Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Myth Of Autonomous Vehicles’ New Craze: Ethical Algorithms

Coming to terms with a world in which we increasingly put our lives in the hands of machines is not simple, but it becomes much less simple when we try to force a false notion of ethics into the conversation. The world of tomorrow does not include a dangerous and slippery slope of software ethics, at least in the sphere of AVs. The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can realize the safer streets such technology promises.

Elon Musk Just Dropped Another Hint That Tesla May Take On Uber

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said Thursday night the electric automaker is beefing up its self-driving car software. The urgency of Musk's offer, and the fact that he chose to tweet it to the public, could signal that the company is preparing to launch a self-driving mobility service akin to the one being built by Uber, the $51 billion ride-hailing service.  Tesla declined to comment on Thursday night about how many engineers it hopes to hire and its future plans for them. "We're going to let the tweets speak for themselves," a Tesla spokeswoman told The Huffington Post in an email.

An Innovation Case Study: Pittsburgh

This past February, Uber announced it was partnering with CMU to open a 53,000-square-foot research and development facility focused on designing self-driving cars. It also hired away more than 40 of Carnegie Mellon’s researchers, prompting grumbles about the big tech companies swiping the best local talent. But most people are glad to have them here. “As you’re recruiting executives to move here [for a startup job], Google provides a sense of stability,” says Sean Ammirati, a partner at Birchmere Ventures, a local investment company. “If the startup doesn’t work out, there is a place to transition to. And a lot of people who work at those big companies get bored pretty quick, so they look for something different to do.”

Can Uber And Lyft Be The Ultimate Connected Platforms?

It’s clear that Uber views its service as capable of delivering more than just A-to-B transportation, and its competitors haven’t been blind to these opportunities, either. In fact, Uber’s main rival, Lyft, might be a hair’s length ahead of them in the race to become a truly connected commerce platform,Fortune reported. Not only has Lyft managed to score a partnership with Justin Bieber where riders can receive the pop idol’s new album at a discounted rate if they choose to ride through Lyft’s “Bieber Mode,” but the Uber competitor managed to secure the rights to an exclusive relationship with Starbucks that, though details are still scarce, could see riders’ coffee orders arriving in the same cars they hail.

"Platoon" tech for tractor-trailers is tested in Utah

Utah's Department of Transportation is testing a vehicle-to-vehicle communications system that would let two trucks "platoon" on a highway. The lead truck is controlled by a driver, and the second uses the system to follow closely. The system could reduce fuel costs by 10%, an official says.

GM exec: OnStar offers head start on connectivity

GM's OnStar system, which has jumped from 20 million users in 2013 to 65 million users, gives the company a jump over competitors in the connectivity market, says GM infotainment chief Phil Abram. GM has teamed with Apple and Android on in-car infotainment, but Abram says his team is focused on adding features that go beyond phone capabilities, such as OnStar's new service that notifies driver of impending battery or engine problems.

Uber announces safety advisory board

Ride-sharing company Uber announced it will form an advisory board made up of security experts to help it deal with various safety and security issues, including drivers' and passengers' physical safety, securing data and cooperating with law enforcement agencies.

VIDEO: U.S. public transportation sucks, and this is why

If you’ve ever had the experience of waiting for a very late train, sitting on a broken-down bus for 45 minutes, or trying to navigate what would be a 20-minute drive on three different forms of public transit, you’ve probably wondered to yourself: Why does mass transit in the United States suck so much?Well, we’ve wondered the exact same thing. We turned to two of Grist’s resident public transportation aficionados, Ben Adler and Heather Smith, to help us answer that question and also figure out how we can make all our buses and rails work forus, not against us. Watch our video to learn more about how we became so car-obsessed, and why — even if you have to wait forever for it — it’s actually worth it to get on the bus.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Google's driverless car nearly gets first traffic ticket for being too slow

Google's autonomous vehicle project, which has logged 1.2 million miles, was nearly handed its first traffic ticket Thursday when police officers stopped one of the cars because it was going 24 mph in a 35 mph zone.

