Tuesday, July 26, 2016

CMU: How $600 In Auto Safety Features Could Save Up To $202 Billion In Crash Costs

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say widespread adoption of some of the building-block technologies needed for fully autonomous vehicles, short of the artificial intelligence, steering controls and advanced sensors they also use, can meaningfully and affordably reduce collisions and road fatalities. In particular, three partially automated crash avoidance features – blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and forward collision-warning systems – can be particularly effective in reducing nearly a quarter of U.S. vehicle collisions annually, say the authors of the just-issued study. Used together, these technologies could potentially stop or lessen the severity of 1.3 million crashes per year, including 133,000 that would otherwise result in vehicle occupant injuries and 10,000 fatal crashes, according to the study.

Automakers Need to Work Together for a Truly Autonomous Future

 HERE is calling for carmakers to work together rather than in competition. "Greater collaboration is needed to ensure drivers and road operators alike can seamlessly transition into the era of automated vehicles," said Carrie Cox, Senior Product Marketing Manager at HERE. "But how we get to that objective and what it takes to get there, in terms of building the necessary digital infrastructure at scale, is a call to action for all of us."A study from Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering shows these systems alone could prevent as many as 10,000 fatal road accidents in the US in any given year. "We are seeing that partial automation is accomplishing crash and crash severity reductions, and we expect that to improve," said study co-author Chris T. Hendrickson.

Mobileye Bears Folding as Tighter Grip Seen on Driverless Future

Investors say Mobileye’s pact with BMW shows it has gone beyond advanced driver-assistance systems to establish itself as a key partner for automakers as they step up investment in the race to achieve fully-autonomous driving. The stock’s meteoric rise after a $1 billion initial public offering in 2014 made it a target for short sellers like Citron Research, whichargued its valuation implied a quasi-monopoly status for what was essentially an early-to-the-game chipmaker with no moat to fend off competition. “People were worried they’d be a vision player who would get leap-frogged or commoditized,” said Joseph Fath, who helps oversee about $65 billion at T.Rowe Price in Baltimore, including Mobileye shares. “Autonomous capability driving is going to come faster than expected and this is the purest way to play it.”

Autonomous Car Testing Banned on China's Highways

A moratorium on highway testing may set back efforts by companies aiming to introducing automated driving in China, as local testing allows them to take into account different traffic conditions, driving habits and signage. The field has come under increased scrutiny after the U.S. began investigatinga fatal accident involving a Model S sedan driver using Tesla Motors Inc.’s Autopilot system in May.

Uber, Lyft offer car rental, lease options to lure drivers; critics call prices predatory

The deals have caught regulators' attention. The California Public Utilities Commission is probing whether some of the leasing and renting arrangements run afoul of its requirement that ride share drivers use a “personal vehicle.” Uber and Lyft say the programs serve people who are eager to work for a ride-sharing company but do not have a vehicle or don't have one that qualifies. Requirements of many traditional leases, such as mileage limits or long-term contracts, don't work well for their drivers. Uber and Lyft declined to say how much money they earn from the deals. Uber said its focus is getting drivers on the road, while Lyft said its program is designed in a way that “makes sense” for Lyft, GM and the drivers.

Apple Car Might Have Already Been Delayed a Year

That is, if it exists. The Apple Car doesn’t even technically exist, but it’s already been delayed, according to a new report.In a look at brothers working on Apple’s ultra-secret car project said to be called Project Titan, technology site The Information revealed that Apple has delayed its vehicle to 2021. Several rumors have claimed Apple had planned a 2020 launch for Apple Car, but The Information’s sources say that the project has “run into challenges,” and that a person who had worked on the Project Titan team confirmed Apple has pushed back its target launch from 2020 to 2021.

Interview: Meet the Ex-Googlers building the self-driving big rig trucks of the future

Companies like Otto, while they may not necessarily attract the buzz of a flashier names like Tesla, are nevertheless important and just as worth watching for their own reasons. One of them is the necessary practicality they bring to the industry’s bleeding edge. While consumers may lust after their own sleek self-driving car and anticipate they day those fill city streets, for example, rigs equipped with Otto’s kits may get here a lot sooner, helping push autonomy along while consumers wait for other use cases to materialize.

TRB Webinar: Guide to 21st Century Planning at State Departments of Transportation, Sept 7

TRB will conduct a webinar on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 from 2:00PM to 3:30PM ET that features research from National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Report 798: Role of Planning in a 21st Century State DOT – Supporting Strategic Decision-Making. This webinar will provide guidance on how the planning function in a state DOT can more effectively support future strategic decisionmaking. The presenters will provide an overview of the 21st Century Planning Guide, review the skills and knowledge needed for a 21st century planner, and discuss how the guide can connect agency planning decision to results.

Audi setting up a subsidiary dedicated to self-driving car tech

As for its driverless ambitions, Stadler tells the paper that “this is about a robot car that may not even need a steering wheel or pedals, so it’s ideal for urban traffic,” but adds that Audi is still looking for its dance partner when it comes to developing the necessary tech. We’ve seen a lot of car companies pairing up with carriers, software-makers and other tech-specialists in developing their advanced car roadmap, and Audi seems to want to lean on someone with more expertise, too. Audi is already working on self-driving tech, even without a dedicated subsidiary to do so: Its piloted driving project recently made headlines for including subtle, human-like cues to other drivers of its intent to change lanes, by drifting towards lane markers prior to initiating a merge.

In driverless car push, Japan and EU to connect GPS systems

The Japanese government and the European Union plan to connect their global positioning systems to speed up the development of autonomous driving technology. The Japanese government and the European Commission have launched discussions on integrating the systems. Among the companies taking part are Mitsubishi Electric, Hitachi Zosen and NTT Data of Japan as well as Thales, a big defense and electronics company from France. The discussion group is to draft a specific plan by the end this year on integrating the two digital signals. Global navigation satellite systems such as GPS pinpoint locations on the ground. Japan and the EU plan to use location information from these systems to run driverless vehicles.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Honda and Softbank: Talking cars that can read a driver's emotions.

