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Self-driving cars create new opportunities for terrorist attacks, says FBI Director Chris Wray

January 27, 2023

Speaking on a panel on national security, Wray said the FBI views autonomous vehicles as both a possible tool to cause physical harm and a potentially valuable source of personal data that could become a target.

“When you talk about autonomous vehicles, it’s obviously something that we’re excited about, just like everybody,” Wray said. “But there are harms that we have to guard against that are more than just the obvious.”…

Wray said the expanding use of self-driving cars is an example of a new “attack surface” that terrorists will try to use to their advantage. He said Russia’s war against Ukraine is giving U.S. national security officials new examples of how cyberattacks are evolving and demonstrated how early surveillance activity can be a precursor to a cyberattack.

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Automated vehicles to begin cruising Ohio roadways

January 27, 2023

DriveOhio’s Rural Automated Driving Systems project is getting ready for two deployments to gather data on the technology.

The vehicles being deployed have been tested at the Transportation Research Center Inc.’s proving grounds in East Liberty, Ohio. The testing was conducted on closed roadways and studied a full range of situations drivers encounter each day.

According to the release, the DriveOhio project is funded in part by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation with the goal of demonstrating how connected and automated vehicles could improve safety for drivers in rural areas.

The first deployment includes three passenger vehicles traveling on rural two-lane roads in Athens and Vinton counties.

Testing will include different weather and operational conditions like limited visibility and work zones.

A second deployment will feature two 53-foot tractor-trailers connected by technology that lets them travel closely together at highway speeds.

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What to know about the cars of the future being built by tech, auto companies

January 27, 2023

Drivers can expect more electric cars and autonomous features to hit the market in the next few years as car makers go high-tech and tech industry giants like Google and Amazon branch further into automotives.

Those trends were on full display at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show with companies from Sony to BMW, and even the United States Postal Service, showing off electric vehicles and digital features the companies say improve safety and add entertainment value…

Here is what to know about the advancements being made, as well as their potential drawbacks and obstacles they could be facing.

The rise of the connected car…

Data privacy concerns amplified …

Autonomous features seek to improve safety …

Entertainment features bringing color — and karaoke! — to cars

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Uber working with auto makers to design EVs customized for ride-sharing and delivery

January 27, 2023

Uber Technologies Inc. is working with auto makers to design lower-cost electric vehicles tailored for its ride-hailing and delivery businesses, part of its effort to electrify its fleet.

Speaking Thursday at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is working with manufacturers on vehicles optimized for city use, ferrying passengers and deliveries. For ride-sharing, that includes cars with lower top speeds and with seating areas where passengers can face each other…

For delivery vehicles, Mr. Khosrowshahi said the company is considering smaller vehicles with two or three wheels and trunk space. Such vehicles “can get through traffic easier and have a much smaller footprint, both in terms of environmental but also traffic footprint than, let’s say, a car to go deliver groceries,” he said.

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Volvo invests in Toronto driverless vehicle startup Waabi

January 25, 2023

Volvo AB’s venture capital arm has invested an undisclosed amount in Toronto autonomous-vehicle startup Waabi Innovation Inc…

Prof. Urtasun, a University of Toronto professor renowned as one of the leading researchers in the field, was previously chief scientist at Uber Technologies Inc.’s self-driving division. She left with most of her 40-person team in early 2021 to start Waabi after U.S. autonomous-vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc. bought the unit. Both Uber and Aurora invested in Waabi, alongside U.S. and Canadian venture capitalists and AI luminaries including Geoffrey Hinton, when it raised US$83.5-million two years ago.

Waabi has developed an AI-powered simulator that Prof. Urtasun says will more rapidly and safely teach autonomous-vehicle (AV) systems to operate vehicles better than humans. Her system is like a driving school for robots run by another robot, as the simulator recreates the driving experience and challenges an AV driver’s weaknesses with scenarios so it learns faster.

