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Pole-mounted electric vehicle chargers can make charging more accessible, and their convenience may get more people driving EVs

August 19, 2022

The city of Melrose, Massachusetts recently worked with local utility company National Grid to install 16 pole-mounted EV chargers in 10 places around town.

The chargers in Melrose are “first-in-the region,” according to National Grid, and “intended to expand EV adoption, accelerate usage and lower installation costs.”

Installing the chargers on the electric utility poles can benefit EV drivers who don’t have private garages or dedicated charging parking lots that are private. The cost of installing the chargers is also reduced by 70% if they’re put on utility poles instead of in the ground, because installation doesn’t require digging…

A study of Californians who bought EVs between 2012 and 2018 found that one in five of them switched back to gas-powered vehicles because of the inconvenience of charging. The same study found that around 70% of those drivers didn’t have access to the Level 2 type of charging they needed at home or at their workplace.

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Green Technology Why golf carts—golf carts!—are a transportation mode of the future.

August 19, 2022

The phrase “the future of transportation” tends to conjure up visions of hyperloops, self-driving cars, and flying taxis whizzing through and between cities. But what if the next chapter of urban mobility instead gives a starring role to … the golf cart?

It isn’t crazy in the slightest. In 2015, researchers at Harvard Business School investigated whether Tesla, the poster child of automotive innovation, offered a truly disruptive model for transportation. Their conclusion: A “souped-up golf cart”—not a Tesla—offered the most transformative potential. Indeed, these puttering vehicles, most often associated with leisure and affluence, just might provide a pathway toward safe, affordable, and entertaining rides for the masses…

Peachtree City Mayor Kim Learnard says that her town now has more than 10,000 registered golf carts among its roughly 13,000 households…

Learnard said that most residents still commute by car, but that the carts have replaced automobiles for many short trips to a restaurant, school, or friend’s house.

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Argo AI partners with 412 Food Rescue for autonomous meal deliveries in Pittsburgh

August 19, 2022

Argo AI LLC, the Pittsburgh-based self-driving vehicle technology startup, announced a new partnership with a local volunteer-run food salvage platform and a food distributor to autonomously deliver meals to those facing food insecurity throughout the region.

The partnership will see Argo autonomously deliver meals sourced by food saved from 412 Food Rescue, a local nonprofit that recovers surplus food from retailers and businesses that would otherwise go to waste. Argo will also partner with its food service provider Parkhurst Dining — the contract dining division of Eat’n Park Hospitality Group — to deliver surplus food Argo originally offered to its employees out of its Strip District headquarters…

While a human safety operator will remain in the vehicle per current Pennsylvania law, Argo is also hoping that another demonstration of its tech’s potential will further validate its planned offering to the public as it readies an eventual commercial rollout.

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BMW and Toyota Are Teaming Up on a New Hydrogen-Powered SUV

August 19, 2022

Hydrogen’s latest rebuttal against the dominant paradigm comes in the form of a partnership between two carmaking juggernauts: BMW and Toyota. Like virtually every other carmaker on the planet, the two have tried their hand at hydrogen before—from BMW’s curious V-12-equipped Hydrogen 7, to Toyota’s remarkably normal, fuel cell-powered Mirai.

BMW has been defending hydrogen for years, while continuing to further its full battery-electric agenda through new models like the iX, i4, and i7. Meanwhile, Toyota has pioneered volume hybrid gas-electric drivetrains with the sales tsunami that began with the Prius. The anticipated 2025 ramp up may come as a surprise to hydrogen skeptics, but critics should note that the Bavarian brand’s past collaborations with Toyota on the Z4 and Supra were mutually beneficial, both from a creative and business perspective.

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The electric car Battery Belt is reshaping America’s heartland

August 19, 2022

The climate bill President Biden signed into law yesterday will open up tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for high-tech electric vehicle plants across the South and the Midwest, Joann Muller reports.

