Monday, August 31, 2015

Baby, We Won’t Drive Our Cars: The Future Of Automotive Transportation

“Transportation tech is not only changing how we get from A to B, it’s fundamentally altering the underlying infrastructure of our cities.”

This observation led to several bold predictions on what the future of transportation holds in store. Here’s a list of the Top 5:
1. Uber will eventually build a centrally-controlled, all-electric, autonomous vehicle fleet
2. New modes of transit with dynamic routing will reduce overall vehicle ownership and alter urban development patterns
3. Gas stations will disappear due to reduced vehicle ownership and electrification, forcing a restructuring of our gas distribution system
4. The commercial parking industry will consolidate and decline, disrupted by on-demand parking models like ZIRX that aggregate demand
5. Connected car startups will bring increasing amounts of vehicle data online leading to safer, cheaper, and more efficient transportation

One way to combat traffic congestion

The convergence of two technologies -- wireless connectivity and automation -- offers great opportunities for improvement. In the long term, when the automated vehicles can be separated from the manually driven vehicles, they can be safely clustered more closely and could achieve triple the capacity of today's highway lanes.

What Driverless Cars Mean for Today’s Automakers

Namely, three questions stand out in particular:
1. What happens when accidents can be avoided entirely?
2. What happens when the fleet is owned by profit maximizers?
3. What happens when brand stops mattering?

Ford's next big vehicle: A bike

Ford Motor Co. said it is developing a folding e-bike that could be sold together with its cars. Plans for the bike include pedal assist, GPS navigation and warnings about surrounding traffic.

Bosch eyes EV market with battery maker purchase

Germany's Bosch has purchased Silicon Valley-based battery startup company Seeo, which makes solid state battery technology that boosts safety and battery life for electric vehicles. Bosch has also recently announced partnerships with a number of suppliers on "cooperative highly automated driving" research.

Uber hires the security duo behind the crazy Jeep hack

Security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Vlasek made headlines last month when they hacked a Jeep while it was driving down the highway at 70 MPH. The willing target? Wired writer Andy Greenberg.From a distance, Miller and Vlasek were able to control the Jeep’s vents, the radio, the windshield wipers, and more. Though the pair obviously didn’t do anything to put Greenberg’s life in danger, the hack gave them the ability to to control the Jeep’s entertainment system along with steering and braking controls.

Now comes word via Reuters that both Miller and Vlasek will be heading to Uber where they’ll work within the company’s Advanced Technologies Center, located in Pittsburgh,

Friday, August 28, 2015

Electric Vehicles, Solar Energy and Net Metering

Electric Vehicles, Solar Energy and Net Metering: It’s an interesting combination in more ways than one. As there are no production or transportation costs for solar, beyond initial installation, home solar/ EV driving makes for one of the most efficient way to drive electric. Further, costs of owning an EV as well as home solar is more affordable than ever. In fact, roughly 1 in 3 EV drivers have a home solar. As Elon Musk said at a recent press conference, “We have this handy fusion reactor in the sky called the Sun. You don’t have to do anything, it just works. It shows up every day and produces ridiculous amounts of power.”

Beyond Traffic Lights: Driverless Cars at Intersections

UT professor of computer science Peter Stone, who heads the research team, says intersections of the future will not need stop lights or stop signs. “They will look like a somewhat chaotic flow of driverless, autonomous cars slipping past one another, managed by a virtual traffic controller,” he said. “A future where sitting in the backseat of the car reading our newspaper while it drives us effortlessly through city streets and intersections is not that far away,” said Stone.

1 Year Of UberPOOL — Moving San Francisco

Our vision for uberPOOL means helping urban environments solve some of their toughest problems, whether it’s congestion, pollution, or lack of access to transportation. We think we’re only beginning to scratch the surface, but we’re already encouraged by some of the results — for example, over the past year, riders taking POOL in San Francisco have saved nearly 200,000 gallons of gas. Imagine the environmental impact a few years from now, when other urban areas reach similar milestones!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tata Consultancy to Form Tech Center in $35M Gift to Carnegie Mellon

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. will help fund a technology center at Carnegie Mellon University where it will provide researchers as well as recruit in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence.
The school will announce the $35 million donation Tuesday to fund the 40,000-square-foot center at its campus in Pittsburgh.

New car crash avoidance systems earn high marks

Fourteen of the 19 collision-avoidance systems tested recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earned the agency's best rating of "superior," while the other five were marked "advanced." The National Transportation Safety Board is pushing for mandatory installation of the technology in all new vehicles to reduce the number of accidents and limit the severity of those that occur.

Device offers hands-free navigation for cyclists

CycleLabs has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund production of its SmartHalo device, which allows users to connect their smartphones to their bicycles for fitness tracking, GPS location and hands-free navigation. The navigation system works by illuminating lights attached to the bike's handlebars to let cyclists know when a turn is approaching or if they've gone the wrong way.

Jason’s Legacy and Jason’s Law: Improving Safety for our Nation’s Truck Drivers

From Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez:

We have nearly six million commercial motor vehicle drivers out on our roads each day –a number expected to increase dramatically by 2045– and the safety of everyone on our roadways demands that drivers pull off the highway and rest periodically. That means safe truck parking is a necessity.  And that’s why, last week, I was honored to join Hope Rivenburg (widow of murdered truck driver Jason Rivenburg) in announcing the National Coalition on Truck Parking, a call to action for a national dialogue on trucking needs and strategies for immediate, near-term and long-term solutions...

