Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Uber purchases Microsoft's mapping assets

Uber has reached a deal with Microsoft to purchase mapping assets including cameras, a Colorado data center, intellectual property and around 100 Bing employees. "[W]e will no longer collect mapping imagery ourselves, and instead will continue to partner with premium content and imagery providers for underlying data while concentrating our resources on the core user experience," Microsoft said.

Uber Executives Detained by Police in Paris

“Two representatives of Uber today went voluntarily to a police hearing that is part of a continuing legal proceeding—they have since been taken into custody,” an Uber spokesman said. “Uber is always willing to work with authorities to overcome possible misunderstandings.” The detentions mark a big escalation of the government’s campaign against Uber in one its major markets, following a series of taxi protests that snarled roads across France last Thursday. Uber says it has nearly one million regular customers in France, including about 400,000 who use Uberpop.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Is a transportation free-for-all coming to Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle?

The concept, called shared space, removes traffic signals, signage, crosswalks, lane markings and curbs, setting up a sort of free-for-all plaza where pedestrians, drivers and cyclists must watch out for one another. It has been used successfully in Europe and to a lesser degree in the U.S. to revitalize blighted urban areas and improve safety. It was pioneered by Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic engineer who came to view signs and signals as admissions of design failure.

Most Americans Don't Care How Fuel Economy is Achieved, Says Study

Although nearly all American drivers are at least somewhat concerned about fuel economy, a majority don't care how a vehicle saves fuel - just that it does, say University of Michigan researchers.  According to the report, a little more than half (52%) of respondents said it didn't matter to them how a vehicle saves fuel and reduces emissions. However, 24% listed engine improvements and 20% cited alternative fuels as their preference for improving fuel economy.

The Economics Of Uber, Driverless Cars, And The Auto Industry

The auto industry has displayed strong economic growth due to low fuel prices, low interest rates, and a higher-than-normal average age of vehicles on the road. At its current large-city fares, Uber is not a suitable economic alternative to car ownership for drivers who log over 5,000 miles per year .
The accident-riddled driverless car remains and looks to remain on the left side of "The Chasm" in the Technology Adoption Cycle. Although the auto industry is due for a wide-scale makeover, we do not believe the market will see any material effects in the foreseeable future.

Battery second use offsets electric vehicle expenses, improves grid stability

Most batteries will become available for second use at the end of the expected PEV service life of approximately 15 years. NREL studies show that these batteries can retain as much as 70% of their initial capacity and potentially continue to operate for another 10 years in second use as energy storage for utilities—translating into a total service life of up to 25 years. The 25-year estimate is based on a simulation of 15 years of automotive service, then another 10 years in second use with a daily 50% depth of discharge duty cycle using NREL's battery degradation life model.


Connected cars need connected highways

Technology firm Laird has predicted that connected highways will help facilitate vehicle communication in the future, but that vision requires a lot of technology to be implemented. The company added that various communications frequencies are in development and the cost of implementation and security concerns will have to be addressed before cars and highways can communicate.

Ford diving into autonomous-car horse race

"During the next five years, we will move to migrate driver-assist technologies across our product lineup to help make our roads safer and continue to increase automated driving capability," Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, said in a statement.

Closing Streets to Cars for Walkers and Cyclists Is Getting More Popular by the Minute

As more U.S. cities adopt Vision Zero plans and adapt to become more bike and pedestrian friendly, so are they closing down their streets to cars. While the country might have a long way to go to get to the car-free center city Dublin is planning, walkability and cycling advocates continue to score wins for a more balanced use of our urban streets. With worries about traffic congestion and safety on the increase, perhaps the “war on cars” really is winnable.

Ford Embraces Car-Sharing And Electric Bikes On A Crowded Planet

Ford Motor Co. will test new car-sharing programs and foldable electric bikes inside its vehicles as it seeks new ways to adapt to global congestion and changing consumer attitudes. The projects emerged from a series of 25 mobility experiments Ford launched last January to better understand consumers’ mobility needs around the world. “We are now moving from experimentation to implementation,” Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields told journalists Tuesday in San Francisco. “We have learned a lot in the past six months and now are ready to put insights into action. Our goal is to make people’s lives better by helping them more easily navigate through their day, address societal issues and, over time, change the way the world moves.”

Jaguar: Electric vehicles 'too heavy, too slow'

Speaking at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Birmingham in the UK, Speth also said the battery technologies associated with electric-only vehicls are "too heavy, too expensive" and the potential power density is "too low". Speth did, however, admit that "the next generation of batteries will be higher density, lower weight and the cost will come down", but neglected to mention when he thinks this will happen.

The free-flowing driverless vision for Sydney in 50 years

“They will clearly reshape society. Today’s big question … is how exactly will Australia reach that future?” The technological advancements come as crews rev up to start early works on the southeast components of $11.5 billion motorway WestConnex next year.  Prof Waller said while motorways would be an important factor, the real issue would be city planning. “I think Google cars and many others are making great progress on motorways (in the US), urban (driving) remains a challenge because the cars need to interact with humans and cyclists and so on.”

