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10 Ways Smart Cities Will Restructure The Economy

February 11, 2019

When the devices start becoming smarter, it inevitably leads to a smarter ecosystem of devices. The extension of such a development forms something that is called a smart city – A whole city that uses electronics to keep the area running at high or peak efficiency.

Such a development surely means that existing technologies need to be upgraded to meet the specifications and demands of the system. This costs investment and the government of a state or a country is responsible to make the investment.

Like anything that we invest in, if it doesn’t return any tangible value, the money goes down the drain with nothing of an impact to speak about, both for the government and the people who live within the city.
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Philadelphia Adopts Smart City Road Map

February 11, 2019

Smart city projects in Philadelphia are set to move forward in a more collaborative and organized fashion, better integrating private-sector partners, community stakeholders and public agencies.

Philadelphia released its SmartCityPHL Roadmap, a foundational document that serves as the guideline for growing innovation and collaboration across a number of city agencies.

About two years ago when Philadelphia began exploring the idea of crafting a smart cities strategy, officials realized, “there was already a lot that was happening related to this larger strategy around smart cities,” said Ellen Hwang, smart city director in the Office of Innovation and Technology.
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Pittsburghers Still Feel Safer Beside Self-Driving Cars Than Those Driven By Humans

February 7, 2019

Bike Pittsburgh released its second-ever survey on how Pittsburgh cyclists and pedestrians feel about sharing the roads with self-driving cars.

The group’s advocacy director, Eric Boerer, talked to 90.5 WESA’s The Confluence just before the survey was released Tuesday. He said the death of Elaine Herzberg, who was struck in March by a self-driving Uber in Tempe, Ariz., last year, clearly affected the results.

“For the most part, people still feel pretty confident about the technology itself, but it really soured how they feel about Uber,” and how the company handled its aftermath, Boerer said.

The survey, which includes data and excerpts from its 795 respondents, finds Pittsburghers still feel safer alongside self-driving cars than those driven by their human counterparts, but would support better policy that’s more clearly communicated to the public. Just over 1,100 people responded to a similarly worded survey in 2017.
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Lime raises another $310 million, bringing its valuation to $2.4 billion

February 7, 2019

Confirming rumors that have been swirling for some time, on-demand electric scooter and bike startup Lime today announced that it has closed a $310 million series D financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz, Bain Capital Ventures, Fidelity Investments, GV, and IVP. It values the company at a whopping $2.4 billion — double the previous valuation of $1.1 billion.

Existing investors Alphabet, Coatue, Fifth Wall, GGV Capital, Singapore’s GIC, and others participated, along with several new investors including GSV Capital, FJ Labs, Bling Capital, Europe’s GR Capital, and St. Augustine Partners. CEO Toby Sun said the funding will be used to expand Lime’s service into new markets, enhance its technology, grow its team, and pilot “new opportunities.”
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Oil companies and utilities are buying up all the electric car charging startups

February 7, 2019

For decades, oil and gas companies and utilities dismissed electric cars. Now, the old petroleum and power giants are muscling into the driver’s seat of the “new fuels” industry.

It’s projected to be a big business. McKinsey counts more than 350 new electric vehicle (EV) models debuting by 2025, one of the conditions for mass-market adoption. Global demand for gasoline is set to peak around 2021 thanks to electric vehicles (EVs) and fuel efficiency gains. The energy research and consultancy Wood Mackenzie predicts charging infrastructure investment in the US will exceed $18 billion annually by 2030 for equipment, installation, operations, and services. China is expected to have three times more energy demand from EVs by then.
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Why Ford Hired a Furniture Maker as CEO

February 6, 2019

ur lives are made up of human-machine interactions—with smartphones, televisions, internet-enabled parking meters that don’t accept quarters— that have the power to delight and, often, infuriate. (“Maddening” is Hackett’s one-word description for 90-button TV remotes.) Into this arena has stepped a new class of professional: the user-experience, or UX, designer, whose job is to see a product not from an engineer’s, marketer’s, or legal department’s perspective but from the viewpoint of the user alone. And to insist that the customer should not have to learn to speak the company’s internal language. The company should learn to speak the customer’s.

LinkedIn lists tens of thousands of UX job openings; the role has become a fixture on those year-end “hottest job” lists. If you want to study UX, you now have the option at some three dozen institutions in the United States, including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Washington. But Ford is one of the few major industrial companies in the U.S. to put a UX guru in charge.
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Speed, Distracted Driving Make U.S. Safety Board’s ‘Most Wanted’

February 6, 2019

Federal safety advocates are targeting three of the worst habits by drivers that kill more than 10,000 people a year: speeding, impaired driving and distractions from electronic gadgets.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board unveiled its “Most Wanted” list of safety enhancements on Monday and three of the 10 focused on driver behaviors that could help reduce the annual death toll on the roadways that now exceed 37,000 a year.