FHWA Research &Technology Now - July/August 2015

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration has released the latest issue of its Research and Technology (R&T) Now news update. The update reports on research, technology, and development activities taking place within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Google May Lose the Autonomous Car Race

Meanwhile, Google is working feverishly to get their little electric micro machine figured out so that it’s legal and marketable, and just when they think they have the upper-hand, this technological beast from the Middle East comes out swinging and releases a YouTube video. In the video report conducted by Bloomberg Middle East Editor Elliott Gotkine, Mobileye CEO Ziv Aviram is seen cruising in his fully autonomous Audi, illustrating how Mobileye’s driverless technology works, and how the company owns the future of autonomous cars.

Imagine an electric car battery that charges in only 5 minutes. Now meet StoreDot.

The technology works with an array of ~7,000 cells to make an 80KWh battery that is capable of powering nearly 300 miles of driving. In response to the decision to structure multiple smaller batteries together as opposed to building a single unit, Dr. Myersdorf explains that, ”It is typically easier to charge faster and to manage the health of the cells when they are smaller. This is similar technology to what Tesla has done with Panasonic cells.”

Audi's new electric car to rival Tesla Model X 2 Comments

The car, which is expected to have a full-charge range of more than 500 kilometers, or 310 miles, goes into production in 2018. The e-Tron Quattro, which uses battery cells from LG Chem and Samsung SDI, has a driving range that rivals electric cars made by Tesla Motors (TSLA). General Motors (GM) also has an electric car, the Chevy Bolt, which has a 200-mile range.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of ITS America

This year marks the 25th anniversary of ITS America. What started as an idea by a few forward-thinking individuals at the National Leadership Conference in the 1990s, has evolved into the largest organization dedicated to advancing the research and deployment of ITS to build a safer, smarter, more efficient transportation network. Over the course of 25 years, our members have contributed to major milestones that have fundamentally transpired the way we move people and goods. Today ITS America's members include more than 450 public agencies, private sector companies, universities and research institutions, and together we will continue to solve the nation's transportation challenges though ITS.

FHWA Safety Program Pedestrian Safety Focus States and Cities Update

Since 2004, FHWA's Safety Office has been working to aggressively reduce pedestrian deaths by focusing extra resources on the cities and states with the highest pedestrian fatalities and/or fatality rates. The states and cities were revised in 2015 to include bikes and to what you currently see in this map. For more information on how the states and cities were selected visit the Office of Safety's Focused Approach Website

Google patents GPS pothole mapping system

Google filed a patent last week for a system that would use GPS in conjunction with a bump sensor to upload data on where potholes exist to the cloud, providing local authorities with instant reports on where roadwork is needed.

Verizon’s ‘Hum’ Turns Any Clunker Into a Connected Car

There are some 150 million vehicles on the road that aren’t at all connected. To tap it, Verizon launched Hum. A questionable name perhaps, but a potentially very useful service. The service, which Verizon announced earlier this year as Verizon Vehicle but rebranded before launching it today, taps your car’s on-board diagnostic port, and conveys information through a Bluetooth-enabled speaker clipped to your visor. It works with most cars (electrics and diesels excepted) and any carrier and costs 15 bucks a month.

Ford patents autonomous vehicle interior with reconfigurable seats

Ford Motor Company has received a patent for a futuristic vehicle interior concept dubbed “autonomous vehicle with reconfigurable seats”. The US manufacturer’s patent includes plans for front seats that can rotate 180 degrees to face back-seat passengers while the car is operating in autonomous driving mode. In this layout, Ford‘s patent explains the steering wheel would retract into the dashboard to create extra space inside the cabin.

Video: Autonomous truck will protect construction workers

A driverless truck unveiled by Royal Truck and Equipment is meant to enhance safety at highway construction sites. The truck, complete with a crash barrier -- or attenuator -- mounted on its front, is designed to follow construction vehicles and absorb energy from vehicles that might crash into it, thus protecting the workers in front. Attenuators can cut work-zone injuries and deaths caused by rear-end crashes nearly in half, according to a Journal of the Transportation Research Board study.

Uber Tests Bus-Style Discounted “Smart Routes”

Rather than hailing an Uber directly to your door, UberPool’s map shows a green line overlaid on a major artery street nearby. If you’re willing to set your pickup location anywhere along these Smart Routes, Uber will compensate you with a discount of $1 or more off the normal UberPool price. In some cases that means walking a few blocks to your pickup spot. A little less convenient, a little cheaper.More>>

Uber's mapping cars have a new high-tech home

Self-driving cars need the right mapping technology and eyes—or optics—to see the world around them. So Uber—a company keen to tap into vast economic potential of self-driving cars—is partnering with the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Science. The partnership, announced Tuesday by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s office, will focus on research and development in the optics space for mapping and safety. Uber’s test vehicles, Ford Fusion cars equipped with mapping and autonomous driving technology, will be tested in Tucson, home of the UofA.