Next: Cars that know when to speak

Nuance Communications Inc. has taught our cars how to talk. Now it’s trying to teach them when to shut up. Earlier this month, Burlington-based Nuance received a US patent for a system that reads incoming text messages aloud, through a car’s audio system — but only when it concludes that it’s safe for the driver to hear them.

Denmark uses Bluetooth sensors to provide traffic data

The Danish city of Aarhus is collecting driving data and providing live updates to drivers via digital roadside signs using a system called BlipTrack. The system, which detects motorists using Bluetooth devices, allows city engineers to detect changes in traffic patterns and calibrate traffic signals accordingly.

TomTom improves service with new website, app

TomTom has launched TomTom MyDrive, a website and mobile application. The offering will allow drivers to check traffic information, plan routes on their home computer, tablet or smartphone, and then send that information to their car before leaving for their destination. 

Ford debuts predictive car maintenance system

New Ford vehicles may soon be able to text drivers and warn of upcoming necessary maintenance. Ford is testing the system, based on an algorithm, which relies on data about each driver's specific driving habits, to provide text alerts when maintenance is required.

The Pros of Autonomous Vehicles

Before he joined Google, Chris Urmson led Carnegie Mellon University’s DARPA effort in a collaboration with GM, and together they won the 2007 DARPA Grand Challenge with a Chevrolet Tahoe. GM could amortize development of the 2017 Chevy Bolt with a Google car using the Bolt’s platform and electric powertrain.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Biodegradable batteries and induction charging cars: five tech trends to watch

Over the last 20 years, there have been 1.2m granted patents and published patent applications from across the US, Europe and some world territories, on the clean tech patenting site CleanTech PatentEdge. Of course, many of these ideas may never see the light of day or are unworkable on a mass scale, so what are the more realistic and practical innovations? We’ve picked out five technologies that are worth keeping an eye on.

Vegetable Fuel Approved for Volvo Euro Truck Engines

"We believe in HVO's potential and see an increasing interest from both customers and transport buyers. The major challenge is the availability of raw materials and refineries. We therefore hope that our investment in fuel will contribute to increased demand and that the HVO can be used in many other parts of the world in future," Lars MÃ¥rtensson, director environment and innovation at Volvo Trucks, said in a statement. The manufacturer began field testing the alternative fuel in 2013 with DHL Freight and several other companies with six test trucks, which over a two year period, drove more than 600,000 miles.

Are drones really on the verge of delivering packages to your doorstep?

Professor Sajiv Singh of Carnegie Mellon University robotics institute, who runs a “critical cargo delivery” company called NearEarth, said that piloting a state-of-the-art drone was a little more like leaving it a trail of breadcrumbs: go to this altitude, perform this short task, go back home. But even short flights from a mobile landing pad pose serious logistical problems, he said.

Join ITS America in Seattle for the Shared-Use Mobility Symposium July 16 and 17

Technology is advancing traveler mobility at an unprecedented rate and Seattle and the Puget Sound Region are leading the way in the adoption and deployment of many shared-use transportation options. Register today for the ITS America symposium on Building a Smart, Diverse, and Shared Travel Network. Just announced last week, the symposium will offer three exciting technical tours for attendees to have the chance to experience first-hand the exciting shared-use initiatives happening in the Seattle region. This two-day event will also provide the opportunity to hear from leaders in the field and keynote addresses from the Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation Scott Kubly, Washington State DOT Secretary Lynn Peterson, and the Honorable Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash. Discounted registration rates for public sector attendees and ITS America members apply.

Study looks at how bus rapid transit could ease Boston congestion

Boston transit passengers could shave as much as 24 minutes off their commutes from Dudley Square to Harvard Square if the city were to implement bus rapid transit service along that and 11 other corridors, a study on the area's transit said. The study noted that adding BRT service would also provide linkage to bike-share services and access to startups like Bridj, which uses data to provide passengers with faster bus route options

Samsung seeks approval for "Safety Truck"

Samsung is working on a prototype truck featuring a rear display screen that shows the view of a front-mounted camera, allowing cars behind the truck to see what is happening on the road ahead. Vlad Savov writes that the idea is unlikely to garner mainstream adoption as costs would be prohibitive.

Survey: No driver, no problem; insurance execs see little impact

The survey, "Automobile Insurance in the Era of Autonomous Vehicles," asked senior executives representing $85 billion of the personal and commercial auto insurance industry about the impact of autonomous cars on their business. The results are a bit startling, given the potential pitfall that driverless cars could have on insurance and premiums. Of those surveyed, 84 percent don't expect autonomous vehicles to significantly affect the insurance business until 2025.

California Finally Reveals Details Of Self-Driving Car Crashes

The Associated Press reveals that California state officials have released reports that describe six accidents involving self-driving cars, after the news agency argued that the Department of Motor Vehicles was unfairly withholding information. While officials had previously admitted that the crashes occurred, they claimed they couldn’t reveal details because of confidentiality clauses. Now, that appears to have softened, with the state officials allowing the AP to see documents relating to the collisions.

