Self-driving trucks hit the road at scale with TuSimple’s new freight network

July 3, 2020

The US will be home to a world-first in the Autonomous Freight Network, designed to bring self-driving semi trucks to market in a safe manner. San Diego-based startup TuSimple is its creator, and it’s brought some heavy hitters onboard to see the project through.

TuSimple said Wednesday that UPS, Penske and US Xpress will each work with the startup to bring the project to life over three phases. Penske Truck Leasing will handle preventative maintenance and help TuSimple scale its fleet operation, while US Xpress provides the startup with more opportunities to collect data as it runs TuSimple’s Level 4 autonomous system…

In this phase, TuSimple’s Autonomous Freight Network will begin service between the cities of Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. It begins this year and runs into 2021. Phase 2 kicks off in 2022 and runs until 2023 when TuSimple plans to expand its autonomous service coast-to-coast with a Los Angeles-to-Jacksonville route. Come 2024, the plan is to roll out phase 3 and provide autonomous shipping services nationwide.

City Of Pittsburgh Says New Method Of Salting Roads Saved $1M Last Winter

July 3, 2020

The Department of Public Works usually uses 917 tons of salt per inch, but utilizing new technology and a different salt mixture last winter, the department used 376 tons per inch, the city says.

The city says it costs about $88 per ton of salt. In previous years, dealing with this year’s snowfall would have cost $1.75 million, but instead it cost $718,000.

According to the city, it snowed 21.7 inches in the 2019-20 winter season. In the 2018-19 winter,the National Weather Service says Pittsburgh recorded 36.6 inches, and 59.8 the winter before that.

“From adopting the City’s first snow plow tracker in 2015 to deploying technological and mechanical upgrades to our snow plows, the changes we have made have not only expanded city services and transparency but saved us money too,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto in a press release.

“The technology is already paying for itself and will only lead to more savings year after year.”

CoMotion Launches Transportation Innovation Lab in Miami

July 3, 2020

The Miami region is set to become a test location for innovative transportation technologies and partnerships, officials say.

CoMotion, a think-tank for mobility innovation, announced Tuesday that it will be partnering with Miami-Dade County to launch a consortium of regional public and private stakeholders called CoMotion LAB MIAMI (C-LAB MIAMI).

The primary goal of the lab, Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez said, is to improve mobility and transit in across Miami-Dade County and southern Florida.

“We’re the ideal location to develop everything from smart signal technology and ride-sharing apps, to solar-powered water taxies, vertical take-off [vehicles] and landing systems that operate like flying cars,” said Gimenez, during his keynote address.

C-LAB MIAMI will serve as a place to attract innovative transportation ideas, moving them from proof of concept to realization. Some of the private-sector partners in the consortium include: Uber, HNTB, Via, INRIX and others.

Via, St. Louis Metro partner for on-demand service

July 3, 2020

Dive Brief:
Mobility solutions company Via and St. Louis Metro Transit (Metro) launched on Monday an on-demand transit service, Via Metro STL, in North and Southwest St. Louis County.

Transit riders in the two service areas can hail a shared ride through the Via app to any of the designated transit stops (detailed in the image below). Service will be free through August, after which Via Metro STL rides will cost $2.

To keep riders safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, Via said it provides a wellness check with every ride booking; asks riders to wear masks; limits the capacity in each vehicle; enables contactless payment through the app; has installed plastic partitions in all of its vehicles; and cleans each vehicle “thoroughly” throughout the day.

It’s Not Too Late to Turn the Electric Scooter Industry Around

July 3, 2020

Since 2020 began, companies like Lime, Bird and JUMP have shed upwards of 1,000 jobs and scrapped several thousand e-bikes and scooters, all at a time when two-wheel transport is being called a critical lifeline. Little wonder that many transport officials and mobility enthusiasts are now questioning if shared micromobility in its current venture-capital-funded form is truly a sustainable solution worth supporting.

Having served as sustainability directors at two of the leading micromobility companies, Bird (Melinda) and Lime (Alison), we’re familiar with the processes and pressures that drive these business decisions. Indeed, both of our roles — along with a variety of public policy and community engagement positions — were eliminated earlier this spring. But we still strongly believe that shared micromobility has the potential to dramatically reduce car trips, shrink carbon emissions and improve transport equity.

Local researchers aim to help first responders avoid railroad crossings

July 3, 2020

For most people, getting held up at a railroad crossing is an inconvenience. For first responders, it’s a delay that could cost lives.

Researchers with the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing have created navigation software that is the first of its kind.

“People don’t pay a lot of attention to the railroad transportation,” said Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Yu Qian. “But in a city like Columbia where you have like 72 railroad crossings, it’s very important.”

