Rural utilities turn ‘disruptive’ as they embrace renewables

March 28, 2023

Last year, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative Inc. hit a long-awaited milestone: It met 100 percent of its daytime energy demand with solar power.

The New Mexico utility’s achievement was the result of years of new solar construction and power purchase agreements — steps that the small, rural cooperative was only able to take after making a radical change to its management structure.

In 2016, Kit Carson left the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc…

Since then, four more of Tri-State’s original 44 utility members either have left or plan to leave.

The turbulence at Tri-State may be isolated to the West, but it foreshadows a national quandary. Each of the nation’s 900 or so co-ops faces a rapid energy transition that could upend traditional business models.

“We’re seeing some really ambitious co-ops start pushing their decarbonization goals further,” said Sam Mardell, senior associate on RMI’s carbon-free electricity team. “That’s making these organizations really rethink the way they provide energy.”

United Airlines and Archer Reveal First Air Taxi Route in Chicago

March 28, 2023

United Airlines and Archer Aviation plan to launch an aerial ridesharing service in Chicago using Archer’s Midnight eVTOL air taxi, the companies announced on Thursday.

The commercial air taxi route, scheduled to launch in 2025, will transport passengers between O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago, the city’s only downtown heliport facility. Vertiport Chicago lies about 12 miles (19 kilometers) southeast of the airport, in Chicago’s Illinois Medical District.

According to Archer, the trip will take about 10 minutes via air taxi, whereas the same trip might take as long as an hour or more by car during rush hour traffic…

The Chicago route is the second such air taxi route that Archer and United have announced. In November they revealed a planned air taxi route between Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey and the Downtown Manhattan Heliport in New York City.

How ChatGPT Will Make GM Trucks And SUVs Smarter On The Road

March 28, 2023

The emergence of ChatGPT as a new-generation AI assistant is taking the world by storm. It is only a matter of time before this new AI tool makes its presence felt in the automotive industry. GM wants to be the first to take notice of this new tool. In a recent media interaction reported by Reuters, GM’s vice president indicated that ChatGPT might make its way into many GM SUVs and trucks planned in the coming years.

This announcement can be the next move in GM’s association with Microsoft, which happens to be a prime investor in ChatGPT’s parent company, OpenAI. General Motors hasn’t revealed when the integration of ChatGPT will happen in its future vehicles. However, it has hinted that its AI assistant will behave slightly differently than ChatGPT. GM will only use some of the OpenAI models using ChatGPT for answering unpredictable but viable solutions.

2 Cruise self-driving cars ram into storm damage in SF neighborhood, company confirms

March 28, 2023

A couple of driverless cars got caught in the middle of a closed-off intersection in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood Tuesday night.

Two Cruise self-driving cars could be seen driving through yellow “caution” tape and on top of downed power lines just off of Leavenworth and Clay Streets.

One resident on Twitter described the vehicles as being “tangled up like flies in sticky traps.”

The ride service company responded with a statement saying, “Given the damage caused by last night’s storms, some of our cars briefly entered areas with downed trees or power lines. Some were able to proceed autonomously, but where needed, we immediately dispatched teams to remove the vehicles.”

The total number of Cruise cars impacted by the storms was not disclosed.

Hydrogen hub, carbon projects face internal, external hurdles

March 28, 2023

The head of the public-private partnership that is shepherding Pennsylvania’s application for a potential hydrogen hub centered around the Pittsburgh region said success isn’t just about winning funding but a real pathway to decarbonization.

Team Pennsylvania Foundation President and CEO Abby Smith told a Carnegie Mellon University Energy Week audience Wednesday afternoon that she hopes the $8 billion in federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to start up between eight and 10 hydrogen hubs around the country not only does that but also helps to build relationships between companies, governments and communities that become the starting point for future projects…

Destenie Nock, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, said the focus should be on a wider scope of industrial development than a single plant to make the biggest impact and to provide a voice consistently throughout the process and not just at certain points.

