Thursday, December 31, 2015

Digital parking signs debut in Pittsburgh on New Year's Eve

Envision Downtown will pilot new signs along Fort Duquesne Boulevard on Thursday that tell drivers how many spaces are available in the nearest garages. Three LED television screens, mounted on poles and picking up Wi-Fi through an attached hotspot, will display the number of available spaces next to the name of the garage, but if it's full, will direct the driver to the next closest facility.  “We think we've hit on something really unique,” said Sean Luther, executive director of Envision Downtown. “We're not aware of any other city doing parking garage wayfinding exactly like this, but it's also a trial for us, too.” The system relies on data from the ParkPGH app, a project of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust funded by the Benter Foundation that launched about five years ago. The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust estimates the Park PGH app has been used more than 550,000 times this year, but the new signs are a way to keep drivers off their phones as they search for spots.

Here are the trends to watch for at CES 2016

Car tech, wearables, and virtual reality are just a few of the cooler technologies that will be on parade at at CES 2016.

Uber Hits One Billionth Ride

Rapidly expanding car service startup Uber says it has driven its 1 billionth ride. Launched in June 2010, it took the company 5.5 years to reach this milestone. Uber trip number 1 billion took place in London on Christmas Eve. The company says that the lucky rider, Marvin, has been gifted free Uber for a year (up to £10,000). To further commemorate this benchmark, driver Ara has been given an all-expense paid trip to the Uber city of his choice. Uber will also be donating to Hackney Pirates, a charity serving the neighborhood where the billionth trip started.

Uber Might Want to Be Your Next Travel Agent

Called "Uber Travel" in the images, it looks like a normal flight search like you would see on Expedia, but it adds Uber cars to the mix. A traveler could input their start location, date, and time alongside a destination, and Uber would recommend an itinerary for them. The "magic," as Uber calls it in the diagram, is being able to also incorporate plans for transportation. It's a deviation from how conventional travel is typically booked segment by segment now. You start with booking your flight, then choose a hotel, then eventually a rental car or some other transit. Uber's idea, according to the patent, is to take the trip information and show a recommended flight, hotel, and the cost of an Uber to get you from point A to point B all-in-one. In the whole process, Uber is acting as the facilitator, much like, rather than the provider. These deals will probably be orchestrated by a team overseen by the patent's author, Howard Jaffe, the head of Uber's global procurement and supply chain.

UK researchers develop cheaper navigation option

Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK are developing a sensor for autonomous vehicles based on smartphone camera technology. The new tech, called SegNet, would cost under $100, and the team says it is close to being ready for road testing in the UK, although it would need further development to handle varying road conditions in the US.

Pittsburgh 'Internet of things' startup ready to pitch energy saving to city officials

Three-year-old Boss Controls LLC links electrical outlets in commercial buildings to the Internet, allowing owners to throttle back usage during nights and weekends. The City of Pittsburgh is expected to hear the company’s pitch in January, according to CEO Greg Puschnigg, who plans a presentation to city officials. Boss is part of the Internet of Things, a term used to describe everything from biochip transponders used to track farm animals to smart home thermostats to self-driving cars, all of which rely on machines talking with machines. The number of such devices is expected to balloon in the coming years and companies like Boss are vying for a place at the table. Energy savings exceeding 60 percent were reported during a two-week pilot study in June at a couple city-owned buildings, according to Boss. The pilot was part of the Global City Teams Challenge, which included U.S. Steel Tower and buildings at Carnegie Mellon University, where energy savings ranged between 40 percent and 50 percent as part of the Internet of Things competition among universities, government agencies and the private sector.

6th Transportation Research Board Conference on Innovations in Travel Modeling (ITM): Early Bird Registration Available Through March 1, 2016

TRB is sponsoring the Innovations in Travel Modeling 2016 conference on May 1-4, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The event will facilitate sharing information and experiences on current models and modeling research. The conference will also explore the integration of social factors, land-use, transportation supply, and technology into the modeling process. Early Bird Registration Rates now available through March 1, 2016.

Samsung Joins Hands with BMW to Develop Smart Car Brains

According to the Samsung Group and industry sources on Dec. 27, Samsung Electronics has recently agreed with BMW and Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp. to jointly develop “intelligent assistants” for smart cars. An intelligent assistant is a system that recognizes the voice of a driver and execute the driver’s voice commands, and is considered to be the brains of self-driving cars. Global IT industry watchers expect that it will evolve to a system that can help the driver make comprehensive judgments by integrating with Internet of Things (IoT) tech. In cooperation with U.S.-based speech recognition technology firm Nuance Communications, the three companies will sharpen the relevant technology to understand the voice of the driver better. Nuance is well-known as the company that created Siri, the voice recognition service of Apple’s iPhone.

Car Companies Add New Features To Protect Drivers From Distracted Teens

Now, several car manufacturers want to stop the trend of distracted teen driving. The new Chevy Malibu has many features you’d expect in a mid-size sedan, and a few you might not. “The moment I unbuckle my seatbelt the music stops,” Chevrolet’s Chad Lyons explained. It’s part of a system called ‘Teen Driver.’  Parents can also set a maximum speed limit, teens get a warning if they surpass it.  Ford’s ‘My Key’ has several similar settings. Hyundai’s ‘Blue Link’ will send parents a text if their child drives too far from home. AAA’s Robert Sinclair Jr. said the features can save lives.  “Car crashes kill approximately 2,600 teens a year and injure 130,000,” he said. In the Malibu, parents can also view a report card showing how far their child drove, the top speed, and if there were any near collisions.

Faraday Future video hints at car-sharing service

A teaser video released by startup electric car company Faraday Future doesn't show a vehicle, but suggests that it might offer car sharing or transportation as a service rather than just selling vehicles to private owners.

Low-speed electric vehicles on the fast track among seniors

A growing trend in transportation for seniors is low-speed electric vehicles. Gary Search owns two golf carts. One for him to go golfing in and the other to take his wife out to dinner and shopping in, he says. After retiring to the Villages in Florida, Gary Search didn't have to search far for the right ride. They're all over. It's crawling with low-speed electric vehicles. Here, there are more carts than cars. For people who've never been here, it is quite the sight. "With over 60,000 golf carts in the Villages, it's a major form of transportation," said Search. "You have to register just like a car and you have to get insurance," Carroll explained.

Uber v. Taxi

Even if cities around the world shut down Uber through regulation and courtroom manoeuvring, there’s no question that many of its ride-sharing innovations will remain part of the landscape. For almost two centuries, city cabs were big rolling question marks. Until getting in one, you had no idea whether your driver would subject you to speeding, rip-off routing, cellphone jabber, the reek of cigarettes and yesterday’s lunch. Customers don’t want to go back to that, and traditional taxi brokerages know it. Even as they fight Uber, they’re designing their own smartphone apps with Uber-like features. Such comments reflect the idea that Uber is part of a larger, unstoppable trend in the world of retail commerce more generally. The Internet is a 24-7 reverse auction for all life’s pleasures, from music to sex to your kid’s old bike. Why should urban transportation be any different?