By tracking a train’s speed, location and direction, the software can determine when it will be at a certain crossing and for how long…

It also uses motion vision and artificial intelligence to compute congestion times caused by the vehicles waiting to cross.

Airbus Completes Autonomous Flight Tests

July 2, 2020

However, Airbus’s announcement about the ATTOL project wasn’t about emissions. Instead, it was about exploring autonomous aircraft, and whether they may be possible in the future of aviation. While the technology may seem a long way off, Airbus appears to have made progress in its study.

Airbus’ technology uses video systems to automate the aircraft using the system. As is hinted to in the name, the autonomous system manages three different phases of flight. Like rules mandating wearing a seatbelt, the system can be used during taxi, takeoff, and landing.

Airbus operated over 500 flights as part of its trial into the technology. 450 of these flights were used to gather video data and to calibrate and fine-tune Airbus’ algorithm. A further six flights were solely devoted to testing the takeoff and landing capabilities of the system, with five takeoffs and landings taking place during each trip.

Connecticut public transit buses to go Robotic

July 2, 2020

Automated driving technology from Robotic Research will be part of a bus project, that includes platooning, in the US state of Connecticut next year.

Robotic says the deployment will be the first in the US to run automated heavy-duty transit buses as a fare-paying service.

Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDoT) has government funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation initiative to establish automated public transport.

Robotic Research’s proprietary AutoDrive advanced driver-assistance system will be enabling automation of heavy-duty transit buses running along the state’s CTfastrak corridor…

When the programme launches for public use – likely next year – three 40-foot automated electric New Flyer Xcelsior Charge heavy-duty CTtransit buses will run on the nine-mile dedicated CTfastrak corridor.

The busing operations will be a zero-emission deployment between the cities of New Britain and Hartford.

4 in-car technologies that can reduce the spread of COVID-19

July 2, 2020

Gartner research, released on Monday, explored four key developing technologies that could help make car rides safer in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically impacted the travel industry, particularly airlines; however, even individuals who travel by car could be open to potential risks of infection…

The CDC noted in its Travel in the US document that car travel poses an immediate threat if the driver has passengers in the vehicle because passengers are less than six feet away from one another.

Additionally, stopping on road trips for gas, food, or bathroom breaks can put drivers and riders in potentially harmful contact with infected people or surfaces. Passengers can then bring those possible infections back into the car with them.

4 automotive technologies to fight COVID-19
Cabin disinfection…
Cabin air purification…
Connected car functionalities…
Human-machine interface

The electric future of autonomous vehicles

July 1, 2020

Autonomous vehicles come at a cost: increased energy use. Some suggest that these increased power needs are significant enough to drastically reduce vehicle range, eliminating the possibility of electric autonomous vehicles. Instead, these analysts claim autonomous vehicles must be gas-electric hybrids. In a paper recently published in Nature Energy, Aniruddh Mohan, Shashank Sripad, Parth Vaishnav, and Venkat Viswanathan of Carnegie Mellon University determined that electric power can supply enough energy for an autonomous vehicle without a significant decrease in range.

Two revolutions are happening side-by-side in the automotive industry: the transition to electric power and the rise of autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars may use more energy than people-driven cars to power sensors and computers for safe navigation. On the other hand, they drive more smoothly than humans do, which would reduce energy use.

Today’s car safety tech could save thousands of lives if standard, study says

July 1, 2020

If many of today’s active safety systems were standard on every new car sold, US traffic deaths would fall dramatically. The final takeaway from Consumer Reports’ latest study comes just as the US House of Representatives votes on news legislation that would make some of the technology mandatory in new vehicles.

The study, published Monday, calls out a handful of safety technologies available today, but often locked away in higher-priced trims on a lot of vehicles. Specifically, CR looked at automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and blind sport warning. If the three technologies were adopted fleet-wide, the US would see 11,000 fewer traffic deaths.

The study also looked at pedestrian detection systems, which would prevent another 800 deaths annually, based on the organization’s study and data. Each of these three technologies are available today and many automakers have moved to bundle these three features as standard equipment.

Autonomous parking: around the corner or distant fantasy?

July 1, 2020

Parking has never been the simplest?task, but?choose the wrong time or a busy place and it becomes a nightmare. Could autonomous driving tech change that?

In this article, Phil will be looking at:

How will technology help us to find a parking space quicker?
Are stressful parking manoeuvres becoming a thing of the past?
How does automated parking work, and is it happening soon?
What does the future of parking look like?

