The Smart Transportation Dispatch
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The Smart Transportation Dispatch

   Carnegie Mellon University

Mercedes-Benz level-three Drive Pilot approved in US

The US state of Nevada has approved Mercedes-Benz’s level-three automated driving system for use on public roads under certain driving conditions.

Named Drive Pilot, it will be equipped in Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Mercedes-Benz EQS cars produced for the US market from the 2024 model year, with the first examples featuring the technology slated for delivery in the second half of 2023.

Mercedes-Benz heralded the decision as “the dawn of a new era”.

The system is capable of taking control over driving at speeds of up to 40mph, guiding the vehicle in its lane, controlling vehicle speed and actively reacting to the distance of the vehicle in front. It can also acknowledge traffic and road signs and perform evasive manoeuvres independently.

As the system complies with Nevada Chapter 482A for Autonomous Vehicles, Mercedes has become the first car maker to have a level-three system officially approved for use in the US.

Robotaxis have a passenger problem that no one thought of

An issue with self-driving cars that apparently no one previously considered has come to light: dozing passengers.

Officials in San Francisco, where Alphabet’s Waymo company and GM-backed Cruise are currently operating robotaxi services as part of ongoing trials, highlighted the problem in a recent letter to the regulator, Wired reported.

Signed by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, and the Mayor’s Office on Disability, the letter to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) explained that in the last couple of months alone, there have been three incidents where Cruise staff were compelled to call 911 after a rider in one of its driverless vehicles failed to respond to their calls via the two-way voice link inside the vehicle.

When police and firefighters arrived on the scene, they found nothing more than a dozing passenger enjoying — apparently rather too much — the comforts of a driverless ride.

Firefighters smashed the window of a driverless Cruise taxi to stop it running over their hoses

A Cruise autonomous vehicle drove toward fire hoses on the ground in the area of active firefighting on January 21, the city’s transport officials said in a letter to regulators on Wednesday.

“Firefighters on the scene made efforts to prevent the Cruise AV from driving over their hoses and were not able to do so until they shattered a front window of the Cruise AV,” the letter says.

Only Cruise experts can disengage the AV from autonomous mode and immobilize the vehicle, according to a video posted on Cruise’s official YouTube channel. It also says when its cars are in manual mode, they can be placed in park or neutral.

A similar incident occurred in June 2022 when a self-driving Cruise car ran over a fire hose that was in use, the letter says. It also said that driving over a fire hose violates California’s Vehicle Code and can “seriously injure firefighters.”

Nikola brands hydrogen, begins filling Anheuser-Busch fuel cell order

Nikola Corp. is sending 15 hydrogen-powered fuel cell trucks to California in the fourth quarter. It’s the first step in fulfilling Anheuser-Busch InBev’s long-standing order for up to 800 of the zero-emission vehicles.

Separately, the startup electric truck maker also announced HYLA, a new brand, covering its hydrogen production, distribution and dispensing business. It plans 60 stations by 2026.

HYLA combines the first two letters of hydrogen with the last two letters in Nikola.

“Sometimes it’s best not to overthink things and keep it really simple,” Nikola Energy President Carey Mendes said at an event outside Nikola’s Phoenix headquarters on Wednesday.

Nikola will take hydrogen fuel from five partnerships. That includes an Arizona production hub being built in phases. It is expected to eventually produce up to 150 metric tons of hydrogen per day. HYLA also will take hydrogen processed by Plug Power in multiple regions and from KeyState in Pennsylvania.

Study favors SMRs for use at future electric truck charging stations

The use of small modular reactors would be an excellent, cost-effective way to recharge electric heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs), such as trucks, according to a recent study published in Applied Energy. The Idaho National Laboratory–funded study was conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study was presented at the 2022 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo in November by Michael Craig, an assistant professor in energy systems in the UMich School for Environment and Sustainability. Craig and his team ran computer simulation models of more than 200 hypothetical electric HDV charging stations that used either on-site distributed energy resources, such as SMRs, microreactors, solar, and batteries, or a centralized power system that required transmission lines tapping into the electric grid. The simulation analysis focused on minimizing the costs of HDV energy demands while optimizing energy investments. This was the first study to compare distributed versus centralized energy sources for HDV charging.

The UK’s first self-driving electric bus service has been unveiled at a business and technology park in Oxfordshire.

The buses will be operated by First Bus, as part of a project to explore “the art of the possible”. The pilot project will analyse how passengers, drivers, other road users and pedestrians respond to autonomous buses, the company said.

The project involves two all-electric fully autonomous vehicles on public roads. The self-driving minibus is already in operation, with a full-size single-decker to be added later this year for journeys between the park and Didcot Parkway railway station.

The £4.3m project received a £3m grant from the government alongside commercial and private sector funding.

The trial, which began on Monday (23 January), will start taking passengers in February.