Ford First To Test Driverless Cars In The Fake Town Mcity

Ford is eager to stay ahead of the competition and Mcity is part of their strategy to do so. As Michigan University director of Mobility Transformation Center Peter Sweatman explained, “The goal of Mcity is simply to get the technology off our fake streets and on to real streets as quickly as possible.” According to a release from the company, every mile of driving in Mcity is like 10, 100 or even 1,000 miles of on-road experience because of all the obstacles that can be packed into the artificial environment. Still, there are factors that can be difficult to test. 

New tech will lower number of human-driven utility vehicles

Exactly what the autonomous cars of the future will look like is uncertain, but driverless vehicles will lower the number of utility vehicles driven by humans, including taxis and delivery trucks as human drivers cease to be a cost-effective option, writes Diego Rodriguez. He predicts that robotic delivery vehicles, taxis and public transportation vehicles will improve efficiency for transportation of goods as well as commuting.

Streetside: November 2015

The Alliance for Biking and Walking has released the latest edition of its newsletter that includes news on safety-related topics, policy updates, advocacy information, and upcoming events.

Volpe News: Connected Cities, Autonomous Vehicles, NextGen, Volpe Jobs, and More, October 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.

TRB Webinar: Future Directions for Multimodal Research and Practice

TRB will conduct a webinar on Wednesday, December 9, 2015, from 2:00-3:30PM ET that will focus on the most recent technological developments that facilitate multimodal transportation. The webinar will provide knowledge on current research advancements in urban multimodal transportation, and the challenges of overcoming the gap between research and practice.

Webinar Presenters
Kristine Williams, Center for Urban Transportation Research at University of South Florida
Darby Watson, Seattle Department of Transportation
John Gordon, Metro
Tiffany Chu, Remix
Moderator: Ivana Tasic, University of Utah

Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology-Enabled Transportation Services

On December 11, 2015 at 11:00 AM ET, TRB will release Special Report 319: Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology-Enabled Transportation Services. Join the discussion at the Keck Center, 500 Fifth Street NW, Washington D.C or participate in a live webcast.

2016 TRB Annual Meeting: Advance Registration Rate Ends November 30, 2015

Register and make your hotel reservations for the TRB 95th Annual Meeting, January 10-14, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Registration is required for all Annual Meeting attendees, including those who plan to attend any workshop, visit the exhibits, or take advantage of onsite programming and services.

Pitt student’s study on Oakland traffic patterns sparks citywide safety effort

On a recent Friday, Mr. Bauman, 31, of Bloomfield set up a rudimentary system to test the speed of traffic on Forbes Avenue in front of the Cathedral of Learning. He took his cell phone to the top of the cathedral at 3:15 p.m. and shot 10 minutes of video that he ran through a computer program to determine how fast the vehicles were moving. He found 58 vehicles going faster than 30 mph in a 25 mph zone: 46 between 30 and 35 mph, 10 between 35 and 40 mph and two above 40 mph. “I wasn’t even sure what I would find,” said Mr. Bauman, who has been riding in the corridor for five years as he pursues a graduate degree in bio-engineering.

Dutch firm unveils smart bike with GPS tracking

Dutch bike manufacturer Vanmoof is so confident its new smart bike can't be stolen that the company is offering a guarantee to replace any stolen models that aren't recovered within two weeks. The bike includes GPS tracking, an application to see where it is parked, lock and unlock it, and the ability to share access to friends via Facebook. The bike also boasts built-in lights that are recharged by pedaling.

GM is committed to electrification

General Motors sees the electrification of cars as a solution and plans to have the Chevrolet Bolt in the market in 2016, says CEO Mary Barra. She adds that GM is working on assisted-driving technology and fully autonomous cars. "We're going to disrupt ourselves, and we are disrupting ourselves, so we're not trying to preserve a model of yesterday," she asserts.

Volkswagen is confirming what Tesla has been advocating for years.

