Thursday, October 29, 2015

Can Detroit Beat Google to the Self-Driving Car?

In 2007, GM teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to win the Darpa Urban Challenge, run by the U.S. Defense Department's research arm. GM’s heavily modified Chevy Tahoe successfully navigated a city course on its own to win a $2 million prize. The feat “made this very singular statement that automated driving is no longer science fiction,” says Raj Rajkumar, an engineering professor who co-directs GM’s Autonomous Driving Research Lab at Carnegie Mellon.

Review of Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) Technology Expected to Offer Benefits

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released a report that addresses the status of V2I technologies; challenges and U.S. Department of Transportation efforts that could affect deployment of the technologies; and what is known about the potential benefits and costs.

Work Zone Speed Management

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Synthesis 482: Work Zone Speed Management documents the current state of practice for work zone speed management, including data, procedures, techniques, and technical issues related to observing and comparing work zone speeds.

RFP: Leveraging Big Data to Improve Traffic Incident Management

TRB’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released a request for proposals discover datasets, uncover relationships, and identify trends that may occur outside the traditional evaluation processes to create frameworks for developing “Big Data” analytics to improve traffic incident management. Proposals are due on December 10, 2015.

Advancing Freight Fluidity Performance Measures Workshop: Register by November 9, 2015 for Advance Registration Rates

TRB is sponsoring Advancing Freight Fluidity Performance Measures Workshop on December 9-10, 2015 in Washington, D.C. This workshop will consist industry representatives, academics, and public sector professionals to explore implementing an initial set of freight fluidity performance measures in the United States. Register by November 9, 2015 to take advantage of Advance registration rates.

15th International Conference on Managed Lanes: Submit Abstracts by December 4, 2015

TRB is sponsoring the 15th International Conference on Managed Lanes May 4-6, 2016 in Miami, Florida. The workshop explores planning, design, and operations of managed lanes as well as emerging research needs related to integrating managed lanes into the transportation system. Applications for posters or presentation proposals are due December 4, 2015.

Collaboration the key to improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety

Over the course of the last year, more than 1,500 people walked or got on bikes to take part in bicycle and walking safety assessments hosted by dozens of DOT field offices in every state.  And while the assessments identified physical barriers such as missing curb cuts or crosswalks, they also made significant progress in identifying ways Federal, State, and local agencies can all work together to ensure pedestrian and bicycle safety.

Green self-driving cars take center stage at Tokyo show as Japan seeks industry leadership.

Visions of cars that drive themselves without emitting a bit of pollution while entertaining passengers with online movies and social media are what's taking center stage at the Tokyo Motor Show.
Japan, home to the world's top-selling automaker, has a younger generation disinterested in owning or driving cars. The show is about wooing them back. It's also about pushing an ambitious government-backed plan that paints Japan as a leader in automated driving technology.
Reporters got a preview look at the exhibition Wednesday, ahead of its opening to the public Oct. 30.

Birmingham gets $20M grant for bus rapid transit

Birmingham was awarded a $20 million federal grant for a 15-mile bus rapid transit project that will connect 25 communities on the west and east sides to the city center, Mayor William Bell announced Monday at Legion Field.
Bell, who was joined by members of the city council, said the grant is part of a long-term plan to support a "world-class system" for the World Games, which Birmingham is set to host in 2021.

IBM, Carnegie Mellon are building a navigation app for the blind

IBM Research and Carnegie Mellon University are working on a smartphone app that would help blind and visually impaired people navigate their surroundings, by communicating information about the users surroundings to them via audio cues or vibrations. The app, called NavCog, will initially be specific to the Carnegie Mellon campus, as it will rely on Bluetooth beacons placed around walkways and in buildings.

The Case for the Steering Wheel (and Against Truly Driverless Cars)

Replacing the tailgating, tindering hoards with sensors makes easy sense if you believe that individual and mass optimizations can be achieved at once. Massachusetts Institute of Technology aeronautics professor David Mindell doesn’t. Mindell says that the idea of going from automatic to automated is a sci-fi dream that ignores 50 years of history. A veteran of autonomous vehicle design — with a focus on the underwater and the aerial — Mindell believes that robots shouldn’t be supplanting humans or even calling shotgun. His notion, outlined in his new book, Our Robots, Ourselves, is that we need AI and humans to work in harmony.

Imagining the Driverless City

Costa Samaras, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, envisions autonomous vehicle zones in dense urban cores that allow drop-offs between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., and then convert to pedestrian-only thoroughfares until evening. Such zones would not necessarily need bollards to block traffic, since the rules could be transmitted to cars electronically, he says.

