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State legislation seeks to expand driverless cars on the road

January 21, 2022

“This legislation is critical from two different perspectives: One is a competitiveness angle, both internationally and domestically, and the other requires a particular nature where testing has to happen on public roads with real traffic,” says Raj Rajkumar, the co-director of General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Vehicular Information Technology Collaborative Research Lab.

Rajkumar says it’s much easier to test and work with developers when they’re all in the same state, so it would benefit Pennsylvania to create laws that are more friendly to autonomous vehicle testing.

“If it is being permitted in 39 states, but not in the brain and heart of autonomous vehicle technology development, that doesn’t make sense,” says Rajkumar.

He says as technology improves, it needs to be tested in real conditions.

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S.Korea’s LG Energy Solution plans U.S. battery JV with Honda -report

January 21, 2022

South Korean battery maker LG Energy Solution (LGES) plans to build a battery joint venture (JV) with Japan’s Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T) in the United States, South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper said on Friday, citing an unnamed industry source.

The potential battery JV between LGES and Honda could cost as much as 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) and have an annual production capacity of up to 40 gigawatt hours (GWh) of batteries, enough to power 600,000 electric vehicles (EVs), the newspaper reported. The report did not have details, such as the timeline of when the JV would be built and begin operations.

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BP claims EV charging stations ‘on the cusp’ of being more profitable than gas pumps

January 21, 2022

Oil giant BP claims the use of its BP pulse electric vehicle chargers is “on the cusp” of being more profitable for the company than filling up an internal combustion-powered car with gas. Once that happens, it could mark a major turning point for EVs and “big oil”.

The business of EV charging – filling up a car with electrons rather than petroleum-based gas or diesel – has always been a loss leader for oil companies like Shell and BP, who are seemingly being dragged into the electric future kicking and screaming. That may be about to change, however, as BP’s latest numbers show that, on a margin basis, its UK-based “BP pulse” network of fast battery charging stations, is nearing the levels of profitability they see from filling up with petrol. And the division could be profitable on its own by 2025.

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Building machines that work for everyone – how diversity of test subjects is a technology blind spot, and what to do about it

January 21, 2022

People interact with machines in countless ways every day. In some cases, they actively control a device, like driving a car or using an app on a smartphone. Sometimes people passively interact with a device, like being imaged by an MRI machine. And sometimes they interact with machines without consent or even knowing about the interaction, like being scanned by a law enforcement facial recognition system.

Human-Machine Interaction (HMI) is an umbrella term that describes the ways people interact with machines. HMI is a key aspect of researching, designing and building new technologies, and also studying how people use and are affected by technologies.

Researchers, especially those traditionally trained in engineering, are increasingly taking a human-centered approach when developing systems and devices. This means striving to make technology that works as expected for the people who will use it by taking into account what’s known about the people and by testing the technology with them. But even as engineering researchers increasingly prioritize these considerations, some in the field have a blind spot: diversity.

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Philip Koopman: Autonomous vehicle safety bill needs improvement

January 21, 2022

The Warrendale-based SAE did issue the J3016 standard mentioned in the bill, but it is a terminology standard only. It does not impose requirements on driving automation systems, and is not intended to ensure safety. I should know, because I’m a member of the SAE committee that issued it.

There is another SAE standard, however, that does cover testing safety: SAE J3018. This standard provides guidance for training safety drivers and ensuring that HAV public road testing is done in a responsible manner. Because Pittsburgh is, and will remain, a development center for HAV technology, with-driver testing will always be essential for the newest innovations…

Putting SAE J3018 into this bill would not be onerous. After all, Pittsburgh-based Argo AI already conforms to that standard, and Motional has also been evaluated for testing safety along similar lines. The New York City DOT already requires conformance to J3018, and Massachusetts is pursuing that path as well.

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Kenworth sees orders for electric trucks triple in 3 months

January 19, 2022

Orders for Kenworth Truck Co. medium- and heavy-duty battery-electric trucks have tripled in the past 90 days as fleets take advantage of incentives to offset the upfront cost and add zero-emission capacity ahead of coming sales quota regulations.

