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Plug-in cars are the future. The grid isn’t ready.

October 19, 2021

Converting the nation’s fleet of automobiles and trucks to electric power is a critical piece of the battle against climate change. The Biden administration wants to see them account for half of all sales by 2030, and New York state has enacted a ban on the sale of internal combustion cars and trucks starting in 2035.

But making America’s cars go electric is no longer primarily a story about building the cars. Against this ambitious backdrop, America’s electric grid will be sorely challenged by the need to deliver clean power to those cars. Today, though, it barely functions in times of ordinary stress, and fails altogether too often for comfort, as widespread blackouts in California, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere have shown.
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Make electric vehicles lighter to maximize climate and safety benefits

October 19, 2021

With heavier vehicles on the road, safety becomes even more important. Some vehicles already use cameras, radar and other sensors to avoid collisions by monitoring blind spots and driver alertness. These devices keep vehicles in lanes, adjust speeds, control headlights and apply the brakes if there’s a threat of a crash. Deploying such technologies across the entire US vehicle fleet could avoid thousands of fatalities, more than one million crashes and billions of dollars in social costs annually9.

Old ideas to improve street safety should still be encouraged — speed limits, traffic calming road designs and pedestrian-focused infrastructure. Paris, Brussels, Bilbao and other cities have limited speeds on most roads to 30 kilometres per hour.
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Remora is ready to roll with carbon capture for trucks

October 19, 2021

That’s why it’s invigorating to see a solution such as Remora, which reduces emissions from long-haul trucking by sucking up carbon dioxide directly from the tailpipe. The company has been incorporated for less than a year, but it’s poised to install its first devices on commercial trucks at the start of 2022…

An impressive group of investors and customers has already bought into Remora’s vision. In August, Remora announced it had raised a $5.5 million seed round led by venture capital heavyweight Union Square Ventures, along with other major climate tech players such as Lowercarbon Capital, Y Combinator, First Round Capital, Neo Ventures and MCJ Collective.

On the customer side, Remora has a long list of multibillion-dollar logistics corporations (16 and counting) that have signed up to pilot the technology on part of their fleets — including trucking companies Ryder, Werner, Arcbest and NFI Industries, as well as agribusiness giant Cargill.
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With NASA partnership, Orlando begins planning for air taxis, flying cars

October 19, 2021

Orlando is preparing for when flying cars are an option for those who want to soar over congested highways or between nearby cities. And they may arrive far sooner than 2062, as The Jetsons predicted.

The city has signed onto a partnership with NASA to develop strategies for welcoming electric oversized drones, which take off vertically from landing pads called vertiports. The city’s first vertiport, to be built by the German company Lillium, is planned for the Lake Nona area.

Though officials suspect the mode of transportation could take off in coming years, so far the Federal Aviation Authority hasn’t approved any such vehicles for use. But a recent study found that a piece of a projected $2.5-billion market could be in play for early adopters of the technology.
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Allstate Wants to Track Your Driving to Determine Your Car Insurance Rate

October 19, 2021

Since late summer, car insurer Allstate Corp. has been talking to state regulators about helping to lead an industrywide effort to transition in the coming years from sizing up risk in applicants with factors including credit scores to largely using telematics to determine rates, the company and regulators said.

With telematics, insurers monitor policyholders’ driving behaviors either through smartphone applications or devices embedded in their vehicles. Insurers slice the tracking data to tailor individual rates.

While a switch could be unsettling to many people with privacy concerns, it would hold out the possibility of lower rates for vehicle owners who are excellent drivers or don’t drive that much, and who might now be overpaying for the risk they pose.
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Turnpike ready to profit from excess broadband space in Eastern Pennsylvania

October 18, 2021

The turnpike has been planning to upgrade its communication system for more than five years because the microwave towers it has been using have nearly reached capacity. The system provides a variety of internal services to the agency, including telephone service, radio communications among offices and maintenance workers, financial information such as electronic toll collections from E-ZPass users and Toll By Plate customers, traffic cameras, electronic road signs and the turnpike computer network.

The need to upgrade the system became more acute in May 2020, when due to the pandemic the agency quickly switched to a cashless, electronic tolling system to eliminate contact between drivers and toll collectors. That greatly increased the number of tolls recorded by the system as well as photographs of the license plates of motorists who don’t use E-ZPass and receive a bill in the mail for their tolls.
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Feds predict at least 200 automated vehicle crashes annually

October 18, 2021

Self-driving cars and trucks under testing or being deployed commercially will likely be involved in at least 200 crashes annually over the next three years, according to estimates by federal regulators.

In seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget to gather new autonomous vehicle (AV) crash-data information, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed on Wednesday what it considers accurate estimates – based on automated driving system (ADS) crashes reported in California – on what to expect from 110 AV manufacturers and operators that have been ordered to report additional and more current crash data.

