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Top 12 Ways People Could Prank a Fully Driverless Vehicle

January 18, 2019

In fact, university researchers have studied this very issue and discovered several Achilles heels for autonomous vehicles, as we’ll explain. They and resistance pioneers like the Chandler rock throwers will help people adapt to a world of autonomous cars, flying drones, and sidewalk creepers that experts say is inevitable, by helping define the limits of human tolerance. They’ll also make artificial intelligence even better, as computers learn to avoid the unpredictable, lesser angels of our nature.

Below are a dozen ways people could mess with fully autonomous vehicles — or, to be more accurate, ways that autonomous vehicles can be messed with. These are not suggestions for actual behavior, clearly, because they may break the law or cause someone to be injured. Other methods may be harmless:
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Ford and Volkswagen form global alliance, will start by building trucks and vans

January 17, 2019

Ford and the Volkswagen Group are combining forces in a global alliance, and they will start by making pickup trucks together, the two automakers announced on Tuesday. The companies will also build commercial vans together, and are exploring collaborations on autonomous and electric vehicles as well as new mobility services.

Neither company is taking an ownership stake in the other, which is the case in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. But the Ford and Volkswagen partnership will be overseen by a joint committee with an equal number of people representing each automaker. The medium-sized pickup truck will be built for both companies as early as 2022.
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Tampa transit system invests in smart tech for connected vehicles

January 17, 2019

Tampa is updating its traffic management system for the 21st Century. Funded through a $40-million grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, the transit system upgrade will include new equipment, such as cameras, sensors, and fiber-optic cables, as well as software, to pave the road for a rollout of connected vehicles by 2020.

The city created the Smart Mobility Division in early 2018 to spearhead the implementation of the technology.

“Think of it as building a tablet on top of which we can run a smart city application,” says Vik Bhide, manager of the Smart Mobility Division.
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Mcity test concept would assess driverless vehicle safety before they take on public roads

January 17, 2019

Mcity at the University of Michigan has outlined a test track-based concept for evaluating the safety of highly automated vehicles before they’re tested on public roads that could emerge as a model for a voluntary standard for safety testing.

The project comes after two highly publicized fatalities last year stoked consumer fears about the safety of driverless vehicles and slowed development of the technologies that have the potential to save lives, conserve energy and expand accessibility to transportation.

The Mcity ABC Test concept would create an independent safety assessment for highly automated vehicles. It would be a key element in a three-pronged approach to HAV testing, along with simulation and on-road evaluation. Mcity is a public-private partnership led by U-M to accelerate advanced mobility vehicles and technologies.
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Chicago, New York discounted most public input in expanding bike systems

January 17, 2019

When New York and Chicago decided to expand their public bike share systems a few years back, city officials tried to go about it democratically. Using community meetings, workshops and interactive maps, they asked the public where they wanted new bike stations to be built…

Ultimately, though, just a fraction of the docking stations were built in the places recommended by the public, according to our new research on participatory bike share planning in Chicago and New York.

New Yorkers suggested 2,000 sites as locations for new bike stations in their city, using the transportation department’s interactive online map. But our study, published in the Journal of the American Planning Association, shows that just 5 percent of bike docks built during the 2014-2015 expansion are located within 100 feet of suggested sites.
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The curb; your enthusiasm

January 17, 2019

Some cities see curbs that line their paved streets as emergency routes. Some see curbs as places for people to convene as they hold for a walk signal, pick up or drop off passengers, grab a bike-share or wait for a bus. Many see curbs as a parking destination — Seattle, for instance, has 514,000 on-street spots serving a total population of around 704,000. Some see curbs as all of the above.