The electric versions of the Class 6 cabover K270 and conventional Class 8 T680 daycab and demonstration hydrogen-powered fuel cell T680 built with Toyota Motor Corp., were offered to the media for literal around-the-block rides and drives at the Paccar Innovation Center on Thursday.

About 30 Kenworth customers got the same PowerPoint presentation followed by in-vehicle experience on Wednesday.

‘Orders from every region in the country’
“We’ve quoted electric vehicles in 44 states,” Hank Johnson, Kenworth general sales manager for vocational and medium-duty trucks, told FreightWaves. “We’ve taken orders from every region of the country and most of Canada.”

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Toyota will retrofit late-model cars with new technology

January 19, 2022

Toyota will inaugurate a service called Kinto Factory that will add modern features like electronic driving aids to select late-model cars. The program will launch in Japan in January 2022, and it aims to let motorists benefit from new technology without having to buy a new car.

Kinto Factory will initially offer customers two basic services: upgrading and remodeling. Upgrading is defined as retrofitting safety and convenience functions, like emergency braking assist, a blind spot monitoring system with rear cross-traffic alert, and a hands-free tailgate or trunk lid. Remodeling involves replacing worn or damaged parts inside and out, such as the upholstery, the seat cushions, and the steering wheel. Personalization will join the list of services at a later date, partly because it involves gathering data on how drivers use their car.

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The Role Of The Connection In The Second Era Of The Connected Car

January 19, 2022

A quarter of a century ago, the First Era of the Connected Vehicle was kicked-off by the former CEO of General Motors, Rick Wagoner, at the 1996 Chicago Auto Show. “Project Beacon” was eventually renamed to OnStar and was enabled by in-vehicle sensors, live advisors and multiple intelligent algorithms. However, the connection itself wasn’t all that intelligent; only a conduit for the information flow between vehicles and operation centers. Point to point…

How The Second Era Is Different
The major difference shall be the multipoint-to-multipoint communication, which can either be characterized as local networks, broadcast networks or some combination thereof. Vehicle to Everything (V2X). Such systems will allow low-latency, local awareness, which is the underpinning of many applications, especially safety-related ones…

In this Second Era, though, the infrastructure has already been launched: 5G. Per 5Gradar.com, the revised towers will “… bring ultrafast speeds, greater capacity, and ultra-low latency – characteristics that will allow mobile networks to offer connectivity reliable enough to support critical applications for the first time.”

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Traffic Cameras in Chicago Disproportionately Ticket Black and Latino Motorists

January 19, 2022

When then-mayor Richard M. Daley ushered in Chicago’s red-light cameras nearly two decades ago, he said they would help the city curb dangerous driving. “This is all about safety, safety of pedestrians, safety of other drivers, passengers, everyone,” he said…

But for all of their safety benefits, the hundreds of cameras that dot the city – and generate tens of millions of dollars a year for City Hall – have come at a steep cost for motorists from the city’s Black and Latino neighbourhoods. A ProPublica analysis of millions of citations found that households in majority Black and Hispanic ZIP codes received tickets at around twice the rate of those in white areas between 2015 and 2019.

The consequences have been especially punishing in Black neighbourhoods, which have been hit with more than half a billion dollars in penalties over the last 15 years, contributing to thousands of vehicle impoundments, driver’s license suspensions and bankruptcies, according to ProPublica’s analysis.

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Mississippi using LiDAR technology for road construction

January 19, 2022

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced Monday that it will be using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) to improve road construction efficiency and safety around the state…

MDOT said it had purchased LiDAR drones to add to its fleet of vehicles that use LiDAR to take measurements and map out road construction projects. Mississippi is one of the first states in the southeast to use LiDAR drone technology in state transportation work, the department said.

The drones allow MDOT workers to perform their fieldwork much faster than traditional measuring tools. The technology also increases safety for MDOT workers, greatly reducing their time on the job near or in moving traffic.