How Driverless Cars Will Upend Energy Markets

The Rocky Mountain Institute has concluded that platoon travel alone could reduce fuel consumption by 20-30 percent. Additionally, these vehicles are highly compatible with car-sharing programs, and, using their ability to communicate, will also be able to reduce the fuel consumption and emissions associated with searching for a parking space. This opens up additional unforeseen possibilities – what if our new autonomous cars have a “valet” function, which allows them to operate not only driver-less, but totally passenger-less? May we one day find ourselves sending our cars out to run errands, or pick up the kids from school?

U.S. cars will be more expensive as fuel standards change: report

U.S. cars and light trucks will become more fuel efficient and safer -- but also more expensive -- by the end of the next decade, as a result of increasingly stringent environmental standards, a new research report said on Thursday. The report, released by the National Research Council, said fuel economy and greenhouse gas emission standards will drive new powertrain designs, alternative fuels, more advanced materials and changes to body vehicle design. Most gains in fuel consumption will come from improvements to gasoline internal combustion engines, which are expected to dominate automotives through 2025, according to the report, which was sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Uber’s Driverless Car Chief Not Worried About Taking Away Jobs

“I’m not worried about taking away jobs,” he said. “I think, one, it hasn’t played out in history that way at all. If we were to figure out a way to automate our way out of everything we would just figure out other things we would do with our time and be productive in that way. I can think of other technologies. We haven’t solved education — that could be the next thing we focus on. There’s a whole slew of ethics around automation in general. I think about all of these broadly, just to make sure I’m fine with the day-to-day work I’m doing.”

Down the road, the Jaguar Land Rover could read your mind

Jaguar Land Rover said it is researching advanced safety technology including a product called Mind Sense, which will monitor drivers' brain waves to reduce accidents caused by tired or distracted driving. The system, which is not in production yet, will monitor drivers' alertness, and provide audio and tactile warnings when it senses the driver is not paying enough attention to the road.

Google expands driverless car fleet for road testing

Google has obtained an additional 25 permits for driverless cars from the California Department of Transportation, bringing the total number of self-driving car permits Google holds to 48. The new permits come as Google prepares to begin testing its fleet on public roads this summer.

Driverless Cars Are Already Here

The mark of a great technology is that, when it is here, we barely remember all the steps and phases of its advance. Driverless cars are already at Level 2, the mid-point of a five-tier journey toward fully autonomous vehicles mapped out two years ago by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration. And they got there without people realizing we are already halfway there.

Bright Green Autopods The Newest Way To Get Around Downtown

The newest way to get around Pittsburgh is getting people’s attention. They’re called Autopods. They’re bright green, and they’re the idea of Carnegie Mellon graduates. Tanuj Apte, Arya Tabatabai and Deepak Vidhani say it’s modeled after pedicabs in Asia or Europe, and it’s meant to take passengers short distances. While the driver pedals, there’s also a battery under the passenger’s seat that gives a little boost. They can only go 20 miles an hour.

Tesla Partners With Battery Researcher to Lower Costs

“At this point, we don’t believe that range is the thing slowing EV growth. It’s cost,” Mr. Straubel said in an interview. “If we had twice the range, it would be more range than people needed. We are definitely on a road map to achieve half the cost.”

Tipping Point in Transit

“Cars and transportation will change more in the next 20 years than they’ve changed in the last 75 years,” said M. Bart Herring, the head of product management at Mercedes-Benz USA. “What we were doing 10 years ago wasn’t that much different from what we were doing 50 years ago. The cars got more comfortable, but for the most part we were putting gas in the cars and going where we wanted to go. What’s going to happen in the next 20 years is the equivalent of the moon landing.”

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why cars will undergo the same reinvention as cell phones

Buying a car today is like buying an iPhone with no App Store, or a laptop that will only run Windows 8. Ever. What happens when you need a software update? Back to the dealer. What if you want the car to give you directions? Hope you brought your smartphone (or bought the navigation package). But the self-driving car of the future? Remember how cell phones used to be just for making phone calls? Get ready for a future in which cars used to be just for getting you places.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

No Need For Insurance: How Self-Driving Cars Will Disrupt A $200 Billion Industry

This possibility is outlined in an essay by Yale Law School student Jack Boeglin in the current issue of the Yale Journal of Law & Technology. “If nondiscretionary-communicative vehicles became mandatory (as the introduction of either the interactive or remote-controlled models might require), there would be no need for private insurance, since all liability for AVs would be transferred to manufacturers,” writes Boeglin. He adds, “Eliminating the entire automobile insurance industry (which has roughly $200 billion dollars in annual revenue) would be a monumental boost to administrative efficiency.”

Self-driving cars: Overcoming the fear of something going wrong

When I sat in Google headquarters with Chris Urmson, the 38-year-old head of the company’s self-driving car team, his determination to tackle the remaining hurdles in self-driving technology was so obvious that the future immediately felt closer. He spoke evangelically of the explosion in productivity that our society will see if commuters are freed from the massive time suck of sitting behind the wheel on congested roadways. When I asked him how old kids would need to be for parents to feel comfortable putting them alone in a self-driving car, he replied, “How old are kids when parents allow them to take the subway in New York City?”

Jaguar Land Rover explores pothole detection, warnings

New research on terrain detection and cloud communications by Jaguar Land Rover would allow vehicles to warn each other about potholes and other road hazards. "We think there is a huge opportunity to turn the information from these vehicle sensors into 'big data' and share it for the benefit of other road users," said JLR's Connected Car Director Mike Bell. 

