Thursday, December 22, 2016

Uber Halts San Francisco Driverless Cars As DMV Revokes Test Fleet Registration

Uber’s puzzling defiance of a California requirement that it get a $150 permit to operate self-driving cars in San Francisco came to an end with the ride-hailing company announcing it was suspending the program. Uber had little choice: California's Department of Motor Vehicles revoked registrations for its 16-vehicle test fleet earlier in the day.
“We’re now looking at where we can redeploy these cars, but remain 100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules,” the company said in a statement.

Amazon’s Real Future Isn’t Drones. It’s Self-Driving Trucks

But citing sources familiar with Amazon’s business, The Journal says the company may be developing a mobile app for finding available trucks and matching them with available shipments. With this Uber-like app, the company can bring some added efficiency to the shipping market and help deal with that growing driver deficit.
But this is also why Amazon will undoubtedly push towards self-driving vehicles for its long-haul shipments in the years to come.
Uber itself is already moving in this direction, after acquiring the San Francisco self-driving-truck startup Otto.

Silicon Valley Dominating Self-Driving Tech? Motor City Says Not So Fast

The city of Pittsburgh is also intent on competing with Detroit as a self-driving technopolis. Because of some pioneering research in self-driving technology at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh has emerged as a key development site.Uber is using autonomous cars to provide rides in one section of the city, a project for which Bill Peduto, the mayor, said he was happy to “roll out the red carpet.” Delphi Automotive, a maker of automobile components, is also working on self-driving systems in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh's Healthy Ride bike-sharing program to expand

Pittsburgh’s Healthy Ride bike-sharing system has received a $200,000 state grant to expand the number of stations it operates by 50 percent.
The program, which began about 18 months ago, has 50 stations across the city where riders can rent bicycles at one location, ride to another and leave the bike there. It will use the money from the state’s Multimodal Transportation Fund to increase the number of stations to 75, said Erin Potts, marketing director of the nonprofit Pittsburgh Bike Share that runs the program.

University at Buffalo gets federal grant to explore driverless car technology

“Traditionally, driving simulators and road testing facilities have operated independently of each other” said Chunming Qiao, professor and chairman of UB’s department of computer science and engineering, who is lead researcher on the project. “With iCAVE2, we are bridging that gap and creating a space where academia, information technology companies, automakers and other industries can evaluate and validate their products.”
UB has dubbed the research platform iCAVE2, short for Instrument for Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Evaluation and Experimentation. The university is partnering with Carnegie Mellon University, Cisco Systems and Southwest Research Institute.

Hyundai’s self-driving system aims at affordability

Automaker Hyundai wants you to know that it’s also embracing the race to autonomous driving — but it’s also hoping to do so in a way that differs from the approaches of most automakers, in striving for tech that will both be available in vehicles owned by individuals, and that will actually be affordable for a good portion of car buyers.
Hyundai debuted its self-driving tech this week, with the first public rides provided on the streets of Las Vegas ahead of CES in January.
An ambitious plan to build a 500-acre specialty testing site in East Liberty, Ohio, for driverless cars and commercial trucks could go a long way toward cementing Ohio’s status as a key location for developing and proving the technology that looks to be a lock for the future of the automotive industry...
“The aim is that we’re going to be a hub for autonomous and connected vehicle research and development,” said Carla Bailo, assistant vice president, mobility research and business development at Ohio State University. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t have that hub here in the Midwest instead of someplace else. We have a large number of automotive companies in the state, a large number of heavy truck companies in the state, and we can play a large role.”

U.S. DOT Leaders Select Winner of 2016 Innovation Challenge

Seven teams and a selection panel made up of U.S. DOT officials recently convened in Kendall Square to select the winner of Volpe’s fifth annual Innovation Challenge.
The Innovation Challenge, a Volpe staff competition that began in 2012, encourages multidisciplinary staff teams to develop and pitch creative ideas to improve some aspect of the transportation enterprise...
The 2016 Innovation Challenge winning team, Beyond Bike/Ped Assessment, proposes a new tool for gathering information about pedestrian and bicyclists’ experiences using streets and public spaces.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

FTA Answers Questions and Seeks Input About Emerging Shared Mobility Services

Secretary Foxx has made clear that shared mobility has the potential to deliver better transit and paratransit service in a more efficient way – but recognizes the importance of balancing innovation with equity...
By clarifying how the U.S. Department of Transportation and FTA standards and eligibility requirements apply when FTA recipients work with providers of emerging shared mobility technologies, we hope to encourage the interaction between public transportation and these emerging services that create improved travel choices for all transit users.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Self-driving cars will be safer drivers than I am, but I'm still nervous in them

"Everybody uses different techniques, but you definitely need multiple examples to train off of. And the nature of machine learning is the more data you train with the better the performance generally is, which is one of the reasons why some of the companies like Google and Uber are exploring large scale, real-world tests so they can experience as much as possible and train their systems on as much variation as possible," Aaron Steinfeld, an associate research professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon, told Business Insider.

