Where ‘Vision Zero’ Is Working

December 2, 2022

A recent chart and report from the International Transport Forum is what gives me hope. In the report, “Monitoring Progress in Urban Road Safety,” the authors compare the decrease in road traffic deaths across 22 major cities that participated in a pledge to reduce traffic deaths. New York City is the only US city included, and one of just four where the city significantly outperformed national-level safety figures.

Between 2010 and 2020, NYC’s traffic deaths fell 19%, while the US death rate rose 8% — an improvement that translates into a significant number of saved lives. And there is reason to believe that the city can do better now that the framework and the constituency for safety reforms is in place…

What’s behind the electrolyzer craze for green hydrogen?

December 2, 2022

An electrolyzer separates water into oxygen and hydrogen, effectively the opposite of a fuel cell, which uses water and electricity to separate hydrogen and oxygen, creating water vapor as the only emission. In an electrolyzer, water is pushed through a stack with electricity. That pulls apart hydrogen and oxygen atoms.

Producing emissions-free hydrogen is attracting federal and state incentives at unheard of levels. It bodes well for fuel cell electric vehicles. Especially long-haul trucks that could travel up to 1,000 miles on a single fill-up of liquid hydrogen. We’re not there yet, but the potential is greater than ever.

Companies are embracing the prospects. Cummins Inc.’s New Power division expects $3 billion in annual revenue from electrolyzers by 2030. Tier 1 automotive supplier Robert Bosch plans to invest up to $591 million in electrolyzer components by the end of the decade. German manufacturers ThyssenKrupp and Siemens Energy already make electrolyzers.

Lyft Aspired to Kill Car Ownership. Now It Aims to Profit From It

December 2, 2022

Today the company announced it wants to be the place to go to care for your own car. Lyft’s app will offer a way to find and reserve parking in 16 cities, summon roadside assistance, and schedule vehicle maintenance.

Adding those new services is a small step for an app but part of a much bigger shift in ride hailing. As Lyft and its larger competitor Uber search for a way to finally generate a profit, some visions they once espoused for the future have been tweaked, if not left on the side of the road. Lyft once pushed for an end to personal car ownership. Now it’s betting that will continue and even provide a new source of revenue. Some 75 percent of its users own a car. “We’re meeting our riders and customers where they are,” says Jody Kelman, the company’s head of fleet.

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta now available to all in N. America, Musk says

December 2, 2022

Tesla Inc’s Full Self-Driving Beta software is now available to everyone in North America, Elon Musk said early on Thursday, as the automaker awaits regulatory approval for its cars to be driven without human oversight.

“Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta is now available to anyone in North America who requests it from the car screen, assuming you have bought this option,” Musk tweeted.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment.

Musk said last month that Tesla’s advanced driver assistant software would not gain regulatory approval in 2022.

Musk hopes to provide an update to Full Self Driving (FSD) in 2023 to show regulators that the technology is much safer than the average human driver.

The Silicon Valley automaker sells a $15,000 FSD software add-on which enables its vehicles to change lanes and park autonomously. That complements its standard “Autopilot” feature, which enables cars to steer, accelerate and brake within their lanes without driver intervention.

Electric cars to become the ‘biggest data collection device’ by 2030 when self-driving will be common, says VW CEO

December 2, 2022

While Volkswagen’s ex-CEO was of the opinion that Level 3 self-driving needs radar equipment, contrary to Elon Musk’s opinion it can be done with Tesla Vision cameras only, its successor now says that autonomous Volkswagens will be a common sight in 2030. Sitting down for an interview, Mr. Thomas Schaffer added that the company’s expensive testing vehicles are scouring the streets of Munich and Hamburg right now and there will be a commercial autonomous ride-hailing fleet of VW ID Buzz electric cars there by 2025…

In the meantime, all that computing power needed to provide the complex calculations of the raw input coming from its sensory sidekicks will turn electric cars into “the biggest data collection device there is.” While that might sound scary for the privacy-minded, Germany has one of the strictest security safeguards, too, and that’s one of the reasons the legislation around autonomous driving is so complex to navigate:

US airport introduces autonomous car hailing service to take people from parking lot to terminal

November 30, 2022

SELF-DRIVING technology firm Mapless AI has begun testing its driverless cars at Pittsburgh International Airport.