Connected Car Security: Separating Fear From Fact

It’s true that researchers have proven time and again that they can turn our cars into compliant minions at their beck and call, but while the public at large may gasp in shock, anyone in information security may shrug and think, “Sounds about right.” The main reason to be so cavalier is that, despite the recent attention on the issue, the body of research on connected vehicle security extends back five years.
To come to grips with the true risks of connected vehicle security, we have to separate the fear-driven hype from the practical motives of the threat actors.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meet the Companies Building Self-Driving Cars for Google and Tesla (And Maybe Apple)

The list below is not exhaustive. Yet after conversations with nearly a dozen manufacturers, industry experts and tech companies involved in the world of self-driving cars, Re/code assembled a portrait of the leading, innovative companies and critical dynamics in the autonomous industry.
You know the iPhone teardown. Welcome to the self-driving car industry teardown:

How driverless cars will transform the economy

Self-driving cars, delivery drones, robotic chefs: living in Silicon Valley, you would think we were doing God’s work, delivering dazzling new technologies to a grateful world. Like missionaries convinced of their spiritual purity, the technorati have little patience for reality checks.

Exemptions introduced for driverless cars in South Australia

In an Australian first, this month has seen new laws allowing for the on-road trials of driverless cars have in the South Australian.
The Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan will introduce the Bill allowing for ‘real-life’ testing of the technology, positioning the state at the forefront of an industry projected to be worth $90 billion in 15 years.
The bill details special exemptions and insurance requirements for driverless cars involved in trials of driverless technologies in South Australia, including the upcoming trials in 2016.

Redesigning Roads: Taking a Look at the ‘Complete Streets’ Movement

The first time Dean Ledbetter heard about “complete streets,” he thought it was a crazy idea. Ledbetter, a North Carolina traffic engineer, had devoted his career to creating roads that allowed cars to move faster. Complete streets would slow cars down, reworking roads to accommodate bicyclists, transit users and pedestrians, including people pushing baby strollers and riding in wheelchairs. Ledbetter’s first reaction, he says, was, “Why would you want to ruin a perfectly good road?”

Transit, as density facilitator, traffic and emissions inhibitor, report finds

In the aptly named “New tool estimates transit’s effect on VMT and emissions” news article, according to State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) Managing Director Eric Sundquist, the report and tool fills a gap between the roles transit plays in raising urban land-use densities and lowering traffic and exhaust emissions coupled to that.

Toyota takes a small detour into car sharing

Toyota says it will start testing a service for sharing electric car on the island Okinawa, a project that could lead to broader efforts to connect tourists to local attractions without generating emissions.
The one-year trial project, which begins in January, aims to assess the viability of tourism-center car-sharing, Toyota says. The car sharing project will operate on the island’s Motobu Peninsula, an area that attracts tourists who visit popular sites during the day and do not stay the night. Motobu Town Tourism Association, the Nakijin Village Tourism Association, and the JTB Group are also involved in the project, Toyota says.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Pittsburgh: New data show roads less congested here

Pittsburgh area motorists travel roads that are less congested than in most major metropolitan areas. While that may come as a surprise to anyone idling in front of the Squirrel Hill tunnel or crawling over the Fort Pitt Bridge, the differences are significant.
Southwestern Pennsylvania drivers lost 39 hours last year stuck in traffic – six hours fewer than the average across PittsburghTODAY’s 15 benchmark regions, according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s latest urban mobility report...
Traffic 21, a multidisciplinary research initiative at Carnegie Mellon University, applies some of the latest research and technological advances coming out of the university to real transportation issues in the region.

Scottish company working to put driverless cars back on track

Work to create a working section of track, which charges cars as they move at speeds of up to 120mph, is now under way, with the results to be revealed next June.
Ms Jones Carrick – who works from Prestwick Airport – said she was “thrilled” to have reached the point where public and government opinion was open to driverless technology...
 Drivers would access the track by typing in a destination code, with TEV computers then taking full control of the vehicle after checking it for full compatibility and safety.
She said: “Imagine heading up to the Highlands in your car and not having to drive. You could sit back and enjoy a coffee instead.”

VIDEO: Gov. Wolf announces expanded plow truck tracking technology

Today Gov. Tom Wolf joined PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards at the department's District 8 headquarters in Harrisburg to explain how the Automated Vehicle Location (AVL) system will help improve PennDOT's real-time information on plow truck movement,plow-route coverage and usage of materials such as salt and anti-skid. 

Motor insurance for autonomous vehicles ‘will shift from drivers to OEMs’

“Along with higher product liability, the responsibility of insuring the vehicle will shift from vehicle owners to manufacturers,” said Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation senior research analyst Kamalesh Mohanarangam. “Further, all excesses currently covered by the insured will be shared among several stakeholders, such as road-operators and local transport authorities.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Spark: Not your average autonomous car

In this week's edition of The Spark, CNBC's Kelly Evans takes a look at autonomous driving technology at Carnegie Mellon.

An open data platform for improving Toronto transportation

Last Friday, an unmanned octocopter lifted off from a grassy park in a Toronto ravine. It ascended 75 metres and then twisted its mounted camera to scan the volume of traffic moving along Don Mills Road. With a live high-definition video feed transmitted through a ground station to a new online tool designed by U of T engineers, this simple demonstration is part of an ambitious plan to improve traffic monitoring and management through open data.

Truck companies press for automatic brakes

The American Trucking Association (ATA) is pushing for federal regulators to require the installation of automatic emergency braking systems on U.S. cars and trucks.
The group, which lobbies for truck companies, said the automated braking systems would reduce the potential for accidents on the nation's roads and highways.