“There were 105 ADS crashes reported to California in 2019,” according to the agency. “NHTSA believes that it is reasonable to assume that about half of all ADS testing in the United States is occurring in California. Therefore, NHTSA expects that there will be approximately 200 ADS crashes in a year that manufacturers and operators will be required to report to NHTSA.”
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‘West Lafayette Smart City Challenge’ aims to improve transportation safety

October 18, 2021

Innovation Partners Institute at the Purdue Research Foundation partnered with the city of West Lafayette, the Indiana 5G Zone and US Ignite to announce the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge, a competition designed to provide innovative solutions that improve transportation safety, most specifically in the Discovery Park District.

“Through this challenge, the streets of West Lafayette can become a safer place for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, skaters and motorcyclists who share the roadway with autonomous and larger vehicles,” said Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette, in a press release. “Improving the safety for West Lafayette residents and visitors is a top priority, and we are enthusiastic about the outcomes of this competition.”
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Smart bus technology helps keep students safe in Manatee County

October 18, 2021

CFO Tim McMurray says it’s equipped with Doppler radar, Wi-fi, GPS and more. He says it makes the ride to and from school safer.

“This is a game-changing technology for the safety of the children,” McMurray said.

At the start of the school year, drivers rolled out with $2 million worth of technology to keep students safe and give parents peace of mind.

Each can be tracked in real-time using a phone app. A swipe of a card alerts parents when their child gets on and off the bus. Radar and anti-collision technology giving drivers a 360 view of their bus at all times. They also have GPS and student Wi-Fi.

These super buses help protect other drivers too. An alarm goes off if someone tries to pass a stopped school bus. Lane drift control helps drivers manage distance from other cars. Finally, it tells the drivers the correct bus stop for the kid.
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As E-Scooters and E-Bikes Proliferate, Safety Challenges Grow

October 18, 2021

Even before the pandemic, electric scooter share programs had spread to over 100 cities, including Los Angeles, Washington and Atlanta, since 2017, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials. Total rides surged 130 percent to 88.5 million in 2019 from 38.5 million the year before.

Many cities saw scooter ridership soar during the pandemic. Seattle’s scooter share program has grown to 1.4 million rides since beginning just over a year ago. In Portland, Ore., rides nearly doubled to 762,812 this year through September from 385,422 rides for the same period in 2020.

Still, the e-mobility boom has brought significant safety challenges to New York’s already congested streets. At least 17 people have been killed while riding electric mobility vehicles this year, according to city officials. Revel, which operates an electric moped share program in the city, voluntarily shut it down for a month last year after three riders were killed.
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Penn researchers identify transit weak spots for SEPTA’s rebranding initiative

October 15, 2021

A team of researchers from Penn’s Center for Safe Mobility is working with SEPTA on the transportation agency’s $40 million effort to rebrand its transit network and improve its ease of use.

Using data from eye-tracking glasses, Stuart Weitzman School of Design associate professor Megan Ryerson and her team of urban planners partnered with the transportation agency to determine which of the city’s stations were most confusing to riders of different transit familiarity, native languages, and physical abilities. The Center’s experimental study is part of SEPTA’s broader “Wayfinding” initiative to create a more intuitive transit system in response to complaints from riders about the lack of consistent branding and route signage. The Penn faculty and alumni involved in the study hope the rebranding changes the way Penn students think about SEPTA.
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NUAIR, Thruway Authority announce pilot program to use drones for bridge inspections

October 15, 2021

New York’s Thruway Authority announced Monday Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance Inc., or NUAIR, will take part in a pilot program utilizing drones to assist with highway bridge inspections.

Headquartered in Syracuse, NUAIR manages operations at the New York UAS (unmanned aerial systems) Test Site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome.

State officials said the partnership will improve the effectiveness of bridge safety inspections, and the pilot program will come at no cost to the Thruway Authority…

If the program is successful following rigorous field testing and detailed evaluation, the Authority could expand the role of drones to assist with mapping and surveying the 570-mile superhighway system, cataloguing Thruway inventory and infrastructure, documenting damage and repairs, along with supporting general maintenance activities, according to a release on the pilot program.
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One way to cut down air pollutants: call an Uber

October 15, 2021

Vehicles used for ride sharing apps “can reduce cold-start emissions from internal combustion engines. Vehicles emit far more conventional air pollutants when started ‘cold’,” researchers wrote.

A car’s cold start is when a 12 hour period passes where the vehicle was not used and is turned off—then you start it back up. This is when vehicles emit the most pollution, more than half of a ride’s pollutant emissions, making privately owned cars much more polluting because individual owners are turning their cars on and off frequently throughout the day. TNC car trips represent an about 50 percent decline in air pollutants including fine particulate matter mostly because there are less cold starts in between rides.

