Friday, July 31, 2015

2015 IEEE 82nd Vehicular Technology Conference: VTC2015-Fall 6–9 September 2015, Boston, USA

The 2015 IEEE 82nd Vehicular Technology Conference will be held 6–9 September 2015 at the The Westin Boston Waterfront, in Boston, USA. This semi-annual flagship conference of the IEEE Vehicular Technology Society will bring together individuals from academia, government, and industry to discuss and exchange ideals in the fields of wireless, mobile, and vehicular technology. The conference will feature world-class plenary speakers, tutorials, and technical as well as application sessions.

Launch of BestMile mobile App for on-demand mobility

BestMile, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, has announced a mobile app for on-demand mobility, and especially for requesting an fully-autonomous shuttle operating on the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) campus. The shuttles are low-speed, electric, fully autonomous mini-buses such as those marketed by Navya and and Robosoft. The new app is available for iOS and Android smartphones.

Uber has announced a partnership with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA)

SmartRail World reports that Uber has announced a partnership with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) to help solve the challenge of passengers getting to or from the station or bus stop. Uber is offering Atlanta residents who are new to the service to sign up get their first trip free, up to a $20 value. MARTA CEO Keith Parker speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution acknowledged that Uber can help complete journeys for passengers using mass transit in Atlanta; “There are places that don’t make sense for us to add new bus or train service. This Uber partnership is to take care of that last mile of service.” For us at CAVCOE, this is an excellent example of how Uber -- and the AV version in the future -- can be complementary to traditional transit services. Any city seeking to ban Uber and similar services could well be, without realizing it, having a negative impact on a service that can actually help transit..

Google Self-Driving Car Project Monthly Report

This month we kicked off the next big phase of the project: testing our prototype vehicles on public streets. We’re still all about learning; now we want to know how the community perceives and interacts with these vehicles, and what operational challenges are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle. We’re continuing to test with our Lexus vehicles and we’ll gradually introduce more prototypes to the streets over the coming months.

Connected cars: For Apple, Android, it's win one, lose one

Toyota has tapped Telenav's Scout GPS Link as the operating system for its line of connected cars rather than Apple's CarPlay or Google's Android Auto platforms. Separately, Volkswagen said its second-generation infotainment system will support Apple, Android and MirrorLink. Toyota reportedly wants to retain control over the telematic software.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pennsylvania bills tap cameras, stiff penalties to address work zone safety

State lawmakers in Pennsylvania are pursuing changes that they believe would improve safety in active work zones throughout the state.
In 2014, there were 1,841 crashes that resulted in 24 deaths in work zones throughout Pennsylvania.
Automated enforcement cameras would be used to detect drivers exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 11 mph when workers are present. Registered owners of vehicles found in violation would receive $100 fines in the mail. No points would be added to a driver’s record. 

Can the Insurance Industry Survive Driverless Cars?

The industry is bracing for upheaval. Allstate Chief Executive Officer Tom Wilson’s futuristic worst-case scenario for the business—he calls it The Jetsons—has automation cutting the costs of accidents dramatically. The number of vehicles on roads drops, too, because people sign up for car sharing or other transportation services instead of owning their own set of wheels. Auto insurance premiums plateau for a decade, then decline precipitously. “There will be fewer cars. There will be fewer accidents. And it will be safer,” he says. “When you’re as big as we are and insure 16 million households, it doesn’t take much of a degradation to be a real revenue issue for you. So we are focused on it.”

Would you want a driverless car? 75% of the UK population don’t!

This week the [UK] government announced plans to put £20 million into the research of driverless cars. Thanks to this funding, autonomous cars are set to be trialled in the UK by the end of the year. With this in mind, OSV Ltd spoke to the UK population to find out if they wanted driverless cars. Surveys have previously been carried out when the conception of autonomous cars was first released. OSV wanted to find out if people’s opinions about driverless cars have changed now the research has developed. The results from the survey carried out by OSV Ltd were overwhelming! 75% of the UK population said they did not want an autonomous car. People from England are even more against driverless cars with 82% saying they wouldn’t want one. People from Scotland are slightly more keen than other countries in the UK with 26% admitting they would want a driverless car.

L.A.'s Bold Plan to Bring Car-Share to the Poor

L.A. is known as a driving city, but public transit has drastically expanded there in recent years. That same transit expansion has had the unfortunate effect of pushing low-income residents out of the improved areas as property values rise, says community organizer Sandra McNeill. As executive director of T.R.U.S.T South L.A., she works to stabilize housing and transportation for the communities getting displaced by new development. She supports car-sharing as a way to keep down costs of living so low-income residents avoid being displaced. “If they can then defer purchase of a vehicle or sell off a vehicle, there can be tremendous savings that can help stabilize a family,” McNeill says.

Foxx: Volpe Center is transforming transportation

The team at Volpe, the National Transportation Systems Center, is working to provide solutions for a range of transportation issues facing the U.S., Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx writes. Volpe is collaborating with DOT organizations on crash avoidance system research and developing "smart cities" with more efficient transportation solutions, he notes.