The AV Revolution Probably Won’t Revolutionize Parking in Dense Cities

March 27, 2023

“On the surface it makes sense; the car comes and picks me up, I get where I’m going, and then it leaves and picks up someone else,” said Nico Larco, director of the Urbanism Next Center at the University of Oregon…

To settle the debate, at least one for city, Larco and his colleagues modeled the AV-saturated future of three neighborhoods in ultra-expensive San Francisco, a city with one of the highest incentives to locate more developable land for affordable housing. Rather than assuming that AVs would be a parking-reduction panacea, though, the researchers modeled a range of scenarios wherein the demand for car storage dropped by as little as 20 or as much as 80 percent — and asked tough questions about whether the specific parcels that drop in demand would free up would actually be redeveloped into an apartment building, based on existing market incentives, lot size, and other factors.

U.S. Steel to produce new InduX steel for electric vehicles this summer

March 27, 2023

United States Steel Corp. will begin producing a new type of steel for electric vehicles this summer at its plant in Arkansas.

The Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel provided a look what it’s calling InduX on Thursday at the Ceres Global conference in New York City. InduX is designed to capitalize on the growing market for domestic sources of steel for electric vehicles.

U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) said it’s wide, thin and lightweight and can be used not only in electric vehicles but also generators and transformers. It’s going to build 200,000 tons a year of InduX steel at Big River Steel once the non-grain oriented (NGO) line is commissioned. U.S. Steel invested $450 million at Big River Steel to get it working.

Cities see hyperlocal ‘activity centers’ as key to sustainable growth, less car dependency

March 27, 2023

Sprawling, car-reliant suburbs have among the highest carbon emissions per household, while densely populated and transit-rich neighborhoods near city centers have among the lowest levels, according to the New York Times. Conventional wisdom suggests that greater population density translates to more walking, biking and public transit use, thus lowering carbon emissions from cars. But the relationship isn’t actually so straightforward, with local policies playing a major role, researchers say. That means decisions made today about city growth strategies will have ripple effects in the decades to come.

Enter activity centers. A Brookings Institution analysis indicates activity centers are spread across — and within — the country’s major metro regions, with most locals living within three miles of one. Officials in San Antonio; Boise, Idaho; Cape Cod, Massachusetts; and elsewhere are using activity centers as blueprints to create greener built environments.

Curbside EV charging startup wins urban infrastructure award at SXSW

March 27, 2023

Brooklyn-based startup itselectric earned the 2023 SXSW Innovation Award for Urban Infrastructure last week for its “Power From the People” curbside electric vehicle charging concept. The company aims to make curbside charging posts available to cities and property owners at no cost, with the company managing installation and maintenance of the level 2, 240-volt chargers. Residential property owners will have the opportunity to earn passive income from the chargers, with the amount varying based on electricity rates and charger use, it says…

It uses a “behind-the-meter” connection that obviates the need to work directly with electric utilities, it says. Almost any structure that has a curb and an electrical meter, including single-family and multifamily homes and commercial or public buildings, could be candidates for installation, it notes. It works with each city to ensure that “necessary permits and permissions are in place.”

Here’s How Artificial Intelligence is Being Used to Improve Bridge Safety in Miami-Dade County

March 27, 2023

The AI pilot program with the FDOT began in 2019 and is being tested out on the 5th Street Bridge which goes over the Miami River. Engineers showed NBC 6 how the technology works.

“When it opens, we have defined an area that is unsafe for pedestrians or any cars or bicyclists and it will stop the bridge from opening if they are in that unsafe area,” said Orozco.

There are four sensors which are placed on the four corners of the bridge. The LIDAR sensors (which stands for laser imaging, detection, and ranging) can detect moving objects like pedestrians, cyclists and cars in a mapped-out inclusion zone. If someone passes through the barriers when they’re not supposed to, it sends a signal which automatically connects to the bridge controls to shut off…

The human bridge operator has a series of safety checks, but this is an added layer of protection to remove human error.

What Is a Digital Twin? And How Can It Make Companies—and Cities—More Efficient?