But, there’s a catch, says Jeremy Michalek, a professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and an author of the study. Driving your own car may lower the amount of carbon emissions you emit, since carbon emissions directly correlate with how much fuel is burned.
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Researchers Hope to Improve Access to Public Transit in Camden

October 15, 2021

The city has strong connections to regional public transit and a robust bus network but still has challenges servicing residents in outlying neighborhoods.

The issue, called the “first and last-mile gap,” centers around the difficulty people have either getting to public transit or going from public transit to their final destination.

That’s why the Camden Community Partnership (CCP) is partnering with Rowan University’s Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems (CREATEs) to brainstorm creative solutions.
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GM unveils a hands-free driving system that works in nearly all of the US and Canada

October 15, 2021

GM and Cadillac drivers have spent traveled than 10 million miles with their hands in their laps since General Motors introduced its Super Cruise driver assist system back in 2017. On Wednesday, the company unveiled its next-generation hands-free system — one that GM claims will “ultimately enable hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios” — dubbed, Ultra Cruise.

What sets Ultra Cruise apart from similar systems, such as Ford’s BlueCruise, is that Ultra is designed to work virtually everywhere in the US and Canada. At launch, the system is expected to work on 2 million miles of North American roads — that includes highways, city and subdivision streets, and paved rural roads — and will eventually expand to encompass some 3.4 million miles of asphalt.
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How Local and Regional Transit Authorities are Embracing MaaS: A Global Review

October 13, 2021

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) has become a word synonymous with the sharing economy. In a world of massive disruption, based upon environmental, economic, social, and cultural shifts, the trend toward sharing (whether it be housing, transportation, or other commodities) is increasing at a rapid pace. Considering this trend toward sharing, mobility is a key component in understanding our consumer habits, needs, and preferences…

The purpose of this blog is to analyze and provide best practices into how local and regional transit authorities are embracing MaaS on a global scale. We will primarily focus on the following three areas:

1. Formal assessment of the opportunities and barriers to implementing a multi-modal MaaS journey with payment systems across local and regional transit authorities

2. Lessons learned on a global and national (United States) scale, and

3. Recommendations for fostering an environment for a successful long-term, sustainable multi-modal journey with payment system
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Street Smarts: How Sensors Help Virginia Beach Monitor Its Environment

October 13, 2021

Virginia Beach’s 2016 U.S. Department of Transportation Smart City Challenge application envisioned the city in 2045 would be viewed as a well-planned community where “neighborhoods and residents will be interconnected” — hopefully “the most livable coastal community in the world.”

Although the southeastern Virginia city is still more than 20 years away from reaching that target date, the city appears to be on its way to making that vision a reality, with recent smart tech implementations offering timely flooding risk information, increased internet access and other quality-of-life benefits.

Through a data-sharing partnership announced in 2019, for instance, Virginia Beach provides transportation mobile app Waze with planned construction and road closure data to share with its users, along with parking information from Wi-Fi-enabled sensors situated in and above spaces in the city.
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Can bats help us design a better driverless car?

October 13, 2021

Fruit bats aren’t the first words that comes to mind when you think of driverless cars. But in their nightly forays for fruit and nectar, they routinely solve many of the engineering challenges that have stalled efforts to develop safe, reliable and efficient autonomous vehicles.

The bats’ navigation system was designed by the world’s top engineer: evolution. Michael Yartsev, Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Neuroscience, studies the patterns of wiring and firing in the bats’ brains that nature has devised to get them from here to there in the pitch dark. And without flying into obstacles or each other.

The Bakar Fellows Program supports a new effort in his lab to translate the bats’ neurological “rules of the road” into computational algorithms to guide development of navigation systems for driverless cars.

Dr. Yartsev describes the neurobiological principles his lab has uncovered and how the insights may provide a roadmap to the future.
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Electric Mercedes eActros Truck Production Starts This Week

October 13, 2021

The first electric Mercedes-Benz eActros trucks are already headed to work, with the automaker sending the first pre-production trucks from the truck plant in Wörth, Germany, into the real world days ahead of the start of series production later this week. Four trucks assembled as part of trial runs in the production facility—itself scheduled to start on October 7—will each undertake very different jobs.

The eActros trucks, first revealed in production form at the end of June earlier this year, are based on Daimler’s eArchitecture with a rigid electric axle featuring two integrated electric motors, along with a two-speed transmission…

So each truck will have enough batteries on board to offer either a 315 or 420 kWh capacity, with the latter giving it a range of up to 400 kilometers, or 249 miles.
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Long Beach partners with Mercedes-Benz on connected vehicles, supporting local Smart City Initiative

October 13, 2021

Dive Brief:
The city of Long Beach, California, partnered with Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America and artificial intelligence firm Xtelligent to deploy and test transportation management systems.