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Shell Acquires US EV Charging Firm With Plugs at Kroger, Six Flags

January 25, 2023

Shell Plc agreed to buy US electric-vehicle charging firm Volta Inc. as the fossil-fuel giant works to keep pace with the transition to low-carbon mobility.

The $169 million takeover of Volta — which installs chargers with large video advertising screens at grocery stores, office buildings and elsewhere — is emblematic of an accelerating shift in focus for a company that has relied on a vast network of traditional filling stations to reach customers…

The acquisition is part of Shell’s efforts to prepare for a world in which oil consumption ebbs as more industries electrify and people ditch combustion-engine cars. Volta has set up more than 3,000 charging points with partners including supermarket Kroger Co., the Oracle Arena in San Francisco and Six Flags Theme Parks Inc.

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Race to zero: Can California’s power grid handle a 15-fold increase in electric cars?

January 25, 2023

As California rapidly boosts sales of electric cars and trucks over the next decade, the answer to a critical question remains uncertain: Will there be enough electricity to power them?

State officials claim that the 12.5 million electric vehicles expected on California’s roads in 2035 will not strain the grid. But their confidence that the state can avoid brownouts relies on a best-case — some say unrealistic — scenario: massive and rapid construction of offshore wind and solar farms, and drivers charging their cars in off-peak hours.

Under a groundbreaking new state regulation, 35% of new 2026 car models sold in California must be zero-emissions, ramping up to 100% in 2035. Powering the vehicles means the state must triple the amount of electricity produced and deploy new solar and wind energy at almost five times the pace of the past decade.

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Kia Launching Self-Driving Electric SUV in 2023

January 25, 2023

Kia’s first car with Level 3 self-driving capability will be launched in 2023.

The breakthrough was announced by the executive chair of parent company Hyundai Motor Group Euisun Chung at a meeting at the Namyang R&D Center in South Korea, and the model in question will be the new EV9 SUV.

Level 3 is defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers as automated driving under certain conditions, although human drivers must be prepared to take control when required…

But the EV9’s Level 3 functionality will probably be restricted to Kia’s home market of South Korea initially. Regulatory approval for Level 3 production cars has been limited to date, with only Mercedes and Honda gaining permission to sell vehicles with the tech. Mercedes launched the Level 3 Drive Pilot on S-Class and EQS models in Germany last year, while Honda received permission to offer a limited number of Level 3 Legends in Japan in 2021.

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Some drivers ‘tune out’ on the road when using semi-autonomous vehicles, early study data suggests

January 25, 2023

Early findings from a study that is looking into distracted driving in semi-automatic vehicles reveals that people aren’t always fully paying attention.

The study has participants drive a Tesla Model 3 on a stretch of Highway 401. Some are driving manually and others are in the semi-automated autopilot mode. In both instances, people are being measured on how focused they are.

Francesco Biondi, a kinesiology professor at the University of Windsor and one of the researchers on the study, told Windsor Morning Monday that some of the preliminary results have been unsurprising.

When using the automated system, he said, drivers tended to “tune out” on what he described as a boring stretch of the highway — from Windsor to Chatham.

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China’s self-driving car push hits legal and cost roadblocks

January 24, 2023

China’s efforts to get more nearly autonomous vehicles on its roads have become bogged down by growing uncertainty over the technology’s near-term profit potential in a challenging environment.

The country has made significant strides in recent years under a national strategy that prioritizes autonomous-driving technology. A road map released in November 2020 calls for 20% of all new vehicles sold to have Level 4 capabilities — letting them operate without a driver under certain conditions — by 2030.

But analysts are starting to doubt this target will be met, with some seeing the figure as low as 3%, as regulatory issues and profit worries have chilled investment and pushed startups to seek other ways to bring in revenue.

Owen Chen at S&P Global Mobility, which predicts the share will reach only 7%, argues that China has not developed an adequate legal framework for Level 3 and higher technology, and that even if one is put in place, scaling up the business will take time.

