Saturday, February 28, 2015

Could Silicon Valley own the Motor City's car industry?

Tech monsters Apple and Google are making moves into the car business. This has at least one former Detroit auto executive talking like a dinosaur gazing up at an inbound comet and failing to consider profound industry business model evolution and even extinction as real possibilities. "If I were an Apple shareholder, I wouldn't be very happy," said former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson to the Detroit News in a recent interview. "I would be highly suspect of the long-term prospect of getting into a low-margin, heavy-manufacturing business."

Driverless Cars Set to Hit Roads in Japan With Project Focused on Senior Citizens

Following in the tracks of Google and Uber, Kanazawa University has thrown its hat into the ring in furthering the development of driverless car culture and technology, with a 5-year roadtesting project set to start next month. But this project’s target population isn’t tech-savvy youth. It’s senior citizens.

Teaching Driverless Cars to Fit Your Human Driving Style

Here's the scene that was scaring people: It was a driverless-car test run in Germany on a perfectly straight road with a medieval gate up ahead. The gate was a tight squeeze, and a regular driver would slow down to a crawl to make sure the car fit. But the driverless car made the calculations ahead of time and knew it had enough space, so it cruised along at the speed limit, maybe 30 m.p.h. And as it got closer to the gate, with no signs of slowing down, the passengers lost it.

The Future Of TV Is Mobile, But Not The Way You Think

The media calls them ‘Driverless’ cars, while the industry a bit more certainly calls them ‘Autonomous Cars’, but any way you cut it, these cars are going to fast become rolling media rooms, ready to watch – and even create video of all kinds.

Charging ahead

ANY doubts that electric cars are the future are rapidly blown away within minutes of driving a Tesla Model S. It is not so much the rapid acceleration, but the smooth and relentless supply of power from its electric motor. That is the thing about electric motors: they produce a twisting force called torque instantly. So much torque, in fact, there is no need for a gearbox. This saves weight and makes more room for all the toys, such as the giant touchscreen that dominates the Tesla’s centre console. It is a shame then that Levi Tillemann did not crown this car the winner in his book “The Great Race”, instead of wimping out at the end by declaring the quest for the car of the future is a “race we all run together”.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Google, Driverless Cars and the "Gooberification" of Everything

The last platform frontier for Google is a services marketplace, where uber-startups Uber and Airbnb reign supreme. Uber recently made headlines when it unveiled a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to fund research for autonomous cars and proprietary mapping technology. This announcement could turn the formerly cozy Google and Uber relationship into full-blown competition. If Uber's investment in Carnegie Mellon pays off, it would allow the company to be less dependent on Google Maps and to directly compete with Google's autonomous car program.

Philosopher helps teach morality to driverless cars

The technical difficulties around the development of driverless cars have almost been solved, but what about the philosophical ones? Because the real question might not be whether the first autonomous vehicle will be Volvo or Google, but whether it will be a deontological ethicist or a consequentialist.

Solar Cars – Pros And Cons

With the fuel options getting limited, there will be time when the world will have to look for other fuel options. That is the reason why we are seeing different automakers working on alternative fuel. Among several technologies that different automakers are working on, solar is one of them. Several innovators are working on solar-powered vehicles. The sun is an eternal and the most sustainable source of energy that can be used to produce electricity to run vehicles. The solar powered cars are not a common sight in India, as these are still under the experimental phase, but these could become a potential alternative for eco-conscious buyers.

Is Waste an Untapped Resource?

Waste is intrinsically, well, wasteful. But it doesn’t need to be. Assessment of Advanced Biofuels from Wastes & Residues, a new study by indie nonprofit theInternational Council of Clean Transportation, reports that waste is an untapped resource with various benefits. Most notably, it highlights that waste and other residues from industries, farms, and households can be converted into advanced biofuels, which can power our cars.

Is AI 'our biggest existential threat'?

As man-made robots get smarter, will they eventually outpace man?  A few of the world's smartest technology leaders certainly think so. In recent days, they've taken to sounding the alarm bell about the potential dangers of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Tesla CEO Elon Musk called AI "our biggest existential threat" while British scientist Stephen Hawking said AI could "spell the end of the human race." In January, Read MoreMicrosoft co-founder Bill Gates sided with Musk, adding, "[I] don't understand why some people are not concerned."

Apple’s electric car dreams may bring auto industry nightmares

Apple does have the advantage of a US$178 billion cash hoard. That’s six times the cash Volkswagen AG has on its books and seven times what GM is carrying, according to Bloomberg data. In fact, that cash hoard alone could fund GM’s capital expenditures budget for 20 years. The company is probably looking at several options and would be more likely to engineer the software that controls autonomous-driving cars or rethink the human control of today’s cars, said Jon Bereisa, CEO of consulting firm Auto Lectrification LLC who worked on the Chevy Volt programme.

LG Uplus to tap overseas market with smart navigation app

South Korea mobile carrier LG Uplus plans to expand into the Middle East with its Car Link smart navigation application, which allows drivers to make calls, watch video and play music via the app that mirrors  their smartphone interface on the vehicle's navigation screen. The app will be available through a download that can be used in the BMW Mini, the Infinity Q50, all Volkswagens and Mercedes-Benz's A, C and E class cars.

The Race For Smart Cars and Smart Roads

Could massive accidents seen in Michigan and Syracuse be prevented with new smart car and smart road technology? Director of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Kurt Steudle, says "vehicle to vehicle, and vehicle to roadside communication would enable the car to know there's a problem ahead."

You Asked: How Do Driverless Cars Work?