In addition to the vehicles being fitted with autonomous technology including cameras and sensors, the buses will have a safety driver who is able to take over at any point and take full manual control if needed.

California accounted for 40% of U.S. zero-emission vehicle sales in 2022

About 19% of all cars sold in California last year were zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), accounting for 40% of all ZEV sales including hybrid vehicles in the United States, data showed…

About 12% cars sold in California in 2021 were ZEVs.

A database collated by California’s Energy Commission showed on Friday that about 346,000 ZEVs were sold in California in 2022, with Tesla Inc’s (TSLA.O) Model 3 leading the sales charts, as about 95,000 of the electric vehicle was sold in the region.

Austin, Texas-based Tesla’s Model Y compact SUV came a close second, with about 94,000 cars being sold in the state.

Californians bought about 51,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles last year and about 80,000 electric vehicle chargers were installed in the state in 2022.

About 286,000 battery-electric vehicles with a range of 200 miles or more were sold in 2022.

China’s Futuristic City Is a Test of Its Planning Power

About 60 miles south of the center of Beijing, a new city is being built as a showcase of high-tech ecologically friendly development. Its massive high-speed rail station and “city brain” data center have been heralded by Chinese state media as evidence of the speed and superiority of China’s growth model—not least because the city is a “signature initiative” of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xiongan New Area is also a test for whether China can boost domestic innovation and climb into the ranks of advanced nations in the face of slowing economic growth and efforts by the United States and others to restrict its access to advanced technology.

Xiongan offers a window into what Xi’s vision of state-led innovation looks like on the ground. Xi has called the city his “personal initiative” and a qiannian daji, or “thousand-year plan of national significance.”

Tesla to build all-electric Semi truck in Nevada

Automaker Tesla announced Tuesday it is investing $3.6 billion to build two new factories in Nevada, including a facility to mass produce its all-electric Class 8 Semi truck.

“Semi is our fully electric combination truck, with 500 miles of range and energy consumption of less than 2 KWh per mile,” the company said on its website. “Thank you to the Tesla team, our supply chain partners and the local community that has made accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable energy possible at Gigafactory Nevada.”

The other factory will produce batteries for the Tesla Cybertruck, as well as the Semi. Together, the plants will employ about 3,000 people.

Smart street pilots aim to curb parking violations

Chicago may be launching two smart streets pilots to boost traffic safety for pedestrians and cyclists, speed up public transportation and reduce loading zone violations.

Last week, Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot introduced to the City Council the Smart Streets Pilots Ordinance, which calls for using new technology and existing infrastructure to enforce parking violations—such as cars parked in bike lanes, bus-only lanes, crosswalks and at bus stops—and enable camera enforcement for parking in commercial loading zones, according to a Jan. 18 press statement.

The Smart Streets Pilot will use cameras on city poles or on the front of city or transit authority vehicles to collect data on vehicles illegally parked in places that imperil pedestrians and cyclists who must maneuver around them. An automated parking enforcement system would photograph an offending vehicle and its registration plate as well as record the time, date and location of the covered offense.

METRO could take over Houston’s sputtering bike-share program

The region’s mass transit provider is considering whether to swoop in and rescue the nonprofit – with the possibility it could take over the bike-sharing operation and make it more of a viable commuting option instead of a largely recreational service…

METRO CEO Tom Lambert said the bus service and light rail provider, with board approval, will invest up to $500,000 into the bike-sharing program during of a period of 6-9 months while exploring how their transportation offerings could complement each other and be tied together…

Lambert said there are examples in other cities, such as Austin and Los Angeles, where public transit providers include bike-sharing as part of their services.

NARUC digs into commercial EV charging rates as federal government requires states to review offers

Utilities need to structure commercial rates to support the electrification of heavy-duty vehicle fleets by encouraging charging during off-peak periods and enabling public stations to offer predictable prices, according to a report from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

NARUC published the paper through its Regulatory Training Initiative. The authors are representatives from eMobility Advisors, CALSTART, the National Consumer Law Center and Natural Resources Defense Council…

Demand charges associated with peak demand can help utilities recover their costs, but because DC fast charging stations are – at least for now – often used sporadically, they can leave charging station operators struggling to profit.

New suppliers race to plug in to electric car market

The global auto industry has committed $1.2 trillion to developing electric vehicles (EVs), providing a golden opportunity for new suppliers to grab contracts providing everything from battery packs to motors and inverters.

Startups specialising in batteries and coatings to protect EV parts, and suppliers traditionally focused on niche motorsports or Formula One (F1) racing, have been chasing EV contracts. Carmakers design platforms to last a decade, so high-volume models can generate large revenues for years.

