Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Driverless Cars Will Face Moral Dilemmas

Some observers say a key flaw in the Science study is that it does not take into account how the artificial intelligence being developed to control driverless vehicles actually works. “This question of ethics has become a popular topic with people who don’t work on the technology,” says Ragunathan “Raj” Rajkumar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering in Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab and veteran of the university’s efforts to develop autonomous vehicles, including the Boss SUV that won the DARPA 2007 Urban Challenge. “AI does not have the same cognitive capabilities that we as humans have,” he adds. Rajkumar was not involved in the Science study.

Other Finalists in Smart City Challenge Will Also Get Funding, Resources

Now those cities will have outside help in making their transportation technology projects happen. Vulcan pledged to continue offering money for electric vehicle and climate change-related projects — and to bring in more money from third parties to support those efforts as well. The DOT is offering assistance in finding, applying for and receiving grant money for various projects. The DOE is making data and modeling services available to support project development. They will also have support from several of the companies that jumped in to offer their services to the winner of the challenge — NXP, Amazon Web Services, Mobileye, Autodesk, Sidewalk Labs and AT&T, along with DC Solar.

Getting around Columbus to get ‘Smart’ step by step

“Sometimes you have to go slow to go fast,” said Aparna Dial, the city’s program manager for Smart Columbus. “You have to be thoughtful with what you’re doing.”

The grants from the federal government and Vulcan Inc. span four years. Payouts will start in July. In general, the city should do a lot of heavy lifting in the first three years to implement the ideas laid out in its proposal. The fourth year largely will be about collecting data and evaluating how the technology is working. “This is not stuff that has been tested for 10 years,” said Rory McGuiness, deputy director in the city's department of development. “The book on autonomous vehicles is being written now.”

Drivers 50+ want connected car tech

According to Hartford insurance survey, 76 percent of drivers age 50 and older who plan to buy a new car will actively seek out high-tech safety features. Drivers age 50+ who plan to buy a car within the next two years will be seeking:
Blind spot warning systems (87 percent).
Crash mitigation systems (85 percent).
Lane departure warning systems (79 percent).
Smart headlights (78 percent).

GitHub Wants Software for Autos to be More Open, Collaborative

“The idea is to break problems into smaller pieces and reduce duplications,” he explained. “It’s about communication and peer review; as we build systems, if there’s no dictionary to check if it’s been done before, people with good intentions end up rebuilding it. With GitHub and InnerSource, components are tested by many, which gets products to market sooner. It’s kind of like a pyramid: when the base changes, things above it change.”

Foxx Sees Tsunami of Change Coming to Transportation

“Technology exists to solve a problem, but if we’re unclear about what the problem is that we’re trying to solve, we’ll never solve it,” Foxx said during the speech that was broadcast online. “We’re facing a tsunami of change in transportation. We’re going to have 70 million more people over the next 30 years. "There are changes where those people are coalescing. Many of them coalescing around our urban centers, and many of them are moving to the South and to the West, places that historically have been more dependent on the automobile.” Foxx also sees changes ahead for the movement of freight. “Freight and the dynamics around freight are changing,” Foxx said. “The new Panama Canal opened over the weekend. That’s going to create massive competition, particularly on the East Coast for ports to become favorite ports for post-Panamax vessels. That’s a dynamic that’s changing freight. [There’s] a need to create taller bridges for double-stack containers and make sure that our surface system is as strong and robust as possible.”

Uber Reportedly Shopping Hyundai For Self-Driving Fleet

Now, according to Maeil Business News Korea, Uber wants to partner with Hyundai on the development of self-driving technology in the automaker’s home country, and is also poised to place an order for a huge number of Hyundai vehicles. The outlet also reported that Uber recently visited Hyundai’s Namyang research and development facility in Hwaseong on a reconnaissance mission. With Uber operating in 71 countries and 438 cities, such a partnership could mean a need for millions of vehicles from the Korean company to fuel the ride-sharing company’s global growth.  Last year, the ride-sharing behemoth announced the opening of a joint research facility with Carnegie Mellon University, which resulted in Uber tapping into the school’s talent pool.

When self-driving cars arrive, drivers may not let go of wheel

There’s also the Route 66 romanticism many older Americans still have with the automobile. “Baby boomers have a love affair with the car,” said Raj Rajkumar, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a longtime researcher on autonomous vehicles. “On the other hand, the current generation would rather be Snapchatting, and they are a lot more receptive to technology.” And in the autonomous-vehicle age, established automakers may be on an equal footing with technology companies. A Nielsen automotive study of more than 1,100 participants 8 to 18 years old found there was an equal interest in buying a self-driving car from a technology company, such as Google or Apple, as there was in purchasing one from an automaker like Ford or General Motors.

Can Car-Centric Suburbs Adjust to Aging Baby Boomers?

One alternative is transportation services overseen by a federally funded network of local agencies that offer services and support to older adults to help them age at home and in the community. In many regions, these Area Agencies on Aging contract with local providers that offer door-to-door van services to older adults who qualify. But those programs, often geared to taking seniors to medical appointments and grocery stores, usually offer little flexibility and require clients to make reservations. That’s not likely to appeal to boomers, experts say.

“I don’t think the boomer population will be satisfied with making a reservation for a bus 48 hours in advance,” said Jana Lynott, an AARP senior policy adviser who focuses on transportation issues. “Boomers are going to demand convenience in transportation to be able to get out into the community.”

Why the US government should take Tesla up on its offer to share Autopilot data

Professor John Dolan, principal systems scientist in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, said that Tesla's data, in terms of mileage, is "extremely impressive, and nearly two orders of magnitude greater than the number of autonomously driven miles (1.5 million) reported for the Google self-driving cars." Still, Dolan wonders how directly relatable to autonomous driving Tesla's Autopilot data is. While Musk cites a 50% drop in accidents, based on his data, the fact that Autopilot asks drivers to be fully engaged means that accidents may be averted based on human intervention. While the driving may be safer than self-driving, Dolan wonders if it's "a fair comparison between straight human driving and Autopilot driving with presumably highly (perhaps unusually) attentive human overwatch."

Once thought of as a just a dream — is the Hyperloop a real possibility?

"I sense a bit of hucksterism right now that's helping companies raise money," says Ralph Hollis, a research professor of robotics at Carnegie Mellon University who is an expert on maglev tech.
His concerns range from whether endless links of welded tubes can retain the vacuum integral to maintaining high speeds given the inevitable geological shifts in California's earthquake country, to the physiological impact on passengers of speeds that approach the supersonic. "A lot of different things have to go right for this to really work, business, legal, technical," says Hollis. "Demonstrating that it runs isn't really enough."

China's Baidu to mass-produce driverless cars in 5 years

During the ongoing Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2016, or Summer Davos, in Tianjin, Zhang told Xinhua that Baidu will carry out road tests of driverless cars in ten Chinese cities, with the aim to commercialize the technology in three years and realize mass production in five years. The core technology of Baidu's driverless cars, he said, is the "Baidu car brain," which includes high-precision electronic mapping, positioning, sensing and decision-making and control systems. Baidu has already completed its first road test of automatic driving in mixed road conditions. The company has plans for more road tests in various weather, road and traffic conditions in ten Chinese cities, according to Zhang.