Carnegie Mellon researchers are working on drones that can fit into the palm of a hand

Because they're small, each drone will carry fewer sensors but Zhang says that doesn't matter because there will be more of them and they'll communicate with each other over ad-hoc peer-to-peer networks.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tesla engineer joins Apple's growing team of automated car experts

Consumer electronics company Apple Inc has hired a senior engineer from electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O), according to a LinkedIn posting, as part of Apple's effort to build a team of experts in automated driving.Sources have said that Apple is developing a car and studying self-driving technology, but it is unclear if the iPhone maker is designing a vehicle that could drive itself.
Since January, Apple has hired Megan McClain, a former Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) engineer with expertise in automated driving, and Vinay Palakkode, a graduate researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, a hub of automated driving research.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Renderings: Hyperloop project to break ground next year

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies says it plans to start construction on a 5-mile hyperloop test track north of Los Angeles next year. The company has partnered with engineering-design firm Aecom, vacuum system company Oerlikon and architecture firm Hodgetts & Fung. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies will soon select a builder for the project. Entrepreneur Elon Musk originated the idea of a hyperloop system, a vacuum-sealed tube that can transport people at speeds up to 800 mph.

Clarifying Bike-Ped Project Funding, Design and Environmental Review

... DOT has been working to address bike and pedestrian safety issues nationwide and help communities create safer, better-connected nonmotorized networks as part of the Department’s Safer People, Safer Streets Initiative. Since launching the initiative in 2014, we’ve met with safety experts, stakeholders, local officials, and the public on a range of targeted strategies to encourage safety for bicyclists and pedestrians on and around our streets. These discussions have resulted in great ideas and suggestions.  Based on these discussions the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also thought it would be helpful to clarify the funding, design, and environmental review processes for bike-ped projects in a new report called "Bicycle and Pedestrian Funding, Design, and Environmental Review: Addressing Common Misconceptions."

Driverless cars will change the world, but how exactly? USC experts look to the future

Driverless cars have the potential to change everything: transportation, health, the economy and the entire look of the urban landscape. Experts predict these vehicles could be ready for consumers in as little as five years, but big challenges must be faced before they hit the road. The first injury-causing accident with a Google driverless car recently brought the issue of safety to the fore.

Public Transportation Safety Program’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Federal Transit Administration seeks public comment on a proposed rule to establish a Public Transportation Safety Program to strengthen the safety of public transportation systems throughout the United States, based on the principles and practices of Safety Management Systems.Comments must be received by October 13, 2015. Any comments filed after this deadline will be considered to the extent practicable.

Volvo CE, Carnegie Mellon launch site safety tech

Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to identify systems and develop existing technologies which can reduce the number of accidents on construction sites.  According to a statement released by Carnegie Mellon's Integrated Innovation Institute, "in the last decade, fatal workplace injuries at road construction sites have remained relatively constant, with nearly 1,000 workers dying from workplace-related injuries in 2013 alone, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics (US)."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Let’s face it: Cars are not part of anyone’s civic dream environment, and for all their shiny robotic newness, self-driving cars won’t alleviate “all the environmental issues and land-use intensity issues,” says Nigel Wilson, director of MIT’s Transit Research Program. They probably won’t lessen your commute either, or reduce ugly sprawl, or make you less fat. We all know this. Polls consistently find that most Americans think the country should shell out more for public transit — millennials, in particular, are train aficionados and apparently don’t buy cars. Yet the U.S. spent almost three times as much on highways last year than it did on public transit, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Planning Tool Brings Hope for Transit Users

Paul Supawanich and his colleagues want to make transit better. They see transit as a powerful force for good because it is efficient at moving lots of people. The problem, as many transit riders will tell you, is sometimes transit isn't actually that efficient in terms of getting someone from one place to another. There are many factors at play here, but one critical factor is the lack of resources within transit agencies to plan ideal routes. An exciting new web tool called Remix could help.

GM begins working with startup tech developments

General Motors is starting to incorporate features in its vehicles designed by startup tech firms funded through its venture capital arm, GM Ventures. The automaker says it is working with startups that provide infotainment, EV or fuel economy tech, advanced materials or autonomous driving developments.

Iowa DOT using crowdsourced data from Waze app

The Iowa Department of Transportation says it has partnered with traffic application-maker Waze to allow drivers to upload data about congestion, crashes and construction. "Every second counts. If we can get this information out to the public as soon as possible, they can make more informed decisions about their trip," said Iowa DOT representative Sinclair Stolle.

Uber Lands Strategic Investment From One Of India’s Top Private Equity Funds

Uber is once again sharpening its focus on India after the U.S. company announced it has landed a strategic investment from Tata Opportunities Fund (TOF), a third-party private equity fund sponsored by Tata Capital, one of India’s largest wealth management organizations. The size of the investment has not been disclosed, but it is described as “significant.” TOF is around $600 million in size, of which $400 million has been committed to date across engineering, hotels, real estate and other verticals. The fund is backed by Tata Capital, and this closer alliance will help Uber “expand its services and solutions in India” using the fund and Tata Capital’s extensive network. The deal is also notably TOF’s first investment in a non-Indian company.