Our Cities Will Be Beautiful In The Driverless Future—But First We Have To Get There

The first thing you'd notice is the space. Today, cars spend 95% of their time parked, doing nothing. If those cars were employees, you’d fire them. But self-driving cars can be put to work. At the very least, they could park themselves in underground or multi-story lots away from busy downtown, where space is scarce.

But why stop there? Your car could spend its day working as hard as you, operating as an Uber-style taxi, or a delivery vehicle. This all leads to fewer parked cars, which in turn means more space for bike lanes and larger sidewalks. Instead of parked cars lining every downtown street, we might see park benches or street vendors, making the whole space much more livable for humans.

Now take a deep breath. The air will be cleaner. One recent study claims a 94 percent reduction in emissions if all taxis were self-driving and electric. Multiply that by all the cars on the road and city air could be as fresh as country air, and probably better-smelling.

Electric cars: An overwhelming maze of options for plug-in vehicles

“There is no commonality between the plugs fitted to electric vehicles, meaning that drivers could arrive at a charging point and find they don’t have an adapter to enable recharging to proceed,” says John Pryor, chairman of fleet operators’ association ACFO.

Wireless charging for electric cars inches closer to reality

Wireless charging could be a big deal for electric vehicles, allowing drivers to top up their car's batteries just by parking in the right spot, but right now the technology simply isn't available. One of the leaders in the market is Qualcomm, which has fitted its Halo system of inductive chargers to Formula E course cars and other test vehicles, but has yet to push the technology into a broader market. To this end, Qualcomm announced a new deal today with Swiss electric car parts maker Brusa, allowing the firm to develop, manufacture, and supply its Halo charging plates to other companies. There's no solid news on what's next for Halo, but Brusa says it's working with "several leading automakers" to introduce wireless charging to their cars "in the near future." (Brusa had previously signed a deal with wireless power tech firm WiTricity as well.)

BMW's Plan to Prevent Electric Cars From Overwhelming the Grid

“The utilities buy and manage power to meet peak loads,” says advanced technology engineer Julia Sohnen, who works on sustainable transportation at BMW’s Silicon Valley technology office. “It’s our hope to show that we can shift the flexible load of electric vehicle charging to help the utility more efficiently use the existing resource. If we can manage the hours that we charge our electric vehicles maybe they can install fewer plants to meet those peak loads.”

Register today for the 2015 National Rural ITS Conference ITS in Snowbird, Utah

The 2015 National Rural ITS Conference is just around the corner! ITS Rocky Mountain serves as the host for this year's conference which will provide participants an opportunity to network and share experiences within and across a wide variety of ITS disciplines. In addition to traditional ITS topics, this event will bring together both traditional and non-traditional ITS users to address such issues as rural safety, multi-agency coordination and workforce development, as well as EMS and transit issues. The many different training and networking opportunities available through this event will provide participants with the tools necessary to effectively plan and deploy ITS technologies within their own jurisdictions.

Ride-sharing networks are not capturing business market

Ride-sharing services total 11% of ground business transportation, compared to the combined 60% for taxis and rental cars, a Global Business Travel Association study says. The data found that concerns about traveler safety and insurance coverage prevent one in four businesses from allowing staff to use ride-sharing networks for business travel. 

Automakers use software to give vehicles human-like senses

Mass-market automakers such as Nissan have already given customers a taste of sensor fusion with in-dash parking monitors that stitch together four camera images to generate a virtual bird's-eye view. Yet the technology will get a much bigger test next year. GM sees sensor fusion as a crucial enabler of Super Cruise, which will allow customers to zoom down the highway without touching the wheel or the pedals. It is slated to make its debut just over a year from now in the 2017 Cadillac CT6, a large sedan that GM has positioned as a technological showcase.

Blame Uber for Congestion in Manhattan? Not So Fast

Now that the honking by so many spokesmen, pundits and celebrity investors has subsided — and Uber has dribbled out a small bit of data, for the first time, about its business in New York — we can attempt to answer the question they were fighting over: Is Uber actually responsible for slower rush-hour traffic?

ASCE's Stevens: Technology can advance U.S. infrastructure if we invest

The Interstate Highway System, made possible with the establishment of the Highway Trust Fund, revolutionized the country and left a lasting legacy, writes ASCE President Robert Stevens. But he contends the country has lost its way and needs to establish a new vision for infrastructure. ASCE's "Infrastructure Game Changers" report notes new advances in energy, water, freight and transportation technology that, if invested in and replicated, would make infrastructure "fit for the future" and able to "handle tomorrow's challenges."

Daimler hopes to test driverless trucks in Germany before end of 2015

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) newspaper reported Daimler board member Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard as saying that the company is confident of obtaining approval for testing self-driving, but manned, trucks on German motorways within "the coming weeks". Bernhard said the company will start testing as soon as approval is given, according to an automated translation of the newspaper's report.

Pedestrian Forum Newsletter for FHWA Safety Program

The Summer 2015 Newsletter is now posted.

Slow electric vehicle uptake costing Australian economy millions

Australia’s “do-nothing” approach to the uptake of electric vehicles could cost the economy more than $350 million over the next 20 years, a new report has found, at an environmental cost of one million tonnes in added carbon emissions. Electric vehicle uptake in Australia has been painfully slow, with recent reports suggesting just over 1000 EVs were currently driving Australian roads, representing just 0.01 per cent of the market.

