Helping cars see better at night is key to reducing pedestrian deaths

October 30, 2020

In fact, most pedestrians who die in crashes are killed at night, but nighttime has been when the technology designed to prevent pedestrian crashes struggles most.

Last year, AAA revealed some startling deficiencies in driver assistance systems designed to protect pedestrians.

At night, several test vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems and pedestrian detection were found to be “completely ineffective.” Rather than bash the automakers’ efforts, AAA encouraged continued development of these systems because of the scope of the pedestrian death crisis in this country…

Vehicle technology is one way to improve protection for pedestrians at night, and a couple of thermal imaging companies are promoting their systems as the answer…

Results recently released of thermal testing in Michigan appear to show promise in the realm of pedestrian detection at night, too.
More>>

MTA Unveils Smartphone App for Visually Impaired Bus Riders

October 30, 2020

The MTA is testing a new app that will allow visually impaired bus riders to find stops and learn arrival times.

NaviLens uses an algorithm to translate visual signage into audio.

That helps customers to determine the location of the nearest bus stop and find out when the next bus will arrive.

It also lets them know how crowded each bus is.

“I’d like to describe blindness as a non-visual approach to a visual world, and if we all work together and consider one another’s needs, a day like today is a great step at levelling the playing field for all of our city’s citizens,” said Gian Pedulla of the NYCT Advisory Committee on Transit Accessibility.

NaviLens is being tested along the M23 Select Bus Service route in Manhattan.

Buses on the route make stops near three locations serving blind and low-vision New Yorkers.
More>>

DOE, USDOT issue $5.25M in project grants to advance transit tech

October 30, 2020

Dive Brief:
Three research projects have received federal grant money from both the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to improve the energy efficiency and affordability of public transit systems through the advancement of “innovative vehicle technologies” and data.

The projects from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Chattanooga Regional Transportation Authority (CARTA) and Utah State University (USU) each received $1.75 million in joint funding from the DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) and USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

Researchers at MIT will look to develop a transit-centric Smart Mobility System to help agencies create short-term operating plans and adaptable real-time control strategies. CARTA will also develop a software platform using artificial intelligence (AI) to integrate fixed-route transportation with on-demand services and paratransit and determine where best to deploy electric buses. And USU aims to develop tools for planning and operations to help the large-scale electrification of bus fleets.
More>>

Lordstown (RIDE) goes public as people bet on them delivering electric pickup with in-wheel motors

October 30, 2020

Lordstown Motors (RIDE) has officially gone public through a reverse merger and now people are betting on the startup delivering an electric pickup truck with in-wheel hub motors.

It’s a technology that has never been implemented in a passenger electric vehicle for consumers before…

The Endurance is one of several vehicles racing to become the first all-electric pickup truck on the market next year.

It has a few interesting qualities, like a starting price of just $52,500 and a range of “over 250 miles”, but one of the most interesting things about the Endurance is the fact that Lordstown decided to use 4 in-wheel hub motors to power it…

Some people have concerns about putting one of the most critical components, like the electric motor, inside one of the parts of the vehicle that takes the heaviest beating and is exposed to the elements, the wheel.
More>>

Waymo and Daimler are teaming up to build fully driverless semi trucks

October 30, 2020

Waymo and Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, announced that they are forming a “broad, global, strategic partnership” to deploy fully driverless trucks. Daimler will integrate Waymo’s autonomous driving technology, widely considered to be among the best in the world, into its fleet of heavy-duty Freightliner Cascadia semi-trailer trucks…

But the deal between Waymo and Daimler won’t be exclusive. Daimler is the fifth automaker to commit to integrating Waymo’s AV technology in its vehicles. The Alphabet subsidiary also has preexisting agreements with Nissan-Renault, Fiat Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo. Daimler’s trucking division also has its own self-driving subsidiary, Torc Robotics, that is working to integrate its technology into the Cascadia’s line of trucks.
More>>

Self-driving cars are coming. Chemical makers are racing to keep up

October 28, 2020

High-tech computers and batteries get the attention, but the chemical industry is quietly bringing solutions to many of the less-obvious problems of autonomous driving. The demands of computer vision require a lot of chemistry support. A design shift in car interiors that emphasizes usable space will create a need for structural materials that are strong, lightweight, and attractive to the eye and touch. And the electric motors that are expected to move most self-driving cars need different fluids than internal combustion engines.