Another four spotlight such things as sleepy drivers, better anti-collision technology and mandating seat belts on buses and other types of vehicles.

The NTSB is bucking controversy with some of its push. It wants more use of speed cameras, for example, which are unpopular with motorists.
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The Cost of Self-Driving Cars Will Be the Biggest Barrier to Their Adoption

February 6, 2019

Our results suggest we need to change how we think about the future of mobility. Thus far, public scrutiny of self-driving technology has centered around answering questions like how safe is “safe enough?” Can safety provision be left to the private marketplace? And, are existing regulations effective and worthwhile? Addressing these questions is important given self-driving technology’s potential to address what the United Nations has labelled a major public health problem. Doing so, however, demands making the technology cost competitive with existing, older vehicles. Our work suggests this is unlikely.

In our view, consumer subsidies will be crucial to realizing the life-saving benefits of this technology. Although politically challenging, public revenues already pay for a portion of road crash-related expenditures. In the United States alone, this amounts to $18 billion, the equivalent of over $156 in added taxes for every household.
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CMU to receive nearly $3M in funding from U.S. Department of Transportation

February 6, 2019

Carnegie Mellon University was one of 32 universities selected nationally to receive funding by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the department announced Tuesday.

CMU will receive just over $2.8 million for its role as a University Transportation Center. According to the federal agency, the UTCs “are comprised of groups of universities seeking solutions to national, regional and local transportation issues.

A total of $60 million will be distributed among the 32 UTCs.

As one of five national UTCs, CMU’s funding is among the highest being given to a single university. The other four receiving $2.8 million each are Portland State University, the University of North Carolina, the Regents of the University of California-Davis, and Virginia Tech.
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5 reasons why autonomous cars aren’t coming anytime soon

February 6, 2019

When it’s heavy enough to cover the pavement, snow blocks the view of lane lines that vehicle cameras use to find their way. Researchers so far haven’t figured out a way around this. That’s why much of the testing is done in warm-weather climates such as Arizona and California.

Heavy snow, rain, fog and sandstorms can obstruct the view of cameras. Light beams sent out by laser sensors can bounce off snowflakes and think they are obstacles. Radar can see through the weather, but it doesn’t show the shape of an object needed for computers to figure out what it is.

“It’s like losing part of your vision,” says Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
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DHL goes a little greener with 63 new Workhorse electric delivery trucks

February 6, 2019

Logistics giant DHL has welcomed a new set of zero-emission vehicles into its delivery fleet, today announcing plans to deploy 63 electric cargo vans acquired from electric mobility startup Workhorse. The deal is part of DHL’s wider plan to clean up the first- and last-mile portions of its operations.

DHL has outlined plans to use clean transport solutions for 70 percent of its first- and last-mile journeys by 2025, and reduce its emissions to zero by 2050. And it has taken some noteworthy steps to that end, investing in the development of its own electric vehicles, including vans and drones.

It is not the first delivery titan to turn to Workhorse in an effort to clean up its act. FedEx recently collaborated with the company to put the first fuel cell electric delivery van on the road in North America, while UPS also bought 50 of its electric trucks back in February.
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Nissan-Renault alliance to join Google on self-driving cars

February 6, 2019

The alliance of Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors plans to join Google’s camp for developing autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles, Nikkei has learned.

The automakers intend to work with Waymo, a Google spinoff that is among the leaders in technology for self-driving cars. The companies are in the final phase of talks, and plan to announce the arrangement as early as spring.

The partnership would unite a car alliance whose global sales totaled 10.8 million automobiles in 2018 with a developer whose self-driving vehicles have traveled over 10 million miles on U.S. public roads as of October. Waymo has forged similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, but the Nissan-Renault alliance boasts greater scale.
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Why Self Driving Cars Could Actually Make Traffic Nightmarish: Analysis

February 6, 2019

The fully autonomous cars that big-name tech companies like Tesla and Waymo are striving to make a reality have been the subject of some pretty bold claims. Even the presence of a few self-driving cars on the road, some have alleged, could drastically reduce the prevalence of traffic jams. But new analysis published Thursday in the journal Transport Policy suggests not only that the traffic jam-alleviating prowess of self-driving cars has been over-sold, the presence of these cars on the road might actually wind up making traffic worse. Like, a lot worse.