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Clarience Technologies Prepares for Smart Future

January 18, 2022

Kupchella said the trailer has to get smart in dealing with tires, rolling resistance and battery life, for instance, as the industry transitions into electrification, and eventually autonomous vehicles a little further out…

He suggested the whole supply chain is going to change to some extent over the next 10 to 15 years, as it figures out what to manufacture to support the electrification and autonomous vehicles…

Ensuring that happens prompted Clarience to move its R&D center to Pittsburgh near the campus of Carnegie Mellon University and its headquarters to Southfield, Mich. — both formerly located in New York.

The company also noted it forged strong relationships with several other top-tier universities, including Michigan State University and Lawrence Technological University in Michigan and Penn State Behrend in Pennsylvania, which will serve as key enablers to foster future innovations.

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Hybrid Powertrain Could Replace Dirty Diesels

January 18, 2022

Diesels are efficient and inexpensive, but they are also a prime source of nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gases. The Department of Energy is investing heavily in electric and hydrogen-based engines, but such alternatives aren’t quite ready for primetime.

According to Daniel Cohn, a research scientist for the MIT Energy Initiative, we can’t afford to wait…

Fleet owners may discover that the flex-fuel hybrid concept offers an affordable option to bridge the gap between traditional carbon-burning technologies and practical clean energy solutions.

Cohn and a group of researchers at MIT are working on just such an evolutionary solution: a flex-fuel gasoline-alcohol engine design in a hybrid powertrain complemented by battery power. Their approach combines already existing engine systems to preserve the efficiency and economy of diesel for long-haul trucks while drastically reducing the polluting downsides of diesels.

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Nuro’s new delivery robot will include external airbags for pedestrians

January 18, 2022

Nuro, the autonomous delivery company, announced its third-generation autonomous vehicle with a host of new improvements, including a bizarre-looking external airbag for pedestrians…

For the new vehicle, the external airbag is certainly the most eye-catching new feature. A rendering of the airbag makes it look like an inflated mattress strapped to the front end of the vehicle. Since the vehicle is not intended for human drivers or occupants, Nuro installed the airbag on the outside for pedestrians in case of a collision.

It’s the latest attempt by an autonomous vehicle company to account for the safety of people outside of the vehicle, such as pedestrians and cyclists. And while it may look silly on the surface — and who knows whether an external airbag will make a difference when the vehicle is traveling over 25mph — the fact that Nuro is thinking about how people interact with self-driving cars is refreshing.

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Circularity factors big in Goodyear’s ‘sustainable’ tires

January 18, 2022

As I reported last year, the U.S. alone discards something like 6 billion pounds of tires annually. Some of that material is finding its way back into other tires through circular manufacturing processes, but a lot of it is burned or turned into things such as surfaces for playgrounds.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. was front and center last week with something to say about all of these topics. The centerpiece of its news was a demonstration tire (meaning that it’s being road-tested by the company) that is made of 70 percent sustainable materials — its goal is to reach 100 percent by 2030. For perspective, most tires on the market today are made with 25-30 percent sustainable materials.

What the heck does that mean in plain English? I’m not a tire engineer, but one big focus for Goodyear is simply decreasing the amount of unsustainable material — especially virgin petroleum and polyester — and finding viable replacements.

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DMV ‘revisiting’ its approach to regulating Tesla’s public self-driving test

January 17, 2022

The agency has in the past pointed to California state law in defense of its current approach. California’s laws on autonomous vehicle technology use definitions derived from a document published by the Society of Automotive Engineers, which breaks down vehicle automation into six levels, from Level 0 to Level 5.

The DMV has said it considered Full Self-Driving to be Level 2, because, according to Tesla, it requires a human driver to assure safety. But so do test cars from the other robotaxi companies developing Level 4 vehicles, said Phil Koopman, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has assisted the SAE on its standard-setting documents.

