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Qualcomm Bolsters 5G Ambitions With Planned $1.4 Billion Acquisition

January 20, 2021

Mobile-phone chip giant Qualcomm Inc. QCOM +2.88% said Wednesday that it has agreed to acquire a chip startup founded by former Apple Inc. engineers, adding to a wave of deals remaking the semiconductor industry.

Qualcomm said it plans to buy Nuvia Inc. and use the two-year-old company’s technology in its flagship smartphones, driver-assistance systems, laptops and networking infrastructure. The proposed all-cash transaction is valued at about $1.4 billion, Qualcomm said, before working capital and other adjustments.

Nuvia’s expertise in designing central processing units, Qualcomm said, would help it boost chip performance and power efficiency—characteristics that are vital to success in the hot 5G-networking market that Qualcomm has made a priority.

Dallas’ First Testbed for Smart?City Transit Tech Receives Funding Through $4M Federal Grant

January 20, 2021

Key outcomes for both the physical reconstruction and technological improvements will be to improve pedestrian safety while improving traffic flow. While plans for the physical changes to the road have been set, the extent of the technological installations are not.

“Definitely, as we start getting this project off the ground, we’re going to have to start refining what the scope is going to be,” Khankarli said. Possibilities include:

connected-vehicle technologies that allow traffic signal controllers to communicate with vehicles, to better synchronize traffic lights, and inform drivers about impending traffic-signal changes;

pedestrian crosswalk buttons that are activated by the presence of pedestrians, rather than by touch;

smart-transit bus shelters that inform riders of estimated times of arrival, Wi-Fi and charging ports; and

connected-vehicle tech that will give emergency vehicles and/or buses priority to pass through intersections.

Uber is bringing its EV and public transit features to more cities

January 20, 2021

Uber Green, the feature that allows customers to request rides in electric vehicles, is coming to more cities. After initially launching in 15 cities last September, the ride-hail company is bringing the feature to 1,400 additional cities and towns in North America. The new markets include Austin, Calgary, Houston, Miami, New York City, Tucson, Winnipeg, Washington, DC, and hundreds more.

Uber claims that “100 percent” of rides on its platform will take place in electric vehicles by 2030 in the US, Canada, and Europe, and by 2040 for the rest of the world. But rather than pay drivers directly to trade their gas-burning vehicles for electric ones, the company will impose an extra fee on trips completed in an electric vehicle to incentivize drivers to make the switch…

Uber has been linked to rising car congestion and increased pollution in cities. A new study from Carnegie Mellon found that the benefit from people ditching their cars to use ride-hailing services is negated by new vehicles added to the road by aspiring Uber and Lyft drivers.

Curb-Management Pilots Smooth the Flow of Traffic, Deliveries

January 20, 2021

Data-centered curbside-management is leading to a more organized flow of goods and services across public sidewalks and streets in several states.

Technology-enabled pilot projects started last year in several cities in Colorado, Nebraska and Washington and unfolded during a time of unexpected increases in e-commerce and delivery activity as Americans were forced to change the way they shop amid the COVID-19 crisis.

A project in Aspen, Colo. — led by digital curb software company Coord — established “smart” loading zones where delivery services could reserve a specific time. The process has led to a deeper understanding of when delivery demand is high, by which services and for how long the space is needed. The pilot began in early November, starting with only about 20 bookings from package delivery companies like UPS or FedEx. Under the project, drivers were able to download a curb-management app developed by Coord to get placed into the reservation system.

WeRide Receives $310 Million as Beijing Opens Highways to Autonomous Car Tests

January 20, 2021

WeRide, one of China’s best-funded startups for self-driving technology, has started the New Year with a bang by closing a $310 million series B funding round led by domestic bus maker Yutong Group, continuing a funding frenzy for the industry started in 2020.

The round, consisting of three tranches, was also joined by CMC Capital Partners, CDB Equipment Manufacturing Fund, Hengjian Emerging Industries Fund, Zhuhai Huajin Capital and Tryin Capital, as well as existing investors Qiming Venture Partners, Sinovation Ventures and Kinzon Capital, WeRide said in a statement on Thursday.