The Big Bang of autonomous driving DARPA Challenge

You may have wondered: How in the world did all this start?
The answer surprises many.
There was a Big Bang on a Saturday in November 2007, and chances are you missed it.
"That was the moment," agrees Red Whittaker, a leading robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who has spent his career exploring and patenting ways to automate mining, farming and industrial vehicles.

Microsoft to Build 'World Graph' IoT Index With TomTom and HERE

Microsoft wants to build a new "world graph," an index of devices and objects, their locations, and how they are interconnected. Using the graph, the company envisions that internet of things (IoT), smart city and connected car technology providers will incorporate location-based data into their platforms, enabling a new generation of intelligent services with a sense of place.
To move the process along, it has partnered with leading mapping technology companies, namely TomTom, HERE and Esri the software giant announced.

Will self-driving cars Make the Suburbs Great Again?

The future of urban life is the commuter belt. Or so says one economist, who believes technology and transport improvements will help us live better lives on the fringes of cities than we do in the middle of them.
“A city is a technical solution to a problem from the Industrial Revolution,” said Karen Harris, managing director of Bain & Company's Macro Trends Group, at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki last week. “We needed to have lots of bodies clustered to run our cities… it was a genius solution.”

Feds back ambitious plan to speed up Northeast rail service

Federal rail regulators are endorsing an ambitious and costly plan to rebuild the congested Northeast Corridor over the next 30 years that they say will shore up crumbling infrastructure, increase service and speed up travel, with some trains eventually able to reach 220 mph on a stretch of the Washington-Boston route.
The Federal Railroad Administration's plan unveiled Friday aims to cut down on delay-causing bottlenecks and increase capacity by upgrading outdated bridges and tunnels, including ones into New York City that are more than a century old, and realigning tracks to eliminate speed-restricting curves.

Uber did everything right in Pittsburgh with its self-driving cars — but is doing everything wrong in San Francisco

The arrival of a fleet of self-driving Uber vehicles in Pittsburgh earlier this year was the biggest transportation story of 2016.
Just like that, Uber went from being a replacement for taxis in big cities to offering a compelling vision of how autonomous cars would navigate their most difficult environment: the unpredictable urban landscape.
You could almost hear the auto industry's collective jaw drop.
Rather than build on that radically uplifting success, however, Uber has reverted to its old, tried-and-true way of advancing its business: playing chicken with the regulations and laws of cities, states, and even entire countries.

Uber has a plan to completely transform your city

In September, Uber launched a small fleet of driverless Ford cars  in Pittsburgh, which a select number of users could hail. By the end of 2016, the city aims to pilot 100 of Uber’s autonomous vehicles (manufactured by Volvo).
Alex Pazuchanics, a policy advisor for the City of Pittsburgh who’s overseeing the Uber project, tells Business Insider that it's now normal to see robotic Ubers roaming around downtown Pittsburgh and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Ford studies using drones to guide self-driving cars

Ford Motor Co. is studying a system to use drones to help guide self-driving vehicles, including on off-road adventures, company officials said.
Drones launched from an autonomous vehicle would help guide it by mapping the surrounding area beyond what the car's sensors can detect. Vehicle passengers can control the drone using the car's infotainment or navigation system.
"At some point, people are going to want to take their autonomous vehicle into the woods or off road where the drone could guide them," said Alan Hall, spokesman for Ford's in house technology department.

A New Rule to Help Transportation Planning Take Place on a Regional Scale

Today, USDOT is announcing a final rule aimed at ensuring that regional planning truly takes place on regional scale.  The rule, issued jointly by FHWA and FTA, aligns practice with the statutory definition of “Metropolitan Planning Area” (MPA) and requires that MPO planning takes place at this regional level – encompassing the entire Urbanized area (UZA) and the surrounding area forecast to become urbanized in the next 20 years.
Most MPOs are already using this broader, more holistic approach to regional planning. This rule impacts the final third and pushes them to consider the resources, goals and investment decisions that impact their entire region.

(NYC) DOT Will Test Out Public Parking Spots Dedicated to Car-Share

In the spring, the city plans to make 600 public parking spaces available to car-sharing companies as part of a two-year pilot project. Half of the spaces will be in municipal parking facilities and half will be on-street.
DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced the initiative at this morning’s City Council transportation committee hearing. Also on the agenda were two bills aimed at opening city-owned parking spots to car-sharing companies.
There are several players currently in the NYC car-share market. Two of them — Car2Go and BMW’s ReachNow –operate “point-to-point” models where users pick up and leave their cars at on-street parking spots. Two others — ZipCar and Enterprise — use a “round-trip” model that requires users to return their rental to a designated off-street parking spot.

Transportation chief: Driverless car work will survive Trump

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is confident his work on autonomous vehicles will survive under the Trump administration, even in the absence of any final rules on the topic.
Flexible guidance and draft rules, which have been pumped out by the outgoing administration over the last few months, were meant to serve as a foundation that can be built upon, Foxx told reporters Wednesday afternoon.