It’s a boom time for R&D. Most major carmakers are working on CASE vehicles, and new firms like Nuro that lack anchors in internal combustion are offering serious competition. For the most part, each one is working in isolation, developing its own systems with their own challenges. That dynamic means companies’ suppliers, including specialty chemical firms, need to customize offerings for each client.
More>>

Tesla is putting ‘self-driving’ in the hands of drivers amid criticism the tech is not ready

October 28, 2020

This week, a group of drivers was selected to receive a software update that downloaded automatically into their cars, enabling the vehicles to better steer and accelerate without human hands and feet. According to Tesla, hundreds of thousands of its cars will be able to drive themselves as soon as this year, probably making them the first large fleet of vehicles billed as autonomous owned by ordinary consumers.

Tesla is forging ahead despite skepticism among some safety advocates about whether Tesla’s technology is ready — and whether the rest of the world is ready for cars that drive themselves. An industry coalition consisting of General Motors’ Cruise, Ford, Uber and Waymo, among others, this week criticized the move by Tesla, saying its vehicles are not truly autonomous because they still require an active driver.
More>>

Arcimoto’s 3-wheeled electric fun-mobile is headed for mass production, residential delivery

October 28, 2020

Eugene, Oregon-based Arcimoto’s three-wheeled electric Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) is marching towards an annual production rate of 50,000 vehicles in two years. And to get all of those FUVs to their new owners, Arcimoto has just announced a partnership with DHL.

The Arcimoto FUV is a street-legal electric vehicle designed in a tadpole trike setup with a single rear wheel. That offers increased stability, which is important for the fast and fun 75 mph (120 km/h) EV.

Arcimoto’s just-announced DHL partnership is designed to provide nationwide home delivery of the electric three-wheelers, beginning with the 48 contiguous states…

The new delivery solution will be an important part of achieving Arcimoto’s stated goal of reaching an annual production rate of 50,000 vehicles in the next 24 months.

While producing vehicles is one hurdle, getting them to customers is an entirely separate problem to be solved. Just ask Tesla.
More>>

VIDEOS OF GM’S DRIVERLESS CARS SHOW SEVERAL NEAR-CRASHES

October 28, 2020

Last week, the California DMV gave General Motors permission to test its Cruise fully-driverless cars on the streets of San Francisco.

But based on footage of the cars in action that Cruise itself uploaded to YouTube, the vehicles may not be ready. As Jalopnik reports, the videos mostly show driverless cars following the rules of the road. But there are numerous troubling moments where the cars drive erratically or nearly cause accidents, calling into question just how safe it will be to leave them unsupervised.

To be clear, the video footage is about 10 months old and most of it shows perfectly fine driving. But, as Jalopnik argues, it doesn’t matter if a driverless car does its job 95 percent of the time when you’re the person in front of it for the other five.
More>>

Only Philadelphians can navigate SEPTA. That’s going to change.

October 28, 2020

SEPTA is in the beginning phase of its “Rail Transit Wayfinding Master Plan,” a comprehensive overhaul that at the least upgrades signs and maps to make SEPTA easier to use, but at most could go so far as to rename the trolley, Market-Frankford, Broad Street, and Norristown High Speed lines. The project comes at a time when rideshare companies send instantaneous alerts to notify of a driver’s location and arrival time, but SEPTA users are left to consult PDF timetables or its many social media accounts for updates…

SEPTA is getting help from Entro, a design firm, through a year-long, $360,000 contract. The University of Pennsylvania Center for Safe Mobility too will lend a hand, using eye-tracking technology that measures where riders feel confused or stressed.
More>>

Cruise, GM to seek U.S. okay for self-driving vehicle without pedal, steering wheel

October 27, 2020

Self-driving car maker Cruise said on Wednesday it and majority shareholder General Motors Co would seek U.S. regulatory approval in coming months to deploy a limited number of Cruise Origin vehicles without steering wheels or pedals.

