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Ford teaming up with Walmart and Postmates on robot deliveries

November 16, 2018

Ford is joining forces with Walmart and Postmates to create a grocery delivery service using self-driving vehicles in Miami, the companies announced Wednesday.

Ford has been using Miami as a test bed for its self-driving vehicles since earlier this year. And more recently, the auto giant joined with Postmates to see how people ordering takeout food would interact with an autonomous delivery van.

Now Ford is moving to the next stage: grocery delivery. The company says it will experiment with different vehicle types, as well as modifications to those vehicles needed to keep perishable food items fresh. It will also experiment with a variety of scenarios, such as multiple deliveries on one trip and the user experience of retrieving delivery items from a fully driverless vehicle.
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The Coming Battle Over the Car Cockpit

November 14, 2018

If cars do become the next smartphone—a full-blown information and entertainment system but on wheels— Samsung Electronics Co. may have a leg up on its competitors.

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, was a relative nobody in the auto industry until it announced an $8 billion deal two years ago to acquire Harman International Industries Inc., a U.S.-based automotive-technology manufacturer.

Now, paired up with Harman, the South Korean technology giant is one of the biggest players in the market for the top-of-the-line “infotainment” systems that are in cars today. Its plan is to create a “digital cockpit”—a high-tech revamp of a car’s dashboard designed for an ultra-connected vehicle, with a bank of screens from one side of the car to the other.
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The 6 Levels of Autonomous Driving and The Future of Autonomous Cars in China

November 14, 2018

Baidu’s President, Ya-Qin Zhang, and Swedish auto manufacturer Volvo Cars CEO, Håkan Samuelsson discussed their partnership , autonomous driving, and the future of AI cities at Baidu World 2018 in Beijing, China.

Baidu and Volvo Cars have agreed to jointly develop electric and fully autonomous drive-compatible cars with the aim of mass producing them for China, the largest car market in the world.

Baidu, one of Forbes’ World’s Most Innovative Companies 2018, is the leading Chinese Internet search provider. The Swedish company, which aims to be the supplier of choice for mobility companies globally, is the first foreign car maker to collaborate with Baidu.
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Are Uber, Lyft and Driverless Cars Parking Demand for Garages?

November 14, 2018

As the use of ride-hailing apps and automated cars expands, more builders and real estate investors are questioning if garages are a necessity.

About one in three Americans — or 35 percent of the 1,028 adults surveyed — use ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft, according to data from the Toluna Research Group. And by 2025, about 8 million automated vehicles will be traversing U.S. roads without a human at the helm, according to ABI Research estimates.

Such data — paired with trends showing that more people are nixing their cars altogether — begs the question: Just how important is that garage?

The answer, according to a recent survey, is that the garage is not only still essential to most homebuyers, but that the percentage of new homes built without garages is in decline.
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Inside Toyota’s quest to future-proof itself for the auto industry’s ‘life-or-death battle’

November 14, 2018

But one of the clearest glimpses of the future came in Tokyo at the temporary offices of a new company started with a $2.8 billion investment from Toyota. It’s dubbed TRI-AD, or Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development, and as at the Plano-based Toyota Connected, working there is supposed to be different from working for the automaker.

The company has been charged with turbo-boosting Toyota’s autonomous vehicle research and development. Its recently hired head, James Kuffner, who came from the TRI office in Silicon Valley, has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and worked at Google from 2009 to 2016.
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It’s Not All Hyperloops: Elon Musk Wants To Dig Your City’s Next Sewer

November 14, 2018

Elon Musk’s big ideas usually involve revolutions in clean power, electric cars, Mars colonies and high-speed tube travel, but the billionaire entrepreneur wants U.S. cities to know that when it comes to the Boring Company he has a practical side, too. In fact, his new tunnel-oriented endeavor will do a lot more than just make vacuum-tube Hyperloops—it’ll build your new sewer lines…

“Moving cars underground in cities is expensive, but having power, water, sewer, communications and other utilities underground in cities is essential. And a lot of these systems are old and in bad shape,” said Constantine Samaras, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “Often fixing utilities means cutting open the street and disrupting traffic.”