Smart technology can get us to the 21st century infrastructure we need

A 21st century infrastructure ecosystem includes transportation (roads, bridges and airports), water (public utilities) and energy (electric grid) that is layered by cross-cutting smart technology and enabled by ubiquitous broadband connectivity and sensors.
Our infrastructure is urban, suburban and rural, impacting every single American. As we invest in our infrastructure, we must take into account emerging technologies for both the physical infrastructure (new durable materials), and the digital tier that makes the physical infrastructure smart.

Howes: GM’s driverless car play favors the hometown

The symbolism cannot be denied.
Just weeks before another North American International Auto Show opens with its first-ever mobility exposition, General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra pre-empts the conversation. The automaker said Thursday it will test autonomous vehicles on Michigan roads and build the test cars in its Orion Township assembly plant.  And they’ll start doing it next year. Take that, Elon Musk.

Business, civic leaders push for driverless-car testing in Sacramento

Fully driverless cars could be rolling down Sacramento streets in just more than a year, following a push by Mayor Darrell Steinberg, U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui and state Sen. Richard Pan to gain federal approval for automated-vehicle testing, the three lawmakers announced Thursday.
“It’s about knocking on the doors of all these car companies and saying, ‘We want you here. Come to Sacramento,' ” Steinberg said.

Friday, December 16, 2016

PA considers new rules for self-driving cars

"There are still vestiges in a vehicle code that harken back to the horse and buggy," said Sharp.
PennDOT officials will try to encourage a more controlled HAV development, primarily for the safety improvements it may bring. The task force's proposed recommendations will guide HAV testing within commonwealth - something that has begun already. Ride-sharing service Uber Technologies has started testing its own HAV prototypes in Pittsburgh, said PennDOT Deputy Secretary Kurt Myers. Task force members also referred to vehicle automation technology developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). PennDOT formed the task force in June with state, federal and private industry partners. Members include representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, AAA, CMU and Uber.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Here and Microsoft extend mapping deal, expanding into connected car data

Here — the mapping business that was sold by Nokia to a consortium of automakers including Audi, BMW and Daimler for $2.8 billion in 2015 — today announced that it has extended a mapping deal with Microsoft. Microsoft was already using Here data in Bing Maps (used in, Cortana and other services) and the Bing Maps API. Now, it plans to expand that to use Here mapping data also in its future connected car services.

The deal comes on the same day that Microsoft also inked a deal with TomTom, in which TomTom will integrate its “enterprise-grade” location services, based on TomTom’s maps, traffic and navigation software, into Microsoft Azure, for developers to use them in applications where locations services are needed. (Things have definitely cooled down between the two companies since their patent-disputing days.)


Rajkumar, an internationally reputed researcher in embedded real-time systems, cyber-physical systems, operating systems and wireless sensor networks, holds three patents and founded Ottomatika, astartup that commercialized his research on intelligent software for self-driving vehicles. Ottomatika was acquired by Delphi Automotive in 2016.

A leading expert in autonomous vehicle research, Rajkumar helped Carnegie Mellon become a research hub for driverless technology. He is director of two U.S. Department of Transportation National University Transportation centers (UTC), including the recently announced Mobility21 and the Technologies for Safe and Efficient Transportation National UTC on Safety. He is co-director of the GM-CMU Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Lab and director of Metro21, a center related to smart cities.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Not just a supplier: Delphi to start autonomous ride-sharing outfit

Delphi is set to announce two cities -- one in Europe, and one in the US -- that will serve as pilot programs for its upcoming autonomous ride-sharing service, Automotive News Europe reports. Boston, Pittsburgh, Paris and Luxembourg are apparently among the short-list candidates for this service, which doesn't yet have a name.The supplier, which is hard at work on self-driving systems, will model its program after its first pilot in Singapore, where self-driving taxis will hustle riders to and from public transportation.

Self-Driving Cars Probably Won't Boost Commuter Productivity

Advocates for self-driving cars love to tout the benefits the cars would bring, such as fewer accidents and less congestion. Another alleged value of being a passenger rather than a driver is more productivity—you could work rather than concentrate on driving. But most people might not spend their newfound free time in self-driving cars whittling down their to-do lists.

That’s according to a study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at The University of Michigan’s Sustainable Worldwide Transportation program. [Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, Would Self-Driving Vehicles Increase Occupant Productivity?]

Driverless Car Testing Has Just Been Legalized In Michigan

The bill will make Michigan the first state to establish extensive regulations for testing, handling and sale of autonomous vehicles. Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law that decides how autonomous cars can be used on public roads. The law will allow public road testing of autonomous cars without the steering wheel, brake or acceleration pedals or without any human intervention. The law will allow autonomous vehicle companies to operate self-driving cars for ride-hailing services and gives a blueprint of how autonomous cars can be sold to the public once tested and certified.

NYT: How Self-Driving Cars Work

Autonomous cars have arrived — Uber has fleets in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Google’s parent company is spinning off its driverless car project in a sign it is closer to coming to market, and the federal government has begun to issue guidelines on how the cars should work.