Speaking with The U.S. Sun, Mapless AI co-founder Jeff Johnson said the trial phase will involve a human driver behind the wheel in case of emergency.

When asked how long Mapless AI plans to keep an emergency driver onboard, Johnson said: “This will last as soon as we have confidence that we can remove the driver.”

He added: “We would like to be deploying within two years or so, but of course, that’s all fluid and subject to change.”

Mapless AI’s cars are delivered to the airport’s parking lots through a version of driverless technology known as teleoperated driving.

Teleoperated driving allows vehicles to be controlled remotely.

This remote communication is achieved through encrypted data communication between onboard vehicle sensors and a remote driving console, MotorTrend reports.

Trucking industry slams FMCSA’s proposed electronic ID mandate

November 30, 2022

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in September responded to a request by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. CVSA contends that establishing a unique, universal electronic vehicle identifier for all commercial motor vehicles would boost safety by improving how roadside inspectors target unsafe vehicles and drivers…

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators fully supports the petition…

The Truck Safety Coalition, which filed jointly with Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers, also backed the proposal, contending that it has for too long relied on an “honor system” when it comes to enforcing safety…

But the petition was roundly rejected by an overwhelming majority of the more than 1,700 comments FMCSA received on the proposal — most of which were from owner-operators citing privacy concerns…

Even the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association, whose members typically support technology aimed at improving safety, declined to back the proposal.

NYC to expand bike lanes, public spaces in 2023

November 30, 2022

New York City’s Department of Transportation plans to significantly expand bike lanes and public spaces next year, according to a press release on Monday.

The agency plans to make it easier for bicycles and pedestrians to access the Washington Bridge, which connects the Bronx and Manhattan and adds protected bike lanes and two-way bike boulevards to several streets. It also aims to improve public spaces in Brooklyn, including an overhaul of the Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park…

The upgrades build on the city’s Open Streets program — which closes some streets to vehicle traffic for use by pedestrians and cyclists — and its efforts to create the largest bike network in the U.S., which surpassed the 1,500-mile mark in October.

Labor shortages hinder public transit rebound: APTA report

November 30, 2022

Public transit is slowly making a comeback in the U.S. since ridership declined after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Transit systems have surpassed 70% of their 2020 ridership levels, but severe public transit labor shortages are hindering fuller recuperation.

In March, 96% of 190 agencies surveyed by the American Public Transportation Association reported experiencing labor shortages, according to a report released last month by the association. The shortages are most acute at agencies serving large, urbanized areas and agencies with greater ridership.

Workers are leaving transit jobs due to concerns about wages, safety, inflexible schedules and lack of professional growth, the report stated. But there are a number of strategies that transit agencies can take to recruit new employees and streamline the hiring process.

Wabtec advancing electricification of vessels

November 30, 2022

Wabtec Corp. said it’s participating in the Hypobatt project, which is developing a megawatt-charging standard and infrastructure for ferries in European ports.

Hypobatt is short for hyper powered vessel battery charging system.

Pittsburgh-based Wabtec (NYSE:WAB) is working in a consortium with 18 partners who are responsible for a 42-month project to identify maritime charging solutions that reduce contact time, wait time and maintenance cost…

The project also will develop a fully automatic and safe electric ship connection system with the capacity to fully charge a vessel’s battery while at the dock.

The consortium is targeting to reduce connection time to less than 30 seconds, charging time by 10%, and space dock side for the system by 20%. Additionally, it aims to improve charger availability by 95% and battery life by 10%.

The consortium will demonstrate the technology at the ports of Norddeich and Norderney, Germany. The testing will be conducted on a vessel of the Reederei Norden-Frisia shipping company.