The secret to Uber's success: All the Apps

You can call an Uber car from your Apple Watch,Pebble smartwatch, orMicrosoft Band 2 fitness tracker. Facebook Messenger has an Uber app built right in. If you work in an office, you can grab an Uber from right within Microsoft Outlook, Slack, or Atlassian HipChat. You can call an Uber from Microsoft Windows 10, or price one up via Google Maps. It's an underrated factor in Uber's massive success — and another sign ofjust how aggressive the company is willing to get in its march towards world domination. It's neither cheap nor easy, especially considering the engineering miracles that Uber probably has to perform just to get everything working in the first place. It means that Uber is practically impossible to avoid, no matter what app, operating system, or device you're using. Meanwhile, users have to do more work seek out Lyft or any other upstart who wants to challenge it.

Report: EVs Will Make Up Half of Luxury Car Market by 2020

Luxury vehicle manufacturers today make up about 23 percent of the plug-in electric vehicle (EV) market, and this is expected to climb to about 50 percent by the early 2020s, according to a new report from Navigant Research. The report, Electric Vehicle Market Forecasts, provides forecasts, market sizing, and market share analysis for the overall light duty vehicle (LDV) market and light duty HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs. Global forecasts for annual LDV sales and vehicles in use, segmented by scenario (conservative, base, and aggressive), region, country, drivetrain, and automaker, extend through 2024. It also provides forecasts by automaker and vehicle class (luxury vs. economy), along with discussion of the underlying forecast assumptions such as lithium ion (Li-ion) energy density, Li-ion battery prices, and retail fuel prices.

ITS America hosts the ITS State of the Industry Panel at TRB

Registration is now open for the Transportation Research Board's 95th Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. on Jan. 10 to 14. Be sure to check out the "Intelligent Transportation Systems: State of the Industry 2016" panel on Monday, Jan. 11 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. The panel features ITS America President and CEO, Regina Hopper, as well as experts from Pennsylvania DOT, The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Uber Technologies.

Uber Debuts 'SafetyNet' Feature In Connecticut

Uber insists it provides a safe service, and calls the SafetyNet feature a way that riders can easily and quickly notify a pre-selected group of five people about their trip. The information includes the route, the estimated time of arrival at the destination, and the driver's first name and vehicle information. "With two taps of a button, riders can share their trip details with all of those contacts," Uber said in a statement. "Riders no longer need an SMS plan on their phone to send their status to friends and family. Uber sends the link directly from our server, which means every rider — regardless of their phone plan — can rely on this feature."

BlackBerry working on driverless car tech

BlackBerry intends to launch fully automated vehicle technology and hopes its QNX operating system will enable driverless cars to function safely and efficiently in the near future. Telecoms are driving automotive advancement at the moment, with Apple and Google making headway in the market. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Secretary Foxx and FAA clear Santa and sleigh

In late-breaking news, the Department of Transportation has approved an application submitted by a Mr. Kris Kringle (d/b/a "Santa Claus") for special air transportation operating authority. That authority, limited to a single night, was announced in a hastily-assembled press conference by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  According to Foxx, Kringle has outfitted his vehicle, an "airborne sleigh," with an 8 RP engine and has on hand a ninth reindeer equipped with supplemental safety and navigation gear...

Pittsburgh on the road to ‘inclusive innovation’

In September, the city, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, joined the White House’s MetroLab Network, a program of 20 cities and more than 25 universities across the country committed to research, develop and deploy technology-enabled solutions to help address common challenges facing cities. “The White House initiative has bloomed into something significant in urban decision making” that helps cities share information with other members of the network, Lam said. “For example, all cities have issues with storm water drainage and urban infrastructure. With [the MetroLab Network] there’s some really good green infrastructure research and applications that can be piloted in one city and, if successful, can be utilized in other cities in the network.”

Driverless Cars are Too Cautious for Chaotic Human Drivers

Raj Rajkumar, co-director of the GM Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab in Pittsburgh has said that that they have decided to stick with the speed limit. Yet when you go outside and drive on the highway maintaining that speed limit, you’ll immediately notice everyone zapping past you, he continued to add. Just last year, Rajkumar performed a drive test with members of the Congress in a driverless Cadillac SRX SUV. The self-driving vehicle performed incredibly well and it didn’t commit any infractions. However, when they reached the I-395 South the car had to merge into a lane. That’s when the huge problem surfaced. The vehicle had to swing across three lanes – that’s about 150 yards. The car used its cameras and laser sensors to detect incoming traffic in a 360-degree view, but it didn’t know what to make of the other drivers. Would they make room or will they zap straight into it? That’s when the human driver had to take control of the vehicle and complete the merger.

Is This How a Driverless Car Will Talk to Pedestrians?

"Person-to-car communication is within the DoT's vision for the future," said Aaron Steinfeld, an associate professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He explained that a lot of emphasis is put on dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), or the sort of transmissions that alert a pedestrian to a nearby autonomous car via their smartphone. Google's new patent addresses the flip side of the communication issue — the car's perspective. As Steinfeld put it, "It's signaling its awareness of you."

PENNDOT Goes High-Tech to Battle Snow and Ice

Roman, of Pennsylvania’s Transportation Department, said the 728 or so trucks that cover the state’s interstates and expressways will be mounted with sophisticated tracking gear this winter, as part of a $1 million pilot project. “We’re hopeful this will make our truck routes more efficient and help us manage our materials a lot better, such as figuring out that we used this much salt, but it turned out to be 34 degrees and sunny so we didn’t need to use so much,” he said. Roman said the state spent nearly $74 million on salt last year and estimated the pilot project would result in at least $700,000 in savings this winter.

Pittsburgh shines as beacon of opportunity for tech firms

It offers easy access to brainpower at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning...Pittsburgh's inbound companies include tech giants such as California-based Google Inc., which employs hundreds of people in the East End's booming Bakery Square complex and is expanding into a second office building there. California's Apple Inc. will lease office space in the Strip District's 3 Crossings complex. Uber Technologies Inc., the San Francisco-based ride-share company, established an autonomous vehicle research center in Lawrenceville.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

OPEC bashes prospects for electric cars

OPEC is predicting that 94% of cars on the road will still be powered by oil-based fuels in 2040.
"Without a technology breakthrough, battery electric vehicles are not expected to gain significant market share in the foreseeable future," the organization said in its annual World Oil Outlook. The group predicts battery-powered electric cars will capture just 1% of global vehicle sales by 2040.
OPEC says there will be little demand for other alternative-energy vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel and natural gas due to high costs and a lack of refueling stations. OPEC -- a group of major oil producing nations -- depends on oil-guzzling industries like the transportation sector to make money, so it isn't surprising that it's not cheering the advancement of alternative-energy cars. 

The billion-dollar robot question — how can we make sure they’re safe?

“This is the most essential question of the whole matter,” said Andre Platzer, who researches car, aircraft and robotic safety at Carnegie Mellon University. “It’s a very difficult question, how you can know for sure that the system itself is actually really safe.” The emerging presence of robotics is happening in a wide range of disparate fields, so these innovations are largely falling into a regulatory black hole, challenging the way our society is set up to evaluate safety. For example, should driverless cars be regulated by state DMVs or the U.S. Department of Transportation — both of which lack deep knowledge of robotics? What about military robots — should the United Nations develop rules or should each government go its own way? Some are calling for a new government agency in the United States — kind of like a NASA for robots — because traditional agencies lack expertise in the rapidly emerging field.

Latest edition: ACCES Magazine, edited by Donald Shoup

The Magazine of the University of California Center on Economic Competitiveness in Transportation (UCCONNECT) edited by Donald Shoup, is now available.