“If the Boring Co. can use their tunneling technology to make it faster and cheaper to install and upgrade underground utilities, it will be a big benefit to cities,” he said.
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Michigan’s former transportation chief has some advice for wannabe smart cities

November 13, 2018

After more than three decades maintaining and upgrading Michigan’s transportation systems, the state’s former head of transportation division (Michigan Department of Transportation, or MDOT), Kirk Steudle, has seen it all. Working with partners, big and small, and tackling problems, also big and small, Steudle has been on the front lines of smart city dreams and disappointments — not to mention witnessing the disruptions in the automotive world, with three of the world’s biggest automakers right in his backyard…

“I hate the term smart cities,” Steudle said. “It implies that if you’re not promoting it, you’re being dumb. And it’s more than cities. It’s communities and a transportation network that isn’t just one geographical space.”

Steudle points out that planners need to emphasize the interconnectedness of mobility solutions with community goals, whether or not those solutions are perceived of as being high-tech.
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Scooters: We answer your questions about this latest transportation trend

November 12, 2018

Almost overnight, electric scooters have seemingly become ubiquitous on streets and sidewalks in cities across the United States.

From joyriding teens to commuters to tourists, this latest transportation trend has been met with excitement — and dread, from some corners, as confusion abounds over rules for use, whether they are considered motor vehicles and where they can be ridden.

And they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon…

Love them or hate them, scooters appear to be here to stay, so we will try to answer some of the most common questions we have received about them.
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How MINI’s startup accelerator URBAN-X is reimagining city life

November 12, 2018

URBAN-X’s goal – shared by MINI and Urban.US – is to find the best startups and most creative founders working on urban innovation and help scale those ideas to 100 cities over the next five years. The program offers startups an immersive five months of help, including business and technical support, product development and branding support, as well as mentorship and connections to customers and investors. “Cities are where the growth is and where the majority of the world’s population currently lives,” says Micah Kotch. “If you want to solve the world’s problems, you have to solve urban problems.”…

The URBAN-X programme worked for RoadBotics, a startup with a simple solution to a long-running problem: maintaining road surfaces. Ever since the Romans laid down roads, someone has had to drive along inspecting the concrete for telltale cracks – first it was via chariot, and now it’s trained pavement engineers in the back of a pickup-truck, notes Mark DeSantis, CEO of RoadBotics.
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Sidewalk Labs-Backed Coord Releases App for Mapping Street Curbs

November 12, 2018

The more popular bikes, e-bikes, scooters and carpools become, the more important it will be for people to know curbside rules.

Realizing that most cities don’t have a full digital record of these rules for any given place or time, Coord, a cloud-based city planning platform backed by Alphabet subsidiary Sidewalk Labs in New York, released an iPhone app called Surveyor last month for collecting data on street features such as parking signs, fire hydrants and curb cuts.

According to a blog post from Coord head of product Amit Glazer, the idea behind the app was to expedite the time-consuming task of having a surveyor manually write down descriptions of every marker and space on every road.
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Zendrive, Lyft, Uber, and Lime partner to award $50,000 for traffic safety plan

November 12, 2018

Toward that end, Zendrive, together with Lyft, Uber, Lime, Bird, Juno, HopSkipDrive, and nonprofits StopDistractions.org, Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Together for Safer Roads, today announced a partnership — #FundMyStreets — that’ll award $50,000 to programs to improve public safety.

“As parents, caregivers, and members of our school communities, our greatest responsibility is to keep kids safe,” Matus said. “Our mission is to use data to make roads safe.”

U.S. applicants have until November 26 at 11:59 p.m. PT to submit a road safety plan proposal. Finalists, who will be notified by November 30, have to produce a 30-second video via Twitter and tag it “@zendrive “and “#FundMyStreets.” The clip that receives the most likes and retweets — and that passes the judges’ muster — will be announced as the winner at a ceremony on December 16.
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Never Is Not Answer When Law Commission Asks Whether Driverless Cars Can Nudge Pedestrians

November 12, 2018

Rather amazingly, a legal peek into the future governance of autonomous vehicles has asked when it might be “required” for driverless cars to break the law – and the answer seems to be “plenty of times.” A joint consultation by the Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission has suggested creating a “digital Highway Code” that would allow carmakers to program AVs to exceed speed limits, drive up on to sidewalks and “edge through pedestrians.”