The question we should really be asking about electric cars

When thinking about scaling electric vehicles, it's almost as if we asked the wrong question. If you ask, “How can we make more efficient cars?” to a roomful of engineers, you will immediately get back “What's the most efficient car we make? And how can we make it better?” And you will get a Nissan Leaf.
If instead you ask, “How can we save the most fuel, per vehicle per year, to get the shortest payback?” You will immediately get asked, “Which vehicles burn the most fuel per year, in the hardest drive cycle?” The answer: trucks. Big, smelly, noisy garbage trucks. Driving 130 miles per day at 2.8 MPG is about 12,000 gallons of fuel per year. At $3.75 per gallon, that’s $45k on fuel alone, not even including maintenance. If we get the same proportional gain as in the Leaf case, we would save 8,366 gallons per year, or $31,372. Plus about $20k per year goes on maintenance, mostly for the brakes. That’s $51k saved per truck, per year.

NACTO: 6 Principles to Make Self-Driving Cars Work for Cities, Not Against Them

Self-driving cars are coming, and maybe sooner than we think. But the question of how they will shape cities is still wide open. Could they lead to less traffic and parking as people stop owning cars and start sharing them? More sprawl as car travel becomes less of a hassle? More freedom to walk and bike on city streets, or less? The answers depend in no small part on how federal and local policy makers respond to the new technologies. The National Association of City Transportation Officials wants to get out ahead of these changes with a statement of policy recommendations to guide the deployment of autonomous cars in cities. Here is what NACTO proposes.

Eight Electric Cars to Hit the Road by 2020

With developments in clean tech, we are only a few years away from the widespread introduction of electric vehicles. These days, if you are looking for a fully electric long-range vehicle, your options are limited. In fact, Tesla vehicles are currently the only cars that have an official range of more than 200 miles per charge.  But it won't be long before there's an influx of long-range electric cars hitting the market. Major automakers, including GM and Volkswagen, have vowed to roll out more than one fully electric car by 2020.Here's a look at some of the vehicles hitting the roads in the next few years. 

As Austin Struggles To Understand Life Without Uber & Lyft, DUI Arrests On The Rise

People are so desperate for rides that they're seriously trying to recreate the Lyft/Uber experience by using a Facebook group where people can post their location, negotiate a fee, and have someone pick them up (something that seems a lot more dangerous than typical Uber/Lyft). DUI (driving under the influence) arrests have gone up by 7.5% compared to the previous year.  This does not mean that Uber/Lyft leaving is absolutely the cause, as there may be lots of other factors. But the anecdotal evidence certainly suggests it's having an impact.

Philly Gets a Boost From USDOT to Mend Neighborhoods Split By a Highway

Earlier this year Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he wants to help repair the damage done to cities by highways. And this week U.S. DOT took some steps to make that happen, announcing the winners of its “Every Place Counts Design Challenge.” The four chosen cities (out of 33 applicants) will get technical assistance from U.S. DOT to tear down or cap highways, or otherwise mend urban neighborhoods split apart by grade-separated roads. The winners are Spokane, Nashville, St. Paul, and Philadelphia. Jim Saksa at Network blog Plan Philly explains how Philadelphia plans to use the process to begin heal the divides created by the Vine Street Expressway.

Uber, Lyft could get new overseer in California

Both companies have flourished in California and elsewhere under rules more liberal than those for taxicabs, allowing them to set their own rates, for instance. Now the state is considering having the California State Transportation Agency take over implementation and enforcement of those rules, as well as crafting new ones. A draft proposal to reform the PUC unveiled Monday calls for the Department of Motor Vehicles to oversee licensing, registration and evidence of insurance for ride-hailed drivers, while the California Highway Patrol would handle enforcement and “select investigations.” Both organizations are part of the state’s transportation agency.

Port Authority of Allegheny County considers adding electric buses

This fall, 75 clean-diesel buses purchased last year will replace older buses in the fleet of nearly 730. Those additions will reduce maintenance costs and emissions, potentially by up to 90 percent, McLean said. The Port Authority has an option to buy another 400 clean-diesel buses over the next five years. Each costs $455,415 and is paid for by the federal government as long as it remains in service for 12 years or 500,000 miles, McLean said.


Bill Peduto was elected to the office of Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh in November 2013. Prior, he worked for 19 years on Pittsburgh City Council.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Columbus Ohio officially winner of DOT Smart City Challenge and $140 million in innovation grants

With the Columbus Dispatch (and many possible runner-up cities) reporting two days ago that Columbus was the winner of the Smart City Challenge, official word was silent until this afternoon.
Today in Columbus, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx officially recognized and announced—to a full house at the Douglas Community Center in the neighbor of Linden—that the city is indeed the winner and will reap the benefits of victory; a $50 million grant plus $90 million in local matching contributions.

Columbus Shows How a Smart City Puts People First

So by now, you’ve heard.
Ohio finally got to bring home the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy.
While I missed the parade in Cleveland, today I was joined by Mayor Andrew Ginther in Columbus to congratulate them on a hard-fought yet deserving Smart City Challenge win.

Huawei signs smart vehicle deal with SamTech Middle East

Under the terms of the deal, SamTech will develop customized applications that integrate with Huawei’s connected vehicle service to improve public safety and comfort in buses, taxis and heavy goods vehicles. The connected vehicle offering is part of Huawei’s smart city solution set. “The regional transport industry is about to make a major leap into the future, with new ICT solutions enabling increased levels of capability in safety, efficiency and comfort,” said Safder Nazir, regional VP, Smart Cities and IoT, Huawei Middle East. “Huawei’s connected-in-vehicle solution coupled with SamTech’s intelligent software delivers on a key capability for regional Smart City initiatives whilst enabling critical control capability for transportation and emergency service stakeholders.”

Is This Electric Racing Car a Hint That Honda Will Challenge Tesla Motors?

Honda said on Monday that it will enter a battery-electric concept car into this year's Pike's Peak Hill Climb, a fiercely contested event in which racers compete for the fastest time up a steep and winding mountain road in Colorado. The Acura EV Concept, as the car is called, is based on the hybrid Acura NSX supercar and builds on technology that Honda used in another experimental race car at last year's event. It's a strong hint that Honda may be planning its own entry into the upscale battery-electric car market currently dominated by Tesla Motors.

Samsung SDI, LG Chem Face Setback in China on Electric-Car Batteries

South Korea’s two biggest electric-vehicle battery makers— LG Chem Ltd. andSamsung SDI Co.—have failed to get battery certifications from China, dealing a blow to their plans to expand capacity in the world’s largest auto market. LG and Samsung, which control one-third of the world’s battery market for electric vehicles, said Tuesday their recent applications for certification were rejected.
The decision by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology means that electric cars that use LG or Samsung batteries might be at risk of becoming ineligible for government subsidies. Chinese authorities recently said they are considering limiting the state subsidies presently offered for the purchase of electric cars to only those vehicles with certified batteries, starting as early as 2018.

Moscow to explore high-speed Hyperloop commuter transport system

A Hyperloop involves using magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the floating pods can shuttle people and cargo at speeds of up to 750 mph (1,200 kph).
“Hyperloop can improve life dramatically for the 16 million people in the greater Moscow area, cutting their commute to a fraction of what it is today,” Shervin Pishevar, co-founder of Hyperloop One, said in a press release. “Our longer-term vision is to work with Russia to implement a transformative new Silk Road: a cargo Hyperloop that whisks freight containers from China to Europe in a day,” he said.