CEO: Upgrade planned for car2go

I sat down with Paul DeLong, the president and chief executive of car2go North America to discuss the car-sharing platform’s growth and its path ahead.

GM unveils $14M testing facility for autonomous tech

The facility covers seven distinct test sites over 52 acres at the company's Milford Proving Grounds and provides a wide open space to test the latest in autonomous and semi-autonomous driving-assist technologies. One year after recalling nearly 30 million vehicles for various safety issues General Motors showed its new $14 million Active Safety Test Area in Milford to the media Friday.
"We're focused on developing a zero-defect environment," said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president for global product development and supply chain. "Safety is integrated into all of our values."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Glimpse into the Global NGV Refueling Market

In order for any alternative to gasoline or diesel to be viable as a transportation fuel, readily available refueling infrastructure is a necessary component of the ecosystem. However, the report does say natural gas (NG) has proven to be one of the most popular alternatives to traditional liquid fuels in many global markets, with compressed natural gas (CNG) being far more common than liquefied natural gas (LNG). Interestingly, the report says more than 80% of new NG refueling stations are expected to be CNG facilities in order to support light-duty NGVs, which are projected to account for 90% of the global NGV fleet at the end of the forecast period.

TomTom and Bosch to produce highly accurate maps for autonomous cars

Current maps are not of high enough quality to keep driverless cars on the straight and narrow, hence TomTom's desire to improve what it already has. Bosch board member Dirk Hoheisel said in a statement: "Only with high precision maps will automated driving on freeways be possible from 2020." The partnership means TomTom will design the maps, while Bosch will define the specifications these maps need to meet. The maps are already being used in automated vehicles tested by Bosch on certain public roads in Germany and the US - specifically the A81 and I280 respectively.

Automakers try integrated tablets to retain backseat business

With more people bringing tablets into cars for entertainment, BMW and Audi designed their own. Here are 3 things automakers' tablets can do that an iPad cannot.
1. Keep people safer in crashes.
2. Work in extreme conditions.
3. Tap into the car's electronics.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

First Annual Symposium on Transportation Informatics - SUNY Buffalo

TransInfo, one of the leading transportation research centers in the United States that is supporting the Internet of Things (IoT) big data revolution and the only Tier 1 University Transportation Center in the nation that specializes in transportation informatics, invites you to join fellow distinguished practitioners, academicians, policy makers, and industry for an inaugural event Big Data Analytics Transforming Transportation Operations, Management and Safety.More>>

How Bosch and TomTom are capitalizing on the driverless car movement

Barclays plc analyst Brian A. Johnson once told me that mapping has emerged as the Spice (a Dune reference for the unfamiliar) of the disruptive mobility universe.
And he’s right. It seems everyone is grappling for a piece of the mapping tech pie.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Why do carmakers want a slice of Nokia’s maps?

Now, rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have joined forces to buy Nokia’s alternative to Google Maps, if rumours are to be believed...
Cab app Uber was first named as a contender when Nokia put the business up for sale this year. It opened its own research centre to improve mapping technology for cabs as well as driverless features in partnersip with renowned Carnegie Mellon university in the US. But sources have told Reuters that a deal with a group of German carmakers is almost signed.
The deal would place the German car manufacturers at a distinct advantage from other carmakers in the connected and driverless car race, and offer revenue streams promised to more digital business models.

Driverless Cars: Disrupting Government Reliance On Petty Traffic Enforcement

Self-driving cars are on the way, and in their wake, they'll leave a variety of entities slightly less better off. Insurance companies may be the first to feel the pinch, as less-than-risk-averse drivers are replaced with Electric Grandmothers more than willing to maintain safe speed limits and the proper distance between vehicles. And as goes the car accident, so go other areas of the private sector: personal injury/DUI lawyers, hospitals, body shops, red light camera manufacturers, towing companies, etc.

NHTSA Chief: Agency reviewing safety rules for automated cars

The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Monday the agency is reviewing federal vehicle safety rules to determine if they could conflict with self-driving vehicle systems that Google Inc and others want to put on the road.
The agency is looking at a list of rules that could affect the rollout of features such as Tesla Motors Inc's "autopilot" hands-free driving system or General Motors Co's proposed "super cruise" system, NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind told reporters.
"We are trying to figure out if innovation will run up against regulations," he said.

13th APTA/TRB Joint National Light Rail and Streetcars Conference: Transforming Urban Areas

TRB is co-sponsoring the 13th APTA/TRB Joint National Light Rail and Streetcars Conference: Transforming Urban Areas on November 15-17, 2015, in Minneapolis, Minnesota...
The conference is designed to explore the latest issues and trends in light rail research and practice related to planning, design, construction, and operations and maintenance. The theme of the conference is the role of light rail in providing mobility in the evolving international metropolitan environment.