BMW’s New 7-Series Debuts Hand-Signal Technology to Regain Edge

The latest BMW 7 Series sedan comes with technology that understands a driver's hand gestures, such as waving to reject a phone call or pointing to answer. Gestures are read by an infrared camera.

Natural gas trucks: Coming soon from China?

The advantages to LNG, along with its availability and affordability, are that the liquid form of the gas is energy dense and transportable, and that as methane, it’s the cleanest burning hydrocarbon and therefore will be more environmentally acceptable, explains Scott Hartman, downstream LNG application specialist for Shell. Compared to CNG, which is commonly moved through pipeline networks and requires additives for transport safety, LNG is much more pure. And that means fewer engine deposits.  The proving ground for LNG trucks is China, where there are more than 330,000 medium- and heavy-duty trucks on the road, according to Shell—and that number is expected to triple in the next five years . That compares to about 23,000 in the U.S. and only 2,000 in Europe.

Driverless car trials start on UK roads in 2017

The UK government has developed the world’s first driverless car code of practice, outlining the protocols that need to be in place for tests to take place on the nation’s roads. The code of practice has been finalized with input from a variety of stakeholders, including UK AutoDrive and the GATEway consortia. It has also been confirmed which four UK cities tests will take place in: Bristol, Coventry, Milton Keynes and Greenwich in south-east London.

"We’re coordinating the trials technically and working with government to ensure that the legislation keeps pace with what the technologies need to do in order to facilitate this brave new world," said Tim Armitage, project leader at the Autodrive Consortium.

Soon, Cars May Take Away the Keys of a Drunken Driver

Lawmakers are hopeful that developments in technology could eliminate drunk driving, which causes close to 10,000 American deaths annually. Auto safety officials have demonstrated touch pads that could be installed on steering wheels to measure blood alcohol levels and stop an intoxicated driver from starting their vehicle. The Department of Transportation hopes to have the technology ready for mainstream use by 2020.

Florida museum touts self-driving tour vehicle

Visitors to the MOSI museum in Tampa, Fla., can tour the first floor of the museum in a driverless shuttle, which travels at two miles per hour along a pre-mapped route. The shuttle can reach a speed of 25 mph, and is able to avoid people or other objects in its path.

BMW Bites The Bullet On Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles

The news comes to us from AutoExpress, which got wind of the 2020 FCEV (fuel cell electric vehicle) launch from “sources at BMW.” The details are still very thin but based on the timing and an R&D alliance with Toyota, AutoExpress reports that the production cycle favors the next iteration of the BMW i3 electric vehicle line.

Daimler and Bosch develop driverless car parking system

Dr. Dirk Hoheisel, the board member of Bosch responsible for automated technology, says: “Fully automated parking will be ready for mass-production before fully automated driving. Low driving speeds and the information from the car park infrastructure enable a fast implementation.”
A smartphone is used to book a parking space for a vehicle. Once the user is in “the pick-up-zone” of the car park, the car drives up independently. The system registers the vehicle, starts it, and directs it to an assigned parking space.

This Renewable Fuel Can Drive Electric Vehicles Out of Business

“We believe our system is a revolutionary leap forward in the field of artificial photosynthesis,” Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab and one of the leaders of this study, said in a statement announcing the advance. “Our system has the potential to fundamentally change the chemical and oil industry in that we can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground."

Bollore brings French EV car-share service to U.K.

French firm Bollore is bringing its car-sharing service to London, following a successful launch of it in Paris, aimed at reducing the amount of pollution in the city. The company plans to begin London service early next year.

Nevada governor proposes "electric highway"

Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada announced a proposal to install electric vehicle charging stations along a remote state highway to encourage electric vehicle use between the state's urban centers. NV Energy officials are seeking partners to host EV stations, saying it will encourage tourism in small towns as EV drivers stop to eat and explore while their vehicle recharges.

BlackBerry brings new features to connected cars

BlackBerry recently demonstrated a number of options it can provide to intelligent vehicle systems at a Detroit trade show. The company is offering over-the-air updates to allow carmakers to keep vehicle software current without physically updating it. It also touted increased security for connected vehicle systems.

Land Rover unveils autonomous app prototype

Jaguar Land Rover has revealed specifications of a new smartphone application it is developing, which could allow owners to control their vehicles from outside their cars or perform tight 180-degree turns autonomously. The prototype app is part of the company's research into next-generation automotive technologies.

Is Google Trailing As China Accelerates Self-Driving Cars?

The difference between successful commercialization could be in both production abilities (China is particularly adept at fast mass product creation) and how technologically advanced the vehicles are. Baidu has previously said it is targeting part automated cars that require occasional driver input, whereas Google has favored entirely automated vehicles.

Tesla Model 3 Lineup To Include SUV, Sedan; 1 Million Electric Cars By 2020

There are relatively few confirmed facts relating to the 200-mile Tesla Model 3 electric car, but one known item is that it will be offered as a sedan. However, that may not be the only version of the $35,000 Model 3 Tesla decides to build. Tesla is likely to offer a Model 3-based crossover, further expanding the potential reach of what will be by far the company's highest-volume model yet.