Speaking at an event in Tokyo, Softbank and Honda described a future in which Honda cars could speak and interact with their drivers via cloud-based technology based on SoftBank's "Pepper" robot, a life-sized robot that can read human emotions. "Imagine if robots, with their super intelligence, devoted themselves to humans," Son said. "And imagine that cars themselves became supercomputers or robots one day. Honda will be the first to adopt this technology." The two companies would research ways to assess a driver's speech, along with other data compiled by vehicle sensors and cameras, to gauge the driver's emotions and allow the vehicle to engage in conversation.  As a result, vehicles would be able to offer advice and support to drivers, such as during challenging driving or parking situations, while also providing company to drivers on long, solitary trips.

GM exec: Autonomous cars could be for sale in 10 years

“We believe that they [NHSTSA] will start with a safety driver in the vehicle, which I think provides that extra layer of attention as we not only prove and validate the technology, but then demonstrate to consumers the safety of technology,” Barra said. “I think the framework will work.” Barra has previously said GM believes autonomous vehicles should have a brake, accelerator and steering wheel while the systems are proven safe. The carmaker expects the first deployment of self-driving vehicles will be for ride-sharing services. It has a partnership with Lyft Inc.

GM’s semi-automated hands-free, pedals-free highway driving feature – Super Cruise – is on track to debut next year on the Cadillac CT6, Barra said. GM confirmed in January it was being delayed for an unspecified reason. It previously was supposed to be available on the 2017 CT6.

Friday, July 22, 2016

2017 TRB Annual Meeting: Papers Due August 1, 2016

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.

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.

Uber is partnering with a satellite imaging company to help drivers find you

In a blog post announcing the deal, DigitalGlobe said its imagery would help "improve the Uber experience for riders and drivers," and that Uber would be using DigitalGlobe’s technology to "identify and improve pick-up and drop-off locations," rather than displaying maps to users of the Uber app. Uber has been building up its mapping division for a while, as high-definition maps are key to its self-driving car project. A number of engineers poached from both Google and Carnegie Mellon University are working on Uber’s mapping efforts, including Brian McClendon, the former head of Google Maps who is now in charge of Uber maps.

Volkswagen's Audi plans electric car push to put heat on Tesla

Audi will aim for electric cars to account for a quarter of its sales by 2025 as part of a strategic overhaul following the emissions scandal at parent Volkswagen, company sources said, in a move that could step up the challenge to U.S. group Tesla. Audi, which has been slow to embrace battery-powered vehicles, will now invest about a third of its research and development (R&D) budget into electric cars, digital services, and autonomous driving, two company sources told Reuters. Based on the 1.8 million cars sold by the German automaker last year, that would mean it selling at least 450,000 electric cars a year. Factoring in an expected rise in sales, that could turn Audi into a major competitor to Tesla, which believes it can sell 500,000 electric cars by 2020 or sooner.

Uber Inks Software Deal With Concur to Ease Business Trips

Uber will use software from Concur Technologies that allows large companies to track employee expenses as it continues its push into the corporate travel market. "We've seen almost 230% growth in Uber transactions in the past year and with this integration we expect to see that growth accelerate as we help companies leverage the benefits of Uber as part of their travel program," said Concur's Elena Donio.

U.S. Considers Expanding Automated-Driving Technology Oversight

U.S. regulators are studying whether to require federal approval of self-driving car technology before it can be sold to the public, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Tuesday. “I’ve been encouraging our team to think about … the extent to which we should encourage pre-market-approval steps. That would require industry and the department to be more in sync and more rigorous on the front end of development and testing,” he said at an industry conference in San Francisco.
Foxx's comments, reported by the Wall Street Journal, follow the launch of an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into a fatal crash involving Tesla's self-driving car software, Autopilot.

GM’s first fully autonomous car will be electric and launch on Lyft

Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer of autonomous tech at GM, would not share specifics about timing, but she did say the company’s first fully autonomous car will be available via the ride-sharing service sooner than you may expect."We have not made that announcement yet, but what I would say is this is all coming much faster than people anticipate, so I’ll say that much. We have been transparent about that,” she said. “We are working on an on-demand ride-sharing network with Lyft, it’s not something we are thinking about, it’s something we are very much readying for consumer use.”

Yes, Car-Sharing Really Does Reduce Car Ownership

In a report published Tuesday, new research by UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center quantifies the effects of car2go—a one-way car-sharing service powered by German automaker Daimler AG—in select North American cities. The report, co-sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation and car2go, among other funders, found that the service creates a net reduction on the number of vehicles on the road, which in turn seems to be reducing the number of vehicle-miles traveled and greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Capital of Car Culture, Los Angeles Warms to Mass Transit

“We want to once and for all solve the transportation infrastructure challenges in Southern California,” said Phillip A. Washington, the head the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “It’s a big challenge. Los Angeles is the car capital of the county. And it’s getting worse with 2.3 million more people expected in the county in the next 40 years. The roads are not built to accommodate the influx of people.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CMU study: Semi-automated cars would boost safety

"While there is much discussion about driverless vehicles, we have demonstrated that even with partial automation, there are financial and safety benefits," said Chris T. Hendrickson, director of the Carnegie Mellon Traffic21 Institute, in a statement. The reduction in crashes would save between $4 billion and $202 billion a year, a wide range depending on how many crashes would be eliminated.

The big question for self-driving cars: Human behavior

“How does the driver know what is their responsibility and what is the vehicle’s responsibility?” said Jim Sayer, director of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. If a car’s computer system can’t detect that there’s a problem ahead on the road, it wouldn’t even know to alert the driver, he said. Carmakers are trying to understand how humans behave when they’re retaking control of a vehicle that has been driving in autonomous mode. Audi is researching that topic in cooperation with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. One aim of the study is to figure out what people do when they’re not driving and how fast they can take over, said Brad Stertz, spokesman for Audi of America.