TRB Webinar: Innovative Intersections for Pedestrians and Bicycles

TRB will conduct a webinar on August 19, 2015, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm ET that will examine how to integrate pedestrian and bicycle facilities into innovative intersection designs, such as diverging diamond interchanges and superstreets. Webinar presenters will also cover how conventional intersection design may be reinvented for non-motorized users.

First driverless car trials in Southern Hemisphere to be held in Adelaide, coinciding with international conference

The first on-road trials of driverless cars in the Southern Hemisphere will take place in Adelaide's southern suburbs in November.
Volvo will conduct the testing in conjunction with Flinders University, Carnegie Mellon University, the RAA and Cohda Wireless and Bosch, which has engineers in Australia developing driverless technology.
The trials will take place on the Southern Expressway on November 7 and 8, with multiple vehicles conducting manoeuvres such as overtaking, lane changing, emergency braking and the use of on and off ramps.

Intelligent Traffic Systems On The New Tappan Zee Bridge

We’ve all been there. What should be a five minute ride across the Tappan Zee Bridge turns into 10, 15 or 20 minutes, making you miss the next train to Grand Central or have the trip back to Rockland take longer than you’d like. When the new Tappan Zee Bridge opens in 2018, traffic won’t magically disappear — but transportation officials say that a new Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) will help avoid many of the delays we have today.

FHWA Unveils New Tunnel Inspection Program

Up until now, FHWA has provided tunnel inspection guidance but had no means by which to require tunnel owners, such as State DOTs or other transportation agencies, to inspect tunnels.  In addition, tunnel inspection methods have varied widely.
With this new program, FHWA will compile an inventory of the nation’s tunnels and begin to develop a national database similar to the National Bridge Inventory.

Consumers Are Not Very Confident About Their Safety In ‘Self Driving Cars’: Research

A recent study conducted by researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, reveals that consumers prefer to have full or some control over their cars. The research was conducted on 505 respondents who were over the age of 18 years and 52.9 percent of the respondents were females.
The research on acceptable levels of vehicle automation done by Schoettle and Sivak revealed that 43.8 percent of respondents preferred no self-driving features, whereas, 40.6 percent of the respondents expressed that they would prefer partially self-driving features. Surprisingly, only 15.6 percent respondents said, they would prefer completely self driving vehicles, reports

Two visions emerge for getting self-driving cars on road

Traditional automakers like Mercedes and Toyota already make vehicles equipped with systems that keep cars within their lanes, apply the brakes or park by themselves. Their plan is to gradually automate more functions of driving until, perhaps by 2025, some cars will be fully capable of driving themselves.
But Google, Alibaba, Baidu and other tech companies are aggressively working on their own self-driving vehicles, and could leapfrog the car industry in bringing them to market. Google, for instance, promises to deliver a self-driving car in five years.

News story: UK to lead the way in testing driverless cars

The government has today (19 July 2015) launched a £20 million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles, along with a code of practice for testing.
The measures announced by Business Secretary Sajid Javid and Transport Minister Andrew Jones will put the UK at the forefront of the intelligent mobility market, expected to be worth £900 billion by 2025.

Chinese-built zero-emissions electric bus prepares for service in London

For years, London’s red doubledecker buses have dominated the capital, where nearly 1,000 routes are operated by 8,700 buses, many of them doubledeckers. Although there has been a gradual move to hybrid vehicles, many are still diesel-powered.
This will all change in October, when the world’s first pure electric zero-emission doubledecker bus, designed and built by Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD, will enter service in London.


Uber: When Big Data Threatens Local Democracy

Big data is threatening to crush local democracy across the country--and if it succeeds, it may distort local transit and infrastructure development for decades to come.  As Uber has sought to dominate the local taxi industry from Delhi to New York City, the company has deployed its multi-billion dollar venture capital war chest to fight politicians across the country and world, often ignoring local laws as it introduced its app and drivers into the heavily regulated taxi industry.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Google self-driving car involved in accident, but humans are to blame

Earlier this year, The Christian Science Monitor reported that self-driving car accidents could delay autonomous technology by potentially slowing the testing process.“Teaching self-driving cars to avoid serious accidents, which have the potential to reverse public opinion and stall innovation, is a priority for many companies developing autonomous vehicles,” the Monitor cited Raj Rajkumar, a pioneer of the technology with Carnegie Mellon University.
However, as Google continues to release information on any accidents in which its driverless cars are involved, Urmson says the cars which use a number of sensors to interpret the environment around it are less likely to cause accidents.

Road Diets: Lanes Slimmed Down on Residential Streets

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of deaths and injuries on our streets from people walking and biking,” said Kathleen Ferrier of Circulate San Diego, a regional nonprofit advocacy group for better transportation. “With Road Diets, safety is increased hugely and the number of crashes are reduced between almost 20 and 50 percent,” she said.
In a Road Diet, a four lane road is typically reduced to a two lane road. The lanes taken away are replaced with dedicated bike lanes.

VDOT Installing Safety Upgrades on I-64 on Afton Mt.

The $4.6 million effort to improve safety and traffic flow on Interstate 64 over Afton Mountain is approaching its final construction and testing phases. Over the next several weeks, contractors will begin installing new dynamic message signs, traffic cameras and weather-detection devices along the interstate between mile markers 94 and 107. This work is part of the Active Traffic and Safety Management System (ATSMS) through Augusta, Nelson and Albemarle counties.

