The future is coming—at 11 miles per hour

April 23, 2019

Instead of turning cities off to public transit, these declining ridership numbers are only spurring more of them to undertake dramatic redesigns of their bus systems—and Olli and other autonomous shuttles, the thinking goes, can act as supplemental pieces to existing systems of public transit.

“We see a lot of cities doing bus redesigns right now, because their current model of fixed-route, fixed-schedule is not working very well,” says Ashley Z. Hand, co-founder of smart city advisory practice CityFi and the former transportation technology strategist for the City of Los Angeles. “An AV shuttle might be very complementary to redesigned systems by getting people to those connections in the first place.”
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DDOT, SMART to launch unified payment system to cut hassle for Detroit bus riders

April 23, 2019

Riding a bus across metro Detroit should be a bit more seamless starting May 1.

That’s when the region’s two main bus networks — DDOT and SMART — are rolling out a unified payment system that will eliminate transfers, and backers say, push them toward more coordinated operations…

It’s the kind of service upgrade that transit advocates have urged and that metro Detroit residents have experienced in other more transit-connected urban areas. It’s also a step toward the kind of improvements envisioned in the failed regional transit proposals of recent years, and should answer critics who have asked for closer coordination between the Detroit Department of Transportation and Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation.
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Economic development is priority for Sandy Twp.

April 23, 2019

One of the biggest priorities on Sandy Township’s list is local economic development, according to Manager Shawn Arbaugh…

The township is also planning a five-year capital program for vehicles and equipment, in addition to a 10-year plan for township roads, he said.

RoadBotics, of Pittsburgh, takes hundreds of thousands of photos of roadways and then runs them through a computer modeling system to identify defects, Arbaugh said.

“It’s really great because you have all these photos cataloged so you can always go back and take a look at the defects and repairs needed,” said Arbaugh. “It just gives you a nice mapping of your roadways. So we’re looking forward to partnering with them.”

One of the things RoadBotics doesn’t have any experience with is dirt and gravel roads, Arbaugh said.

“They actually told us they could do those roads for us for free to help develop their software that they’re working on. So we’re going to partner with them later this year on that project,” he said.
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Volvo taught its cars to warn each other about icy roads

April 23, 2019

The Swedish company is also offering a “hazard light alert” across Europe. If one vehicle turns on its hazard lights, others get notified. While Volvo has already offered this features for a couple years in Sweden and Norway, they’re now rolling it out to the rest of Europe.

This kind of network-powered safety feature, coming straight from the car—as opposed to a smartphone app—is a “logical next step” in the field, says Christoph Mertz, a principal project scientist at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Incorporating this type of technology into traditional cars also represents a type of halfway point between older, low-tech cars at one end of the spectrum, and fully autonomous vehicles, like those operated by Waymo, Cruise, or Drive.ai, at the other.

“You see that the car manufacturers, they’re doing one step after another,” Mertz adds. “Whereas other companies are trying to do autonomy all at once.”
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Aptiv opens autonomous mobility center in China

April 23, 2019

U.S. auto-parts supplier Aptiv said on Wednesday it was opening an autonomous mobility center in Shanghai, in a push to position its self-driving vehicles in China.

The center in the world’s biggest auto market would be one of Aptiv’s major autonomous driving engineering hubs, alongside Boston, Singapore, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, the company said.

The Shanghai unit will focus on Aptiv’s L4 or level 4 technology that will allow cars to pilot themselves without a human driver under certain conditions.

Aptiv said it was in talks with partners for mapping and commercial deployment of its vehicles in China.
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Congestion Pricing: Is There a Perfect Technology Solution?

April 22, 2019

U.S. cities will likely look to places like Singapore, London and Stockholm, which have adopted congestion pricing traffic control programs. Singapore, a city covering only about 250 square miles with a population of about 4.5 million, was one of the earliest to adopt congestion pricing in the 1990s. It used overhead gantries and short-range radio technology similar to California’s FasTrak.

“It was essentially variable tolls on the major freeways,” said Alexandre M. Bayen, director of the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University California, Berkeley, adding that the system was not considered hugely revolutionary at the time, but is still all but unthinkable stateside.

“With some form of adaptive pricing — and the notion being that if you want to decongest, you price more — you publish the fares ahead of time, and then people won’t use it,” said Bayen, explaining the concept further.
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Civil liberties association sues Canadian government over Sidewalk Labs’ Toronto smart city

April 22, 2019

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is suing Waterfront Toronto and the federal, provincial and municipal governments over the quayside smart city project in the Canadian city being developed by Sidewalk Labs, owned by Google parent company, Alphabet.