“The DMV concludes that FSD is not an automated vehicle because a human driver must monitor to intervene. That is a description that fits any AV test vehicle with a safety driver, which FSD is,” Koopman said in an email to The Times.

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What will be the biggest milestone or news for the autonomous vehicles industry in 2022?

January 17, 2022

Featuring:
Chris Urmson – Aurora
Matthew Lipka – Nuro
Charlie Jatt – Waymo
?Ernestine Fu – Alsop Louie Partners
Alex Rodrigues – Embark Trucks
Anthony Cooke – Luminar
Bibhrajit Halder – SafeAI?
Matt Rekow – Velodyne Lidar

In today’s edition, we asked the experts to think about the future of autonomous vehicles. The path to their development and adoption hasn’t been as linear as some of the early sweeping declarations about the technology may have suggested, so we asked the group what the milestone moments for AVs might be in the coming year.

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Exploding growth: Autonomous delivery market set to take off

January 17, 2022

At $860 million last year, the global autonomous delivery market seems quite large, yet it remains in its infancy.

A new report from consultancy MarketsandMarkets predicts the sector will grow to $4.9 billion by 2030, growing at a 21.5% compound annual growth rate. The report, “Autonomous Last Mile Delivery Market by Platform,” cited the advancement of sense and avoid systems in aerial delivery drones, expansion of e-commerce and increased use of low-cost and light payload drones by startups for product delivery.

The report breaks the growth down by platform, combining ground delivery vehicles such as self-driving trucks and vans and delivery robots into one group and cargo and delivery drones into another.

Use of autonomous vehicles, regardless of platform, could reduce last-mile delivery costs for the retail industry between 80% and 90%, the report suggested.

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In-ground traffic lights installed across Seoul for ‘smartphone zombies’

January 17, 2022

A growing number of crosswalk traffic signals are finding their way onto the ground in Seoul as a way to enhance the safety of pedestrians glued to their smartphones, according to the city’s ward offices Tuesday.

Nearly 1,200 in-ground crosswalk traffic signal systems were in operation across the city’s total 25 boroughs as of Tuesday, led by the southern ward of Gangnam, which was operating 138 of them.

Installed on the ground at the foot of a crosswalk, the supplementary LED traffic lights are designed to guide pedestrians distracted by their smartphones, called “smartphone zombies.”

Seoul’s ward offices are trying to expand such in-ground traffic light systems to deal with growing traffic safety hazards facing smartphone zombies. Some have complained of nighttime glaring, but the system has been positively received across the city, especially in school zone areas, officials said.

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States carve out billions in budgets for electric vehicle surge

January 17, 2022

State governments are carving out billions of dollars to adapt to surging demand for electric vehicles in a new push to accommodate such vehicles that require new infrastructure to operate.

The growth of the electric vehicle market has already spurred billions in tax breaks and spending incentives as states race to attract new manufacturing plants.

In recent months, the electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian has announced plans to open a major facility in Georgia, and Ford has said it will open a multibillion dollar facility in Tennessee. Toyota said last month it would build its first North American battery plant in North Carolina.

The flood of new electric vehicles that consumers will purchase in the coming years has states thinking about how they will handle the demand for charging stations, both at homes and in public places.

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Robot Trucks Get U.S. Tests, Raising Self-Driving Safety Stakes

January 14, 2022

J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc.., Uber Technologies Inc.’s freight division and FedEx Corp. are among the operators testing automated big rigs as a lack of drivers has caused ports to back up and intensified the supply-chain squeeze gripping the U.S. economy. While self-driving trucks are still years from winning regulatory approval, pioneers of the technology see it as a long-term solution to an increasingly intractable labor problem…

Labor leaders say that lawmakers need to address the impact on safety and the workforce before allowing automated trucks to be widely used.

“We would be naive to to think we could stop the technological advancement. That’s never been our goal,” said Greg Regan, president of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department. “But we have to make sure it’s implemented in a safe way and we have to make sure that we’re also looking at the economic impact of deployment.”