But here's where Volkswagen's aspirations for its charging network get really interesting: Hofmann mulled over the possibility of eventually being able to offer a 350 kW charge. This level of charge would mean charging a fully electric, long-range vehicle would "not take any longer time than refueling." Pair fast recharging times with home charging, which enables owners of fully electric cars to never have to stop to charge when daily driving is closer to home (since they will start each day with sufficient charge), and the recharging experience hits an important mile stone: Traveling in an electric car would be far easier than traveling in a gas car.

CEO suggests Uber could support driver retraining

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has suggested that education, vocational training and transition periods could be offered to help Uber drivers transition to new careers when the company begins its shift to autonomous vehicles. "You’ll see Uber working on this way before the transition happens," he said. 

Volpe Webinar: Re-Programming Mobility 2030: Scenarios of Digital Transformation in Metropolitan America

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Join Anthony Townsend, senior research scientist at New York University’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management, for his talk on digital transformation in metropolitan America.

USDOT unveils annual transportation stats report

The US Department of Transportation has published this year's State Transportation Statistics Report. It includes data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia on safety, infrastructure, passenger travel, registered vehicles, vehicle-miles traveled, freight transportation, how transportation systems affect the economy and the environmental impact of transportation.

Ola, Uber's India Rival, Raises $500M In Funding, Now Valued At $5 Billion

Most bike-share rides are between two stations, indicating the services are being used for transportation. But the majority of round-trip rides occur near parks or trails, suggesting riders are also using bike-share programs for recreation, according to a report by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research. "The more stations there are throughout a city, the more destinations people can go to from any one kiosk. So, commuting activity can increase exponentially as a system expands," said co-author Kelsey Walker.

US cars will travel 35% farther each year by 2050

U.S. cars will travel one trillion additional miles annually by 2050, or 35% more than the roughly 2 trillion miles traveled in 2015, according to KPMG. The company’s research, which consisted of consumer focus groups in Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, found that millennials and “baby boomers plus,” who range in age from 45 to 75, will be largely responsible for the increased driving.

Audi partners with Mass. city to test self-parking tech

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler and Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Somerville, Mass., have reached an agreement to allow Audi to test connected infrastructure for self-parking cars in the city. Self-parking vehicles would allow parking facilities to be smaller and move outside of crowded urban areas, all the while reducing traffic caused by drivers searching for spaces.

Hyundai announces $9.8B R&D plan for driverless cars

Hyundai Motor Group said it will spend $9.75 billion over the next five years on research and development into autonomous-car technology. The automaker says it plans to have partially autonomous cars ready by decade's end, with fully driverless vehicles for sale in 15 years. "[A] great deal of research and rigorous product testing will need to be carried out to make the 'self-driving car' a reality," said R&D Vice President Lim Tae-won.

Audi President: 25% of sales to come from electric cars in 2025

The luxury car brand announced its road map to electrification at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday. President of Audi of America Scott Keogh said the company expects at least 25 percent of its sales in North America to be electric vehicles by 2025. "Audi's not a half-measure brand," said Keogh. "When we go in, we like to do things right."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Report: Electric Vehicles Best Option in Most of U.S.

A new Union of Concerned Scientists report shows that due to considerable gains made in cleaning the electric grid and in producing electric vehicles more efficiently, EVs are the environmentally sensible choice. The UCS report, "Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave (2015)," considers three variables in its evaluation of lifecycle carbon emissions that includes "vehicle production, operation, and disposal":
Regional electricity grids across the United States based on the global warming emissions produced from electricity generation,
Emissions generated by charging an EV,
Emissions produced by gasoline-powered vehicles.

Two utility CEOs on importance of electric vehicles, potential impact on reaching climate goals

Recently the utility industry announced a landmark partnership with the Department of Energy aimed at accelerating the deployment of electric transportation across the United States. The agreement, signed by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and EEI President Thomas Kuhn, is called the EV Everywhere Utility Partnership, or “EV Everywhere UP.” It builds on DOE’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, announced by President Obama in 2012, to help the U.S. become the first nation in the world to produce EVs that are as affordable for the average American family by 2022 as a 2012 baseline gasoline-powered vehicle.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

23rd ITS World Congress Call for Papers Open

Call for papers - Now Open
After an incredibly successful event in Bordeaux, the 23rd ITS World Congress, to be held in Melbourne on 10 - 14 October 2016, now invite you to submit your papers for review.