Report: Waymo To Begin Ride-Sharing Service with Fiat Chrysler

Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler and Alphabet signed an agreement to lend the Self-Driving Car Project 100 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans for their project. So the team at Waymo has been working with the Chrysler Pacifica already, and it only makes sense for them to launch a fleet of self-driving Pacifica’s for a ride-sharing service with Fiat Chrysler. According to the report out of Bloomberg, which was published before their Waymo announcement was made today, this ride-sharing service is said to be part of the reorganization that the team is going through as Waymo. However, nothing is yet confirmed by the company, and likely won’t be until they are ready to launch the ride-sharing service.

Google Parent Launches New Driverless-Car Company: Waymo

At a press event in San Francisco today where Waymo, as the new unit is called, was unveiled, Alphabet said it is now focusing on creating partnerships with existing car manufacturers. Earlier this year, a number of struggles emerged around Google’s self-driving car technology, which led to the departure of some key engineers and leaders. These struggles, some of Google’s former self-driving car engineers said, added up to “slow progress.” According to various rumors, the turnabout has been a matter of controversy at Google, with some execs still feeling they should develop a car end-to-end. But the way ahead, it seems, is Waymo, the new Alphabet self-driving division meaning “a new way forward in mobility.” Waymo is the commercial manifestation of years of self-driving research at Google.

Feds move to require new cars to ‘talk’ to each other

The Pittsburgh region already is using smart traffic signals developed by CMU in parts of Shadyside and Cranberry, and the city recently received a $10.9 million grant to develop a smart spine to help move traffic in and out of the Golden Triangle from the east. CMU researchers say it would be an easy software adjustment to have the traffic and vehicle information work together in a cohesive system monitored at a central location. “This [rule] is a welcome step forward,” said Raj Rajkumar, co-director of the university's General Motors Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Laboratory, where he does research on self-driving vehicles. He said vehicle-to-vehicle communication would be “the perfect complement” to self-driving vehicles.

General Motors Just Delivered Its First Chevy Bolts To Tesla's Backyard

Officially, GM says it chose the location because “the Bay Area is one of the largest markets for the Chevy Electric family and Fremont Chevrolet (dealership) is the number one store for Volt sales this year, making it the perfect location for Bolt EV to make its debut.” The Chevrolet Volt—not to be confused with the Bolt—is a plug-in electric hybrid. GM delivered 21,048 Volts in the U.S. from January to November 2016, a 58.5% increase from the same period last year.

Uber appears ready to launch self-driving pilot in San Francisco

Uber appears to be preparing to launch a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, expanding on its existing self-driving pilot in Pittsburgh. CNET discovered a fleet of Uber-branded Volvo and Ford vehicles in a warehouse in San Francisco, complete with self-driving sensors and camera hardware.
The site says the vehicles will launch “very soon,” perhaps allowing San Francisco Uber users to receive a ride from an autonomous car when booking a trip. Not much else is known about the project, and Uber has not yet received an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit from the State of California.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Uber has lost three of its top self-driving engineers

Among the recent exits is the head of its mapping team, Brett Browning, and the head of its autonomy and perception team, Drew Bagnell, three sources have told Recode. The departures were announced in an email Uber sent its employees the first week of December.  In September, Peter Rander, an engineering lead who specializes in the commercialization of robotics, also left the company. The three engineers were poached by Uber from Carnegie Mellon, Carnegie Robotics or the National Robotics Engineering Center, which is affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University, in January 2015. It’s not clear what the next step is for the engineers, though Rander lists himself on LinkedIn as a robotics and self-driving technology consultant.

Google Puts the Brakes on Its Autonomous Bubble Car

The news follows the departure of the project’s technical lead, Chris Urmson, earlier this year. Urmson was apparently a keen advocate of the control-free concept. But according to the New York Times, the former Carnegie Mellon University researcher struggled to see eye-to-eye with the former head of Hyundai’s American division, John Krafcik, who was appointed CEO of the autonomous-car project last year.Instead of building its adorable visions of the future, then, Google will instead double down on projects carried out in collaboration with automakers, the Information claims. In particular, it will turn its attention to an ongoing project with Fiat Chrysler to build autonomous hybrid Pacifica minivans. The vehicles may even be used in a robotic taxi scheme, an idea that the company is reportedly exploring for launch in 2017.

Tesla may use a bespoke system-on-chip for its autonomous cars

Tesla Motors is reportedly collaborating with Samsung Electronics on a custom system-on-a-chip device for autonomous vehicles. The automotive manufacturer has previously used Mobileye and Nvidia chips for its Autopilot system.

Monday, December 12, 2016

CMU grant shows Pittsburgh's growth as a transportation innovation center

“The specific emphasis is how we can move everything more efficiently,” said Raj Rajkumar, the George Westinghouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics who will head the program. Mr. Rajkumar also is co-director of the university's General Motors Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Laboratory, where he does research on self-driving vehicles. Among other things, the new program known as Mobility21 will work to develop road sensors, devices to allow vehicles to communicate road conditions with each other and other information that can be sent to a central data center and shared throughout the region. Researchers at Community College of Allegheny County, the University of Pennsylvania and Ohio State University with work with CMU.

