The Smart Transportation Dispatch
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The Smart Transportation Dispatch

   Carnegie Mellon University

Speed, Distracted Driving Make U.S. Safety Board’s ‘Most Wanted’

Federal safety advocates are targeting three of the worst habits by drivers that kill more than 10,000 people a year: speeding, impaired driving and distractions from electronic gadgets.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board unveiled its “Most Wanted” list of safety enhancements on Monday and three of the 10 focused on driver behaviors that could help reduce the annual death toll on the roadways that now exceed 37,000 a year.

Another four spotlight such things as sleepy drivers, better anti-collision technology and mandating seat belts on buses and other types of vehicles.

The NTSB is bucking controversy with some of its push. It wants more use of speed cameras, for example, which are unpopular with motorists.

The Cost of Self-Driving Cars Will Be the Biggest Barrier to Their Adoption

Our results suggest we need to change how we think about the future of mobility. Thus far, public scrutiny of self-driving technology has centered around answering questions like how safe is “safe enough?” Can safety provision be left to the private marketplace? And, are existing regulations effective and worthwhile? Addressing these questions is important given self-driving technology’s potential to address what the United Nations has labelled a major public health problem. Doing so, however, demands making the technology cost competitive with existing, older vehicles. Our work suggests this is unlikely.

In our view, consumer subsidies will be crucial to realizing the life-saving benefits of this technology. Although politically challenging, public revenues already pay for a portion of road crash-related expenditures. In the United States alone, this amounts to $18 billion, the equivalent of over $156 in added taxes for every household.

CMU to receive nearly $3M in funding from U.S. Department of Transportation

Carnegie Mellon University was one of 32 universities selected nationally to receive funding by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the department announced Tuesday.

CMU will receive just over $2.8 million for its role as a University Transportation Center. According to the federal agency, the UTCs “are comprised of groups of universities seeking solutions to national, regional and local transportation issues.

A total of $60 million will be distributed among the 32 UTCs.

As one of five national UTCs, CMU’s funding is among the highest being given to a single university. The other four receiving $2.8 million each are Portland State University, the University of North Carolina, the Regents of the University of California-Davis, and Virginia Tech.

DHL goes a little greener with 63 new Workhorse electric delivery trucks

Logistics giant DHL has welcomed a new set of zero-emission vehicles into its delivery fleet, today announcing plans to deploy 63 electric cargo vans acquired from electric mobility startup Workhorse. The deal is part of DHL’s wider plan to clean up the first- and last-mile portions of its operations.

DHL has outlined plans to use clean transport solutions for 70 percent of its first- and last-mile journeys by 2025, and reduce its emissions to zero by 2050. And it has taken some noteworthy steps to that end, investing in the development of its own electric vehicles, including vans and drones.

It is not the first delivery titan to turn to Workhorse in an effort to clean up its act. FedEx recently collaborated with the company to put the first fuel cell electric delivery van on the road in North America, while UPS also bought 50 of its electric trucks back in February.

Nissan-Renault alliance to join Google on self-driving cars

The alliance of Nissan Motor, Renault and Mitsubishi Motors plans to join Google’s camp for developing autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles, Nikkei has learned.

The automakers intend to work with Waymo, a Google spinoff that is among the leaders in technology for self-driving cars. The companies are in the final phase of talks, and plan to announce the arrangement as early as spring.

The partnership would unite a car alliance whose global sales totaled 10.8 million automobiles in 2018 with a developer whose self-driving vehicles have traveled over 10 million miles on U.S. public roads as of October. Waymo has forged similar deals with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Jaguar Land Rover, but the Nissan-Renault alliance boasts greater scale.

Why Self Driving Cars Could Actually Make Traffic Nightmarish: Analysis

The fully autonomous cars that big-name tech companies like Tesla and Waymo are striving to make a reality have been the subject of some pretty bold claims. Even the presence of a few self-driving cars on the road, some have alleged, could drastically reduce the prevalence of traffic jams. But new analysis published Thursday in the journal Transport Policy suggests not only that the traffic jam-alleviating prowess of self-driving cars has been over-sold, the presence of these cars on the road might actually wind up making traffic worse. Like, a lot worse.