Uber is using Google Street View-like vehicles to improve its service

The report also clarified that Uber's mapping fleet is using the technology acquired from Microsoft's Bing, while the group of Uber cars operating in Arizona and Pittsburg, where the self-driving auto was first spotted, are using an undisclosed tech with the help of Carnegie Mellon University

CMU, IBM app helps people with visual impairments navigate their surroundings

To help people with visual impairment find their way indoors and out, NavCog uses Bluetooth sensors placed at turns, intersections and important destinations (elevators, entrances or ATMs) to provide one’s position within 3 feet to 5 feet of actual location. Using a map editing tool and localization algorithms, it can identify your location almost in real time, which direction you are facing and additional information about your surroundings.

The Future Begins Today, at 4:29 p.m.

Today is a day DOT has waited 30 years for. Literally.
As fans of “Back to the Future” trilogy of movies know, today –Oct. 21, 2015, at 4:29 p.m.– is when Marty McFly (played by Michael J. Fox) arrives in the future from 1985 after a series of misadventures in 1955.
Filmgoers have been waiting for this day because we’ve spent decades trying to imagine what the future will look like. But at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), we haven't been waiting; we've been hard at work trying to create that future.

Microsoft looks to stop bike crashes before they happen, testing Minority Report-style predictive intelligence

Microsoft engineers and City of Bellevue planners have a sci-fi inspired strategy for curbing bike and pedestrian injuries on city streets: By using video analytics, they want to predict and prevent crashes before they happen.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Volvo Promises To Take Responsibility If Its Driverless Cars Cause Crashes

Volvo announced recently it will take responsibility for any accidents caused by its driverless vehicles. That’s quite an offer and could be just the thing to assuage the unfounded fears surrounding robot vehicles.
The Swedish car company has an ulterior motive: speeding of federal U.S. legislation that would allow driverless cars to operate on public roads.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Driver Electronic Device Use in 2014

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released a report that illustrates the change in drivers’ use of text-messaging or manipulating handheld devices from 2013 to 2014.

TRB Webinar: Effective Practices for the Protection of Transit Infrastructure from Cyber Incidents

TRB will conduct a webinar on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM ET that will present material developed for the NCHRP Report 20-59(48): Effective Practices for the Protection of Transportation Infrastructure from Cyber Incidents. The project focuses on fundamental strategic, operational, and planning activities associated with transit control systems cybersecurity.

GAO Report: Can connected cars and smarter infrastructure make transit safer?

What: A look at the challenges and opportunities surrounding "intelligent transportation systems" by the Government Accountability Office.
Why: In the last 20 years, crash-related injury and fatality rates have dropped 37 percent in the United States -- largely due to improvements in automobile safety. Today, vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technologies are being promoted as a way to continue that trend. V2I technologies would allow roadside devices and vehicles to communicate with each other and alert drivers of potential safety issues.

Traffic confusion minimized on first day without Greenfield Bridge

Pittsburgh - Public Works officials had consulted with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to predict where traffic would be the worst. Sean Qian, the head of CMU's Traffic21 Mobility Analytics Center, used congestion data from PennDOT and private research from INRIX in a computer model to simulate where traffic would head without the bridge.
The first report focused on the morning commute from 5 to 10 a.m. The model predicted an 88 percent increase in traffic along Murray Avenue likely would be the heaviest congestion. It predicted a 23 percent increase in traffic heading south along Beechwood Boulevard at Forward Avenue.
Qian said the results are meant to help inform planners about traffic problems they may need to address, such as where to re-time signals. It's the first time, to his knowledge, the computer model has been used with city planners.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Can This Company Protect Bicyclists From The Dreaded 'Right Hook'?

In bicycle-speak, a Right Hook is when a car makes a right-hand turn–typically without signaling or checking blind spots–in front of a cyclist traveling in the same direction. It’s the leading cause of injury for cyclists, and the vehicle is almost always at fault. But there is technology on the market that could end this collision and save hundreds of lives each year.

U.S. to require registration of drones to help track operators who flout safety rules

The Obama administration is announcing plans today to require that buyers of drones register them with the government to combat a growing safety threat, according to a person familiar with the proposal.
The U.S. Transportation Department has scheduled an announcement on “an important safety announcement” about drone use, according to an email from the agency. A task force of government and industry officials will craft a plan to create a registry, said a person familiar with the plans, who wasn’t authorized to disclose the information and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Congress near deal on train safety deadline

House lawmakers are hoping to reach an agreement with the Senate by late this week on a three-year extension of the deadline for railroads to install accident avoidance systems known as positive train controls.  The agreement could be inserted into a bipartisan six-year highway and transit authorization bill unveiled Friday by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Robo-bulldozers guided by drones are helping ease Japan's labor shortage

As Japan ramps up new construction in preparation for hosting the 2020 Olympics, experts believe it will face a serious obstacle. "The labor shortage in the construction industry could reach a crisis level in the next few years," Martin Schulz, an economist at Fujitsu Research Institute in Tokyo, told Bloomberg. To get around this problem, Komatsu has begun creating a new service it calls Smart Construction. A team of robotic vehicles scoops rock and pushes dirt without a human behind the wheel.