France's Peugeot teams up with Bollore on electric cars

French car maker PSA Peugeot-Citroen is teaming up with Bollore SA to jointly produce and sell electric cars, as well as promote car-sharing schemes worldwide.
PSA Peugeot-Citroen will manufacture Bollore's Bluesummer convertible, four-door electric car at its Rennes factory in western France and also sell it in their showrooms, the companies said on Wednesday. Production will begin in September, with a maximum of 3,500 vehicles to be made per year. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Should We Blur the Line Between Human and Computer Driving?

A startup based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called nuTonomy is developing automation that’s designed to feel more natural to drivers, and which can be combined with human control more effectively. Whereas a conventional self-driving computer system will analyze the road using radar, lidar, GPS, and other sensors before planning an ideal route, algorithms developed by nuTonomy mimic the way a human drives, identifying a safe corridor to travel through. A car controlled by the company’s software will drive the optimal path through this corridor.

Monday, June 15, 2015

UberDRIVE: A Mobile Game To Recruit And Train Uber Drivers

The game is designed as a learning experience, in which players navigate a real city map (currently, it’s only San Francisco) and score points by taking the most efficient routes to passenger destinations. As a fun bonus, the game shares facts about city landmarks, and even has a trivia mode in which players have to point out certain destinations to riders — perhaps to help real Uber drivers become more knowledgeable conversationalists.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Toyota’s Single-Seat Electric Cars Debut at Japan Post Offices

Aichi prefecture-based Toyota Auto Body Co. said its vehicles, called Coms, will be the first electric vehicles in Japan to be used for mail delivery. The cars can reach a maximum speed of 60 kilometers an hour, and can run about 50 kilometers between charges. The all-electric cars can be fully charged in about six hours using regular household AC sockets, the company said. Coms are about 2.5 meters long and 1.1 meter wide and have no doors. The cars received special permission from the land ministry to carry double the load of similar sized vehicles, or up to 60 kilograms.

Self-driving cars may not need traffic lights, but pedestrians do

Without stoplights, self-driving cars will be able to harmoniously merge, turn, and navigate the road without causing traffic congestion. And no congestion means greatly reducing emissions that otherwise accumulate at intersections, all while increasing the number of cars that can pass through without being delayed. There's a problem with DriveWAVE's model, however. As The Atlantic's City Lab points out, the simulation doesn't take into account foot or bicycle traffic. It's enought to leave you wondering how autonomous vehicles will accommodate the enduring reality that is people moving around cities in things that aren't cars.

Will Ford's New F-150 Be a Game Changer for Alternative Fuels?

One thing that stood out at the recent ACT Expo alternative vehicle fuels conference in Dallas was the number of vehicles available from Ford Motor Co. Not only does Ford offer the typical hybrid and plug-in electric cars that appeal to many daily drivers, but the Blue Oval also has a lineup of vans, wagons, and trucks that can run on gas and diesel alternatives such as natural gas and propane. Ford's lineup of alt-fuel vehicles is easily the broadest in the industry.  At ACT Expo, Ford unveiled its 2016 F-150 with a twist: It is now available with a gaseous-prep version of its 5.0-liter V8 engine, meaning fleet operators looking to use cheaper, cleaner-burning natural gas or propane will very soon be able to buy this truck.

Low-Cost Electric Cars Are Disruptive, Not Tesla: Interview With Harvard's Thomas Bartman

“When people think of electric vehicles, they think of Tesla. But if you want to see the future of EVs it’s important to look elsewhere,” the article begins. “Despite glowing media reports, Tesla is not disruptive, and it will have trouble scaling as it seeks to grow,” writes the author Thomas Bartman, a member of the Forum for Growth and Innovation, a Harvard Business School think tank studying disruptive innovation.

Battle of zero-emissions cars: Hydrogen or electric?

Right now, Toyota and Hyundai are both betting on hydrogen power. Honda says it will soon follow. The really exciting thing about all of this, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell, is that, after decades of false starts, the era of zero emissions vehicles has finally arrived - and, in the opinion of this test driver, they seem pretty good.

Grid harmonic impact of multiple electric vehicle fast charging

Fast charging is perceived by users as a preferred method for extending the average daily mobility of electric vehicles (EV). The rated power of fast chargers, their expected operation during peak hours, and clustering in designated stations, raise significant concerns. On one hand it raises concerns about standard requirements for power quality, especially harmonic distortion due to the use of power electronics connecting to high loads, typically ranging from 18 to 24 kW h. On the other hand, infrastructure dimensioning and design limitations for those investing in such facilities need to be considered.

Electric Vehicle Sales Skyrocket & US Energy Dept Wants More, More, More

While the raw numbers are still a bit on the small side, electric vehicle sales in the US jumped 128% from 2012 to 2014, and the US Energy Department is determined to kick that momentum into high gear. In the latest development, the agency is calling on the nation’s electric utility industry for an assist. The new partnership was just announced earlier this week by Energy Secretary Ernst Moniz at the annual convention of the Edison Electric Institute in New Orleans.