The problem? Existing models underestimated the potential for robot-fueled gridlock brought about by all those autonomous vehicles aimlessly cruising through cities to avoid parking fees. Instead of posting up in a parking garage while you’re shopping, AVs will be incentivized to slowly circle around the block to dodge payments.
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Studies note steep climb to improve rural transportation

February 6, 2019

No car. No go. That’s long been the deal for people in rural Western Massachusetts, where life is all but impossible without owning a vehicle.

When it comes to rural transportation, past looks like prologue, two recent studies suggest. Amid talk of renewed rail travel to and from the Berkshires, public transportation is thin or nonexistent outside urban centers.

And when “self-driving” cars come of age, expect rural regions to fall further behind, officials caution. Hundreds of country roads in Berkshire County will be off-limits to autonomous vehicles, unless telecommunications gaps are plugged and roads themselves improved.

“Absent some change in policy, the future of transportation in rural areas may look very similar to what exists today,” the Berkshire County Selectmen’s Association concluded in a recent report.
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AI predicts parking availability by using weather, traffic speed, and meter data

February 6, 2019

We’ve all been there: You drive miles to a venue only to discover that, to your dismay, every parking space is fully occupied. Apps like Google Maps, which can predict busyness based on historical data, can help to a degree, but what if you’re in need of a more adaptable solution? Enter research by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, who describe in a newly published paper on the preprint server Arxiv.org an AI system for predicting parking occupancy in real time.

Rather than collect data from parking sensors, which the study’s coauthors contend are susceptible to failure and error, they draw on parking meter transactions to first estimate parking availability before using additional data for prediction. An estimated 95 percent of on-street paid parking is managed by meters, making their model more generalizable than sensor-dependent systems…

In tests, the model outperformed others’ baseline methods when predicting parking occupancies 30 minutes in advance, the researchers say. They credit the weather and traffic speed data for the AI system’s superior performance — particularly the weather data, which boosted prediction accuracy in recreational areas.
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Cisco leads massive rural 5G trial aimed at revolutionizing agriculture

February 6, 2019

Developed by Cisco and Scotland’s University of Strathclyde with UK government funding, the 5G RuralFirst initiative has been building rural 5G test sites in the Orkney Islands, Shropshire, and Somerset since last June. Using hardware from 10 different wireless vendors, the sites are testing radio frequencies Europe has earmarked for 5G: long distance but slower 700MHz; suburban- and city-scale 3.5GHz; and short distance but super fast 26GHz millimeter wave.

5G RuralFirst’s inclusion of 700MHz spectrum is particularly important because bringing 5G service to rural areas requires far-reaching radio signals that can blanket large spaces with low population densities. In the United States, T-Mobile has said that it will use similar 600MHz spectrum to cover “hundreds of square miles” with a single 5G tower, reducing the buildout requirements for a national 5G network while reaching rural customers.
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Sodium is the new lithium

February 5, 2019

Researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology (NITech) in Japan have demonstrated that a specific material can act as an efficient battery component for sodium-ion batteries that will compete with lithium-ion batteries for several battery characteristics, especially speed of charge.

Lithium-ion batteries have several benefits: they are rechargeable and have a wide application spectrum. They are used in devices such as laptops and cell phones as well as in hybrid and fully electric cars.

The electric vehicle is an important player in the efforts to solve the energy and environmental crises. One downside to lithium is the fact that it is a limited resource.
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Microsoft and TomTom are working on location-based apps in the cloud

February 5, 2019

As part of the expanded deal, the companies said, TomTom will be “a leading location data provider” for Azure and Bing Maps. Azure Maps allows companies to build maps, routing and traffic data into their cloud-based apps, for example, to create Internet of Things, logistics and asset tracking services.

Building the maps in Azure reduces the latency to customer applications, said Tara Prakriya, partner group program manager of Azure Maps and connected vehicles. “Azure customers across industries end up winning when their geospatial data and analytics, TomTom data, and Azure Maps services are all running together in the same cloud,” she said.

For example, using the Azure Maps routing services powered by TomTom allows for better distribution of goods to retailers, restaurants and homes.
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New fare agreement to provide mobility for homeless in Arkansas

February 5, 2019

North Little Rock, Arkansas’ Rock Region METRO is launching a new fare agreement program with the Arkansas Homeless Coalition to provide transportation for individuals actively engaged in temporary and supported housing and vocational development programming.