However, the curb’s role as a parking destination, in particular, was not a mainstream thing until 1972. In fact, it was illegal to park anything on a curb for more than a few hours in New York City until 1950. That’s why there’s clear practicality in cities working with industry players to take concerted, diverse steps to decrease road congestion and improve urban mobility. More importantly, the civic technology and transportation communities in cities everywhere have an opportunity to return the curb to the public.
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StreetLight Data releases tool to measure bike, pedestrian traffic

January 17, 2019

Mobility analytics firm StreetLight Data Inc. is debuting an analytics capability to measure bicycle and pedestrian traffic alongside vehicle traffic at any intersection. The new feature is available in the Multi Mode subscription to the StreetLight InSight platform.

The feature can distinguish bikes and pedestrians, which it says can help transportation planners measure the impact of multimodal investments and get a better sense of the mobility mix in a city.
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China’s Waymo rival quietly launched an Uber-style app for driverless cars, making it one of the first to do so

January 17, 2019

Pony.ai, one of China’s most valuable driverless car start-ups, has launched an app that allows users to hail an autonomous taxi, making it one of the first companies to do so.

The app, which was quietly launched in late December, allows a user to hail a self-driving taxi from a pre-set location in Nansha, which is part of Guangzhou in southern China. The car can travel to specific areas that have been set by the company such as its offices or residential areas.

Currently, only employees and a few VIP users are using the app, which is a mini-program built within WeChat, China’s most popular messaging service. Rides are free for now.
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How America’s dying rust belt town can transform into “smart cities” of the future

January 17, 2019

Christina Cassotis, the Pittsburgh International Airport’s first female CEO, hopes that the city’s economic innovation can be felt from the moment visitors land. The airport has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to run an “innovations lab” that will test how automation and robotics can help the airport run “more efficiently, raise revenue, operate better, and improve the passenger experience,” Cassotis says.

“If we do it right, we will impact the industry from here,” she adds. “From here, there will be learning, there will be products, there will be processes that comes out of this [new] terminal and the way we work that will make the (airport) industry better.”

In Pittsburgh, CMU is the epicenter of innovation where the self-driving car was born in the 1980s. Since then, CMU has acted as a hub for collaborations and entrepreneurial activity, filling the city’s Oakland and Lawrenceville neighborhoods with coworking spaces, incubators, and accelerators.
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How Engineers Working Pro Bono Solved New York’s Toughest Subway Problem

January 17, 2019

It took just a few weeks for a small team of university engineers working pro bono to solve a problem that has vexed the nation’s largest transit agency and a global consulting firm for years.

In 26 days, starting Dec. 7 through New Year’s Day, six engineers from Columbia and Cornell universities developed a workaround to avoid the full shutdown of a busy section of New York City’s L-train subway line that has been planned—and dreaded—for more than two years.

In an interview Friday, the deans of the engineering schools said their solution drew on technology and ideas used in subways, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure around the world. There was no eureka moment—just a succession of proposals that coalesced, said Mary Boyce, dean of Columbia University’s engineering school.
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Engineer Scales Up 3D-Printed Concrete Structures

January 17, 2019

Last month, Megan Kreiger spent more than a week at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, 3D printing a 32-ft-long reinforced concrete footbridge. When she first arrived, it rained so much there were mud slides. “It’s hard to print in torrential downpours,” she says. “It was crazy.”

The skies eventually cleared, and the bridge, her latest research project, printed. After all work on the custom gap crossing is done, Kreiger aims to 3D print a modern-day version of a Bailey bridge. “It would be phenomenal if we could make a bridge that could support a tank,” she says.

The footbridge pilot project came on the heels of a successful Kreiger-led research project—the first full-scale 3D-printed reinforced concrete building in the U.S. engineered for permitting.
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The ‘Driverless Experience’ Looks Awfully Distracting

January 17, 2019

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, it looks like the Year of the Self-Driving Car. More than 30,000 square feet of floor space at this annual technology exhibition are covered with technology pointing to an autonomous future: super high-definition maps, LIDAR cameras, and dazzling new vehicles designed to cosset, amuse, and sell stuff to the people inside them.

Indeed, many of the gadgets and ideas on display have less to do with vehicles’ abilities to fully drive themselves—which remains very much a work-in-progress—and more to do with what people will do when they don’t have to drive.