High-Tech Cars Bring Detroit, Silicon Valley Face to Face

Apple recently hired Fiat Chrysler's former quality chief. Ride-sharing service Uber snagged 40 researchers and scientists from Carnegie Mellon's Pittsburgh robotics lab. Tesla's head of vehicle development used to work at Apple. For years the fast-paced tech industry showed little respect for the plodding car industry. Google and Palo Alto-based Tesla, with its high-tech electric sedans, helped change that.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

9th University Transportation Center (UTC) Spotlight Conference: Connected and Automated Vehicles:

TRB is sponsoring the 9th University Transportation Center (UTC) Spotlight Conference on Connected and Automated Vehicles November 4-5, 2015, in Washington, D.C.   The conference will focus on the emergence of connected and automated vehicle technology across all modes of transportation. The event will be designed to identify roles that university transportation research programs may have in developing new tools and concepts to enhance the deployment of these advanced technologies.

5 Surprising Facts From Ford’s Electric Vehicle Study

We know that Tesla owners love their cars and that most electric vehicle drivers have some green reasoning behind their vehicles of choice. To find out what early adopters of pure electric cars and plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) thought about their rides, Ford Motor Company commissioned a study from PlugInsights of over 10,000 EV owners. Some findings (as they appear in Clean Technica) confirm what we suspect about people driving green cars, like the fact most families can only use an all-electric model as a second car. (Some 90% of EV owners also owned a gas vehicle.) Likewise, no one would be surprised to learn that nearly every EV driver was thinking about the environment on some level when they bought their cars.

Are Driverless Cars Safer Cars?

Automotive executives touting self-driving cars as a way to make commutes more productive or relaxing may want to consider another potential marketing pitch: safety. “If you want to create a car technology with mass adoption, it needs to be about safety,” says Amnon Shashua, chairman of Mobileye NV, a fast-growing supplier of assisted-driving technology. “Positioned as a comfort feature or as something that is cool to have, the autonomous car would not make it to the mass market.”

New GPS App Gives Directions In A Child's Voice Near Schools

Swedish ad agency Forsman & Bodenfors created the new Slow Down GPS app for If Insurance that gives directions in a child's voice when you drive near schools, daycare centers and other areas where there will likely be a lot of children playing outside or crossing the street. The agency likens the app to "a subtle audio sign that says, 'Children at play,'" according to Adweek.

Cities Lead the Way as U.S. Car Commuting Takes Historic Downturn

The decline is small in number, but in the scheme of things, it’s huge: New census data out last week show car commuting among Americans is finally, after decades of growth, starting to reverse itself. Driving to work is still the predominant mode to a depressing extent. Almost nine in 10 Americans get to work by car and about three in four drive alone. But those numbers are beginning to fall. Since 1960, the percent of Americans driving to work rose from 64 percent to a high of 87.9 percent in 2000. Since then, it has declined slightly but meaningfully to 85.8 percent. The percent of the population commuting by car ticked down again in 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available.

MIT Puts Pedestrians at the Center of Urban Design

With a $35,000 grant from the Knight Prototype Fund, she and her team areworking on a project called Placelet, which will track how pedestrians move through a particular space. They’re developing a network of sensors that will track the scale and speed of pedestrians, as well as vehicles, over long periods of time. The sensors, which they are currently testing in downtown Boston, will also track the “sensory experience” by recording the noise level and air quality of that space.

Now hiring: National Complete Streets Coalition Director

The National Complete Streets Coalition, a program of Smart Growth America, seeks a passionate, professional leader to serve as its Director. The successful candidate will build upon a decade of success by taking the Complete Streets movement to the next level.

Transportation Apps Designed to Ease the Commute

We all travel, so it's great when a handy new mobile app makes it easier to move around. Whether it is navigating the city, parking, or making our ride safer, there is likely a transportation app for that. Edgar Ables, a bachelor's student in city and regional planning, spent part of his summer internship researching the latest mobile apps of interest to planners. The following are a few recent apps that may make your travels easier.

A People's History of Recent Urban Transportation Innovation

This TransitCenter report examines the history of transportation reform in six major cities, including Pittsburgh, leading researchers to conclude that citizen-led efforts are necessary to achieve reform.

Technology that may help potholes get fixed faster

Mertz is a researcher at Carnegie Mellon. He works with the university’s Traffic 21, a research arm focusing on practical solutions to transportation problems, and he’s built a computer program that uses photos to detect cracks in street pavement. He’s been testing it using photos extracted from the video he shoots in his own car, but he’s also working with the city to test the technology. He’s placed cameras inside three city vehicles.


This past spring, two engineers huddled behind computer monitors as they fine-tuned a robotic ape. The 443-pound simian-inspired machine, called Chimp, would soon be competing in the Pentagon-funded DARPA Robotics Challenge. The competition to build disaster-response robots, which had started three years before, was nearing its final showdown. And Carnegie Mellon University’s Chimp was considered a front-runner for the top prize of $2 million. But as Chimp went through its paces, the rest of the robots in the university’s cavernous National Robotics Engineering Center sat unattended. The center was typically a flurry of activity, with engineers hunched over terminals tethered to all manner of autonomous machines, including mowers, harvesters, excavators, and combat vehicles. Now, in the middle of a weekday, the lab—part of the biggest robotics program in the country—seemed abandoned. It looked more like a museum closed for renovations.

Monday, August 17, 2015

CMU-developed app assesses road damage at lower cost than PennDOT tech

The city of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are working together to employ technology to find rugged roadways for repair. Christoph Mertz, senior project scientist in CMU's Robotics Institute, is developing a computer program to detect potholes, cracks and other irregularities in roads. Mounted on the windshield of a car, a camera captures images of the street and measures the severity of potholes and cracks.