States, cities compete for self-driving vehicle bragging rights

Michigan and California are locked in a high-stakes battle for autonomous vehicle leadership. Both states have advantages such as advanced testing facilities, but they face increasing competition as other states and cities such as Pittsburgh, Texas and Columbus, Ohio, make strides.

PA infrastructure construction increases by nearly $1B

PennDOT officials called Act 89's funding mechanism a “historic investment” in infrastructure assets, putting the state in a better position to maintain and reconstruct its aging roads and bridges. “We are on track to award roughly $2.4 billion in construction contracts statewide this year for roughly 820 highway and bridge projects. We did $2.5 billion last year, and those numbers compare with the $1.5 billion we would have been limited to each year without the additional resources from Act 89,” PennDOT spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said in an email. The act altered and ultimately will uncap a state wholesale gas tax. The act also means, for the first time in decades, Pennsylvania is not the No.-1 ranked state in the nation for structurally deficient bridges, according to Waters-Trasatt.

Washington D.C. May Soon be Sending 911 Callers an Uber

“We are working with the health department to find other ways to transport people, such as using a contract taxi cab or Uber,” D.C. Fire and EMS Department Chief Gregory Dean told News4. “We are trying to find creative ways to try to reduce the strain on the system.” According to News4, the city sent out responders on more than 160,000 emergency medical service calls in 2015, many of which were not for high-priority medical issues. The city receives some 1.8 million 911 calls annually.

Michigan to buy former Willow Run Powertrain site for connected vehicle research

"This is a major milestone for the American Center for Mobility as we continue to lead the effort to create a national center for connected and automated vehicles and emerging mobility technologies," John Maddox , CEO of ACM said. "The ability to build out Willow Run with its deep historic innovative roots to now create a center to safely validate connected and automated technology is an incredible opportunity for not just the state of Michigan, but also our country."

Connected Cars Create Lots of Data – Volvo Has a Strategy for Using It

Something many haven’t considered yet are the huge amounts of data that will be generated from the influx of connected cars. What will automobile manufacturers do with this data? How will they organize and make sense of it? Data doesn’t do any good unless it’s being grouped for insight. That’s exactly the issue that Swedish auto manufacturer Volvo wants to solve. As a car company known for safety, they’re building safety into the top priorities of their new connected car data strategy. Their strategy will focus on minimizing failures of systems or mechanical features while detecting the functionality their customers want from their connected cars.

Volvo’s director of business intelligence, Jan Wassen, told Whir “We are trying to coordinate both creating and enabling tools for analytics, as well as making sure it is being triggered within areas where we should be active.”

Self-driving Mercedes-Benz bus takes a milestone 12-mile trip

CityPilot has taken a key early step towards fully autonomous public transportation: The Mercedes-Benz self-driving bus program saw one of its Future Bus vehicles drive 20 km (or around 12.4 miles) in the Netherlands, on a route that connected Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport with the nearby town of Haarlem. To make the trip, the bus had to stop at traffic lights, pass through tunnels, and navigate among pedestrians. This is a big win for the program, which owes its origins to the transport truck-focused Highway Pilot program debuted by Mercedes two years ago. That autonomous vehicle program didn’t face the added challenges of navigating an urban environment, however, which makes the Future Bus successful test run a significant achievement.

Uber Just Completed Its Two Billionth Ride

On Monday morning, Uber cofounder and CEO Travis Kalanick announced the ridesharing startup reached two billion total trips completed on its platform last month. The milestone comes less than six months after Uber hit one billion cumulative rides at the end of 2015–a feat that took Uber more than five years to accomplish. Completing a billion trips in the first half of this year shows remarkable growth following Uber’s last few years of rapid expansion into many countries around the world. While Uber did 140 million rides in all of 2014, it is likely on pace to surpass two billion rides in 2016, bringing the total number to over three billion trips by the end of the year. In his announcement, Kalanick said the company would ”hopefully reach our third [billion] even more quickly.”

CMU data science grad takes on bus bunching

CMU data science grad student Mark Egge takes on Port Authority bus bunching, charting and heatmapping one day of 61, 71, P1, and G2 buses. Egge's analysis finds that, "contrary to what one might expect, ... location is more deterministic of bunching than time of day," and he suggests that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) could alleviate the bunchiest of bunches, which are especially present Downtown and in Oakland and Squirrel Hill.

Germany wants a ‘black box’ in any car with self-driving features

It benefits just about everyone in the mix to have comprehensive data recorded regarding self-driving cars, since data is the key to improving the systems. Where not all parties might agree, however, will be on who has access to the data, at what times, and with what degree of transparency – and that’s where the emerging regulatory picture is likely to start creating debate between public and private interests.

Transit Columbus starts petition urging city not to 'leap-frog' light rail

An advocate for integrated public transportation has started a petition urging Columbus to include light rail and other mass transit in its transportation plans.Transit Columbus wants local leaders to not overly rely on driverless cars and other technologies proposed in its Smart City Challenge bid.

Meet Olli, the SLOW autonomous electric people mover from Local Motors

Olli is a little reminiscent of the autonomous people movers that are now being tested in the UK. But the vehicle is not actually in service yet. "We're getting calls right now from people asking to ride Olli," Woessner said. "We're in the process of working with the team to make that a reality... but also to get the regulations in place. Local Motors is an active participant in Maryland's process of crafting regulations for autonomous vehicles. "The one challenge we've seen is that the group is focused primarily on highway vehicles. We're interested in that application, but the low speed is where we think the initial consumer applications will be, particularly for environments like National Harbor or the National Mall in DC, or some large parks like Disney," Woessner said."We want regulations that are appropriate for that use case versus highway speed. I think there's the potential to tailor legislation and regulation for driving on an interstate or state highway versus a county or local road at a speed of less than 25mph."

