Ørsted to trial drones for carrying parts to offshore wind farms

July 5, 2022

Danish clean energy group Ørsted (CPH:ORSTED) today said that together with compatriot transport and logistics company DSV it will test using long-distance drones to transport spare parts and tools at Anholt offshore wind farm in the Kattegat offshore Denmark.

The trial is part of Ørsted’s efforts to optimise wind farm availability and lower carbon emissions from service logistics as it aims to become carbon-neutral by 2025.

Cargo drones can reduce the need for transport by ship and make quick deliveries if technicians find that special spare parts, especially small parts, are needed for repairs.

Near Earth Autonomy landed a $10M equity investment for its autonomous aircraft tech

July 5, 2022

Near Earth was founded as a spinout from Carnegie Mellon University at the end of 2012 and counted around 90 employees as of November…

In a city known for its success with self-driving road vehicles, CEO Sanjiv Singh told Technical.ly in the fall that Near Earth’s developmental challenges are “exactly the opposite” of those of most of the AV industry.

All autonomous vehicle developers look to address two main cases, Singh said: normal scenarios, and scenarios where something goes wrong. In the case of road vehicles, developing the autonomous platform to respond to a problem is easier, because it can direct the car to stop or pull over…

But for aircraft, because air travel is already extremely controlled, the general and normal scenarios an autonomous aircraft may come across are relatively simple to account for. The cases in which something goes wrong, however, present a huge challenge. Aircrafts, unlike cars, cannot simply pull over or land in the event of an error or system breakdown.

Tesla closes an office as layoff hits Autopilot jobs, including hourly ones

July 5, 2022

Tesla (TSLA.O) has shuttered its office in San Mateo, California and laid off roughly 200 employees working on its Autopilot driver-assistant system there, one of the people told Reuters, in a move seen as accelerating cost-cutting.

Most of the laid-off people had been hourly workers, that person said.

Early this month, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk told top managers he had a “super bad feeling” about the economy and that the maker of electric cars needed to cut staff by about 10%.

Later, the billionaire said that the 10% cuts would apply only to salaried workers and that hourly staff numbers were still expected to grow.

“Tesla clearly is in a major cost-cutting mode,” said Raj Rajkumar, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “This (staff reduction) likely indicates that 2Q 2022 has been pretty rough on the company due to the shutdown in Shanghai, raw material costs and supply chain problems.”

4 ways communities can implement smart streetlights, traffic sensors, and other technology, according to leaders in cities with successful smart city projects

July 5, 2022

But, starting small, such as deploying smart streetlights on a couple of blocks before expanding citywide, allows cities to experiment and test solutions to see what works best, Karen Lightman, executive director of the Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, said. Otherwise, city leaders may risk wasting money on technology that isn’t the right fit. Cities also need to gather a small amount of data before they can know how to best use smart technology, Lightman added.

In Pittsburgh, Lightman’s team is working on a Smart Loading Zones project to help delivery drivers find places to park in the city that uses cameras to capture the license plates of vehicles illegally parked in loading zones. It launched in April with 15 parking spaces.

UPS Gets A Visit From Its Upcoming eVTOL Aircraft

July 5, 2022

The near future for aviation is small and electric, as UPS had an exciting visit to the central Louisville hub from its eVTOL aircraft from Beta Technologies. This marked the first electric aircraft flight to the cargo carrier’s WorldPort hub and the future of aviation…

The electric aircraft has a cargo capacity of 1,400 pounds, so UPS will be dedicating the future fleet to transport time-sensitive deliveries in small and mid-sized markets that would otherwise fly on a small conventional plane. Instead of relying on airports, the eVTOL aircraft can take off and land on the property at UPS facilities and housing estates. And since it’s electric, the aircraft will come without a conventional plane’s noise or operating emissions, posing as a non-disturbance to residential communities.

Ride-sharing and e-scooters are growing twice as fast as mass transit

July 4, 2022

A new study finds that alternative mobility services, from ride-sharing to e-scooters, will grow twice as fast as traditional public transit annually through 2030.