Why a Future Ride in a Self-Driving Car Could Be a Trip to Advertising Hell

There’s nothing marketers love more than a captive audience. And people don’t get any more captive than when they’re sitting in a car. That’s a powerful motivation for companies developing automated cars, beyond the technical innovation that has made such a vision possible. From Google to Tesla to traditional automakers, it seems everyone today is scrambling to get in on the automated vehicle action. Even Apple is rumored to be working on a car of its own and has reportedly developed a giant virtual windshield that recognizes gesture controls to operate it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fisker returns to luxury electric car market

One-time Tesla rival Fisker, now owned by a Chinese auto company, is returning to the world of luxury electric cars and has leased a facility to resume production of its Karma electric hybrid, which was discontinued when the company went bankrupt in 2013. Reports suggest the cars could be back in the consumer market by mid-2016.

College campuses putting autonomous shuttles through their paces

Auro Robotics has been running trials of autonomous vehicles on college campuses and is now deploying them as shuttles at Santa Clara University in California. The team plans to expand the use of the vehicles to amusement parks and retirement communities later this year, saying that focusing on private properties allows them to develop the technology without being bound by government regulations.

Uber’s Business Isn’t Built to Help Disabled People

Few if any vehicles in Uber’s network are wheelchair accessible. That’s because Uber considers itself a technology platform, not a taxi company, and so it doesn’t require any of its drivers to have wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Instead, to accommodate disabled riders, Uber has begun partnering with third party groups who do operate these vehicles in select cities around the country. In New York City, for instance, Uber has partnered with the Taxi & Limousine Commission on a feature called UberWAV, which hails a wheelchair-accessible city taxi. But the protesters say there’s an issue with this approach.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Carnegie Mellon University, GE Ventures create Robotics Hub in Pittsburgh

Martial Hebert, director of CMU’s Robotics Institute, said in a press release The Robotics Hub would be a chance to help the Institute take even more ideas from the lab to the market. “A number of robotics companies have spun out of CMU, and many of the innovations created here have been licensed by industry. We have an opportunity to substantially increase the number of startups with roots in Pittsburgh, and so we welcome the assistance that The Robotics Hub promises to provide,” he said.

Transportation Management Forum featuring CMU Professor Burcu Akinci

The Transportation Management Forum’s next Web call will take place on Friday, August 21st from 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. Eastern. During this call, we’ll hear from Vice Chair Elizabeth Birriel about the presentation she gave at the ITS Annual Meeting, in which she described how Florida DOT is partnering with Waze. We’ll also hear a presentation from Professor Burcu Akinci of Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), who will speak about her research and some of the projects going on at CMU’s Smart Infrastructure Institute and the Advanced Infrastructure Systems Research Center. More details will be sent out about the meeting and Prof. Akinci’s presentation closer to the meeting date.

Why ‘Smart’ Objects May Be a Dumb Idea

A hacked car is a high-profile example of what can go wrong with the coming Internet of Things — objects equipped with software and connected to digital networks. The selling point for these well-connected objects is added convenience and better safety. In reality, it is a fast-motion train wreck in privacy and security.

Full speed ahead: How the driverless car could transform cities

Clearing the roads of four out of five cars has momentous consequences for cities, by measures such as environment, traffic, efficiency, and even parking. In most cities, for example, designated parking accounts for a huge amount of land, which ends up being useless for most of the day. With fewer cars, much of this space could be freed for other uses. Such reductions in car numbers would also dramatically lower the cost (and related energy consumption) of building and maintaining the roads. One engineering study found that automation could quadruple capacity on any given highway. And, of course, fewer cars also means less noise and a smaller environmental impact.

Tesla Courts Hackers

Tesla has gone on the defensive to protect its connected cars by trying to recruit hackers to help strengthen the cars' software against cyberattacks. 

NATMEC: Improving Traffic Data Collection, Analysis, and Use 2016

TRB is sponsoring NATMEC: Improving Traffic Data Collection, Analysis, and Use on May 1-4, 2016 in Miami, Florida. Submit abstracts by September 10, 2015. The conference is designed to advance the state of the practice of travel monitoring by providing a mechanism for improving the interaction between system operators, data collection program managers, and the various staff that collect, process, and utilize that data.

RFI: Panel Nominations for Impacts of Connected Vehicles and Automated Vehicles on State and Local Transportation Agencies

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) is seeking panel nominations for tasks associated with a project that identifies and conducts research related to critical issues that state and local transportation agencies will face associated with connected and automated vehicles. A nomination form and résumé should be sent to Ms. Adrienne Blackwell at by August 27, 2015.

Driverless taxi may make its way to Tokyo Olympics

Now, two companies in Japan are taking it to the next level, looking to ferry Olympians and attendees of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to the international sports festival’s venues in “robot taxis.” Japanese social media and gaming company DeNa is partnering up with ZMP, a robotics firm which also has experience in automated driving technology, to set up a joint venture called “Robot Taxi.” The project aims to build a driverless car by the year 2020 for the Tokyo Olympics.