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hyundai Will Roll Out New Next Gen EV Every Two Years, 200 Miler In 2018

According to Byung-ki, Hyundai will position itself as a leader in electric cars from here on out. In order to be a leader, Hyundai says it’ll roll out new generation electric cars every two years to keep pace with how quickly the technology is emerging in the electric car space.
As Automotive News reports:
“Aiming to make electrified cars a pillar of its portfolio, Hyundai Motor Co. says the technology is evolving so fast that it must roll out new electric vehicles on a two-year cadence to boost the current 110-mile range to around 250 miles by 2020.”

Samsung is planning to invest about $450 million in Chinese electric car maker BYD

Samsung has dropped a hint at its future direction, with its next play to get more involved in the electric car. The company announced it is to buy a stake in Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD which will initially let both companies "[strengthen] electric vehicle parts and smartphone parts businesses".  However Samsung also added, "We plan to discuss cooperation in various businesses going forward" - which is where things get more interesting.

NHTSA data shows traffic deaths up 7.7% in 2015

Preliminary data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show a 7.7% increase in motor vehicle traffic deaths in 2015. An estimated 35,200 people died in 2015, up from the 32,675 reported fatalities in 2014. Although the data are preliminary and requires additional analysis, the early NHTSA estimate shows 9 out of 10 regions within the United States had increased traffic deaths in 2015. The most significant increases came for pedestrians and bicyclists. "As the economy has improved and gas prices have fallen, more Americans are driving more miles," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. "But that only explains part of the increase. Ninety-four percent of crashes can be tied back to a human choice or error, so we know we need to focus our efforts on improving human behavior while promoting vehicle technology that not only protects people in crashes, but helps prevent crashes in the first place."

The Road to Driverless Cars: 1925 - 2025

In 2007, the DARPA Challenge course was changed to an urban setting, requiring competitors to integrate with traffic. Six teams completed this challenge, headed by Carnegie Mellon’s Tartan Racing with Stanford and Virginia Tech’s entrants following close behind. Other competitors, however, were involved in accidents - the MIT and Braunschweig entrants collided, and another competitor set itself on a course to collide with a pillar. This event gave rise to the predictive and decision-making software required for autonomous vehicles to operate amongst other traffic - as well as public awareness of the mistakes this software can make.

GM Earnings This Week to Shed Light on Big Investments

Google’s founders began investing in self-driving late last decade, about the time GM and Carnegie Mellon’s autonomous vehicle program was under way. GM’s effort was led in part by CMU’s Chris Urmson, who is now the technical director of Google’s car project. He was demonstrating the fruits of initial research in a project funded by the Department of Defense. Since that Defense Department project, GM has spent $60 billion on research and development, or 34% more than Google during the same period. Then, earlier this year GM President Dan Ammann showed up on Cruise’s doorstep ready to cut a big check. While not nearly as experienced as Google, Cruise logged time on public roads and was readying a $10,000 autopilot system people could plug into an Audi sedan.

Tesla Working on Autopilot Radar Changes After Crash

Radar can see through bright sunlight, rain, snow and other things that can block the sight of cameras, so it makes sense that Tesla would try to emphasize radar more after the Florida crash, said Raj Rajkumar, a computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University who leads its autonomous vehicle research. The cars' software would have to be updated so it considers the radar data and determines if obstacles are in the way, Rajkumar said. Tesla has said that it constantly updates the Autopilot system as the company takes in data from cars that are on the road.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

GM, Lyft expand Express Drive program, tout partnership

General Motors and Lyft are extending a program to California and Colorado that allows Lyft drivers to rent GM cars. GM President Dan Ammann said the Express Drive program, which operates in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C., has "dramatically exceeded expectations."

PGH: Transportation planners told to embrace technology, changes

Transportation planners need to keep up with rapid changes in automotive technology and use developments "to get things right that we got wrong before," Transportation for America's Joe McAndrew said at a forum. Other speakers told planners to be flexible and think deeply about the changes they propose to their cities.

Autonomous vehicle task force working to provide guidelines on remote testing

The director of policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said a new task force organized to hash out regulatory standards for the autonomous vehicle industry expects to complete its findings by the end of the year.

Honda co-develops first hybrid car, free of heavy rare earth metals

Honda Motor Co Ltd on Tuesday said it has co-developed the world's first motor for hybrid cars that uses no heavy rare earth metals, a breakthrough that would reduce its dependence on the expensive materials, which are controlled mainly by China.
Hybrid vehicles, which combine a gasoline engine and electric motor for better mileage, have gone mainstream in many developed countries but procuring a steady supply of rare earth elements such as dysprosium and terbium has been a challenge.

9 awesome innovations coming to the very first smart city in the US

Columbus will also get $10 million from Vulcan to incorporate an electric vehicle infrastructure.

Sidewalk Labs, a division run under Google's parent company Alphabet that works with cities to transform them into ultra-high tech municipalities, will play a role in Columbus' development.

We spoke with Rory McGuiness, deputy director the department of development for Columbus, to see what innovations we can expect to see in the city. 

CMU robotics researchers develop flying robots to find weaknesses in large structures such as bridges

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute are developing small, self-guided flying robots that use 3-D imaging technology to help engineers pinpoint and assess structural damage and other weaknesses in large structures, such as bridges and dams.

A prototype version of the Aerial Robotic Infra­struc­ture Ana­lyst, or ARIA, has already successfully mapped a small bridge, says Sebastian Scherer, systems scientist in the Robotics Institute. The researchers, which include four scientists and five students, hope to test their prototypes on a larger bridge this fall.

Self-driving delivery robots could soon be common sights in European cities

As to how Starship Technologies plans to educate the average person about what this space-age robot is doing in its city and for what reason, Harris-Burland explained that they’ll be socialized during testing with human companions.“The robots are accompanied by humans in the initial pilot phase of our joint testing program,” he added. “This is for a variety of reasons, but also to monitor public acceptance and engagement. What will happen when a robot turns up at a customers door? How will they react? The human there will be able to answer some questions that the consumer may have. Also they will be told they’re part of the world’s first robotic delivery trials which is pretty cool!”