At the same time, it will withdraw an exemption petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in January 2018 seeking approval to deploy a limited number of similar autonomous vehicles based on the Chevrolet Bolt platform.

NHTSA, which spent 15 months reviewing the GM petition before seeking public comment, said Wednesday it “will review the new petition when it is received.”

Cruise unveiled the Origin, which only has two long seats facing each other that can comfortably fit four passengers, in January. GM plans to begin building the Origin in Detroit in late 2021 or early 2022.
More>>

Traffic Signals in Vegas Could Soon Have a Mind of Their Own

October 27, 2020

In areas like transportation, Las Vegas has been on the cutting edge of deploying technology to support connected vehicles and intelligent traffic management. The city is exploring future iterations of traffic management where signal controls are directed by large caches of data related to traffic volume so that the signals could make real-time predictions and modify accordingly to create smoother traffic flows and less congestion…

To the south in Maricopa County, Ariz., home to the Phoenix metro area, smart city projects have not quite reached the level seen in Las Vegas, officials said, but the foundation has been laid with the Greater Phoenix Smart Region Initiative to leverage the region’s size as a place to scale smart city systems, said Dominic Papa, vice president, Smart State Initiatives at the Arizona Commerce Authority.
More>>

UK insurers warn against go-ahead for self-driving cars on motorways

October 27, 2020

However, the Association of British Insurers and the independent Thatcham Research institute have warned the use of automated lane keeping systems (ALKS) would be a severe threat to road safety if the systems were legally classed as “automated”, meaning drivers could take their hands off the steering wheel.

While insurers and Thatcham support the introduction of more automation – and believe fully automated cars would be safer than human drivers – they said the current technology was a “quantum leap” away from what was needed.

The automated system would potentially need to return control to a human driver within three seconds to avert high-speed collisions – but insurers’ research found it takes 15 seconds for the driver to be sufficiently engaged to react to avoid a hazard, roughly 500 metres distance on a motorway.
More>>

Could Car Share Become a Part of Transit?

October 27, 2020

Car-sharing services haven’t much dented rates of private vehicle ownership — but an innovative Minnesota program hopes to change that.

Next year, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul will launch a short-term vehicle-rental program with electric-powered vehicles that won’t have to be returned to where the driver picked them up. Advocates hope that the public-private partnership will help low-income residents of transit-scarce, polluted neighborhoods forgo car ownership…

The Twin Cities are piggybacking the program on another municipal priority: enhancing a network of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure, which will primarily benefit private vehicle owners. Electrifying cars, of course, is among the least effective ways to cut transportation emissions, but building charging stations is a priority among Minneapolis and St. Paul residents. The car-sharing industry sees the network as an opportunity to launch a robust program that ultimately gives residents a strong alternative to owning.
More>>

APAC OCTOBER 22, 202011:00 AMUPDATED 16 HOURS AGO Tesla’s release of new ‘self-driving’ software closely watched by U.S. regulator

October 27, 2020

The U.S. auto safety regulator said on Thursday it was closely watching Tesla Inc’s release of a software version intended to allow its cars to drive themselves, saying it stood ready to protect the public against safety risks.

Tesla on Tuesday night released a beta, or test version, of what it calls a “Full Self Driving” software upgrade to an undisclosed number of “expert, careful” drivers. The release prompted online posts by excited recipients who shared video snippets of their car driving apparently autonomously on city streets at night.

