A Pittsburgher met with transit secretary Buttigieg to discuss region’s public transit needs

June 16, 2021

Lisa Gonzalez is a Pittsburgh community organizer veteran, family caretaker, and Community Worker at Pittsburgh Liberty K-5 public school. She relies on public transportation for her many responsibilities.

Gonzalez, a resident of Pittsburgh’s Carrick neighborhood, recently met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in Washington, D.C. to discuss federal public transit investments and why they are needed in Pittsburgh and beyond.

In a video that aired on June 7, Gonzalez spoke with Buttigieg about her day-to-day experiences with public transportation, like taking two buses to her job at Pittsburgh Liberty, and the difficulties of visiting her mother who she takes care of full time.
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LA moves closer to offering zero-fare transit

June 16, 2021

Dive Brief:
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) is moving closer to eliminating fares for students and low-income riders, an effort that could make bus and train rides free for more than 70% of Los Angeles passengers.

The L.A. Metro Board of Directors voted unanimously last month to explore a 23-month pilot that would give free fares to K-12 students, community college students and riders who make less than $35,000 a year. A final decision on the pilot will come after the board receives a financial report on the potential impact of the program.

If approved, Los Angeles would join several other cities that have recently offered free fares to certain riders. Agencies in Kansas City, Boston, Seattle and Richmond, Virginia, have offered free fares to some riders, and other systems, including Washington, D.C., are exploring it.
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Will charging electric cars ever be as fast as pumping gas?

June 16, 2021

New research may be pushing these super batteries closer to reality. Recently, a team led by Harvard University materials scientist Xin Li designed a solid state lithium metal battery cell that uses several different layers of materials in the electrode to arrest lithium dendrite growth. In the journal Nature, the team described a prototype battery that could be charged in just three minutes, while retaining more than 80 percent of its capacity after 10,000 cycles. (Typical EV batteries degrade by a similar amount after 1,000 to 2,000 cycles.)

The research is still at an early stage. The team needs to demonstrate that the battery, currently the size of a coin, can be scaled up and mass-produced for automobiles.

Li says that a commercial version of this battery may be possible in about five years “if everything goes right.”

If the advantages of lithium metal can be harnessed, says Venkat Viswanathan, an engineer at Carnegie Mellon University whose lab also develops next-generation batteries,“a lot of the assumptions that you have made in terms of fast charging actually go out the window.”
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These car rental alternatives will get you there this summer

June 16, 2021

“The supply of cars dropped tremendously due to car rental companies having to sell them off to cut costs,” explains Sridhar Tayur, professor of operations management at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business. “The demand for rentals increased because of vaccinations and other conditions conducive to travel. Adding new cars to the fleet is hard because of a chip shortage restricting car production.”

One of the most high-profile new entrants is Avail, a peer-to-peer car-sharing service backed by Allstate Insurance. Avail sets itself apart from such competitors as Turo and Getaround by addressing major car-sharing turnoffs: choosing insurance and dealing with owners.
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3 in 10 Americans would rather swim with sharks than ride an autonomous vehicle

June 16, 2021

We here at TNW had a very interesting conversation with the folks at Lynx Software Technologies, who shared with us their new consumer survey exploring Americans’ sentiment towards autonomous vehicles.

According to the findings, Americans are mostly positive about this technological step forward, but they’re still very, VERY skeptical.

The majority of respondents (52% out of a total of 1,000 surveyed) are excited by the prospect of AVs, but almost half feel uncertain or fearful of the concept (30% and 14%, respectively). And while many are looking forward to autonomous vehicles, only 36% are eager to give up control behind the wheel…

Despite the overall wariness, the surveyed Americans do believe that AVs will take off in the future.

Almost three quarters of respondents expect that by 2041 most people will end up using some type of autonomous vehicle on a regular basis.
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Amazon-backed startup to build ‘smart motors’ for commercial fleets

June 15, 2021

Turntide Technologies announced Tuesday the launch of Turntide Transport — a division focused on developing electric “smart motors” for commercial vehicles.

As part of the launch of Turntide Transport, the company has acquired two U.K. businesses — Hyperdrive Innovation and BorgWarner Gateshead.

Turntide Transport will initially focus on electromechanical systems to decarbonize markets such as commercial and industrial vehicles in the rail, marine and aerospace industries.

Ryan Morris, CEO of Sunnyvale, California-based Turntide Technologies, said the company’s new division is aiming to help drive down the carbon footprint of freight transportation…

Turntide Transport has already launched with global customers in production, including car manufacturer Aston Martin, Hitachi Rail, industrial equipment manufacturer JCB and automaker Volkswagen’s MAN division.
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The Boring Company Begins Operations at Las Vegas Loop

June 15, 2021

For people reluctant to gamble with waiting in Las Vegas traffic, The Boring Company has a new option: going underground. Elon Musk’s subterranean venture announced that operations at its Las Vegas Loop have begun this week.