Tata Motors goes for hybrid, electric cars

High cost of batteries has always been a deterrent in the success of electric cars. However, with China investing heavily in electric vehicles, the cost of batteries has begun falling. China is also battling with record-high pollution in its cities, leading to a mass interest in electric cars. “We have worked across, for our passenger and commercial vehicles, on hybrid technologies and battery electric technologies. The barrier to electric technology is the high cost of batteries. Battery costs have started to come down. The rate of reduction cost is accelerating. We have always seen hybrids as a path towards this type of technology and we will see this getting integrated into our future vehicles,” said Timothy Leverton, president and head, advanced product engineering, Tata Motors.

Toyota's planned digital video maps are like a realtime Google Street View

Toyota announced Tuesday that it will unveil a new system of "high-precision" mapping at the Consumer Electronic Show next month. The mapping system will utilize the high-definition digital cameras — in addition to GPS units — embedded in countless numbers of its cars already on the road today. The video and GPS data gathered will be beamed to Toyota data centers, "where it is automatically pieced together, corrected and updated to generate high precision road maps that cover a wide area," according to the Toyota press release.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

BMW and Mercedes accused of cheating on emissions tests

A team of scientists led by chemist Axel Friedrich presented the results of a new emissions analysis earlier this week in Berlin. The data apparently demonstrates that Mercedes and BMW also manipulated vehicle emissions values in order to meet legal limits, just as Volkswagen admitted doing.

BMW, Nissan team up to implement fast-charge stations

Electric vehicle drivers will be able to charge their vehicles at one of 120 charging stations as part of a new initiative between Nissan and BMW to promote their electric vehicles. The stations will be located in 19 states across the country and offer an almost complete charge in as little as 30 minutes.

Smartphone cameras could unlock driverless technologies

Smartphone cameras could be the key to creating autonomous vehicles that learn as they drive, researchers at the University of Cambridge say, noting that they are working on systems that learn about the environment around them. But still, challenges remain, professor Roberto Cipolla notes, saying, "Vision is our most powerful sense and driverless cars will also need to see. But teaching a machine to see is far more difficult than it sounds."

Elon Musk Says Tesla Vehicles Will Drive Themselves in Two Years

“I think we have all the pieces, and it’s just about refining those pieces, putting them in place, and making sure they work across a huge number of environments—and then we’re done,” Musk told Fortune with assuredness during his commute to SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., where he is also CEO. “It’s a much easier problem than people think it is. But it’s not like George Hotz, a one-guy-and-three-months problem. You know, it’s more like, thousands of people for two years.”

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars

Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, Yahoo Autos has learned. The deal is understood to be non-exclusive; Google has been talking to several other automakers for some time about using its self-driving systems. Most major automakers and several auto parts suppliers are developing their own self-driving controls as well, with a few—Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz among them—promising advanced vehicles for customer sales by 2020. Google declined to comment. Ford spokesman Alan Hall said the automaker works with many companies on its Ford Smart Mobility plan, adding: “We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

California DMV proposes ban on 'driverless' cars, Google 'gravely disappointed'

California regulators, calling for caution on self-driving cars, today proposed rules that would sharply restrict their use on the state’s roads -- and place an outright ban on “driverless” cars that travel with no humans onboard. Under the proposal by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, all autonomous cars would need a steering wheel and pedals when operating on California’s public roads. Behind the controls, they would need a licensed driver with an “autonomous vehicle operator certificate” capable of taking control if something goes awry. In a statement today, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto said the agency’s main concern is “the safety of autonomous vehicles and the safety of the public who will share the road with these vehicles.”


Nevs, which is owned by China's National Modern Energy Holdings, Tianjin Binhai Hi-tech industrial Development Area (THT) and the Beijing State Research Information Technology Co., aims to produce 100-percent electric cars for the Chinese market, even though it only made cars during a short period from late 2013 to May 2014. Shenzhen-based Panda, which works with chauffeured car service platforms in China, plans on becoming one of the biggest electric car leasing firms in the world, AFP noted.

Driverless delivery vehicles will be trialled on the streets of London next year

Driverless delivery vans will be used to move parcels between either warehouses and shops or stores and homes in south east London. While there will be no driver in the vehicles, an operator will sit within the van – which could be as big as a classic Mercedes Sprinter – to ensure the operation runs smoothly and to take control in the case of an emergency.  The scheme will be rolled out across a pre-determined route in Greenwich, London, next year, with the route possibly taking in a large Sainsbury's distribution depot, a Tesco store and the O2 arena. The trial will determine whether driverless vans can help companies move to 24/7 deliveries, which could theoretically allow for more journeys if they can be completed quicker away from rush hour.

What Happened With Driverless Cars in 2015?

Tesla's Autopilot is more advanced than anything else on the market right now. But that doesn't mean the big automakers are far behind. Giant auto-industry supplier Delphi demonstrated its technology with an Audi prototype that (mostly) drove itself across the country back in March. Audi, part of giant Volkswagen Group is expected to bring a Delphi-based system to market in the next year or so.

Elon Musk Doesn't Think Volkswagen Should Have to Fix Its Diesel Cars

Musk, along with dozens of other influential investors and environmentally friendly industry executives, have penned an open letter to the California Air Resource Board, or CARB. The letter suggests that CARB release Volkswagen from its obligation to fix the vehicles, since there are an "insignificant" number of total affected vehicles within the state of California, and these cars don't present any active emissions-related risk. CARB should instead require Volkswagen to accelerate its timeline for the development (which Volkswagen is already doing as part of its crisis response) and launch of a fully electric vehicle with zero emissions. The group points out that this step requires no resources to verify, since electric cars emit zero emissions by definition.

Electric Bikes Are In Demand

Increased fuel prices and growing urbanization have spurred the demand for electric bikes, or e-bikes. Global e-bike sales are expected to grow from 32 million in 2014 to at least 40 million in 2023, according to Navigant Research. To meet the growing demand, startups — as well as traditional automakers — are rolling out electric bikes as an alternative form of transport. And many of these new e-bikes also include new innovative features, like the ability to connect to your smartphone via an app.

Google has gotten incredibly good at predicting traffic — here's how

Other popular GPS mapping apps, like Apple Maps, Waze, Nokia's HERE maps, and Mapquest, all offer traffic information, but the advantage Google has is the sheer number of people who use it, and the amount of data it has. "It's not just what [traffic] is right now, but how do we expect it to change over the next hour or two hours," Amanda Leicht Moore, the lead product manager for Google Maps, said in an interview with Tech Insider. Google Maps also incorporates traffic and incident data, like accident reports, from Waze, the popular navigation app that Google bought for more than $1 billion in 2013. Waze gets its information from users who report things like accidents on the road or traffic jams. Google also gets information from local departments of transportation.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ford to democratize electric vehicles

These vehicles are expected to grow the fastest compared to other types due to their ability to attract investments, but at the same time, Ford may have to worry about research costs, which analysts say will escalate to $70 billion in the next five years. United States regulations demand a near-doubling of vehicles' average fuel efficiency between 2011 and 2024, from 27.5 miles per USA gallon to 54.5 mpg. Meanwhile, Ford is going to bring Mondeo, which is the overseas variant of the Fusion, and C-MAX Energi hybrids to China in 2016 as well. Ford has announced a major investment in electric vehicle technology, as the sector scrambles to win the zero-emissions race. The new Focus will take an 80% charge in 30 minutes, about two hours faster than the current version, Ford said.