The Transportation Alliance Project is a pilot fare agreement program that expands and diversifies the current fare agreement model METRO has with area academic institutions. Through TAP, the Arkansas Homeless Coalition will pay a flat monthly fee to METRO for a program total of 1,000 eligible riders on the METRO system. Riders will be vetted by the Coalition’s partner organizations participating in TAP and determined eligible for participation by the Coalition on a monthly basis, depending on individuals’ active participation in partner programs for temporary and supported housing and vocational development.
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Singapore releases guidelines for deployment of autonomous vehicles

February 4, 2019

Singapore has released a set of national standards to guide the local industry in the “safe” development and rollout of autonomous vehicles, outlining guidelines related to vehicle behaviour, functional safety, cybersecurity, and data formats. Called Technical Reference 68 (TR 68), the standards were developed over the past year by various representatives from the autonomous vehicle sector, research and education institutions, and government agencies.

The effort was led by the Singapore Standards Council’s Manufacturing Standards Committee and also included advice from overseas experts, according to a statement Thursday jointly released by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Enterprise Singapore, Standards Development Organisation, and Singapore Standards Council.
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I-95 Express Lanes In Virginia Host Successful Cooperative Automation Trials

February 4, 2019

One of the most successful managed lane projects in the United States has taken its place as a test bed for some of the most important concepts on the road to introducing autonomous and connected vehicles on American roadways.

The trials combined speed harmonization with connected automation technologies, such as platooning and cooperative merging on the managed lanes, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported late last year, in a five-minute YouTube video (link is external) that summarized its work with IBTTA member Transurban and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Transurban said the I-95 Express Lanes in northern Virginia were chosen to host the trials “for the road’s reversible, barrier-separated configuration, which provide for several hours of uninterrupted, high-speed trials on lanes with highway attributes,” wrote Lev Pinelis, Director of Operational Innovation at Transurban in North America.
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Congestion Pricing, Often Attacked as Inequitable, Is Actually the Cure for Inequitable Transportation

February 4, 2019

he best way to ensure that congestion pricing doesn’t hurt the poor is to make sure revenues from new tolls support better transit service — not just build more highways.

That’s a key finding of a new report [PDF] by TransForm, a sustainable transportation advocacy group in California that sees congestion pricing as a way of advancing transportation equity — but only if the plan makes buses move faster, improves air quality and improves transit.

It’s not a given though; for congestion pricing to be fair depends on how it’s structured.

Congestion pricing — currently in use in London and many European cities — reduces driving by 15 to 20 percent, and congestion by 30 percent, TransForm says. A lot of cities want those benefits.
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Driverless car company gets subsidy from Michigan taxpayers

February 4, 2019

Under the proposed arrangement, Waymo will locate “vehicle integration” operations in the state. A light-manufacturing facility space will be built at a Southeast Michigan location yet to be determined. Officials from the state and Waymo say the factory will be the first of its kind, dedicating its space to the mass production of level 4 autonomous vehicles. Those vehicles are supposed to require no driver attention whatsoever, but they operate only within limited and carefully mapped-out areas.

The project is expected to create 100 jobs, “with potential for up to” 400 jobs, and generate total private investment of $13.6 million, according to a press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a state agency. The grant is said to be performance-based, meaning that to receive the full $8 million, the company must first reach 400 employees.
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Who’s liable when a self-driving car runs you over? Legislative bill attempts to clarify that

February 4, 2019

Under a legislative bill introduced by State Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, the manufacturer of the self-driving technology would be liable in a crash involving a vehicle that was capable of “the entire driving task” and operating in autonomous mode.

In the case of a vehicle operating “in concert” with a driver — such as a car with lane-centering technology that required a motorist to touch the wheel every so often or take control when making a stop — the driver would be liable.

Don’t worry quite yet, because there are no cars or trucks on the road yet that perform the “entire driving task,” but Geist said those technologies are coming, and Nebraska’s rules on liability need to be ready.
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Micromobility’s 15,000-mile checkup

February 4, 2019

Will the micromobility market boom or bust? With billions already invested, here’s an assessment of its potential.

The micromobility phenomenon has the potential to disrupt the industry. Whether the disruption it causes matches the hype generated so far will largely depend on how cities react to the service. While the industry is hoping urban governments view micromobility favorably as an antidote to congestion and pollution, and a way to provide consumers with an enjoyable alternative to gridlock, cities could instead see it negatively. In fact, some anecdotal evidence of the latter has already surfaced. Consequently, in addition to building their businesses, micromobility players will likely have to take proactive roles in lobbying for and shaping the industry in key urban areas.
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