Millennials love public transit, survey says

Frank Ramsden, who is a part of the Urban Land Institute’s Young Leader Group, said he was struck by the numbers of Boston Millennials — defined in the survey as people between the ages of 20 and 37 — who were willing to take transit, even though they had access to a car. “Transit is an enormous part of our daily lives,” said Ramsden, who spearheaded the poll. According to the survey, 78 percent of respondents thought it was “very important” for their workplace to be near public transit (About 32 percent said they believed it was important to be near restaurants or bars, and 32 percent also said they cared about workplace amenities). Millennials also care about transit near their homes. Asked to choose their top three factors in searching for a neighborhood in which to live, 81 percent chose the “ease of commute,” and about 80 percent also checked off “transit access.” Comparatively, only 25 percent said they cared about being close to on-street parking.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

CMU Researcher's Port Authority Sensors Help Smooth Your Ride Into Work

If you've ever ridden a subway, you've probably experienced a bump in the tracks that could send your coffee onto another rider. George Lederman, doctoral candidate at Carnegie Mellon University, wants to fix that, though you may never notice his work. Piezoelectric sensors fixed to train cars with electrical tape are at the heart of Lederman's monitoring equipment. They measure changes in pressure, acceleration, temperature, strain and force by converting these changes into an electrical charge.  “The car vibrates and the amplitude of that signal corresponds to the amount of vibration the car senses,” said Port Authority engineer Dave Kramer, who’s worked closely with Lederman. Each car bears one sensor on its underbelly and two more locked in the cabinets near the driver’s booth. They communicate with a GPS antenna atop the vehicle through tiny computers, so when a spike in the data pops up, Lederman can determine the coordinates of bumps along the track.

Will drones be able to find, fill potholes?

Researchers at the University of Leeds in the UK are studying the use of drones to detect potholes and road weaknesses and then autonomously fix them. "We can support infrastructure which can be entirely maintained by robots and make the disruption caused by the constant digging up the road in our cities a thing of the past," said Phil Purnell, a member of the university's school of engineering. The drones will be tested and then begin a trial run in Leeds.

Lyft partnering with transit agencies

Lyft has partnered with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit agency, and the ride-sharing company is now an option on DART's mobile ticketing application as well as the trip planner app. "We needed to begin a concerted initiative to work with transit agencies and planners to have Lyft be integrated into that network and to ... help advance the goals of these agencies," whether those goals are to alleviate congestion or enhance connectivity or something else, said Emily Castor, Lyft's director of transportation policy.

Analyst: Toyota is working on satellite connectivity

Toyota may be taking a path that differs from that of its competitors in the connected-car market as it works with Kymeta to deliver satellite broadband Internet access to cars instead of Long-Term Evolution-based connections, automotive analyst Roger Lanctot says. Lanctot asserts that Toyota is working on a cloud-based system that could be used for infotainment.

Report predicts 220M connected cars by 2020

There are about 10 billion devices around the world connected to the Internet today, according to a report from BI Intelligence. But that number could grow to 34 billion by 2020, with 24 billion of them being Internet of Things devices, including connected cars -- which could number 220 million by the year 2020.

VTA and Google Team Up on Transportation Study

“The North Bayshore area has the potential to be a world class example of mixed use and corporate enterprise,” said Mountain View Mayor John McAlister. “It is exciting to see Google working with the Valley Transportation Authority and the city of Mountain View to make sure that footprint will be sensitive to our environment.” The study will include an analysis of possible mass transit connections to the North Bayshore area, including a light rail connection from the NASA / Bayshore station, new bridge crossings over Stevens Creek, and the development and/or application of new technologies. The study will result in a set of near, mid- and long-term recommendations for further study designed ultimately to lead to the implementation of projects, programs and services.