European rail sector joins forces to deliver sustainable mobility

July 1, 2020

The European rail sector – represented by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER), the Association of the European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM) and the Association of the European Rail Supply Industry (UNIFE) – has joined forces to contribute to the forthcoming EU strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

The rail sector is urging policy makers to pursue ambitious climate objectives in order to make the EU transport strategy compliant with the EU Green Deal. The forthcoming EU mobility strategy should build on the 2011 Transport White Paper objectives and create a seamless, frictionless single European transport area.

CER, EIM and UNIFE have published rail’s pledge to play an ever more important role in implementing the forthcoming strategy, which should help support Europe’s economic and social upturn following the COVID-19 crisis.

San Jose self-driving tech unicorn may go public through reverse merger

July 1, 2020

Self-driving sensor unicorn Velodyne Lidar Inc. is reportedly in talks to go public through a reverse merger.

Bloomberg cited unnamed sources who said the San Jose company is in talks with Houston-based Graf Industrial Corp., which is a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

The move comes about a year after Velodyne made a confidential filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO that it ended up not doing. Founder David Hall said in the fall that he was looking into the possibility of doing a direct listing instead.

Here’s What Your Future Relationship With A Semi-Autonomous Car Could Look Like

July 1, 2020

In the past decade, cars have become smarter in ways we previously never thought possible. They have gained internet connections, formed successful relationships with our smartphones via CarPlay and Android Auto, and learned a whole host of new semi-autonomous driving skills.

They have also turned into the largest ‘device’ we own, morphing from simply a mode of transport, into a smart gadget with abilities of our phones, smartwatches and computers. Next, they’ll get much better at communicating with those products, and with the services – especially health and wellbeing services – we use everyday. And, of course, they’ll get even safer too.

With this transition well underway, and with a very long runway ahead before (if) we reach full autonomy, car manufacturers and their technology partners are busy preparing for a shift in how the car is perceived, and interacted with.

Columbus renews free bus pass program for downtown workers

July 1, 2020

The Pivot app has been live for several months, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed adding the payment method.

For now, the payment system includes only COTA and Ohio State University’s campus bus service. COTA is not charging fares at all to keep drivers and passengers distanced during the pandemic, and has limited routes based on demand.

The trip planning also includes Yellow Cab of Columbus, CoGo Bike Share, and scooter services by Bird, Lime and Spin. Bytemark is still negotiating adding them to the payment function.

A new version of the app is expected to come out in August, with payments added in September, when COTA is for now expected to resume more services, according to an April report from Smart Columbus to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which oversees the $40 million Smart Cities grant.

AAA forecasts Americans will take to the road this summer

July 1, 2020

Americans will take an estimated 700 million trips this summer, AAA says, a decrease of nearly 15 percent compared to July through September of last year.
Looking at economic indicators and state re-openings, the travel organization said this year will be the first decline in summer travel since 2009. According to their booking trends, the organization says Americans will be traveling, though more cautiously and more spontaneously…

The organization found that most Americans would be traveling by car, but that it would be down by 3.3 percent. Air travel, the organization estimates, will be down by 74 percent while travel by rail, cruise ships, and bus would be down by 86 percent.

Had the pandemic not hit, the organization says, travel would be up 3.6 over the same period last year – a loss of nearly 150 million person trips this summer.

Reviving Lordstown: An electric pickup truck startup brings back an old GM plant

June 30, 2020

Lordstown Motors revealed on Thursday the Endurance, a $52,500 pickup that’s designed for commercial fleets. At an event featuring Ohio VIPs and national politicians, Vice President Mike Pence rode in the passenger seat of the Endurance as it drove on stage. US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette spoke at the event. A Goodyear Blimp flew overhead the plant.

The pickup truck is powered by four motors that are located in the wheels. In-wheel motors, known as “hub motors,” are common in electric bicycles and scooters, not larger cars and trucks. Many companies have shown off concept vehicles featuring in-wheel motors, but Lordstown Motors wants to be the first to actually bring one to market.
“Conventional wisdom says it just can’t be done because it hasn’t,” Burns said. “The end result, contrary to conventional wisdom, is a pickup truck that handles like a sports car.”

Pocket-Sized Echodyne Radar May Be Breakthrough To Protect Us From Drones—And Drone Collisions

June 30, 2020

Frankenberg and Tom Driscroll co-founded the Kirkland, Washington-based startup in 2014 backed by investors including the Bill Gates, Madrona Group, New Enterprise Associates and Vulcan Capital.

Today the firm still counts only around 85 employees—all but around ten of whom are engineers—but it and its radars have won a series of awards, including first place in the 2018 ThunderDrone event hosted by the U.S. Special Operations Command.