AT&T, Uber to test college football streaming in connected cars

Under the partnership, ten Chevrolet Tahoe cars with AT&T wireless connectivity will do the rounds on four Saturdays in Detroit, Nashville, Houston and Atlanta in October and November, company spokesman Brett Levecchio said.
The vehicles will have four tablets in the back of headrests, wireless headsets and phone chargers.
Riders can watch a livestream of football games through AT&T's U-verse TV app on tablets connected to its 4G LTE network, AT&T said in a statement.

Robot trucks now operating at Rio Tinto

Sidney - Global mining giant Rio Tinto has started using automated, driverless trucks to move iron ore in its Pilbara mines, controlled from an operations center 1,200 kilometers away in Perth.
The world's first commercial implementation of the technology removes high risk, repetitive roles which expose employees to fatigue while also reducing significant operating costs and maintaining consistency, said Rio Tinto Yandicoogina operations manager Josh Bennett.
"One of the biggest costs we have got it maintaining mobile assets, so we spend a lot of time on our operator training, education," Bennett told the national broadcaster ABC.
Rio Tinto now has 69 driverless trucks operating 24 hours per day, 365 days per year, estimating a saving of 500 work hours per truck per year.

Welcome to Prime Time, Driverless Cars

In the past 30 days, self-driving cars have officially hit the mainstream, going from a niche topic among auto analysts and enthusiasts to one discussed on The Late Show and featured on 60 Minutes in recent weeks. The mobility movement is now part of the public consciousness, and the long-term implications are significant for the auto industry and investors. As the coming auto revolution becomes dinner-table conversation, these past few weeks have served as a nice snapshot of an industry at an inflection point.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sustainable cities begin with sustainable transportation

The study gave New York the highest marks for green transportation. Its environmental quality, use of green energy and green policies each ranked fifth.
Portland, Oregon and San Francisco ranked second and third respectively. While they took the top two spots for local policies, Portland's transportation came in 13th place. San Francisco's overall environmental quality ranked 12th.

Illinois Institute of Technology Announces Three Finalists for $1 Million Nayar Prize

Driverless City Project: As cities around the world consider opportunities for driverless cars, the Driverless City Project will investigate the elements that will make change possible. It will develop social scenarios, technical solutions, infrastructure prototypes, and model urban codes to transform streets into twenty-first century human infrastructure. These elements will be developed into smart driving control systems, design guidelines for transportation agencies, municipal codes, and infrastructure prototypes.

Virginia leading on driverless-vehicle efforts

Derided nearly 20 years ago as a $100 million “road to nowhere,” the Virginia Smart Road has helped lure more than $300 million in advanced transportation research to the state.
And it’s one of the main reasons Virginia is poised to be a leader in helping design the cars of tomorrow, officials say.
On Monday, a team from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, which operates the Smart Road, will take a self-driving car built in-house to Northern Virginia for a closed demonstration to show off the state’s latest carrot to attract high-tech automotive business here.

IBM, Carnegie Mellon Team on Cognitive App for the Blind

IBM partnered with CMU's famed Robotics Institute to create a pilot app called NavCog that draws on existing sensors and cognitive technologies to inform blind people on the CMU campus about their surroundings by "whispering" into their ears through ear buds or by creating vibrations on smartphones.
The app analyzes signals from Bluetooth beacons located along walkways and from smartphone sensors to help users move without human assistance, whether inside campus buildings or outdoors. Researchers are exploring additional capabilities for future versions of the app to detect who is approaching and what is their mood. The NavCog app will soon be available at no cost on the App Store.

Tesla To Map Roads With Cloud Technology

Google and Apple both have invested a lot of time and money on fleets of cars that drive around, collecting data. As usual, Tesla has a better idea and it’s brilliant. Instead of relying on a small fleet of dedicated road mapping vehicles, Tesla will use cloud technology to map roads, then share that data wirelessly with every Tesla ever built. The power to do that is included in the Version 7.0 software Tesla started downloading to its Model S sedans last week.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Daimler, Audi, BMW, GM Lead on Autonomous Vehicles: Study

Around the same time today that electric car innovator Elon Musk was heralding the release of Tesla’s new autopilot 7.0 software, with automatic lane changes and speed limit handling, a research firm declared that Tesla is more in the middle of the pack for autonomous vehicle development. The automakers who are really leading are Daimler, Audi, BMW and General Motors, the analysis by Navigant Research  found.
The study only considered OEMs, not technology companies including Google, which already has tested its self-driving electric cars on the road.

GM Has ‘Aggressive’ Plans for Self-Driving Cars

General Motors is no stranger to autonomous tech, which it started exploring almost a decade ago when it collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University for an autonomous vehicle competition sponsored by DARPA.
It plans to capitalize on that work with “Super Cruise,” a semi-autonomous feature that will let a car handle itself on the freeway. The feature is expected to appear on an unspecified Cadillac model next year. The company also will deploy a fleet of robo-Volts, with engineers at the wheel just in case, at the Warren Technical Center.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

CMU's Mobility Analytics Center works with City to create 19 month Detour

The detour routes were created in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University’s Mobility Analytics Center. Public Works Director Mike Gable said his department, along with CMU researchers and public safety staffers, will continually monitor how well the detours are working and will make route and traffic signal adjustments where necessary.

