The Smart Transportation Dispatch

Search by Keyword

  • Search by Date Range


Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Self-driving cars rev up Pittsburgh’s tech sector

September 20, 2018

Credit for this prowess goes to Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), which opened its Robotics Institute in 1979 to address the decline of the steel and aluminum industries. In fact, CMU considers itself the birthplace of self-driving cars, starting with the “Terregator” mobile robot in 1984. In 2007, a CMU racing team won the $2 million DARPA Urban Challenge race with a self-driving SUV named Boss.

A generation of CMU graduates has since advanced the city’s AV sector, which comprises both established companies and startups, and today employs about 3,000. According to Donald F. Smith, Jr., president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern Pennsylvania (RIDC), many of those companies are “in aggressive growth mode” and that number that could eventually rise to over 10,000.
More>>

9 cities with smart ideas to improve transportation

September 20, 2018

Hope tends to come from smaller-scale initiatives: In cities across the country, local politicians, transit advocates, and commute-weary citizens are responding to the need for more sustainable, equitable, street-level transit solutions, delivering on promises to make daily commutes more multimodal and connect more workers to jobs. In the year of dockless scooters and city-led climate summits, new tech is spreading rapidly, while electric vehicles are ever more widely adopted.

Curbed spoke with transit experts from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), Overhead Wire, Smart Growth America, the Eno Center for Transportation, and the National Resource Defense Council, asking them to identify U.S. cities with progressive transit plans or intriguing proposals to solve difficult issues. None of these cities has devised the perfect transit system—and some of these ideas haven’t even been realized yet—but, taken together, they show different means to make transit more effective.
More>>

Knight Foundation devotes $5.25 million to studying last-mile autonomous car service

September 20, 2018

The Knight Foundation will recruit local residents for regular meetings to discuss how self-driving technology might address their needs. If all goes well, these groups will serve as a breeding ground for policy ideas and future legislation.

Each group’s objectives will be uniquely tailored to their respective city:

Detroit will address challenges getting to and from bus stops that connect residents to places of work.

Long Beach will develop short-distance travel solutions by integrating electric and human-powered transit, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and creating a “safer, healthier, and more sustainable” city.

Miami will aim to make driverless shuttles a viable alternative to buses.

Pittsburgh will support neighborhoods by slowing the growth of single-occupant vehicle trips.

San Jose will seek to integrate self-driving vehicles with other forms of transit and to connect residents to jobs and entertainment destinations in the city center.
More>>

Lucid Motors closes $1 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to fund electric car production

September 19, 2018

Lucid Motors, the electric car startup that aims to compete with Tesla, will receive an eye-popping $1 billion in funding from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the kingdom announced on Monday. The investment will finance Lucid Motor’s 2020 commercial launch of its first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air. Meanwhile, Tesla’s stock dipped by as much as 2 percent in early trading on news of the investment.

The deal is a major win for Lucid, which has languished over the last year as it failed to secure the funding necessary to start making its luxury electric cars. News of the talks comes weeks after Saudi Arabia purchased 5 percent of Tesla and emerged as a central player in Elon Musk’s failed effort to take the company private again. Musk cited conversations with the director of the Saudi fund as the impetus for his push to take Tesla private.
More>>

How scooters jumpstarted the city of LA’s new developer initiative

September 19, 2018

Now, a second iteration of app-enabled mobility options are popping up on city streets — and city sidewalks, a space that’s clearly under municipal jurisdiction. Scooter startups like Bird and Lime have delighted many residents in cities across the country, giving them an easy way to zip short distances around town. Other residents, meanwhile, see the electric vehicles as dangerous nuisances that litter city sidewalks when not in use, creating obstacles for seniors and the disabled.

City lawmakers have scrambled to respond to the complaints. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles City Council created a one-year permit program that will allow companies to deploy up to 10,500 scooters. The permit program has several rules — including the requirement to give the city real-time information on the vehicles.
More>>

CMU Cylab launches IoT security initiative

September 19, 2018

Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab launched the Secure and Private Internet-of-Things Initiative this week.

The initiative aims to use collaborative research to create new capabilities in privacy and security for the IoT, said Vyas Sekar, who will co-direct the initiative with fellow CMU professor Anthony Rowe. CMU Cylab is the university’s security and privacy institute.