Why self-driving cars aren't safe yet: 7 obstacles in the way

Last week’s fatal crash involving a Tesla Model S offers a startling reminder that driverless technology is still a work in progress. As Tesla’s own blogpost on the “tragic loss” points out, the autopilot technology that was controlling Joshua Brown’s car when it ploughed into a truck is in a “public beta phase”. That means the software has been released into the wild to be stress-tested by members of the public so that bugs can be flushed out. It’s the kind of approach we are used to seeing when we gain early access to new email applications or virtual reality headsets. As Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told the New York Times: “Beta products shouldn’t have such life-and-death consequences”.

Alibaba's internet-connected car to speed up driverless vehicle tech

Alibaba and the country's largest automaker SAIC Motor, demonstrated their jointly developed car equipped with the YunOS operating system, which can link up with smart phones, at an event in eastern China's Hangzhou on Wednesday. The car is slated to go on sale later this year. "You'll quickly see driverless car technology resulting from this platform," Wang said on the sidelines of the event. Among major tech companies, Alibaba is relatively late to offer a platform that can link a smart phone to a car, trailing platforms already launched by Alphabet's Google,Apple and Baidu.

VW, LG Electronics to co-develop connected-car platform

LG, in a statement, said it and Volkswagen will work to jointly develop over "the next few years" technologies allowing drivers to control and monitor devices in their homes such as lights and security systems, as well as in-vehicle entertainment technologies and an alerting system for drivers providing "recommendations" based on real-time situations. 

Hyperloop One business case: half-hour travel time between Helsinki and Stockholm

The first full-scale feasibility study of the technology published today by Hyperloop One (the Hyperloop startup that recently conducted that big Vegas demonstration), looks at connecting the cities of Stockholm and Helsinki via Hyperloop. Right now, it’s not particularly easy to get between the two capital cities, which are about 300 miles away from each other: People either must take a 3.5-hour flight (Update: Yes, of course, the flight itself is about an hour, the 3.5 includes time getting to/through the airports) or an overnight ferry. This would turn the journey into a 28-minute Hyperloop ride—and freight could travel the same way.

Indian Firm Mahindra to develop range of autonomous electric vehicles

Speaking to Autocar ahead of last weekend’s Formula E championship finale in London, Mahindra CEO Anand Mahindra said sharing the expertise of each of the company’s brands will be vital for it to create products for intelligent mobility, including a line-up of autonomous electric vehicles (EVs).
The Mahindra boss described the merits of each brand, emphasising that their vast differences was a strength, rather than a weakness. “If you look at the future of mobility, having one of the largest IT companies in India [Tech Mahindra] as part of your group, it’s not a bad thing to have,” he said.

Electric Vehicles Now Dominate Used Auto Market

Looking at the secondhand market, iSeeCars.com zeroed in on 2.2 million vehicles from model years 2013 through 2015 that were listed and sold in the first five months of 2016. Compared to the 42.5 average days for a gasoline car on the used market, electric cars took just 29.2 days to sell. Plug-in hybrids (40.7 days) and standard gas-electric hybrids (38.2 days) also beat gasoline cars in the study. Five out of the 10 fastest-selling used models were either a hybrid, PHEV, or EV.

Moscow selects TomTom for a Smarter City future

“We are pleased to be working with TomTom on this programme,” said Mr Liksutov, Deputy Mayor, Moscow Department of Transportation. It will allow Muscovites to obtain objective information about the transport system of the city of Moscow. By opening new research opportunities in this field we will improve the transport situation in the city together. I’m thankful for colleagues and look forward to future cooperation."

NXP, Tongji University, SAIC and Partners Launch First Large-Scale Road Test for Intelligent Connected Vehicles in China

“A large-scale road test is a significant step in the progress of the demonstration program,” said Professor Wang Ping, Director of the Intelligent and Connected Vehicle program at Tongji University. “We will continue cooperating with NXP and SAIC in order to satisfy the demands of the Chinese market, and to support the development of the intelligent vehicle industry in China.”

Is Columbus the Future of Urban Transportation?

One reason Columbus won out over the other finalists -- Austin, Texas; Denver; Kansas City, Mo.; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; and San Francisco -- was the way it worked with local stakeholders to leverage the impact of the $40 million federal grant. A group of local businesses called the Columbus Partnership agreed to kick in an additional $90 million if the city was selected. And thanks to another $10 million pledge by the investment firm Vulcan Inc. to be used for electric-vehicle programs, all told Columbus will have $140 million to work with.

Google’s Autonomous Cars Can Share The Road With Cyclists

The company has released its self-driving car report for June 2016 and has detailed how its autonomous vehicles can safely share the road with cyclists. While cyclists might be hard for the self-driving cars to detect, Google has taught its cars to drive conservatively when near cyclists, to avoid any accidents. Through observation of cyclists on the roads and at Google’s Mountain View test track, the company has managed to teach its software to recognize common riding behaviors such as detecting a cyclists hand signals as an indication to make a turn or shift over. This has helped the company’s fleet of autonomous vehicles to better predict a cyclist’s course.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Is the car culture dying?

A new study by Federal Reserve economists Christopher Kurz, Geng Li and Daniel Vine throws cold water on generational explanations. It suggests that most potential young buyers couldn’t afford a new vehicle or didn’t want to incur the debt and operating expenses of doing so. Economic considerations dominated. Indeed, the only age group with big increases were those 55 or higher.
When the economists adjusted the buying behavior of different age groups for income, employment status and some demographic factors (marriage, children, education, race), they found few differences. “Economic factors,” as opposed to “permanent shifts in tastes and preferences,” shaped car sales.