Pittsburgh expanding test of traffic management system

According to city officials, Surtrac -- which was developed through Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 research initiative -- cut vehicle wait times by 42 percent, travel times by 24 percent and vehicle emissions by 21 percent when initially deployed at intersections in the East Liberty section of the city.

Navya: The Autonomous Shuttle That Goes On Open Roads

As Pascal Lecuyot (lead R&D Engineer at Navya), the technology of the Navya Arma is akin to the Google car. It distinguishes itself by being a shuttle that can carry up to 15 passengers and being readily available, with first orders being delivered by mid-November.  It will soon enable the transport of passengers on closed sites such as airports, hospitals, campuses and industrial sites.  Orders for this year include ten vehicles, with plans on selling more than a hundred next year.  The Arma is also compatible for open roads applications, such as first and last mile situations. 

Uber Pickups Replacing Taxi Pickups In Manhattan

In central and lower Manhattan (which is where traffic congestion is worst and de Blasio focused his efforts against Uber), Uber increased pickups year over year by 3.82 million, while taxis decreased pickups by around 3.83 million. In other words, Uber did not add to the amount of pickups in Manhattan but rather replaced taxi pickups. Total number of pickups, both Uber and taxi alike, changed only by about 10,000, going from 39.37 million in 2014 compared to 39.36 million in 2015.

Confessions of a driver who can’t stop looking at her phone

Just being on a cellphone — even hands free — is dangerously distracting when you’re behind the wheel. A Carnegie Mellon study found that listening to somebody on a cellphone reduces activity in the parts of the brain we need for driving by 37 percent, leading to the kinds of errors people make under the influence of alcohol.

Tesla update enables autonomous driving features

A wireless software upgrade has started providing Tesla models, released since September 2014, with the company's new Autopilot feature, which allows the car to steer, change lanes and park autonomously. Tesla founder Elon Musk notes that drivers should exercise caution and keep their hands on the wheel as they begin to use the new software, which costs $2,500 to activate.

Four connected car infographics that capture the ecosystem

Looking for a quick rundown of the connected car market, expected trends and predictions? These four connected car infographics pack a lot of information into a space smaller than a smart car.

Toyota targets fuel-cell car sales of 30,000 a year by 2020

Toyota plans to work with governments, partner companies and other stakeholders in its effort to nearly eliminate the emissions from its cars, reducing them by 90%, compared to 2010 levels, by 2050. The company has promised to release fuel-cell hybrid versions in all categories. "[F]or an automaker to envision all combustion engines as gone is pretty extraordinary," said Senior Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise.

Volkswagen to shift focus to electric, hybrid vehicles

Volkswagen will cut investment plans at its biggest division by $1.1 billion a year and step up development of electric vehicles, it said Tuesday as it battles to cope with the fallout from its cheating of diesel emissions tests. The German company said it would speed up cost cutting at the VW division, its largest by revenues, and put only the latest and “best environmental technology” in diesel vehicles.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In California, Electric Cars Outpace Plugs, and Sparks Fly

More public chargers are the obvious long-term solution. About half of the 330,000 electric vehicles in this country are registered in California, and Gov. Jerry Brown wants to increase that number to 1.5 million by 2025. He has pledged a sharp increase in charging stations. Right now, there is roughly one public charger for every 10 electric vehicles — about 15,000 in California and 33,000 across the country, according to ChargePoint, one of the biggest charging-station companies. (There are thousands of other, unofficial charging spots that are essentially wall outlets that businesses or homeowners have made available for public plug-in).

Driverless Car Accident Reports Make Unhappy Reading For Humans

The DMV has just published all the official accident reports involving autonomous vehicles tested on California’s roads, covering the period from last September to date, on its website. This data mostly pertains to Google’s driverless vehicles, with eight of the nine reports involving Mountain View robot cars. The other one is an autonomous vehicle made by Delphi Automatic. The reports appear to support Google’s claims that human error by the drivers of the non-autonomous cars is, on the surface, causing accidents. However the difficulties caused by the co-mingling of human and robot driving styles is also in ample evidence.


This will triple the retail price of electric cars like the popular Tesla and remove their competitive price advantage against standard fossil fuel-powered models...  ...Bloomberg reports the country will also make diesel vehicles more attractive by cancelling a pollution levy.

China to build charging stations for 5 million electric cars

China today said it will build a nationwide charging-station network to cater to the power demands of five million electric vehicles by 2020, a move to provide big thrust to the battery powered car sales.
The network will cover residential areas, business districts, public space and inter-city highways, a set of guidelines approved by the central cabinet said.  Under the guidelines, new residential complexes should build charging points or assign space for them, while public parking lots should have no less than 10 per cent of parking spaces with charging facilities. 

5 Tech Tools Governments Can Use to Alleviate Traffic Troubles

Steven Swartz, a co-author of the report by consultancy firm McKinsey and Co., said the key is for governments to be flexible and encourage innovative solutions. There’s a cocktail of solutions to specific problems brewing, and nobody knows for sure which ones will work and which ones will be the most important or useful. “My sense is that the folks who create the most robust environment for experimentation as you go through this kind of genesis that we’re going through [are] ultimately going to be the ones that figure this out,” he said.