Mysterious Tesla Rival Faraday Future Backed By Netflix Of China, LeTV

According to a source familiar with the matter, Faraday Future needs to be seen as a U.S.-based Tesla rival. “Chinese people don’t want to buy Chinese products,” the source told TechCrunch.  However, there are rumblings in management. Faraday Future plans to release a vehicle rivaling Tesla’s model S in 2016. We’ve heard the price will be north of $100,000 (Tesla prices its Model S at $70,000).

Next stop please: Europe takes a lead in driverless buses

This month, the €3.4 million ‘WEpod’, will start driving itself between the towns of Wageningen and Ede in the Netherlands. “We’ll be the first driverless bus pilot in the world to go into mixed traffic. We’ll have to respond to everything - cars, bicycles, dogs, footballs,” said Marina Van Weele, a spokeswoman for the project. After testing, the little pods will start ferrying passengers for real from Wageningen University to the nearby railway station in May 2016.

Ford’s Skipping the Trickiest Thing About Self-Driving Cars

Google... ...is focused solely on fully autonomous vehicles that don’t even have a steering wheel. It sees no reason for the middle ground of semi-autonomy. Ford thinks Google might be right.
What’s more, the company wants to offer a no-kidding, it’s-fully-autonomous car in five years. No middle ground, not half measures, just a headlong leap into robo-vehicles. Washington acknowledges “our strategy is pretty similar” to Google’s, with two key differences. First, Ford already builds cars, and will continue introducing and improving driver assistance features even as it works on Level 4 autonomy. Second, Ford has no plans to sell wheeled pods in which people are merely along for the ride. You’ll always have the option of taking the wheel. “We see a future where the choice should be yours,” Washington says.

Coming soon to a city near you: Surge pricing for street parking

Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University conducted a pilot program into demand pricing on the streets near its campus; the professors running the program claimed they raised revenue and kept occupancy down. Boston, meanwhile, home to the $650,000 parking space, is looking into demand pricing as a way to free up downtown congestion, but needs to install more “smart” meters first. These kinds of pricing models are only possible now that the technology is available to collect and process the information; now that it exists, it is unlikely to go away. Taxis, energy utilities and theme parks are all well on their way, joining hotels and airlines in demand-based pricing.

Report: US cities not prepared for driverless cars

Cities in the US don't have plans in place for where and how autonomous cars will be allowed to operate, nor are they considering how changing transportation trends will affect land use in city planning, according to a report from the National League of Cities. Although a number of major carmakers predict they'll have driverless vehicles ready for sale by 2020 and ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft are already operating across the country, the study showed that only 6% of city plans consider the effect of autonomous cars and only 3% consider the effect of ride-sharing.

Hyundai's video shows driverless cars will make the world a better place

Hyndai, like many other auto companies, is working to have a driverless car on the market by 2020, and the company released a video over the weekend that shows the amazing potential of autonomous vehicles... It's a unique way to show how autonomous driving technology will become advanced enough that, eventually, drivers won't need to be present when a vehicle is operating. Watch Hyundai's full video. It's in Korean, but you don't really need to speak the language to understand what it's trying to convey.

Are Airbnb and Uber Saviors of the Middle Class?

“Platforms like Uber are boosting the incomes of millions of American families,” Plouffe said. “They’re helping people who are struggling to pay the bills, earn a little extra spending money, or transitioning between jobs.” Overall, he said, Uber and similar plaforms address “the challenges of wage stagnation and underemployment.” That message is strikingly similar to Airbnb’s self-portrait. “Homesharing provides an economic lifeline to the middle class in a period where economic inequality is one of the defining issues of our time,” Lehane said on Wednesday.

Uber Strikes Digital Maps Deal With TomTom

Car-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. has struck a deal with Dutch navigation company TomTom NV to use digital maps and traffic data for its smartphone application. TomTom will provide users of the Uber driver app with digital maps and traffic data in more than 300 cities around the world, the Dutch company said Thursday. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed.  Uber said the deal with TomTom won't replace traffic information it currently relies on and that it will continue to use a variety of different sources for its Uber driver app, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google mapping technology. “We have Google, Apple and now TomTom”, a spokesman said.