Tesla boat: Elon Musk reveals secret Model S feature you didn't know about

When a video emerged online of a Tesla Model S owner sailing past floundering road users who were caught in flood water, the Tesla CEO responded on Twitter saying: "We *def* don't recommended this, but Model S floats well enough to turn it into a boat for short periods of time. Thrust via wheel rotation". The viral video was shot by a Tesla driver in Kazakhstan showing a flooded underpass where several cars were stranded in rain water several feet deep. Despite being in an electric car, the driver was not dissuaded from ploughing straight into the water. They then proceeded to niftily navigate around stricken vehicles and out the other side on to dry road.

More Cars Were Connected to Cell Networks Than Phones This Year

According to the consultancy firm Chetan Sharma, connected cars made up 32 percent of new connected devices between January 1 and March 31. Mobile phones, on the other hand? 31 percent. Tablets made up 23 percent, while connected devices belonging to the so-called "Internet of Things"—Nest thermostats, smart refrigerators, etc.—made up the remaining 14 percent.

That doesn't mean cars with built-in cell phone connections have quietly grown to outnumber the 330 million-plus cell phones currently in use across the United States. The data concerns new activations—new devices being added to the networks, not the total number of connected cars (or phones) across the board.

BMW seeks partners in race to build self-driving car's brain

BMW is accelerating plans to acquire technology expertise in a race with the likes of Apple and Google to make cars smart enough to react like human drivers. The automaker is pushing to acquire startups, partner with tech companies and hire talent to build an electronic brain for next-generation vehicles, Klaus Froehlich, BMW Group's head of development, said in an interview in Munich. At stake is billions of euros in potential profit as value in the auto industry gradually shifts to autonomous cars and taxis. "There's a power play going on with other companies buying up software competencies at a fast clip," Froehlich said. "We definitely need partners in this area, and we massively need to build out in-house resources too."

The Self-Driving Car Generation Gap

Cars are different. They represent individual freedom, the ability to go where you want, when you want. As Krystal D’Costa says in Scientific American, “Cars have long been symbols for personal freedom. With the open road before you you can go anywhere—from behind the wheel you really take control of your destiny. In this regard, cars are empowering. Ownership means that you have the means to be independently mobile, that you own not just a vehicle but choice as well.” You’re not buying two tons of material; you’re buying the open road. That’s why getting your driver’s license used to be the critical rite of passage for any adolescent American male.

Columbus, Ohio — not Pittsburgh — wins Smart City

In a statement, he noted that “collaborations with the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal agencies — as well as the private sector, nonprofits and universities — will be ongoing.” Despite the loss, such collaborations will continue to pay dividends in the future, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “It really was the working together that in the long run is going to be the real benefit,” he said.

Mr. Doyle added the loss to Columbus “shouldn’t stop us from moving forward with the plan.” He believes the money to pay for the initiatives can be cobbled together through a variety of sources — government, foundations and others who support the plan. “We put a good team together. There are substantial players in this. There is no reason to think there won’t be the ability to move forward,” he said.

Verizon buys Telogis to drive deeper into the connected vehicle market

With a lot of tech companies and automakers staking their claims in the connected car space, now there are signs that others are looking to move in, too. Today, telecoms giant Verizon announced that it is acquiring Telogis, a California-based company that develops cloud-based solutions for mobile workforces, and specifically telematics, compliance and navigation software used by Ford, Volvo, GM and other car companies, as well as Apple and AT&T. Before the acquisition, Verizon actually had a business in fleet management and telematics; in fact, the two companies competed against each other for business from the trucking and other industries. Verizon Telematics, as the business is called, is active in 40 countries. But in a way, Verizon buying Telogis is a sign that the latter may have proved to be the more superior, and the one with the key customer deals.

Faraday Future gets approved to test self-driving electric cars in California

A spokesperson from the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Tuesday confirmed that Faraday had been approved to test self-driving vehicles on public roads on June 17. Faraday is one of several Chinese-funded startups hoping to challenge Tesla Motors in premium electric vehicles. Like Tesla, Faraday also hopes to add self-driving capability to its vehicles, but has not provided a timetable. Faraday has been testing prototype vehicles for the past year at private facilities, according to the source familiar with the company's program.

June 27: Series Kickoff: The Future of Transportation: Safety, Opportunity, and Innovation

The Future of Transportation: Safety, Opportunity, and Innovation will bring together top transportation innovators who are thinking beyond the horizon on these important issues. This speaker series will advance the ongoing conversation started by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx’s framework for the future, Beyond Traffic 2045.

This series will kick off on June 27 with a talk from U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, with a special introduction by Gregory D. Winfree, Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Columbus Wins $50 Million Smart City Grant

Senator Sherrod Brown’s office also confirmed the receipt of the grant, and provided this statement:
“Mayor Ginther and the city’s partners demonstrated a commitment to smart growth that makes the city better for all residents. And that’s why I worked so hard to support Columbus’s efforts. I look forward to continuing to work with local leaders and community members to realize the vision of a first-of-its-kind transportation system that increases access to jobs, links neighborhoods, and improves real-time information in a sustainable, safe way.”

Friday, June 17, 2016

Minneapolis Program turns sidewalks into Parklets

The city of Minneapolis likes that the five parklets it approved for use through Oct. 31 are getting more residents out of their cars and walking or biking its streets. Now in its third year, the parklets program permitted three city-sponsored spaces and two backed by a development and other neighborhood stakeholders.

Skeptics of Self-Driving Cars Span Generations

“Baby boomers have a love affair with the car,” said Raj Rajkumar, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University and a longtime researcher on autonomous vehicles. “On the other hand, the current generation would rather be Snapchatting, and they are a lot more receptive to technology.”

Self-driving 3D bus to provide shuttle service in D.C. metro area

A driverless electric shuttle bus created with 3D-printed parts will provide free rides to the public in National Harbor, Md., this summer. Local Motors has produced two versions of Olli, which holds 12 passengers, uses IBM technology and travels up to 8 mph.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Potential of Self-Driving Vehicles | CMU's Raj Rajkumar | TEDxPittsburgh

Raj Rajkumar is the director of the General Motors-Carnegie Mellon Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab, and is helping to make driverless vehicles a reality. While the technology is certainly new and cutting edge, Raj illustrates that the conversation started very long ago. This talk includes demonstrations of the car in action, challenges they are working to overcome, including the main obstacle the autonomous vehicle faces: for society to give up control.

Pennsylvania P3 greenlights 550-mile fiber network

About 550 miles of fiber optic cable will be installed along the Pennsylvania Turnpike to provide tolling data and to connect to traffic management systems, as well as to tap for future smart-car use. The state's Public-Private Partnership Board approved the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission's planned project. Mark Compton, Pennsylvania Turnpike CEO, said in a release the new network will serve multiple near- and long-term needs including collecting "tolling data and connecting traffic management devices such as Intelligent Transportation Systems" as well as being able to handle "tomorrow's data challenges including connected vehicles."

The LIttle Yellow Bicycle Button that gets the attention of city leaders

Swedish company Hövding – best known for its bicycle airbag-helmet, which was explosively modeled at a Transportation Techies meetup in 2015 – is back in the news with the release of another bike product that puts a modern spin on a classic function.

The yellow handlebar buttons, called “Flic” buttons, combine the best of so many things needed to advocate for safer bicycling streets: a practical technology that allows riders to easily take action and note where they feel unsafe.