These 20 companies are racing to build self-driving cars in the next 5 years

We rounded up a whopping 20 companies — from traditional automakers to Silicon Valley start-ups — who are working to build a self-driving car by 2021. Naturally, when we will see a fully driverless car hinges just as much on the regulatory environment as advancements in self-driving tech.

Is Uber getting too vital to fail?

Why run empty buses all day when you can just ferry passengers about in more comfort for less money? But with local authorities turning to Uber instead of investing in the city itself, the question becomes: what happens if Uber goes bust? An in-depth, ferocious assessment of Uber's finances by the Naked Capitalism blog concluded that the company was "staggeringly unprofitable". The company of course disputes this and argues that like many Silicon Valley companies - with Amazon being the prime example - massive losses are what's needed in order to speed up growth.

Google’s former car guru Chris Urmson is working on his own self-driving company

It turns out the person who is perhaps the most widely regarded technologist in the autonomous vehicle space may have found just that in a new self-funded venture that he might unveil early next year. The company, several sources told Recode, will focus on developing self-driving software, as well as data and hardware. This “full package” of autonomous technologies could then be sold to car makers who want to create and then alter their own offerings, in a manner not unlike how Google launched its Android efforts with both mobile software and hardware. But other sources said the configuration of the startup could take many forms and how it will be organized is still in flux.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Carnegie Mellon University awarded $14 million federal grant

Carnegie Mellon University announced this afternoon it has received a $14 million federal grant to establish a new National University Transportation Center. The grant will be released over five years through the federal Department of Transportation to set up a program known as Mobility21. It will be a partnership between the College of Engineering and the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy to develop innovations in smart transportation and smart city research and education. The program will be headed by Raj Rajkumar, the the George Westinghouse Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics who also does research on self-driving vehicles as co-director of the General Motors Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Laboratory.

Smart Cars And Traffic Control And Assistive Technology, Oh My! DOT Taps CMU For 21st Century Tech

Mobility21 will be housed under CMU's new National University Transportation Center, one of five national UTCs funded in 2016 by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. The center will be shared by the school's College of Engineering and the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy and helmed by Raj Rajkumar, CMU's George Westinghouse professor of electrical and computer engineering and robotics. Rajkumar is also the co-director of the GM-CMU Connected and Autonomous Driving Collaborative Research Laboratory. His work will build on existing cross-disciplinary smart city projects Metro21 and Traffic21.

“Carnegie Mellon’s research has helped establish Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania as a national hub for developing safe automated vehicles and has attracted technology companies to Pennsylvania,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a release.

Delivery Robots Are Showing Up on City Sidewalks

The ground-bound robots, developed by the science fiction-sounding company Starship Technologies, will be showing up any day in the nation’s capital and in Redwood City, California. They could soon be in up to 10 cities, ferrying groceries and other packages over what the company calls the “last mile,” from a neighborhood delivery “hub” to your front door, all for as little as $1 a trip. A second company, TeleRetail, plans to test its sidewalk robots in Washington and other cities, including Mountain View, California, next year. Like driverless cars, the delivery robots use cameras, GPS and radar to “see” their urban environment and navigate through it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Audis Can Now Talk To Traffic Lights

Audi is beginning to roll out the first vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in production cars with a feature that will let certain 2017 models communicate with traffic lights and tell the driver when that dreaded red light will turn green. This initial introduction is select and narrow in its capability. However, it shows where automakers—particularly Audi—are in the development of technology that will be needed before autonomous cars can become mainstream. The feature, called Traffic Light Information (TLI), will be available in select 2017 Audi A4, Q7 and all-road models that were made after June 1, 2016 and equipped with an Audi connect Prime subscription.

Ola pre-sells over 5 million shared rides with 'Share Pass'

Transportation aggregator Ola today said it has pre-sold over 5 million shared rides through its newly launched 'Share Pass' in less than 60 days. Share Pass one of Ola's subscription products allows customers to take Ola Share rides at a flat fixed price.

Available in three variants of 10, 20 and 40 rides, customers can hail an Ola Share and pay a fixed price for every ride, without any surge prices. The service is available in seven cities including Delhi NCR, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

"At Ola, we believe that shared mobility has the potential to solve major transportation issues in India, including congestion and pollution. Inspired by the customary Indian option of a 'monthly pass' for regular commuters, Share Pass is a first-of-its-kind product which offers fixed fares per ride, and a predictable and consistent fare for regular Ola Share users," Ola CMO and Head of Categories Raghuvesh Sarup said.


This handoff is something human-machine interaction designers have spent a lot of time puzzling over. Today, research published in the inaugural issue of the journal Science Robotics highlights a new bump in the road: Human drivers may not be capable of smoothly taking control of their self-driving vehicles. The research, co-authored by a multidisciplinary group at Stanford University, studied 22 drivers on a 15-second course containing a straightaway and a lane change. The car navigated itself to the start of the course, then handed control over to the driver, who negotiated the straightaway before being cued to make the lane change.

