Yandex teams up with Hyundai Mobis to develop driverless cars

March 22, 2019

Russia’s biggest internet search engine Yandex signed a memorandum of understanding with Hyundai Mobis, an affiliate of Hyundai Motor , on the joint development of control systems for driverless vehicles, Yandex said on Tuesday.

Yandex and Hyundai Mobis plan to present their first driverless prototype vehicle before the end of the year, a spokesman for the Russian group said.

The companies may expand into other areas of cooperation such as developing joint products that would integrate Yandex’s speech, navigation, and mapping technologies, Yandex said.

Kaarta Announces $6.5M in Series A Financing

March 21, 2019

Kaarta, Inc., the innovator of real-time mobile 3D reality capture, announced today that it has raised US$6.5 million to accelerate the growth of its mobile mapping and localization technology. Kaarta’s innovative technology enables built environment, geospatial, and autonomous robotics professionals to map and model indoor and outdoor spaces up to 10x faster and less expensive than traditional mapping methods.

“Our investor group brings deep strategic expertise in property development, asset management, and commercial real estate as well insights into the robotics and AI space,” stated Kevin Dowling, Kaarta CEO. “Pittsburgh, with its world-renowned robotics institutions, access to technical talent, and abundance of industry partners is the ideal place for the further advancement of our technologies.”

Kaarta products are in use today across a myriad of applications in architecture, engineering, construction, operations, industrial planning, civil & transportation infrastructure, security & threat assessment, mining, archeology and autonomous technologies.

‘Autonomy’ Documentary Director: Don’t Fear Our Self-Driving Future

March 20, 2019

The film covers the latest self-driving developments in Silicon Valley, but also provides insights from those who are less sanguine about the automated future. Best of all, Horwitz traces the evolution of the current technologies to their origins in the 1970s and 80s. Autonomous cars have been around a lot longer than you think…

Dan Costa: That’s a really good point, too. Because I think people are thinking about Google, Uber and Carnegie Mellon and the DARPA challenge. But past that, I don’t think there’s a lot of understanding of the history.

The City of Portland reduces travel times at Maine’s busiest intersection by 20%

March 20, 2019

The Surtrac adaptive traffic signal control technology was originally developed in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and is now offered by spin-off company Rapid Flow Technologies. Using real-time data and artificial intelligence (AI), Surtrac works well in more predictable suburban arterial environments, but it is also ideal for more complex networks, including grids and closely spaced intersections, where competing traffic flows require service from different directions or where flows are unpredictable and change in ways that makes time-of-day patterns obsolete very quickly. These were the very conditions present at Morrill’s Corner, and why Surtrac has been so effective in reducing congestion there. As Portland’s population continues to grow, the traffic conditions at Morrill’s Corner will evolve and change over time. Surtrac naturally adapts to these changes using its second-by-second AI optimization.

FHWA makes BAA awards for Phase 1 Truck Platooning Early Deployment Assessment

March 20, 2019

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has made awards under the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for a Phase 1 Truck Platooning Early Deployment Assessment. This project is being conducted to understand how truck platoons will operate in a realistic, operational environment.

Phase 1 awards are:

Team Lead: Battelle
Key Team Members/Partners: Center for Automotive Research, Pennsylvania State University, SAE International, Saia LTL Freight, Volvo Group, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute
Proposed Platooning Location: Indiana; Ohio; Pennsylvania
Contract Amount: $499,878

Team Lead: California PATH
Key Team Members/Partners: Caltrans, California Highway Patrol, Cambridge Systematics, I-10 Corridor Coalition, Volvo Group, Westat
Proposed Platooning Location: California; Arizona
Contract Amount: $499,290

Team Lead: CDM Smith
Key Team Members/Partners: Anheuser-Busch, BGM Consulting, Columbus Region Logistics Council, Ohio Department of Transportation/Drive Ohio, Ohio State University, Ohio Turnpike Commission, Robert Bosch, Sutra Research and Analytics
Proposed Platooning Location: Indiana; Ohio
Contract Amount: $497,379

120-mph Twike 5 adds exercise to even the fastest commute

March 20, 2019

Based on a device originally built to take on the Automotive X-Prize challenge back in 2010, the Twike 5 is an ingenious road vehicle that allows commuters to steal a bit of fitness work as they sit in traffic. You sit in the twin-seat, waterproof, lockable cabin and pedal away like you’re on an exercise bike – and you are, really. The pedals connect to a generator that tops up the battery on this nifty little jigger as you drive along.