Pennsylvania STIC Hosts Innovation Day

The Pennsylvania State Transportation Innovation Council conducted an Innovation Day to highlight the role of innovation in delivering a high-quality transportation system. More than 200 people learned about the state’s use of solutions such as accelerated bridge construction, salt alternatives and adaptive signal control technology. “Pennsylvania is a national leader in deploying innovations which are proven to streamline environmental review and reduce impacts, decrease construction time, reduce delays to the traveling public and make work zones smarter and safer,” Pennsylvania Transportation Secretary Leslie Richards said.

Tesla’s weird week

It’s been a weird few days for Tesla. In a span of just 72 hours, the Model S was accused of having major suspension issues, the NHTSA supposedly got involved, Tesla explained there is nothing wrong and the NHTSA isn’t actually investigating the issue and Elon Musk tweeted that the whole thing was a giant conspiracy.

Passenger-carrying drone company will test in Nevada

EHang co-founder George Yan expressed interest in establishing a partnership with a test site and to expand their company into the United States. “It will be a first for the state of Nevada and for the United States, once we get them qualified,” he said. The institute will develop test criteria to help EHang Inc. prove aircraft worthiness to the Federal Aviation Administration. “We will help them submit necessary test results and reports to the FAA and all that kind of stuff,” Barker said. “It’s a big deal for EHang and it’s a big deal for NIAS and the state of Nevada because we will be helping them to test and validate their system.” This partnership will advance the state’s commercial drone industry, Wilczek said in a statement. “I personally look forward to the day when drone taxis are part of Nevada’s transportation system,” he said.

GM opens autonomous research center in Canada

Executive vice-president Mark Royce said the industry is on the cusp of major changes as electric and autonomous vehicles gain traction. "We selected Ontario and Canada for this expansion because of the clear capacity for innovation, the proven talent and new talent that we have in this room, an ecosystem of great universities, startups and innovative suppliers that we have here," Royce told a news conference. The new initiative is expected to create 700 to 750 engineering jobs over the next several years, bring the total to around a thousand, Royce said. He said new positions would focus on developing technology for vehicle safety and connectedness technologies, as well as autonomous vehicle software and controls. GM Canada president Steve Carlisle said their efforts will be felt on a global scale.

Massive Trove of Battery and Molecule Data Released to Public

The Materials Project, a Google-like database of material properties aimed at accelerating innovation, has released an enormous trove of data to the public, giving scientists working on fuel cells, photovoltaics, thermoelectrics, and a host of other advanced materials a powerful tool to explore new research avenues. But it has become a particularly important resource for researchers working on batteries. 

Co-founded and directed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist Kristin Persson, the Materials Project uses supercomputers to calculate the properties of materials based on first-principles quantum-mechanical frameworks. It was launched in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science.

ITS JPO Webinar: Automation in Europe: Update on Activities in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom

Date: Monday, June 27, 2016
Time: 11:00am – 12:30pm ET
Background Information:

T3 Webinars are brought to you by the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Professional Capacity Building (PCB) Program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (U.S. DOT) ITS Joint Program Office (ITS JPO). The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) cooperatively partnered with the ITS PCB Program to produce this Automated Vehicle webinar.  ITS America frequently delivers webinars to the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) stakeholder community in order to inform interested parties of some of the current work that is being done in the industry. References in this webinar to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the U.S. DOT.

How many carless workers are there really?

Even when it comes to workers, we often overstate the ubiquity of cars. One common way to measure car access, for example, is the percentage of workers with “access to a car.” In practice, “access” just means that someone in your household owns a vehicle. But that kind of “access” doesn’t always mean much. For example, for several years I lived in a household with three working adults, one of whom owned a car. By the standard measure, all three of us had “access.” But in reality, only one of us could actually use it to commute. Moreover, even the one of us who drove to work really depended, in a meaningful sense, on public transit: if the other two of us hadn’t been able to get to work, get paid, and contribute our share of the rent, the one driver would still be in deep trouble. In other words, a household with at least one worker who doesn’t drive is a household that probably depends on some kind of non-car transportation.

Transport for London and Twitter

In a partnership with Twitter, Transport for London - the London area transportation agency - is launching a pilot program to alert riders of potential delays within the app. Rather than forcing riders to check for tweets from an account, which puts the responsibility on passengers, the pilot will allow passengers to receive direct messages with information on disruptions. The program marks the first time Twitter has formally partnered with a transit agency. Should the pilot prove successful, it could create a model for more direct information options for other cities' transit riders.

An Uber executive says driverless cars will hit the road ‘sooner than you think'

Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber, took the stage at the Bloomberg Technology Conference in San Francisco on June 14th to talk about what's next for the ride-sharing behemoth. Bottom line: Uber's self-driving cars are coming "sooner than you think." Holden described driverless cars as a major priority for Uber, and recalled an earlier conversation with CEO Travis Kalanick about why that's the case. Holden remembers telling Kalanick, "Driverless is ... basically a disruption wave in our rear-view mirror right now. That is not a situation where the technology is going to be evenly distributed. It's going to be very proprietary. If somebody can build a driverless car, they're going to have a massive economic advantage if they employ that in a fleet at scale."

"Either we need to usher that in, or make a bet that somebody's going to give it to us to plug into our fleet," Holden said. "So we started building it."

How Future Tesla Owners Will Escape Range Anxiety

“There are fundamental limits as to how fast one could ever charge a battery pack,” Venkat Viswanathan, assistant mechanical engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, tells Inverse. “We can never get to the 30 second or two minute time frame you have for fuel filling.” But, Viswanathan says, that is no reason to be pessimistic about the future of electric vehicle traveling. Yes, even on long distance trips.

USDOT & Paved Solar Cells – What Are They and Are They Effective?

The company Solar Roadways provides hope for the U.S. ambitions to also have solar roads. In November 2015, it received a $750,000 two-year SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) contract from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the work done so far has proved the panels’ viability. This is good news considering that most U.S. states do not have the budget to cover road repairs, let alone lay down a new road. Such technology could offer a solution. The company is also factoring in new ways to harness the electricity output through cable corridors that might replace utility wires. The idea, that could reduce power outages from downed lines, is to lay corridors by the road with two sections: one for electric cables and one for passage of water.

Alphabet releases fleet vehicle service alert program.

The initiative uses Teleservice service alert data – which is sent to Alphabet autonomously from vehicles requiring attention at the same time as the warning light appears for the driver. Alphabet then proactively calls or messages the driver to arrange the required action or service. The information transmitted by the vehicle helps Alphabet’s Maintenance team determine the precise type of servicing work required and how long the action will take. In addition, the vehicle transmits the status of other functions of the car, such as brakes and filters, so that Alphabet can proactively arrange to address any upcoming issues at the same time as the service action. Benefits include more accurate estimates for how long the service will take, thus reducing vehicle downtime and helping the fleet driver maximise their productive working day with a ‘While You Wait’ service’ where possible.

High-school students build connected, autonomous vehicles in a few hours at ITS America 2016 San Jose

As part of an active project to bridge the growing skills gap in ITS, high-school students were given the opportunity to show of their skills this week (June 13-15), at ITS America 2016 San Jose, by building their own connected, autonomous vehicles. The cars were made using 3D-printed parts, on-board sensors and Raspberry Pi circuit boards, which the students were able to program using open-source Linux code, to perform simple autonomous maneuvers alone, and more complex ones that involved interaction with other vehicles, such as platooning and stopping to allow another vehicle to pass.