The new funding comes as Beijing relaxes its approach to approving road tests and operations for pilotless vehicles amid a drive to build an intelligent transportation system. Earlier this week, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released a draft plan allowing eligible autonomous cars to apply for tests on highways in response to growing demand from the industry.

Fiat Chrysler Teams With Silicon Valley Startup on New Air Taxi

January 19, 2021

The automaker’s low-cost supply chain and expertise in advanced materials and engineering will help to make Archer’s vehicle more affordable, the companies said in statement Tuesday. Archer said it plans to unveil its aircraft early this year, with production intended to start in 2023…

Archer is one of numerous companies working to spur the market for a new breed of air taxi called electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or eVTOLs. The goal is to create an environmentally friendly vehicle capable of whisking two to a dozen passengers on short jaunts far above automobile traffic in crowded cities, such as Beijing, Dubai, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo.

Palo Alto, California-based Archer said its first aircraft will be able to travel as far as 60 miles (almost 100 kilometers) at 150 miles an hour. Fiat Chrysler has collaborated on cockpit design elements of the vehicle.

Automotive tech takes the digital stage at CES 2021

January 19, 2021

Vehicle technology is just one of six key trends the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which runs CES, highlighted in its list of 2021 trends to watch. Such technologies include cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) features, mobility-as-a-service (MaaS), autonomous vehicles (AVs) and electrification — all of which were showcased by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and automakers on Monday.

Many of these technologies will be driven by the advancement in 5G networks, said Steve Koenig, vice president of research at CTA, during the 2021 trends session…

Smart Cities Dive checked in on a number of OEMs and leaders in the mobility space to assess which automotive technologies could make waves in 2021.

HERE Technologies…

Samsung revs beamforming for automotive mmWave 5G tech

January 19, 2021

Millimeter wave spectrum offers wider channels than most sub-6 GHz that’s been used for wireless, meaning more capacity to handle large amounts of data and super-fast speeds. Samsung turned attention to 5G mmWave, citing minimum data latency and the ability to cover multiple vehicles as to why the spectrum is prime for new in-vehicle experiences, as well as future autonomous driving…

On the flip side are known challenges of mmWave, namely signal loss, poor reach and easily blocked by objects. This is where array antenna beamforming comes in.

With array antenna beamforming, signals can be focused in a certain direction toward a specific receiving device at high strength, helping overcome mmWave challenges of interference and coverage. According to Samsung, it means data can be sent and received with a stable, ultra-high speed connection as vehicles drive on the road.

U.S. NHTSA opens AV TEST autonomous vehicle tracking program to ‘all stakeholders’

January 19, 2021

In June, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) revealed the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST), a program that provides an online, public-facing forum for sharing automated driving system on-road testing activities. After an underwhelming debut in September, the NHTSA today announced an expansion to AV TEST that it says will offer greater information about testing throughout the U.S.

As of this morning, AV TEST is now open to “all stakeholders,” including state and local governments and private corporations. The Self-Driving Coalition said that all of its members, including new members Embark, Kodiak, and TuSimple, will participate in AV TEST going forward.

New GM Electric-Truck Business Targets Delivery Market

January 19, 2021

General Motors Co. GM +1.08% is launching a new electric-truck business geared toward delivery services, the latest in the company’s efforts to commercialize battery technology it is developing in-house.

Following the news, shares of GM hit their highest mark since the stock’s initial public offering in 2010.

The Detroit auto maker said Tuesday it would begin making electric delivery trucks and motorized dollies as part of a division, called BrightDrop, that aims to capitalize on the now-booming market for e-commerce and home delivery.

The new division plans to roll out later this year an electric truck designed specifically for commercial purposes; named the EV600, it will offer a 250-mile range on a single charge. The move pits GM against Ford Motor Co. F -1.07% and its recently introduced electric delivery van, as well as electric-vehicle startups such as Rivian Automotive, which is making plug-in vans for Inc.

CMU team to examine autonomous vehicles for people with disabilities

January 18, 2021

John Tague, chairman of the Pennsylvania Transportation Alliance, uses a wheelchair and understands the daily mobility challenges faced by people with disabilities.