Why solar electric vehicles might be the next generation of EVs

November 29, 2022

The world’s first commercial solar electric vehicles are hitting the U.S. and European markets in the next few years. German company Sono Motors, Southern California-based Aptera Motors, and Dutch company Lightyear are all producing electric vehicles with integrated solar panels, which can harness the sun’s power to provide around 15-45 additional miles on a clear day.

These vehicles also have regular, lithium-based batteries that can be charged using electricity from the grid, so for longer drives these cars essentially function like a standard EV. But for commuters and other short-distance drivers, the majority of their miles could be fueled almost entirely from the sun, free of charge…

The Sono Sion, which is expected to begin production in Europe in mid-2023, is priced starting at just $25,000. Its battery has a 190-mile range, and while the car also has 465 integrated solar half-cells on its exterior, the boxy, five-seat hatchback appears unassuming and practical.

Cruise, Waymo push robotaxis amid doubts about self-driving tech

November 29, 2022

Cruise and Waymo are plowing ahead with plans to bring robotaxis to more cities, despite growing disillusionment among investors and automakers about the timeline for self-driving cars.

Why it matters: The two companies already operate driverless taxis in San Francisco and Phoenix…

Catch up quick: Other key players are shutting down, merging or paring back…

Meanwhile, another AV company, Motional, is partnering with Uber and Lyft to add Hyundai robotaxis to their ride-hailing fleets in several cities starting next year.

The big picture: This could be the beginning of an industry-wide shakeout in which the leaders pull away from the pack, similar to what happened in the auto industry in the first half of the 20th century.

Autonomous Vehicles: How Is Europe Doing?

November 29, 2022

Even discounting the overly optimistic expectations of the recent past, it’s clear that autonomous vehicles will have a major impact on the automotive and transportation industries. The AV era is not a question of if but of when, and the “when” varies by region and by AV use case.

This article will focus on how Europe is doing in AVs across multiple segments of the AV industry. Comparisons with the U.S. and China are included where data is available.

To get a basis for the comparisons, I have included a big picture of how the AV industry is likely to evolve in the next decade or so. This includes AV hardware and software technology along with the use cases, standards, and regulations shaping the AV market.

Table 1 summarizes the phases of AVs’ evolution. The timeline across the bottom doesn’t indicate specific years but starts around 2015 on the left and ends in the 2030 timeframe on the right.

Building out nationwide EV charging is taking longer than consumers think, Fuels Institute says

November 29, 2022

“EVs will play a major role in the path towards a lower carbon transportation space, but there’s a huge difference between perception and reality,” John Eichberger, executive director for the Fuels Institute, a nonprofit fuels research organization founded by the National Association of Convenience Stores, said during a recent webinar addressing the current EV landscape…

One hurdle is complications with electric vehicle supply equipment permits. The EV industry currently lacks a set of clear, coherent guidelines from higher levels of government to foster EV coordination, Eichberger said. He noted that improved policies coordinated among jurisdictions can create consistency, predictability and economies of scale.

In July 2021, the Fuels Institute made a state-level prioritization forecast of EV-charging installation. The forecast considered factors such as number of expected plug-in EVs over the next decade, housing mix, miles traveled and parking habits in each region, among other factors.

Goldman Sachs says U.S., Europe could end reliance on Chinese EV batteries by 2030

November 29, 2022

Nov 22 (Reuters) – The United States and Europe could cut their dependence on China for electric vehicle batteries through more than $160 billion of new capital spending by 2030, the Financial Times reported on Monday, citing a Goldman Sachs forecast.

The investment bank’s analysts believe demand for finished batteries could be met without China within the next three to five years, as a result of investments in the U.S. by South Korean conglomerates LG and SK Hynix (000660.KS), according to a Goldman report to clients viewed by the newspaper.

The report calculated that to achieve a self-sufficient supply chain, countries competing with China would need to spend $78.2 billion on batteries, $60.4 billion on components and $13.5 billion on mining of lithium, nickel and cobalt, as well as $12.1 billion on refining of those materials, FT said.