Why it matters: The package is a big down payment on addressing climate change and moving toward energy independence as the U.S. races to build a domestic supply chain for batteries and other critical materials.

It could also be a major economic jolt for a large swath of the country some are calling the Battery Belt, where lots of EV-related factories and facilities are being built…

Between the lines: In essence, the U.S. has shifted the incentives for EV adoption from consumers to manufacturers — instead of making electrics cheaper for car buyers, the new law rewards carmakers for building EVs with U.S.-made batteries.

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Traveling this summer? It’s never too soon to start planning your ground transportation.

August 17, 2022

Getting around on vacation is getting harder than ever. With another car rental shortage forecast for this summer, you might find yourself stranded at your hotel or vacation rental. But there are new ways to solve your ground transportation problems…

Travelers are starting to rethink ground transportation. Stan Caldwell, an associate professor of transportation and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, says new “mobility as service” platforms are offering travelers more options for getting around.

If you’re traveling to Pittsburgh, consider downloading the Transit app, which partnered with MovePGH to let users combine inexpensive, shared mobility options with the city’s mass transit. “These services include public transportation, bike and scooter share and ride-hail services like Lyft and Uber,” he says.

If you’re headed to Europe, you can download an app called Whim that allows you to access transportation options in places like Antwerp, Belgium; Helsinki; and Vienna.

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Nader takes on Tesla’s autonomous algorithms

August 17, 2022

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader, whose book, Unsafe at any speed, forced carmakers into fitting seat belts as standard, has his eyes on Tesla.

In a post regarding the car company’s autonomous driving technology, Nader said: “Tesla’s major deployment of so-called Full Self-Driving (FSD) technology is one of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions by a car company in decades. Tesla should never have put this technology in its vehicles. I am calling on federal regulators to act immediately to prevent the growing deaths and injuries from Tesla manslaughtering crashes with this technology.”

The argument that autonomous cars are dangerous is only half the story. Just like seat belts and airbags – if every car is fitted with the same level of autonomous technology – the risk of something going wrong isdrastically reduced. In other words, autonomous cars are safest when humans are taken out of the equation.

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Autonomous Mobility Pilots Show Opportunities and Shortfalls

August 17, 2022

Wegscheider is one of the co-authors of the report Shared, Autonomous, and Electric: An Update on the Reimagined Car.

As for shared autonomous shuttles, Wegscheider described the value proposition of these deployments as “a really strong one,” saying these have the ability to provide the convenience of ride-hailing at a potentially much lower cost. This is because drivers account for approximately 70 percent of the operating cost today, he explained.

However, since most AV shuttles are developed on the fixed-route model, many riders would likely choose an on-demand robo-taxi offering door-to-door service. Where both shuttles and robo-taxis might show potential is in their ability to integrate into the larger transportation system, which would include public transit, micromobility and others. Incentivizing shared rides could help to solve some of the traffic congestion issues associated with ride-hailing.

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U.S. court upholds FCC reallocation of auto safety spectrum

August 17, 2022

A U.S. appeals court on Friday rejected a legal challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2020 decision to shift much of a key spectrum block set aside for auto safety to accommodate the burgeoning number of wireless devices.

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials last year brought a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia seeking to reverse the FCC’s reallocation of 60% of the 5.9 GHz band spectrum block.

The spectrum block was reserved in 1999 for automakers to develop technology to allow vehicles to talk to each other to avoid crashes but has so far gone largely unused.

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As self-driving car testing drives forward in Pa., experts and lawmakers turn their eyes to safety regulations

August 17, 2022

And just last week, Pittsburgh-based self-driving car developer Argo AI announced the formation of an independent safety council designed to monitor the company’s practices.

Stakeholders can agree on one thing: Safety is important.And as the Pennsylvania Senate prepares to consider legislation that could make it possible to conduct self-driving testing without a person behind the wheel, the issue is more important than ever.

Certain details about Argo AI’s committee remain murky. But as the technology advances and may soon be on Pittsburgh streets, experts agree any move to improve self-driving safety is a good thing.

