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Pittsburgh Reveals the Downside of Self-Driving Cars

July 19, 2019

Wider inequality. More sprawl. Worse transit. Those are some of the outcomes we could see from self-driving cars in cities, according to a Pittsburgh-based transit advocacy group.

In its new report, Pittsburghers for Public Transit argues that public concerns about equity, the environment and job security aren’t playing a larger role in the conversation about autonomous vehicle deployment.

“The introduction of AV is presented as a panacea to our transportation, environmental and economic woes,” the report says, as it cautions about all that can go wrong for the public, especially lower-income people.

Pittsburgh has been a key testing ground for the technology. With the support of Mayor Bill Peduto, Steel City is currently allowing five companies to test driverless vehicles on public roads. The public has been exposed to risks associated with being guinea pigs in an AV lab, yet not a single public meeting has been held to address public concerns, says PPT.
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App-based ride service launches for Columbus community

July 19, 2019

Central Ohio Transit Authority (Cota) has announced an on-demand shared microtransit pilot programme in partnership with mobility developer, Via.

Called Cota Plus, the new service is available in Grove City, a community outside of Columbus experiencing rapid growth and increased need for connections to Cota’s other existing fixed-transit system.

Development of the Cota Plus app comes after Columbus competed against 77 cities nationwide to win the US Department of Transportation’s smart city challenge. The department tasked Columbus with developing an “integrated, first-of-its-kind smart transportation system that would use data, applications, and technology to help people and goods move more quickly, cheaply, and efficiently”…

“There is increased demand for greater mobility options across many of our Central Ohio communities, including Grove City,” said Joanna Pinkerton, president/CEO of Cota.
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Google Maps now displays bike-sharing locations in 24 cities

July 19, 2019

In selected cities, Google Maps will now show bike-sharing stations and display how many bikes are available at each one. Or, if you’re using a bike and you need to return it, you can see whether there is an empty space at a nearby station.

The system makes use of a feed of global bike-share information from transit data company Ito World. The feature has been tested in New York City for the last year and now it’s rolling out to 24 cities in 16 countries.

This adds to Google Maps’ real-time travel information for buses and trains to make your commute more efficient. Similarly to the bike-sharing information, there’s also real-time information on the availability of EV charging stations.
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Interstate rivalries: States loosen regulations to woo driverless cars companies

July 18, 2019

Ohio has opened the country’s largest test track for driverless vehicles, complete with Teslas swerving through intersections, headfirst collisions and cheering engineers.

On July 1, Florida began allowing autonomous vehicle tests without backup drivers, a move widely seen as an effort to make the state a leader in self-driving cars.

In Phoenix, the nation’s first commercial self-driving taxi service ferries passengers everywhere. Some vehicles have safety drivers; others have no drivers at all…

Industry analysts say these interstate rivalries are being fueled by a lack of Washington regulation. The Federal Automated Vehicles Policy includes no rules, but only guidance for states.

Some worry that the varied rules from state to state could hinder car manufacturers, but others, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, welcome the patchwork approach.
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NREL/Volvo Partnership Demonstrates Approach To Quantify Automated Vehicle Fuel Savings

July 18, 2019

Automated control of cars may enable drivers to rack up more fuel savings than if they were completely in charge, according to a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Volvo Cars. Placing a number on the fuel efficiency of such vehicles is challenging, as fuel economy is typically measured in a laboratory setting, but that doesn’t work for automated vehicles.

This challenge motivated NREL to develop an objective approach for quantifying real-world efficiency impacts from automated vehicle technologies. NREL partnered with Volvo Cars to demonstrate the approach. The researchers leveraged on-road data from Volvo vehicles driving around Gothenburg, Sweden, and compared fuel efficiency for cars that used adaptive cruise control (ACC) to those that did not.
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Three models of IoT network ownership for smart cities

July 18, 2019

The Municipal IoT Blueprint report comes via the Wireless SuperCluster of the Global City Teams Challenge, operating under the auspices of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It was created as a way to help cities make sense of the opportunities and challenges in IoT, according to David Witkowski, who serves as the co-chair of GCTC Wireless Cluster and is co-editor of the blueprint together with Tony Batalla, CIO of the city of San Leandro, California.