“What the autonomous system is supposed to achieve, in its full maturity, is the best of a computer, which is able to process large reams of data, and the ability of a human being to be adaptive in a new or known environment,” says Lakshmanan.

Automakers embrace ride-sharing programs

Automakers such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz are increasingly seeing the benefits of car-sharing programs, which give potential drivers the opportunity to try out vehicles before they buy them, while also giving the brands more exposure. "As their life stage changes -- maybe they move out of the city or have a bigger family -- they would have had some positive experiences driving our cars, so when they are in the market to buy than we can be at the top of their list," said Rich Steinberg, CEO of DriveNow USA.

MTA real-time bus data 'hacked,' offered on private mobile application

Chris Whong, a self-described "civic hacker," tapped into the Maryland Transit Administration's newly developed website offering real-time bus information and worked with a Montreal startup called Transit App to create a mobile application offering the same information more efficiently.

Siemens to test pilot program of parking spot-finder app

Siemens is developing an application that will help drivers find parking spaces. The company will begin tests in Berlin in April of the system, which uses a smartphone app to transmit information about available spots to radar sensors mounted on street lamps.

Google describes how it wants self-driving cars to be regulated

Google representatives said Tuesday that they want regulation on self-driving cars to follow the basic model used on conventional cars — a self-reported analysis that does not include additional oversight by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. The perspective arrives as the DMV considers what safety rules it will impose on self-driving cars, which could be released to the public in less than a decade. At a DMV-hosted public workshop last month, Google warned regulators that safety oversight above what is applied on conventional cars could be ineffective and hurt innovation.

What Clever Robots Mean for Jobs

Recent advances—everything from driverless cars to computers that can read human facial expressions—have pushed experts like Mr. Brynjolfsson to look anew at the changes automation will bring to the labor force as robots wiggle their way into higher reaches of the workplace. They wonder if automation technology is near a tipping point, when machines finally master traits that have kept human workers irreplaceable.

“It’s gotten easier to substitute machines for many kinds of labor. We should be able to have a lot more wealth with less labor,” Mr. Brynjolfsson said. “But it could happen that there are people who want to work but can’t.”

Utilities Push Into Fuel Stations for Electric Cars

In several regions, utilities — big companies experienced in financing, building and managing power infrastructure as well as selling electricity — are getting into the vehicle charging business. Their goal is nothing less than making the electric car a viable alternative for millions of consumers and, in the process, helping shore up their own flattening business of supplying electricity.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When Will We Have Self-Driving Cars?

A car that drives itself nearly all the time remains far off, for technological and regulatory reasons.  But automakers are making remarkable progress on some autonomous features.

Register Now for the USDOT Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program Pre-Proposal Webinar

On January 30, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for Phase 1 (Concept Development) of the Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program. As indicated in the BAA, the Federal Highway Administration's Office of Grants and Acquisition Management will host a Pre-Proposal Webinar for interested parties. USDOT officials will present and discuss the Phase 1 procurement process as well as answer relevant questions from interested parties.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Banned From Carrying Passengers in Spain, Uber Now Delivers Food

The food service is one way for Uber to maintain a presence in Spain, after a judge in December banned its taxi service. The five-year-old company has been trying to put out flames in various cities as it aggressively expands internationally, fueled by more than $4 billion from investors and bond holders. “This is the first thing we’ve launched that allows us to get back up and running in Barcelona,” company spokesman Ben Novick said. He declined to say how many drivers are delivering meals, but he said delivery time would be 10 minutes.

Driverless Cars Get Their Own Action MOVIE!

Gore Verbinski has had a pretty solid directorial career thus far with hits like "The Ring" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" on his resume. His latest movie for Sony Pictures might be his oddest choice yet. The latest Verbinski's movie focuses on a team of engineers who embark on a transcontinental race using self-driving vehicles. Verbinski discussed his latest effort this weekend with Deadline.

Cameras, lasers and sensors: Volvo reveals how its driverless cars will work

A hundred Volvo cars will be kitted with sensors, lasers and a cloud-based GPS to eliminate the need of a driver by 2017, the carmaker has revealed. The automaker began its driverless car project in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2014 and expects that driverless cars will be on Swedish motorways in two years’ time. "The key to success is combining sensors, computers and a chassis system in a clever way," said Erik Coelingh, a technical specialist at Volvo.

Samsung SDI Dives Deeper Into Electric Vehicles With Battery Pack Maker Purchase

“The acquisition is a key strategic step for Samsung SDI to strengthen the competitiveness of our automotive battery business,” said Namseong Cho, President and CEO of Samsung SDI, in a released statement. “It will provide new momentum to expand our business and customer base.”

Could driverless cars own themselves?

Forget buying an electric-powered Tesla, sharing a Zipcar or hiring an Uber - the most disruptive force in getting from A to B on four wheels could be cars that own themselves.

Agreeing on standards is a key to electric vehicles

Standards will be a key to the success or failure of all-electric vehicles. An electric vehicle may be used simply for urban travel with overnight charging. But the vehicle is a lot more useful if it can be used over long distances and can be easily and rapidly charged at convenient locations during a journey.

Volvo Cars Share Road-Condition Info in the Cloud

In a joint project, carmaker Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration combine V2X communications and cloud-based data storage and processing. The purpose: spreading information about hazardous road condition as quickly as possible so that icy patches won't cause accidents anymore.

GM to launch Wi-Fi connected cars in 2016 model year

General Motors will be introducing 18 model vehicles with Wi-Fi service supplied by AT&T. They will be equipped with an antenna to pick up cellular signals, and the network will be able to be picked up from 50 feet away from the vehicle. The new feature will come with GM's OnStar vehicle-assistance technology, and it will be added to 2016 models being shown in the next few months.