At a press conference, Michael Bryant, CCLA executive director and general counsel, said that Waterfront Toronto and the three levels of government had “sold out” citizens’ constitutional rights to freedom from surveillance “to the global surveillance mammoth of behavioural data collection, Google”.

He said: “The Google-Waterfront Toronto deal is invalid and needs to be reset. “These agreements are contrary to administrative and constitutional law, and set a terrible precedent for the rest of this country. Unlawful surveillance is wrong whether done by data profiteers or the state. We all deserve better from our federal, provincial and municipal governments,” said Bryant.
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Have ideas to reduce transportation system emissions? New York has $3M in funding

April 22, 2019

Dive Brief:
$3 million will be made available to fund innovative proposals to improve the efficiency of the state of New York’s transportation system, while reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. The funding will be available through a partnership between the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
Applicants can submit concept papers through October 30, and those that NYSDOT and NYSERDA deem the best will be invited to submit proposals; the partners will select proposals to receive funding. Concept papers must illustrate a broad impact across New York and show innovation in either efficient mobility solutions or efficient infrastructure, operations and systems planning. They should demonstrate new technologies, increase access to alternative modes of transportation or make roads safer.
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Elon Musk claims Tesla will achieve full autonomy by NEXT YEAR as he boasts the firm is ‘vastly ahead’ of self-driving competitors

April 17, 2019

While Musk’s claims that Tesla will be delivering the world’s first fully autonomous vehicles on an expedited timeline, the forecast has raised the eyebrows of industry skeptics who say the company’s overblown projections constitute false advertising at best.

In a report last month, one autonomous expert called Musk’s prognostications ‘unconscionable.’

‘Claiming its vehicles will soon be “feature complete” for full self-driving is one more step in the unconscionable practices that Tesla is already engaged in with Autopilot — overselling its capabilities and reliability when marketing its vehicles and then blaming the driver for not reading the manual and paying constant attention when the technology inevitably fails,’ said Dean Pomerleau, of Carnegie Mellon University in a CNN report.
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Robo-Rigs: The Scientist, The Unicorn And The $700 Billion Race To Create Self-Driving Semi-Trucks

April 17, 2019

TuSimple isn’t the only startup focused on driverless trucks. Embark Trucks, Ike, Starsky Robotics and Kodiak Robotics, all based in the San Francisco Bay Area, are racing to develop their own autonomous big rigs, but TuSimple is on the fast track. Hou, a 34-year-old computer scientist, has raised $178 million for the San Diego startup at a $1.1 billion valuation, making it the first self-driving trucking unicorn and giving it more than three times the war chest of Embark, its closest startup rival. The cash pile gives it an edge in expanding its fleet, key to inking more deals with clients such as Phoenix-based Royal Paper. With 15 Peterbilts and Navistars, it has more semis transporting goods for paid customers than any competitor, Forbes estimates, and Hou claims a technological rec­ord, too—TuSimple has a proprietary vision system that can see a kilometer ahead, farther than any other driverless tech company, including Waymo.
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Waymo’s new app lets you hail a self-driving car—but don’t get too excited just yet

April 17, 2019

If you were hoping to hail a self-driving car from Waymo, you better live in the Phoenix area — and be prepared to wait even after downloading the app.

The Waymo app is now available on the Google Play app store for the first time, but it’s not like Uber or Lyft, mostly because once you download it you have to join a waitlist. Only after you’ve been accepted can you start ordering rides. The pricing for rides in the Phoenix area is apparently similar to rides on other ride-sharing services.
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Volvo brings V2V to cars across Europe, offers safety research to everyone

April 16, 2019

Volvo has had vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) tech installed in some of its vehicles since 2016, but they were limited to Sweden and Norway. Now, everyone across Europe can take advantage of this tech, which could help more people avoid accidents.

Volvo announced Monday that it would expand its Hazard Light Alert and Slippery Road Alert systems to the rest of Europe. The systems will be standard on all 2020-model-year Volvos. Certain post-2016 vehicles on the SPA and CMA platforms will also have the ability to retrofit this tech…

Volvo also wants other automakers and researchers to make use of its own past research. In addition to expanding its V2V tech, Volvo announced Monday that it has opened a central digital library containing all its past safety research. The research stretches all the way back to the 1970s and covers up through 2018.
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Remote-Controlled Cars Come To Streets Of Downtown Sacramento This Week

April 16, 2019

Cars operated by remote drivers will debut on the streets of downtown Sacramento this week — and the technology that powers them could one day serve as a safety back-up for autonomous vehicles.