Why Google's self-driving vehicles mean the end of car insurance

Yet consider how all this sifting of auto-insurance rates will position the company: Could Google turn this revenue-generating learning experience into a more lucrative opportunity to underwrite its own insurance policies and displace traditional carriers—especially once driverless cars become a reality? […] This broad understanding of how auto-related risks are priced in the competitive market could allow the company to insure tomorrow’s vehicles, or simply roll the cost of insurance into the retail price of Google’s own driverless car once it hits the market.

Chinese Search Giant Baidu Is Making a Driverless Car

The company's collaborators are unknown, though Baidu has previously worked with BMW on similar projects. The car will be a combination of user-controlled and driverless, and will include the option for drivers to take control of the pedals and steering wheel. (Google, on the other hand, has been testing completely autonomous cars, to the point that it has even taken out the steering wheel.)

Most Women Don’t Want a Driverless Car

Automakers will have to focus on women if they hope to make driverless cars mainstream, according to a NerdWallet survey that shows men are far more likely to express interest in the new technology. The survey of more than 1,000 Americans nationwide also exposes a sharp divide in views on self-driving vehicles between millennials and older Americans. Only 37% of women surveyed by NerdWallet expressed any interest in owning a self-driving car, while half of men expressed interest.

Google Now Reporting Self-Driving Car Accidents: Hey, It's Not The Car's Fault

So, Google is now posting monthly reports on accidents. “Given the time we’re spending on busy streets, we’ll inevitably be involved in accidents; sometimes it’s impossible to overcome the realities of speed and distance,” Google said in its May report.

How governments, changing attitudes could bring back carpooling

The once-common practice of carpooling could bring savings for commuters as well as provide environmental benefits and savings on road maintenance for local governments if more drivers adopted the practice, Tiffany Dovey Fishman writes. She suggests authorities should expand tax incentives and invest in infrastructure to support carpooling, as well as focus on younger drivers in key commuting corridors.

Vinli raises $6.5M to make post-1996 cars smart

Vinli wants to make any car built after 1996 "smart" with a plug that attaches to the car's OBD port, giving the vehicle a Wi-Fi hot spot and access to applications on the user's smartphone. Samsung Venture Investment Group and Cox Automotive are behind the $6.5 million in Series A funding for the company, which plans to launch the device this year with 20 apps, with an additional 120 in the works.

Kansas City, Mo., Cisco partner on smart city infrastructure

Kansas City, Mo., has partnered with network solutions firm Cisco to create and install a smart city framework to enhance public safety and experience in urban areas. The first phase of the project will collect real-time data for city lighting and smart parking, and will provide citizens with a mobile application to access services.

IHS: Market for autonomous car parts to hit $1.1B in 2020

The growing trend toward autonomous vehicles will boost the global market for driving components to $1.1 billion in 2020 from $742 million this year, according to IHS Automotive. "Autonomous driving will open the door for more high-tech companies to be suppliers of software, sensors and chips," said IHS Automotive's Egil Juliussen.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Denver cyclists can now trigger traffic signals without getting off their bike

When cyclists used to roll up on a light, they had to dismount, hit the button on the traffic signal and wait to cross the street. Now bike riders can stop on bright green pads at seven different intersections around Denver. A heat-sensing camera detects the presence of the bike and the signal will change, giving the rider an extra few seconds to make their way across the street. The Denver Regional Council of Governments provided about $100,000 to install the cameras.

Uber Spends Heavily to Establish Itself in China

While China represents huge scale as a market, it has fended off the entry of just about every major Western technology start-up. Uber, a five-year-old company that operates in more than 310 cities and 58 countries worldwide, faces homegrown Chinese rivals like Didi Kuaidi, which has more than 90 percent of the market and is backed by two of the largest Chinese Internet companies, Alibaba and Tencent. It may also have to grapple with a fickle central government that could shut it out of the market overnight.

Funding and Managing the U.S. Inland Waterways System: What Policymakers Need to Know

Panelists include committee members and invited discussants:
  • Chris Hendrickson, Committee Chair, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Michael Bronzini, Committee Member, George Mason University
  • Leonard Shabman, Committee Member, Resources for the Future
  • Jack Wells, U.S. Department of Transportation (retired)
  • Mike Toohey, Waterways Council, Inc.
  • Craig Philip, Vanderbilt Center for Transportation Research, and Ingram Barge Company (retired)
The panel will be moderated by: Steve Godwin, Transportation Research Board

Uber’s Travis Kalanick predicts future where it cuts car use

“City by city, Uber is changing the transportation status quo, offering a real alternative to a world that looks like a parking lot and moves like a traffic jam,” Kalanick said. “More innovations that make Uber cheaper than owning a car is what the next five years is all about,” he added, citing Uber Pool, in which passengers split a ride and the cost, as a good example. Uber Pool now accounts for almost half of all rides in San Francisco. Uber has experimented with using its network of drivers to deliver everything from hot meals to kittens. Kalanick made it clear that such deliveries are part of the company’s future. “In a world where technology can deliver the ride you need in five minutes, imagine all the other goods and services you can get delivered safely with the touch of a button,” he said.