Apple fuels EV rumors by hiring former R&D exec from Mercedes-Benz

Strengthening speculation supported by senior people close to the situation that Apple is working on producing an electric vehicle, the company has hired Johann Jungwirth, the former top U.S. executive of Mercedes-Benz's research and development arm. Jungwirth will be director of Mac engineering for the project, which sources say could be only an opportunity to explore new in-car devices and might not lead to production of any cars.

Scientists develop ‘bionic leaf’ capable of converting sunlight into liquid fuel

The artificial leaf, developed by researchers led by Harvard University researcher Nocera, splits water into oxygen and hydrogen using sunlight. Then, a species of bacteria called Ralstonia eutropha consumes the hydrogen gas, and converts it into protons and electrons. These protons and electrons are integrated into molecules of CO2 as part of the bacteria's reproductive cycle.

PennDOT prepares for ‘cars of the future’

PennDOT is already in discussions of what automated cars could mean for licensing, highway structure and safety. Estimates for their debut range from 5 to 25 years. PennDOT participated in a study of Carnegie Mellon’s self-driving car last year.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

USDOT Dynamic Mobility Applications (DMA) Program Webinar Series Part 6: INFLO Bundle

This particular webinar will present the Intelligent Network Flow Optimization (INFLO) bundle of applications. Dr. Govind Vadakpat of the FHWA will describe the prototype development efforts taking place in Seattle, Washington. Cory Krause of the FHWA will present the preliminary impacts assessment effort and the estimation of INFLO benefits.

Urban Engines is the Google Maps of the future

...a team of former Google employees has taken on these myriad problems, creating an app called Urban Engines that shows early signs of promise for revolutionizing intra-city movement. The app differs from Google maps in certain significant ways. For one, you can drag and drop location and destination pins, allowing the app to instantaneously draw a smart path from place to place. These feature works without exact addresses, so if you’re traveling across town to merely wander, you don’t need to have a destination in mind. (In our tests, the processing speed was astonishing; we were given a half dozen routes in less time than Google maps produces one.)

Moreover, Urban Engines aggregates city transportation options so that you can know the most efficient route, whether that be by bus, subway, sidewalk – or some combination of all three.

Nokia is paving the way for 3D road maps

A fleet of 300 cars is methodically criss-crossing major cities around the world, documenting our streets in painstaking detail. They aren't Google's Street View cars, but Nokia's Here True cars, similar vehicles with a slightly different goal. Nokia wants to create the next generation of extensively detailed 3D maps through "reality mapping," and it could be big business for the company over the next decade. The maps will be able to do things like tell driverless cars everything about the road they're navigating, from where the street markings are to how fast other cars typically take a corner.

Bus meets bike: How the next wave of commuters is changing the urban landscape

As Pittsburgh moves forward in developing its transportation infrastructure, a classic simple machine of the mid-1800s is in the foreground of development discussions: the bicycle. This artifact of the past may be Pittsburgh’s key to a successful future. But as Pittsburgh’s development continues to evolve, the city’s top transportation advocacy organizations are accounting for a range of transit options through initiatives and collaborations.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Uber-for-kids is Shuddle's parental pitch

The equation is a familiar one these days: Busy working parents plus super-scheduled children equals car-shuttling madness and missed appointments. A new ride-hailing start-up hopes to improve that calculus. Shuddle, which operates throughout the Bay Area, provides rides to children — post-booster seat age — while promising parents peace of mind through its network of vetted drivers with a range of child-care experience.

How Uber is Driving Down the Cost of Transportation

Uber is trying to get to what it calls “The Perpetual Ride,” which basically means that drivers will always have customers (100 percent utilization). That’s quite a goal, but it would mean the absolute lowest prices for consumers (barring any other changes to Uber’s cost structure).  Dirt cheap transportation is a pretty compelling value proposition, which is why I continue to believe that cities should be hard at work trying to figure out how to harness this transportation shift.

Driverless car beats racing driver for first time

Driverless cars now out-perform skilled racing drivers, engineers at Stanford University have shown, after pitting their latest model against a track expert. The team has designed a souped-up Audi TTS dubbed ‘Shelley’ which has been programmed to race on its own at speeds above 120 mph at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California. When they tested it against David Vodden, the racetrack CEO and amateur touring class champion, Shelley was faster by 0.4 of a second.

Did Electric Vehicles Charge Into the Wrong Market?

The electric car market may have been looking at the wrong country. China is the big prize, but Japan looks better equipped with more charging stations than gas stations. That’s according to Nissan research. Bloomberg’s Craig Trudell reports on “Asia Edge.”

Uber recruited CMU personnel prior to announcing partnership

In an exclusive interview, Martial Hebert, director of CMU's Robotics Institute, said he could not provide the exact number of employees who have left or are leaving to work for the newly established Uber Advanced Technologies Center, other to say it is "far less than half" of the roughly 150 people NREC usually employs at its center in Lawrenceville.

Finding a parking spot: What Americans want in self-driving cars

What if you had a self-driving car that could drop you off and find a parking spot or adjust how it drives based on weather conditions? A new survey by Carnegie Mellon University finds Americans are looking for both features, even though younger and older drivers want far different features. Millenials, those between 18 and 24 years old, are eager to have features that allow them to work or stay connected while driving.

Nokia Map App "Here" gets a facelift

Nokia's Here for Android map application has nixed the beta tag and added 3D maps for shopping malls and airports in 70 countries. The app now offers the ability to download offline maps in the background for easier access and enables users to open details on storefronts with just a touch. 