March 24, 2023

San Francisco International Airport spans over 5,000 acres, with 18 million square feet of indoor space across 97 buildings, serving more than 42 million passengers last year.

To keep the facility running smoothly, the airport’s managers rely on a digital twin—a three-dimensional virtual replica of the airport that is continuously updated with data gathered from embedded sensors or other connected devices throughout the airport. Thanks to the data, the digital twin changes with its physical counterpart in real time, making it a useful tool for studying performance, running simulations and making predictions about the physical asset it mirrors.

The airport’s operator, a department of the city of San Francisco, started to bring all the data about the airport into a centralized digital twin in 2014. Although data sources are still being added to the virtual model, the technology already is helping the airport run better, according to Geoff Neumayr, the airport’s chief resiliency and sustainability officer.

Oregon halts electric vehicle rebates due to demand, money

March 24, 2023

Oregon will temporarily suspend rebates for buying or leasing an electric vehicle for a year starting in May because too many people are applying and the program is running out of money, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Thursday.

A growing number of Oregonians are buying or leasing electric vehicles, with over 60,600 registered in the state.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality announced Wednesday the suspension of the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program that has disbursed more than $71 million over five years to help people buy or lease roughly 25,000 of those vehicles. A fifth of the rebates went to low- and moderate-income households, state data shows.

J.D. Power study shows EV home charging experience impacted by rising costs

March 24, 2023

According to J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience Home Charging Study released on March 16, 2023, the growing EV market has experienced rising electricity rates partly due to the recent inflationary period, which has led to lower satisfaction with home charging.

Although more than two-thirds (68%) of EV owners have a permanent level 2 charging station at home, their overall satisfaction decreased by 12 points from last year on a 1,000-point scale, the study found.

The speed for all three home charging segments is another factor bringing down overall satisfaction in the study…

The 2023 study’s primary findings are as follows:

The importance of educating owners grows as electricity prices rise: Only 51% of EV owners, up slightly from 49% a year ago, claim to be aware of utility company programs for charging their vehicles at home…

More than one-third of owners (35%) say they always schedule a time to charge their car at home, compared to 49% who say they don’t utilize any scheduling.

U.S. DOT announces $94M in SMART grants for state, local projects

March 24, 2023

The $94 million funds 59 projects across 33 states. Each project was awarded a maximum of $2 million for this round of funding. Some of the projects receiving a funds from this round of grants include connected vehicle projects, sensor deployments, curb management and “smart” traffic signal technologies, according to a news release.

The SMART grant program, announced in September, was established by the 2021 infrastructure spending bill. The bill includes $500 million for transportation over five years with the aim of using technology to create safer, more equitable, efficient and innovative transportation systems.

Another five state DOTs plan to use the funds for projects to improve safety for workers and drivers in work zones, including a multi-state collaboration that will deploy automated truck-mounted crash attenuators and projects using a specification for data-sharing called the Work Zone Data Exchange, the news release said.

New data shows distracted driving has increased

March 24, 2023

The National Transportation Safety Board is now calling distracted driving an epidemic, with deadly crashes up 22 percent last year. resulting in nearly 46,000 people dying.

There’s a number of contributing factors to those crashes such as drunk driving or not buckling up. But Dr. Matt Young with Texarkana Emergency Center says one that’s becoming more prevalent is distracted driving.

Most everyone has been guilty of taking their eyes off the road to answer the phone or reply to a text. But every time you do that, experts say you’re risking your life and the lives of others…

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, more than 3,000 people died in 2020 from distracted driving, and nearly 324,000 were injured. Distracted driving laws have been passed in many of the 50 states, but differ in requirements and in level of enforcement.

EVFLY spins up one of the first commercial eVTOL operations in deal for 200+ AutoFlight aircraft

March 22, 2023

Weeks after successfully completing the longest eVTOL flight to date in its Prosperity I all-electric aircraft, AutoFlight has secured a major purchase commitment from EVFLY. The advanced air mobility services provider has signed a deal with AutoFlight for over 200 of its eVTOL cargo and passenger aircraft, which will eventually operate in one of the first commercially available global fleets…

The eVTOL developer announced a signed contract with EVFLY this morning, which entails the purchase of 205 Prosperity I Passenger and Cargo aircraft. The immediate focus of the eVTOL operations will be in the Middle East, which both parties agree could serve as a nascent hot spot for commercialized advanced air mobility (AAM).