Release 2.2 of the Research Data Exchange (RDE) and New Connected Vehicle Data Sets Are Now Available

The RDE is a web-based data resource provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Program. It collects, manages, and provides access to archived and real-time multi-source and multi-modal data to support the development and testing of ITS applications.
The RDE now contains two new data environments associated with intersection queues and weather sensing applications, which were demonstrated during the 2014 ITS World Congress in Detroit, MI, and are available for download:

Latest weapon to fight distracted driving: virtual reality

T&T is counting on virtual reality to help reduce the number of potentially fatal automobile accidents.
The wireless carrier is letting you take the wheel of a car virtually to simulate what can happen the instant you turn your attention away from the road to respond to a beeping cell phone or to text.
As you drive along suburban streets, and eventually a highway, the simulation presents everyday obstacles — kids in the crosswalk, cyclists and joggers, vehicles swerving in traffic — eventually to devastating effect.

UM set to open driverless-car test site Mcity on Monday

The University of Michigan will officially open its new testing site for connected and driverless cars on Monday.
The 32-acre testing grounds, called Mcity, are designed to simulate urban and suburban roads with a network of controlled intersections, traffic signals, streetlights, sidewalks, construction obstacles and more, the university said in a release.
The $6.5 million test track is operated by UM’s Mobility Transformation Center and is an extension of a $22 million, federally funded pilot program to study connected vehicle technologies at the university.

Trying to Win the Public’s Trust With Autonomous Cars, at 120 M.P.H.

Markus Hoffmann, an engineer at Audi, prepared himself for a high-speed run around the Sonoma Raceway here in Northern California.
But instead of grabbing the steering wheel, he clutched a button he would release only if something went awry. The car, which he called Robby, was going to negotiate the two-and-a-half-mile Nascar track by itself — at 120 miles an hour.
“If something goes wrong, I’ll take over,” he said, giving a thumbs-up to engineers in the stands.

We 'drove' a self-driving Bosch car. It was boring as hell, but then that's the point

Bosch, maker of everything from washing machines to laser beams, is plotting an army of thinking robocars. We've had a ride in one of them and it was… You know… Alright. Whatevs, really.Our demo took place at the company's own test track near Boxberg in Germany.

Here’s an Update on Google’s Driverless Car Program

In a talk at TED 2015, the head of Google’s driverless car program, Chris Urmson, said Google was committed to releasing this technology in less than 5 years.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

How bad are road, bridge conditions in your state?

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released a table about the road and bridge conditions for each state. Indiana takes top honors for the best road conditions, while Illinois and Connecticut are tied for the last place. The nation's poor road and bridge conditions cost each motorist an average of $300 annually. Nearly half the country's roads and more than 25% of its bridges are in "poor" condition.

Swedish firm’s electric 3-wheeler Zbee set to hit Indian roads

“We are expecting clearance from ARAI within two-three weeks and start the pilot project before August 15 in Delhi,” Anil Arora, country head at Clean Motion India told Financial Chronicle. The company has tied up with DLF, one of the largest commercial real estate developers in India to kick off this last mile connectivity for commuters project Delhi. As a pilot project, about 25 electric vehicles would connect DLF Place Saket mall with Malviya Nagar Metro Station. “The Zbee is scheduled for launch before August 15 to operate a cluster of 25 vehicles from DLF Place to Malviya Nagar Metro Station,” Goran Folksson, CEO at Clean Motion told Financial Chronicle said. In the second phase, these vehicles are likely to be used in Cyber City hub, Gurgaon, and eventually cover all 100 smart cities in the country. “We are into smart transportation and our vehicles are very popular in Europe. Since last one year, Zbee vehicles have become popular plying on the roads in Malaysia. We also see them as an integral part of the smart cities in India with great potential for growth,” Folksson said.

HopSkipDrive, The Uber For Kids, Picks Up $3.9 Million In Seed Funding

Here’s how it works:
Parents schedule a ride with a ‘CareDriver’ and are sent a short bio for that driver, a picture, and are required to enter in a code word for the ride. The parent then relays that information to the child, and then to the school or daycare organization from which the kid is getting picked up. That way, little Tommy or Patty knows how to identify their ‘CareDriver’ through both the photo and the code word.
Parents can track the ride in real time through the app and have multiple methods of contacting the driver at any time.

Tax Challenges For The Uber Economy

The sharing economy. The collaborative economy. The Uber economy. It goes by many names. Whatever you call it, the phenomenon of specialized on-line marketplaces connecting small businesses with customers is growing by leaps and bounds. The primary builders of these marketplaces are tech-savvy, venture-capital-fed firms like Uber and Lyft (taxilike transportation services), Airbnb and Homeaway (short-term residential rentals), Instacart (grocery delivery), Lending Club (small-scale finance), and TaskRabbit (household errands). In theory, a reliable and comprehensive tax system should be readily able to adapt to a changing economy. But our tax system is held together with duct tape and clings to 20th-century business models. So the disruption to markets caused by the rise of the sharing businesses is poking holes in the existing tax apparatus.