If you hop in a car equipped with technology from Phantom Auto, among the first things you’ll hear is: “Welcome everyone, my name is Ben. … I’ll be driving you today through Sacramento.” But Ben is not inside the car. Instead, he’s controlling it from the company’s facility 100 miles away…

Sacramento is the only city currently to have a contract with Phantom Auto for street-testing. A second route near Sac State will also debut this week.
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Volkswagen pushes battery partners to build Gigafactories

April 16, 2019

Volkswagen is pushing its joint venture partners including SK Innovation (SKI) to build electric car battery plants which have at least one Gigawatt manufacturing capacity, Chief Executive Herbert Diess told Reuters.
“Anything below that amount would make little sense,” Diess said on the sidelines of the Shanghai Auto Show on Sunday.

Volkswagen will buy 50 billion euros ($56.57 billion) worth of battery cells for electric cars and has identified South Korea’s SKI, LG Chem and Samsung SDI as strategic battery cell suppliers as well as China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL).

The German automaker is retooling 16 factories to build electric vehicles and plans to start producing 33 different electric cars under the Skoda, Audi, VW and Seat brands by mid 2023.
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Detroit appoints director of digital inclusion

April 16, 2019

The City of Detroit has appointed a director of digital inclusion, responsible for reducing the digital divide by developing strategies to expand access to computers and the internet to more citizens.

Joshua Edmonds previously oversaw deployment of more than $1.5 million in digital-inclusion investments for Cleveland, Ohio, through The Cleveland Foundation, the major community foundation for that city.

He will work with Detroit’s Department of Innovation and Technology to develop a city-wide strategy and develop methods to track and evaluate progress of the city’s efforts.

The city currently has among the nation’s highest rates of residents who lack access to computers and the Internet. Studies have shown that as many as 40 per cent of Detroit residents don’t have access to broadband internet, even as broadband has become essential to employment opportunities, education, health care, news and information, shopping and social life.
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Trucking Executives, Transportation Experts Discuss Distracted Driving

April 16, 2019

Transportation companies — including trucking groups — can improve safety by promoting accountability at the individual, executive and peer levels, according to industry representatives.

Brian Fielkow, CEO of Houston-based trucking company Jetco Delivery, said successful accountability consists of three prongs: the individual, the organization and the peers. Fielkow was one of more than 20 speakers who participated in the National Transportation Safety Board’s roundtable discussion on distracted driving April 11.
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US unveils plans to speed up 5G wireless deployment

April 16, 2019

US officials unveiled plans to accelerate deployment of 5G wireless networks, including new funding to bring the ultrafast systems to remote rural areas.

At a White House event, the Federal Communications Commission announced new spectrum auctions for 5G systems and said a $20.4 billion fund would be established to help build high-speed broadband networks in rural areas over the next decade.

The new 5G networks “will improve Americans’ lives in so many ways,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

“From precision agriculture to smart transportation networks to telemedicine and more, we want Americans to be the first to benefit from this new digital revolution, while protecting our innovators and citizens. And we don’t want rural Americans to be left behind.”
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California to allow testing of light-duty self-driving trucks

April 16, 2019

California would allow for the testing of light-duty autonomous trucks on public roads under a proposed rule announced Friday. The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles announced the proposal today, which outlines a permitting process for companies wishing to test or deploy driverless trucks for testing.

The rule would only apply to autonomous vehicles weighing less than 10,001 pounds. That means only Class 1 and 2 trucks — which include minivans, pickup trucks, utility vans, and step vans — could receive permits for testing under the proposed rule. All vehicles in Class 3 through 8 — which include walk-in delivery trucks, semi trucks, buses, and heavy-duty construction vehicles — would not be allowed under this permitting system.
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Trucker Tools and Ascend team up to democratize transportation technology

April 16, 2019

AscendTMS has teamed up with Trucker Tools to integrate Smart Capacity into its system, giving brokers and shippers the ability to see available truck capacity several days before the trucks are empty.

Ascend, an InMotion Global product, has almost 21,000 customers, making it the most popular transportation management system (TMS) software in the space today. The company caters primarily to smaller players in the industry, working to level the playing field between small and large businesses.

Utilizing Trucker Tools’ Smart Capacity allows brokers to uncover “hidden capacity” they would not be able to contact otherwise, according to InMotion Global President and CEO Tim Higham…

The kind of technology available to companies via Ascend and Trucker Tools would have been reserved for the largest, wealthiest companies just a decade ago. With 80 to 90 percent of the industry falling into the “smaller company” category, access to comparable technology is a gamechanger, according to Higham.
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Transit app adds integrated mobile ticketing

April 16, 2019

Trip-planning app Transit has added integrated mobile ticketing and payment into its app through a partnership with Software-as-a-Service company Masabi. The ticketing service will launch with the St. Catharines Transit Commission in Ontario.