The $48.7 million project enables people to visit one of three stations and hitch a ride in a Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) Model 3 or Model X to travel around the 1.5 mile loop that connects the Las Vegas Convention Center campus. Based on testing that the company completed in May, the Loop can transport more than 4,400 people hourly at a speed of about 35 miles per hour — a far cry from the autonomous travel at high speed that was the original vision of the project.
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AV Transit Projects Are Evolving to Full-Scale Deployments

June 15, 2021

Small, autonomous, low-speed shuttle use is expected to increase as pilot projects advance to full-scale developments and the technology becomes more integrated into daily transit operations.

During a webinar centered on the release of the Low-Speed Automated Vehicles in Public Transportation report, experts and researchers discussed the near-term trajectory of the emerging technology…

That near future could be as soon as 2023 in Jacksonville, Fla., where the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is in the process of procuring 12 to 15 small, electric AV shuttles to be used as transit vehicles along what the city is calling the Bay Street Innovation Corridor. The $44 million project is the first phase of a comprehensive plan to modernize and expand upon an aging above-grade monorail system, called the Skyway.
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Tesla (TSLA) could dominate $1.2 trillion market with autonomous, Uber-like vehicle fleet

June 15, 2021

Tesla (TSLA) is looking at a more-than-decent chunk of a market valued at $1.2 trillion with its upcoming Tesla Network, a new Uber-like ride-hailing service with autonomous electric cars, according to Ark Invest.

For years, Tesla has taunted a ride-hailing app to be powered by its self-driving system. It’s been dubbed the “Tesla Network.”

The new product is dependent on Tesla solving computer vision to deploy its full self-driving system.

In case it does happen, which CEO Elon Musk has been claiming it will this year, investors have been trying to value the extremely disruptive new product.

Ark Invest, a Tesla shareholder, has been trying to put some numbers on the value potential of such a service in its Big Ideas 2021 report.

The group believes that autonomous ride-hailing platforms will generate over $1 trillion in earnings by 2030:
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An atomic look at lithium-rich batteries

June 15, 2021

The electrification of heavy-duty vehicles and aircraft requires batteries with more energy density. A team of researchers believes a paradigm shift is necessary to make a significant impact in battery technology for these industries. This shift would take advantage of the anionic reduction-oxidation mechanism in lithium-rich cathodes. Findings published in Nature mark the first time direct observation of this anionic redox reaction has been observed in a lithium-rich battery material.

Collaborating institutions included Carnegie Mellon University, Northeastern University, Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology (LUT) in Finland, and institutions in Japan including Gunma University, Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI), Yokohama National University, Kyoto University, and Ritsumeikan University…

“We have conclusive evidence in support of the anionic redox mechanism in a lithium-rich battery material,” said Venkat Viswanathan, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon. “Our study provides a clear picture of the workings of a lithium-rich battery at the atomic scale and suggests pathways for designing next-generation cathodes to enable electric aviation.
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Yellowstone gets ready to start driverless shuttle service

June 14, 2021

Yellowstone National Park is launching the first program of its kind for the park, thanks to an investment from the Federal Lands Transportation Project.

TEDDY — The Electric Driverless Demonstration in Yellowstone — is a new driverless shuttle service.

The cars are owned by Beep, a company that put its first self-driving vehicle out in Florida in 2019. Currently, they have 17 different driverless shuttles across the U.S. that work on public roads.

They cost around $300,000 each.

“Our team has been here for the last eight weeks on the ground experiencing every season possible,” said chief marketing officer Racquel Asa.

Starting Wednesday, the company will help deploy its shuttles for the first time in a national park.
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The conspiracy keeping self-driving cars off our streets

June 14, 2021

If you think the internet revolutionised the way we shop, the way we get news and the way we watch TV, you’re right. But that is small fry compared to what autonomous vehicles will do to the world we know. Autonomy will end car ownership, bring multinational companies to their knees, and result in a global unemployment pandemic.

To understand why let’s look more closely at how autonomous vehicles will change the world around them.

Sure, rich individuals will waste their money owning a private self-driving car because of ego, but the vast majority will time-share in a microfleet or subscribe to a macrofleet, both of which bring two big advantages: reduced cost per person and vehicle type flexibility.

Microfleets will be a handful of cars shared between 10–12 houses or an apartment block. This spreads the cost of ownership across more shareholders and makes logistical sense because the start or end of most journeys will be geographically similar.
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Waabi, the rare autonomous vehicle startup with a woman CEO, raises $83.5 million

June 14, 2021

Waabi is a new autonomous vehicle startup with a few things going for it to help it rise above the fray.