Elon Musk: 500-mile EVs By 2025

Speaking at the Barron’s Investment Conference last week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicted EVs would be good for 500 miles per charge by 2025. According to Green Car Reports, Musk believed such vehicles would be possible in 10 years, but tempered those expectations by cautioning that more assembly and battery production facilities would be needed to realize that future. At present, smaller lithium-ion cells have fallen in production costs at an average of 7 percent each year since the early 1990s.

A Look At The U.S. Cities Where Electric Cars Make The Most Dollars And Sense

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) analyzed the household financial perspective of buying an all-electric car in the 25 largest U.S. metropolitan areas.According to the report, despite $5,000 to $15,000 higher costs compared to non-electric cars, fuel and maintenance savings supported by incentives brings effective cost of six-year ownership below ICE cars in at least several places in the U.S. The best situation was in Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, where cost of EV ownership were second to none.

The Dream Life of Driverless Cars

Illah Nourbakhsh, a professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University and author of the book ‘‘Robot Futures,’’ uses the metaphor of the perfect storm to describe an event so strange that no amount of programming or image-­recognition technology can be expected to understand it. Imagine someone wearing a T-­shirt with a stop sign printed on it, he told me. ‘‘... The very unlikely will happen all the time.’’ The sensory limitations of these vehicles must be accounted for, Nourbakhsh explained, especially in an urban world filled with complex architectural forms, reflective surfaces, unpredictable weather and temporary construction sites. This means that cities may have to be redesigned, or may simply mutate over time, to accommodate a car’s peculiar way of experiencing the built environment.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

RESILIENT PITTSBURGH Community Deliberative Forums

Air quality issues. Inequality. Public health challenges. Flash floods. Infrastructure failure. Extreme weather. These are just a few of the chronic stresses and acute shocks that challenge and threaten Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has made significant progress in improving environmental stewardship and transitioning from a city in decline to a thriving hub of innovation, technology, education and medicine. However we recognize that there is still a need for focused, inclusive efforts to ensure all Pittsburgh residents and visitors live well and succeed. In December 2014, Pittsburgh was selected as a member of the second cohort of 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by Rockefeller Foundation (100RC).  The Community Deliberative Forums are on November 17th and November 19th.

Friday, November 6, 2015

US leads way in getting global deal on 5G spectrum sharing

The US will seek a global agreement at an international conference to reposition spectrum for next-generation 5G-powered mobile devices and other uses, US officials said Thursday. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters that if other nations follow suit, it will provide the "scope and scale economies" to unlock wireless' transformative power.

There’s no such thing as a Free-Way*

A new report documents that the amount that road users pay through gas taxes now accounts for less than half of what we spend to maintain and expand the road system. The shortfall is made up from other sources of tax revenue at the state and local level. This subsidization of car users costs the typical household about $1,100 per year – over and above what they pay in gas taxes, tolls and other user fees.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Driverless cars take to the road in Australia-first

This weekend, South Australia will hold the Southern Hemisphere's first test of a self-driving car. Professor Raj Rajkumar from Carnegie Mellon University has travelled to Adelaide for a conference on driverless cars, starting today, that's coinciding with the trial. RAJ RAJKUMAR: What the vehicle can do today and in the near future is drive itself on the highways, in a traffic jam, change lanes on a highway, park itself. So parts of the journey will be automated but not the entire journey in the near future.

WTS Pittsburgh Chapter Kick-off features national keynote Regina Hopper

The Pittsburgh Chapter of Womens Transportation Seminar is officially kicking off on November 10th! The kick off event features two national keynote speaker
  • Regina Hopper, President and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America
Tuesday November 10th
Rangos Hall, Cohon University Center
Carnegie Mellon University Campus
Registration Cost: Members – $25, Non-Members – $35, Student FREE
RSVP by October 30th

Volvo, Inrix app is designed to beat the traffic

Volvo XC90 drivers will be able to access live traffic data in their dashboards starting this month thanks to a connected-car application that is the product of a partnership between Volvo and traffic data firm Inrix. The new features will be available in Volvo cars in 42 countries, and they will eventually be in other models too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Robot Buses Are Coming To America, To Pave The Way For Driverless Cars

To find its way around, the EZ10 uses GPS to follow a pre-programmed route, along with laser sensors to avoid obstacles. This is a much easier job than that of Google’s autonomous cars, which need to be on the lookout for vehicles, pedestrians, and all kinds of surprise hazards as they hurtle along at highway speeds. Randell Iwasaki, executive director of CCTA, a company that operates the GoMentum Station testing ground for driverless vehicles, says this tech will help travelers get to transit stations, business districts and other local amenities "without the hassle of driving and parking."