The blueprint, available as a free pdf, says that IoT networks have the potential to greatly improve municipal operations on a number of fronts. But first, cities have to decide how those networks will be owned and operated.
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Alphabet Unveils App to Provide Air-Traffic Control for Drones

July 18, 2019

The company that brought you free digital maps and email wants to do the same thing for your drone.

Wing LLC, an offshoot of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, on Tuesday unveiled a new app it calls OpenSky that it hopes will become the basis for a full-fledged air-traffic control system to manage the expected growth of this new class of flying devices.

It’s been approved to manage drone flights in Australia, where it is free. Wing has been working on demonstration programs with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and is also holding discussions with other countries on getting its app approved, according to James Burgess, Wing’s chief executive officer.
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PROPULSION TECH: How to Get to Hybridization

July 18, 2019

Driven in part by a demand for increased efficiency and new waves of global legislation, hybridizing or electrifying a vessel is quickly becoming necessary for organizations. In fact, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) rules and guidelines for the marine industry call for reduced emissions globally, and some ports around the world have established ambitious goals to reduce emissions to zero percent.

Early adopters of electrification and hybridization are already reaping the rewards and realizing positive returns on investment – including real savings and benefits to their fleets. Furthermore, they have also gained the knowledge and experience to continue to grow and develop even more hybrid solutions. Considering this, an increasing number of organizations are beginning to evaluate how they can move towards hybridization in their marine applications.
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Roadbotics raises $7.5M in latest investment round

July 17, 2019

RoadBotics, the Pittsburgh-based startup working to standardize road assessment through A.I., announced Tuesday that it had raised $7.5 million in its latest investment round.

Leading the way was Radical Ventures, an A.I.-focused venture capital fund. Other investors include Hyperplane Venture Capital and Wharton Alumni Angels of Silicon Valley…

RoadBotics was formed from the research of Christoph Metz, conducted at Carnegie Mellon University. The company currently has more than 150 customers in 23 states and 11 countries.
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THIS FOOD-DELIVERY ROBOT WANTS TO SHARE THE BIKE LANE

July 17, 2019

Johnson-Roberson and Vasudevan, who jointly direct the University of Michigan and Ford Center for Autonomous Vehicles, cofounded Refraction AI, the latest self-driving outfit to announce plans to change the way people and their things move about the planet. While a juggernaut like Waymo can take on everything from robotaxis to trucking, this 11-person startup is focused on the local food-delivery market. “Trying every­thing would be a death sentence,” Johnson-Roberson says.

He has been making robots since 2003, when, as an under­graduate at Carnegie Mellon, he worked on the first Darpa Grand Challenge, a seminal event in the self-driving space. Sixteen years on, with self-driving vehicles still struggling to enter commercial service, he’s eager to see robots have a real role in the world, beyond the Roomba that vacuums his house. “It feels like a bummer that we don’t have anything,” he says.

So Refraction, which came out of stealth mode last week, will avoid the hard parts of driving by acting not like a car, but like a bicycle.
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AARP Community Challenge Announces 159 Grantees, Including Six Pennsylvania Recipients

July 17, 2019

Nearly 1,700 applications were received from non-profits and government entities for the program, now in its third year. Each of the projects, which must be completed by November 4, is designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

Create vibrant public places that improve open spaces, parks and access to other amenities.

Demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by engaging residents and policymakers in accessing, understanding and using data to increase quality of life for all.

Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options that increase connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, access to transportation options and roadway improvements.

Support the availability of a range of housing that increases accessible and affordable housing options.
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High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

July 17, 2019

A proposed high-speed rail link connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland would cut the travel time between each city to under an hour and dramatically boost the economy of the entire region, a new report concludes.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has released a 400-page business case for the transportation link, which is also supported by the governments of British Columbia, Oregon and Microsoft Corp…

The new high-speed system would feature frequent trains running at speeds as high as 400 kilometres per hour and include stops in between the major cities with connections to other transportation, says the report.
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Austin, TX considers transit incentives to reduce congestion

July 17, 2019

Austin, TX is working to create an incentive pilot program to increase transit ridership. The pilot comes at the request of the city council, which in December passed a resolution declaring the city had to find creative ways to increase transit ridership to combat increases in traffic congestion and the cost of car ownership.

The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) had worked with Capital Metro, the Innovation Office and the Equity Office to devise 15 proposed incentive programs for customers, and ATD recently narrowed the number to six. It presented the six ideas to the city council in a report.