Swiss startup introduces holographic GPS

Switzerland-based connected car startup WayRay has announced its launch of a navigation system that projects holographic GPS images onto a car's windshield and can be plugged into the on-board diagnostics port of any 1992 or later vehicle. The device will monitor driver performance, safety and fuel efficiency.

The Next City Project in London: Connecting all users

NextCity will be a “single account” covering trains, roads, bikes and pedestrians — with rewards for people taking the most eco-friendly routes. It uses millions of pieces of currently unconnected data — from road conditions to bicycle availability — to optimise travel and reduce congestion. Cubic has a £660 million, 10-year contract with Transport for London to run and maintain fare collection. NextCity goes further than apps such as Citymapper by analysing a person’s choices, such as whether they need a seat or have a deadline.

Why Hoverboards Keep Exploding

Those self-balancing scooters that everyone’s calling “hoverboards” don’t actually hover. But that’s not the strangest thing about them—that would be the fact that this year’s most popular holiday gift keeps catching on fire. Jay Whitacre, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, says that the problem doesn’t have to do with these self-balancing scooters themselves, but with the quality of the batteries being used. They’re cheap, and it makes sense: This is a hot (pun not intended) holiday product, the reputable models are pretty expensive, and more-affordable brands are using cheaper components to lure in shoppers that don’t want to spend a grand or more on a hands-free Segway. Predictably, a slew of cut-rate brands are flooding the market with shoddy scooters made from cheapo components.

PennDOT, Waze Team on Traffic Info

Under terms of the deal, Waze and PennDOT will share data with one another. Waze will share its crowd-sourced traffic and incident reports with PennDOT, while PennDOT will share its road condition reporting data with Waze. "As travelers rely more and more on their smartphones for real-time traffic data, this new partnership represents yet another way PennDOT is modernizing to keep up with the demands of its customers," Governor Wolf said in a statement. The deal is part of Waze’s Connected Citizens program.

A Quick, Clear Video Explanation for Why Parking Requirements Hurt Cities

The clip accompanies a larger public discussion Ottawa has been having all year about new parking rules. The existing zoning codes, established half a century ago, require developers to create a certain amount of parking based on the type of building in the works—the sort of “parking minimums” found in so many cities. Ottawa wants to reduce or eliminate those outdated minimums for development that occurs in inner urban areas or near transit corridors, in line with a new city plan adopted in 2013.

USDOT Connected Vehicles 101 Course Now Online

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has released a new online course that highlights the basics of connected vehicle technology. This introductory course targets transportation planners, managers, and engineers at state and local agency levels, who are interested in learning more about the connected vehicle program and its benefits and implications for public agencies. Participants will learn about the safety, mobility, and environmental applications envisioned for the connected vehicle environment. 

Google 'planning to introduce' self-driving cars to UK

Google has praised Britain’s approach to how driverless cars should be governed and insured, while the Government wants to encourage the technology in the UK and insists it will change the law. Minutes from meetings released under the Freedom of Information Act show Sarah Hunter from the firm’s experimental division Google X said the company is ‘very positive’ about the UK’s approach. She said: ‘The non-regulatory approach being taken in the UK places the UK in a good position and could be seen as an example of best practice.’ Meanwhile Michael Hurwitz, head of technology for the DfT, has ‘emphasised our desire to work with Google to ensure the UK stays ahead’, according to the Telegraph report.Ms Hunter ‘noted the development of innovative insurance models as an area for UK leadership and a question Google are interested in’.

Pennsylvania Offering Rebates on Alternative Fuel Cars

“Alternative fuel vehicles are good for the climate and are a part of building a sustainable Pennsylvania,” DEP Secretary John Quigley said. “We encourage everyone to consider these renewable and clean technologies.” Large-battery vehicles are eligible for a rebate of $2,000. DEP is also offering rebates of $1,000 for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery-electric vehicles. Rebates of $1,000 are also being offered for natural gas, propane, hydrogen or fuel-cell vehicles, such as the CNG powered Honda Civic or any new CNG powered car or pickup truck.

Report: 20 Million Autonomous Cars on Public Roads by 2025

A new report by the firm Juniper Research predicts that a whopping 20 million cars traveling on public roads in the year 2025 will be autonomous. That’s equivalent to 28 percent of all cars sold across the globe last year in 2014. Quoted in an article on CTV News, Juniper researchers said that although to many, self-driving car technology still seems too far away, the amount of money automakers and tech companies alike on spending on development is too much to ignore.
“From the outside as consumers looking into the world of the automobile, progress towards a self-driving, road-accident-free future may seem like light years away, but R&D budgets are huge, and testing is reaching its final stages.”

Commentary: Smart cities will reduce traffic fatalities

Traffic fatalities in urban centers are increasing but could be prevented by using connected technology, Yonah Lloyd writes. A number of cities in the US and around the globe have taken the initiative to install sensors that can help streamline traffic and reduce collisions. Lloyd cites industry experts who predict significant growth in smart-city development in the coming years.

Siemens announces Intelligent Traffic Tech center

Siemens announced plans to build a Center of Excellence for Intelligent Traffic Technology in Ann Arbor, Mich. The facility will be home to the company's work on a cloud-based traffic management platform, a program to centralize communications between traffic controllers, phones and vehicles, and a system that will alter traffic controls to determine traffic flow.

Daimler, BMW and Audi: How they're moving us closer to self-driving cars

Daimler, BMW and Audi recently wrapped up their acquisition of HERE, a provider of maps and location services for smart phones and connected cars -- and they fully expect to improve on an the already popular platform and bring us closer to a world of highly-automated, safer, more convenient driving. Read the story to learn why your driving future could be very different.

Drones for city utilities? It's working in Italy

Multinational power company Enel has a lot of irons in the fire when it comes to its renewable energy operations: from solar arrays, wind farms and marine energy projects to more traditional hydropower plants. Read the story to learn how and why the company is testing drones for its operations and maintenance program -- and if your utility or another city department might be able to use it too.

Pittsburgh hosts Complete Streets workshop

The National Complete Streets Coalition's Emiko Atherton visited Pittsburgh this month to conduct a Policy Development Workshop with City staff, representatives from the Mayor's Office, transit agency staff, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, health partners, local advocates, and other stakeholders. 

Why connected cars are poised to have a fundamental impact

Those are worthy objectives and need solving, but what’s missing from the broader conversation of the “connected” car are the other opportunities that a connected car can bring to the digital economy. It’s more than just the driving that will become automated. As the car becomes more connected, there emerges an opportunity to solve not just the self-driving problem, but to simplify a whole host of services. Those services might help with parking and refueling, or perhaps the capability for cars to detect what types of drinks are in the cup-holder, and recommendations for places to pull off for that next coffee when your drink is running low. As we evolve further, the integration of AI and machine learning and its impact on transportation could be enormous.

Video: Baidu Tests Driverless Car on the Road

Baidu, the Google of China, has set a big goal, bringing autonomous vehicles ot the world's largest car market.