Analysis: Some questions remain regarding connected vehicles

Connected cars will be more widespread by 2020, but some questions remain before the technology can really take off, including the role of drivers, what innovations will be incorporated into vehicles and when, insurance regulations and return on investment.

Toyota's Cupholder Robot Could Keep You Safe on the Road

At the Tokyo Motor Show this week, a miniature version of the first talking robot in space was revealed. It can hitch a ride in your car with you, keeping you company while driving—and maybe keeping you safe, too.Meet Kirobo Mini. It’ll say stuff like “Oops!” if you slam on the brakes, or start talking if it senses a dip in the conversation.  On their website, Toyota says that the pipsqueak machine could be integrated into its vehicles to gather hours of driving data that suggest places for you to visit based on your mood and driving history, music to listen to, and other features that use big data.

Mapping Safer Streets for Bicyclists, Pedestrians in Portland

For its Vision Zero initiative, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is collecting and mapping crash data.  But because they are focusing on accidents that result in fatal or serious injury, minor accidents — or near misses like many captured by NearlyKilled.Me — don’t show up in the data. “That seems backwards to me, that you have to get hurt to get the government’s attention,” says Hinkle. He wants the data to inform PBOT where infrastructure changes could be made before accidents occur. Every Monday morning, an automated script sends all new NearlyKilled.Me reports to about a dozen officials and agencies, including PBOT, Oregon DOT, Portland Police Bureau and the mayor’s office. Hinkle is disappointed that, thoughPBOT expressed interest in his data early on, the agency doesn’t seem eager to act upon it.

VIDEO: Yamaha’s Alternative for Driverless Cars: Robot-Driven Cars, Starting with Motobot

Japan's Yamaha Motor Co showcases a motorcycle-riding humanoid robot, with developers saying the technology could one day present an alternative to driverless cars.

Will Driverless Cars Mean Less Roadkill?

“If it looks like a pedestrian, it will be treated like a pedestrian,” says Aaron Steinfeld, a researcher and robotics engineer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Steinfeld, who has worked on the development of autonomous vehicles since 1998, says sensors now being used on driverless cars pick up information in different ways. Some, for instance, can provide information about an object’s surface—whether it is hard and likely made of metal, glass and steel, or soft and presumably made of fur, clothing and flesh. Any large, soft object will be treated like a pedestrian. Much of the talk is about how driverless cars could transform urban areas thick with pedestrians. But how will they stand to benefit those traveling at highway speeds on rural roads routinely crossed by moose, deer and wild pigs?

Google taught its driverless cars to recognize children in Halloween costumes

“This week, lots of little ghouls, superheroes and even robots were running around Google with their families, so we asked them to hang out around our parked cars. This gives our sensors and software extra practice at recognizing children in all their unique shapes and sizes, even when they're in odd costumes,” Google said in the post.  Once a sensor detects a child, whether they are dressed in a costume or not, the software proceeds with extra caution, the company said.

Smartphone app for visually impaired users from Carnegie Mellon

Martial Hebert, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mello
n, said that from localisation information to understanding of objects, they have been creating technologies to make the real-world environment more accessible for everyone. "With our long history of developing technologies for humans and robots that will complement humans’ missing abilities to sense the surrounding world, this open platform will help expand the horizon for global collaboration to open up the new real-world accessibility era for the visually impaired in the near future," said Hebert.