That’s why Mr. Tague is excited that a team from Carnegie Mellon University has received a grant to develop a prototype system for autonomous vehicles that will allow anyone to control most vehicle functions — from summoning the vehicle to their location to controlling the windows and the temperature of the air conditioning — from their cellphones.

The team, based in CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, was among 10 across the country that received $300,000 grants last week from the federal Department of Transportation to continue developing their ideas to make autonomous vehicles more practical for people with disabilities.

The grant is part the DOT’s Inclusive Design Challenge, a competitive program to improve mobility for people with disabilities. Three finalists will split $2 million to produce their product.

Could a Supercomputer Help Fix L.A.’s Traffic Problems?

January 18, 2021

Big data continues to drive transportation planning and analysis as researchers crunch traffic counts from across one of the nation’s most car-centric metro regions. The efforts are helping to not only predict where problems may arise, but test mitigation measures.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is examining traffic data from across the Los Angeles metro region in order to develop strategies to reduce traffic congestion.

“We want to look at this problem more from a system level,” explained Prasanna Balaprakash, a computer scientist with the Argonne National Laboratory…

Super computers at the Argonne Laboratory are able to take a year’s worth of traffic data gathered from some 11,160 sensors across southern California, as well as movement data from mobile devices, to build forecasting models. They can then be applied to simulation projects.

RMI details urgency of ride-hailing electrification

January 18, 2021

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) this week published an insight brief, in collaboration with General Motors (GM), detailing the hurdles and opportunities of ride-hailing electrification and its urgency amid the current climate crisis.

To evaluate these factors, RMI analyzed data from both electric- and gasoline-powered rental vehicles on the Maven Gig platform, a GM-backed car-sharing service that offered weekly, fixed-rate rentals to gig workers. Maven launched in 2016 and reached nearly 20 North American markets before shutting down amid the pandemic in April 2020.

RMI’s brief listed technological capability, financial competitiveness and charging infrastructure as the three major barriers to electrification across major transportation network companies (TNCs). To overcome these barriers, RMI detailed recommendations that fall into four broad categories: increasing access to L2 charging; lowering the cost of DC fast charging; lowering the initial barrier to electric vehicle (EV) ownership and usage; and reducing the cost of charging for TNC drivers.

Kodiak Robotics hits milestone in driverless trucking (with video)

January 18, 2021

Kodiak Robotics, one of a handful of startups aiming to automate commercial trucking, has successfully completed “disengage-free” deliveries on a 205-mile stretch of Texas highway.

Disengage-free means safety drivers did not have to take control of the truck’s autonomous vehicle system.

“What happened is our system has reached a level of maturity where a good percentage of the time it handles everything the highway throws at it,” Dan Goff, Kodiak’s Head of Policy, told FreightWaves.

Recapping news announced in a Kodiak blog post Monday, Goff said Kodiak’s achievement, occurred in December on Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston.

“We even had a fully disengage-free day, completing two round-trips in a row — over 800 miles straight,” he said.

Separately, the self-driving technology startup announced it was selected as a CES 2021 Innovation Awards honoree, with the presentation to come during the first all-digital CES, which runs Monday through Thursday.

Robotaxis and Self-Driving Cars Are Coming. This Company Will Be the Brains Behind Them.

January 18, 2021

The time for consumer autonomous cars is fast approaching, and investors can already kick the tires. Auto supplier Aptiv showed off its improving self-driving abilities at a virtual Consumer Electronic Show on Monday, indicating that some autonomous services, such as robotaxis, are just around the corner.

Aptiv (ticker: APTV) announced a new brain, or system architecture, for intelligent vehicles as well as its next-generation ADAS, or advanced driver assistance systems, products…

The Aptiv brain refers to its improving software, sensors, and computing tools. And the company’s new electrical architecture includes what the company refers to a zone controller. That means all the functions in a car from air conditioning to self-driving sensors plug into one of four zones with the bulk of the computing then done centrally.

Conventionally, one processor controls all the systems. Aptiv chief technology officer Glen De Vos tells Barron’s the zonal approach means lower costs and more efficiency for car makers.

Apple in Talks With Hyundai About Car Ambitions, Auto Maker Says

January 15, 2021

SEOUL— Apple Inc. AAPL 0.55% has held talks with Hyundai Motor Co. about cooperation on driverless, electric vehicles, the South Korean car giant said.