Uber Buys a Mysterious Startup to Make Itself an AI Company

UBER HAS ACQUIRED Geometric Intelligence, a two-year-old artificial intelligence startup that vows to surpass the deep learning systems under development at internet giants like Google and Facebook. But as this tiny AI lab slips into Uber’s increasingly vast and ambitious operation, the startup is still tight-lipped on what its technology actually looks like.

Innovation, safety stressed in self-driving car policy in PA

Recommendations by the Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force, released in a 34-page report Tuesday, would require companies to register with the state if they want to test self-driving vehicles; report the size of their testing fleet, total miles traveled and hours on the highway every six months; and inform the state if self-driving vehicles are involved in any reportable accidents.

But the recommendations suggest policies that can easily be adjusted as needed by the state Department of Transportation rather than regulations that would require legislative approval for any changes. And the testing regimen wouldn’t be as restrictive as in states such as California, which requires researchers to report to the state every time a safety driver on a test vehicle has to touch the brakes or take some other action to override the automated system.

“Yes, they are broad,” said Kurt Myers, co-chairman of the task force and PennDOT’s deputy secretary for driver and vehicle services.

“The fact is, the task force focused on policies … to ensure flexibility as technology emerges.”

BMW to launch 40 self-driving city cars in prep. for ride sharing service

BMW is the latest car company to jump into the race to build an autonomous ride sharing service. The Bavarian automaker announced that it will have 40 self-driving cars operating on the streets of Munich next year and will expand the program to other cities shortly thereafter. “There is a trained test driver behind the wheel of every car,” Klaus Buettner, BMW’s Vice President in charge of Autonomous Driving said.

The objective is for BMW to become a major player in the pay-per-use ride sharing market created by Uber. In fact, Uber may have done as much or more to disrupt the automotive industry as Elon Musk and Tesla. It has no factories, distribution network, charging infrastructure, or service centers. Creating a phone app that lets drivers and customers communicate with one another, Uber has been able shop itself at a valuation approximately double that of Tesla Motors.

Seattle Doesn't Care About Part-time Ridesharing Drivers

Under the city’s proposal, only drivers who completed 52 or more rides during a three-month window in the year preceding January 17, 2017 can vote in the election, which is expected to be held from April through July. These 52 rides must have started or ended within Seattle’s city limits. Additionally, votes from drivers who started working after October 19, 2016 will be excluded. Even though these rules will disenfranchise thousands of drivers, all drivers will be forced to join a union and follow the collectively bargained agreement if the vote is successful.

Under union representation, new workers are often the first to be fired, even when they perform better than those who have more experience. Would a union defend bad drivers who had their accounts deactivated because of negative reviews? Post-ride, dual-feedback systems are major factors behind ridesharing’s increased levels of customer service and trust. If partnerships with unqualified drivers cannot be terminated, riders will be less safe.

Autonomous Vehicles Task Force sends safety recommendations to PennDOT

"Autonomous and connected vehicles will change transportation and could bring benefits of safer travel and greater ease of mobility for all if rules are in place to ensure passenger and pedestrian safety," Richards said. Adoption of polices will be contingent on the enactment of authorizing legislation in the next session in 2017. The online public meeting will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 12. The public may join the meeting by visiting PennDOT's automated vehicle testing page, and clicking on the webinar link at the time of the meeting. Following the online meeting, the task force's final recommendations will be posted on the PennDOT website,

Samsung Is Supplying This Electric Car Startup With Breakthrough Battery Tech

Samsung SDI has agreed to supply electric auto startup Lucid Motors with lithium-ion batteries that the two companies say outperform what’s currently available in the marketplace. The joint deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, follows Lucid Motors’s announcement that it will build a $700 million factory in Casa Grande, Ariz. employing up to 2,000 workers. The factory will begin producing 1,000 horsepower cars in 2018 and at least one variant will be able to travel 400 miles on a single charge, Lucid Motors chief technology officer Peter Rawlinson has said.

Contact lens-based tech to charge electric vehicles in minutes

Interestingly, the inspiration for this battery technology came from the most unexpected of quarters: soft contact lenses. In fact the director of research was one one of the members of the team that developed the polymers now used in soft contact lenses. With this new approach, next-gen electric cars could be completely charged in about the time it takes to fill the tank of a gasoline-powered car, with capacities that arm these cars with comparable range. The technology could also find its way into several types of wearable and flexible electronics as these polymers are inherently pliable, making it possible for use in unconventionally-shaped product moulds and to power medical electronics.

DOJ Settlement on VW Emissions Requires German Automaker to Promote Electric Vehicles

“The Clean Air Act settlement also requires VW to invest $2 billion toward improving infrastructure, access and education to support and advance zero emission vehicles,” the FCC press release said. “The investments will be made over 10 years, with $1.2 billion directed toward a national EPA-approved investment plan and $800 million directed toward a California-specific investment plan that will be approved by CARB [California Air Resources Board]. As part of developing the national plan, Volkswagen will solicit and consider input from interested states, cities, Indian tribes and federal agencies.”