Toyota confirms on-road driverless car trials

Toyota has confirmed it is testing driverless cars in Japan, announcing it used a modified version of its premium-brand Lexus GS on Tokyo's Shuto Expressway. The car carried out a number of manoeuvres, including changing lanes successfully and keeping its distance from other cars on the road.

ITSJPO: Enabling Technologies for Vehicle Automation Webinar

Date: Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Time: 2:00 P.M. to 4:00 P.M. EDT
Presenter: Mohammed Yousuf – Research Transportation Specialist – Federal Highway Administration
Presenter: Ram Kandarpa – Senior Associate – Booz Allen Hamilton
The objective of this webinar is to share project findings and receive expert feedback from the automated vehicles technology community on the current capabilities and future directions for key AV enabling technologies. In addition, this webinar will aim to develop a clear understanding of current capabilities, limitations, and future directions of AV technologies. 

Automotive Giants Meet To Further Standards For In-Vehicle Data

Representatives from Fiat Chrysler, Ford, GM, HERE, Inrix, TomTom and Robert Bosch met to discuss the standardization of vehicle data to enable global sharing. "The increasing interconnectivity of the vehicles is changing the automotive industry sustainably. A future without traffic accidents becomes more likely if as many participants as possible collaborate to enable cars to gain a comprehensive perception of their environment," said HERE's Ogi Redzic.

China to invest $30b in intelligent transportation industry

ITS China Chairman Wu Zhongze revealed ...  that his country will put about $30 billion into various intelligent transportation systems by the end of the decade. Plans include a national EV charging system platform, information sharing between modes of transportation and a green transport system, he said, in addition to already established information management systems and taxi applications

Webinar: Regional Models of Cooperation – Regional Transit Planning

Date: Friday, October 16, 2015
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 P.M. ET
This webinar will address collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries in Regional Transit Planning, and will feature speakers from the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Chicago Regional Transportation Authority, and the Maricopa Association of Governments. Presenters will discuss their region’s successful cooperative efforts around regional transit planning in complex regions with multiple agencies or jurisdictions.
Presenters include:
Mark Pitstick, Technical Advisor, Chicago Regional Transit Authority
Eric Anderson, Transportation Director, Maricopa Association of Governments
John Orr, Manager, Transportation Access and Mobility Division, Atlanta Regional Commission

Rise of the Real-Time Traveler: An Exploration of Trends and Innovation in Urban Mobility

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America has released a report that examines the public’s shifting demographics and purchasing behaviors with regards to shared-use mobility, and possible changes in how cars will be viewed, built, and operated in the future.

Volpe News: Rail Research Highlighted, New Event Series, and MPO Strategies for Megaregions, September 2015

Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, has released the latest edition of its eNews bulletin that features its news briefs, tools for practitioners, and reports.

UTC Spotlight: October 2015

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology at the U.S. Department of Transportation has released its monthly report that highlights recent accomplishments and products from university transportation centers. This month’s edition features the University of Maryland.

I-95 Corridor Coalition Seeks New Executive Director

George Schoener, the Executive Director of the I-95 Corridor Coalition, has announced his retirement effective December of this year.  We are actively searching for a new Executive Director. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

CMU and Boeing Establish Aerospace Data Analytics Lab

The goal, say Carnegie Mellon University and Boeing, is to find ways to use artificial intelligence and big data to capitalize on the enormous amount of data generated in the design, construction and operation of modern aircraft. Creating a maintenance schedule determined by the actual flight history and component performance for each airplane, rather than historic norms for similar aircraft, is just one of the possibilities. Ted Colbert, Boeing’s chief information officer, described the lab as a unique aerospace partnership which will address the company’s evolving business needs. “We’re aiming to push the technology envelope,” Colbert said. “We have the best and the brightest faculty at a leading institution focused on how we can innovate and solve business challenges for today and into the future.”

$11M gift from Hillman to help CMU attract faculty, support students

The university has raised more than $20 million for the chair between Hillman's gift and contributions from other area philanthropies and plans to continue fundraising with a goal of funding the endowment at $30 million, a university spokesman said...
...In 2014, he gave CMU $5 million to support the BrainHub research initiative, and $2.75 million in 2014 to support Traffic21 and Metro21.

Volvo will accept liability for self-driving car crashes

Questions over legal liability of accidents and the changing role of car insurance for motorists in a driverless-car era have been asked since engineers first plucked the idea of autonomous vehicles from the pages of science fiction and started turning them into reality. But despite the question being posed throughout the auto industry, few have had an answer. Volvo's pledge marks the first concrete step toward one. While the carmaker only represents a small fraction of the U.S. market this move is also a smart business decision, giving Volvo an edge over automakers who don't offer a similar liability shield to customers.

ITS World Congress discusses mobility, EVs, automation

Discussions at this week's ITS World Congress focused on the future of the automotive industry, including the development of electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as the shift from selling car ownership to promoting the car experience. Keynote speaker Brigitte Courtehoux of Peugeot Citroen predicted that car companies would, in the future, be "mobility service providers."