Like its sister company, Kia will test driverless cars in Nevada

Kia, together with its sister company Hyundai, are starting to experiment with partially- and fully- autonomous driving technologies in real-world conditions, as the US state of Nevada grants Korean manufacturers permission to test autonomous driving technologies on public roads. Kia will test its Soul EV model packed with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, like Traffic Jam Assist (TJA), Highway Autonomous Driving (HAD), Urban Autonomous Driving (UAD), Emergency Stop System (ESS), and Autonomous Valet Parking technologies.

West Coast mayors will form consortium to build highway for electric vehicles

The mayors of the cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Eugene signed the declaration about joint plans to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050 within their cities. The declaration follows the recent announcement from the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) Alliance states including California, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, to make all new cars to be emission free by 2050. The signed declaration would involve the increase of renewable energy source use, and conversions of city vehicles to electric and biodiesel powered.

Google to Make Driverless Cars an Alphabet Company in 2016

Google Inc. plans to make its self-driving cars unit, which will offer rides for hire, a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella next year, a person briefed on the company’s strategy said. In August, the Mountain View, California-based company reorganized itself into a conglomerate called Alphabet. The company said it plans to spin out several of its advanced-technology units into stand-alone companies within the Alphabet portfolio, including its robotics division, its health-care company Verily, the Google Ventures and Google Capital investment firms, Google Inc., the search-engine company, and Nest, which produces intelligent smoke alarms and thermostats. The self-driving car unit now resides in the research division called Google X.

Ford to test autonomous cars in California in 2016

Ford and all other players currently appear to significantly trail Google in developing software for autonomous vehicles. However, Ford has decades of experience in car hardware. While Ford’s permit is only for one vehicle, it says it may add more down the road. Ford’s tests in California will start with planning driving routes, which it says will include everything from highways to city streets. It will be mapping the roads — 3D maps are widely considered invaluable to guiding autonomous vehicles — and says it will drive autonomously in the second half of 2016.

You Can Now Call an Uber in Messenger, Facebook’s Window to the World

The new feature comes as Messenger moves deeper into its mission to morph from a mere messaging service into a platform on which other developers build their services. Facebook first signaled its intentions when the company cut off the ability for users to message in its core app over a year ago—forcing frustrated users to download the Facebook Messenger separately. And while its other efforts still feel like early adopter options, Uber is a mainstream service. To order a ride, users must have the latest version of Facebook Messenger installed on their phones. 

Report: Google to Take on Uber With Self-Driving 'Rides for Hire'

Google reportedly has plans to create a stand-alone business under Alphabet focused on offering rides for hire from self-driving cars, starting in confined locations such as school campuses, military bases or office parks. "These potential ride-for-hire services could allow consumers to experience the technology and embrace it in a bigger way," said Gartner's Thilo Koslowski.

Boosting EVs with cloud power

Jeremy Michalek, professor of engineering and public policy, Carnegie Mellon University in the US, says that increasing charger availability will help EV adoption and gasoline savings, though he notes that in markets such as the US where most users can charge EVs at home, this may not be so cost effective. ABB has integrated cloud connectivity and services into its chargers since it began making them in the early 2010s to address these challenges  For example, to allow users to quickly access and pay for charging services, ABB allows network operators to install mobile and web applications for drivers to be authorised to use the device.  In addition to seamless payments, there are numerous ways that cloud services can make EV charging more attractive, say experts.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Waze's growth chief: Even driverless cars need a better route

Waze’s traffic information “has given us access to this incredible distributed network of sensors, held in the hands of drivers,” says Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston's chief information officer. “It transforms the way we think about interacting with commuters.” Waze’s data give cities tools to figure out why a gridlock is happening or why a bus route isn’t making its time and can adjust from there, he adds. Its thesis was that if all of us were connected, we’d be able to point out the potholes, street closures and the like. In a world heading toward driverless cars, Waze execs say it is on the right track for the future. “Robots will still need to know the best route,” says Eisnor. “We have a nice juicy role.”

Self-driving cars could reduce city traffic … or create a lot more: Penn professor

An oncoming rush of self-driving cars is creating uncertainty for urban planners as they make infrastructure decisions for the future, according to a panel at the University of Pennsylvania. “The pace of [autonomous vehicle] technology … is incredible,” said Daniel Lee, director of the General Robotics Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Lab at Penn Engineering. Lee joined two other Penn professors and an official from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) in a discussion Wednesday on automation and the future of cities.

The $50 Million Competition to Remake the American City

The challenge represents a new way of working for the DOT, one tailored to a rapidly changing world. That shift is largely the work of Anthony Foxx, President Obama’s secretary of transportation since July, 2013. His job—make the US transportation system as safe and efficient as possible—is the same given to his predecessors. But the tools for meeting that mandate are very much different.
In the next few months, Foxx will speak at CES and South by Southwest—neither of which are common venues for the head of the DOT. “It probably does seem a little weird,” he says. “I’m standing on top of one of the crustiest, stodgiest sectors in America.” But the world is changing, and he wants the US to be ready.

Ford developing ride-hailing service, EV fleet

Ford is launching a service that will allow employees to summon shuttles via their smartphones for transport around the company's Michigan grounds, with the goal of developing a commercial service to compete with Uber. Ford CEO Mark Fields also says the company is using $4.5 billion to expand its hybrid and plug-in electric vehicle fleet.

Ontario to invest $20 million in stations to charge up electric cars

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday that her government is investing $20 million toward hundreds of electric-vehicle charging stations to be installed within and between urban centres. Environment Minister Glen Murray, who along with Wynne is participating in the Paris climate summit, said the investment will go toward two types of charging stations: Slower Level 2 chargers to be installed at workplaces where vehicles are parked for hours and much faster Level 3 chargers that can replenish most of a vehicle’s battery system within 30 minutes. Wynne said the move is part of many initiatives that will come out of the province’s new climate plan, which focuses on reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions that come from transportation and building. The coal phase-out completed last year makes EVs that run on Ontario grid electricity that much cleaner.


The Autonomous Ship Technology Symposium will bring together ship designers, fleet owners, naval architects, classification societies, equipment manufacturers and maritime research organisations to discuss and debate the technological, regulatory and legal developments necessary to make autonomous and unmanned ships a reality. This three-day conference will cover not only the challenges of testing and developing autonomous maritime technology, but also the legal implications, the potential economic benefits for fleet owners, safety and security issues and, most importantly, how to develop a universal regulatory framework. Leading experts from around the world will present their views and current findings, leading to a unique opportunity to exchange ideas and network with this pioneering community of maritime engineers.

It’s Time to Identify Innovations for Next Round of Every Day Counts

A Federal Highway Administration request for information in today’s Federal Register asks transportation stakeholders to suggest proven, market-ready innovations to deploy in the fourth round of Every Day Counts.  “We’re looking for more technologies, materials and processes to ensure we continue to deliver transportation to the American people better, faster and smarter,” said FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Why Aren't Urban Planners Ready for Driverless Cars?

Self-driving cars have the potential to be the most transformative force in American cities since the development of the interstate system. And yet when it comes to preparing for the future of autonomous travel, urban planners have been largely idle. Just how idle? As of mid-2013, just one of the 25 largest metropolitan planning organizations in the U.S. had so much as mentioneddriverless cars in its long-term regional plan. This bleak preparatory record comes courtesy of University of Pennsylvania planning scholar Erick Guerra, who reports the findings in the Journal of Planning Education and Research. Federal law requires MPOs to produce regional plans every four years that look at least 20 years out—a horizon that could easily coincide with the mainstream arrival of self-driving cars. But when Guerra combed these plans for signs of autonomous vehicles, he came up virtually empty.