The brief statement, which sent Hyundai’s shares soaring early Friday in Seoul, included no details and said talks were preliminary but offered rare public confirmation of Apple’s car-related efforts. The iPhone maker has been working secretly on the car project in fits and starts for more than six years, while watching the success of Silicon Valley’s Tesla Inc. ignite interest in electric vehicles.

In recent weeks, Apple has reached out to suppliers about the possibility of doing its own car, potentially starting production as soon as 2024, a person familiar with the matter said last month. Apple shelved an earlier effort to develop its own car a few years ago to focus on driverless car technology.

Urban mobility will center on MaaS, driverless delivery: report

January 15, 2021

Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) and autonomous road-based delivery vehicles will be crucial in the near-term as cities increasingly look for efficient ways to move people and goods, according to a new report from Lux Research.

With cities focused on alleviating congestion and providing alternatives to gas-powered vehicles, the report said growth will continue in areas like ride-hailing, micromobility and car-sharing. Offering these modes in a seamless, single-use MaaS platform will also be important for widespread adoption, the report says.

Meanwhile, as cities look to manage their curb space amid increasing dependence on delivery services, the report said autonomous delivery robots hold promise. The group anticipates that autonomous parcel deliveries will generate over $33 billion in revenue by 2030. But delivery drones, which have been the subject of a great deal of speculation and hype, may not take hold in cities just yet, according to the report.

New investment by US Air Force gives lift to autonomous flying cars

January 15, 2021

On Wednesday, Metawave Corporation, a wireless technology firm, landed a coveted “phase one” contract with the US Air Force (USAF)—one it hopes will lead to critical innovation within aerospace. The goal of the agreement is to furnish high-precision, all-climate sensors for USAF’s aircrafts…

Metawave’s SPEKTRA, which is an analog antenna system, was initially created to give the automotive industry high-precision radar capabilities, which the company says is accurate out to 330 meters. Currently, the system is being used for next-generation cars, which includes things like adaptive cruise control, lane change assistance, and automated braking.

Metawave told the USAF that SPEKTRA could be altered and used for its Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircrafts (or eVTOL). Among other things, Metawave says it can enable precision eVTOL navigation, which would include things like automated avoidance of obstacles.

The partnership came about from a USAF initiative called Agility Prime, which was started to spearhead the development of technologies for operational, human-rated eVTOL aircrafts by 2023.

Some truck drivers concerned as Port of Virginia gets $2M grant to prepare for autonomous trucks

January 15, 2021

Truckers 10 On Your Side spoke with aren’t ready to get on board, but the head of the local truckers association says driverless trucks are still a long way down the road.

The Port Authority received one of 10 national grants from a pool of nearly $50 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funds for the development of innovative technology.

Truckers who access the port are concerned about what lies ahead.

Jeremy Wilkins sees autonomous trucks as a threat to his livelihood.

“That would run us out of business,” he said.

Other truckers are not ready for robot rigs.

“I’m not against enhancing the port, and making it better,” said Ron Ford, originally from Norfolk. “But it seems like they’re trying to get rid of the drivers. It’s phasing out humans, so that’s my income, and I’m an owner-operator, so that would be terrible.”

Chinese search firm Baidu to create an electric vehicle company as tech giants jump into auto space

January 15, 2021

Chinese search giant Baidu will create a standalone electric vehicle company, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC.

The Beijing-headquartered company will be the majority shareholder while Chinese automaker Geely will take a minority stake, the person said. Geely will be responsible for manufacturing the vehicles while Baidu will focus on the software behind the car.

Baidu and Geely declined to comment when contacted by CNBC.

Hong Kong-listed shares of Geely were up more than 13% after Reuters first reported the news.

Baidu relies heavily on advertising revenue but it has been looking to diversify its business to other areas such as cloud computing and autonomous driving software, areas that analysts see as promising for the company.

The company has already been testing its driverless car software, named Apollo, in public robotaxi trials in Beijing. Baidu also has its own map app and voice assistant technology called DuerOS, which can be equipped inside a vehicle.