Electric Cars Help Reduce Urban Heat Island Effect (w/Video)

Large cities tend to heat up more during the day than they can cool off at night. This leads to increased temperatures, particularly during summer months. Those high temperatures mean more energy is consumed to run air conditioning equipment, which costs building owners and residents money. They also have a negative impact on the health of humans living in cities. According to a report published in Nature earlier this year and referenced in an article by CleanTechnica, mass adoption of electric vehicles in Beijing, China would lower the city’s average temperature by 1 degree Celsius. Because electric vehicles are more efficient than cars with internal combustion engines, they generate only about 20% as much heat while in operation as fossil fueled cars do.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Driverless cars to cost $7,000 extra as human leadfoots pose IT problem

Professor Raj Rajkumar from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh says it will be decades before there is full automation and he expects when the self-driving car technology reaches the mass market and is available in family sedans and sports utility vehicles, the extra technology will cost between $4,000 to $7,000 per vehicle.

CNBC VIDEO: Transportation will become safer discussion with CMU Chairman of Board of Trustees

Ray Lane, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Carnegie Mellon University, joins CNBC's Kelly Evans for an exclusive interview to discuss the future of driverless cars and a partnership with Uber.

Nissan incorporates self-driving Leaf on Tokyo streets

Last week, Nissan started testing its self-driving Leaf on streets and highways in and around Tokyo, the first step toward its plan to have fully autonomous vehicles available by the end of the decade. The company plans to have autonomous driving for heavy highway traffic available in its vehicles next year, and highway lane-change tech by 2018.

Viewpoint: Driverless cars will improve the world

Autonomous and green vehicle technology will reduce traffic accidents and deaths, lower carbon emissions, create more public green space and decrease the need to purchase vehicles, writes professor Eric Swanson of the University of Pittsburgh. He suggests electrifying national highways to charge vehicles and making electric cars a more appealing option.

TRB Webinar: Work Zone Speed Management

TRB will conduct a webinar on Thursday, November 12, 2015 from 2:00pm to 3:30pm ET that will provide an overview of the information synthesized in NCHRP Synthesis 482, "Work Zone Speed Management." This webinar will discuss what is known about the effectiveness of the most popular techniques to address the problem of speeding in work zones. This webinar will also describe several less frequently used techniques that could be effective.
Participants must register in advance of the webinar, and there is a fee for non-TRB Sponsor or non-TRB Sustaining Affiliate employees. A certificate for 1.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) will be provided to attendees who register and attend the webinar as an individual.

TRB Seeking Consultants with Highway Safety Research Expertise

TRB’s Studies and Special Programs Division invites letters of interest from persons wishing to be considered as consultants in support of the division's Committee on In-Service Performance of Guardrail End Treatments.  Details about the paper topics and additional information about the engagement are available online. To propose, submit a one- to two-page letter of interest, a resume providing your qualifications, and an executed liability statement to Joseph Morris at jmorris@nas.edu. Letters of interest are due by November 24, 2015.

Toole Design Group Hires Andy Clarke, Former Head of the League of American Bicyclists

“I am absolutely delighted that Andy decided to join us,” said Jennifer Toole, President. “He will be a tremendous asset to both our staff and clients, developing and helping to implement transformative multimodal policies and programs in the years to come. There are few professionals in this country with the depth of knowledge and experience that he has.”

‘Hyper lanes’ for driverless cars? Microsoft Research’s Eric Horvitz on the future of A.I.

Cool picture of Carnegie Mellon driverless car featured...
The managing director of Microsoft Research’s Redmond lab sketched out his vision of the future today at MIT’s EmTech conference in Cambridge, Mass., which highlights emerging technologies in computing, biomedicine and other fields. Part of that vision is the creation of “hyper lanes” that would smooth the way for autonomous vehicles, and potentially leave those pesky human drivers behind.

Statement By Pittsburgh's Mayor William Peduto On Safer Streets For All

"The recent loss of three lives on our streets is a tragedy for the whole city... ...Making our streets safer is a critical priority. We are addressing this head on through new and renewed street infrastructure, the ongoing analysis necessary to make the right choices, and the education and enforcement initiatives to make it work.
...In another busy district in East Liberty, the City partnered with Carnegie Mellon University’s Traffic21 research initiative to install adaptive signal controls at intersections that react in real time.