Sekar said there are a lot of concerns regarding IoT security, and rather than just hypothetical fears he said many of the concerns are real threats. He referenced the Dyn Cyberattack of 2016 in which hackers gained control of smart IoT cameras and caused major internet services and platforms to become unavailable.

Researchers and students will partner with Amazon Web Services, Infineon Technologies and Nokia Bell Labs for the initiative. Sekar said Cylab will continue to consider partnerships with up to a total of ten companies who are leaders in the IoT industry in both hardware and software aspects.
More>>

I-5 stretch running through Pacific Northwest is the best route for self-driving trucks, INRIX study finds

September 19, 2018

INRIX determined that the swath of Interstate 5 stretching from the Canadian to Californian borders is the best route for initial adoption of autonomous trucks in the U.S. Researchers compared 100-mile or longer freight routes, looking for roads with low congestion, high potential to reduce labor costs by eliminating drivers, and high numbers of accidents and incidents that could be reduced by self-driving trucks. The I-5 stretch running through Washington and Oregon scored the highest.
More>>

Amazon teams up with Audi to expand Alexa’s automotive presence

September 19, 2018

At an event in San Francisco, the German auto giant showed off the new $74,800 e-tron SUV, Audi’s first vehicle with Alexa built into the console display. The integration allows drivers to do things like check news, weather, sports scores, order groceries, add things to to-do lists, stream music and audiobooks via Amazon Music and Audible and access smart home controls.

Audi said it will bring Alexa to more cars later this year. The integration doesn’t require a smartphone app, just a link between the vehicle and an Amazon account, and runs through the car’s LTE-connected console display.

The deal with Audi is the latest example of Amazon’s auto ambitions. In early 2017, Amazon and Ford showed off an Alexa-powered in-car system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
More>>

Researchers hope to build a driverless shuttle that can withstand Edmonton winters

September 18, 2018

Winter roads pose dangerous conditions for even best the drivers and vehicles. But what about vehicles that don’t have drivers at all?

This fall, the City of Edmonton will pilot an electric autonomous shuttle to learn how a driverless vehicle fares not only on city streets, but in cold and snowy conditions.

Supervised by staff from Pacific Western Transportation (PWT) and studied by researchers at the University of Alberta, the pilot will give city officials and academics a first glimpse of what driverless transportation in Edmonton could look like.

As a winter city, Edmonton offers researchers a unique test site to study how a self-driving vehicle manages harsh winter conditions, and all the obstacles that come with the season.
More>>

Cadillac Super Cruise coming to more Canadian vehicles in 2020

September 18, 2018

Cadillac will roll out its Super Cruise partially autonomous driving system through its entire lineup beginning in 2020 as Canadian buyers warm up to the idea of giving up some control of their vehicle.

Super Cruise is a limited, semi-autonomous driving system in the vein of Tesla’s Autopilot and Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot programs. When it’s activated, drivers can take their hands off the wheel as the car drives itself, keeping a safe distance from vehicles ahead of it and staying within the intended lane. An infrared camera monitors the driver’s eyes to ensure he or she is paying attention, though hands are not required on the steering wheel.
More>>

VW pushing for self-driving car industry standards

September 18, 2018

Volkswagen has reportedly been talking to its competitors about creating auto industry-wide standards for self-driving cars, Automotive News reported Friday.

The automaker has talked to more than a dozen automakers and other firms involved in developing autonomous car technology about an alliance. The trade journal cited an executive within the company who said that the automaker hopes to share costs and risks as it develops driverless cars.
More>>

BMW Unveils The First Driverless Motorcycle

September 18, 2018

At the Miramas testing ground circuit in Provence, France, last week, the German automaker unveiled its first autonomous motorbike, based on the best-selling BMW R1200 GS model.

Developed by graduate engineer Stefan Hans and his team, the driverless motorcycle independently drove off, accelerated, circled a winding test track and independently slowed down to a complete stop.