Steering is accomplished through a pair of push/pull levers instead of a steering wheel you might bang your knees on. Oh, and there’s pedals for the passenger too, so you can both work up a sweat…

Twike says its vehicles can be driven on a range of different car and motorcycle licenses in the EU, depending on its power output.

This Pittsburgh startup wants to put autonomous trains of semi trucks on the road

March 20, 2019

What if two semi trucks could be controlled by one driver? A new Pittsburgh-based startup is ready to start testing its autonomous technology to make that a reality.

Locomation was founded by five autonomy experts from Carnegie Mellon University, all of whom worked at the National Robotics Engineering Center of CMU’s Robotics Institute.

The company is adding its technology to four trucks, and CEO Çetin Meriçli said the company will soon start testing its platooning technology on closed test tracks in the Pittsburgh area. And in the second half of 2019, he hopes to expand testing to public streets…

In October, Pa. lawmakers passed a bill to allow for platooning of up to three automated buses, military vehicles or tractor-trailers on some highways and interstates starting this spring.

Boeing’s B737 Max and Automotive ‘Autopilot’

March 20, 2019

Should the catastrophic plane crashes of Indonesia’s Lion Air last October and another by Ethiopian Airlines last week set off alarms in the automotive industry?


Automation technologies used in airplanes and autonomous vehicles are neither similar nor easily comparable. If anything, “Aviation autopilot is probably easier than an automotive autopilot,” according to Phil Koopman, professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s department of electrical and computer engineering.

For me, the most chilling aspect of the two Boeing 737 Max airliners that crashed within a span of five months is that these tragedies occurred despite presumed scrutiny by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — long considered the world’s gold standard for aircraft safety.

Smart Stop Sign Could Help Prevent Crashes on Rural Roads

March 20, 2019

Engineers at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) are developing a smart stop sign to reduce accidents on rural roads.

More than half of all road fatalities occur on rural roads, says the U.S. Department of Transportation. Those roads make up about 70 percent of the country’s byways—but many of them don’t have access to a power supply and are far more likely to not have lighted traffic signals and active traffic signage. This can make them hard to see, increasing the possibility of a crash…

The stop sign uses multi-pixel passive infrared sensors that detect a vehicle as it approaches an intersection. Once the vehicle is within the sensing range, a signal beacon triggers flashing lights on the stop sign—giving the driver enough time to slow down and stop safely based on how fast they are driving.

Boston pilots dedicated ride-sharing zone

March 20, 2019

The Boston Transportation Department and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is launching dedicated zones for ride-sharing to ease congestion and improve safety in the city.

A pilot will run in the Fenway starting with the intersection of Boylston Street and Kilmarnock Street. Anyone can use the designated zone for pick-ups and drop-offs from 5pm, overnight and into the early morning hours.

This pilot has been created to minimise traffic disruptions that often accompany ride-sharing services. The new kerbside zone in the Fenway will allow these vehicles to continue to offer their transportation services, but in a way that supports the City of Boston’s Vision Zero safety goals and helps to improve traffic flow on Boston streets.The pilot is designed to ease congestion caused by double parking and to increase safety for passengers entering and exiting vehicles.

To protect pedestrians, cities are going back to the future

March 20, 2019

Hoping to make it safer to cross the street at busy intersections, some Canadian cities aren’t waiting for high-tech solutions.

Instead, they’re bringing back an idea they’d scrapped half a century ago.

“There’s a lot of conversation around smart signals and adaptive signals, and quite frankly, the technology isn’t there yet and we needed to do something now,” said Olga Messinis, director of transportation operations with the city of Edmonton.

In the fall, Edmonton started testing pedestrian scrambles – which let people cross the street in all directions, including diagonally, when they have the walk signal – at two major intersections.

“They’re locations that have a high pedestrian volume and high instances of left- and right-turn collisions between pedestrians and motorists,” Messinis said. “We wanted to study how a pedestrian scramble would minimize that.”

GM’s driverless car petition to NHTSA enters public comment phase

March 20, 2019

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is taking action on General Motors Co.’s request to put a driverless car — without a steering wheel or pedals — on public roads, advancing the Detroit automaker’s petition to the public review stage.

Publicly airing the petitions of GM and Nuro Inc., a Silicon Valley robotics company, is a required step for using public roads to test vehicles that don’t comply with existing federal standards. The petitions will be open for 60 days.

“The Department is actively seeking public comment on proposed exemptions to federal standards and how the public can be protected as new transportation technologies emerge,” Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a Friday statement.