During a Tesla earnings call on Wednesday, Chief Executive Elon Musk said the latest upgrade was planned to be widely released by the end of this year, with the system becoming more robust as it collected more data.
More>>

Can Toyota succeed where Sidewalk Labs failed?

October 26, 2020

Toyota made a splash at CES 2020 with its announcement of a “city of the future” prototype. But almost a year later, questions loom around the viability of the Woven City…

The plans call for Toyota’s autonomous e-Palette vehicles, which can be scaled and customized for different services, to be used for transportation and deliveries; retail services; mobile offices and emergency response.

“It’s exciting that Toyota recognizes that to have truly autonomous vehicles, they have to be connected to everything,” said Karen Lightman, executive director of the Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). “It means data being shared across sectors, with everything talking to everything.”

“But it’s not just technology,” Lightman added. “It’s a space where humans live, and trust will be an important factor.”
More>>

Autonomous trucking could disrupt the (freight) world

October 26, 2020

There is a perfect storm that exists within advancements of autonomous trucking which makes the future of it both viable and attractive: easier routing, made even easier with advanced mapping systems of recent years (advancing more each quarter), and elimination of human error…

While less popular in the public eye, autonomous long-range hauling is likely to evolve over the next several years as countries and companies decide how to integrate the new systems which look to disrupt a core industry in world transportation.

This disruption can be seen as the best of both worlds — the optimization of safety and the promise of reduced job displacement. This innovation will protect lives on the road and will work in tandem with visions for increasingly optimized delivery systems with fewer anticipated road casualties.
More>>

Ford unveils new self-driving test vehicle for 2022 launch

October 26, 2020

Ford Motor plans to launch its self-driving commercial business in 2022 with vehicles based on the Ford Escape Hybrid crossover, the company said Tuesday.

The vehicles are the automaker’s fourth-generation self-driving test vehicles in partnership with Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle start-up. Ford and German automaker Volkswagen AG split an 80% majority stake in the company earlier this year.

Ford said the vehicles will begin testing this month alongside its current fleet of roughly 100 autonomous test vehicles that are based off the Fusion Hybrid sedan, which the company is no longer producing…

Ford initially planned to launch a commercial self-driving vehicle business in 2021 but delayed it until 2022, citing delays due to the coronavirus pandemic. It also previously announced plans to use a purpose-built autonomous vehicle without manual controls such as a steering wheel and pedals for its commercial fleet.
More>>

‘Human-like vision’ pivotal to unlocking autonomous driving

October 26, 2020

Despite what people might think, the biggest challenge to the fully-autonomous future is not technical or scientific, but in fact, societal. According to a survey from the American Automobile Association (AAA), 88% of the American adult population say that they would never trust riding in a self-driving car. It’s easy to dismiss this lack of trust as ignorance on the part of the American consumer, but it’s crucial that the automotive industry addresses consumer concerns with new developments in technology. Driving is quite safe overall—the US sees about one death per 100 million miles travelled.

Multiview perception is the key to demonstrating to consumers that autonomous vehicles can see and perform better than the average human. For example, unlike humans, multiview systems can identify an unfamiliar object in the distance, capture the precise distance from the vehicle, and stop in time. These systems capture high-resolution, accurate, robust data from the surrounding scenes, and are able to better and more reliably identify objects.
More>>

USDOT issues 4 contracts for data-driven safety research

October 26, 2020

Dive Brief:
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has issued contract awards to four vendors tasked with leveraging data to help address the country’s “most pressing and persistent surface transportation safety problems.”

The contract awards follow a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) declaring the Office of the Secretary of Transportation’s (OST) interest in utilizing data to gain actionable insights into four transportation topics: precursors to crashes; pedestrian and bicyclist safety; intersections; and non-fatal injury crashes. These insights will be utilized to inform decision-making within the USDOT’s Safety Data Initiative (SDI).