How self-driving cars can make cities better

It means taking into account the decreased travel times that SAEVs will enable, which will in turn reduce demand for new roads; improving existing roads will take priority. It means taking into account the radically reduced parking needs of a fleet of self-driving (and self-charging) vehicles, using the freed-up land to make cities more livable. It means rethinking road design, taking advantage of the safety SAEVs offer to "rebalance the use of the right-of-way, with less space for cars and more space for people walking, cycling, using transit, and recreating." It means using SAEVs to serve rather than supplant public transit, "by providing first and last mile connections to major transit lines via shared, automated vehicles, and by providing cost-effective, on-demand transit in lieu of low-performing fixed routes." And it means involving city officials in the technological and regulatory planning process from the very beginning, so urban needs can guide development.

Is Lyft Preparing To Sell?

Ridesharing firm Lyft has been getting ready to capitalize on investor desire to delve into transports and has been exploring raising additional funding or even selling itself to outside interests, Reuters has reported. The newswire said that the firm has been working with investment bank Qatalyst Partners, which is based in Silicon Valley. Reuters cited unnamed people familiar with the dialogue. The bank has been brought on board to explore capital raises and also a possible Lyft sale. The overall investment interest has been palpable, as firms have poured tens of billions of dollars into the transportation sector in the last decade to the tune of $38 billion.

19 Self Driving Car Terms You Really Need To Know

Don't get behind the wheel of a self driving car without knowing your stuff. The miracle of sitting back and having someone or something do the driving for you comes with caveats. Here's a glossary of things to watch out for as you—and your cloud-connected car—motor forward into the 21st century.

Silicon Valley-Driven Hype for Self-Driving Cars

Mr. Brown may be the first casualty of the widespread and potentially dangerous belief that autonomous cars are much closer to being road-ready than they actually are. Mr. Brown, who died in Florida on May 7, does not appear to have been heeding an important rule in the official instruction manual for the Tesla Autopilot feature he was using: Drivers should keep their hands on the wheel and be ready to resume control of the vehicle at any time.

Google's Waze adds more communities to traffic data service

Google-owned mapping app Waze has completed a series of new deals with a number of US cities and states to provide drivers with live traffic and road construction reports.

Friday, July 8, 2016

USDOT to award $759M in infrastructure grants

Eighteen transportation infrastructure projects will receive a total of $759 million in FASTLANE grants, according to the US Department of Transportation. The department received more than 200 grant applications for projects worth about $10 billion.

SAVE THE DATE-Congestion Pricing Workshop coming to Pittsburgh 9/29/16

SPC will be hosting an FHWA workshop on congestion pricing on Thursday, September 29th, 2016 and we cordially invite you to attend.  The day will be broken into segments so you can devote as much or as little time as your interest in the subject and your schedule allows.  The morning Executive Session (9AM-10:30AM) will give a high level overview and talk about the legislative, policy and planning considerations that go into implementing congestion pricing.  The morning General Session (10:45AM-Noon) will include examples and lessons learned from people with firsthand implementation experience in other parts of the country. The afternoon Technical Session will include additional examples and will dive into what it would take to assess potential applicability in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  Please confirm your participation with an e-mail reply to Mary Brangan at mbrangan@spcregion.org

Crash Deaths in the US: Where We Stand

Even when considering population size, miles traveled, and number of registered vehicles, the US consistently ranked poorly relative to other high-income countries for crash deaths. Some of the best performing countries:
  • Have policies in line with best practices, including those that address:
  • Primary enforcement of seat belt laws that cover everyone in every seat.
  • Requirements for car seats and booster seats for child passengers through at least age 8.
  • Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) levels.
    • US, Canada and the United Kingdom define drunk driving as BAC levels at 0.08% or above; all other comparison countries use lower BAC levels (0.02-0.05%).
  • Use advanced engineering and technology, such as:
    • Ignition interlocks for all people convicted of drunk driving.
  • Automated enforcement, for example, speed and red light cameras.
  • Improvements in vehicle safety and transportation infrastructure.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

'Socially-cooperative' cars are part of the future of driverless vehicles, says CMU professor

At Carnegie Mellon, one of the leaders in robotics, Professor John Dolan is finding ways humans and machines can communicate safely on the road. He spoke with TechRepublic about his research. Think about when our car enters a highway from an entrance ramp. We negotiate with nearby cars; if we're close to another car, if it's ahead, we let it go. If we're ahead, it lets us go. If we're close to it, we negotiate with visual cues, and also with speed cues. We speed up in order to indicate that we don't want to yield to the other car. Or, vice versa—they speed up in order to get in front of us. So, our team is looking at how to use probability to judge the intentions of that driver, and to be able convey to that driver what our intentions are, in order to have safer and more natural interactions with other cars.

PA Policymakers race to address self-driving vehicles

“There was no way we could pass a law and promulgate regulations, because by the time we could get regulations through the process for approval, the technology would have far outstripped whatever we had written, because it is changing so rapidly,” said Kurt Myers, deputy secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services at PennDOT. “It is literally changing on a monthly basis. ... So the determination was made … that we really need to address this through policy.”

That’s why PennDOT has formed the Autonoumous Vehicle Testing Policy Task Force, of which Mr. Myers is a co-chair, to analyze and create policies and guidelines to adequately balance safety with progress. The Task Force combines several stakeholders, including members of local government, representatives of CMU and Uber, members of the insurance industry, state police and even AAA, to aid PennDOT in this goal.

RTA of SWPA Hosts Future of Mobility Forum: July 11th

Future of Mobility Forum
How technology is changing transportation as we know it
Monday, July 11th, 2016, 1-5pm

Agencies, local governments, and private companies across the country and the world are using new technology developments to innovate how transportation systems operate. People are using technology to get access to more mobility options than ever before. It's time to take a look at what these new opportunities mean in planning for our transportation future.

What can our region learn from those who are leading the charge? What innovation is already happening here? Join us for a special conversation about the future of mobility.