The next generation of EVs is due to hit around 2025 and many carmakers have sought help plugging gaps in their expertise, providing a window of opportunity for new suppliers…

Mass-market carmakers often prefer to develop EV components in-house and own the technology themselves. After years of pandemic-related parts shortages, they are wary of over-reliance on suppliers…

But smaller companies say there are still opportunities, particularly with low-volume manufacturers that cannot afford huge EV investments, or luxury and high-performance carmakers seeking an edge.

Self-Driving Golf Cart Development: Why Is It In Demand?

Golf carts are now used for more than just playing golf. They are currently the most popular mode of transportation for short distances and are more eco-friendly than any alternative.

According to Allied Market Research, the global golf cart market will hit $1.79 billion by 2028, growing at a 3.9% CAGR between 2021 and 2028.

Faced with the harsh reality that a future of fully autonomous cars is further away than promised, automakers and tech companies are pivoting to alternate uses for self-driving technology. Some turn to delivery robots, while others are helping deploy small, low-speed golf-cart-type machines for sites, farms or airports.

For example, Honda is testing a new golf-cart-type model. That so-called “micromobility device” is part of Honda’s efforts to help people who can’t drive themselves, like the elderly or Generation Z. In their current state, Honda vehicles are more like golf carts or UTVs. But Honda believes these machines will have their place in the future urban environment.

Amogy Takes On Tesla Semi With Its No-Emissions Semi-Trailer

The company states it had a 5 kW ammonia drone already flying in 2021, quickly followed by a 100 kW ammonia tractor in 2022. With the launch of the 900 kWh semi-trailer, they are now ready to bring their vision to the market.

Now Amogy has upgraded its ammonia powertrain to 300 kW and unveiled it in what it claims is the “world’s first zero-emission ammonia-powered semi-truck”: a 2018 Freightliner Cascadia Class 8 truck fitted with a Ammonia fuel system under the cab and also stacked behind it, which seems to add little bulk to the standard truck. It fills up in eight minutes and carries about 900 kWh of “total net electrical energy stored”, about the same amount of energy the Tesla Semi stores in its lithium batteries…

A Tesla Semi truck with 900 KWh battery capacity can go up to 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge, and can take anywhere from an hour to 12 hours to recharge;

Self-driving cars create new opportunities for terrorist attacks, says FBI Director Chris Wray

Speaking on a panel on national security, Wray said the FBI views autonomous vehicles as both a possible tool to cause physical harm and a potentially valuable source of personal data that could become a target.

“When you talk about autonomous vehicles, it’s obviously something that we’re excited about, just like everybody,” Wray said. “But there are harms that we have to guard against that are more than just the obvious.”…

Wray said the expanding use of self-driving cars is an example of a new “attack surface” that terrorists will try to use to their advantage. He said Russia’s war against Ukraine is giving U.S. national security officials new examples of how cyberattacks are evolving and demonstrated how early surveillance activity can be a precursor to a cyberattack.

Automated vehicles to begin cruising Ohio roadways

DriveOhio’s Rural Automated Driving Systems project is getting ready for two deployments to gather data on the technology.

The vehicles being deployed have been tested at the Transportation Research Center Inc.’s proving grounds in East Liberty, Ohio. The testing was conducted on closed roadways and studied a full range of situations drivers encounter each day.

According to the release, the DriveOhio project is funded in part by a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation with the goal of demonstrating how connected and automated vehicles could improve safety for drivers in rural areas.

The first deployment includes three passenger vehicles traveling on rural two-lane roads in Athens and Vinton counties.

Testing will include different weather and operational conditions like limited visibility and work zones.

A second deployment will feature two 53-foot tractor-trailers connected by technology that lets them travel closely together at highway speeds.

What to know about the cars of the future being built by tech, auto companies

Drivers can expect more electric cars and autonomous features to hit the market in the next few years as car makers go high-tech and tech industry giants like Google and Amazon branch further into automotives.

Those trends were on full display at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show with companies from Sony to BMW, and even the United States Postal Service, showing off electric vehicles and digital features the companies say improve safety and add entertainment value…

Here is what to know about the advancements being made, as well as their potential drawbacks and obstacles they could be facing.

The rise of the connected car…

Data privacy concerns amplified …

Autonomous features seek to improve safety …

Entertainment features bringing color — and karaoke! — to cars

Uber working with auto makers to design EVs customized for ride-sharing and delivery

Uber Technologies Inc. is working with auto makers to design lower-cost electric vehicles tailored for its ride-hailing and delivery businesses, part of its effort to electrify its fleet.

Speaking Thursday at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is working with manufacturers on vehicles optimized for city use, ferrying passengers and deliveries. For ride-sharing, that includes cars with lower top speeds and with seating areas where passengers can face each other…

For delivery vehicles, Mr. Khosrowshahi said the company is considering smaller vehicles with two or three wheels and trunk space. Such vehicles “can get through traffic easier and have a much smaller footprint, both in terms of environmental but also traffic footprint than, let’s say, a car to go deliver groceries,” he said.

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