NHTSA has provided summaries of GM’s and Nuro’s petitions for public review. GM submitted its petition to NHTSA in January 2018 in its first step toward deploying a driverless taxi fleet of Chevrolet Bolt EV-based cars, known as the Cruise AV.

Study: Uber and Lyft Reduce the Need for Parking

March 20, 2019

Cities should rethink how much land they devote to parking in the age of Uber and Lyft — particularly at destinations like airports, concert venues and bars and restaurants, a new study shows.

Parking scarcity or price is one of the top reasons people use Uber and Lyft. University of Colorado researchers Alejandro Henao and Wesley Marshall estimate that about a quarter of all ride hailing trips would have otherwise consumed a parking space. This is especially true for destinations where it is hard or expensive to park, including airports, concert venues, universities, downtowns and are and restaurants.

Brian O’Neill: A Pittsburgh history of hype for loops and levitation

March 20, 2019

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will spend $2 million it doesn’t have to study a scheme to transport people and freight in pods going more than 500 miles per hour between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia…

Joe Grata began covering transportation for The Pittsburgh Press in the early 1970s. That makes him one of the few who ever rode Skybus, an automated, rubber-tire people-mover on an elevated track that never got past its two-month demonstration project in South Park. Skeptical public officials successfully sued to kill it.

Henry Posner III, chairman of Railroad Development Corp. in Green Tree and an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon University, owns or manages freight and passenger lines from Iowa to Peru to Germany. His view of hyperloop?

“I think it’s the next maglev — without the job-creation component specific to Pittsburgh,’’ Mr. Posner said

Nuro expands Kroger driverless deliveries to Houston

March 20, 2019

In Houston, Nuro will service four zip codes — 77401, 77096, 77005, and 77025 — near two Kroger locations, one on 10306 South Post Oak Road and other off of 5150 Buffalo Speedway. Customers within range will be able to place autonomous same-day or next-day delivery orders via Kroger’s website or app seven days a week (based on slot availability) later this spring, for a flat price of $5.95.

Once an order is placed, store employees will load the groceries into one of several compartments in Nuro’s thin, stout R1, which packs a proprietary mix of laser sensors, cameras, and computers. The vehicles top out at a speed of 25 miles per hour and are fully driverless, although for now escorted by human-driven cars.

After a Nuro car arrives, customers will verify their identity with a password or form of biometric authentication and retrieve their goods. Nuro says it has successfully completed “thousands” of these deliveries to customers in Scottsdale.

How camera-based HOV lane enforcement could work in NYC

March 20, 2019

With hundreds of drivers continuing to flout the three-passenger requirement for New York City’s HOV lanes on a daily basis, local elected officials are continuing their push to bring high-tech, camera-based HOV lane enforcement technology to The Big Apple.

Borough President James Oddo and Councilman Steven Matteo (R-Mid-Island) recently sat down with a host of city agencies — including the Mayor’s Office, the NYPD and the Department of Transportation (DOT) — to discuss longstanding issues regarding the operation and enforcement of the city’s HOV lanes…

The system uses geometric algorithms to determine whether or not a seat is vacant, without using facial recognition technology.

The high-quality images, alongside license plate data, are encrypted and stored locally, allowing for full automation of enforcement, according to a Conduent spokesperson.

71 Percent of Americans Still Don’t Trust Autonomous Cars According to New Survey

March 20, 2019

Most Americans are terrified of riding in autonomous vehicles, according to a new survey released by AAA. And rather than getting more comfortable with the futuristic technology, people are becoming more afraid.

According to the new survey, a whopping 71 percent of Americans say that they’re afraid to ride in a self-driving car, up from 63 percent who said the same thing in late 2017. AAA speculates that there’s a very obvious reason why the fear of self-driving cars may be going up: Autonomous vehicle technology is starting to kill people.

Secretary Chao announces new transportation technology council at SXSW

March 20, 2019

The federal government is creating a council to address oversight gaps created by emerging technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, that fall within the jurisdiction of multiple Department of Transportation agencies.

Speaking Tuesday before the start of the department’s five interactive sessions at South by Southwest, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao said the Non-Traditional and Emerging Transportation Technology Council will meet for the first time later this week and involve industry innovators. Possible topics for the council include tunneling, hyperloops and self-driving cars.

Spark NZ tests 5G autonomous car

March 20, 2019

New Zealand carrier Spark has begun testing the first 5G-connected autonomous vehicle in the nation under a partnership with Ohmio Automotion.

The driverless car, which is being trialled on the streets in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct this week, is connected to Spark’s test 5G network at its innovation lab and carries up to four passengers.