USDOT encourages Road Diets to increase cycling safety

Biking is an efficient and fun way to commute and it’s also a great way to get physical activity. To promote biking, it’s important for communities to provide comfortable, safe, and convenient bikeways. During the summer months, the number of cycling enthusiasts increases – making it all the more timely to point out that adding bikeways to a roadway can enhance safety and comfort for cyclists and drivers alike. A very effective example is a “Road Diet,” which involves reconfiguring the road, removing one or more motor vehicle lanes, and often adding bike travel lanes. Reducing lane widths can result in lower traffic speeds that better align with posted speed limits and typically result in less severe injuries in the event of a crash. Road Diets can also reduce pedestrian crossing distances, which can result in fewer pedestrian crashes.

Strides Made in Self-driving Cars, But Much Work Remains

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon, with other institutions and car manufacturers, have been working on bringing autonomous cars to the roads. In a recent series of tests, their experimental Cadillac SUV drove its passengers from a suburban home to the city’s airport without a single glitch.The lead researcher, electrical engineering professor Raj Rajkumar, said driving through the inner city is another matter. “The traffic around the inner city can be very dense — different kinds of vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians that particularly jaywalk across the street and so on," he said. "They are crossing the roads between parked cars, so that is a very complex problem.”

LED Streetlights Are Great For The Planet — But Horrible For Your Health

There is actually no such thing as a “white” LED light, Stephen Quick, an architect and urban designer, told HuffPost. LED lights that appear white, like the ones used in streetlights are made up of a combination of amber, red, green and blue light, said Quick, an adjunct professor of architecture at Carnegie Mellon University who was not involved in writing the AMA’s recommendations.  Quick and his colleagues took a deep dive into the research on cost-saving benefits and potential health, safety and aesthetic concerns of LED lights for a report for the city of Pittsburgh in 2011. The report was used to help Pittsburgh finalize its plan to replace its 40,000 streetlights.

Report: EV sales expected to pass 200,000 units this year

The development of electric vehicles priced under $40,000 is expected to increase plug-in EV sales 62% to more than 200,000 vehicles in 2016, a Navigant Research study said. The report cited new Tesla, Chevrolet, Prius and Mitsubishi EVs as motivators of the increase, and said demand is particularly strong in the northeast US.

Consortium working to develop cloud data standard for autonomous vehicles

“Our goal was always to find a home for this specification that is open, accessible to all, and global. This is a vital step along the path to creating a shared information network for safer roads,” said Dietmar Rabel, head of autonomous driving product management at Here. “If a car around the next corner hits the brakes because there’s an obstruction, that information could be used to signal to the drivers behind to slow down ahead of time, resulting in smoother, more efficient journeys, and a lower risk of accidents. But that can only work if all cars can speak and understand the same language.”

Fatal Crash May Slow Advance of Self-Driving Cars

“There will be repercussions” in regulations, said Dean Pomerleau, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who has worked on driverless cars for 25 years and led several NHTSA research programs. “I think NHTSA is going to want Tesla to turn off Autopilot at least until they learn more.” Even before Thursday’s news, many people working on driverless cars worried that Tesla’s Autopilot was an accident waiting to happen. Mr. Pomerleau said he sold his Tesla stock the day he learned the company was releasing Autopilot. “Anyone who has worked in this area realized that this was inevitable,” he said.

Chevy lowers pricing for 4G plans in ultra-competitive connected car market

The paid plans are in addition to Chevy's free basic plan, which includes advanced diagnostics, dealer maintenance notification and app-based features such as remote start and door locking and unlocking.
"As more people embrace the technology, it brings down the cost of entry for all users," said Laura Keck, OnStar's subscriber marketing strategy manager, in a prepared statement. "With these lower prices, we expect even more customers to use 4G LTE connectivity during this busy summer driving season." But the price-cutting comes amidst ever-increasing competition in the burgeoning connected car market.

With self-driving cars, Uber and more, traditional transportation planning ‘just falls apart’

With such new developments as self-driving cars, high-tech vehicles designed to avoid crashes by reacting more quickly than drivers, and even Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services, transportation planners are realizing something. The way they traditionally prepare for the future "just falls apart," Jeff Harris, planning director for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), told fellow planners and officials Wednesday at a Wasatch Choice 2050 Consortium workshop. He said planners normally would simply look at such things as population and job projections to determine where new or expanded roads and transit are needed. That is how the just-completed statewide transportation plan through 2040 was developed.But Harris said rapidly changing technology now creates too much uncertainty for that process to work well in the future, and planners are struggling to adapt and incorporate more flexibility.

Singapore to launch electric vehicle car-sharing programme

The goal is to get 10,000 electric cars on the road and to set up 2,000 charging points across the island by 2020 -- up to 20% of the 2,000 charging points will be made available for the public, while the remainder will be for Bollore's commercial use. Some 500 BlueSG stations and 2,000 parking lots will also be set aside in Housing and Development Board estates, central business district areas and key industrial areas. By August, the European Type 2 AC charging standard will also be adopted as the national standard for all new electric vehicle public charging infrastructure. Each electric vehicle can be charged in one to two hours.

Whoever Owns the Maps Owns the Future of Self-Driving Cars

"Nominally, you can do autonomous driving without high-definition maps," says Sam Abuelsamid, senior research analyst at Navigant Research. "But if you get into challenging situations like rainy or snowy conditions, or can't see the curbs or lane markings, it's almost like putting a blind person behind the wheel." Therein lies the rub. For self-driving cars to gain real market acceptance, they need to have "anytime, anywhere capability," Abuelsamid says.

Tesla Superchargers are coming to US restaurant chain Ruby Tuesday

The parking lots of US chain restaurant Ruby Tuesday will soon play host to Tesla electric car charging stations. The two companies announced a partnership this week that will bring "a series of" Tesla Supercharger stations to an unspecified number of the restaurant's 729 locations around the United States. The partnership between the companies comes soon after Tesla installed trial Superchargers in a single Ruby Tuesday parking lot in Miner, Missouri. The electric car company admitted earlier this week that in addition to talks with chains like Ruby Tuesday, it was also discussing the placement of Superchargers in gas stations, securing key roadside locations that would make cross-country drives easier for Tesla owners.