Why it matters: If powered by electricity from renewable sources, many of these new modes of transportation could improve air quality, reduce noise levels, and shrink cities’ carbon footprints.

That’s according to the study conducted by Oliver Wyman Forum and the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at the University of California-Berkeley.

Yes, but: More ride?hailing and car-sharing could make congestion worse if commuters choose these services over mass transit.

The big picture: The researchers note that subways, buses, and commuter light rail are by far the most efficient and environmentally friendly ways to move people around cities.

During the pandemic, however, many people avoided mass transit in favor of shared bicycles, scooters, and car services.
That lost revenue weakened many cities’ public transportation systems.

Honda’s Safer Scooter Could Help Ease Congestion, Cut Emissions

July 4, 2022

Carved out of Honda’s business-creation program, the startup has developed an e-scooter that’s hyper-focused on safety. The three-wheeler, which can get about 30 kilometers per charge, is fitted with a self-balancing mechanism developed by a long-time Honda engineer…

Yotaro Mori, Striemo’s co-founder and CEO, said he was inspired to create the scooter after unsatisfactory experiences testing out similar products overseas…

Mori said that he spent years of after-work hours designing a three-wheeler concept, tinkering with a system that stabilizes the vehicle by measuring its center of gravity to one-tenth of a millimeter.

Today, Striemo is taking orders for around 300 scooters that will initially be released to consumers in Japan. Mori aims to build from there —expanding into Europe in 2023 and then targeting a global rollout.

China’s Baidu races Waymo, GM to develop self-driving cars

July 4, 2022

Baidu and a rival, Pony.ai, received China’s first licenses in April to operate taxis with no one in the driver’s seat but with a safety supervisor on board. That came 18 months after Waymo started driverless ride-hailing service in Phoenix, Arizona, in October 2020…

Autonomous driving is one of an array of emerging technologies from artificial intelligence to renewable energy that China companies are pouring billions of dollars into trying to create, urged on by the ruling Communist Party.

Beijing wants to join the United States, Europe and Japan in the ranks of technology powers to build its prosperity and global influence. That holds out the possibility of new inventions but also fuels tension with Washington and its allies, which see China as a strategic challenger…

The ruling party is promoting automation to shore up economic growth by making its shrinking, aging workforce more productive. China’s working-age population has fallen by 5% since its 2011 peak and is forecast to slide further.

Wheelchair Users Want New Road Money Spent On Safety

July 4, 2022

Disability rights and highway safety advocates say some of the funding from the new $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law, which includes $11 billion for transportation safety programs, should be spent on curb ramps, more accessible sidewalks and roads engineered to slow down traffic and provide safe crossings for people with disabilities.

The law includes the “Safe Streets and Roads for All” initiative, which will provide $5 billion in grants to local governments over five years to support projects and strategies to reduce crashes and fatalities.

The law also boosted funding for the Federal Highway Administration’s state-administered highway safety improvement program. It added a provision aimed at improving safety for “vulnerable road users” such as older adults, people with disabilities and bicyclists. If those users comprise 15% or more of the total number of annual fatalities in a state, it will have to dedicate at least 15% of those funds the next year to improve those road users’ safety.

Uber drivers are liking the Teslas

July 4, 2022

Uber’s plan to electrify its driver fleet by 2030 seems to be off to a good start. The ride-hailing company announced today that over 15,000 Uber drivers have signed on to rent Tesla vehicles through its partnership with car rental company Hertz. Uber claims the deal is its “largest-ever expansion” of EVs on a mobility platform in North America and that there have already been more than 5 million Tesla rides driving over 40 million miles since the program started last year…

Uber drivers that are interested in renting a Tesla must have completed at least 150 trips and maintain a 4.85-star rating to be eligible. It costs about $300 a week to rent the Tesla, and drivers receive an extra dollar per trip (max $4,000 a year) and are enrolled in the company’s newer “Uber Green” ride-hailing category.