“It’s always good to see an autonomous vehicle company getting independent advice because independence is absolutely essential for safety,” said Philip Koopman, a professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who has been active in the space since before self-driving vehicles existed.

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China launches ‘Tianfu Constellation’ satellites for smart city construction

August 16, 2022

This series of seven satellites features low cost, low power consumption, low weight and high resolution.

Remote sensing data obtained through the satellite network can be applied in many industries such as natural resources, ecological environment, smart agriculture, smart forestry, smart water conservancy, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

The seven satellites will guarantee the smart city construction and operation of Meishan and even cities across China.

Each weighs 42 kilograms and can work for eight years in space.

According to Yang Zhenyu, deputy general manager of Huantian Intelligence, another seven satellites will be sent to space before 2024.

The 14 satellites will play a role in resource investigation, agricultural yield estimation, weather and sea state forecast, disaster prevention and mitigation, environmental monitoring, urban planning management and military reconnaissance, Yang said.

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US FHWA & FTA Award $45.2 million (ATCMTD) for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

August 16, 2022

Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) together awarded $49.2 million in innovative technology grants to improve mobility and multimodal connections for millions of Americans who travel on our nation’s highway and transit systems. Grants can be applied to technologies ranging from systems that detect and prevent wrong-way crashes to advanced technology to improve trucking operations and terminal operator activities at a port. A full list of recipients is included below.

The FHWA awarded $45.2 million in Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grants to 10 projects using advanced intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies that improve mobility and safety, reduce congestion and support underserved communities.

The FTA awarded $4 million in Enhancing Mobility Innovation (EMI) grants to nine transit agencies and organizations in six states and the District of Columbia to improve access and mobility for transit riders.

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Former Volkswagen and Sony plant in Mount Pleasant will become training site for emergency response crews and state road workers

August 16, 2022

The test facility, known as Pennsylvania Safety, Transportation and
Research Track, will use 80 to 100 acres of land at the former Volkswagen
and Sony plant, state and local officials announced Thursday. The facility,
which could cost as much as $20 million, will be a free training site for
emergency response crews and state road workers, and lease time to
private companies developing self-driving vehicles and other
transportation products.

State Transportation Secretary Yassmin Gramian said officials have been
talking about such a facility for about four years…

Mr. Kopko said Michigan and Florida have similar facilities, but they aren’t
as wide ranging as the Westmoreland County facility will be. Academic institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University, which is a leader in self-
driving technology, also will be able to use PennSTART.

“None of (the other facilities) are as much a jack-of-all-trades facility as this will be,” Mr. Kopko said. “Anything we want to test, this facility gives us that opportunity.”

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Paul Moller’s 50-year dream to build a flying car won’t die

August 16, 2022

Moller is hardly the first inventor bent on making flying cars a reality, but he’s likely the one person who’s been at it the longest…

Moller’s distaste for batteries in the new generation of flying cars makes him the outlier. A year ago, he stopped work on a hybrid model of the Skycar, opting for a version only with a rotary-powered engine.

“Even though the battery safety brings in some issues, the rest of the aspects in terms of the number critical points of failure and so on are a lot fewer,” says Shashank Sripad, a battery researcher at Carnegie Mellon University who recently co-authored an article on the promise of urban aircrafts. “I would say I’m very optimistic.” The top air-taxi contenders today, including the EHang 216, the A3 Vahana, Wisk’s Cora, and the Archer Maker, are all battery-powered.

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Inside one battery company‘s plan to put the supply chain first

August 16, 2022

In 2019, the Sparkz team set out to find a battery that could avoid supply-chain constraints and safety concerns while still providing competitive energy density, cycle life, and cost, Malhotra said. Through partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Sparkz ultimately licensed patents for battery tech that doesn’t require cobalt, a scarce mineral used in many lithium-ion batteries on the market today.