Road tolls ‘best way’ to cut congestion in Scots cities

November 28, 2022

Sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland said that was a conclusion of research they commissioned by Edinburgh Napier University looking into the demand management measures that could reduce road traffic in Scotland.

But Transform Scotland says that business groups have felt there could be hostility to the prospect of people paying to enter a city centre with concern congestion charges would “discourage travel and damage city economies which are already struggling post-Covid.”..

In a bid to encourage the use of public transport, the city council’s transport convener Scott Arthur stated that a fee could be used as the council tries to improve bus links in the next few years.

The study by the renowned Transport Research Institute at Edinburgh Napier comes as the Scottish Government committed in December 2020 to reduce all car traffic by 20% by 2030 as part of its net zero carbon emissions plan.

FCC Unveils New Broadband Map

November 28, 2022

As promised, the FCC has released its first draft of a new broadband availability map meant to more accurately represent broadband coverage as the Biden administration pushes tens of billions of dollars toward its universal broadband pledge.

The map shows location-level information(opens in new tab) about broadband availability, an upgrade from the census-level data the Federal Communications Commission previously collected and which had allowed some broadband dead zones to appear live if they were in census blocks with service elsewhere.

The FCC has signaled the maps are an iterative process that will be improved by challenges to errors.

The better maps were mandated by Congress but the FCC was already at work on improving its broadband data collection, which had been roundly criticized on the Hill.

Robot invasion: Thousands of people descend on Pittsburgh for first-of-its-kind expo showcasing robotics tech

November 25, 2022

An estimated 5,000 people entered the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday to attend the inaugural Robotics Discovery Day, a free event put on by the Pittsburgh Robotics Network.

For Joel Reed, executive director of the nonprofit robotics advocacy organization, seeing the faces of the thousands of students who visited as they looked at and learned about all of the robotics-based innovations taking place right here in Pittsburgh brought him immense joy. And that feeling wasn’t limited to only the younger attendees who came in from nearly 65 area schools, he said.

“We’ve seen people of all ages taking photos with the robots, sitting and engaging with all of the exhibiting companies that have been here,” Reed said. “It’s been really exciting.”

Nearly 50 robotics and robotics-related companies occupied a booth in the Robozone during the event, representing about half of the more than 100 members that make up the PRN.

SAIC Motor to launch robotaxi service in Shenzhen, China

November 25, 2022

The company is one of a growing list of companies that are testing autonomous vehicles in the country with others like Pony.ai, Baidu, XPeng and Xiaomi. Previously, SAIC partnered with Pony.ai for robotaxi project in Shanghai, China.

According to a report from Gasgoo, SAIC Motor will also expand the current service going in Shanghai’s Lingang area and Anting Town using second-generation SAIC robotaxis for the first time. This will take place simultaneously during the first service in Shenzhen.

SAIC is developing four strategic projects for intelligent transportation: Robotaxis; Level 4 intelligent heavy-duty trucks; and two autonomous projects with IM Motors and Rising Auto in China.

The robotaxis will use SAIC Motor’s Marvel R model equipped with six solid-state lidar units, five panorama cameras, four circum-viewing cameras, five radars and 12 ultrasonic radars.

How data sharing revs up mobility decisions

November 25, 2022

State and local governments looking for transportation and mobility-related data to help them with decision-making around new mobility technologies can tap into the U.S. Department of Energy’s Livewire Data Platform. The expanding, unified platform features data from federal, regional, local, academic and industry projects and allows easy and secure access for sharing, leveraging and preserving mobility data.

The platform was developed in 2019 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a consortium of multiple national laboratories, but it is now available to anyone who requests an account…

Livewire currently features over 330 datasets from DOE Energy Efficient Mobility Systems program projects. It features a range of datasets at the vehicle, traveler and system levels, allowing researchers to study how advanced technologies—such as connected, automated and electric vehicles, alternative fueling infrastructure, rural electrification or multimodal transportation—affect energy consumption.