GM adds Plug and Charge capability to existing and future EVs

July 1, 2022

GM is committed to delivering a simplified, efficient and accessible EV charging experience. Now, the company is taking its next step on that journey and expanding its existing collaboration with EVgo to add a new Plug and Charge service to the Ultium Charge 360 ecosystem.

GM is the first OEM to introduce a Plug and Charge feature to the company’s existing and future EVs that is designed to work on multiple, public networks in North America.

Plug and Charge streamlines the EV charging process for customers. Drivers with an EVgo account, active OnStar connected services and the GM brand app for their vehicle (myChevrolet, myCadillac, myGMC) must perform a one-time activation of Plug and Charge within the app. Once activated, they can simply plug in the charging cable and energy will start to flow to their vehicle — no additional steps needed.

First voyage on the solar electric SILENT 60 yacht

July 1, 2022

Their research into solar yacht technologies began in 2004, kicking off five years of gathering sailing data before constructing the company’s first fully self-sufficient solar-powered catamaran, the Solarwave 46.

After a five-year trial at sea that began in 2010, Silent Yachts had a proven solar yacht concept, and began serial production of luxury sustainable vessels in 2016 with the SILENT 64. By 2018, The SILENT 64 had become the first serial-production solar-powered bluewater catamaran to cross the Atlantic, from Cartagena, Spain, to Barbados in 16 days.

In 2021, Silent Yachts launched the SILENT 60 yacht as a more powerful, revamped generation of its 64-foot predecessor. After accepting and invite from Silent Yachts to climb aboard the SILENT 60, I learned much more about the solar electric catamaran firsthand, in addition to what the company has in store next.

CrackPro RMV: A Truck-Mounted Robot That Finds and Seals Road Cracks

July 1, 2022

A robotic sealcoat vehicle has hit the market that automatically finds and seals cracks and only uses two workers.

The CrackPro Robotic Maintenance Vehicle is the result of a partnership between SealMaster and Pioneer Industrial Systems, whose president, Todd Hendricks, invented the concept. He said he got the idea in 2019 after watching a crack seal crew and thought there should be a safer, more efficient way…

As the AI vision system finds and measures the cracks, the data is used to map the cracks and send the information to the robotic arm. The driver can watch a monitor, which shows a camera feed of the arm. An LED light on the windshield turns red when the driver needs to stop to let the robot work and turns green when it’s time to move…

The next development will be for automatic safety-cone pickup and placement.

SK Telecom expands self-driving pilot zone to test advanced smart transportation system

July 1, 2022

At a pilot zone for the testing of autonomous vehicles, SK Telecom, a top mobile carrier in South Korea, will test an advanced smart transportation system that connects vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic infrastructure with 5G.

SK Telecom (SKT) has expanded a pilot driving zone for autonomous vehicles in Sangam, a western residential and commercial district of Seoul, to test a cooperative intelligent transport system (C-ITS) that provides real-time information such as traffic conditions so that individual vehicles could share data and prevent traffic accidents. ..

SKT will use digital twin technology to create a virtual autonomous vehicle testing zone where researchers can use a control tower system to test the safety and efficacy of digital clones of their self-driving vehicles.

IIHS survey finds consumers don’t fully trust semi-autonomous driving features

July 1, 2022

A new survey released last week by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) concludes that drivers are interested in partial driving automation, but are less comfortable with hands-free features in a vehicle that is not fully self-driving…

The survey found that 80% of respondents want to use lane centering, but more prefer versions that require their hands to be on the wheel (36%) than those that do not (27%)…

While 73% said they would use automatic lane changes, 45% said they preferred the feature to be driver-initiated, against 14% who wanted it to be initiated by the vehicle. More than three-quarters of respondents said they want auto lane change to have a hands-on requirement.

A majority of drivers said they would be comfortable with all of the driver-monitoring strategies included in the survey: sensors on the steering wheel, or a driver-facing camera that tracks where they are looking, or a camera that tracks head, eye, or hand movement.