Now, Sparkz is putting that strategy to the test as it begins to build out its manufacturing capacity. The company plans to begin production at its pilot facility in California later this year and have between 0.2 GWh and 0.5 GWh of battery capacity up and running at a new plant in West Virginia by late 2023 or early 2024.

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Hundreds of new mines required to meet 2030 battery metals demand — IEA report

August 15, 2022

Global battery and minerals supply chains need to expand ten-fold to meet projected critical minerals needs by 2030, a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found.

The report concludes the industry needs to build 50 more lithium mines, 60 more nickel mines and 17 more cobalt mines by 2030 to meet global net carbon emissions goals.

Pressure on the supply of critical materials will continue to mount as road transport electrification expands to meet net-zero ambitions. According to the IEA, demand for electric vehicle (EV) batteries will increase from around 340 GWh today to over 3500 GWh by 2030…

The IEA suggests innovative new extraction and processing technologies such as direct lithium extraction (DLE), high-pressure acid leaching (HPAL), and re-mining from mining waste could go a long way in bridging the gaping emerging supply gaps.

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Plug-in hybrids gain ground in U.S. after losing favor to electric cars

August 15, 2022

But a funny thing happened on the way to obsolescence: Plug-in hybrid sales are climbing in the United States, in part because of the recent surge in gasoline prices. Automakers sold a record 176,000 such cars last year, according to Wards Intelligence, up from 69,000 in 2020. This year, sales of plug-in hybrids could reach 180,000, analysts said, even as the overall new-car market drops to 14.4 million from 15.3 million a year earlier, according to Cox Automotive.

All-electric cars have seized around 5 per cent of the new-car market, and most analysts and industry executives expect them to eventually surpass hybrids as automakers commit to eliminating tailpipe emissions, a major contributor to climate change. But hybrids – led by a growing selection of plug-ins – still make up about 7 per cent of sales, and that number could grow for at least a few years.

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GM Cruise Self-Driving Vehicles Have Been Involved in Nine Hit-and-Runs This Year

August 15, 2022

Now we see another unanticipated problem, as The Examiner reports the driverless Cruise cars have been involved in nine hit-and-run accidents this year. This is ostensibly because the drivers in the other vehicles don’t know how to stop and share information with the other driver when there is no other driver, or they see the car is driverless, and figure they can just probably get away with it because what is the robot going to do…

But the pattern of hit-and-runs suggests that in the way that these autonomous vehicles currently operate, confused drivers have no idea how they should react properly in an accident situation. This was not a question on my driver’s license test!

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United Airlines Places $10 Million Downpayment On Flying Taxis

August 15, 2022

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) startup Archer Aviation first acquired United as a customer in January 2021. The airline then placed an order worth $1 billion from the Palo Alto-based company. Options were included for aircraft worth an additional $500 million. The agreement will allow United to operate as many as 200 of Archer’s eVTOLs. Customer deliveries are planned to begin in 2024, pending regulatory approval.

United Airlines will be the launch customer for the four-seater eVTOL that Archer is currently developing. Yet to be mass-produced, the vehicle, called Maker, is currently undergoing flight testing. It will be able to travel for up to 60 miles on a single charge at speeds of 150 miles per hour. You can already catch a glimpse of it in the air in the video shared by the company’s CEO below.

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Tech Company Testing Remote Operators as Self-Driving Car Backups

August 15, 2022

Now in August we learn that MIRA GmbH, a subsidiary of German automotive and arms manufacturing giant Rheinmetal AG is rolling out a pilot trial of just that very idea with its teleoperated driving system in Düsseldorf, Germany…

Wait, you must be asking—why is a remote operator needed for a self-driving car? Wouldn’t that make it, um, not self-driving? Good catch. The idea here is to utilize the remote driver as a backup in place of the human monitors currently employed by companies testing self-driving cars. Today, these drivers ride along, often in the driver’s seat, ready to intervene in case the machine does something unexpected or dangerous and control needs taken back from the software…

MIRA envisions a few initial use cases. In fully equipped self-driving cars, a remote human driver can remain “on call” in the event of an “unsolvable driving task” arising.