Technology upgrade: accommodating CYCLISTS at intersections

The Cyclescope software is optimised for bicycle detection and when it detects a bicycle stopped at the intersection stop line, the upgraded system initiates a Bike Min-Green operation. This extends the green phase of the lights controlling the relevant direction by around four seconds in order to provide the cyclist additional time to clear the intersection. When there are no bicycles detected, the normal signal timing optimised for motor vehicles, is resumed and no action required by the rider to initiate a call for a green light.

ITS is essential to reducing carbon emissions

In addition to traffic signal synchronisation, other ITS technologies vital to GHG emissions reduction include traffic incident management, ramp metering, construction zone management, traveller information systems, transit signal priority and bicycle signal detection at traffic signals. “Utilising ITS for carbon reduction is aligned with US DoT's Smart City initiative; California's emission reduction target' and the Paris Agreement on climate change,” Morrissey added. “ITS needs to be embraced as a solution.”

Chicago Just Released a Massive Amount of Bike-Sharing Data

The largest dataset the city of Chicago has ever released through its online open data portal went live Tuesday, offering up a vast amount of information about the city’s Divvy bike-sharing program. Included in the dataset is bicycle and docking spot availability at city bike-sharing stations, recorded in 10 minute intervals, from 2013 up until the present. Also released was every record for Divvy trips in the past two years, according to the city’s chief data officer, Tom Schenk Jr. Tuesday’s release is the first time bike-sharing data has been published on Chicago’s open data portal, a website that acts as a clearinghouse where city datasets are made publicly available.

ASCE International Conference on Transportation & Development June 26-29, Houston, Texas

ASCE International Conference on Transportation & Development (ICTD 2016) is organized to facilitate exchange of information, knowledge, and best practices among transportation and development practitioners and researchers, public infrastructure owners, policy makers, government engineers and planners, operations managers and leading academics from around the world.

The Smart City Challenge could completely change the American city

The test course in the impoverished Hazelwood community is part of a broader plan by Pittsburgh to bring green housing, tech jobs and an autonomous shuttle to the site. That is all at the center of Pittsburgh’s push to transform itself. The public-private effort reflects a surge of similar ambitions elsewhere. Cities across the country, with a nudge from Washington, are trying to remake themselves by taking an expansive view of the role of transportation in their civic lives. They say that they can tackle the era’s big issues — traffic congestion, poverty and climate change — by melding technology with the work of private firms and innovative planners.

MoDOT ready to move forward on Road to Tomorrow “smart” pilot projects

The Missouri Department of Transportation says it will begin five pilot projects for its smart road initiative called the Road To Tomorrow. The projects include a grant application to install "smart pavement," solar roads, truck platooning and an effort to seek a partner to broker right-of-way for internet of things projects.

Ford opensources Connected Vehicle Technology

“SmartDeviceLink is the agnostic app interface software that Ford contributed to the open-source community to set the industry standard for accessing smartphone apps inside the vehicle,” said Angie Kozleski at Ford Communications. “SmartDeviceLink is the open-source software on which the Ford AppLink platform is built, providing customers with an easier way to access their smartphone apps via voice command or touch-screen interface.  “SmartDeviceLink gives developers the opportunity to create a single app that will be compatible across multiple platforms,” she said. “This unique solution helps ease the burden on developers who currently have to create applications for multiple platforms, adding complexity, time and cost to a project.

USDOT official calls for urgency to forge connected-vehicle future

A US transportation official told professionals attending ITS America San Jose that "the time is now" to rapidly develop connected-car technology and infrastructure. "The question is, will we -- will the folks in this room -- be ready to reap the benefits of connected vehicle technology?” said Greg Winfree, assistant secretary for research and technology for the US Department of Transportation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Walkable Cities Are Better By Almost Any Metric: Here Are The Best In The U.S.

New York City; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Chicago; San Francisco; and Seattle come out top, followed by a second tier of Portland, Pittsburgh, Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Among 30 cities studied, San Diego, Dallas, Las Vegas, Tampa, San Antonio, Phoenix, and Orlando have the lowest walkable urbanism levels, defined by the percentage of office, retail, and multi-family development in Walk-UP places. The report was put together by Smart Growth America, an advocacy group, and academics at the George Washington University School of Business.

Monday, June 13, 2016

TomTom's launches RoadDNA and HD map to enable autonomous driving

TomTom has released a demonstrator providing information on its connected and autonomous vehicle offerings, including lane positioning and mapping. The company also said that Volvo has chosen it to provide mapping and traffic information devices starting in 2019. “We believe that this demo enables our customers to truly experience the powerful nature of our autonomous driving products,” said Willem Strijbosch, head of autonomous driving at TomTom. “This demo not only illustrates our product innovation, but also enables us to elevate the level of engagement with our automotive partners.”

DONE: Denver's public/private partnership opens 36 miles of new commuter transit lines

After nearly five years in the making, the 36-mile Eagle P3 project in Denver — the nation’s first public-private partnership (P3) for commuter rail — is opening its new commuter lines to the public. The 23-mile University of Colorado A Line is the first of three project segments, which opened in April 2016. Running between downtown Denver Union Station and Denver International Airport (DIA), the trip now takes about 35 minutes — nearly half the original drive time in heavy traffic.
On April 22, 2016, the Denver Regional Transportation District (RTD) opened the new 23-mile line that connects DIA to Union Station downtown. The two remaining Eagle P3 segments will open by fall of 2016, connecting downtown with the neighboring suburbs to the west and the north.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

10 years of Bicycle Crash data released in PGH, HACK WITH US TONIGHT

With the recent release of 10 years of crash data in Allegheny County, a number of different organizations are interested in exploring traffic safety in our community. Please join us for an evening of civic hacking on June 9.
Partners in the event include: Allegheny County, Bike Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Traffic21 Institute, the City of Pittsburgh, Open Pittsburgh, and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center at the University of Pittsburgh.​

Smart City Challenge: Pittsburgh makes 10-minute push for $50 million

The U.S. Department of Transportation has summoned Pittsburgh and the six other finalists in the Smart City Challenge to Washington, D.C., for one last attempt to convince federal officials they have the best proposal to revitalize transportation in their cities. The winner will be announced by the end of the month. “We’re doing something a little different here, a little exciting,” said Jon Romano, spokesman for the 6/7/2016 Smart City Challenge“We’re going to have everyone come in and make a pitch like an advertising campaign.” Each city will present a 3-minute video and make a 7-minute oral presentation describing its proposal, some of which are 60 pages or more, Mr. Romano said. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will head a team of a half-dozen and make the oral presentation.

Pittsburgh's Smart City proposal combines data, energy and transportation

A key element of the Pittsburgh proposal would be a ”smart spine system” on six streets that feed into the Golden Triangle: Penn, Liberty, Fifth, Forbes and Second avenues, and Bigelow Boulevard. The sources would include personal, public transit, government and freighthauling vehicles; street and traffic lights; and social media. That information would be used to monitor traffic and control traffic lights on those streets, a much larger version of the Surtrac signal control system developed by Carnegie Mellon University and used in East Liberty and Larimer. As part of the system, traffic lights would use sensors to identify transit and freight vehicles and allow them to move through the signals quicker. That eventually would be expanded throughout the city to all traffic signals

Emergence as Regional Tech Hub Reflected in Pittsburgh’s Smart City Challenge Bid

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has strong existing ties with local universities when it comes to transportation. At Carnegie Mellon, researchers affiliated with the Traffic21 Institute, and an initiative known asMetro21, work on technology that has already been tested in the city. One of the proposals in Pittsburgh’s Smart City Challenge application calls for wider deployment of a traffic signal control system that came out of Traffic21, known as Surtrac. It uses machine learning algorithms to optimize when traffic lights change to red or green and has already been installed at a number of intersections in Pittsburgh. At intersections where the system is in place, vehicle wait times have gone down by 40 percent and emissions have declined by 21 percent, according to Stan Caldwell, executive director at Traffic21. Wider deployment could lead to further improvements, Caldwell noted. “The more information the city can get, the smarter we can help it become from our research,” he said.