The 10-month project will include the deployment of an intelligent intersection control system, connected vehicle test fleets and sensors to gather mobility data around the city. The private partners will also help sponsor a community youth workshop and science education opportunities for Long Beach residents and students, especially in underserved communities.

Ryan Kurtzman, smart cities program manager for Long Beach, said the new project represents the city’s first partnership with Mercedes-Benz Research and Development, which has a testing and certification facility in the city. The program, he said, will further the city’s goals to “explore emerging technology and advancements in data management to make sure they improve quality of life, make services more efficient and ultimately advance equity and other values.”
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VIDEO: Deere Unveils Its First Electric Backhoe, the 310 X-Tier

October 12, 2021

At Utility Expo 2021 John Deere took the wraps off its prototype electric backhoe, the 310 X-Tier.

Deere announced development of this machine back in January. But Utility Expo was the first time anyone has had a chance to see and hear this extremely quiet backhoe up close.

It’s also the first time we’ve seen this model name: 310 X. The X is the highest tier in Deere’s new performance tiering nomenclature for its machines. It’s used to denote hybrid and electric machines and represents Deere’s latest and greatest technology.

And beyond the fact that this is a battery-powered machine, the other interesting aspect of the machine’s development is that it’s being tested with the help of National Grid, one of the world’s largest utility companies, serving 20 million+ customers throughout the northeast U.S.
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Connecting the DOTs: How Data Improves Work Zone Safety

October 12, 2021

In an effort to both improve safety and future-proof their infrastructure investments, the Indiana DOT (INDOT) partnered with Purdue University and the team at Wejo to advance their understanding of how connected vehicle data could make their roadways safer.

One of the goals of the team at INDOT is incorporating 21st century technology into their long term road plans. By using CVD like the data Wejo provides, INDOT is able to better manage their road assets…

INDOT wanted to take this use of data one step further and deploy resources to their work zones.

The team partnered with Purdue University and studied the why and how behind the accidents that were occurring near work zones. They analyzed accident reports and used vehicle movement insights to understand when hard braking events were happening. Through data analysis, the team quickly uncovered a strong correlation between accidents and hard braking events.
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Qualcomm snaps up self-driving software provider to poach business from Nvidia

October 12, 2021

Chipmaker Qualcomm took its boldest step yet in the race to develop self-driving technology, swooping in to snag a prized asset out from under the nose of a major auto parts supplier.

Qualcomm and New York–based private equity firm SSW Partners agreed to acquire Veoneer in a deal that values the Swedish componentry manufacturer’s shares at $4.5 billion in total, an 18% premium over the July offer from rival North American bidder Magna.

Best known for its dominance in smartphone chips, Qualcomm aims to carve out the prime piece for itself: Veoneer’s self-driving software development unit, Arriver, as part of a plan to best rivals like Nvidia. The leftovers will go to SSW Partners, which intends to sell off the remaining assets over time to competitors.
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Uber Faced a Nightmare. This 1 Brilliant Move Made It Billions.

October 12, 2021

In what might appear to prove a counterintuitive lesson, Uber offloaded its self-driving technology to Aurora for $4 billion, and Lyft sold its self-driving car division to Toyota for $550 million. But the two didn’t sell off their autonomous technology to simply make a quick buck in light of a new opportunity or as means to quickly gain capital to combat slowed growth or declining revenues…

On the face, it may appear as though Uber and Lyft changed their minds on driverless cars, giving up completely. But their standpoint didn’t change–where they stand to enter the market did. What they saw was an opportunity to make an immediate short-term return on their investment of the technology that powers autonomous vehicles, which fuels their long-term game plan. In other words, Uber and Lyft won’t be the first to market, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have plans to go to market.
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GM envisions electric vehicles with 600 miles of range with new battery research center

October 12, 2021

General Motors is building a new 300,000-square-foot battery research facility in Michigan to help it realize its mission of building electric vehicle batteries that are longer-lasting, quicker to charge, and more sustainable for the environment. Through this new center, GM is setting the stage for a battery breakthrough that will help it build electric vehicles that can travel as much as 600 miles on a single charge — roughly twice the range of most EVs on the road today…

The innovation center will be “one of the only ones in North America that can use large format prototype cells, up to a meter wide or even wider than that, with uniform stacked electrodes,” said Ken Morris, vice president for electric and autonomous vehicles at GM.

The goal is to produce batteries with an energy density of “up to 1,200 watt-hours per liter,” Morris said — a staggering number that some experts have questioned.
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