Driving Your Car Will Soon Be Illegal

The reason has nothing to do with millennials, Uber, climate change or improvements in mass transportation. Driving should and will be made illegal because we now have the technology to prevent deadly traffic accidents; one of the greatest causes of premature deaths around the globe. More than 1.2 million people are killed in car accidents globally each year (which is more than the total casualties suffered by both sides in the Korean War).

Meet Robby: Audi’s autonomous car

“We’re already experiencing some of the future’s promises because the underlying technology being pioneered by companies like Audi offers an opportunity to reduce road fatalities and pollution,” said California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. “Innovation runs deep in California’s DNA, and it is critical that lawmakers here help foster a climate where private enterprise can improve, advance and mainstream a societal benefit, as the Internet and smartphone has done before them.”

Algae could be the next major source of alternative fuel

In an effort to find clean alternative fuel in the United States, the Obama administration has been supporting algae biofuel research and development through the departments of Energy, Agriculture and Defense, and it appears that the research was well worth it, as the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says that algae shows promise as a renewable energy source, and estimates that it can generate 60 times more oil per acre than plants found on land.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Error-Prone video game shows how driverless cars are superior to you

Motorists may bristle when they hear that self-driving "smart" cars can easily out-drive humans, but a simple video game called Error-Prone appears to pile on the proof.
The game, which is deceptively simple, involves 26 cars, one for each letter of the alphabet, driving in a neat circle. They all move at the same speed and maintain uniform but close following distances. The game invites players to press a letter key to take control of the corresponding car. It's downhill from there.

Study Credits Uber With Decline in California Drunk Driving Deaths

When Uber released a study earlier this year produced with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, taking credit for a decline in drunken driving-related car crashes among drivers under 30, it was called out for not producing enough evidence to make the connection. But now comes a study from researchers at Philadelphia’s Temple University that suggests the entry of Uber’s low-cost ride service, Uber X, into 14 California counties led to a 3.6 to 5.6 percent decline in drunken driving deaths.

Tesla unveils its bizarre new 'Snakebot' automatic car charger

Tesla has unveiled a prototype charger for its vehicles that automatically (and creepily) finds the car's charging port and fills it with power, without the driver having to do anything. Elon Musk, the tech superstar who is the co-founder and CEO of the company, teased at the creation of the prototype on Twitter in December last year, writing: "We are actually working on a charger that automatically moves out from the wall and connects like a solid metal snake."

Understanding The Future Of Mobility

We stand on the threshold of what can realistically be described as the largest and most important shift in transportation in a century. The benefits will be enormous: An 80+ percent reduction in the cost of transportation. Reduced pollution. Reduced stress and road rage. A dramatic decrease in accidents and traffic deaths. Gaining back time lost to commuting — and the associated increase in productivity. Freeing up two lanes on many urban roads by eliminating parked cars. Even the reclaiming of the space allocated to home garages.

Japan's WalkCar the future of transport?

Kuniaki Sato and his team at Japan's Cocoa Motors have unveiled a new battery-powered mode of transportation that resembles a skateboard and can fit in a purse or bag when not in use. The "WalkCar" weighs less than seven pounds, can carry a person about 7.5 miles at speeds of up to 6.2 mph and does not require a parking space. It can be reserved online now, with shipping expected in spring 2016.

Introduction to the Deptartment of Transportation SBIR Program Webinar

Sept. 16. 10-11 a.m. CDT
This webinar will provide introductory-level information about the Department of Transportation's SBIR program. Agency SBIR Program Manager Rachael Sack will discuss the DOT's mission and objectives, primary topics of interest, and tips for writing successful proposal applications.

5 Things July Electric Vehicle Sales Taught Us

While we head into the last leg of summer 2015, great news about electric vehicles is popping up every week. The next-generation Chevy Volt will have an impressive 53 miles of range before drivers need to use gasoline; the first plug-in from Audi will be priced below $35,000 after incentives and now can be configured online; and California is continuing to spur mass EV adoption with programs like car sharing in low-income neighborhoods.

U.S. gas taxes rank among world's lowest

Even with Delaware Sen. Tom Carper's proposed increase of the federal gas tax from its current 18.4 cents per gallon to 34 cents over the next four years, U.S. fuel taxes are still among the lowest in the world, according to data from the Tax Foundation. When the average state tax is included in the figure, U.S. taxes are less than half of the next lowest global tax rates.

U.K. to test EV-charging highways this year

Transportation officials in the U.K. will begin experiments later this year to determine the feasibility of creating highways that would charge electric vehicles driving on them. "The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities," said Transport Minister Andrew Jones. The government has committed $780 million over the next five years to a study and off-road trials of the technology. 

Self-driving Teslas could impact Uber

Uber could solve problems with insurance costs and driver benefits disputes with self-driving cars, an option Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson says the ride-sharing company is considering. But when analysts recently asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk if Tesla would sell self-driving cars to Uber or just offer their own ride-sharing service to compete, Musk declined to answer. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

CMU self-driving technology spinoff acquired by Delphi

Carnegie Mellon University spinoff Ottomatika Inc. has been acquired by Delphi Automotive PLC, the university announced Tuesday. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Led by Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Raj Rajkumar, Ottomatika, which provides software and systems development for self-driving vehicles, spun off from Carnegie Mellon in 2013 and received an investment from Delphi in November 2014.

CMU technology could help cities inspect and maintain streets more efficiently

Christoph Mertz spends his days looking at cracks in the street...