Four Reasons Self-Driving Cars, Not Drones, Will Deliver Your Packages

March 22, 2023

If the future of e-commerce is best represented by Jeff Bezos vs. Elon Musk, then the Tesla Inc. (TSLA) – Get Free Report founder holds a decisive edge over his compatriot at Amazon Inc…

1. Bureaucratic Purgatory
Drones are stuck in bureaucratic purgatory. Despite years of studies, meetings and hearings, the Federal Aviation Administration has yet to issue rules that govern the use of commercial drones…

2. Amazon Losing Interest?
Bezos ignited the drone crazy with his 60 Minutes interview. The company’s size and clout suddenly made drones top of mind for retailers.

3. Economics And Aesthetics Don’t Work
The complexity of drones makes it hard to see how the technology can drive efficiencies in an industry that depends on moving large quantities of goods in the shortest amount of time, Ladd said…

4. Need And Urgency For Drones Has Dissipated
The country has significantly changed since Bezos’ interview a decade ago.

Can Lightning’s electric motorcycle really charge as fast as a gas tank fill-up?

March 22, 2023

Lightning Motorcycles, the Southern California-based boutique e-motorcycle manufacturer, claims that its new fast-charging electric motorcycle can recharge nearly as fast as a combustion engine motorcycle can refuel its tank.

Previously, the quickest DC fast-charging electric motorcycles like the models from Energica or Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire One boasted a recharge time of around 30 minutes for a nearly topped-up battery.

But Lightning claims it can blow those figures out of the water by using new fast-charging battery technology from Enevate. The company’s next-generation silicon-anode batteries claim a much faster recharge time, which Lightning says allows its electric motorcycles to get a nearly full battery recharge in as little as 10 minutes.

That’s still a bit longer than a gasoline fill-up, but since most touring riders generally use a fuel-stop as a chance to stretch their legs after a few hours on a cramped bike, a 10-minute refueling window is fairly reasonable in the touring world.

Your Car Could Be Spying on You. Good!

March 22, 2023

Systems like Tesla Autopilot, GM’s Super Cruise, and Nissan’s ProPilot Assist can automatically follow traffic and even drive hands-free on highways but need drivers to be ready to take over from the supposedly smart software at any moment. To guarantee drivers aren’t napping, Snapchatting, or Candy Crushing when they’re using these advanced driver-assistance features, automakers have rolled out a second layer of technology called driver-monitoring systems. Their job is to look for signs that a human—notoriously unpredictable as they are—is indeed ready to take over when those limited automated-driving features get out of their depth.

Driver-monitoring systems are making their way into vehicles not just because automakers need them to enable automated wizardry but because they’re facing increasing pressure from regulators and safety groups in Europe and the US.

All new car models sold in Europe will have to have driver-monitoring systems by mid-decade, even if they don’t come with partially automated features.

VW And GM Are Passing Tesla In The Race To Sell Affordable EVs

March 22, 2023

European auto giant Volkswagen on Wednesday said it’s readying the 25,000 euro ($26,400) ID. 2ALL, a compact hatchback, along with nine other new electric vehicles for sale by 2026. GM, which already has the Bolt, the top-selling EV in the U.S. priced below $30,000, is adding an electric version of the Chevrolet Equinox this year, starting at $30,000. Fisker Inc., which is preparing to start delivering electric Ocean SUVs in the coming weeks, plans to add the Pear, a small crossover with a $29,900 base price, in 2024.

By comparison, the cheapest Tesla, an entry-level Model 3 sedan, costs $43,000 before taxes—even after the carmaker recently slashed thousands of dollars off the sticker price to help it qualify for a new federal tax credit. The absence of a relatively inexpensive vehicle isn’t much of a problem for Tesla, though such models are vital to expanding the overall EV market in the years ahead, says Ed Kim, president of industry researcher AutoPacific.