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Contract awarded for next major phase of Mon-Fayette Expressway

January 24, 2023

According to a news release, Pittsburgh-based Trumbull Corp. was awarded the nearly $214 million contract to build the first section, which lies mostly in Jefferson Hills but also reaches into West Mifflin and Clairton…

The new toll road also will serve as a test bed for innovative transportation construction techniques that could use noise reduction walls to reduce pollution and produce electricity from traffic-generated road vibrations for road signs, among other things.

The four pilot projects will be:

• Redesigning noise walls using a hollow, honeycomb-like material to reduce sound and treating it with a catalyst that will capture nitrogen oxides generated by vehicles with combustion engines…

• Using the natural vibrations that vehicles cause on road surfaces to generate electricity for road signs…

• Creating a digital, three-dimensional model of a one-mile section of the highway as it is being built… T
• Testing which method works best for recharging electric vehicles as they drive over the road surface.

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The world’s largest electric ferry can take you and your closest 2000 friends across the ocean

January 24, 2023

Incat Tasmania, an Australian manufacturer of high-speed craft (HSC) ferries, is ready to deliver the 148-meter (485.5 feet) Utility Ro-Pax ferry, which will be the world’s largest electric ferry.

Designed by Revolution Design and built by Incat, the ferry is powered by two electric motors (5 – 9.6 MW) beneath the hull. The vessel can carry up to 2,100 passengers and 226 vehicles at up to 25 knots for a max range of 100 n.m.

Buquebus, which operates several Incat vessels in South America, will use it to transport passengers between Argentina and Uraguay.

The vessel was initially intended to be powered by LNG, but after having second thoughts, both Incat and Buquebus agreed it was best for the environment and its customers to go zero-emission electric…

Although swapping for electric propulsion requires a significant redesign, Clifford says the company would replace 500 tons of equipment and fuel tanks with 400 tonnes of batteries to maintain its light weight.

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The Cult of Bike Helmets

January 24, 2023

Last year, health officials in Seattle decided to stop requiring bicyclists to wear helmets. Independent research found that nearly half of Seattle’s helmet tickets in recent years went to unhoused people, while Black and Native American cyclists in the city were four times and two times more likely, respectively, than white cyclists to be cited…

Most crash data come from traffic-safety monitoring systems that happen to catch motor-vehicle-related bike injuries and fatalities. Medical records from bike-crash victims focus on diagnosis, treatment, and outcome, while typically leaving out details of the circumstances of the crash itself; they also fail to capture people who cycle without ever needing medical attention. Insurance claims and police reports catalog some bicycle crashes, but miss plenty: One study by San Francisco’s public health department found that 39 percent of bicyclists who required ambulance transport were not documented in police records. The United States can’t even accurately tally overall bike helmet use.

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This ‘AutonoMap’ Shows The Many Places Autonomous Vehicles Are Serving The Public Today

January 24, 2023

Above is “AutonoMap,” an attempt to map the growing number of places where mostly autonomous vehicles are out on roads and sidewalks carrying members of the public or cargo for them with no safety driver or other employee in the vehicle. Map markers in red indicate this state of full autonomy, other colors show public robotaxi service with an employee still in the vehicle, and some services planned to open up to the public in the future…

There are two layers in the map, one for robotaxis and one for delivery robots. Only autonomous delivery robots — including class 4 trucks from Gatik — are in that layer. The Robotaxi layer includes some projects which are not yet live and some with safety drivers which are marked with blue and orange markers…

Not shown are the many test projects which don’t serve the public. There are scores of these.

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Low-clearance technologies help fleets avoid costly accidents

January 23, 2023

GiraffeG4 Systems also collects that data but via sensor instead of crowdsourcing.

The company offers its Sentinel product, a low-clearance collision avoidance system that leverages a sensor to help large trucks and RVs steer clear of low bridges.