Hyperloop One CTO Steps Down In Executive Shake-Up At Futuristic Transportation Startup

It seems odd to switch out leadership at a time when the buzz around the Hyperloop is just starting to heat up, but there’s been some discord at the top, according to a source. The tensions within may have spurred recent changes.  Hyperloop One declined to comment on what may have caused the sudden departure of BamBrogan beyond a released statement. “Josh has been a valued engineering leader as co-founder and SVP of Engineering since the company’s inception,” read the statement. “Co-founder and CTO Brogan BamBrogan has decided to take a step back from Hyperloop One. We appreciate everything that he has done to put us on the path to creating the world’s first Hyperloop.”

Standards To Be Set For Self-Driving Cars, Transportation Secretary Foxx Says

"They're looking at these (standards) and they're hoping to come up with some later this year," Foxx stated, according to LeBeau. The department's key issue will be to create standards focused on safety, as well as security of these systems.

June self-driving car report details how Google’s cars share the road with cyclists

Through observing cyclists on the roads and private test track, we’ve taught our software to recognize some common riding behaviors, helping our car better predict a cyclist’s course. Our sensors can detect a cyclist’s’ hand signals as an indication of an intention to make a turn or shift over. Cyclists often make hand signals far in advance of a turn, and our software is designed to remember previous signals from a rider so it can better anticipate a rider’s turn down the road.

Hertz Expands Rental Program for Lyft, Uber Drivers

"This is a positive agreement for both Hertz and Uber. Utilizing cars that are rotating out of our consumer rental fleet creates a model that works for Hertz and for Uber partners by providing them with well-maintained, good condition cars. We consider this agreement to be largely complementary to our car rental business, and it enables us to leverage our fleet and distribution infrastructure to participate in the dramatic growth in the ride sharing, or e–hailing, segment," said John Tague, Hertz president and CEO, in a statement. (Simply replace the word "Lyft" with "Uber" to get Hertz's statement for that business deal.)

US behind in smart cities, but government puts Columbus OH on fast track to pioneer smart transportation

Smart cities continue to be a conversation piece among government policy makers, talking about the benefits of connected devices, big data and potential cost savings. While cities like Barcelona, Dubai and Singapore appear to be trailblazers in developing their super-connected smart cities, it appears that the US lags behind in this agenda – the US National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), which has released a policy brief on the Internet of Things (IoT) in state government, says only one in five states have moved to the formal discussions phase of putting IoT on their agenda.

World’s First Electric Road (eHighway) For Electric Trucks Opens in Sweden

“Opening today, 22 June, the two-kilometre strip on the E16 motorway sees electrified trucks from Scania driven in open traffic, using conductive technology developed by Siemens.

The beauty of the new technology, which is the result of several years of cooperation between the Swedish Government and the private sector, is that it permits the trucks to operate as electric vehicles when on the electrified road and as regular hybrid vehicles at other times. All the Scania trucks on the road are hybrid and Euro 6-certified, running on biofuel.”

Could driverless vehicles put the brakes on the rollout of greener transport?

Dr Zia Wadud, associate professor at the Institute for Transport Studies at the University of Leeds, warns the benefits of autonomous vehicles could potentially even lead to a rise in car use at the expense of lower carbon public transport. "We know that if people are more comfortable in transport the more they tend to switch their mode," he tells BusinessGreen. "The biggest advantage [public transport] has now is productivity - we can get things done in a train. But... when cars will start affording us the same opportunity, then there's a potential that people may switch to cars from even rail. We have to be aware of that."

Washington Post: The Tesla Didn't Really Crash Itself

The government revealed Thursday that a Tesla Model S crashed into a truck in Florida in May, killing the electric car's driver. This, the headlines roared, is the first known example of a fatal road accident involving a self-driving car. 
Except it is not. The Tesla's "Autopilot" feature was turned on. But the model was not designed to be and should not have been considered to be fully self-driving. The car's semi-autonomous systems, which use onboard sensors to guide it away from hazards, were not advanced enough to steer and brake the car without the driver paying continuous attention and correcting when necessary. In fact, none of the semi-autonomous cars on the market are trustworthy enough to allow drivers to sit back and zone out. In the Florida case, the car failed to detect a large truck that had crossed into the Tesla's path, perhaps because it blended in with a brightly lit sky.

Tesla and Google Take Different Roads to Self-Driving Car

“We saw stuff that made us a little nervous,” Christopher Urmson, a former Carnegie Mellon University roboticist who directs the car project at Google, said at the time. The experiment convinced the engineers that it might not be possible to have a human driver quickly snap back to “situational awareness,” the reflexive response required for a person to handle a split-second crisis.
So Google engineers chose another route, taking the human driver completely out of the loop. They created a fleet of cars without brake pedals, accelerators or steering wheels, and designed to travel no faster than 25 miles an hour.

BMW says you’ll be able to buy its first driverless car by 2021

The car will be able to drive itself on both motorways and inner city areas without any human input, however BMW says it will gradually introduce increasing levels of autonomy. According to the carmaker, the three levels are the so-called “eyes off” level, which will require a human driver in the driving seat but which will introduce some level of autonomy like Tesla’s Autopilot. The second level, “mind off” will ramp up the car’s ability to drive itself without a human to guide it, while the final level “driver off” will allow it to drive itself without a human present at all.

Uber Discount From Some SEPTA Regional Rail Stations

SEPTA and Uber have a pilot program going where riders automatically get 40-percent off if you get picked up or dropped off at select Regional Rail stations. There are two important things to know: the discount is good on fares up to $10. And because it's a pilot program, there are 11 stations where you can get the discount. They are among the busiest stations with highest ridership, according to SEPTA's website.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Self-Driving Tesla Was Involved in Fatal Crash, U.S. Says

The race by automakers and technology firms to develop self-driving cars has been fueled by the belief that computers can operate a vehicle more safely than human drivers.
But that view is now in question after the revelation on Thursday that the driver of a Tesla Model S electric sedan was killed in an accident when the car was in self-driving mode.