Self-driving startup Gatik to double workforce, strikes Kroger deal

March 21, 2023

Self-driving trucking startup Gatik will double its workforce by year end, a top executive said, after it announced a deal on Wednesday with grocer Kroger Co (KR.N) to transport goods within its Dallas, Texas network.

Gatik, which operates traditional mid-sized trucks fitted with its autonomous technology, aimed to expand to 15 new U.S. states over five years, CEO Gautam Narang told Reuters.

The company focuses on transportation over short, fixed routes for businesses.

Many in the autonomous driving industry are cutting staff or shutting down, but Gatik has found a niche by limiting its work to routes with relatively little complexity.

It delivers goods, for example, from larger distribution centers to retail locations for companies such as Walmart and Pitney Bowes. The company has hauled more than half a million customer orders on its mid-sized box trucks that have no human in the cab.

Driverless Amish buggy travels two miles before crashing

March 21, 2023

Police said Joseph Zook parked his buggy at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Watertown, New York.

While Zook was inside, officials said the two horses became free and pulled the buggy onto the street and crashed into a couple of vehicles. It’s unclear how the horses got loose.

“I saw in my mirror two horses coming full speed, and I’m thinking Amish people know what they’re doing. They’re going to stop and then I’m hit, but I’m fine,” said Sheyenne Webber, whose vehicle was hit.

“They’re saying the horses are fine. This is crazy, like, you know, when does this happen?”

The two horses were injured, and a member of the Amish community retrieved them to take them to a farm. It appeared the animals were not seriously hurt.

No people were injured in the incident.

Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta v11 is coming this weekend, if you believe Elon Musk

March 21, 2023

FSD Beta enables Tesla vehicles to drive autonomously to a destination entered in the car’s navigation system, but the driver needs to remain vigilant and ready to take control at all times…

Since the wider release of the beta last year, there are currently over 400,000 Tesla owners in the program in North America – virtually every Tesla owner who bought the FSD package on their vehicles.

However, the bulk of these owners have yet to receive significant FSD beta updates as Tesla was supposed to release v11 to the fleet in November 2022, but the update has been stuck in testing within Tesla’s closed fleet since then…

Today, Musk said that it will finally go to a wide release this weekend:…

Tesla is slowly releasing it to more beta testers, but it has yet to go to a broader release…

General Motors looking to weave artificial intelligence into the driving experience

March 21, 2023

General Motors is looking to enhance the driving experience by integrating artificial intelligence into the auto industry. According to reports, the Detroit, Michigan-based automaker plans to introduce ChatGPT, a popular artificial intelligence bot developed by OpenAI, and add an A.I. vehicle assistant for drivers…

CEO Mary Barra detailed the new initiatives for General Motors on “The Claman Countdown” Tuesday.

“Having an assistant and really being able to use voice that is clear enough that you can ask questions and get answers, I think that’s what the artificial intelligence will enable us to do,” Barra told host Liz Claman…

General Motors is also investing in technological advances beyond A.I. such as the autonomous Cruise. Barra shared that the “purpose-built ride-share vehicle” has “campfire style seating because when you don’t need to drive, you can actually look at each other.”

Scout Motors picks South Carolina for new $2B EV plant

March 21, 2023

A Volkswagen Group-backed automotive company announced plans this week to open a $2 billion electric truck and SUV manufacturing plant just outside of Columbia, South Carolina.

Scout Motors Inc. and South Carolina officials said Friday that the company would be establishing its first manufacturing plant in Blythewood at an industrial site. At full capacity, more than 200,000 vehicles may be produced annually at the facility, which is expected to create 4,000 or more permanent jobs, Gov. Henry McMaster’s office said in a news release.

Scout Motors, an independent company headquartered in Virginia and backed by Volkswagen, plans to produce all-electric trucks and SUVs in the style of the Scout vehicles produced by International Harvester between 1960 and 1980.