Deployment Miracle Puts Electric Vehicles On Track To Save Livable Climate

An almost two-century-old technology with virtually no market penetration just six years ago is now on track to become a cornerstone solution in the fight to avoid catastrophic climate change, the International Energy Agency (the IEA) reported this month. If that isn’t an energy miracle, what is?
Driven by aggressive government deployment programs and one high-flying entrepreneur (Elon Musk), the world has seen stunning drops in the prices for the advanced batteries that electric vehicles (EVs) require. The result is that of 19 key low-carbon technologies the IEA is tracking, only EVs have made sufficient progress in the market to be in the IEA’s highest category: “on track, but sustained deployment and policies required,” to keep total global warming below 2°C. The EV story shows what smart government deployment programs can accomplish for both pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs, which also have a gasoline engine):

World’s First Driverless Car Insurance Policy Launched In The UK

Adrian Flux said said its policy would be updated as both the liability debate and driverless technology evolved. It is estimated that human error is at least partly responsible for more than 90% of current road fatalities. As a result, a move to self-driving cars is expected to reduce car insurance premiums in the long term. Norfolk-based Adrian Flux, which has 600,000 customers, said that with the potential reduction in accidents, the new policy could be cheaper than standard ones, although other factors, such as location and overnight parking, remained important.

Hyperloop One Debuts "Tube Deformer" Building Nevada Test Track on Instagram

Hyperloop One, one of two companies working to make Elon Musk’s dream of magnetic tube travel a reality, has a lot of work to do to before it realizes any of its ambitious plans. But the company is moving quickly, having successfully tested its propulsion system for the first time last month, it is now building a test track that would more closely resemble the much-dreamed-about Hyperloop. The first test track will be at least a mile long, meaning Hyperloop One has already developed technology to make an otherwise languorous process a little less lengthy. The “tube deformer,” introduced to the world writ large in anInstagram video, is a specialty machine designed to make the assembly of hyperloop tubes easier and more affordable.

Werner Herzog spotlights CMU innovations in new trailer for “Lo and Behold”

During production, Herzog and his crew visited Pittsburgh to capture Carnegie Mellon University projects in action. The film features the four-limbed CHIMP robot at the National Robotics Engineering Center and a robot soccer team developed to defeat FIFA world champions. He also conducted on-camera interviews with various CMU faculty and staff members.

Earlier Reports of Uber-Carnegie Mellon Driverless Vehicle Partnership a ‘Misconception’

Mr. Spice said the lack of joint research or criticism from some quarters about Uber hiring away university researchers are not indications that there is animosity between the two groups. “We’re happy Uber is here,” he said. “It’s a great thing for the city. It’s a great thing for us. They are doing their thing, we’re doing our thing, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do things together in the future.”

Designing Tomorrowland: Smart City Challenge briefs from 7 finalists

“We can take an area that hasn’t seen any development since the 19th century [and make it] the model of a sustainable development for a new economy...Transportation, energy and technology can be used to create a 21st-century city.” – Mayor William Peduto

Uber, Fiat Discuss a Self-Driving Car Partnership

Fiat is the third-largest car maker in the U.S. and may be feeling left out of the game. A merger deal between GM and Fiat Chrysler fell apart last year, right before GM’s investment in Lyft and now the major car maker may be setting its sights on ride-hailing company Uber as a way in. Uber is working on building a fleet of self-driving vehicles and poached a bunch of Carnegie Mellon roboticists last year to work on the project. Uber then financed the institution with $5.5 million as a way to make amends and create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Qualcomm launches reference platform for the connected car

The platform allows automakers and suppliers to explore, prototype and commercialize connectivity designs using modules and solutions offered based on Qualcomm’s roadmap. 
“With the Connected Car Reference Platform, Qualcomm Technologies has developed a platform for automakers, module OEM customers, and developers that emphasizes scalability, modularity and security for integrating and managing multiple cutting-edge wireless technologies inside vehicles,” said Nakul Duggal, vice president, product management.  The reference platform is expected to be available by the end of 2016.

Faraday Future aims to test self-driving cars in Michigan

Faraday Future isn't just talking a big game when it mentions plans for autonomous features in its cars. Michigan's Department of Transportation tells the Detroit News that FF not only asked about how to apply for plates that let it test self-driving cars, but has applied for three manufacturer plates since. While the company isn't confirming anything (the plates are to test "prototypes and features," it says), it's safe to say that at least one of those vehicles won't always have a human at the wheel.

Facebook Ride Sharing Group Replaces Uber And Lyft In Austin

A group calling itself Arcade City Austin/Request A Ride organized itself on Facebook. Started by Christopher David and Eric Green, the group has over 32,000 members today.

According to TechCrunch, when members need a ride they post their current location and destination on Facebook. Within minutes, potential drivers respond with an estimated time of arrival, a proposed fee for the ride, and a phone number where they can be contacted. Once an agreement has been made, group members delete the request.

New TRB Webpage on Transformational Technologies

A new webpage on transformational technologies in transportation is now available from TRB. This resource contains the latest research results, ongoing research, publications, news and events in the area of transformational technologies. Key technologies include connected and automated vehicles, shared use services; unmanned aerial systems (drones); NextGen, Internet-of-Things, smart cities; big data and cybersecurity.

2017 TRB Annual Meeting: Papers Due August 1, 2016

The spotlight theme for the 2017 TRB Annual Meeting is Transportation Innovation: Leading the Way in an Era of Rapid Change. The information-packed program is expected to attract more than 12,000 transportation professionals from around the world. TRB is accepting papers for consideration as part of the program for the 96th TRB Annual Meeting, January 8–12, 2017, in Washington, D.C., and for publication in the Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board (TRR). All papers—whether for presentation at the 2016 TRB Annual Meeting or publication in the TRR—must be submitted in PDF format directly to TRB’s paper submission website by August 1, 2016.

Your car will eventually learn your driving habits and correct you, Toyota Exec says

Guardian angel technology would be able to learn over time, even picking up on user's driving habits so that it could spot trends that could lead to accidents and advise the driver to make corrections that would prevent a crash from occurring.  A lot of the discussion among automakers and within their R&D organizations involved how much control the car should have. For example, Pratt said, your car may someday warn you several times about a particularly dangerous driving habit you have before taking control of the wheel.

DOT Releases Library of Connected Vehicle Technology

The Department of Transportation has published a library of materials on connected cars to help groups maintain and use these vehicles. Part of the process will include testing such cars in Florida, New York and Wyoming. The new library includes information regarding those specific pilot projects.