The new feature allows Transit users to request fare types, make payments and display virtual tickets. The launch makes Transit the only app to integrate tip planning and payment across public transportation, bike-share, car-share and ride-hailing services.

Transit and Masabi are making the Justride SDK platform available as a standalone service or alongside existing ticketing apps. Participating agencies will also get access to data like real-time sales, usage and validation information.
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Brian O’Neill: Hyperloop? The ‘train of the future’ has already left Pittsburgh

April 15, 2019

Did you hear about the 100-mph train from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia?

I hadn’t either. But a Mt. Lebanon woman with the lyrical name of Blondina Bellaver called last week. She wanted to know why, with all these stories about hyperloop, nobody ever mentioned the short-lived fast train to Philly circa 1956.

She’d ridden what she recalled as “The Bullet Train” on many a Friday night because she had a cross-state boyfriend back in the day. She thought the Japanese might have had something to do with it. (The train, that is, not the romance.)

A computer search of the Pittsburgh newspaper archives for “bullet train” in that era turned up zilch. But Henry Posner III, chairman of Railroad Development Corp. in Green Tree and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said Mrs. Bellaver was thinking of the AeroTrain…

But the silver 10-coach train made with stainless steel from Allegheny Ludlum was so light — about half the tonnage of a standard train of the same capacity — it rattled the riders when it traveled anywhere close to its designed top speed of 100 mph.
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A road trip to Pittsburgh to show off self-driving tech — and show up the competition

April 15, 2019

Normally there are only four companies, plus Carnegie Mellon University, driving cars around Pittsburgh with funny looking racks of sensors on the roof.

But on this sunny Thursday afternoon, a Montana-based company was showing off its fancy sensors to journalists in Pittsburgh — literally dropping off a Post-Gazette team before picking up some television reporters — in a 2019 BMW X5 with tinted windows for added secrecy.

The company, called Blackmore, has a shiny, new toy for the autonomous vehicles industry and beyond: an improved lidar sensor that could improve computer vision…

Over the next two or three years, Blackmore hopes to bring the cost of its “Autonomous Fleet Doppler Lidar” down from a $20,000 price point when it’s first commercially sold this summer to under $1,000.
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Rebar-placing robot unveiled at Bauma

April 15, 2019

Pittsburgh, PA- based Advanced Construction Robotics (ACR) said its “IronBot” does away with a backbreaking task for workers, and addresses the shortage of skilled labour.

The start-up company, which was spun off from a US civil engineering contractor, revealed its concept at the Bauma construction machinery trade fair this morning in Munich, Germany, saying it planned to commercialise the IronBot starting in 2020.

It will be the second construction robot developed by ACR, a research and development spin-off of Brayman Construction Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh.

The first was developed to tie rebar. Called TyBot, it is an autonomous robotic arm rigged to a gantry crane that uses artificial intelligence and machine vision to locate steel rebar junctions and attach a tie…

As he told Construction Research & Innovation last year, he hired a Pittsburgh robotics company to build a small prototype as proof of concept.

In 2016 he founded ACR with Jeremy Searock, formerly of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center.
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Audi won’t say why the e-tron has a big battery but low range

April 15, 2019



There’s one problem though. The e-tron SUV has a 95 kWh battery, but only 204 miles (328 km) of range, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s rating announced on April 5. Tesla’s SUV, the Model X, has a 238-mile range with a 75 kWh battery, and has a range of 289 miles with a 100 kWh battery.

“Something doesn’t add up,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

Audi isn’t the first victim of Viswanathan’s calculations. In 2017, when Tesla announced its planned heavy-duty, long-range truck (called the Semi), he did the math and found out it’d be impossible to make an electric truck that can go 600 miles on a single charge, which is the average driving distance for such vehicles. And indeed, when Tesla announced the range for the Semi, both models had a range of less than 500 miles.
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O2’s new 5G experiment could get driverless cars back on the fast lane

April 15, 2019

O2 announced on Thursday that it will be the public and private network provider for testing connected and autonomous vehicles (CAV) at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

O2 will be turning on 5G connectivity to Millbrook’s testing facilities from June 2019, ahead of the network’s rollout across Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London later in the year.

How will this help driverless cars? Well, 5G’s low-latency and high capacity is going to let vehicles toss huge amounts of data back to cloud-based transport systems. This will include 4K video and all sorts of telemetry, which will help improve road safety and with the management of traffic flow.
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