The Smart Transportation Dispatch
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The Smart Transportation Dispatch

   Carnegie Mellon University

How Self-Driving Cars Could Harm Marginalized Communities

At The Greenlining Institute, we’ve just done the first analysis to look in detail at the social equity implications of the coming transportation revolution, especially for those who are too often ignored in transportation planning, like people of color, low-income folks and residents of rural communities. The best answer, we found, lies in what are sometimes called FAVES: fleets of autonomous vehicles that are electric and shared. FAVES lets us connect self-driving technology to the two other big changes now revolutionizing transportation: electrification and the proliferation of shared-mobility services, including Uber and Lyft, as well as many alternatives.

FAVES, deployed correctly and in tandem with increased walking, biking and public transit, can be the “magic bullet” that improves mobility for people at all income levels, cuts pollution and greenhouse gases, and helps make cities more livable. This isn’t some futuristic fantasy; FAVES are already here. A multitude of companies are operational, such as Transdev, which has transported 3.5 million people in their electric self-driving shuttles.

VW to Invest Nearly $2 Billion in Ford Self-Driving Car Venture

Volkswagen AG is planning to invest around $1.7 billion in a self-driving car venture with Ford Motor Co.’s Argo subsidiary, according to people familiar with the matter.

After months of talks, the German and U.S. car makers have agreed to make Ford’s autonomous-driving unit Argo the nucleus of an equally held joint venture that could receive additional assets from Volkswagen over time…

That unit includes Pittsburgh-based Argo, in which Ford agreed in early 2017 to invest $1 billion over five years. Ford holds a majority stake in Argo, a company run by Chief Executive Bryan Salesky, who formerly served as a director of hardware development at Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car program, Waymo.

Rival General Motors Co. last year received commitments for more than $5 billion total for its autonomous business, Cruise, in separate deals with Honda Motor Co. and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

How sensor data can help cities improve public spaces

Urban sensors are often used to monitor illegal activity — from identifying drivers that run red lights to generating predictive crime maps — but they can also collect data for quality-of-life improvements like reducing emissions and preventing car accidents.

The big picture: Municipalities could use anonymized, secure sensor data in combination with advanced computing to better understand how people travel through and use public space, without sacrificing individual privacy.

What’s happening: Academic researchers and urban planners can leverage the latest sensors — including “camera-as-sensor” technologies, which convert a camera’s optical image into an electronic signal — to gather and share insights about roads, intersections and public spaces.

Yes, but: Ensuring the data collected is protected and anonymized will be crucial to earning public trust in these efforts.
Details: These projects rely on a combination of video streams, computer vision, AI, and edge computing (computing done near the data source, not in the cloud).

Metro21: Smart Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University collaborated with Urban Data Eye and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership to identify pedestrian movement patterns based on CCTV footage and live-streaming.

Aurora, PAVE contribute to Pittsburgh’s self-driving car conversation

Sterling Anderson, co-founder and CPO of Pittsburgh-based self-driving vehicle company Aurora, said he often quotes the age-old adage “Don’t build a ladder to the moon” to his team.

Anderson said the quote addresses the propensity of engineering teams to build incrementally and see progress each day, a method he said Aurora does not work by. Aurora is co-headquartered in Pittsburgh and Palo Alto, California, with about 100 employees in each location.

“Self-driving takes both the experience of recognizing how far that distance really is and acknowledging early on the infrastructure that has to be built to get there,” said Anderson.

Anderson said this heads-down work ethic is why the name Aurora might not be as well-known in the public dialogue around autonomous vehicles as other company names.

Yet, on Tuesday evening Aurora took time to partner with SAE Pittsburgh and the recently-formed Partners for Automated Vehicle Education coalition to take part in that public conversation about a self-driving car future at the innovation in mobility meetup at Aurora’s office in Lawrenceville.

Qualcomm rolls out 5G chips for cars, PCs and home broadband

Qualcomm Inc on Monday announced 5G networking chips for a range of applications beyond smart phones, aiming to bolster a business that has lost Apple Inc as a major customer and faces unprecedented levels of competition.

San Diego-based Qualcomm is the world’s biggest supplier of mobile phone chips and has told investors it expects a big boost from 5G networks, which will start rolling out this year and feature higher speeds than current 4G networks…

Qualcomm also announced a new set of chips aimed at automakers on Monday. Qualcomm’s existing chips help cars connect to the internet, but the 5G chips are expected to connect cars to other vehicles on the road as well as objects such as traffic signs and signals as vehicles gain new levels of autonomous navigation.