Industry rides along as Pennsylvania develops self-driving laws

On the task force is Raj Rajkumar, a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) professor and head of the school’s many self-driving car projects. Rajkumar assisted Pittsburgh-based CMU develop a self-driving Cadillac SUV that legislative members of the task force rode in during the group’s gathering. The SRX has multiple cameras, radars and lasers to help it sense its environment, and a large on-board computer that processes the sensor data to control the car’s driving. “I’m sure we’re going to learn a lot today about this vehicle; I can understand and appreciate what this vehicle will be able to do,” said State Sen. Randy Vulakovich, adding “I’m not quite sure I’m smart enough to know how it all works.”

2016 MASITE ITSPA Annual Conference Call for Abstracts

The Mid-Atlantic Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers (MASITE) and the Intelligent Transportation Society of Pennsylvania (ITSPA) are now accepting abstracts for the upcoming 2016 MASITE-ITSPA Annual Conference, which will occur August 28-30 in State College, Pennsylvania.
To be considered, please complete the Call for Abstracts Form and submit by June 24, 2016.

Mitsubishi Outlander hacked, raising car security stakes

Pen Test Partners researchers have completed a video showing how they hacked into a Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid SUV's Wi-Fi system, which enabled them to disarm its alarm by taking over its electric charging system. The researchers demonstrated how they accessed a mobile app by cracking the vehicle's SSID and password security.

Baidu Plans to Mass Produce Autonomous Cars in Five Years

Dominant Chinese search-engine provider Baidu will develop a self-driving car by 2021, said the company's Wang Jing. Baidu is testing driverless cars on Chinese roads and knows that competitors are stacking up. "The market right now is very early so it's big enough for many players. I don't think anyone can dominate this area," Wang said.

For Driverless Cars, Citylike Test Sites Offer the Unpredictable

Sites like Mcity in Ann Arbor, Mich., are like miniature cities, allowing companies such as General Motors, Honda, Ford, Nissan and Toyota to test driverless cars. The real question they face: How good do autonomous vehicles have to be to replace cars with drivers? "When you no longer have a human doing the sensing and decision-making, the car has to be flawless," said John Maddox from the University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center.

Friday, June 3, 2016

USA and Israel to collaborate on autonomous vehicles and transportation-related issues

Foxx and Katz signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) outlining their commitment to work together on key issues related to the future of transportation. The discussion also focused on moving beyond traditional modes of transportation, embracing best practices in the public and private sectors, and collaborating in research, specifically:
  • Advising on Israeli plans to build a center for the development of autonomous vehicles in the city of Netanya, Israel;
  • Collaborating on the safe deployment of automated and connected vehicles, including best practices around cybersecurity;
  • Sharing successful models of Public Private Partnerships (P3).
“At the Department of Transportation, we are working relentlessly to lead the world in building a 21st century infrastructure system designed to grow the economy and give our people a better quality of life,” said Foxx. “We were thrilled to welcome Minister Katz to USDOT, and we are looking forward to collaborating with Israel to advance research, harness innovative approaches and support the future deployment of automated vehicles.”

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Google teaches its self-driving cars to honk

Google's self-driving cars are getting some attitude. Company engineers have been working on teaching their autonomous vehicles the subtle - and often obnoxious - art of honking, according to Google's May self-driving car report. The innovation makes sense. After all, while Google's 24 self-driving Lexus SUV fleet are hybrid machines with a modicum of engine noise, Google's growing gaggle of 34 pod-like prototypes are all-electric machines that barely whisper their presence. Sometimes, a short stable of the horn is required to let folks know they're coming.

Wolf: What Self-Driving Cars Could Do For Pennsylvania

Autonomous and connected vehicle technologies, which encompass everything from self-driving cars to infrastructure and vehicles talking to each other, hold huge potential. And their testing and development is already occurring in Pennsylvania, which is why we marked the state’s latest steps at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where they already developed their own autonomous vehicle. First, we held the first meeting of a newly established Autonomous Vehicles Testing Policy Task Force that will collaboratively develop guidance that PennDOT will use when drafting autonomous vehicle policy. PennDOT is chairing the task force, which is comprised of state, federal and private-industry officials such as the Federal Highway Administration, AAA, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Uber Technologies.

CMU self-driving car demoed with Sec. Richards as state bill presses on

CMU professor Raj Rajkumar said, self-driving vehicles are safe on highways but need improvements for crowded neighborhood streets. Limitations include increased cost of as much as $15,000; handling weather conditions; and reacting to unexpected events. “It is not able to get from home to work, but can be used on the highway,” he said. “In about 10 years or so, you will be able to get from home to work.” To make sure state laws keep up with technology and the technology follows safety standards, state Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards on Wednesday announced bipartisan legislation in Harrisburg and creation of a task force to oversee technology developments.

PA unveils task force to guide driverless car technology

A Pennsylvania lawmaker introduced legislation to regulate driverless vehicles on the state's roads and the Department of Transportation unveiled a task force on the technology, steps to help Pittsburgh's Smart City Challenge application. The developments were announced Wednesday at a conference at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the centers of autonomous vehicle technology through innovation by CMU and ride-sharing company Uber Technologies, which has opened a research center in the Strip District and is considering using the Almono redevelopment for testing. CMU is a recognized leader in autonomous vehicle development for the past 30 years and has a driverless 2011 Cadillac SRX that cruises at 70 mph.

PennDOT's new open data portal includes real-time traffic camera streams, road condition updates

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation became the second state agency to launch an open data portal in May on a common geographic information system, or GIS, platform used in several states, PennDOTannounced, following the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The PennDOT open data portal makes available information including road conditions, accidents and roadwork, including real-time streaming video from more than 700 traffic cameras and the department's road condition reporting system data.

Pittsburgh roads wired with 'talking' traffic signals

“Basically, everyone in the industry sees this technology as, yes, this is the right way to go, and this will increase safety more than we've ever seen in history,” said Stan Caldwell, executive director of Carnegie Mellon's Traffic21 Institute and an adjunct associate professor of transportation and public policy.

PennDOT, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University, has installed dedicated short-range communication radios at 35 intersections in Bloomfield and Marshall and will add 11 this year at intersections along McKnight Road in Ross and McCandless. The technology is endorsed by the federal Department of Transportation to transmit and receive connected car signals.

Behind the Scenes: Smart City Challenge Finalists

Increasing mobility options for a growing population; reducing the number of vehicle related deaths and accidents; and reconnecting marginalized neighborhoods separated by transportation infrastructure. These are just a few of the rather daunting transportation challenges of our time. How can cities hope to solve these issues? U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Foxx believes the answers are collaboration and innovation.

With less than one month until the announcement of the winner of the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, cities of all sizes are considering how new technology like self-driving cars and connected vehicles will change how people of all levels of income live their lives.

Texas project uses autonomous vehicle technology for bus safety system

Concerns found in the initial research include buses making turns at intersections or traveling in a straight line and negatively interacting with cyclists and pedestrians, as well as distracted cyclists and pedestrians not being aware of surrounding transit vehicles. While developing the concept of operations, the team discovered that the Mobileye/Rosco Vision Systems technology was available and that the manufacturer was interested in testing the collision avoidance system in a campus setting. The system provides two types of warnings to the bus driver: a yellow light illuminates when a pedestrian or cyclist is detected within range of the bus, alerting the driver to proceed with caution; a red light illuminates and a buzzer sounds when a pedestrian or cyclist is very close to the bus, alerting the driver to stop to avoid a possible collision. The research team is currently assessing the system and developing the overall concept of operations plan for the test bed.