Despite the amazing feeling to see this artificial intelligence-powered bike driving around the racetrack, BMW said that it has no intention, at least in the near future, to sell a “completely independent motorbike,” and that the underlying technology will be used as a platform to develop future systems and functions to make motorcycling safer and more comfortable.
More>>

Nvidia Announces New Drive AGX Developer Kits For Automated Driving

September 18, 2018

Nvidia claims the Xavier can perform up to 30 trillion operations per second (TOPS) while consuming only 30 watts of power. That’s more than 16,000 times the performance of the computing system in the Carnegie Mellon Chevrolet Tahoe that won the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007. It’s also about 15 times what is available in the latest generation Tesla AutoPilot system which is powered by earlier generation Nvidia chips. Even with that immense performance, it’s still considered only enough for so-called Level 4 automated systems that operate in limited, geofenced environments.

To get to so-called Level 5 automation that is capable of operating in any environment at any time, Nvidia is now offering the Drive AGX Pegasus. First announced at GTC Europe last fall, Nvidia started shipping Pegasus samples to partners in late spring of 2018.
More>>

High-capacity sodium-ion could replace lithium in rechargeable batteries

September 18, 2018

Scientists of the University of Birmingham are paving the way to swap the lithium in lithium-ion batteries (LIB) with sodium.

With a rising demand for electric vehicles (EVs), finding a replacement for this expensive and sparse material is becoming a particular area of interest, as the need for a reliable rechargeable battery becomes more apparent.

According to the Birmingham scientists, sodium is inexpensive and can be found in seawater – so is virtually limitless. However, sodium is a larger ion than lithium, so it is not possible to simply “swap” it for lithium in current technologies. For example, unlike lithium, sodium will not fit between the carbon layers of the ubiquitous LIB anode, graphite.
More>>

Ohio State interns help build Smart Columbus Operating System

September 18, 2018

Two graduate students from The Ohio State University are helping to develop the operating system that will power the Smart Columbus project.

The Smart Columbus Operating System is the “technological backbone” of the smart cities project. The operating system is an open data platform to collect and share data. Data collected and developed as part of the Smart Columbus project will help develop programs to make connected vehicles avoid accidents, help develop a common payment app for services or solve parking problems for major events.

“So if you’re a student who wants data for a project, you can use it and then share your findings back to the operating system,” said Anirudh Ganesh, one of the interns who worked on code application and data design for the operating system project.
More>>

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tapped by Carnegie Mellon University

September 18, 2018

Foxx — who served as the nation’s transportation chief under the Obama administration from 2013 to 2017 — has been appointed as a distinguished executive-in-residence for the 2018-19 academic year at the university based in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood.

“It’s an honor to be joining an institution that is at the forefront of using technology and policy to transform city life,” Foxx said in a statement. “I look forward to sharing my passion with the CMU community and sharing our model for innovative future cities with the world.”

Foxx will be working with CMU’s College of Engineering, Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and Metro 21: Smart Cities Institute.
More>>

Uber to Invest Over $150 Million in Toronto Driverless Car Hub

September 18, 2018

Uber Technologies Inc. said it will spend more than $150 million in Toronto to support driverless car research.

The five-year investment includes opening an engineering hub in Canada’s biggest city in early 2019 and an expansion of its Advanced Technologies Group, the unit that’s developing much of the company’s autonomous vehicle technology. Last year, Uber began building an artificial intelligence team in Toronto. Including ride-sharing and food delivery businesses, Uber said it will have more than 500 employees in the city in coming years.

The investment, presented by Uber Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi, is another vote of confidence in Toronto’s tech scene, which created more jobs than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, combined last year.
More>>

Driverless Hype Collides With Merciless Reality

September 18, 2018

There are many reasons the self-driving tech industry has suddenly found itself in this “trough of disillusionment,” and chief among them is the technology. We don’t yet know how to pull off a computer driver that can perform as well or better than a human under all conditions.

It turns out that the human ability to build mental models isn’t something that current AI can just learn, no matter how much data it’s fed. And even once we have the technology, we’ll still have to deal with all those unpredictable humans in cars, on bikes and scooters, and on foot. The more self-driving vehicles hit the road, the more pressing the safety concerns and legal and regulatory issues will become.
More>>

New Toll Road Idea A ‘Game-Changer’ Say Transportation Leaders

September 18, 2018

An app that automatically detects how many people are in one vehicle, could help more drivers take advantage of discounted toll rates for high occupancy vehicles North Texas highways.

The technology would also eliminate the need for police enforcement of HOV violators.