French firm debuts driverless shuttle in Calif. office park

France's EasyMile said it is partnering with the GoMentum Station autonomous vehicle testing facility, which will allow it to run a pilot project offering driverless shuttle service in a San Ramon, Calif., office park next year. EasyMile has launched similar projects in France, Finland, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.

Mercedes-Benz F015 Prototype Can Be Controlled With A Smartphone App

Mercedes-Benz has introduced a prototype driverless car that can be controlled via a smartphone application or via a button-free dashboard that responds to hand gestures and eye movements. The German automaker demonstrated the breakthrough on a pre-programmed course on CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday but said such a car would not be introduced until the distant future.

Google Street View Cars To Measure And Map Urban Air Quality

Google has teamed up with environmental sensor company Aclima to add sensors to its Street View cars in California in order to measure and map air quality in three cities. "We have a profound opportunity to understand how cities live and breathe in an entirely new way by integrating Aclima's mobile sensing platform with Google Maps and Street View cars," said Aclima's Davida Herzl.

NOCoE and NACTO discuss Traffic Incident Management in Seattle

National Operations Center of Excellence is holding a webinar on Traffic Incident Management in conjunction with the National Association of City Transportation Officials on Oct. 21 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00p.m. The webinar will focus on the city of Seattle, which lacked standard protocols in planning for and responding to major traffic incidents on its roadway network prior to a crash in March 2015 that effectively paralyzed the city during the evening rush hour. This webinar will tell the story of what went wrong, and how Seattle brought in a team of consultants and nationwide experts in the field to help them improve its Traffic Incident Management program. 

Uber and Lyft face a new challenger in Boston

The startup, Fasten, raised nearly just over $9 million in the spring, and quietly began operating in Boston last month, according to the Boston Herald. Fasten’s service is identical to Uber’s low-cost UberX service, which employs regular folks to ferry passengers in their own cars, except for a couple of important details. Instead of taking a percentage cut, say 20% to 30%, from each ride, it only takes $1 per ride (or a fixed daily or weekly fee, according to Fasten’s website). “People will still love Uber, people will still love Lyft, but there is room for us as well,” co-founder and CEO Kirill Evdakov told the Boston Herald. “It’s not a zero-sum game, it’s not a winner-takes-all game.”

5 Takeaways from the Largest Electric Vehicle Study to Date

We still have plenty to learn about electric vehicles and how Americans use them since the earliest adopters went green. From the start of 2011 to the beginning of 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory installed over 17,000 level 2 EV charging stations around the country and tracked the charging habits of over 8,000 plug-in hybrid and all-electric car drivers to assess the state of things. The study was the largest on EV infrastructure to date.

Carnegie Mellon's Traffic21 Seminar Series: Mobility Data Analytics Center with Sean Qian

October 8, 2015
12:15pm - 1 p.m.
Watch LIVE!
Sean Qian, Director of the Mobility Data Analytics Center speaks about his work.

Analysis tallies death toll from Volkswagen diesels' air pollution

The software that the company admitted using to get around government emissions limits allowed VWs to spew enough pollution to cause somewhere between 16 and 94 deaths over seven years... “Statistically, we can't point out who died because of this policy, but some people have died or likely died as a result of this,” said Carnegie Mellon University environmental engineer professor Peter Adams. He calculates the cost of air pollution with a sophisticated computer model that he and the AP used in its analysis.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Tesla, and to a far lesser extent other high-end fully-electric cars like the BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz electric B, are the standard-bearers for electric cars in the mass consciousness. They’re the ones that get the envious looks on the highway and the fawning coverage by the press. Newcomers like Apple, with their own electric car program, are almost certainly entering that category. But the future doesn’t belong to Tesla…. It belongs to far cheaper, mass-market electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Ford Focus.

U.K. City Is Designing a Future of Fewer Cars — By Focusing on Its Roads

If all goes as planned, by 2018, Milton Keynes’ downtown will be served by an on-demand, publicly run system of 30 to 40 driverless two-seater pod cars, which will allow residents to travel between any two points in the city’s downtown without navigating or reacting to obstacles themselves. Beyond the city center, the trials will also test the viability of semi-autonomous connected cars for private use, a fast-developing technology that at present still requires a driver to be present in case of emergencies. These trials, announced in early 2015, are striking in their own right but also came simultaneously with another significant announcement. In March, Milton Keynes Council rejected the idea of building a tram or monorail line, citing high costs, disruption and potential inefficiency. For now at least, Milton Keynes believes that when it comes to exploring the future of greener, safer transport, vehicles for individuals are a better bet than pumping money into mass transit.

Driverless car trials set to accelerate in 2016 in South Australia

South Australia is set to host the Southern Hemisphere’s first on-road test of driverless cars in November and independent road research group ARRB’s managing director, Gerard Waldron, says it’s just the tip of the iceberg. “We have six other trials at various stages of preparation for next year and a number of those will be in other states,” Mr Waldron told The Australian. South Australia introduced a new piece of legislation late last month that allows testing of driverless vehicles on state roads by exempting them from selected existing laws, in a bid to attract car manufacturers and technology companies that are pouring money into driverless cars. 