For one, it’s founded by Raquel Urtasun, a renowned expert in computer vision who ran Uber Advanced Technology Group’s Toronto outpost, making it one of the few women-led AV startups in the world. Second, the Toronto-based company just came out of stealth having raised $83.5 million, which is among the largest Series A rounds ever raised in Canada…

Waabi’s approach will be to focus on trucking, using its proprietary software to automate driving on commercial delivery routes. And with its innovative approach to simulation and machine learning, Waabi says it’s poised to commercialize its technology faster and cheaper than most of the AV startups working today.
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Infrastructure talks stuck on EVs, clean energy

June 14, 2021

The price of installing a charging station depends on a range of factors — including hardware, permitting and electrical grid capacity — making it difficult even for industry players to assess the cost of a charging network, according to a recent RMI study.

But assuming a ballpark estimate of $100,000 per fast charging station, the Republican offer could potentially fund 40,000 chargers, said Costa Samaras, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who researches energy and climate policy.

By comparison, he said, the United States has about 150,000 gas stations, each with multiple pumps.

“It’s a good start, but we’re going to need more,” Samaras said of the $4 billion charging station proposal. “We’re at the early stages of a major transition to clean electric vehicles in the U.S., but we need a policy push to get things started. The huge scale of the challenge, and the opportunity, requires a proportional policy response.”
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CyLab researchers discover novel class of vehicle cyberattacks

June 14, 2021

Vehicles are becoming more and more connected to the Internet, and malicious hackers are licking their lips.

A team led by Carnegie Mellon University CyLab researchers have discovered a new class of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in modern day vehicles. If exploited, an attacker could sneak past a vehicle’s intrusion detection system (IDS) and shut down various components, including the engine, by executing some crafty computer code from a remote location. No hardware manipulations nor physical access to the vehicle are necessary.

The new class of vulnerabilities was disclosed in a new study presented at last month’s IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy, held virtually…

The team confirmed the feasibility of the vulnerabilities by launching proof-of-concept attacks on them in two vehicles: a 2009 Toyota Prius and a 2017 Ford Focus. The researchers posit that many modern cars are likely vulnerable to these kinds of attacks, but an attacker would have to compromise the vehicle’s network first before launching these types of attacks.
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VODAFONE’S NEW BIKE LIGHT SAYS A LOT ABOUT HOW MUCH CYCLING HAS GROWN

June 11, 2021

As you’d expect, the Curve features an “ultra-bright LED” with three light modes and automatically brightens when the rider brakes, to aid with visibility. The light portion of the Curve is also easily removable for charging and storage, while the GPS functionality is built into the base, which is attached to round seatposts with theft-resistant hardware…

Built-in impact detection can send help alerts to selected contacts in the event of a fall, much like other lights and GPS head units currently do. The light will also protect your bike while not riding, thanks to the built-in GPS tracker and a security mode function. When activated, the security mode sounds an alarm and pushes an alert directly to your mobile phone if the light senses movement. While other lights do provide a notification if your bike senses motion, the Curve’s onboard SIM card means it also has the ability to send its location to its owner even when it isn’t connected to your phone.
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Utah’s ‘road usage charge’ gives a road map for future tax on green drivers

June 11, 2021

But at a recent meeting of the Legislature’s Transportation Interim Committee at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, lawmakers heard a report on the promising 2020 initiative to recoup costs on state roads that may be the blueprint for a new statewide tax on electric and hybrid vehicles.

The road usage charge program, a voluntary pilot program that started in January 2020, allows users to pay based on miles driven using a device in their car. Users are given the option to pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled or an annual flat fee of $120 for electric vehicles or $20 for gas hybrids. Per-mile payment stops when the accumulated total for the year reaches the flat fee, so customers can pay less if they drive less.

Participants are joining the 3,700 members at a rate of one new member a day, according to Tiffany Pocock, project director at the Department of Transportation.
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Continental’s “Vision Zero” is a world with no crashes, and a sign of the times

June 11, 2021

A press release on the company’s website details its future plans to work on tuning ABS and tires to work together for safer handling. That’s right, Continental is building ABS systems now, and we’re starting to see it pop up on motorcycles.

Continental also says it’s working with the Stop The Crash initiative. This is a “multi-stakeholder partnership led by ?Global ?NCAP,” and no doubt its efforts will go a long way towards convincing bureaucrats to mandate ABS on all motorcycles (this has already happened in Europe) and other similar moves…

The major European OEMs are all working on AI and onboard sensor arrays that help your motorcycle avoid trouble before it even happens. Kawasaki’s tech is even more far-out, with an AI pilot that adjusts the traction control and ABS systems to fit your riding style, while keeping you safe.
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Forget drone taxis. This startup is building a 40-seat drone bus

June 11, 2021

Kelekona, the founder of a startup called, well, Kelekona, has an ambitious idea for the future of mass transportation: A lifting body electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that resembles a flying saucer, a futuristic blimp or, for Gerry Anderson fans, a real-life Thunderbird 2. Its 3D-printed airframe promises to lift off the ground by way of eight thrust-vectoring fans with variable pitch propellers. These will enable each stage of flight, from vertical takeoff to forward flight and landing. “One hundred percent we are trying to compete with public transportation,” Kelekona told Digital Trends.