ITS America to moderate Senate and House Auto Caucus briefing on V2V

The Senate and House Auto Caucuses will host a briefing titled, Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications Update: Paving the Road to an Even Safer Future, on Wednesday, July 15 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. in Room 385 Russell Senate Office Building. ITS America President and CEO Regina Hopper will moderate the discussion, which will feature distinguished panelists including Dr. Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and the Michigan Mobility Transformation Center; Nat Beuse, associate administrator for Vehicle Safety Research at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; Mary Brown, senior director, Government Affairs at Cisco; and Harry Lightsey, executive director, Global Connected Customer Experience at General Motors. ITS America is pleased to join the Auto Alliance and Global Automakers in sponsoring the briefing. 
To attend, please RSVP to

Report: Highways could feature self-driving trucks in 10 years

Self-driving trucks could be on U.S. highways in 10 years, a Frost & Sullivan study said. The challenge will be implementing the necessary sensors and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications network nationwide. "If there is a clear path for these technologies to develop and for these driving assistance systems to merge with these infrastructure systems, I think automated trucks and automated fleet-management systems could very well be a reality," said Frost & Sullivan's Archana Vidyasekar.

VW joins Europe's V-Charge project

Volkswagen said it is joining the European Union's V-Charge research project to develop self-parking, self-charging vehicles designed to save drivers time. V-Charge, or Valet Charge, automates the valet parking and EV charging process using 3D maps, onboard cameras and smartphone applications.

Auto industry plans cooperation to boost vehicles' cybersecurity

A dozen automakers say they will establish an information-sharing and analysis center to battle the threat of vehicle hacking as the industry increasingly relies on onboard computers and moves toward self-driving vehicles. "We're acting now to get ahead of the curve to be able to collect and share this information," said Robert Strassburger of the Auto Alliance.

How swarming traffic lights could save drivers billions of dollars

Maybe you’ve muttered it to yourself, in a moment frustration, as you tap the steering wheel and stare at a persistent red. As Dr. Steven Smith points out, it’s literally true. “The way conventional systems work, you preprogram those timing systems in advance,” he explains. “But as soon as you install them, they start to age. Patterns and flows are continually evolving.”

The Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle sets driving range record

For folks looking for the next big thing, look toward the Toyota Mirai, a vehicle that Toyota folks say has “officially proven itself as the future of mobility.” During the recent Aspen Ideas Festival in Aspen, Colorado, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz announced that Mirai offers an EPA-estimated 67 miles per gallon city/highway/combined and the new vehicle is set to hit dealerships this fall in California.

Renesas, Audi are collaborating on automotive control systems

Audi and Renesas Electronics are working to produce semiconductor devices for automotive control systems. The collaboration will examine newer chip applications such as automated drive and the connected car.

Daimler invests $50M for Zonar's tracking tech

Daimler Trucks North America is investing $50 million for fleet tracking technology from Seattle-based Zonar Systems, making the Portland-based truck company a minority stakeholder in Zonar. But Daimler's $50 million does not lock Zonar into an exclusivity agreement. "We will continue to make our own products that sell to all fleets," said Zonar's Brett Brinton.

State With Dirtiest Power Grid Had Highest Electric-Car Incentive, But Now Only For Natural-Gas, LPG Cars (UPDATED)

UPDATE: West Virginia's tax credit for Alternative-Fuel Vehicles remained in effect for several years, but in 2013, the state's legislature redefined which types of vehicles were eligible for the credit. Electric cars purchased after April 14, 2013, no longer qualify for the credit, which is now restricted solely to vehicles fueled by natural gas and liquified petroleum gas.

Global Fleet Of Autonomous EVs May Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 90 Percent

Berkeley researchers were surprised by how efficient such a system would actually be, despite the relatively high cost of electric vehicles today. “You don’t often find that, where the cheapest is also the greenest,” Jeff Greenblatt, co-author of the study, was quoted as saying by Popular Science. He estimated that a fleet about 15 percent of the size of all private cars could service the same population, if scheduled correctly.

Study: It 'Behooves' PA Fleets to Explore Alt-Fuel Options

A new, state-funded report examines the opportunities and bottlenecks for natural gas and propane autogas as a transportation fuel in Pennsylvania. The main conclusion: It is worth a local fleet operator's time to at least consider a switch to the alternative fuels. Using a grant provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center (SGICC) commissioned the study. The SGICC says the report is meant to serve as an educational tool for anyone thinking about purchasing or converting to compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) or propane vehicles, or installing a natural gas fueling station.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Turn Your Conventional Car Into a Driverless One for 10 Grand

For $10,000, an RP-1 installation converts your crummy old conventional car into a lovely futuristic driverless one. That blanket offer comes with some limitations we’ll get to below, but Cruise seems like a viable entrant to the autonomous vehicle game; it just received road-testing permit from the California DMV, placing it alongside the likes of Google, Mercedes, Tesla, and other major players in the field.