The city council is expected to identify the final strategy and include it in the FY 2020 budget in September. Once the preferred program is announced, city staff and stakeholders will devise a timeline for implementation and piloting next year, ATD Project Manager Tien-Tien Chan told Smart Cities Dive.
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These Women Are Building Uber’s First Self-Driving Car

July 17, 2019

Behind the industrial machinery, glossy cars, and general cool factor is a team of women quietly working to make the dream a reality. The program is led by ATG’s chief scientist Raquel Urtasun, who works out of the team’s Toronto research and development lab.

After studying electrical engineering, Urtasun became drawn to machine learning and started developing algorithms for smaller problems (including an algorithm that scans a user’s photo to determine if her outfit is on point). She founded her own AI think tank, Vector Institute, before joining Uber’s team in 2017 (under the condition that she could keep her lab in Canada, where she is a professor of computer science at University of Toronto). With more than eight years of researching AI-based car technology under her belt, she was armed with the rare expertise needed for the job (a 2017 Wired article dubbed Urtasun an AI superstar).
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Why Electric Scooters Companies Are Getting Serious About Safety

July 17, 2019

The biggest risk factors, the CDC found, were lack of helmet use, infrastructure issues like potholes and lack of protected lanes, and user inexperience and behavior—implicating cities, companies, and riders themselves…

In part to address those anxieties, the maturing e-scooter industry is making a fresh effort to emphasize safety. Lime, for example, says it has given out about 250,000 free helmets to riders, upgraded the scooters to better handle urban conditions, and invested more than $3 million in rider education. Rival company Bird has similarly given out thousands of helmets, and it, too, highlights its rider education efforts. It just launched a s.h.a.r.e Safe Streets tour, during which it will visit 100 cities and give riders virtual reality and in-person safety trainings.
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Esri forms data partnership with Mobileye for instant map updates

July 17, 2019

The integration with Mobileye, which is an expansion of an existing relationship between the two companies, will bring Mobileye’s data collection capabilities into Esri’s platform as native services targeting local government, transportation and insurance markets. The services will be based on data gathered by vehicles equipped with Mobileye’s vision system.

Esri said its customers will be able to visualize and analyze real-time HD map and location data streaming from vehicle-based sensors, enabling a new type of dynamic map on the Esri platform. Mobileye will begin publishing data into the ArcGIS platform over the coming months.
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Consortium of Pitt, government and industry looks for ways to improve road, bridge construction

July 17, 2019

Known as IRISE — Impactful Resilient Infrastructure Science and Engineering — the consortium involves government, industry and academic leaders working together to choose the research projects that they think would most benefit road and bridge work in this area. The first year’s projects include reviewing ways to prevent or reduce corrosion; whether microbes can be used to help concrete “self-heal” cracks; better mixes of concrete for repairs years after it cures; and improving a design tool so it can be more easily applied to conditions in Pennsylvania.

“Having all the partners identify what they need is the key to the consortium,” said Julie Marie Vandenbossche, director of the consortium and a professor of civil engineering specializing in concrete.
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Luminar’s cheap LiDAR could be a big boost for autonomous vehicles

July 17, 2019

LiDAR (laser pulse-based radar) is an essential component of autonomous driving, as it’s what vehicles use to detect obstacles like other cars or pedestrians in order to navigate around them. But LiDAR systems aren’t cheap. Now, autonomous vehicle sensor and software company Luminar has announced a new platform which will be a lower-priced alternative to current LiDAR systems.

Luminar’s Iris LiDAR systems will cost less than $1,000 per unit for production vehicles or $500 for a limited version, according to TechCrunch. This is a massive saving from other LiDAR systems on the market today, which run up to $75,000 for a top of the line unit from developer Velodyne. However, Alphabet subsidiary Waymo did announce earlier this year that it would sell its own LiDARs for a more affordable price of $7,500.
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Driverless Cars Are Taking Longer Than We Expected. Here’s Why.

July 17, 2019

When world-altering technologies come about, people can find themselves, literally, at a loss for words. So they sometimes define new gizmos by what they are not, instead of what they are. The box that brought Fred Allen and Major Bowes into American homes was known early on as a wireless. The telephone you used while walking from room to room was cordless. And way back when, there was an innovative form of transportation called the horseless carriage.