The concept development contracts were issued to micromobility data management platform Populus ($48,200), accounting firm KPMG ($49,900), tech consultancy firm Bytecubed ($49,300) and the Regents of the University of Michigan ($50,000). Each vendor will have until Dec. 27 to develop their concept designs, after which USDOT will select vendors to award follow-on contracts.
More>>

CRS Report: Safety Impact of Speed and Red Light Cameras

October 23, 2020

Automated traffic enforcement (ATE), such as cameras that capture images of vehicles that
are traveling above the speed limit or running stop lights, addresses several of the limitations of in-person speed and red light enforcement: such systems can monitor thousands of cars an hour, are consistent and tireless, and do not put drivers or law enforcement officers at risk during the ticketing process.They raise other issues: their use has been challenged on legal grounds;some studies have found that while red light cameras reduce the number of right-angle crashes, they may increase the number of rear-end collisions; and ATE systems often incite complaints that they are being used to raise revenue rather than to promote safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recommended that ATE systems be used to supplement, not replace,in-person speed enforcement.
More>>

Spread of electric cars sparks fights for control over charging

October 23, 2020

Electric vehicles are widely seen as the automobile industry’s future, but a battle is unfolding in states across America over who should control the charging stations that could gradually replace fuel pumps.

From Exelon Corp. to Southern California Edison, utilities have sought regulatory approval to invest millions of dollars in upgrading their infrastructure to prepare for charging and, in some cases, to own and operate chargers.

The proposals are sparking concerns from consumer advocates about higher electric rates and oil companies about subsidizing rivals. They are also drawing opposition from startups that say the successors to gas stations should be open to private-sector competition, not controlled by monopoly utilities.
More>>

Florida Aims to Offer Smartphone Driver’s Licenses by 2021

October 23, 2020

Want to keep your driver’s license handy without lugging around a purse or wallet?

As soon as next year, there could be an app for that.

Just as house and car keys, bank cards, plane tickets and proof of car insurance have evolved from physical objects to digital apps, a pilot program through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will soon determine whether the time has come to store your state-issued driver’s license on your smartphone.

It’s a concept that has gained traction with pilot programs in other states as a way to curb identity theft, card skimmers and even the spread of coronavirus. Louisiana started offering a limited version in 2018, but Florida could be the first in the nation to offer motorists a digital, hands-free driver’s license option for all uses.
More>>

General Motors to invest nearly $2B in Spring Hill, Tennessee manufacturing plant

October 23, 2020

General Motors will invest nearly $2 billion in its Spring Hill manufacturing plant to build fully electric vehicles, including the new Cadillac LYRIQ.

In a statement released Tuesday morning, Governor Bill Lee said the move adds to the more than $2.3 billion General Motors has invested in the Spring Hill plant since 2010.

The Spring Hill plant will be GM’s third electric vehicle manufacturing site and the first outside of the state of Michigan, the governor said.

Governor Lee added the investment will allow the manufacturing plant’s paint and body shops to undergo “major expansions” and general assembly will receive “comprehensive upgrades”, including new machines, conveyors, controls and tooling.

Renovation and construction will begin immediately. In addition to the new, fully electric Cadillac LYRIQ, traditionally powered Cadillac products, including the XT6 and XT5, will continue to be built in Spring Hill.
More>>

New roadside LiDAR sensors help build a safer transportation infrastructure

October 23, 2020

University of Nevada, Reno engineering researchers have expanded a network of LiDAR sensors to improve traffic efficiency, reduce accidents and facilitate the use of autonomous vehicles…

While these devices had been widely used in other applications before — including autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles — this installation at an entrance to the University of Nevada, Reno is believed to be the first time a LiDAR sensor had been used roadside to facilitate the development of smarter, safer transportation infrastructure…

The groundbreaking project recently received a boost from the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County and its Virginia Street redevelopment. As the major transportation corridor was updated, eight new sensors were also installed, with another dozen soon to follow.

The project is part of Intelligent Mobility, a multi-disciplinary research initiative coordinated through the University’s Nevada Center for Applied Research and involving a coalition of public and private partners.
More>>