What differentiates this eVTOL aircraft from that of other companies building rival flying machines isn’t just the design, however: It’s the scale. While Uber Elevate, for instance, promises to launch its air taxi service as soon as 2023, it will carry just four passengers and a pilot.
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Truck Talk: Making the case edition

June 11, 2021

The value of being first; sleepers large and squat, and a BADASS dump truck

This week, we’re looking at the meaning of electric trucks delivering groceries, autonomous trucks delivering watermelons and other “firsts” trying to make the case for advanced transportation technologies. And a sort of contrarian view on both.

Proving their mettle
Individually, claims of being first don’t always add up to being newsworthy. But taking a step back to consider the “points on the board” being scored by startup autonomous and electric truck companies may tell a different story.
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California Approves A Pilot Program For Driverless Rides

June 9, 2021

The California Public Utilities Commission announced Friday that Cruise, a self-driving car service out of San Francisco, has been authorized to participate in the state’s first pilot program to provide driverless ride services to the public.

The company is not allowed to charge passengers for rides.

Eight companies have permits for testing driverless vehicles in California, but Cruise is the only company approved for giving rides to passengers without a safety driver on board. However, the vehicles still have to have a link to a remote safety operator.

So far, Cruise says its autonomous cars have logged more than 2 million miles driven in California. The company also has more than 300 all-electric autonomous vehicles operating in San Francisco and in Phoenix.
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Self-Driving Cars Could Be Decades Away, No Matter What Elon Musk Said

June 9, 2021

A growing number of experts suggest that the path to full autonomy isn’t primarily AI-based after all. Engineers have solved countless other complicated problems—including landing spacecraft on Mars—by dividing the problem into small chunks, so that clever humans can craft systems to handle each part. Raj Rajkumar, a professor of engineering at Carnegie Mellon University with a long history of working on self-driving cars, is optimistic about this path. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he says.

This is the primary strategy Waymo has pursued to get its autonomous shuttles on the road, and as a result, “we don’t think that you need full AI to solve the driving problem,” says Mr. Fairfield.

Mr. Urmson of Aurora says that his company combines AI with other technologies to come up with systems that can apply general rules to novel situations, as a human would.
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Senate leader proposes series of state transportation funding reforms

June 9, 2021

(Pennsylvania) State Sen. Wayne Langerholc Jr., R-Cambria, took over as chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee in January, in the midst of a funding crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic reducing driving and gasoline tax revenue…

Mr. Langerholc, in Pittsburgh on Thursday with committee colleagues to review autonomous vehicle development at Hazelwood Green, said in an interview the tolling proposal was a tipping point that caused him to get directly involved in the funding discussion. Working for nearly five months, the chairman and committee staff worked with other state and local officials to develop a package of proposed bills known as the DRIVING SMART Act.
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You Can Now Ditch Uber for a Driver-Owned Rideshare App in New York City

June 9, 2021

New York City residents can help now by ditching Uber and Lyft for a competing driver-owned alternative app called “Co-op Ride,” created by the mostly volunteer-run Drivers Cooperative. If Co-op’s proposal plays out, drivers could make more money while their passengers, particularly those in underserved communities, could end up paying less for rides.

Launched this past weekend and now available to New York City residents in the App Store and Google Play, Co-op Ride is a cooperative, driver-owned business. Each driver owns one share of the company, giving them a vote in the company’s leadership and an even cut of any and all profits. (Even if you’re not in New York, you can donate here to help them grow and achieve profitability.) The app is powered by a combination of Google Maps’ API, Stripe, and Waze.
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Smart cities: New power dynamics & intelligent transport systems

June 9, 2021

Germany’s law on Highly and Fully Automated Driving from 2017 only covered the “ownership” model, i.e. the private use of such cars. However, a new law that was just passed by the German parliament last week has a very different focus: it shifts the emphasis from private ownership of “autonomous cars” to the public operation of “people movers”. As a result, the roles of and the dynamic between the public and private actors will change. In this next step to autonomous driving, fully autonomous shuttles will be able to be used from 2022 for regular operation (in defined operating areas) on public roads, i.e. SAE Level 4. This will be without a physical driver present in the vehicle. Under the new law, control over each autonomous vehicle will be exercised by a remote “technical supervisor”, a person who, in individual cases, can disable or enable driving manoeuvres from outside the vehicle. They are not, however, required to continuously monitor the vehicle that is in autonomous operation.
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