Now we are at the dawn of the driverless car, also often described as autonomous. Perhaps in time — as was the case with the radio, the automobile and the mobile phone — it will acquire an appellation of its own that is not so ungainly. Much may depend on how far beyond infancy this technology goes.
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The European Shopping Center Where Technology’s Future Is Being Tracked Today

July 17, 2019

A shopping center on the fringes of Ljubljana, Slovenia resembles those in virtually any European city. But it’s different in one significant way: BTC City, as the development is called, is part of an experiment aimed at changing how we live.

The 117-acre agglomeration of shops, restaurants, office buildings, a movie theater, and waterpark houses a huge network of sensors and video cameras. The point is for the 18-month-old development to serve as a testing ground for emerging technology.

AV Living Lab, the name for the digital ecosystem, has managed 30 tests within the shopping center for companies such as Google and Toyota that are hoping to create cutting-edge technology. But to do so, they must understand how real people go about their daily lives.
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European startups try to develop driverless cars in streets built for horses

July 17, 2019

Far from the sunny, wide streets of Phoenix, where Waymo’s self-driving taxis ply their trade, a handful of European startups are developing driverless cars to navigate the clogged, chaotic, rain-swept roads of European cities.

Startups such as Oxbotica, FiveAI and Wayve that are testing cars in Britain say the old continent is a unique proposition with quirks and challenges that tech giant Alphabet’s Waymo, Uber, Aurora and others have yet to crack.
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Operating on a shoestring relative to their U.S. rivals, the European startups say they have been forced to get creative and focus on cheaper, more tailored technologies that could cope in a heavy downpour on a busy London street.
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Singapore’s Smart Mobility 2030: Know more about newly installed traffic tech add-ons

July 17, 2019

New devices and systems have been introduced to help the people who struggle due to road traffic and it is a part of Singapore’s Smart Mobility 2030.

There are some technologies, which have been introduced to help the citizens of the Republic and to manage the road traffic, as well as to keep the roads safe. It should be noted that these technologies are currently on trial and Singaporeans can try these for their convenience.

Here is what the motorists or pedestrians should know about these new technologies.
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Northeast Maglev exec teases high-speed rail benefits

July 17, 2019

A high-speed rail will soon transform the way people live, work and play in the Northeast region, according to Northeast Maglev’s Senior Vice President Ian Rainey. He was joined by urban planners, business leaders and government officials in a discussion on smart cities at “Transformer: Cities,” a Washington Post Live event, this week.

The company expects to begin construction in two years on a line that would travel from Washington, DC to the Baltimore in 15 minutes, a trip that typically can take 45 minutes or more with existing transportation options.

Also during the discussion, Andrew Altman, principal of Fivesquares Development, warned that smart cities can’t afford to lose sight of the “basics.” Beyond advanced mobility and technology solutions, smart cities still need to prepare for fundamental needs like housing, land use and transportation, he said.
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Do Driverless Cars Really Need Edge Computing?

July 17, 2019

Along with virtual and augmented reality and the Internet of Things, self-driving cars have been one of tech experts’ go-to applications when explaining the utility of edge computing.

Until not too long ago, Dean Nelson, who just left his job as head of computing infrastructure at Uber, also assumed autonomous vehicles, which can generate tens of terabytes of data per day, would shuffle much of that data to and from servers in their vicinity, relying on the processing power at the edge (and ultra-fast wireless networks) to augment their onboard computing muscle.

But, after spending a few years up close and personal with the technology infrastructure that powers one of the front-running companies in the race to make driverless cars viable, he’s no longer sure edge computing will play a big role.
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Zimbabwean, William Sachiti Launches Kar-go, Europe’s First Roadworthy Driverless Delivery Car

July 16, 2019

The event organised by Conrad Mwanza and the Zimbabwe Achievers Awards team saw Sachiti share his vision to make Kar-go technology available around the world. Sachiti who still frequently visits his family in Zimbabwe says he used Zim roads to ‘train’ the car’s AI:

“There are some great delivery robots out there, but most of them are designed to run on neat pavements or sidewalks of grid-like cities. We want Kar-go to be universally applicable, so we have trained our technology in a number of different environments and of course, for me, Zimbabwe was a natural choice.”

Resultantly, Kar-go has a unique software stack that allows it to navigate on unmarked country roads and even without GPS.
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