Fla. DOT plans to make streets safer for bikes, pedestrians

The Florida Department of Transportation has released an implementation plan to enact a Complete Streets policy aimed at making streets in the state safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The plan is an effort to displace Orlando, Jacksonville, Tampa and Miami from the top spots on Transportation for America's list of the deadliest cities for pedestrians.

Auto Makers Losing Battle for Dashboard Apps

Hyundai is giving up on its own in-car software solution by deciding to put Apple's CarPlay and Google's Android Auto into its cars. Buyers are requesting the Android and Apple dashboard displays, although carmakers are reluctant to surrender control of their vehicles. Researchers predict that the Apple and Android systems could reach 80% of cars by 2022.

New Prius fitted with V2X technology

The next generation Toyota Prius will be equipped with an intelligent transportation system that allows it to communicate with other vehicles and surrounding infrastructure. The system will warn drivers of red lights, approaching vehicles and pedestrians, while transmitting data about speed and braking to nearby vehicles equipped with similar systems.

Report: Millions of cars to have some connectivity by 2025

More than 100 million new automobiles likely will have some connectivity in 10 years, according to an Ernst & Young report. Insurers will need to develop strong relationships with auto manufacturers as they gain access to data, including information on braking patterns, acceleration and deceleration, and location, the report says. Insurers and telematics providers will use such data for underwriting, pricing and -- eventually -- claims.

Uber research center advances in Duquesne outside Pittsburgh

A​ San Francisco-based ride ​sharing company and a regional university are eyeing a stretch of riverfront land in Duquesne for potential development of a research facility. Jeff Fullerton, who handles special projects for Uber, ​described​ its interest in the Duquesne site as​ “very preliminary” and ​“​a​n investigation at this point.” “We want to stay in the community and we're part of Pittsburgh,” said Fullerton, noting that part of the site's appeal is ​its close proximity​ to ​Pittsburgh​.

China Comes Up With First Brain-Controlled Car

The brain-controlled car, developed by the research team from Nankai University, in the north-eastern Chinese port city of Tianjin, was built after two years of continuous effort. The car works with the help of a brain signal-reading equipment, by which, a driver can control the car to move forward, backward, come to a stop, lock and unlock the vehicle, all without moving their hands or feet. One of the researchers, Zhang Zhao, told a leading news agency that the equipment comprises 16 sensors which can capture EEG (electroencephalogram) signals from the driver’s brain. They developed a computer program that helps in selecting the relevant signals and translates them, enabling control of the car, he added.

Under new ownership, Here sets out its stall for the driverless car

Nokia has completed the sale of its Here mapping business to a group of German car manufacturers, in a move which ends the dream of creating its own web services platform around the location software, but which may see that platform taking an important role in shaping the future of connected and autonomous car standards. The mapping firm wants to put itself at the heart of nascent efforts to develop standards for “cooperative intelligent transportation systems”, based on its maps and tools, and able to power whole urban transport and road safety platforms, including driverless vehicles, rather than just individual smart cars. This would be a powerful asset for the car industry to control, rather than the Silicon Valley players or the mobile operators, which may have seen intelligent transport as something they would naturally control.

Samsung sets up team to focus on driverless cars

Samsung Electronics is setting up a new business unit to focus on automotive-related technology such as components for driverless cars, the South Korean giant said on Wednesday. Details about the team were scarce but Samsung said it is to focus on infotainment systems and autonomous driving technology. Samsung did not say how big the team would be.

Baidu challenges Google with driverless car test

Baidu, China's largest search engine, has joined the driverless car race, announcing on Thursday that its vehicle had completed a fully autonomous test on a route with mixed roads and different weather types. Often referred to as the Google of China, Baidu said the self-driving car, which is a modified BMW 3 series, completed a 30-kilometer test drive route by "executing a comprehensive set of driving actions and accurately responding to the driving environment". With the test, Baidu is joining a host of technology companies looking to establish themselves at the forefront of developments in automotive technology.

Volvo OKs Renewable Diesel for Its Engines

Volvo Trucks North America has approved the use of renewable diesel fuel for all of its proprietary Volvo engines after concluding road and lab testing, the company announced. Renewable diesel fuel is derived from biomass feedstocks such as oils or animal fats. Unlike conventional biodiesel, renewable diesel has a much lower cloud point which Volvo says will improve its low temperature performance compared with conventional biodiesel. Potential benefits of using renewable diesel fuel include lower particulate-matter emissions on pre-EPA 2010 engines, he said. It can also require less maintenance compared with other alternative fuels, and there is no warranty risk for using the fuel on any Volvo truck equipped with a Volvo engine.

Half Of Beijing's Cars Banned As Part Of Dire Red Alert For Smog

Beijing has just issued its first ever 'Red Alert' of dangerous smog levels, which will see much of China's capital city shutdown and half of its cars forced off the roads. As part of the Red Alert, cars in Beijing can only be driven on alternating days with those with odd numbered license plates allowed to drive one day and even numbered license plates permitted to drive the following day. Beyond the effective halving of cars from Beijing residents allowed on the roads between yesterday and Thursday, the New York Times says 30 per cent of the vehicle fleets from government agencies will be taken off the roads.The silver lining in this cloud of smog is that China recognises these problems and this year, it is set to become the world's largest market for electric cars.

Faraday Future picks Nevada for $1B electric vehicle plant

California-based automaker Faraday Future's choice of Nevada over three other states is contingent on state lawmakers' approval of tax incentives that haven't been publicly described. "We plan to revolutionize the automobile industry by creating an integrated, intelligent mobility system that protects the earth and improves the living environment of mankind," wrote Jia Yueting, who's the founder and CEO of the holding company LeTV. The Faraday Future news came a day after another Southern California company working on a futuristic transportation project, Hyperloop Technologies, announced plans to expand to the same industrial park. The firm, which is trying to develop a system that would propel passengers and cargo through nearly airless tubes at the speed of sound, said it will build a test track and conduct early-phase testing at the park.

CMU student creates cool maps of Pittsburgh bike-share stats

Mark Patterson, a Carnegie Mellon graduate student studying social and decision sciences, took one massive data file and turned it into maps and graphs that detail different aspects of Pittsburgh's bike-share system, Healthy Ride. In the bike-share’s opening three months, from June through August, Pittsburghers and tourists took about 40,000 rides combined, but Patterson wanted to see the intricacies. “Ultimately it works great on both sides,” says Patterson. “We get a fun opportunity to explore, and they get a chance for more insight.”

6 ways artificial intelligence is going to make your life better

Andrew Moore, the former vice president of engineering at Google, told Tech Insider that big developments in artificial intelligence are coming, but that change will be gradual. Still, he envisions a lot happening in the next 10 years. Here are six predictions Moore, who is now dean of Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science, has for artificial intelligence in the next 10 years.
10 years: driverless cars will be able to make judgment calls. This is already a discussion that's in the works today. If a driverless car is in a situation where it has the option to hit another car or a pedestrian, which will it choose? The ability to make an ethical choice like that is not something autonomous vehicles are currently capable of doing, as highlighted in a recent MIT study. But Moore said he thinks artificial intelligence will advance to a point where, in 10 years, driverless cars will be able to make those calls.