The lawyers who drew up the consultation agree such measures would be “controversial” and that “we have not yet reached any conclusions” so they “welcome your views.”
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San Jose launching self-driving car program

November 12, 2018

San Jose residents may soon see driverless cars shuttling passengers between downtown and Santana Row.

The Bay Area’s largest city on Thursday announced it has signed an agreement to launch an autonomous vehicle pilot project with Mercedes-Benz and Bosch.

The project is expected to kick off in the second half of 2019 as an on-demand ride hailing service…

Waymo has been testing vehicles across the region and Auto X launched a grocery delivery service in San Jose with self-driving cars.

But Mercedes-Benz and Bosch are the first companies to partner directly with the city in a move officials say will be mutually beneficial. The companies will be able to tap into the city’s interconnected traffic signal system, which will let them time trips better. And the city will gain access to data about traffic congestion and vehicle speed.
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Ford buying San Francisco-area e-scooter startup Spin

November 12, 2018

Ford Motor Co (F.N) said Thursday it will join the mushrooming micro-mobility movement with the acquisition of 2-year-old Spin, an electric scooter rental firm based in San Francisco.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker, one of the first to enter the sector, will invest about $200 million in Spin, according to a source familiar with the acquisition.

The purchase price is dwarfed by investments in — and valuations awarded to — Lime and Bird, the U.S. market leaders in a sector that only started to accelerate about eight months ago.
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Transit app raises $17.5M with the help of unlikely investors: automakers

November 12, 2018

Dive Brief:

Public transit data app Transit has raised $17.5 million in its latest round of funding.

The funding will go toward the continued development of the Transit app, particularly integrating additional services and car-free transportation options.

The leading investor is Alliance Ventures, a joint investment arm of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi. InMotion Ventures, a Jaguar Land Rover investment arm, also is a prime contributor.
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Tesla Could Have Full Self-Driving Cars On The Road By 2019, Elon Musk Says

November 12, 2018

Speaking with Recode’s editor-at-large Kara Swisher, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he’s confident that the carmaker will achieve full self-driving next year, in 2019, ahead of any other car manufacturer.

“I don’t want to sound overconfident, but I would be very surprised if any of the car companies exceeded Tesla in self-driving, in getting to full self-driving,” confided Musk. “They’re just not good at software. And this is a software problem.”

However, in the race to fully autonomous driving, Musk does think that Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car division, would be Tesla’s closest competitor although he doesn’t believe anyone comes close to Tesla “in terms of achieving a general solution.”
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What Jaguar says about the battery in its new electric car

November 8, 2018

Earlier this year, Jaguar launched a premium electric car, the I-PACE, introducing a new luxury competitor to Tesla. The I-PACE has received good reviews, and its larger battery gave it a longer range on a single charge than the Tesla Model X, based on European standardized tests. A few weeks ago, however, US standardized tests results were published and the I-Pace performed worse than the Model X.

Quartz asked Venkat Viswanathan and his team at Carnegie Mellon University to explain the discrepancy—you can read the story here. For transparency, below are the answers we received from Jaguar in response to our questions.
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Connected Work Zones Improve Worker Safety

November 8, 2018

iCone initially developed the Smart Safety Barrel as a way of communicating work zone traffic data to a central location. This helped with developing and planning for a smart work zone and traffic management, but Sheckler quickly realized this technology could do more to keep workers safe.

“We thought about what we could do to let every driver know exactly where a worker was,” Sheckler says. “We realized we could place sensors around a work zone and create a network center around the work zone.”

The iCone sensors can be placed along the jobsite and via radar sensors, the technology knows where the stopped traffic event starts and ends and can communicate those messages effectively…

iCone has partnered with Waze and other navigation companies to find ways to reach into the car and “wake the driver up.”
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Elon Musk shows off the Boring Company ‘disturbingly long’ LA tunnel in a short video

November 8, 2018

In October, Elon Musk said that the Boring Company’s proof-of-concept tunnel in LA will open to the public on December 10th. Last night, he said on Twitter that the opening is still on track, and posted a video of his walk down the entire length of the tunnel.

The sped-up video takes just over 30 seconds, and shows off the two-mile-long tunnel that Musk describes as “disturbingly long.”