It provides warnings to drivers via mobile app in which the driver inputs the height of the vehicle and trailer ahead of embarking on a trip. The app interacts with the GPS system the driver is using to pre-measure heights based on the GPS’s information…

E-SMART is another system designed for fleets with large trucks that takes things a step beyond in-cab alerts and actually slows a truck. Fleets that have integrated E-SMART have experienced a complete elimination of low-clearance bridge hits, according to its users.

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EVs are expensive. These city commuters ditched cars altogether — for e-bikes

January 23, 2023

That’s why the City and County of Denver is giving out vouchers towards the purchase of an e-bike.

“We have a fairly car-dependent culture, so there’s a fairly high rate of single occupancy vehicle trips,” said Grace Troccolo Rink, executive director of the city’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency.

The program was launched last year on Earth Day.

Denver residents could get $400 for an e-bike, or $1200 if they have a lower income. And that amount is right around the price of an entry-level e-bike, which is more expensive than most regular bikes.

If they wanted an e-cargo bike, the kind really suited to replacing car trips, they got an additional $500. The vouchers were so popular, the city’s funding for all of 2022 was quickly allocated…

But the Denver program has the intended effect, according to preliminary survey results of voucher recipients.

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How Bike New York is Helping Immigrants and Asylum Seekers

January 23, 2023

Bike New York is a non-profit with an incredibly diverse mix of outreach programs to help get more people riding bikes. Free bike education throughout all five boroughs? Check. Organizing the annual Five Boro Bike Tour? Check. Educating cyclists about the ins and out of urban cycling? Check.

This week the organization announced a new program in collaboration with Kryptonite and NYC’s Department of Transportation that is providing refurbished used bikes, new helmets and bike locks to asylum seekers and immigrants who have recently arrived in New York. The program is being facilitated by Bike New York’s Recycle-A-Bicycle program.

The goal of the program is giving access to a car-free mode of transportation to those with limited means as they become established in their new home.

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The zero-fare public transit movement is picking up momentum

January 23, 2023

Washington, D.C., is on the verge of eliminating bus fares for city residents, joining other U.S. cities that are working to make metro bus and rail systems free to ride.

Already, Boston, San Francisco and Denver are experimenting with zero fare. In late 2019, Kansas City, Missouri, became the first major U.S. city to approve a fare-free public transit system…

But despite the zero-fare movement’s growing popularity, it has drawn political pushback in some areas where the policy doesn’t easily fit in with budgets or local laws.

D.C.’s zero-fare bill was proposed in early 2020 about two weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a downward budget spiral for transit agencies nationwide.

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Ohio State researchers developing app for pedestrian safety

January 23, 2023

After working with the City of Marysville and observing data from one of their smart intersections, these professors, including Professor Levent Guvenc, Ph.D. who teaches mechanical and aerospace engineering, noted pedestrians’ movements can be quick and unpredictable, and they are often hard to see.

They asked themselves how could drivers be alerted to pedestrians without necessarily needing to see them first.

That’s where their app development started.

Most cellphones people use have GPS systems and Bluetooth capabilities allowing them to connect to each other.

From those capabilities, Doctor Guvenc and his team at the Ohio State University’s College of Engineering created an app for pedestrians and drivers to keep everyone on the road safe.

Drivers and pedestrians who download the app will be able to get alerts that tell drivers, for example, to slow down because there is a pedestrian they may not be able to see around their vehicle.

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Even electric self-driving cars may have a climate change problem

January 20, 2023

The future energy required to run just the computers on a global fleet of autonomous vehicles could generate as much greenhouse gas emissions as all the data centers in the world today.

That finding, announced by researchers from MIT on Friday, is based on a statistical model that calculated the energy outputs a fleet of 1 billion autonomous electric vehicles would generate if they ran one hour per day. The resulting number roughly translated to 0.3 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

For self-driving cars to drive autonomously, they require large amounts of computing power to run sophisticated algorithms and onboard camera systems to navigate traffic safely.