ITS America webinar to focus on Off-the-Shelf Road Incident Management

The ITS America Webinar Series provides an opportunity to learn about developments in the ITS Industry and connect with other ITS professionals on a wide range of topics. At 2:00 p.m. EST on June 11, the topic will be Off-the-Shelf Road Incident Management, presented by GEWI, which recently implemented this system for a European customer. The session will focus on the advantages of a system that can be customized to each organizations specific response plan, based on the type of incident. Beyond accidents, the RIM system enables organizations to handle traffic infrastructure events as projects, managed by a team or teams, to engage the appropriate resources for response, provide ATIS as required, and keep all stakeholders informed though every step of the process.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Anthony Foxx: Welcome to Pittsburgh, ITS. Welcome to the future, America

This week in Pittsburgh, the Intelligent Transportation Society America holds its 25th Annual Meeting. And, while that might not mean much to most readers, I can tell you that the people gathering for this week's conference are making a difference in all of our lives by making our cars safer and our road travel more efficient. I can also tell you that Pittsburgh is a great place for this year's event because it is home to Carnegie Mellon University where, on a recent visit, I saw firsthand the promising automotive and roadway technologies that CMU students and faculty are developing.

Greg Winfree: Pittsburgh is helping to create the next generation of life-saving traffic technology

Just last month, Secretary Foxx visited Pittsburgh to view demonstrations of CMU achievements, such as a driverless vehicle, smart headlights that reduce glare and adjust to weather conditions, and traffic signals that adapt to traffic flow. The secretary commended the amazing technology being developed in the region, calling this “a watershed moment in transportation.” Pittsburgh residents should be proud of the region’s role in making America’s roadways safer.

Pittsburgh spotlights transit tech at ITS America Meeting and Expo

Carnegie Mellon University has been a pioneer in developing cars that will drive themselves and communicate with other vehicles and traffic infrastructure to make travel safer and faster. So-called autonomous and connected vehicles will be a major focus of the convention. “We will see automated vehicles on the streets in the next several years,” Mr. Feenstra said. With crashes and congestion costing the nation $1 trillion annually, the cars “will have a huge impact on our communities, our families and out nation as a whole,” he said.

Google's head of self-driving cars talks the promise, challenges of the technology

Delivering the keynote address at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America's annual meeting and exposition, held Monday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Urmson said much of Google's focus on self-driving technology is on making its cars understand what is normal behavior.
"We're at an incredible place in intelligent transportation systems and we're making incredible progress," he said. Urmson, who was hired by Google in 2009, has led the team that developed the Google Car. Prior to joining Google, Urmson earned his doctorate in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University and while there served as director of technology for the CMU team that won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge.

Key Carnegie Mellon, Uber players express optimism about robotics in Pittsburgh amid ‘tough period’

If the relationship between Carnegie Mellon University and San Francisco ride services company Uber has soured, it was not evident during a panel discussion at the Intelligent Transportation Society of America’s annual meeting on Wednesday. Andrew Moore, dean of CMU’s computer science school, and John Bares of Uber’s Advanced Technology Center in Lawrenceville sat alongside each other at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, both sounding optimistic about the future of the robotics industry in Pittsburgh.

How Uber's Driverless Cars Could Make Pittsburgh America's Next Great Tech Hub

Uber’s move to Pittsburgh and its hiring of CMU talent is good for the city. Universities are the talent magnets and anchors of the innovation-driven knowledge economy. But for decades, CMU has been generating talent and technology and subsequently losing them to more mature tech hubs like Silicon Valley. Uber’s location in Pittsburgh—and indeed, its hiring of top CMU researchers—signals that Pittsburgh has finally become a player in commercial technology. This will likely strengthen Pittsburgh’s talent magnet effect, attracting more top researchers and graduate students to the city and spurring the creation of more technology, more startups, and perhaps even a leading-edge industry cluster with Uber and CMU as its twin anchors.

ITS America Announces Winners for the 2015 Best of ITS Awards

“These awards recognize the leading transportation innovators who’ve effectively demonstrated a dedication to advancing ITS through innovative projects,” said Regina Hopper, President and CEO of ITS America. “These companies are moving the industry forward and proving that they will improve our quality of life. ITS America is proud to recognize them as solutions for a brighter future.”

Uber, other ride-sharing firms given green light to pick up passengers at Pittsburgh airport

“This policy is among the first of its kind in the country,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “Today Pittsburgh International joins airports including San Francisco, Denver, Nashville, Boston, Indianapolis and John Wayne Airport [in Santa Ana, Calif.] ... in permitting the popular ride-sharing companies to access more facilities.”

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute and partners unveil Virginia Automated Corridors during ITS America Annual Meeting

“Next-generation vehicle technologies can help transform our transportation system, from enhancing safety to supporting driver convenience,” said Tom Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. “Our goal with the Virginia Automated Corridors is to ensure automated-vehicle developers and suppliers have access to both a robust roadway environment and significant research support to create, test, and deploy systems that are beneficial to users.”