Dec. 11: TRB Executive Director to Examine the Rise of Technology-Enable Devices

Neil Pedersen, executive director of the Transportation Research Board (TRB), will discuss TRB’s policy study Between Public and Private Mobility: Examining the Rise of Technology-Enabled Devices, which will be released on December 11, 2015.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Uber’s Testing A New Mass Transit Alternative

Uber is gearing up to pilot a new ride-sharing service in Seattle called uberHOP, in an attempt to get “more butts into the backseats of fewer cars,” according to an Uber blog post from today. Uber already has uberPOOL in place, which makes up almost half of Uber’s rips in San Francisco, but the company calls that a “first step.”
In Chicago, Uber is going to start piloting a new program for Uber drivers called uberCOMMUTE, which will be available Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 10 PM. This seems to be geared toward people who don’t already drive for Uber, but are looking to make a few extra bucks while driving to and from work. Passengers who want to roll with uberCOMMUTE need to select uberPOOL and then choose the “commuters” option. I’d imagine the commuters option would be cheaper than the standard pool option, but I’m waiting to hear back from Uber for more details.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

CMU-hosted MetroLab Network Seeking Executive Director

The MetroLab Network has been launched by more than 20 city-university partnerships across the United States. We are now organizing to collaborate. The Network is recruiting an Executive Director. The Executive Director will manage the affairs of the Network with the support of a deputy and will rely on members of the Steering Committee for help in running the Network. The Executive Director must be capable of working effectively with city, university, and industry stakeholders to promote collaboration, facilitate the scaling of successful projects, and help develop funding sources for member projects.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chris Hendrickson of CMU's Traffic21 Weighs in on USATODAY's City of the Future

Conversations with mobility experts here and abroad paint a picture of an urban revolution that is already underway in a patchwork of cities from Seattle to Stockholm. “The main thing with automated and connected tech is to make sure it’s reliable first,” says Chris Hendrickson, director of the Traffic21 Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “But the opportunities for change are impressive.”

City’s Counting on CMU: Study To Measure Bike Lane Usage in Pittsburgh

Are bike enthusiasts really using the new resources? Pittsburgh wants to know. So, city leaders have come to Carnegie Mellon to help them find out. The Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation group in the University Transportation Center — a partnership between CMU and the University of Pennsylvania — and CMU’s Traffic21 have put Bernardo Pires on the job.
Pires, a project scientist in the Robotics Institute, and his team have been working to collect data on how much the bike lanes are actually being used with a portable, computer-vision device they’ve built that records and counts individual users. They’re also tracking pedestrian behavior in relation to
the bike lanes.

Racing Self-Driving Cars Will Make Roads Safer for Everyone

There are certain problems you have to solve at these high speeds that could improve performance at low speeds,” says John Dolan, who studies autonomous technology at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. One of those is reducing latency—the time it takes the computer to process the data coming from a sensor and transmit instructions to various systems. “At 180 mph, you’re gonna have to do that faster,” Dolan says. Reducing that time, which is mostly a software issue, in racing creates a more robust system in the cars the rest of us will use.

The High-Stakes Race to Rid the World of Human Drivers

The timeline is uncertain, but that hasn’t stopped people from guessing when fully-autonomous cars might begin to take over the roads. “When is hard to say,” Alonzo Kelly, a robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon, told me. “If your horizon is long enough, they’re inevitable.”

Can BMW Make Charging Electric Vehicles Easier?

BMW Group recently announced a new joint association called ROEV (which stands for Roaming EV), aimed at supporting "EV adoption by facilitating public charging network interoperability. Much like bank cards make it possible to withdraw funds from any ATM, drivers with a participating EV charging network account will be able to charge their EV at other participating charging stations. By improving the convenience of public EV charging, ROEV's charging network interoperability will enhance the EV ownership experience for current and future drivers.

Look Out Alphabet Inc, Here Come Microsoft Corporation's Driverless Cars

Microsoft and Volvo recently announced a partnership to develop driverless vehicles and modernize the car buying process. The companies haven't revealed the exact details regarding their driverless cars yet, but Volvo has stated that it will start using Microsoft's HoloLens in showrooms to project digital overlays over real vehicles. This partnership indicates that Microsoft is getting serious about connected and autonomous cars. Last April, it unveiled Windows in the Car, a dashboard mirroring concept similar toApple's CarPlay and Alphabet's Android Auto. It updated that concept with Cortana integration this September, but it still hasn't evolved into a fully developed platform. Meanwhile, Microsoft lost ground in embedded vehicle operating systems to BlackBerry's QNX.

A Look at the Legal Environment for Driverless Vehicles

TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released a prepublication version of Legal Research Digest 69: A Look at the Legal Environment for Driverless Vehicles. The report explores legal policy issues that may be associated with driverless vehicles. It provides an introduction to how civil and criminal liability may adhere to driverless vehicles, the implications of these vehicles for privacy and security, how these vehicles are likely to become subject to and potentially alter prevailing automobile insurance regimes, and other related topics.

Mercedes-Benz Wants to Beat Google, Uber to Our Driverless Future

As of September, the company has registered five autonomous vehicles with the California DMV. Unlike Google and Tesla, these autonomous Mercedes cars do not share visual data across the fleet. The tech isn’t there yet, said Axel Gern, who leads Mercedes’ self-driving initiative in North America. But Mercedes did get a boost from the Here maps, which Daimler bought with two other German carmakers from Nokia this summer. With the maps, Mercedes’ self-driving cars have a clearer indication of the physical realities on the road, said Gern.

Audi Will Unleash Self-Parking Cars in a Bid to Fix Urban Gridlock

In 2018, Audi will deploy a small fleet of cars to see how its piloted parking technology interacts with a garage designed specifically for autonomous cars. With no one getting in and out of the cars, the space needed for each vehicle is reduced by 21 square feet. You need just four inches of space between mirrors on neighboring cars, since they will park themselves with machine-like precision (because they’re machines). No elevators or stairs or pedestrian pathways are needed, either. Audi estimates such a lot could pack 60 percent more vehicles than a conventional garage of the same size. Audi’s not alone here. Uber is working with Carnegie Mellon University to test self-driving cars in Pittsburgh.

CMU improving mobility: Making robotic prosthesis to help prevent falls in amputees

For an amputee using a prosthetic leg, a crack in the pavement or a divot in the grass can cause a stumble that leads to a fall and serious injury. So Carnegie Mellon University assistant professor of robotics Hartmut Geyer and his team are developing a robotic prosthetic, one that will enable above-the-knee amputees to feel less susceptible to stumbles. The prosthesis would work the same way natural legs do, including the way they recover their balance after a trip or stumble, an action that doesn’t require a second thought for most people.“The focus of this project is the idea that amputees can use a prosthetic, and if they walk in Schenley Park and they accidentally trip or slip, or if someone bumps into them, they can automatically recover their balance and there’s no fear of falling down,” reports Geyer.

Car-Sharing to Soar to 26 million Users by 2020

Commercial car-sharing services were used by about 6.5 million people this year and that could soar to 26 million by 2020, predicts a report from Berg Insight. "Car-sharing services are becoming more sophisticated by adoption of new technologies like smartphones for booking and accessing the cars without the need for a key or smartcard," says senior analyst Andre Malm.  A Berg Insight report mainly covers carsharing services offered by commercial carsharing organizations and companies, not peer-to-peer firms

Pittsburgh aiming to improve safety with Complete Streets plan

Officials in Pittsburgh are partnering with the National Complete Streets Coalition to improve roads and thereby ease traffic and enhance safety for motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and public transportation. 