Monday, July 13, 2015

CMU experiment aspires to make Pittsburgh world’s first ‘smart city’

“Our goal is to, within a year, turn a lot of the space we have access to as faculty into smart spaces that students, faculty, staff and visitors can interact with. Then our goal is to push it out to the city,” said Anind K. Dey, director of CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute and lead investigator for the undertaking. In coming months, everything from coffee pots to bus stops on campus will be fitted with wireless sensors and accelerometers for GIoTTO — the name of a Google-sponsored project — that will turn everyday items into Web-enabled tools and encourage cooperation between those items and existing Internet-connected products such as smartphones or smart thermostats.

Uber and Manhattan Gridlock Are Rising Together

How responsible is Uber for the 9 percent drop in Manhattan travel speeds that New York City transportation officials reported last month? The answer appears to be: quite a lot. If — and it’s a big if — the surge in use of Uber and other app-based car services is not offset by a decline in use of yellow cabs and private autos, then three-quarters of the speed reduction can be laid at the feet of Uber, Lyft, et al. That’s according to my “Balanced Transportation Analyzer” (BTA) traffic modelthat calculates benefits from toll plans like Move NY, but can also assess the impact of almost any traffic-related change in NYC, especially Manhattan.

Google is launching a ridesharing app, skirting the legal minefields of Uber

The news follows longstanding rumors that Google would at some point upend the transportation industry with a fleet of self-driving cars. RideWith takes a different tack, recruiting work commuters who want to earn some cash by picking up other commuters on their way to work. In theory, the emphasis on non-professional drivers distinguishes the project from ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft, or Gett, since drivers and passengers are limited to commuters for a maximum of two rides a day. It should also benefit from more driving data than other car-sharing apps like France’s BlaBlaCar, which bought German carpooling app Carpooling and grew rapidly this year. Its driver intel will be used to pair up drivers and riders taking the same route, according to Reuters.

Mercedes E-Class will offer "Intelligent Drive" features

The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan will offer safety and autonomous driving features when it hits the U.S. next spring. The "Intelligent Drive" advances, which include steering assistance for outmaneuvering obstacles, are "designed as an open system to integrate future developments and future innovations," said Michael Hafner of Mercedes-Benz.

Transportation authority grants permission for driverless car testing

A testing hub for self-driving cars and smart traffic technologies is being developed on a 2,100-acre site at the Concord Naval Weapons Station north of Concord, Calif. Honda and Mercedes-Benz have signed up to be among the five automakers and 15 tech companies to use the GoMentum Station. The local transportation authority is also identifying incentives for companies relocating R&D centers or satellite offices in Concord.

Friday, July 10, 2015


Raj Rajkumar has helped lead the school's efforts for the past 15 years as a professor of computer and electrical engineering. He also heads a spinoff company that is developing autonomous car software.  Here are Rajkumar's answers to questions about the fast-moving technology, edited for length and clarity.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

BMW's all-electric truck hits Munich streets

In Munich, the truck will complete a short 1.2-mile trip between BMW's factory and its supplier SCHERM up to eight times a day for a total daily journey of under 10 miles. Once the truck's battery is depleted, a three- to four-hour charge using renewable energy resources will refill it, meaning the truck can work all day without needing a charge.

Uber wants to purchase 500K Tesla autonomous cars

Tesla's Steve Jurvetson said that Uber's chief is interested in purchasing half a million autonomous cars in 2020 if the company can build them.

Are we on the brink of an electric car revolution?

Electric car sales have fallen far short of predictions, but the global push to cut carbon emissions and improved techology could see them poised to hit the mainstream, says Renault-Nissan’s head, Carlos Ghosn.

Volkswagen is researching super battery to boost electric car range

German carmaker Volkswagen is looking into "super battery" technology, which could represent a "quantum leap for the electric car," Volkswagen Chairman Martin Winterkorn said. The new technology could boost electric car batteries by up to 100 miles over current batteries offered by the company.

Ford brings BlackBerry interface to cars this summer

Ford Motor Co. is planning a summer debut for its new wireless-based Sync 3 in-car software with BlackBerry's QNX operating system, which replaces Microsoft's platform. Research showed most drivers found the original interface, MyFord Touch, too confusing.

Uber Should Tell You Where To Get Picked Up

One-way streets. Roads with nowhere to pull over. Forbidden U-turns. Sometimes your current location isn’t the most convenient place for Uber to pick you up. Walking 15 seconds around the corner or across the street to a better spot could cut five minutes off waiting to get picked up on or the journey. That’s why Uber, Lyft, and other car services should tell us where to get picked up. A “Suggested Pickup Location” feature could save time and money for drivers and passengers.
[Update 7/8/2015: Uber apparently agrees. The company is now testing “Suggested Pickup Points” in San Francisco]

The State Of Driverless Cars - TED Talk

A new TED Talk from the head of Google's driverless car program indicates that we might be closer to the big revolution than we think. What is more, Chris Urmson thinks that we have already proved that driverless cars are far, far more reliable than even the best driver.

Why Driving an Electric Car on the East Coast Creates More Pollution Than a Gas Car

We all know by now that electric cars are great for the environment for their lack of emissions, but a surprising new study has found that, at least on the East Coast, electric vehicles actually create more air pollution than regular gas-powered cars. The study compared the air pollution created by gas and electric cars by looking at county-level statistics of total pollution. Researchers found very contrasting results between the West and East Coast.