...Mertz is a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University. He works with CMU’s Traffic 21, a research arm of the university focusing on practical solutions to transportation problems, and he’s built a computer program that uses photos to detect cracks in street pavement. He’s been testing it out using photos extracted from the video he shoots in his own car, but he’s also working with the city to test the technology. He’s placed cameras inside three city vehicles.

UPS Goes Big on Renewable Fuels

UPS, a shipping company that relies heavily on its boxy brown trucks, says it plans to buy up to 46 million gallons of renewable diesel fuel during the next three years in an effort to replace 12 percent of the fossil fuels. The company, which announced the initiative on July 29, says the fuels it plans to procure from three producers are made from several organic-based sources, including animal fats and other waste oils, including palm oil. They also are virtually chemical twins of oil-based diesel and so can be used interchangeably with them both in pipeline and in engines.

Driverless Cars: A $97 Billion Opportunity For These Companies

In a new report, Citi Research analyst Itay Michaeli turns the clock forward 15 years to look at the impact that driverless cars will have on the global auto market by 2030. According to Citi’s analysis, the auto industry can expect annual driverless car sales of up to 15.7 million by 2030, and Michaeli sees a lot of money up for grabs in the space.

Driverless Car Testing and Big Data Intersect in Simulated City

At MCity, the University of Michigan’s stage-set village for driverless cars, which launched last month, it’s not just the automakers that are experimenting. “Sure, we have the autos, but also insurance, telecom, big data, et cetera,” says Peter Sweatman, the head of the University’s Mobility Transformation Center. “They don’t generally get in the same room with each other. This is highly unusual.

Tesla exec: Competitor's vehicles resemble appliances

An executive for electric automaker Tesla Motors used a Michigan seminar Tuesday to take more shots at the traditional auto industry, describing competitive vehicles as "appliances" and bucking the trend by calling for more strident fuel-economy standards. He said he is surprised that there are only lower-performance vehicles in the marketplace and nothing to challenge the Model S. "In some respect, they are appliances, in terms of the way they look." Tesla, BMW and Nissan electric vehicles are the few exceptions, he said.

Hirschmann, inthinc team up to offer fleet connectivity

Antenna and transceiver systems supplier Hirschmann Solutions is partnering with telematics firm inthinc to launch a M2M gateway offering, which will provide advanced connectivity for fleet vehicles, trucks and heavy equipment vehicles without costly licensing requirements. The unit uses open-source firmware that allows customers to develop security, logging and tracking applications themselves. 

Ford challenges game designers to help improve commutes

Ford unveiled its Smart Mobility Challenge this week with the aim of encouraging game designers to come up with systems to improve commuting, offering a cash prize. "The idea is to apply patterns that we know from digital games to help travelers have a safer, more enjoyable, better way to navigate through this complex system," said Bjorn Bartholdy of contest partner Cologne Game Lab.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

A New Action Camera, Born From a Cycling Crash

“After the accident, I started thinking about the camera I had,” said Mr. Gregory, who spent more than 16 years doing software programming for banks and government agencies in Brazil. “Most of the time, I just leave the camera at home. I used it two times in a year, for vacation or skiing. The market really needs something better than this, something smarter than this.” He said the Graava camera has a G.P.S. chip and an accelerometer, sensors that detect location and acceleration force during any video recording. Graava’s software makes assumptions that moments when you’re speeding up sharply or slowing down are probably more exciting, and therefore worth keeping in the final cut.

Test drive: Continental showcases highly automated car

“I know the car has everything under control,” said demonstration driver Ibro Muharemovic, Continental’s head of advanced engineering. Continental is demonstrating its vehicle during the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars here. “It sees everything around me, it sees everything in front of me and it’s able to proactively, not reactive, but proactively avoid anything that’s happening.” A demonstration drive proved him correct Monday as the 300C drove us along U.S. 31 in Acme, a 45-mph road.

Connected, autonomous trucks will change logistics

Groups of self-driving trucks will become common in the future as the Internet of Moving Things becomes an increasingly important part of logistics, Susan Fourtane writes. UPS is studying the possibility and "[a]s the technologies are proven ready for large scale adoption, we'll work with the suppliers and regulators to enable rapid deployment in vehicle fleets," said Maarten Verbanck, UPS public relations supervisor for Europe.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Suburban Transit in Mexico City

Over the past decade, governments and development agencies have invested significantly in high-capacity transit in Asian, Latin American, and African cities. Beijing’s subway system grew from just two lines in 2000 to one of the world’s largest metro systems today. Each year, a dozen new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines open in cities around the world. Concerns about economic competitiveness, congestion, sprawl, pollution, and accessibility for the poor and middle class motivate these investments.
Erick Guerra is Assistant Professor in City and Regional Planning at the University of Pennsylvania. 

ACCESS Magazine

Latest issue of the The University of California Center on Economic Competitiveness in Transportation's online magazine with great articles on economic impact of transportation. 

Microsoft Invests $137 Million In Uber: Report

Microsoft has reportedly invested more than $100 million in the latest financing round for Uber, which has raised nearly $1 billion in new funding for the ride-hailing startup, now the most valuable private company in the world with a $51 billion valuation, ahead of Xiaomi and Airbnb...