When Uber and Lyft enter cities, vehicle ownership increases

January 13, 2021

When ridesourcing companies Uber and Lyft show up in urban areas, vehicle registrations per capita increase by 0.7% on average, increasing even more in car-dependent cities. Researchers reporting in the journal iScience on January 6 made this discovery by analyzing data from major US cities between 2011 to 2017, comparing trends in cities where Uber and Lyft entered with those where they didn’t. They also found that Uber and Lyft displace transit more in cities with higher income and fewer children.

“I would have expected people to own fewer vehicles once they gain access to this alternative transportation mode,” says Jeremy Michalek, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and co-author on the study. “But that’s not what we see in the data. One possible explanation could be that there’s an effect on the other side, where somebody who was on the verge of being able to afford a vehicle now has an incentive to buy one and earn some money with it. So vehicle adoption by Uber and Lyft drivers may outweigh the effect of riders getting rid of their personal vehicles.”

For this micromobility boom to last, we need to address parking

January 13, 2021

While micromobility has taken off, most cities have been slow to build the infrastructure necessary to support their use. This goes beyond comprehensive networks of connected and protected bike lanes — our cities also desperately need better parking solutions for personally owned and shared modes of transport.

Cars have dedicated parking spaces and lots, vast networks of roads engineered specifically for them, and even taxpayer-funded charging infrastructure. By contrast, micromobility vehicles must navigate the roadways of cars and the sidewalks of pedestrians.

For micromobility to rise to the next level in the U.S., we must make the same public space provisions to ensure that riding a bike, e-bike or e-scooter is at least as safe and convenient as driving a car.

The lack of secure parking is a significant barrier preventing people from purchasing or using their own micromobility vehicles, especially in dense cities where few residents have access to a garage or other safe storage.

How Much Will Electric Cars Cost In 2025

January 13, 2021

A recently released auto industry report by the Economist publication has shown that consumers will pay far less to purchase an electric car by 2025…

According to the Open Grid Scheduler, prices of electric vehicles will soon rival the regular vehicle prices. All this should happen once the battery prices fall below $100 per kilowatt-hour.

When will the change happen? According to researchers based at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University, electric car battery prices will probably fall to the desired range (under $100 per kilowatt-hour) by 2023, 2024, or 2025.

Many auto industry gurus are convinced that it will happen by 2025. The Carnegie Mellon University team, led by Venkat Viswanathan, first developed a model used to calculate EV battery costs. The model breaks down the individual component costs and subsequently predicts the changes over time.

Opinion: Electric vehicles aren’t going to take over any time soon

January 13, 2021

It’s meaningless to have the right investment thesis if your timing is bad. No one learned this lesson more in 2020 than all the sad sacks who shorted Tesla…

“There are two bottlenecks that limit their practicality,” says Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, who is leading a team of battery researchers. “We cannot recharge them well enough today, and the other one is that we cannot get all of the capacity, we cannot get a large amount of the energy out.”

Sadly, there’s no battery equivalent of Moore’s Law, the 1965 observation of Intel INTC, +2.13% co-founder Gordon Moore that processing power in an integrated circuit doubles every two years. Making batteries more efficient, powerful and longer-lasting is the holy grail of the electric vehicle industry, yet for all the progress that has been made, Viswanathan talks of major breakthroughs “in maybe five to 10 years.”

The pandemic cost public transit dearly. Will Pittsburgh-area riders return in 2021?

January 13, 2021

Stan Caldwell, executive director of the Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, noted that many people still don’t feel safe enough to use transit.

“In my opinion, both locally and nationally, it’s a clear reluctance for people to be in close proximity to other people in an enclosed environment,” Caldwell said. “So we are seeing people taking other modes of transportation, and we are seeing vehicle miles traveled going back up to pre-pandemic levels here in the state of Pennsylvania and nationally.”…

As COVID-19 cases rose, Pennsylvania again mandated telework, unless impossible. And it’s not hard to imagine some companies will use more telework even after the pandemic.

“There was a lot of fear of loss of productivity if that would happen, but I think companies have seen the opposite, have seen increased productivity. So yes, that’s a big concern,” Caldwell said. “And if a system has been reliant on the revenues of that, it changes their revenue models significantly.”