St. Paul company develops Uber-like service for disabled passengers

With both his own family situation and a rapidly growing population of elderly and disabled Americans in mind, Doan is weeks away from launching the “MO” platform — an online app that connects vulnerable commuters to professional drivers.

That’s “MO” as in mobility, the lifeblood of the aged and infirm. Think of his general benefit corporation, Mobility 4 All, as an Uber for folks who need someone to walk them from their doorstep to a vehicle at pick-up, and from the vehicle to the lobby of their destination at drop-off…

His goal is to quietly debut MO in the Twin Cities market with a soft launch in March and a virtual grand opening in May or June. If all goes well, he’s shooting to roll out MO in Phoenix by late 2019 or early 2020.

Postal Service starts using all-electric vans in Calif.

Motiv Power Systems, a provider of all-electric medium duty fleet chassis, recently began delivering Ford E-450-based all-electric step vans to the United States Postal Service (USPS).

Compared to their combustion engine-powered counterparts, Motiv says its all-electric EPIC chassis-equipped mail delivery vans are expected to curtail fuel and maintenance costs, resulting in a reduction of total cost of ownership.

The pilot program of seven Motiv-powered vans is slated for deployment in California’s Central Valley.

Irish scientists develop material that could boost smartphone battery life by 300%

An ink-based nanomaterial called Mxenes could see the average mobile phone battery life increase from 10 hours of talk-time to up to 40 hours. It also has the potential to make a significant environmental impact by increasing the real-time range of electric cars.

By increasing the range from around 190km to 500km, an electric car could drive from Cork to Letterkenny in Donegal on a single charge.

The material has been developed by researchers from AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering at Trinity College Dublin.

GCF and 5GAA announce collaboration on the certification and testing of C-V2X technologies

The Global Certification Forum (GCF) and 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) have agreed a collaborative framework under which they will combine their resources and expertise to accelerate the global introduction of Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) products.The Global Certification Forum (GCF) and 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) have agreed a collaborative framework under which they will combine their resources and expertise to accelerate the global introduction of Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) products…

“The GCF certification scheme has been running since 1999 and has constantly evolved in alignment with developments in mobile technologies and the changing needs of the industry,” the company adds. “GCF’s certification portfolio already covers LTE sidelink, a key technology for automotive applications, supporting vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) use cases, and GCF is therefore the natural partner for 5GAA on C-V2X certification.”

Scientists Warn Self-Driving Cars Could Worsen Inequality

The research, conducted by a nonprofit organization called the Union of Concerned Scientists, focused specifically on the impact autonomous vehicles might have on the Washington D.C. area.

Ultimately, the research suggests that introducing autonomous vehicles to the area would increase traffic by 66 percent, and that the added congestion would likely benefit the wealthy and take opportunities away from low-income communities…

The researchers argue that cities that introduce autonomous vehicles should also invest in public transit, to make sure that those who have longer commutes and would get stuck in the newly-introduced congestion can still find and make it to their jobs.

The report also suggested imposing a fine for any single-passenger autonomous vehicle trips to encourage carpooling and cut back on how many new vehicles will fill the streets.

Power over Wi-Fi: The end of IoT-sensor batteries?

Harnessing energy inherent in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth radio waves to power remote, wireless, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors — and also communicate with the devices at the same time — is a big-ticket item on IoT want-lists. Advantages include no batteries, thus reducing costs, size and weight.

The key to achieving it functionally, some scientists say, is in converting AC waveforms to DC voltage, combined with the use of new materials. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, along with some collaborators, say they’ve made a breakthrough in this area. Interestingly, it also includes scaling potential…

The researchers also say the non-rigid, battery-free system is better than others’ attempts at rectennas because they capture “daily” signals such as “Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular LTE, and many others,” says Xu Zhang, of collaborator Carnegie Mellon University, in the article. The other Radio Frequency-to-power converters, which are thick and non-flexible, aren’t wideband enough, the groups say.

Using Data to Figure Out Where Transit Should Go

Transit agencies must make better use of nontraditional data on consumer activity to combat declining ridership and effectively partner with the private sector to expand their transportation networks, according to a new KPMG report.

This means drilling down into information like cell phone data to figure out where people need to go and where they are starting out their trips. Ted Hamer, managing director of KPMG’s infrastructure practice, said tapping into this kind of broader information can help with rethinking mobility.