Passengers can use a tablet to hail the autonomous vehicle, which then arrives for pick-up and drives around a programmed seven-minute loop at a maximum speed of 7km/h, though it is capable of 25km/h. An in-vehicle dashboard provides information on how and what the car is monitoring in real-time via LIDAR.

Which Cities Have the Smartest Transport?

March 20, 2019

Here’s how San Francisco, Vienna, Tokyo, Barcelona and London, which have the smartest transportation, have transformed mobility and quality of life.

One of the smartest things a city can do to become more liveable and reduce its carbon footprint is to improve the accessibility and efficiency of transport.

With the cost of sensors falling and the speed of connections increasing, there’s so much that can be done to improve transport in a smart, connected city. From bus arrival predictions to information on how full your nearest bike sharing station is, connecting our cities improves the lives of citizens. Here we round up some of the most interesting innovations of connected cities and where in the world they’re being implemented.

GM is doubling the staff for its self-driving car business

March 20, 2019

General Motors is ramping up its autonomous vehicle business. According to Reuters, the company is planning to hire 1,000 people over the next nine months to work on Cruise, a GM subsidiary that develops self-driving car technology. The hiring spree would double the amount of staff currently under the Cruise umbrella and would mark a major investment in autonomous efforts.

GM hasn’t specified exactly how all the hiring will break down, but the company reportedly plans to use the majority of those new job openings to attract engineers. The hiring spree may be in response to the company’s recent struggles. As of last year, reports indicated Cruise was behind schedule, missing mileage targets and milestones. The company’s tech has also had some nagging issues, including an inability to reliably recognize pedestrians and a habit of stopping for bicyclists who aren’t actually there.

State to begin study of hyperloop technology, potential Pittsburgh-to-Philadelphia route

March 20, 2019

Add Pennsylvania to the list of places reviewing whether to consider a hyperloop system and the effect such systems might have on existing modes of transportation.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission this week approved a four-year contract worth up to $2 million for consultant AECOM to review the potential for a hyperloop system that would extend across the state. The turnpike and the state Department of Transportation, which is part of the advisory group working with the consultant, were ordered to do such a study in a resolution approved last fall by the state House…

It is important for the state to stay abreast of new transportation modes, Robert Taylor, the turnpike’s chief technology officer, said Friday. “This is a technology that can change us as a state, change us as a region,” Mr. Taylor said.

Investors likely to put $1 billion into Uber’s self-driving unit

March 14, 2019

Uber Technologies Inc. may see around $1 billion in investment headed its way in the coming months, as a group including SoftBank Group and an unnamed automaker are in late stage talks to invest in the company’s self-driving unit, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal Wednesday.

Raj Rajkumar, co-director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab, said the likely investment reinforces Pittsburgh’s place as a leader in the autonomous vehicle space.

Rajkumar said Uber spends close to $800 million per year on it’s self-driving tech, and an investment of this size could fund that development for about two years. Yet, Rajkumar said he expects Uber will need more where that money came from to get its products to a place where they would be commercially available.

The ‘smartest neighbourhood in the world’ where citizens can trade their data

March 14, 2019

UNStudio has outlined its plan for what it claims will be ‘the smartest neighbourhood in the world’. The Brainport Smart District (BSD) is being developed in Helmond’s Brandevoort area in the Netherlands by UNSense, UNStudio’s sister company. In July 2018, UNStudio was selected to translate the ambitions of Brainport Smart District into a spatial plan…

Over the next ten years, the BSD will develop approximately 1,500 new homes and 12 hectares of business premises within a ‘living lab’, a mixed residential neighbourhood organised around a central park and surrounded by business spaces and natural reserves.

The ambition is to create a “sustainable, circular and socially cohesive neighbourhood”, which features joint energy generation, food production, water management, digital data management and revolutionary transport systems”.

Volvo begins California test of connected vehicle (truck) technology

March 14, 2019

Many believe improving vehicle-to-infrastructure technology will help reduce congestion and improve fuel economy of vehicles. Volvo Group put that to a test in conjunction with the state of California along two connected corridors in Carson.

The company used two Volvo VNL tractors with prototype Eco-Drive technology that integrated with traffic signals along the route. The technology collects light change data and vehicle speed information to provide a real-time speed recommendation to the driver, helping reduce harsh driving maneuvers and late braking.

The project, led by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, is funded by the California Climate Investments program to reduce key criteria pollutants, greenhouse gases (GHGs) and petroleum usage and used Volvo tractors involved in its Zero Emission Drayage Truck Demonstration project.