Public Perceptions of Driverless Cars Survey Report

With the current race to develop driverless car technologies, the next administration might be the first one to see driverless cars parking themselves on Pennsylvania Avenue. State Farm underwrote a Bloomberg Government survey of 1,000 Americans to better understand the general population’s perspectives and perceptions of driverless cars and their use.

Key takeaways include:

— Consumers are intrigued, but also a little wary of autonomous/self-driving vehicles

— Attitudes about autonomous vehicles vary by age, gender and education

— Time spent riding or driving can also be related to interest in autonomous vehicles

— Seeing an autonomous/self-driving vehicle first hand could appease many concerns

How the U.S. Postal Service could enable smart cities with CMU

Given the possibilities, the USPS and smart cities would be wise to start collaborating. The Postal Service could be a ready-made partner for smart cities. Christoph Mertz, principal project scientist at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, said smartphones and sensors could be easily equipped to fix potholes before they even start. "The Postal Service could map the city every day with its fleet of vehicles," said Mertz. Hae Young Noh, assistant professor in Carnegie Mellon University's civil and environmental engineering department, said there are already sensor projects revolving around public infrastructure. For instance, Noh has three years of data from sensors on trains in Pittsburgh. The USPS could be similar.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Pittsburgh pulls ahead of Detroit in driverless tech race

The brainpower of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute, the bumpy terrain and a high concentration of college students who don't own cars are among the many reasons this Rust Belt metropolis has attracted more autonomous driving investment than anyplace outside Silicon Valley.
On Tuesday afternoon, a group of journalists rode in the latest iteration of Delphi's driverless Audi SQ5 on a 10-minute course that included several uphills, downhills, curves and stops. An engineer sat in the driver's seat, but he didn't have to touch the wheel. The ride was safe and uneventful, but there was no human guidance at work.

Pittsburgh's smart city efforts include autonomous driving, open data, and renewable energy

Pittsburgh is the home for CMU and it has helped with the push to add new technology. Pittsburgh is partnering with the university to serve as an urban lab for CMU's research and development. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CMU and the city serves as a formal partnership to allow CMU to try new tech around Pittsburgh without undergoing a lengthy approval process, similar to how the city is able to send maintenance crews out to do small projects without first seeking funding, Peduto explained.

How Sensors, Smartphones Can Bring the Road Solutions We Need

In a 2015 pilot, Carnegie Mellon researcher Christoph Mertz partnered with the city’s Public Works Department to install smartphone cameras in city vehicles to capture images of the streets in Pittsburgh. Paired with GPS data and fed through a computer algorithm, these images are classified according to the types of road surfaces and the damages pictured, something the city hopes will help them identify sections of street that need the most urgent attention. Still in testing and development, Mertz’s approach might appeal to cities hoping to get a foot in the door of street quality analytics by pursuing an affordable option that can be used continuously.

How Uber built self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

A former vice president from Twitter heads software development. Employees from SpaceX, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other aerospace companies work on safety. An engineer who ran the back end of Duolingo's language learning app teaches autonomous cars to recognize what they see on Pittsburgh roads. Uber's Advanced Technology Center has filled four buildings in the Strip District and a testing facility at the Almono development in Hazelwood with employees from technology giants, automotive powerhouses, Pittsburgh robotic startups, top universities, bars, restaurants and retails stores, a Tribune-Review analysis found.

The ATC put self-driving cars on the road in Pittsburgh and was the first company in the United States to offer rides to the public in an autonomous vehicle.  And Uber did it in less than two years.

Ohio to invest $15M on corridor for testing smart vehicles

As Gov. John Kasich announced a $15 million investment in advanced self-driving highway technology on Wednesday, he urged Ohioans to push back against old ideas about the state.

"Who would ever want to be called the Rust Belt?" he said. "The Rust Belt's some deteriorating, eroding, old, tired and worn out place. You ever hear that term, do me a favor: Correct 'em." 

Kasich made his remarks in conjunction with the formal launch of a new high tech effort — a self-driving truck experiment along a 35-mile stretch of U.S. Route 33 in central Ohio. The vehicle by truck maker Otto will operate along Route 33 between Dublin and East Liberty, a stretch the state has dubbed a "smart mobility corridor." A driver will be along as backup.

U.S. tech startup giving away self-driving car software

On Wednesday, announced on its website that it had open sourced the software code and robotics research platform for the driver-assistance system the company had planned to start selling at the end of the year, before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) compelled it to change course. The open-source project may allow founder and well-known hacker George Hotz to deploy his technology without butting up against regulators. The code is available for free through code depository GitHub, and the software will work on certain Honda Civic and Acura ILX cars, the two models Hotz had previously been test-driving.

"From this, you should be able to replicate our initial ... experiments," Hotz wrote in a letter on the company's website.