Alt.-Ride Database is ‘Go-To’ Resource for Seniors, ADA Clientele

Across the U.S., older people are struggling to find transportation. So it should come as no surprise to the many older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers who participated in a new poll conducted by the National Aging and Disability Transportation Center that one of the key findings is that “there is no single ‘go-to’ resource for alternative transportation options.”…

That national resource, Rides in Sight, has been available, free to the public, since October 2013. By building Rides in Sight for the initial goal of helping people who need a ride to eye doctor appointments, ITN America simultaneously helped everyone who needs information about transportation in their community, including seniors and people with disabilities.

For those with limited computer skills, Rides in Sight also provides help to callers through a toll-free hotline. With more than 15,000 transportation services listed, Rides in Sight includes all public transit, paratransit, and for-profit services such as taxicabs, TNC’s (transportation network companies), and nearly 1,000 volunteer non-profit services from coast to coast.

Waymo driverless cars now understand hand signals from police officers

One of the toughest situations for autonomous cars to deal with is when something unexpected happens.

This can include temporary lane closures, diversions, and situations where a police officer is directing traffic with hand signals. The latter is now something Waymo’s autonomous cars can deal with. The new skill is shown off in a video published to Waymo’s YouTube account this week, embedded below.

As Waymo explains in the video description: “The video shows Waymo’s self-driving car approaching a traffic light that is not working. The car comes to a stop before entering the intersection and waits for the officer signal that we can proceed.”

How Intel (INTC) Is Becoming A Leader In The Driverless Car Space

The driverless vehicle race is being run on computing power instead of horse power. This shift has created opportunities for companies other than OEM (original equipment manufacturers) to be a part of the increasingly software-driven automotive world. Intel (INTC) is one name which is on its way to become a dominant force in this space. Here’s a look at some developments made by Intel in 2018.

Intel announced its restructuring in 2016 from a PC company to one that powers the cloud and billions of smart, connected computing devices. Intel’s foray into the autonomous driving segment soon followed. BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye joined hands to create a safe and advanced platform fully automated driving.

A few months later, Intel announced an investment of $250 million for autonomous driving which was followed by setting up of a new business unit called the Automated Driving Group (ADG), dedicated to the next generation of advanced driver assist systems and autonomous driving solutions.

Apple’s secretive self-driving car project is starting to come into focus

One of the words that’s most commonly associated with Apple’s self-driving car program is “secretive.” Unlike most of its competitors, Apple has been frustratingly tight-lipped regarding the self-driving cars it’s testing in California. On Wednesday, the company had an opportunity to pull back the curtain on the so-called “Project Titan” with the release of its voluntary safety report to federal regulators. But, unsurprisingly, the smartphone giant is still keeping the most tantalizing details under wraps.

Apple’s report is almost comically short: seven pages, compared to an average length of 39 pages from the other companies who have submitted reports. In it, Apple describes its interest in self-driving systems in broad, world-saving terms, but it’s noticeably mum on practically every key detail surrounding the project. There’s nothing on future deployments or commercial applications for the technology. There aren’t any photos or renderings to pad the length of the report, like other companies have done.

Airstream Is Turning Recreational Vehicles Into Smart Homes

Airstream—the maker of bullet-shaped, aluminum-clad trailers—finally has some contemporary technology to go with its Jetsons aesthetic.

The brand from RV giant Thor Industries is introducing a new app for controlling its campers, from AC to lights.

“It’s effectively a blend of a smart home and a connected vehicle,” said McKay Featherstone, Airstream’s vice president of product development. “We’re trying to solve multiple problems for our customers.”

The system, dubbed Smart Control, has been standard on Airstream’s largest, most expensive unit—the Classic—since July. In coming months, the same features will start appearing throughout the rest of the company’s product line. What’s more, Airstream started taking orders today for a $1,000 kit that will convert any Airstream into a smart home, no matter the age.

Wireless Charging and Our Autonomous Electric Future

As I noted, WiTricity has purchased Qualcomm’s wireless charging technology, and Qualcomm effectively has exited the market. By coalescing on one standard, the risks associated with adapting one technology or the other go down. Combining the technologies will result in a better solution, and the potential increase in the total available market will drive economies of scale to WiTricity and lower costs significantly over time.

Given the massive pressure to make countries greener and address global warming in a safe, sustainable, and easy-to-maintain fashion, wireless charging suddenly seems far more interesting.

Fleets of cars and trucks likely will be the early adapters of this technology, and the full impact of this move likely is two years out for most of us.

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