Why Uber located its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh

Uber Technologies Inc.'s decision to locate its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh was easy, according to Corey Owens, the company's head of global public policy: It's where the robotics talent is. "The best and the brightest minds in the field are already here and by keeping them here, we set Pittsburgh up to be one of the great mobility technology hubs in the world," Owens said, speaking at Intelligent Transportation Systems America's annual meeting, held Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

After weekend launch, bike share comes to Pittsburgh

Beneath the reflective peaks of the PPG Place Building Downtown in Market Square, Pittsburgh Bike Share launched its new Healthy Ride program Sunday morning. David White, executive director of Pittsburgh Bike Share, gathered in the square for a bicycle ride around Downtown. The program includes 50 stations connecting 11 Pittsburgh neighborhoods, including Oakland and Shadyside, each equipped with an abundance of baby blue and silver bicycles ready for renting and riding. 

Uber vs. Carnegie Mellon is positive for all

"My understanding by talking to the people there is the timing of this may not have been ideal but this really will continue to raise the profile of the institution," Rosensweig said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell." "You're going to see an influx of students wanting to go to this school. You're going to see an influx of professors wanted to be associated [with] it," he said.

He also thinks Carnegie Mellon and Uber will be now working closer together, not further apart.

NYC taxis are going high-tech

NYC cabs will be outfitted with "black box" data recorders to evaluate the safety of drivers. The boxes record data including speed, acceleration, braking and other “unsafe driving factors,” a press release said. The pilot program comes as part of Mayor de Blasio’s highly touted Vision Zero initiative, which has a mission of eliminating traffic fatalities. “The data collected by this piloted technology will help our industries reinforce good driving practices that will ultimately keep drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists as safe as possible,” TLC commissioner Meera Joshi said in a statement.

10 Best Cities in the U.S. to Own an Electric Car

Thinking about buying an electric car? While more people appear to be embracing these fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly rides, softening the financial investment in these cars is easier in certain cities.

L.A. Metro Transit Authority partners with Zipcar

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Friday that Zipcar rentals are now available at a number of Metro Transit Authority stops. Promoters hope the service will decrease congestion in the city.

Peterbilt debuts driverless truck in Texas

Executives at Peterbilt debuted their driverless-truck technology at Texas Motor Speedway last week and are looking to license it for road use in Nevada. Peterbilt's system uses precise GPS mapping to allow the truck to navigate autonomously without relying on road markings, unlike the Inspiration Truck introduced by Freightliner last month.

Ford Follows Tesla And Toyota In Releasing EV Patents

“As an industry, we need to collaborate while we continue to challenge each other,” said Kevin Layden, director of Ford electrification programs in a statement announcing the decision to release the patents. “By sharing ideas, companies can solve bigger challenges and help improve the industry.”

Why light electric vehicles will outpace cars before you know it

Light electric vehicles are commonly defined as “battery, fuel cell, or hybrid-powered 2-or-3-wheel vehicles generally weighing less than 200 pounds.” The most common LEV is an electric bicycle, though there are other kinds, such as scooters, pedicabs, and e-trikes. However, having green technology is not enough if it’s not used on a wide scale. Therefore, the only natural way for this to occur is if a green vehicle answers the needs of a large group of people. LEV might serve as the literal ‘vehicle’ of green change in urban living.

How Uber's Autonomous Cars Will Reshape The Economy By 2025

Autonomous cars will be commonplace by 2025 and have a near monopoly by 2030.
They will cause unprecedented job loss and a fundamental restructuring of our economy.
They will also solve large portions of our environmental problems, prevent deaths, save millions of hours with increased productivity, and create entire new industries.

Google’s self-driving cars have autonomously driven over 1 million miles

Google's driverless cars have hit the 1-million-mile benchmark of completely autonomous driving last week, the company said. "We're taking this million mile milestone as further proof that fully self-driving vehicles will become a reality, and we're looking forward to finding out where the next million miles will take us," Google's self-driving team said in a statement.

Volvo launches connected-car platform for Apple Watch

Volvo owners will be able to use their Apple Watch to control their cars with features that allow remote starting, climate control, vehicle location notifications and fuel level checks. Volvo is rolling out the Apple Watch edition of its On Call platform later this month. BMW and Porsche also offer connected-car services for the Apple Watch.

Toyota considers Ford's AppLink infotainment system

Engineers at Toyota are exploring the idea of replacing the company's Entune infotainment system with an open-source version of Ford's AppLink system, which would extend the telematics partnership announced between Ford and Toyota in 2011.

Self-flying drone is developed at Carnegie Mellon for infrastructure inspection

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute have created a self-guided drone that can stay within defined perimeters and collect "40,000 x-y-z points per second to build a point cloud of its surroundings." Called an Aerial Robotic Infrastructure Analyst, it uses a laser scanner and takes 3D images of an area to conduct infrastructure inspections.

California district debuts EV fast-charge station

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District is touting a fast-charge station capable of charging electric vehicle batteries up to 80% in 30 minutes. The station can accommodate most EVs and the fee of 22 cents per kilowatt-hour can be paid by smartphone or credit card.

Volkswagen debuts in-car technology in 2016 Golf

Drivers and passengers of the 2016 Volkswagen Golf will be able to control climate and sound systems as well as open and close the sunroof without touching a button, as VW debuts gesture technology in the upcoming line.