize pool of development funds.

The deadline for submissions is Thursday, September 24, 2015. More details are available at this address: http://poweringcollaboration.com