What will the “driverless experience” entail? Lots of staring at each other (or at screens) and not the road, based on a few carmakers’ concepts.
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New Ford tech can stop you being run over, if you have a 5G phone

January 17, 2019

Qualcomm sees a future where cars will not only be able to talk to each other but see and avoid pedestrians and cyclists, as long as they are carrying a phone. What’s more, Ford, Audi and Ducati are among those already on board.

The new tech is called C-V2X and will enable cars, bikes, cyclists and other connected transport devices to see and talk each other. This will operate without having to rely on other technologies, such as the Lidar system already used in many self-driving car prototypes.

The big idea is that cars will be able to see and talk to other cars on the road using a direct connection.
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Pittsburgh startup to compete in new category at SXSW

January 17, 2019

Pittsburgh-based Roadbotics rose to the top of over 800 applications worldwide as one of 50 startups to present at this year’s annual SXSW Pitch competition held in Austin in March, and gaining visibility at the competition’s location is a strategic move for the company.

The startup, which combines machine vision and machine learning technology with smartphones to diagnose road defects, a useful tool for city public works departments, will present alongside four other startups in the newly-added artificial intelligence category. The pitch competition will also feature a new blockchain category this year.
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SK Innovation Eyes $10 Billion Battery Bet After Major VW Order

January 17, 2019

SK Innovation Co. is weighing a $10 billion plan to invest in battery cells, a move that would transform the supplier to Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG into a global leader as the industry pushes to bring electric vehicles to the masses.

The potential expansion would challenge the likes of Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., LG Chem Ltd., and Samsung SDI Co., which are all vying to capitalize on the shift to battery-powered cars. The spending by the South Korean company would extend through 2025 and boost capacity to about 100 gigawatt hours, Chief Executive Officer Jun Kim said in an interview at CES in Las Vegas.
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Ford-Owned Shuttle Startup Chariot Is Shutting Down

January 17, 2019

Chariot, the Ford-owned transportation startup that operates commuter shuttle services in nine North American cities and internationally in London, is shutting down…

Urban mobility is a rapidly-changing market, and with change comes challenges. As more folks move away from car ownership, automakers and transportation service companies alike are vying for the next big business model. Privatized, shuttle-based transportation, a la Chariot, was one experiment in the new way to get around. Scooters, not shuttles, are the new new thing today, and Ford has already jumped into that market by acquiring Spin, a scooter service company.
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CES is now one of the world’s biggest auto shows as Ford to Uber debut new technology

January 17, 2019

With its glossy black finish, five-person cabin and six huge fan pods, the Bell Nexus looks like it belongs on the set of a science fiction film, rather than the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

But it’s just one of the many unusual displays at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show focused on the world of transportation rather than the TVs, smartphones and digital appliances traditionally found at CES.

The auto industry is in the midst of change as radical as anything it has faced since Henry Ford switched on the first moving assembly line more than a century ago. Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen now refer to themselves as “mobility service” companies rather than just automotive manufacturers, and that’s readily apparent as one wanders through the Convention Center.
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Top 10 Industries Transformed By Self-Driving Cars

January 17, 2019

Frenzied competition between companies like Uber and Lyft is converging with both traditional car companies (GM, BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz) and technology leaders (Google, Apple, Tesla) in the race to dominate on-demand mobility. Moving beyond the era of car ownership, commercial industries supporting buses, trains, trucking and construction are also set for disruption. Industries that adapt to these trends will reap significant wealth over the coming decades. While industries that resist these trends will likely disappear completely.

Here are the Top 10 industries set to be transformed by autonomous vehicles:
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Sprint pairs Curiosity IoT with 5G to power smart cities, autonomous vehicles

January 17, 2019

Sprint has announced at CES 2019 that Greenville, South Carolina, will see its first smart city build-out based on both its Curiosity Internet of Things (IoT) platform and mobile 5G network connectivity.