Report: Connected-car segment rising 10 times faster than overall car industry

Seventy-five percent of the 92 million cars shipped worldwide by the end of the decade will be able to connect to the Internet, BI Intelligence said in a new report. BI Intelligence also noted that the connected-car market will expand 10 times faster than the overall car industry, increasing 45% at a five-year compound annual growth rate.

Uber panic button coming to its Chicago mobile app

Uber General Manager Chris Taylor said it was unclear if Chicago would be the first U.S. city to test the safety device but noted that “as it is perfected, it will become something that is more broadly used.” The panic button was first implemented in India earlier this month following rape allegations against an Uber driver. Two Uber drivers in Chicago were charged in recent months with sexually assaulting a passenger. The upcoming safety measure was alternately referred to as an SOS button or a panic button by Uber officials Thursday.

Meet the Lutz pod, the UK's first driverless 'car'

The Lutz can seat two people and scoot around for 40 miles, or roughly six hours on a single charge. With a top speed of 15mph, it's by no means the fastest mode of public transportation, but it should be just fine for helping commuters, shoppers and the elderly complete short journeys. It's packing some serious hardware under the hood too: twin cameras and LIDAR sensors are fitted on the front, alongside a further two cameras and a single LIDAR on the back. They're flanked by another two cameras on either side, which combine to give the vehicle a detailed 360-degree picture of its surroundings.

Chinese companies partner for electric smart-car ride-sharing service

Chery Automobile Co. is partnering with Chinese tech companies Pateo and Yongche to offer Internet-connected, all-electric car-sharing services in China by 2016, Yongche said Monday. The cars can be reserved by smartphone and will help drivers navigate through heavy traffic with a wireless network

Ethernet finds a second life in connected-car industry

To keep up with evolving technology, Ethernet, which is already used in computer networks, has a second coming to be utilized in cars for infotainment systems and backup-camera connections. "Ethernet is ideal as the bus technology connecting tomorrow's Connected Vehicles because it can deliver the capacity, performance and versatility the industry needs," Martin Nuss writes.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Will self-driving cars solve your city's traffic congestion? Survey says not any time soon

The report underscores considerable skepticism about fully autonomous vehicles -- where no driver is required and the vehicle is integrated into normal driving conditions. A mere 8% of executives see it becoming commonplace by 2025. Moreover, only 19% believe that a fully automated environment -- where the driving system handles all situations without monitoring, and the driver is allowed to perform non-driving tasks -- will be routine by 2025. On the other hand, 87% of those interviewed believe partially automated driving, such as an expansion of today's self-parking or lane change assist technologies will be commonplace by 2025.

Scientists Can Make Liquid Fuel Using Sunlight

Solar fuel technology is an area of great interest to scientists, and the Department of Energy is investing $1.22 million over 5 years in the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, which is the largest research program into the technology. However this latest breakthrough was made at the DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, whose mission is to use microorganisms to create liquid fuel.

PG&E Looks To Build 25,000 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Over 5 Year

PG&E filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission on Monday to build roughly 25,000 new electric vehicle charging stations across Northern and Central California over a five-year period.

If approved, PG&E said the $654 million plan will be the largest deployment of electric vehicle charging stations in the U.S. and that 10 percent of the chargers will support disadvantaged communities.

U.K.'s IET details factors to be considered for driverless trials

The Institution of Engineering and Technology's Hugh Boyes notes the factors that must be considered when the U.K. begins its trials of driverless vehicles, including public trust and acceptance as well as user experience and skill. "Driverless vehicles have huge potential to transform the U.K.'s transport network. They could improve road safety, reduce congestion and lower emissions," he says. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Peak fender-bender: Technology can prevent car crashes, if consumers will buy in

Ragunathan Rajkumar, a professor at Carnegie Mellon who is developing self-driving car technology, says that for $700 or $800 the parts can be bought to build such a system. After markups, he estimates that consumers will pay an extra $2,000 or $3,000 for the initial cost of their vehicles. That up-front cost probably would pay off down the line through lower insurance premiums and greater safety.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In a World of Self-Driving Vehicles, Car Ownership Would Plunge

Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) looked at patterns of car usage in American households and concluded that self-driving automobiles with a “return-to-home” mode “could reduce the number of vehicles needed within a single household by allowing sharing of vehicles in situations where it is not currently possible.” The idea is that the drivers in many households have little “trip overlap,” the term used to describe times during the day when more than one driver needs a vehicle. In households where there isn’t much overlap, a self-driving vehicle could, for example, bring one spouse to work early in the morning, then return home on its own to pick up the other in order to make a separate run to a different workplace, drop off kids at school, help run errands, etc., before retrieving that original dropoff at the end of the work day.

The ride-share saga: A year of Lyft and Uber in Pittsburgh

Lyft has shorn the large pink mustaches once affixed to the front of its cars, opting for less-conspicuous “glowstaches” on dashboards. Uber, which slogged through public relations and legal problems on multiple fronts, last week announced a research partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, ostensibly working toward robotic driverless cars. On Thursday, the company brought to Pittsburgh the UberXL service, a version using larger cars.

Bay Area’s New “Vital Signs” Website Tracks Transportation Stats

Data lovers can now nerd out on a new website that collects Bay Area transportation data and puts it into customizable maps and charts to play with. Vital Signs is part of an effort by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to make its performance measures and data more accessible to the public. It also lays the groundwork to measure the effects of Plan Bay Area, which was adopted in July 2013 after a state law mandated each region to produce a plan for smart growth oriented around transit.