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Drones carrying parcels found to use much less energy per parcel than diesel trucks

August 12, 2022

A team of researchers at Carnegie Mellon University has found that drones carrying parcels use much less energy per parcel than diesel delivery trucks. In their paper published in the journal Patterns, the group described their tests of drones carrying packages and how they compared with trucks.

In this new effort, the researchers looked at the delivery of single small packages to a single destination—such as a customer’s home…

In so doing, they found that for single delivery of a package, drone delivery has a much smaller carbon footprint. More specifically, they found that a drone delivery accounted for 84% less greenhouse gas emissions than a diesel truck—it also used 94% less energy.

The researchers note that carbon savings depended very much on where in the country the electricity used to charge the drone batteries was produced.

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FHWA Charting Path for National EV Charging Network

August 12, 2022

FHWA has outlined areas in which today’s nascent development of EV charging infrastructure — which has evolved on an ad hoc basis mostly by private industry — must be improved on a national scale if states are to use $7.5 billion in bipartisan infrastructure law money earmarked to increase public use of EV charging and alternative fueling facilities.

“Currently, there are no national standards for the installation, operation or maintenance of EV charging stations,” FHWA stated in its June 22 notice of proposed rule-making and comment solicitation.

It added that “wide disparities exist among EV charging stations in key components, such as operational practices, payment methods, site organization, display of price to charge, speed and power of chargers, and information communicated about the availability and functioning of each charging station.”

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Wolf, Carnegie Mellon president among Pennsylvanians at Biden’s signing of CHIPS and Science bill

August 12, 2022

rominent Pennsylvanians attended President Joe Biden’s signing of the CHIPS and Science Act, a new law that directs billions to spur domestic semiconductor manufacturing and could potentially unlock billions more for scientific research.

Gov. Tom Wolf and Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian were among a large audience Tuesday on the White House South Lawn as Mr. Biden signed the bipartisan bill into law, which will provide $52 billion for the industry and a 25% tax incentive for companies that invest in domestic chip manufacturing.

The act also authorizes about $200 billion to be appropriated over the next decade for various research programs, a portion of the legislation that garnered the backing of universities and tech councils.

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White House Summit Brings AAM Into National Focus

August 12, 2022

The White House this week turned its attention to the future of advanced air mobility, gathering government, industry, and other leaders to focus on the challenges and opportunities of integrating eVTOLs and UAS into the national airspace system.

FAA acting Administrator Billy Nolen, in his prepared remarks for the summit, said the agency is “looking at every aspect of this enterprise—the vehicle itself, the framework for operations, access to the airspace, operator training, infrastructure development, and community engagement.”

For the FAA, it’s not just about air taxis, but also about everything supporting air taxi flights, including operational rules and pilot training standards. “We’re modifying our regulatory approach to enable powered lift operations including the certification of powered-lift vehicles and the pilots who operate them,” he said. “Longer term, the agency plans to continue to develop permanent regulations to safely enable powered-lift operations and pilot training and certification.”

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California becomes first state to roll out submetering technology to spur EV adoption

August 12, 2022

Dive Brief:
California regulators last week approved first-of-their-kind protocols on submetering technology, which would essentially allow EV owners to measure their vehicles’ energy consumption separately from their main utility meter.

Thanks to the decision, owners of EVs, as well as electric buses and trucks, will be able to avoid installing an additional meter to measure the electricity that is consumed by their vehicle, removing a key barrier to EV adoption across the state.

The CPUC’s decision is the culmination of a decade of efforts to develop submetering capabilities and standardize communication protocols, President Alice Reynolds said at a meeting Thursday. “We really are hoping to build on efforts to accelerate and facilitate greater customer control over how and when they charge their vehicle, and enable customers to better manage their demand and to benefit from electric vehicle-specific rates,” she said.

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