After taking a few years to develop, test and prototype its key technology, since around 2019 Echodyne has been rapidly spinning out variants of its radar to market suited to different applications.

Unlike traditional radars that mechanically rotate their antennas and can only “look” in one direction at a time, a phased-array system uses a phase shifter in each array element to steer the beam without physically moving the antenna, allowing it to quickly scan any aspects of its arc in milliseconds.

Public Transit Use Is Associated With Higher Coronavirus Death Rates, Researchers Find

June 30, 2020

African-Americans may be dying at higher rates than white people from Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in part because of black people’s heavier reliance on public transportation for commuting, two new studies by economists suggest.

One of the studies, by University of Virginia economist John McLaren, found that the racial discrepancy remained even after controlling for income or insurance rates. Instead, Mr. McLaren found the gap was due in part to the fact that black workers are more likely to get to work via public transit, including subways and buses.

About 10.4% of black commuters take public transit, versus 3.4% of white commuters, according to the Census. After controlling for the use of public transit, Mr. McLaren finds the racial disparity in Covid-19 deaths is less pronounced.

Tesla Needs The Bitcoin Lightning Network For Its Autonomous ‘Robotaxi’ Fleet

June 30, 2020

Ever since Tesla announced its plan for an autonomous “Robotaxi” ride-sharing network in April 2019, the company propelled itself beyond just being a car manufacturer. With the announcement, Tesla indicated its willingness to be a pioneer creating new markets and business models enabled by mind-bending futuristic technology only conceived of in science fiction. For the autonomous fleet to operate as designed, it should implement Bitcoin’s Lightning Network as its primary payment rail coordinating all activity for the fleet.

The ride-sharing network will work similar to Uber and Lyft. However, instead of having a network of independent drivers picking up passengers, with the press of a button on the Tesla app, Tesla car owners will lend out their cars to autonomously drive passengers and earn extra cash. During the unveiling, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tesla owners could earn an extra $30,000 per year by participating.

Can Corporate Micromobility Companies Really Turn Its Riders Into Street Safety Advocates?

June 30, 2020

Micromobility giant Lime is launching a program that the company says will turn its riders into activists for comprehensive street safety in their unique places — an unconventional move that some are greeting with optimism, but some are greeting with questions about the influence of corporations on the movement for street safety.

The Lime Action program will use in-app communications, emails, and other tools to prompt scooter riders to get involved in street safety campaigns — and the company was careful to stress that it would take a wide lens on how it defines the word “safety.” Lime will partner with locally focused organizations to decrease traffic violence, increase environmental sustainability, cultivate social and racial justice to connect riders with coordinated actions specific to their region.

Virgin Hyperloop inks partnership with Spirit AeroSystems

June 29, 2020

The collaboration will help solidify the hyperloop prototype utilizing Spirit Aerosystems (SPR +2.7%) engineers, fabricators, builders, supply chain and certification experts, and technicians.

Hyperloop is a new mode of transportation that transports people and freight via pods that accelerate gradually via electric propulsion through a low-pressure tube.

It can travel at speeds approaching 700mph, connecting cities like metro stops – and it has zero direct emissions.

Ford unveils new F-150 as tech-savvy pickup with hands-free driving and integrated power generator

June 29, 2020

Ford Motor is bringing a new level of technology to its 2021 F-150 pickup to attract new buyers while also trying to please its loyal customers with new features tailored to them.

It’s a fine line for Ford to walk, as its F-Series trucks, including the F-150 and its larger siblings, account for a substantial amount of the company’s profits. The automaker is in the midst of an $11 billion restructuring plan as it pivots to emerging technologies such as all-electric and autonomous vehicles.

On Thursday evening, Ford digitally unveiled traditional and hybrid versions of the pickup, both scheduled to begin arriving in dealerships this fall.

New unique features include a segment-first hands-free highway driving system, 12-inch screens and over-the-air updates. Ford is promising its hybrid model will deliver both great performance and fuel efficiency.

Amazon is acquiring self-driving car startup Zoox

June 26, 2020

Amazon is acquiring self-driving car startup Zoox in a deal estimated to be worth over $1 billion. The deal will give Amazon control of the nearly 1,000-person startup that has been developing an electric self-driving vehicle. Rumors of the acquisition first emerged last month, when it was reported that Amazon would acquire Zoox for less than the $3.2 billion it was valued at back in July 2018…

This will not be the first investment Amazon has made in self-driving car technology. Last year the eCommerce giant took part in a funding round for Aurora Innovation, an autonomous tech startup helmed by the former head of Google’s self-driving car project. Amazon has also invested in electric vehicle startup Rivian.