Driverless cars get green light and you WON'T need a licence meaning they'll be able to do the school run on their own

  • Women are expected to benefit most - almost a third don't have a licence.
  • Disabled, elderly and children are also likely to gain from driverless cars.
  • Children could be put in 'robocar' at home and sent to school without adult.
  • Ministers to announce trials on Wednesday following six-month study. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

New BMW goggles allow drivers to see through their vehicles

BMW has designed a pair of goggles that allows drivers to see through their cars in order to parallel park. The goggles communicate with the vehicle and cameras on the exterior of the car, to allow it to become invisible for the driver.

The 4 Biggest Arguments Against Electric Cars -- and Why They're Completely Wrong

Why haven't electric cars gained more traction? They do come with certain drawbacks, and many skeptics have argued that these drawbacks will hold back EV adoption for many years, if not permanently. But the future is not static. The technology is improving all the time, with every little breakthrough and every marginal gain. Over time, many of the core drawbacks of EVs could be eliminated entirely.

Paging Insurance Companies to Pave the Way for Driverless Cars

Nobody can know all of the downstream implications of driverless cars. However, a simple fender bender will put the entire industry under a microscope. Clearly insurance companies – not generally known for their ability to innovate and pivot quickly – have both an opportunity and a risk. So, what should insurance companies be doing? As Alan Kay said, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

So far, the discussions around driverless cars have involved Google, Audi, Mercedes, Toyota, and even Intel, Qualcomm, Navstar and Boeing. If driverless cars are to really become a mass-market reality, companies like Progressive, Aetna, Allstate and Geico better get into the conversation quickly.

Uber to introduce ‘panic button’ safety feature in India

Uber’s General Manager for Mumbai, Shailesh, in a blog post, said beginning February 11, Uber will launch an in-app panic (SOS) button that would allow a rider to alert the local police at the push of a button in case of an emergency. It will also introduce a safety net feature, which would allow users to easily share their trip details and real-time location with up to five friends and family members.

Report Sees Weak Security in Cars’ Wireless Systems

“This reveals that a majority of vehicle manufacturers offer features that not only record but also transmit driving history wirelessly to themselves or to third parties,” the report said. The information collected includes where drivers have been, like physical location recorded at regular intervals, the last location they were parked, distances and times traveled, and previous destinations entered into navigation systems. A host of diagnostic data on the car is also captured.

Cities turn to mobile apps to solve traffic woes, collect fines

Municipalities concerned over traffic congestion have turned to parking-related mobile applications to help solve their problems and make it easier to collect parking fines. In one app, Parker, localities are installing sensors based on RF technology under parking spaces designed to signal open spaces to drivers, as well as to notify them when their meters are expiring.

A Prickly Partnership for Uber and Google

“Uber has a strong relationship with Google and greatly values working closely with David Drummond,” said Nairi Hourdajian, Uber’s head of global communications. “We look forward to continuing our collaborative dialogue with Google about the future of our partnership in the years to come.”

Still, Uber is hedging its bets.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Combined cyber and physical security system for charging electric vehicles

As electricity grids become more sophisticated, grid administrators can collect instantaneous data on consumer and supplier behavior. The 'smart grid' then learns to improve the reliability, costs and sustainability of electricity distribution. However, smart grids present new security challenges, especially for mobile systems such as electric vehicles (EVs), which can be attacked both electronically and physically.

Israeli Lab Developing Next Generation of Driverless Cars

In the RAV Lab, Shiller and his students are developing algorithms that will automatically modulate speed and handling in response to constantly changing, unpredictable road conditions. Driverless cars will need this capability to meet future safety regulations. 

“Today’s driverless cars, introduced by leading car companies such as Ford, Volvo, and even Google, can drive very well on a road that is smooth and flat. Our research is about driving over a surface with bumps, ruts and hills,” Shiller tells ISRAEL21c.

Very large pure electric vehicles succeed

Pure electric vehicles are inevitably small and feeble or premium-priced, niche products like the Teslas? Not true. The mining industry has 350 kW pure electric ore trucks - see the IDTechEx report, Electric Vehicles for Construction, Agriculture and Mining 2015-2025. BYD has a 3.5 tonne heavy duty forklift for use where a hybrid or diesel forklift would have been used. Pure electric articulated buses now have range to 250 km.

Connected car device aims to help drivers avoid becoming a statistic

CarVi's windshield-mounted device works with a mobile application to help prevent collisions even in older vehicles that lack connected-car technology. The device links with the driver's smartphone while searching for potential accidents and analyzing the driver's performance, the startup says.

Top-ranked green cars you want cruising your city's streets

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is out with its 18th annual environmental ratings for vehicles. As cities work to reduce vehicle emissions and parking challenges – this year's winner is going to look pretty attractive. That honor went to the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive made by Council Lead PartnerMercedes-Benz – and it's not the first time it has won. But what's different this year is that the Smart Fortwo received the highest green score ever. Six out of 12 places in this year’s Greenest List were claimed by plug-in electric vehicles.

Hail that pod! How Google, car makers see the future

So imagine this. Privately owned gas-powered cars are banned downtown, replaced by fleets of electric, app-summoned self-driving taxis. These autonomous-and-shared pods are in constant circulation, allowing most of the city's parking lots to be reclaimed for real estate or parks. Air quality improves, greenhouse gases decrease. That seems to be a vision of the future a number of car manufacturers and tech companies are angling toward, judging from a flurry of recent auto-tech news.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Anritsu will debut cloud-based fleet tracking at Mobile World Congress

At the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2015 (Barcelona, 2-5 March), Anritsu will be showcasing a cloud-based connected car system for fleet tracking, developed by the University of Hertfordshire in the UK with the help of network simulation technology from Anritsu.