Projects granted $74M to advance battery reuse, recycling

November 25, 2022

The Energy Department on Wednesday awarded nearly $74 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law for 10 projects to advance recycling and reuse of batteries for electric vehicles and other purposes.

The funding will go to academic and commercial applicants in seven states, including four in California. Other grant winners are in Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee, Indiana and Alabama.

The University of California-San Diego will receive $10 million to develop and scale-up technology to recycle lithium-ion batteries, while Element Energy in Menlo Park, Calif., will receive $7.9 million for a wind-energy project in west Texas. The company is working with Next Era Energy Resources to pursue commercial-scale technology to boost the second-life battery market for energy storage.

Wabtec (WAB) to Take Over Super Metal for Global Expansion

November 25, 2022

To boost its presence in the international markets, Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corporation WAB, operating as Wabtec Corporation, reached a definitive agreement to acquire the Brazilian company Super Metal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Super Metal is a leading supplier of automated vehicles and equipment solutions supporting rail operations. The buyout will boost Wabtec’s Railway Maintenance portfolio. The acquisition is a highly prudent move as it expands Wabtec’s rail maintenance portfolio in South America by complementing its presence in Contagem, Brazil, with respect to freight rail manufacturing.

Explaining the rationale behind the deal, Pascal Schweitzer, the group president of Wabtec’s Global Freight Services, said: “Super Metal is a great addition to our maintenance of way portfolio. Their differentiated road-to-rail solutions will accelerate our international growth in key regions such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa.”

SEPTA selects ZeroEyes for gun detection pilot program

November 23, 2022

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) selected ZeroEyes for a pilot program designed to reduce the likelihood of gun-related violence on train platforms. Implementation will begin in approximately two months.

SEPTA is the first major transit system to deploy ZeroEyes’ solution, which is an A.I.-based gun detection video analytics platform developed by former Navy SEALs. Layered on top of SEPTA’s existing security cameras, ZeroEyes’ proprietary software will identify brandished guns and alert safety personnel and local law enforcement within three to five seconds.

Former U.S. military and law enforcement specialists monitor every detection 24/7/365 from the in-house ZeroEyes Operations Center (ZOC) to deliver accurate and actionable intelligence on gun-related incidents, including the gunman’s appearance, clothing, weapon and real-time location. Furthermore, ZeroEyes’ A.I. does not perform any facial recognition, nor receive, record, store or share videos or images of any person.

Uber Health hopes employers will cover the costs of workers’ medical transportation

November 23, 2022

The news: Uber Health is expanding into the employer market. The ride-hailing app’s self-insured employer customers will start to cover trips to the doctor’s office for their workers. Uber Health announced the move at last week’s HLTH conference, per Fierce Healthcare.

How we got here: Uber Health partners with providers, insurers, and other healthcare stakeholders to book non-emergency medical transportation for patients and provide rides for caregivers.

For example, Uber Health recently teamed up with CVS Health to give consumers in underserved communities free rides to medical appointments…

Uber Health is also a covered benefit in some Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans. Members can get free transportation to physician appointments.

Uber Health turns to employers next: Self-insured employers pay for their workers’ healthcare costs. That means they’ll want to ensure their employees make it to medical appointments so their conditions don’t progress and become more expensive down the road.

California commits $2.6B to sustainable mobility, prioritizing low-income communities

November 23, 2022

The California Air Resources Board announced Thursday a $2.6 billion clean mobility plan focused on directing benefits from the transportation transition to low-income communities and those disproportionately burdened by pollution. Initiatives will include incentives for cleaner trucks and buses, bike- and car-sharing, and consumer rebates for clean cars.

According to a CARB press release, more than 70% of the $2.6 billion in the fiscal year 2022-23 funding will benefit “priority populations.”…

The plan includes:
More than $2 billion for zero-emission trucks and buses and off-road equipment, including school buses, transit buses, and drayage trucks.
$33 million to help small truck fleets transition to cleaner technologies.
$135 million for demonstration and pilot projects, including commercial harbor craft.
$326 million for consumer vehicle purchase incentives.
$55 million for clean mobility investments.