Work Zones Cause Crashes—but Only Sometimes

June 29, 2022

Road construction zones are a headache for drivers and a hazard for workers, but, when it comes to safety, a new study suggests the likelihood of crashes increases when the work zones are long, the roads are busy, and the time is during daylight hours.

The study by a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, which was published in the journal Analytic Methods in Accident Research, provided new insights into a common problem for transportation agencies, said Sean Qian, one of the study’s authors and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

For years, he explained, transportation officials have observed that crashes increase in road construction zones. That would make sense given the amount of disruption that work zones cause, including new traffic patterns, narrower lanes and the nearby construction activity.

Cities Can Soon Add More Speed Cameras To Their Streets, But No One’s Rushing To Be First

June 29, 2022

The change comes as Washington, along with most of the country, continues to witness the escalation of a traffic safety crisis without one clear cause. However, high rates of vehicle speeds, known to be one of the single biggest factors that determine the severity of injuries sustained from a crash, are not trending in the right direction…

Starting on July 1 of this year, speed cameras can be installed on any street adjacent to a hospital, park, or along a designated walk-to-school route for any school. For those types of cameras, there isn’t an upper limit on the number of cameras that can be added. In addition, cities can add at least one speed camera, at a location identified as a “priority location” in a road safety plan as submitted to the Washington State Department of Transportation, or at a location where there has been a “significantly higher” rate of collisions than the citywide average over the past three years.

Sensible self-driving cars go to the extremes of the Arctic Circle

June 29, 2022

A long-term self-driving service has been launched north of the Arctic Circle to put an all-weather autonomous driving system to the test, while providing a transport link to a local hospital.

The pilot project in Norway will see two electric Toyota Proace vehicles, equipped with autonomous driving software, operate a 3.6km route in the town of Bodø.

Bodø has a subpolar climate with challenging weather conditions that change dramatically throughout the year, with an annual mix of rain, wind, snow, daylight hours and varying temperature.

“Bodø is known for experiencing four seasons in one day, it’s really exciting to see how the technology behind the autonomous shuttles will work in such a challenging climate,” said Smarter Transport Bodø project manager Rune Eiterjord.

Eiterjord added that if the self-driving vehicles can operate in Bodø, they will be able to work “anywhere in the world”.

Qualcomm and its Industry Partners Demonstrate C-V2X Technology in Georgia That Ensures School Buses and Fire Trucks Never Get Stuck at Red Lights

June 29, 2022

Most drivers have experienced a speeding fire truck or police vehicle quickly approaching from behind requiring them to quickly react to get out of the way. The danger of these situations is compounded when approaching a busy intersection at high speed when the traffic light is red. For the first responders rushing to a scene, speeding through red lights at intersections is not only dangerous to themselves, but for other nearby drivers and pedestrians.

But new wireless communications technologies being developed and tested by leading companies, including chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies, Applied Information, Audi of America, Commsignia and the city of Peachtree Corners, Georgia, can help make roads by connecting vehicles to nearby vehicles and infrastructure such as traffic lights.

C-V2X, short for “cellular vehicle-to-everything”, provides low latency communications for connecting vehicles to infrastructure without a cellular network or service plan.

The City Released Legislative Proposals for Congestion and Traffic Safety in the 2022 Omnibus Plan. Here’s what you need to know

June 29, 2022

In order to avoid increased congestion as economic prosperity and office commute activities return to Philadelphia, the City is working to implement policies and solutions to address these issues through strategic planning and legislative tasks.

To address speeding and reckless driving, the City is working to:
Expand camera-assisted traffic enforcement
Save lives with safe speeds by authorizing local control of speed limits

To strengthen alternatives to driving, the City is working to:
Effectively regulate rideshare services
Improve transit options, bicycle infrastructure, and Indego, the City’s bike-share program
Expand access to commuter benefits program to all large employers

To address inefficient use of space, the City is working to:
Better manage the use of curb space
Incentivize sanitation and delivery activities in non-congested hours

Pittsburgh Regional Transit receives grant to study Strip District-Oakland-Overbrook corridor that could include suspended cable cars

June 28, 2022

Pittsburgh Regional Transit can begin a more detailed look at one of its most intriguing projects — which could use suspended cable cars — as a result of a federal grant.