Eye-Tracking Car Tech Will Help Drivers Remain Focused

Australia-based Seeing Machines is looking to bring its compact, driver-monitoring system into more vehicle models. The eye-tracking machine uses infrared lights and cameras to track a driver's movements and head position to prevent driver fatigue. The system works alongside driver-assist technologies currently on the market and is used in over 4,000 units, including commercial and heavy equipment vehicles, the company said.

W3C to standardize apps for the auto industry

The World Wide Web Consortium said it will be standardizing Web applications for the auto industry through its newly formed Automotive Working Group. The W3C said the new standards will allow drivers to sync mobile apps with their car's internal control systems through a browser interface.

Commercial Space Transportation gears up for a future Beyond Traffic

There might have been a time when DOT had to sell Fast Lane readers on the possibility of commercial space transportation as an industry. But that time has passed. Last year alone, the Federal Aviation Administration licensed 12 commercial launches; we've already seen one licensed launch this year; and we anticipate another this month. We know that new vendors are competing to provide lower cost and more routine private space flight, eventually turning this once novel mode of transportation into a reality for many. And not just for space tourism--the appeal of a two-hour suborbital flight from the East Coast to Asia continues to draw interest and research funds.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ford drives scheduling with artificial intelligence

Stephen Smith, a research professor focused on Ai at Carnegie Mellon University, said this kind of scheduling issue is a classic problem for AI to handle, and Ford was smart to use it."We need to rethink AI," he said. "It can be a powerful amplifier of human decision making without taking over the decision making.... It's a time saver.... In the area of planning and scheduling, that's one of the advantages that the AI model brings -- this flexibility, this tool that you can adapt to solve different problems pretty quickly."

Hanergy Thin Film Joins Partners to Develop Solar Cars

The aim is to produce cars capable of traveling as much as 100 kilometers (62 miles) on four hours of charge time in the sun, the company said. Power will come from six square meters (64 square feet) of thin-film solar cells affixed to the bodies of the cars, the statement said. Hanergy Holding in August bought Alta Devices of the U.S. for technology that works for emergency charging of mobile phones and cars. A thin-film solar cell is made by placing layers of photovoltaic material on a semiconductor wafer.

Apple reportedly leases autonomous Dodge minivan

Sightings of a Dodge minivan with mounted cameras have fueled speculation that Apple is using the vehicle to conduct autonomous tests in San Francisco. The Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed the company had leased the car, but said it had not obtain permits for testing self-driving cars in the state. "Just because they're leasing the car doesn't necessarily mean it's their project," analyst Rob Enderle said.

Are We Ready for Driverless Cars?

The exciting thing about emerging vehicle automation technologies is that they are capable of performing complex driving functions — such as safely navigating a car through rush-hour city streets — that until recently were much too complex for computers. In the long term, vehicle automation will be able to deliver what today sounds like science fiction: You will have the option of getting in a car with no human driver, entering a destination on a smartphone, and then sitting back to read an electronic book while being whisked along the highway. But that capability won’t be available by 2020 on any significant scale.

PUC gives Uber 2-year Pennsylvania license - except Philly

The state Public Utility Commission has given ride-sharing service Uber a two-year experimental license to operate anywhere in the state except Philadelphia, where it has been operating despite a local ban.

2015 Traffic Safety Conference

Planning is underway for the 2015 Statewide Traffic Safety Conference in Corpus Christi June 8 – 10, 2015. No matter what your area of expertise may be or what specific approaches to solving traffic safety problems you take, we’re all working toward a common goal: significant and permanent reductions in the deaths and injuries on our streets and highways. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear about effective strategies during the breakout sessions, visit with up and coming stars in transportation research during the student poster sessions, or engage in networking opportunities that help inform, inspire and keep us up-to-date on the important issues in traffic safety today and in the future.

The little engine that couldn't: The story of a Metro mess

There are many rapid transit systems in the United States designed to be cheap, reliable, safe and convenient ways to navigate cities. But the United States has only one capital, Washington, D.C., and its rapid transit system, known as "Metro," is, to put it politely, a mess.

Low gas prices are bad news for hybrid vehicles. But they won’t harm the rise of all-electric cars.

Gas prices are falling. That’s bad news for companies that are trying to sell expensive fuel-efficient cars like hybrids. And it’s especially bad news for companies that sell really expensive cars that don’t use gasoline at all—i.e. electric cars. The stock of Tesla Motors has fallen by nearly 30 percent since September.

Obama’s Prediction of a Million Electric Cars on Road By 2015 Off By 72%

Despite massive federal spending on electric vehicles, which is expected to total $7.9 billion through 2019, there are currently just 286,390 plug-in vehicles on the nation’s roads today, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA). That’s 72 percent lower than the million electric vehicles the president predicted four years ago. And with gasoline prices now averaging $2.06 per gallon, the lowest they’ve been since April 2009, that percentage is not likely to change any time soon.