The investment could also be seen as a stab at Google, which invested $250 million in Uber in 2013, but the Google and Uber have seen a growing rift as Google might be launching its own Uber competitor by purchasing an Israel-based ride-hailing startup while Uber also develops its own self-driving cars after poaching 40 researchers at the Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Pittsburgh adds more lanes for bike commuters

Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood will get additional bikes lanes on a number of streets this summer, in an effort to serve a growing number of bicycle commuters. Approximately 2.2% of Pittsburgh residents report commuting by bike, which is a four-fold increase over past census counts.

BMW to incorporate traffic light app

BMW has announced plans to include the EnLighten traffic light application on all vehicles with BMW Apps. The EnLighten app shows the status of traffic lights the vehicle is approaching and provides a countdown to changing signals, as well as advice on whether to maintain speed or slow down based on current driving speed.

BMW, Daimler and Audi Clinch Purchase of Nokia’s Maps Business

Germany's BMW, Audi and Daimler have partnered to buy Nokia's Here mapping unit for $3.1 billion, including debt, in a deal expected to help the automakers move toward developing driverless cars and other next-generation in-car technologies. Nokia Here drew a majority of its $1.1 billion in revenues last year from carmakers, with the rest coming from location-based services.

Remembering When Driverless Elevators Drew Skepticism

Now, as Google and other companies work to create self-driving cars, there's a concern in the industry. This is the question. Will people be comfortable getting inside? Would you put your child in a car without a steering wheel? The very idea makes many of us nervous. But every new automatic device that enters our lives, from automatic doors to escalators, has had to face this awkward moment where people are skeptical and maybe scared. Steve Henn from NPR's Planet Money podcast has one example we hardly think of anymore.

Tesla 'autosteer' update will make electric cars self-driving

The update will arrive as Version 7 of Tesla's firmware, and has been tested extensively on a route between San Francisco and Seattle. Musk has previously said the car is "almost able to go [between the two locations] without touching the controls at all". Musk added on Twitter that the company is still working out some kinks, but that the update would arrive for "all regions". "Final corner case is dealing with low contrast lane markings (faded white on grey concrete) while driving into the sun at dusk," he said on Twitter, of the remaining, incredibly specific problems.

Health, Transportation, and City-Planning Connections To Get a Closer Look

Living in an urban setting can have serious effects on mental health. And the transportation element is one of the most important factors of all. That's why it's so crucial that a new organization called the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health has launched to give voice to the issue.

Autonomous Vehicles Are a Traffic Solution Only Alongside Better City Planning

Self-driving cars will be able to travel closer together. But instead of convincing ourselves yet again that a seemingly simple technological solution is the key, let's take a step back. The reason we have traffic congestion is not because we have low-tech vehicles that require excessive braking space. Rather, it's because we have failed at urban planning. 

Microsoft Said to Invest Big Sum in Uber

Microsoft has agreed to invest in Uber, according to people with knowledge of the matter, as part of a funding round that values the ride-hailing company at around $51 billion. If the deal is finalized, Microsoft’s contribution would be a substantial amount of the financing, which totals about $1 billion, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details of the fund-raising are not public. “We filed to authorize this new funding more than two months ago,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a statement. “The filing is available to the public. We aren’t commenting on additional speculation.” A Microsoft spokesman declined to comment. Microsoft’s participation was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.


Apple CEO Tim Cook and other senior executives visited the BMW factory in Leipzig, Germany in 2014 to look into how the i3 is manufactured. The i3 is BMW’s electric “zero emissions” five-door urban hatchback, which first entered production back in 2013. During the visit, Apple executives asked BMW board members detailed questions about tooling and production and BMW executives signaled readiness to license parts, one of the sources said. News of the Leipzig visit first emerged in Germany’sManager-Magazin last week.

Google Auto? Did Google Already Have Plans On Its Own Car Company?

An interesting report is coming out of The Guardian today concerning Google and Google Auto LLC. Mark Harris of The Guardian says that even while Google has been courting auto makers for its driverless car, they had already formed their own auto company in advance. This is according to documents obtained by The Guardian under a Public Records Act request in California.

Uber & Driverless Cars - Changing Your World

Before I speak about these two technologies together I just want to expand on Uber. One of the areas of Uber's service and vision which is rarely discussed are their "side" products. From Uber fresh food delivery to Uber same day couriers - a lot is happening in terms of their product development. One of these is a multi-user ride sharing service called UberPool - the one I think is going to be the most transformative. UberPool allows multiple Uber users going to similar places to share a single ride, thus splitting the cost. For a little less convenience in the form of no longer having a backseat to yourself, a 2 minute detour and the potential for obnoxious comrades of travel, you suddenly see anywhere up to a 50% reduction in your Uber ride fee. And that is of a fee that is already way cheaper than your local taxi.
Is that becoming public transport fare territory?

Never mind driverless cars – we need intelligent transport systems

If you could automate traffic flows – that is, mandate certain cars to go in certain directions and at certain speeds – you would have the makings of an automotive social network. This is the question all the auto-industry futurology avoids: the question of cooperation and control. If 50 drivers are individually plotting a route via GPS from Leicester to Liverpool, and we are at the stage of automated cars, there is nothing to stop an intelligent system pooling that information, and mandating the car space to be shared, in order to reduce energy consumption; to simplify the journey; to allow a national traffic manager to prioritise or deprioritise what, effectively, would become a car-train.