It could roll out in early 2019 for toll roads in North Texas, and TxDOT is watching the program to see if it could be implemented statewide.

The Regional Transportation Council of the North Central Texas Council of Governments was briefed on the plan Thursday.

Carma Technology Corporation, which previously developed ride-sharing and carpooling applications, extended the technology to support high-occupancy commuting.
More>>

How 5G Paves the Way for the Driverless Car

September 18, 2018

With 5G, “we’re able to do much more targeted and sophisticated engineering,” says Don Butler, head of Ford Motor Co.’s connected vehicle program.

“As the world itself becomes more connected, it only makes sense that vehicles need to be part of that ecosystem,” he adds.

Car companies are looking to piggyback on the telecom industry’s ambitious plans to start rolling out residential 5G broadband services in limited markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston and other test markets later this year, followed by mobile 5G early next year. AT&T Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other cellular providers are now spending billions to replace 4G cell towers and roadside infrastructure with the faster connections.

The arrival of 5G comes as more cars are rolling off dealer lots with built-in modems that allow them to link to the internet through a cellular connection. Auto makers are looking to leverage those connections into potential moneymaking ventures by using the data they collect from vehicles to build new apps, services and in-car advertisements.
More>>

Risk in the age of automation — new hazards and opportunities for insurers in the internet of things

September 18, 2018

One of the most powerful drivers behind the changing nature of risk is the internet of things, or IoT. First, IoT is creating risks that have no historical precedents — smart cities, smart utilities, smart homes, autonomous vehicles and connected medical devices among them. Second, because we live in world where almost everything can have a sensor embedded in or associated with it that collects data about the activities and environment around it, there is much more data available for actuaries and risk managers to analyze and provide surety against. With the capability we have today to measure practically anything, the universe of transactions to insure is much larger. In some cases it’s even possible to reduce the cost of insurance while proactively mitigating risk.
More>>

Tesla Model 3 Vs. Amtrak’s Acela Express: The Electric Future Acid Test

September 18, 2018

The basic idea was simple: Race a car against a train. It’s a story as old as the automobile, dating back to those Fitzgeraldian days when wealthy white men would race their newfangled Rovers and Bentleys against the likes of France’s Blue Train simply for kicks. But our version at The Drive came with a distinctly 21st Century twist: Run one of the latest and greatest electric cars against the nation’s top-of-the-line electric train from New York City to Boston, in a battle for no less than the future of American transportation supremacy. (Or, at the very least, bragging rights.)

To represent the United States’s mass transit system, there could be only one choice: the Amtrak Acela Express.
More>>

How infrastructure can improve mass evacuations

September 13, 2018

Sean Qian, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said the country’s state transportation departments have been able to amass considerable information about driving patterns and the use of highways and main arterials during the last decade. That data could be useful in creating models that can inform officials’ plans for high-capacity events like a mass evacuation. Closing lanes, reprogramming traffic signals and emergency traffic routing are some of the measures on the table when trying to get people from point A to point B safely and efficiently in such a situation, he said.

Emergency information should be managed and dispensed from a centralized, informed state agency, he said, as current crowdsourced driving apps, like GasBuddy, have not proven reliable for such large-scale, coordinated use as a mass evacuation.
More>>

The big timeline of Uber’s 2 years of testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

September 13, 2018

Two years ago, reporters from across the country flocked to Pittsburgh for two days of secretive media briefings on a new pilot program from Uber.

The company had opened its Advanced Technologies Group here the previous year and was already testing autonomous cars on Pittsburgh streets. But two years ago Friday, Uber started allowing ride share users to be picked up and dropped off in its self-driving cars.

While Uber wasn’t the first autonomous vehicle tester in Pittsburgh — or the latest one — the company has been the most visible, both on the streets and in headlines. But Uber paused testing for nearly four months this year after a fatal crash in Arizona, effectively ending the pilot program for riders for now.
More>>

FHWA awards funding to nine states for innovative highway projects

September 13, 2018

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently announced $8.4 million in Accelerated Innovation Deployment (AID) Demonstration awards to the state transportation agencies in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Utah.

Projects will soon be under way in each state to improve safety and operational efficiency of roads and bridges using cutting-edge pavement materials, engineering techniques, and connected-vehicle technology.
More>>