While the findings are only projections, Soumya Sudhakar, a lead MIT researcher on the study, said the results should make self-driving car researchers and makers realize that “business-as-usual” is not enough, and computing efficiency should be at the forefront of their minds.

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Smarter Railroad Tracks Are Boosting Train Safety And Efficiency

January 20, 2023

Think “advanced rail technology” and bullet trains or magnetic-levitation systems might come to mind. But what about the steel rails freight and passenger trains run on? Advances in machine learning, big data collection and voice-recognition tools that have transformed manufacturing, cars, retail and social media are also being leveraged to make vital rail operations safer and much more efficient.

Alstom, which makes passenger trains including Amtrak’s next-generation Acela units and rail signaling equipment, says it’s rolling out more advanced digital circuits and sensors in North America and other global markets that tap into the electrical current flowing through tracks to collect and share detailed information like a train’s location, detect warped wheels and monitor track conditions. The goal is to lower the risk of derailments, system failures and, ideally, operate freight lines more efficiently by allowing trains to run closer together.

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The Good And Bad Of Bi-Directional Charging

January 20, 2023

Auto OEMs are starting to offer bi-directional charging in EVs, allowing batteries to power homes during outages or wherever else it is needed, and to smooth out any hiccups in the grid. But this technology also can shorten the lifetime of batteries, and it can open the door to more cyberattacks…

But experts say bidirectional technology could also cause harm from bad actors if certain security precautions aren’t taken, particularly with regards to the charger itself.

“When you get to bi-directional, most states require IEEE 1547, and that comes with a lot of advanced functionality that’s required including reactive power support,” said Jay Johnson, principal member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories. “Non-unity power factor that can provide reactive power is generally great because you can do voltage stability on the distribution system. But on the flip side, if that is compromised, you can manipulate the device and inject or absorb reactive power.”

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DOT, DOE secretaries tout agency cooperation under decarbonization blueprint

January 20, 2023

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm stressed the importance of their agencies working together under a new national blueprint released Tuesday that aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector by 2050.

Buttigieg said during the Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday the Biden administration is focused on working with states to build out a national EV charging network and ensuring such infrastructure is added in rural areas, at multifamily dwellings and low-income communities.

To accomplish this, the blueprint tries to meet people where they are: People tend to drive longer distances in rural areas, he said, stressing the potential gas savings, and they live in single-family housing, allowing them to charge at home.

But to achieve those goals, the two agencies must work together.

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EVgo announces ‘ReNew’ maintenance program to upgrade and replace hundreds of chargers

January 20, 2023

EV charging network EVgo announced a new maintenance program today that will roll out upgrades, replacements, and even the retiring of hundreds of chargers across the US. The new “EVgo ReNew” program looks to improve the fast charging experience for its customers by “doubling down” on charger reliability.

Since its founding thirteen years ago, EVgo ($EVGO) has become one of the United States’ more prominent public EV fast charging networks. It is currently touting 850 charging locations that serve over sixty metropolitan areas across more than thirty states…

The charging network shared details of its EVgo ReNew program today, which will include an overhaul of hundreds of EV chargers throughout 2023. EVgo states that the goal of the new program is to not only enhance the quality of its chargers but to instill more confidence in its network for EV drivers.

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Electric vehicles win truck, utility of the year awards

January 18, 2023

Electric vehicles took two of three categories for the first time in this year’s North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year awards.

Ford’s F-150 Lightning electric pickup won the truck category, while Kia’s EV6 battery-powered EV was named the top SUV. The Integra, a small sedan from Honda’s Acura performance brand, won car of the year.

Six of the nine finalists were powered by batteries, and analysts say the more of the awards are likely to go to electric vehicles in the future as the industry spends billions to roll out multiple new EV models…

The Lightning’s finalist competitors were the Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 off-road pickup and the Lordstown Motors Endurance electric commercial pickup.

Utility vehicle finalists included the Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV and the Genesis GV60 electric SUV.

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