Black-Owned Ride-Sharing App Aims To Fill Void Left By Uber, Lyft

Moovn, which first launched in Seattle in 2015, allows users to schedule rides up to a month in advance from either their phone or computer and guarantees no surge pricing. The app, created by Godwin Gabriel, currently operates in seven cities in the United States, including New York City, Atlanta and San Fransisco. It’s also available in select cities in sub-Saharan Africa. Users also have the option to choose from local vehicle options ― like bikes ― available, especially in developing countries. Gabriel, who is a self-taught coder and developer, told Urban Geekz that Moovn is different from other ride-sharing apps already on the market because it aims to take the industry to cities bigger companies have overlooked. The app is already available in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya and Gabriel’s hometown of Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania.

This Start Up Uses AI And Cameras To Create New Autonomous Driving Platform

The company is working on making it easier for automakers to update apps in cars but also add a layer of cyber security to the infotainment system. More apps in cars mean more cybersecurity threats. The company’s infotainment platform, Phoenix, has built-in cybersecurity so when the apps are running on the car, they can’t access any critical resources on the system. The platform also allows secure and faster over-the-air software updates. Cars represent the convergence of just about every aspect of new tech in the market, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality, Internet of Things (IoT). They’re the ultimate connected device.

GM's Self-Driving Cars Will Recognize Your Face and Make Sure You're Paying Attention

GM's new driver assist technology, which will roll out next year, will include facial recognition that can detect whether a driver is falling asleep or not paying attention. According to Reuters, should the software notice the driver's gaze wandering, it will activate a series of alerts to bring the driver back to attention. Known as Super Cruise, the system will start by flashing a red visual on the windshield if it catches a driver dozing off. If that doesn't work, the seat will vibrate, and next an audio message will play. Should none of the methods snap the driver back to attention, a human staffer will attempt to communicate with the driver by means of the car's OnStar system.

GM isn't the first to try to integrate facial recognition into its vehicles. Ford and Intel announced a joint venture to research the technology back in 2014, but their product is yet to reach the market.

BlackBerry poised to be at forefront of secure self-driving cars

“The future of the automobile is all about embedded intelligence,” BlackBerry chief executive John Chen said in the Oct. 31 announcement. “I believe our expertise in secure embedded software makes us the preferred technology provider to put the smart in the car.” Security is critical to develop hack-resistant autonomous vehicles, Bloor said. “We are bringing a lot of the security assets that secure the BlackBerry phones into the automotive space,” he said. Self-driving cars that are commanded by their occupants or dispatched through a linked network need to have a very high standard of security.
“Moving forward towards this vision of the autonomous connected vehicle, you can’t really build a safe system if you can’t make it secure,” Bloor said. “Obviously, safety and security are very strongly intertwined.”

Nissan to offer remote monitoring of connected cars in India

The new service is the cornerstone of the company's business strategy for connected cars. Onboard sensors gather data about on how the car is running. This information is relayed wirelessly to Nissan, helping the automaker estimate the timing of the car's next engine tune-up or battery change. The price of the service has not yet been determined. But the company plans to keep the cost of upgrades for used cars affordable, with the aim of having the data link installed in around 30% of all Nissan vehicles already on the road, according to Vice President Kent O'Hara, who heads the after-sales business. The company hopes to capture more demand for car accessories and replacement parts through increased customer contact.

BMW, VW, Ford, Daimler team up for electric vehicle charging network in Europe

In a press release today, the automakers said the charging stations would deliver 350 kW over a DC charging network, which is set to “significantly reduce charging time compared to available systems.” For comparison, Tesla’s supercharging stations deliver 120 kW and can fill a Tesla up to 170 miles of range in 30 minutes.The European network will use the Combined Charging System (CCS) standard that is compatible with current and future electric vehicles from all the joint venture companies as well as Fiat-Chrysler and Hyundai. Construction on these sites is planned to start in 2017 and should be completed by 2020, the companies said. The group added that “the charging experience is expected to evolve to be as convenient as refueling at conventional gas stations.”

You Should Have the Right to Inspect Google’s Robo-Car Tests

The more forthcoming the self-driving car industry is with testing performance, the better. While a lack of legislation allows for unhindered innovation—which is necessary for autonomous technology’s advancement–transparency and publicized tests are needed for public safety and understanding. It’s up to legislators and car manufacturers to do so.

Chevrolet, GMC Increase Alternative Fuel Fleet Offerings

Chevrolet and GMC are partnering with Power Solutions International, Inc. (PSI) to introduce heavy-duty pickups and full-size vans powered by 6.0-liter V-8 compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-capable engines starting in the first quarter of 2017. Chevrolet also will offer CNG and LPG versions of its new Low Cab Forward commercial truck. The announcement follows the selection of PSI, based in Wood Dale, Illinois, as General Motors Fleet’s preferred upfitter for CNG and LPG trucks. PSI is one of North America’s largest and most experienced providers of integrated turnkey alternative-fuel powertrain solutions.