Construction on the tunnel began over a year ago, and extends from SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California headquarters, to an LA suburb. Since then, the Boring Company has been selected to build tunnels for Chicago and Washington DC, and has sketched out plans to build a larger network of tunnels under LA, with the aim of reducing congestion. The tunnels will theoretically use autonomous, electric skates to move anywhere from 8 to 16 people along the system’s rails at speeds anywhere from 124 mph to 155 mph.
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General Motors unveils electric bicycles that will arrive in 2019

November 8, 2018

It might sound counterintuitive for a car company to make a product that serves as an alternative to cars.

But that’s exactly what General Motors is doing.

GM has designed two electric bicycles and plans to sell them beginning in 2019.

The company joins ride-hailing app companies Uber and Lyft as well as rival automaker Ford in trying to capitalize on the surging market for bikes as a form of urban transportation…

GM announced the e-bikes Friday along with a contest asking the public to name them for the chance to win $10,000. The company, which already makes electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Bolt, showed off an e-bike concept in 2015 but has said little about the project since then.
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TESLA’S AUTOPILOT NOW CHANGES LANES—AND YOU’RE GONNA HELP IT OUT

November 7, 2018

“Tesla and other vehicle manufacturers really need to understand how humans interact with different levels of autonomy,” says Costa Samaras, a civil engineer who studies electric and autonomous vehicles at Carnegie Mellon University. Do drivers use the suggestions? How confident are they in them, and how quickly do they notice and accept them?

Which setting do they use for how aggressive lane changes are?

“These types of partially automated features, where there’s a very visible human in the loop, enables them to get data and eventually make their systems better,” says Samaras.
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NEW SYSTEM UNDERWAY TO DETERMINE ROAD RECOVERY TIME DURING SNOW EVENTS

November 7, 2018

Researchers at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) have developed a system that can use highway loop detector traffic flow and weather data to determine when road conditions have recovered from a snow event. Currently, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) relies on snowplow drivers to estimate when roads are back to normal. The new system aims to relieve drivers of that burden and increase overall fleet efficiency.

In two previous MnDOT-funded projects, UMD researchers looked at using data from loop detectors along with weather station data to develop an automated system that determines normal condition regain time (NCRT) based on changes in traffic flow patterns. The goal is to improve the accuracy of road condition estimates and give dispatchers a big-picture view of traffic flow.
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5G Wireless Networks? Prepare for a Ton of New Equipment

November 7, 2018

5G, the nickname for the next generation of wireless networks, seems great—until you think about all of the very real wires that will need to be put in place to ensure its promises of faster data exchange, lower latency, energy savings, and cost reductions.

Aren’t today’s cities crowded enough? I asked Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer for mobile-industry trade group GSMA, in September at the Mobile World Congress Americas convention in Los Angeles.

“When you go to this very high speed, you go to shorter range, so you do have to have more antennas and data centers close to where the content is being consumed,” he says, adding: “You need to have, essentially, an antenna per lamppost.”
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Penn and CHOP receive major grant to help curb distracted driving

November 7, 2018

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 3,450 drivers are killed each year from distracted driving. M. Kit Delgado, MD, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Epidemiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and an associate fellow at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and a team from Penn and CHOP have received a major grant from the Federal Highway Administration, an agency within the United States Department of Transportation, to help curb distracted driving. The team will investigate strategies — such as redesigning insurance discounts — for reducing cell phone use while driving. The $2.3 million project, which includes $1.84 million in federal funds in addition to contributed funding from several participating organizations, is one of the largest federally-funded research projects to address driving and cell phone use.
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How MaaS Public Transit Is Changing The World

November 7, 2018

Advances in autonomous mobility, which is a crucial link in deploying affordable MaaS at scale, have the potential to make it vastly easier for public transit agencies to reach new service areas — so-called “gray zones” where public transportation is not practical for economic or geographic reasons. The infrastructure required for these services is much lower, as no new rails or overhead power lines are needed.

A report by Carnegie Mellon University for the city of Pittsburgh recommends autonomous shuttles as a way to expand public transportation because “a single bus costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to own and operate, with about 70% of operating costs coming from wages and benefits to drivers. An autonomous shuttle avoids these costs.”
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