Feds urge automakers to install V2V technology over next 5 years

The US Department of Transportation is urging automakers to include vehicle-to-vehicle technology in all cars within the next five years to greatly reduce the number of accidents. V2V systems can warn drivers of traffic they can't see and other hazards, said Mike Shulman, Ford's V2V technical leader. "Like polio vaccines, if we have technology that could prevent thousands of deaths each year, why not use it?" 

Committee calls for multi-modal flexibility in AASHTO roadway design guidelines

“We have seen consistent growth in walking and biking throughout the country, and we also have seen an increase in crashes and fatalities involving them,” says Kirk Steudle, committee chair and director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. “Our state agencies need robustly-researched guidance on how to best incorporate all modes of travel when designing safe and efficient roadways that serve all users.” The Green Book includes “research-based, peer-developed guidance that serves as the basis for the design of roads on the National Highway System, as well as many state and local roads.” AASHTO says it is currently being updated.

Electric Vehicle Poll Shows Confusion Reigns Among US Consumers

If electric vehicles are to crack the mainstream market, automakers will first have to inform most U.S. consumers of what they are and how they work. In a Harris Poll released before Memorial Day, over two-thirds (67%) of 1,052 respondents said they don’t know anyone driving a green vehicle, with over three-quarters (76%) saying they’re completely unaware how far a plug-in hybrid can travel. The Ford-commissioned study should be a wake-up call for Detroit automakers as they plan to release EVs in the coming years, and the release of the data coincided with the arrival of the 2017 Fusion Energi, the plug-in hybrid with range that increased to 610 miles following the redesign. (Electric range increased just two miles for a total of 21.)

SAIC, Alibaba to Mark Chinese Foray Into Connected Cars With SUV

“Connected cars are the inevitable trend of the auto industry,” Gu said in a phone interview, declining to give a price for the new model. “We worked with Alibaba instead of Google or Apple because the latter looks at the car as a piece of hardware to install their software. If they are successful, in future they may just get a Ford or GM to produce cars for them, so we don’t see as much synergy in working with them.”

With self-driving cars, the second golden age of the U.S. auto industry may be coming

Over the last two years, we've seen the U.S auto industry gradually returning to its heyday. With new technology and competition from newcomers, automakers have ramped up their production. The U.S. has the potential to be the global hub of the auto industry yet again, Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker said at this year's Code Conference. That's because the country is once again home to many of the key components of a successful and productive auto ecosystem. Today, two of the Top 10 incumbent automakers in the world — General Motors and Ford — plus Tesla, the biggest electric vehicle manufacturer globally, are headquartered in the U.S.. In addition to a number of universities with programs that focus on autonomous technologies, many of the companies leading the charge in both autonomous technology and mobility services are also based in the U.S.

A patent reveals how Google’s self-driving cars might work: complete with a steering wheel

First spotted by Quartz, the patent published Tuesday reveals a system that would allow the driver to go from manual mode to autonomous mode by simply pushing a large “ON” button.  Before the car would kick into self-driving mode, though, the car’s computer would use sensor data to scan the surrounding environment to make sure that the conditions are safe enough for the car’s autonomous system to take over. In other instances, the system may prompt the driver to change certain settings so that it can enter autonomous mode safely... Tasks would be presented as a checklist so the driver could walk through them step by step, according to the patent. The patent notes that a driver could regain control of the vehicle by engaging with the steering wheel or accelerator. 

Tesla could triple the planned battery output of ‘Gigafactory 1’ to 150 GWh, says Elon Musk

During the 2016 Shareholders Meeting today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced that the company could triple the total planned battery output of the Gigafactory to ~105 GWh of cells and ~150 GWh of battery packs – or over 3 times the current total li-ion battery production worldwide. The new potential total capacity would be based on the current planned factory of 13 million sq-ft – with no expansion needed. Musk revealed a few other tidbits of information about the plant during the meeting. Total capacity aside, the biggest announcement is the confirmation that Tesla and Panasonic, the automaker’s strategic partner in the Gigafactory, will manufacture a new 20700 cell format – compared to the current 18650. It means the battery cells that will be produced at the factory later this year will be a little taller (70mm) and a little wider (20mm) than the current cells used in the Model S and X.

A $50 million prize awaits one of seven cities testing the best ways to deploy intelligent transportation.

“We don’t necessarily know the direction that the technology is moving,” said Alex Pazuchanics, a policy adviser in the Pittsburgh mayor’s office. “It certainly helps to have Carnegie Mellon [University] involved as one of the leading [players] in that field, but we don’t necessarily know that what’s on the table today is going to be top-of-the-line five years from now.”

The race to build navigation systems for driverless vehicles just heated up

Mapbox, the firm that creates map software using mainly open-source data, announced Wednesday its official bid to build that map, with a new product called Mapbox Drive. It’s a map with the ability to direct a semi-autonomous vehicle with enough accuracy to make tight lane changes, and offer real-time traffic and road condition updates to the user.  It also marks a big entry into a new market for Mapbox, which has long been known for its fascinating geo-visualizations and suite of mobile app-making tools.

Mich. Introduces Legislation to Allow Driverless Car Testing

The legislation calls for the creation of on-demand autonomous vehicle networks operated by manufacturers to deliver good and pick up passengers. Kowall said in a statements that the proposed changes to the code will not only update the law, but will “provide safer transportation, better mobility and a stronger economy” for the state in general. “The law is becoming more outdated day by day as technology advances and other states seek the new automotive industry for themselves,” Kowall said. “Michigan’s dominance in auto research and development is under attack from several states and countries who desire to supplant our leadership in transportation. We can’t let that happen.

New Competition to Award $100 Million to Help Solve a Critical Problem of Our Time

A new competition launched today will award a $100 million grant to a single proposal designed to help solve a critical problem affecting people, places, or the planet. MacArthur's competition, called 100&Change, is open to organizations working in any field of endeavor anywhere. Applicants must identify both the problem they are trying to solve, as well as their proposed solution. Competitive proposals will be meaningful, verifiable, durable, and feasible.

Why Northeastern drivers won’t pull the trigger on buying electric cars

A recent survey by Consumer Reports found 35 percent drivers in nine Northeastern states would consider an electric vehicle for their next purchase or lease. That’s far behind California, where more than half of drivers will consider going electric next time they buy a car. But 55 percent of respondents in the Northeast said they “have interest” in EVs and their technology package. So why the gap between Northeasterners who are interested in EVs and those who are likely to actually buy one? There are a few factors at play.

Uber launches UberBike in Amsterdam

UberBike lets cyclists order a car equipped with a bike rack. The idea here is that lots of people cycle, but not everyone wants to ride everywhere they go, whether it’s because they’re tired or because of the weather. UberBike works like any other Uber service. Users in Amsterdam will be able to see the Uber Bike option next to the usual suspects — Uber Black, UberX, etc. — and choose that option when selecting their pick-up location. When the driver arrives, off they go with the bike in tow.

Uber Turns to Saudi Arabia for $3.5 Billion Cash Infusion

Uber said on Wednesday that it had raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s main investment fund, in one of the largest-ever investments into a privately held start-up. The money was part of the ride-hailing giant’s most recent financing round and continued to value Uber at $62.5 billion. The investment, which was months in the making, does not cash out any of Uber’s existing investors. Uber, which has viewed the Middle East as an important area in its expansion, said the investment further aligned the company with Saudi Arabia as the kingdom planned to transform its economy, reducing its dependence on oil and improving employment.