On the Road to Innovation: Carnegie Mellon's Traffic21 Institute is helping Pittsburgh to change transportation

Pittsburgh boasts a comparable technology with Scalable Urban Traffic Control, or Surtrac, an artificial intelligence-based system developed by the Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). Like adaptive traffic signals, Surtrac, which was deployed at intersections in East Liberty earlier this year, responds in real-time as opposed to working on a fixed-time cycle. While the system operates similarly to PennDOT’s adaptive signals, Traffic 21 Executive Director Stan Caldwell explains that Surtrac is designed for urban grids.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tennessee tests smart truck parking with real-time parking space information

SmartPark is "intended to reduce driver fatigue, help drivers adhere to their hours of service and enhance truckers' driving experience by increasing the accessibility of truck parking," according to the SmartParking USA website. Truck parking was first identified as a nationwide problem in the mid-1990s after Congress asked that the issue be examined by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Getting There: Technology reduces number of highway fatalities

During the first half of 2014, according to early National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates, 14,950 people died in crashes nationwide, a 2.2 percent drop from the same period a year earlier. The estimated decrease in deadly crashes follows a trend that started in 2012, according to the NHTSA.

Hyundai plans to go head-to-head with Toyota on fuel-cell cars

Hyundai Motor Co. said it will lower the price of its Tucson fuel cell electric vehicle by 43 percent in South Korea and consider cutting prices of the car overseas to compete with models from the likes of Toyota Motor Corp.

Noise Makers for Electric Cars: Won’t Be Law in the U.S. Until 2018

Regardless of your opinion on them, rules mandating that all plug-in and hybrid cars make some form of artificial noise to alert pedestrians of their presence have long been promised by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following a large amount of lobbying by the National Federation for the Blind.

Driven to distraction by China electric cars

China is the world’s second-largest market for electric vehicles, and nouveau riche renminbi have poured into purchases of the Tesla model S, the coolest green motorcar on the block. For at least a decade, Beijing has been decanting subsidies into the creation of a homegrown electric vehicle industry, hoping to leapfrog conventional engines and go straight to world dominance of green car technology. And China’s air pollution problem is so big that it must, like the Great Wall, be visible from space. So selling electric cars here ought to be about as easy as selling protective face masks. But it’s not.

SanDisk touts new storage devices for connected vehicles

SanDisk is introducing a new SD card and iNAND embedded flash drive for connected vehicles, which will support augmented reality navigation systems, entertainment and driver assist systems, 3D mapping and data event recorders. The new embedded storage devices are also specifically built to withstand rough terrain.

Ford to unveil new remote-control app as BMW issues security fix

Ford is set to release its new smartphone application for its Lincoln luxury brand, which will allow users to control their vehicles remotely. The Google-designed MyLincoln smartphone app will be integrated with Android and control-locking and self-starting features. Meanwhile, BMW has issued a security patch for its ConnectedDrive infotainment system, which had a vulnerability that could have given hackers access to approximately 2.2 million BMW, Rolls-Royce and Mini cars.

Google may compete with Uber

Google may compete with Uber, the global mobile application-based taxi business, even though the Internet giant is a major investor and holds a seat on Uber's board, states a report. The report adds that Google is preparing its own service, which could be related to its driverless car venture. Uber said Monday it is investing in its own autonomous vehicle project in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University.

London is building Europe’s longest bike superhighway

The lane will extend from east to west London, with another north-south route in the works as well. According to The Guardian, the project is part of a larger citywide initiative for biking that will cost upwards of a billion dollars (£900 million) over the next 10 years, and will stretch approximately 18 miles directly through the center of London. Other segregated bike paths have popped up near London in recent years, but a route of this magnitude in an urban environment is unprecedented.

New Tesla feature makes passengers lose their minds

To prove this stampede of an automobile is sure to show you a good time, Tesla is doing some good ol’ fashioned showing off. The car is fitted with an “insane” button, which engages both rear and front engines at the same time — taking riders from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds. The button does what it came to do, rendering most humans terrified, speechless, or royally ticked at the insanity of it all. In the video above, Brooks Weisblat, of DragTimes, takes unsuspecting passengers on a joy ride — making some nearly wet themselves.

Secretary Foxx Unveils “Beyond Traffic: Trends and Choices,” a 30-Year Outlook on the Future of Our Nation’s Infrastructure

As the U.S. attempts to address its growing transportation demands, it’s critical that all the data and research that exists is examined with a holistic approach to addressing the challenges ahead. This report offers a clear and honest assessment of the network’s status, deficiencies, capacity, and potential to better support our economic and social well-being. It examines not only the condition and performance of our transportation system today, but forecasts how it will look and perform in 2045 if current funding levels and policies persist.


“Uber is a rapidly growing company known for its innovative technology that is radically improving access to transportation for millions of global citizens. CMU is renowned for innovations that transform lives. We look forward to partnering with Uber as they build out the Advanced Technologies Center and to working together on real-world applications, which offer very interesting new challenges at the intersections of technology, mobility, and human interactions.”
Andrew Moore, Dean of the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

Monday, February 2, 2015

BMW showcases new EV models in Super Bowl ad

BMW will show off its i3 electric vehicle model in a Super Bowl ad this weekend. BMW said it wants to change the perception of EVs on the road and make it clear that alternative vehicle technology will soon become as accepted and used as the Internet. "We are right on a tipping point of sorts, [where] electric mobility will tip over and become a lot more mainstream than it is today," BMW's Trudy Hardy said.

Hyundai, Baidu partner for in-vehicle infotainment in China

Hyundai said it will team up with search engine Baidu to bring Wi-Fi-enabled infotainment systems to new car models in China. Hyundai said it will integrate Baidu's new CarLife platform in its Sonata sedan by April. "The Chinese government has yet to officially announce whether to support Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto. So, Hyundai Motor signed a memorandum of understanding with Baidu to forge a collaboration to cope with the Chinese market for connected cars," Hyundai said in a statement.