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg praises smart city innovation at CES

January 14, 2022

Smart cities and the capabilities of connected infrastructure were a focal point of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s virtual address to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week.

“In our lifetimes, we could see truly smart cities built on the connected technology showcased at CES, where cars, buses and infrastructure all communicate with each other to plot safer routes and use less energy,” Buttigieg said.

He also praised cities and states for their innovative responses to the pandemic, noting that “some of the most important innovations were deceptively low-tech.” He pointed to the ways that local leaders have encouraged more walking and biking, in addition to the new ways that cities have used outdoor space for dining. He also said that small solutions like self-healing pavement to reduce potholes “may do more for Americans in our lifetime” than highly exclusive commercial space travel.

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There’s no evidence electric vehicles fare worse than gas-powered cars in long traffic jams

January 14, 2022

Jeremy Michalek, co-founder of the Vehicle Electrification Group and an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, said cold weather can cut an electric vehicle’s range, in miles, by as much as half, citing a study he co-authored. But range is a function of a moving car.

While idling, a gas-powered vehicle, assuming a full tank of 15 to 18 gallons, could take anywhere from about a day to up to a week to burn through that gas, Michalek said. A stationary Tesla Model 3, he said, could exhaust its battery in as little as eight hours or as much as a few days, depending on the wattage of the heater.

So which would fare better stuck in a daylong traffic jam like the one in Virginia? It depends, Michalek said, on how comfortable someone needs to be, whether the car has a heat pump and other factors.

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All change please? GILLIG finds tech partner for self-driving buses

January 14, 2022

RR.AI, a unit of self-driving technology startup Robotic Research, and U.S. bus maker GILLIG said on Monday they will jointly develop driver assistance systems and self-driving technology for commuter buses in the United States.

Making taxis autonomous has proved more difficult and expensive to develop than expected, but investors have pumped money into trucks and other commercial vehicles where automation could be viable sooner. read more

RR.AI and GILLIG said they would jointly develop Level 4 autonomous vehicle technology for buses, which would allow a vehicle to drive itself under certain circumstances, such as in a depot, but most of the time a human driver would be needed.

They said the technology could protect drivers through safety features, including automatic emergency braking, precision docking, blind spot detection and pedestrian avoidance.

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Amazon and Stellantis partner to deploy smarter cars, cleaner vans

January 14, 2022

Amazon.com Inc and Stellantis NV (STLA.MI) said Wednesday they will collaborate to develop cars and trucks with Amazon software in the dashboards, and deploy electric vans made by Stellantis on Amazon’s delivery network.

The agreements expand Amazon’s efforts to get a bigger foothold in the transportation industry, and could help Stellantis close the gap with Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) in developing vehicles with sophisticated, software-powered infotainment features that are connected to the data processing cloud…

Amazon and Stellantis said they will work together to develop software for the “digital cockpit” infotainment systems of Stellantis vehicles that will start launching in 2024. Stellantis said it will use Amazon’s Alexa technology for voice controlled features, “navigation, vehicle maintenance, ecommerce marketplaces, and payment services.”

Big ecommerce delivery fleet operators such as Amazon will be key to determining winners and losers as established automakers compete with startups to electrify the world’s package delivery system.

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Can blockchain tokens drive smarter commuting choices?

January 12, 2022

As part of its 2022 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, the Department of Transportation is looking for research on using blockchain-based apps to incentivize more efficient use of transit.

In a Jan. 6 presolicitation, the Federal Transit Administration described using a gamified blockchain concept that would make more efficient use of scarce resources like parking spaces and reward commuters who consider alternatives to driving.

This proposed SBIR research project, called “blockchain-enabled transit incentivization,” calls for evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of managing transit options with blockchain-based incentives, such as a tokenized gamification through a smart phone application…

Should the technology be commercialized, state and local transit agencies could use it to encourage use of public transit and other mobility options and manage their scarce parking or curbside resources. Businesses, building complexes and universities could use it to promote more efficient use of on-site parking and transit options.

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