The agency learned Thursday it will receive a $594,000 grant to begin studying a new transit corridor linking the Strip District, Hill District, Oakland, Hazelwood and Carrick/Overbrook. PRT had identified establishing the new corridor as a top priority last year when it released its 25-year plan called NEXTransit because it would directly link additional neighborhoods with Oakland, one of the biggest employment centers in the state with its concentration of universities and hospitals…

One of the intriguing aspects of the proposed corridor is that it could use an incline or suspended cable car system to move passengers from the Strip District to the Hill District and Oakland. Right now, there is no easy route for buses to make that trip because of the steep slope between the two areas.

GM’s Cruise starts charging fares for driverless rides in San Francisco

June 28, 2022

General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Cruise has started charging fares for driverless rides in San Francisco, the company said on Thursday, a step towards commercialization of the service.

Cruise earlier this month became the first company to secure a permit to charge for self-driving car rides in the U.S. city, after it overcame objections by local officials. read more

Self-driving test cars with human safety drivers have become a constant sight in San Francisco, and completely driverless ones are increasingly common too. Turning them into a fledgling business in a major U.S. city marks a milestone in the long, delayed journey toward driverless taxi service.

Swedish Startup Paves Way to Driverless Pod Tests on US Roads

June 28, 2022

Electric truckmaker Einride AB has received approvals to test its driverless vehicle on public roads in the US, paving the way for the company to conduct a pilot with partner GE Appliances.

The approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration marks “the first time a purpose-built autonomous, electric truck without a driver on board receives public road permission,” Einride said Thursday.

The Swedish company’s driverless Einride Pod will be remotely monitored by a human operator, while transporting goods on public roads with mixed traffic. Initially it’s just one cabless pod on the streets as well as tests with teams at various warehouses for loading and unloading.

Einride and GE Appliances, a Haier company, partnered in October last year to implement Einride’s electric and cabless pods on a GEA campus in Louisville, Kentucky. The first tests took place on predetermined routes and a controlled environment.

Energy Blog: Hydrogen Could be Sweet for Heavy-Duty Trucks

June 28, 2022

Ultimately, researchers are working to match the time it takes a trucker to fuel a diesel truck, about 10 minutes. According to NREL, that requires an average hydrogen gas mass flow rate of 10 kilograms per minute, and 20 kg per minute peak, based on a maximum vehicle storage potential of 100 kg hydrogen gas. Such a rate is some 10 times the average mass flow rate now used for light-duty fuel cell EVs.

In April, researchers exceeded the goal, accomplishing an average mass flow rate of 14 kg per minute with a fill of 40.3 kg into a bank of 8 storage tanks in 2.87 minutes. Ultimately the researchers are working to fill 60 kg to 80 kg in under 10 minutes…

In the shorter term, industry executives see the sweet spot for hydrogen in long-range, heavy-duty trucks. Those using lithium-ion batteries would take two hours or more to charge. Hydrogen, especially with the work being done at NREL, looks like a faster way to stay on the road.

Why Wireless Charging Could Be The Next Big EV Upgrade

June 27, 2022

Wireless charging can be advantageous to the driver for many reasons. A significant benefit is that the vehicle can be charged while in motion as opposed to charging the EV while parked and waiting for a full charge. As wireless charging functions automatically, there’s also no need for people to plug or unplug cables, thereby safeguarding against human error…

Wireless charging also makes it convenient to charge EVs since the driver only needs to park over the charging pad and wait until the EV is fully charged.

With so many benefits on offer with wireless charging, it is easy to see why it is set to be the next big upgrade for EVs. That said, when the upgrade will actually happen is another question entirely. While some believe it will manifest soon, others suggest the technology needs more time. As of today, there have been some attempts to integrate wireless charging.