Smaller cities can now manage traffic on a smartphone

“Normally, the cost, complexity and competence required to operate, manage and maintain central traffic management systems has made it difficult for small and mid-sized cities to implement centralized solutions,” said Sameer Joshi, head of Siemens Road and City Mobility, U.S. “TACTICS smartGuard is specifically designed for use in cities of any size, offered as a monthly subscription-based service that is a fraction of the significant capital costs otherwise spent on a traditional server hosted locally.”

German traffic pilot: Analytics predict and manage traffic flow

"As one of the first congestion-prone cities to do so, Cologne has taken an important step in the right direction with this project," said Eric-Mark Huitema, IBM Smarter Transportation leader in Europe. "Intelligent traffic management based on precise forecasting techniques can help cities anticipate and avoid traffic congestion and possibly reduce the volume of traffic, resulting in a more sustainable transportation network."

Real-time data reduces Dublin congestion

A smart mobility collaboration with IBM researchers is helping keep 1.2 million residents moving efficiently through Dublin's extensive network of roads, tramways and bus lanes. Integrating data from a citywide network of sensors with geospatial data means the city's road and traffic department is able to better monitor and manage traffic in real time.

Ford designs remote vehicle control as part of new mobility initiative

Ford is at work building a remote control that can operate a vehicle thousands of miles away via a 4G LTE connection and existing technology, the company revealed. Ford said the remote system costs less than $300 and could be used by rental car companies and car-share services to reduce congestion in car lots and to move cars around cities for increased availability. The project is part of Ford's 25 "mobility experiments" initiative.

Waze poses a security risk for police officers, law enforcement says

The GPS-enabled mobile traffic application Waze is being called out by law enforcement officials across the U.S. who say the app helps users track police officers in real-time, which could lead to a higher risk of violent crime. Officers are asking Google to disable the tracking feature as the owner of the app, but Waze spokeswoman Julie Mossler said, "These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion." 

Expert: V2V, V2I will see "substantial deployment" in 5 years

Autonomous-driving features and increased connectivity from vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications will become a part of everyday driving in three to five years, while fully driverless vehicles should be expected within 10 years, said Peter Sweatman of the Michigan Transportation Research Institute. He added that insurance premiums and regulations will have to adapt to the changing infrastructure.

Autonomous, connected tech are driving transit sector with $5.7B investor infusion

The transportation market received $5.7 billion worth of investments last year as driverless and connected technologies became a regular fixture in new car models, write Brook Porter, Michael Linse and Zach Barasz. The new vehicle trends are also helping encourage car-sharing services and reduced car ownership, along with investments in battery-powered engines, lightweight materials and 3D technologies, which will help build efficient multimodal transportation networks, they write.

Analysis: ITS will transform infrastructure, improve mobility

Governments and automakers need to work to promote the benefits of autonomous vehicles on public roads, such as fewer accidents, fatalities and drunken driving incidents, Simon Hobday writes. With 46% of U.K. drivers reporting that they are interested in self-driving cars, it is important to highlight the ways in which driverless cars can work in tandem with intelligent transportation systems to fundamentally improve infrastructure, safety, mobility and reduce fuel consumption, he writes.

Google Now adds data from Lyft, Airbnb and other apps

Now, a much wider variety of cards will be incorporated into the Android version of the app, including for the first time information from third-party apps like Pandora, Airbnb, Lyft, and real estate database Zillow -- provided a user has those apps installed. Adding more of those cards will make it faster to get information from the other apps, and perhaps make them more useful.

ITS America Symposium: Advancing an Intelligent Freight Network, March 26-27

Nearly 50% of the country’s containerized cargo passes through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, making Southern California the epicenter of America’s freight network. From infrastructure investments that support reliable and efficient freight movement, to an emerging suite of advanced safety technologies on-board commercial vehicles, the nation’s freight network continues to deploy innovative solutions to address challenges and improve performance.

Make plans today to join ITS America, Caltrans, the Port of Long Beach and ITS California for a two-day event, March 26-27, as we explore the smarter movement of goods in the 21st century by advancing an intelligent freight transportation network.

Germany is working to create laws for driverless cars

German lawmakers are working on laws to govern the use of driverless cars. Right now, such cars are prohibited on German streets, but a legal framework to allow such cars could be ready by September, according to transportation officials, and would cover such situations as insurance and who is at fault if an accident is caused by a computer failure.

Report: Porsche could release a fully electric car by 2018

Porsche could release a fully electric car onto the market in 2018 or 2019, according to a report in a German auto magazine. The car, reportedly nicknamed the Pajun, would be able to go about 250 miles on one charge and would probably have a sticker price higher than the $96,100 sticker price for the company's Panamera S E-Hybrid.

Philadelphia suburb to feature adaptive traffic lights

Traffic adaptive signals use video cameras and a wireless system to monitor the vehicles on each approach to every intersection and adjust the signal timing to minimize the delay and make pedestrian crossings safer.

Big Data used to make smarter parking solutions

A new service designed for parking lot management systems called Smarking uses Big Data and analytics to allow for the analysis of usage trends to set pricing, staffing and other services. The data can also be shared with drivers via a mobile application

Analysis: Connected cars are being used to boost safety, brand loyalty

With some 23 million connected cars around the world, drivers are able to access the Internet of Things for services to improve safety, provide mobile hotspots and for streaming entertainment. Automakers are also using the services to bolster brand loyalty by monitoring what services are being used and offering enhancements

Study: Most drivers see safety benefits of self-driving cars

Consumers believe self-driving vehicles would improve safety while driving at night, in traffic and when merging, among other driving situations, according to a survey by the College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. However, 70% of those polled said they would not pay 30% more for a car equipped with such technology compared to a regular vehicle.