PennDOT to study extreme weather vulnerability of state’s transportation system

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is conducting a yearlong study to examine the effects of extreme weather conditions on its transportation system. The study will look into past weather events while also considering future probabilities. With the study, PennDOT wants to "increase the resiliency of ... assets and adopt strategies into planning, design and operations to allow PennDOT to successfully cope with severe weather events," it said.

Google Has Patented A Tech For Self Driving Cars To Interact With Pedestrians

The patent, which was filed in September 2012, was granted in November this year. It describes ways to show messages to pedestrians, such as a red flash light, a display sign reading STOP on the left side of the car when it detects someone trying to cross the road or even the possibility of a robotic arm which will wave gestures. It also outlines a speaker system which may play messages such as “coming through” or “safe to cross” while unsure of its surroundings.

GM China Supports The Idea Of Smart Cities With Intelligent Transportation

GM Executive Vice President and GM China President Matt Tsien recently talked about the importance of intelligent transportation in regards to building smart cities during the Ninth Wuhan Government International Advisory Council Meeting in Wuhan, Hubei. General Motors‘ growing presence in Wuhan – the Wuhan Branch of its SAIC-GM joint venture began vehicle production on January 28, 2015 – along with the acceleration of urbanization and growth of China’s cities are the driving forces behind what is known as the “mobility Internet.” The mobility Internet is created by the convergence of the Internet, roadside transportation infrastructure, and the power grid. It could lead to solutions for traffic congestion thus bettering road safety, energy consumption, and air quality.

Cisco’s proposed protocol for 5.9 GHz-sharing by DSRC and Wi-Fi is undergoing field tests

Field tests of a program that allows Wi-Fi and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications to share a sector of the radio frequency spectrum are scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.  The testing of the 5.9 Gigahertz (GHz) band follows the May 13 announcement by Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that the DOT would expedite research into sharing the band with unlicensed users, such as consumers and businesses.  Cisco has allied with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Global Automakers, two trade groups representing auto OEMs, in its development and promotion of Listen, Detect, and Avoid. A second DSRC-sharing proposal from Cisco competitor Qualcomm was turned down by the FCC.

AT&T to provide federal fleet management services

AT&T will provide GPS tracking, diagnostic capabilities and vehicle monitoring to more than 204,000 federal agency vehicles as part of a 5-year contract with the General Services Administration's Office of Fleet Management. 

Attending #CES2016? Don't miss ITS America's panel on the Future of Transportation

ITS America is excited to host a panel on Tuesday, Jan. 5 as a part of the Broadband Conference Track at CES 2016 titled, "Intelligent Transportation: Are We There Yet?" Moderated by ITS America President & CEO Regina Hopper, with speakers from AAA, General Motors and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the panel will explore the powerful nexus of data, mobility and vehicles that is leaping out of test beds and onto American roads - offering limitless potential to save lives, time and money. Register for the Broadband Conference track at CES 2016 today, and receive 25% off the current registration fee by using the special discount code Broadband2. This registration permits entry into the one-day Broadband Conference track sessions, including ITS America's unique panel taking place on Tuesday morning, and the CES expo halls starting Wednesday, Jan. 6.

CA DOT Stops Building Roads Because More Roads Means More People Drive

Citing research that suggests that more space on roads only encourages more people to drive, officials in the California Department of Transportation say, "Investments in the state's transportation infrastructure provide significant economic returns, preserve ecological health, contribute to climate change resilient systems, and create conditions that attract businesses and employers to local communities."

How self-driving cars can transform parking

Studies have shown roughly 30% of traffic in central business districts is caused by drivers hunting for curbside spaces. Consider Santa Monica, where during the weekday peak, according to a city-employed parking consultancy, the six closest parking structures to the Santa Monica Promenade reach 90% capacity. The next two closest structures, meanwhile, remain under 40% capacity. Driverless cars have the potential to better distribute demand for existing parking spaces, reducing traffic in the process. Shifting parking from the curbside and strip mall lots to centralized structures will likely carry additional benefits for non-drivers too. Even with existing cars — let alone the more futuristic stackable cars that some researchers propose — driverless cars can be packed into structures more tightly than can human-operated vehicles. Parking lanes can then be converted into bike paths and wider sidewalks.

Somerville, MA Partners with Audi to Prepare Cities for a Driverless Future

Somerville recently announced the Urban Future Initiative. The research partnership with Audi will begin seriously studying how driverless cars interact with urban space, and testing real-world solutions to make the most of it. Somerville is “kind of like the Brooklyn of Boston,” according to Hadley—one of the densest and youngest areas in the country, which helps push transit and innovation to the top of leaders’ agenda.  Hadley says that, though the project is still in its early stages, Somerville and Audi will be focusing on a few key areas: traffic signaling, parking, and on-demand transit. Audi and other automakers are hammering out standards for “smart city” communication that would, for example, let a traffic light wirelessly alert an oncoming driverless car of a red light. Somerville’s first move to integrate driverless cars, Hadley says, will probably be upgrading existing traffic lights with those wireless capabilities.

New York City Aims for Vast Electric Car Fleet by 2025

The city owns a total of roughly 11,000 sedans and sport utility vehicles, about half of which are used primarily for emergency purposes by the Fire Department and the Police Department. The electric vehicles — a majority of which are expected to operate entirely without fuel — would make up about half of the city’s nonemergency fleet, officials said. The program is expected to require a capital investment of between $50 million and $80 million over 10 years, to support the creation of additional charging capacity for the vehicles. Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, said fuel savings would help offset additional costs, such as the higher purchase price for electric cars.

Using An Informal Look At Traffic Speed In Pittsburgh Starts A Conversation

Pitt graduate student Matt Bauman is studying bio-engineering. However an informal look at the speed of traffic in Oakland is garnering a lot of attention. Matt Bauman joins us to discuss his findings and the Pittsburgh agencies that are taking notice.

Find Which Uber Is Yours With Its New Colored-Coded SPOT Lights

It’s called SPOT and involves drivers installing a colored LED light on the windshield. While the passenger is waiting to be picked up, they can tap a colored button (yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, or green), and then look for the Uber with the matching colored SPOT light. Passengers can even hold down on one of the buttons to turn their phone that color and wave it in the air to help their driver find them. This way, passengers won’t accidentally open the door of the wrong Uber, or even a non-Uber civilian’s car, which I can attest is quite awkward. Previously, passengers had to rely on Uber’s sometimes-laggy map, generic car types, and hard-to-read license plates.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

CV Pilot Deployment Webinar Series: Preparing a Safety Management Plan for CV Deployments

Date: December 7, 2015
Time: 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST
Presenter: John Harding, Intelligent Technologies Research, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
This webinar will present the USDOT perspective on the development of a Safety Management Plan, a key step in the concept development phase for deployment planning. John Harding of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will describe the design concept and the requirements of a Safety Management Plan, which will address the underlying safety needs associated with the safety of all travelers, subjects, and other personnel associated with connected vehicle deployments. Note that Safety Management planning is critical, yet different from Safety Evaluation.