Peugeot Citroen trials driverless car

A PROTOTYPE driverless car built by Peugeot Citroen has completed a 325 mile journey from Paris to Bordeaux where it will feature in this week's Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress. The autonomous car, which uses an array of cameras, radar and sat nav to travel, completed the route without any human intervention. Driving along the motorway the modified Citroen C4 Grand Picasso automatically adjusted its speed and changed lanes to overtake, taking into account other vehicles, speed limits and junctions.

Uber may be encouraging delay of car purchases: Survey

Auto sales in the U.S. for September came in at their highest monthly level since 2005 according to Autodata, displaying strength in a major consumer category. Yet according to new survey, the rise in popularity of ride-sharing app Uber is already having a significant impact on customer attitudes towards the purchase of new cars.  The survey, conducted by research-based consulting firm Magid Advisors and shared exclusively with CNBC, found that among 2,400 respondents, Uber usage has grown from 4 percent in 2014 to 17 percent in 2015.

Singapore to Deploy Driverless Vehicles at Ports

Permanent Secretary for Transport Pang Kin Keong says the Ministry of Transport will test “truck platooning” technology for moving containers between port terminals. A truck with a driver will be followed by a convoy of three or four driverless vehicles. He is quoted in a Singapore Economic Development Board report as saying this reduces manpower reliance and increases productivity while benefiting Singapore’s logistics sector, which has been facing a shortage of drivers. Pang says the government doesn’t intend to replace a driven car with a driverless one, but to explore autonomous-vehicle technology in shared or public transport to bring new forms of mobility for the masses with the convenience of private transport.

GM to expand plans for driverless cars, ride-sharing

General Motors said it would introduce a fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Volts in late 2016 on its Warren Technical Center campus for employee use. The company also announced a New York City ride-sharing project and unveiled a concept electric bicycle as it expanded its efforts to provide alternative mobility options. In addition, CEO Mary Barra said, GM's joint fuel-cell work with Honda will produce a fuel-cell vehicle by about 2020. Barra and other senior GM executives spoke to analysts and large investors Thursday at the company's Milford Proving Grounds.

Mercedes-Benz wants to launch a driverless limo service

Germany’s oldest carmaker is making plans for a fleet of autonomous vehicles that customers can summon on demand, a response to the threat from Silicon Valley companies like Uber and Google that are pursuing their own driverless cars. Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, Daimler, told Reuters that the robotic limousine is “a concrete development goal.” Daimler already owns Car2Go, a mobile car rental service, and has developed a futuristic self-driving Mercedes-Benz prototype.

Volvo enlists auto safety group Autoliv for driverless car project

Volvo and Autoliv aim to introduce active safety systems in 100 driverless cars that will be used by commuters in Gothenburg from 2017. "Autonomous driving will make our roads better and safer. The sooner we can develop the necessary technologies and start offering them in our cars the better," Volvo Cars' chief executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement. The project - described by Volvo as the world's first large-scale initiative with autonomous driving - began in 2013 and involves Swedish transport authorities and universities.

Google Maps Lands On The Apple Watch: Simpler But Still Smart

The Google Maps app for the Apple Watch allows users to tap on buttons to be shown the routes that they can take to go to saved locations, such as their home address or to their office address. Additionally, users that look for directions on the iPhone will have the directions automatically synced to the Apple Watch, which users can access once they launch the Google Maps app on the smartwatch.The app will support all the transportation modes that can be viewed on the iPhone, including directions when the user is walking, biking, driving or taking public transportation.

XPrize contest offers $20M to reduce CO2 emissions

A group of Canadian oil companies and American company NRG Energy has joined forces to fund an XPrize competition to reduce CO2 emissions. The prize is $20 million. The contest opened on September 29, 2015, and will go on for the next four years. The challenge for the teams is to create technologies that transforms CO2 into one or more products with the highest net value.

Toyota To Sell Cars That Communicate With Each Other And Roadways By Year End

“Equipping ITS on these three models will make Toyota the world’s first automaker to bring a driver-assist function that uses a dedicated ITS frequency to market,” Toyota said in a release announcing the decision. The ITS technology uses a frequency of 760 megahertz, which is standardized for Japan, to send and receive information between vehicles and roadway infrastructure. With proper equipment in place, including sensors and cameras on roadways—admittedly, a big caveat—traffic signals will be able to trigger warnings in the dashboard of a vehicle that is approaching a red light but not slowing down. This is just one possible scenario where vehicle-to-infrastructure communication could prevent an accident.

Scientists use mushrooms for new batteries to power cell phones, electric vehicles

The porosity of portabella mushrooms, the researchers said, will improve future batteries and devices with longer performance. The mushrooms also have high potassium salt concentration, which can help increase the capacity of rechargeable batteries. "With battery materials like this, future cell phones may see an increase in run time after many uses, rather than a decrease, due to apparent activation of blind pores within the carbon architectures as the cell charges and discharges over time," said Brennan Campbell, a graduate student in the Materials Science and Engineering programme at UC Riverside.