As part of the project, Sprint will deploy Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) technology as well as a dedicated IoT network and “micro-positioning” technology aimed at enabling connected vehicles, smart machines, and autonomous drones to operate and react in real time.
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Towering 45 feet above Lawrenceville, NREC’s latest robot is its tallest

January 10, 2019

Sometimes secretive about its projects, Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center isn’t exactly hiding its tallest robot.

The 45-foot robot has been visible since autumn on NREC’s grounds in Lawrenceville.

“I can see it from my bedroom window in Polish Hill,” said Gabriel Goldman, technical lead for the project.

The machine is a prototype for a larger floating robot the Army Corps of Engineers will call ARMOR 1. It will bind 3,600-pound concrete blocks into mats that will be sunk into the Mississippi River to shore up its banks.
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Aurora, the hot self-driving startup, will be worth $2 billion after an investment by Sequoia

January 9, 2019

The startup Aurora — which is not yet two years old but has made waves in the autonomous-driving industry with a highly regarded executive team from Tesla, Uber, and Google — is slated to be valued at over $2 billion in a new fundraising round, Recode has learned.

Sequoia Capital is expected to lead a financing round of at least $500 million in the company, according to people familiar with the matter. The investment, which hasn’t closed, is shaping up to be the biggest commitment yet by Sequoia, arguably the most prestigious venture capital firm in Silicon Valley, into the booming, capital-intensive world of self-driving car technology in the US.
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Beijing’s takeover of US subway car market raises concerns

January 9, 2019

The warnings sounds like the plot of a Hollywood spy thriller: The Chinese hide malware in a subway rail car’s security camera system that allows surveillance of Pentagon or White House officials as they ride – sending images back to Beijing.

Or sensors on the train secretly record the officials’ conversations. Or a flaw in the software that controls the train – inserted during the manufacturing process – allows it to be hacked by foreign agents or terrorists to cause a crash.

Congress, the Pentagon and industry experts have taken the warnings seriously, and now the Washington, D.C.-area subway system, known as Metro, will do the same. The transit agency recently decided to add cybersecurity safeguards to specifications for a contract it will award later this year for its next-generation rail cars following warnings that China’s state-owned rail car manufacturer could win the deal by undercutting other bidders.
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Packages could be delivered by robodogs riding in robotaxis, Continental hopes

January 9, 2019

A challenge for delivery robot concepts is the need for the bots to travel long distances between drop-off locations, such as moving across an area of several city blocks. Then, of course, the robots need to be small and maneuverable enough to actually make a delivery to a home or place of business. Continental’s approach to this challenge is to break it down into two components: One driverless vehicle about the size of a small car, and a number of smaller delivery robots. The robots can be transported inside the vehicle and then deployed to actually make the delivery.
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The self-driving car industry just acknowledged it has an image problem

January 9, 2019

That gives a good sense of why driverless companies felt the need to form a wide-ranging consortium whose aim is to change the way the public views the industry. Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, or PAVE, which was unveiled at the CES technology trade show in Las Vegas, includes carmakers Audi, General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota and Daimler; driverless technology companies Waymo, Cruise, Aurora and Zoox; and computer chip makers Intel, Nvidia and Mobileye.

The group said it will “seek to bring realistic, factual information to policymakers and the public so consumers and decision-makers understand the technology, its current state and its future potential – including the benefits in safety, mobility and sustainability.”
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Autonomous car hits autonomous robot in bizarre collision

January 9, 2019

In a unique car accident, a self-driving Tesla Model S hit and destroyed an autonomous Promobot, the robot model v4, on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas. The incident took place at 3000 Paradise Road, Las Vegas.

At 7 p.m., the Promobot’s engineers transported robots to the Vegas’s Congress Hall to prepare their booth at the Consumer Electronics Show, being held Jan. 8-11. All the robots were moving in a line. But one of them missed its way and drove to the roadway of the street parking lot.

At that moment, it was hit by a self driving Tesla car.
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