Why don’t we drive more electric vehicles?

One surefire way to get that message across is to give people an EV experience, according to Pam Fletcher, the chief engineer for EVs at General Motors (GM). "The people that have owned and lived with EVs can understand it, they've seen how the vehicles work for them, It's part of the learning curve and more people will understand it over time," she said. "It's hard to explain to people the benefits if they haven't had that experience."

Electric vehicle startup Orange EV gets its first orders

Orange EV, a startup company making heavy-duty electric vehicles, says it is filling its first orders — for manufacturing and distribution facilities in Chicago. The financial terms and customer identities were not disclosed, though the buyers might make announcements after the vehicles have been in service awhile.  Orange EV, which has focused on retrofitting terminal trucks with its electric motors, said the orders were an important step after announcing in April that its vehicles were commercially available.

Self-driving cars will cost cities, futurists say

Self-driving cars and other emerging technologies are going to cut into municipal budgetsnationwide, a panel of futurists says. Imagine this brave new world:
• Autonomous cars that never speed, never run red lights — and owners who never get popped for drunken driving or pay a dime for traffic tickets.
• Robotic vehicles that deliver people and goods anywhere — and choke off income taxes from displaced taxi drivers and delivery-truck drivers.

Google driverless cars in accidents again, humans at fault — again

Google's autonomous cars were once again involved in accidents while out mapping the streets of Mountain View, Calif. But in both instances, as with the dozen or so previous incidents over years of testing, humans in other vehicles were at fault, according to Google.

This almost-but-not-quite-driverless car is smarter than your car

There are many, many good things about smarter cars, the most important being that they will drastically reduce serious accidents, stopping the driver from doing harm. Hell, as we well know, is other drivers. Globally, 1.2 million people die every year from car accidents, 93 percent caused by human error, according to Carnegie Mellon engineering professor Raj Rajkumar, who is working on driverless technology.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

USDOT - Fundamental Issues for Road Transport Automation - Webinar

The U.S. Department of Transportation is hosting a series of webinars on the key issues and opportunities facing automated vehicle and transportation systems. Fundamental Issues for Road Transport Automation is the first in this series of webinars produced from the 2015 Automated Vehicles Symposium. This 90-minute webinar will explore the issues that need to be addressed to advance the deployment of automated road transport systems.

Ford gearing up fast for Self-driving Cars

Mark Fields, the President and CEO of Ford said, "We now are moving from experimentation to implementation. 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 – just as Henry Ford did more than 100 years ago.”

This is why self-driving cars will be programmed to let cyclists rule the roads

...In the case of interactions between cars and people outside cars (pedestrians and cyclists), the cars will have to be programmed to behave “deferentially”.This deference would clearly become obvious to pedestrians and cyclists and, secure in the knowledge that they were now kings and queens of the road, their behaviour would surely change. Pedestrians would no longer cower at the roadside trying to judge whether gaps in the traffic could see them safely to the other side. They would be liberated to stride confidently into the road, knowing that traffic would stop for them. 

Electric 'robocabs' would reduce US greenhouse emissions by 94% – study

Andy Eastlake, managing director of the UK-based Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, agreed that autonomous electric vehicles can provide significant environmental benefits. “There’s no doubt there is an immediate efficiency gain in terms of using electricity as compared to a conventional engine,” he said. “In addition, human drivers are responsible for between 20 and 30% of inefficiencies in vehicles, so the shift to autonomy has the ability to use the car in a very efficient manner.”

These Traffic Lights Stay Green Until All The Cyclists Have Crossed The Road

The bike traffic signals use radar and thermal imaging to automatically sense how many cyclists happen to be waiting at a particular intersection, and then adjust the length of the light so everyone can cross. At rush hour, the light will be longer, and late at night it will be short, unless a midnight bike party happens by.

"If there was a sudden spurt at a particular time it could cater for them," says Thomas Canning from Transport for London, the city agency that is testing out the new technology. The city already has similar technology to help crowds of pedestrians safely cross the road.

Uber Cozies Up To Authorities In Hyderabad, India, With $50M Support Center

Uber’s plans for the city, where it is also testing cash payments with its first such pilot program, are the result of an interesting coming together with local authorities. Yes, Uber ... is working in tandem with authorities, who are no doubt excited by the financial commitment and potential jobs that will be created. “Hyderabad was always the preferred choice,” Uber said in a statement. “The supportive and forward thinking government, deep talent pool, excellent real estate and high standard of living were key factors that influenced this decision.”

Google utilizes Waze to enter carpooling market

Google has marked its entry into the on-demand transportation market by launching a carpooling service in Israel. Users open the RideWith application and connect with a driver who uses Google's Waze navigation app, which pairs passengers and commuters taking the same route. Google says the service will be introduced in other cities after it makes modifications based on the Israeli pilot project.

"Smart" steering wheel keeps drivers alert

Hoffmann+Krippner and Guttersberg Consulting are developing technology that tracks a driver's change in steering wheel touch patterns to signal an alert if the driver is falling asleep or no longer grasping the steering wheel.