The problem? Existing models underestimated the potential for robot-fueled gridlock brought about by all those autonomous vehicles aimlessly cruising through cities to avoid parking fees. Instead of posting up in a parking garage while you’re shopping, AVs will be incentivized to slowly circle around the block to dodge payments.

Studies note steep climb to improve rural transportation

No car. No go. That’s long been the deal for people in rural Western Massachusetts, where life is all but impossible without owning a vehicle.

When it comes to rural transportation, past looks like prologue, two recent studies suggest. Amid talk of renewed rail travel to and from the Berkshires, public transportation is thin or nonexistent outside urban centers.

And when “self-driving” cars come of age, expect rural regions to fall further behind, officials caution. Hundreds of country roads in Berkshire County will be off-limits to autonomous vehicles, unless telecommunications gaps are plugged and roads themselves improved.

“Absent some change in policy, the future of transportation in rural areas may look very similar to what exists today,” the Berkshire County Selectmen’s Association concluded in a recent report.

AI predicts parking availability by using weather, traffic speed, and meter data

We’ve all been there: You drive miles to a venue only to discover that, to your dismay, every parking space is fully occupied. Apps like Google Maps, which can predict busyness based on historical data, can help to a degree, but what if you’re in need of a more adaptable solution? Enter research by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, who describe in a newly published paper on the preprint server an AI system for predicting parking occupancy in real time.

Rather than collect data from parking sensors, which the study’s coauthors contend are susceptible to failure and error, they draw on parking meter transactions to first estimate parking availability before using additional data for prediction. An estimated 95 percent of on-street paid parking is managed by meters, making their model more generalizable than sensor-dependent systems…

In tests, the model outperformed others’ baseline methods when predicting parking occupancies 30 minutes in advance, the researchers say. They credit the weather and traffic speed data for the AI system’s superior performance — particularly the weather data, which boosted prediction accuracy in recreational areas.

Cisco leads massive rural 5G trial aimed at revolutionizing agriculture

Developed by Cisco and Scotland’s University of Strathclyde with UK government funding, the 5G RuralFirst initiative has been building rural 5G test sites in the Orkney Islands, Shropshire, and Somerset since last June. Using hardware from 10 different wireless vendors, the sites are testing radio frequencies Europe has earmarked for 5G: long distance but slower 700MHz; suburban- and city-scale 3.5GHz; and short distance but super fast 26GHz millimeter wave.

5G RuralFirst’s inclusion of 700MHz spectrum is particularly important because bringing 5G service to rural areas requires far-reaching radio signals that can blanket large spaces with low population densities. In the United States, T-Mobile has said that it will use similar 600MHz spectrum to cover “hundreds of square miles” with a single 5G tower, reducing the buildout requirements for a national 5G network while reaching rural customers.

Sodium is the new lithium

Researchers at the Nagoya Institute of Technology (NITech) in Japan have demonstrated that a specific material can act as an efficient battery component for sodium-ion batteries that will compete with lithium-ion batteries for several battery characteristics, especially speed of charge.

Lithium-ion batteries have several benefits: they are rechargeable and have a wide application spectrum. They are used in devices such as laptops and cell phones as well as in hybrid and fully electric cars.

The electric vehicle is an important player in the efforts to solve the energy and environmental crises. One downside to lithium is the fact that it is a limited resource.

Microsoft and TomTom are working on location-based apps in the cloud

As part of the expanded deal, the companies said, TomTom will be “a leading location data provider” for Azure and Bing Maps. Azure Maps allows companies to build maps, routing and traffic data into their cloud-based apps, for example, to create Internet of Things, logistics and asset tracking services.

Building the maps in Azure reduces the latency to customer applications, said Tara Prakriya, partner group program manager of Azure Maps and connected vehicles. “Azure customers across industries end up winning when their geospatial data and analytics, TomTom data, and Azure Maps services are all running together in the same cloud,” she said.

For example, using the Azure Maps routing services powered by TomTom allows for better distribution of goods to retailers, restaurants and homes.

New fare agreement to provide mobility for homeless in Arkansas

North Little Rock, Arkansas’ Rock Region METRO is launching a new fare agreement program with the Arkansas Homeless Coalition to provide transportation for individuals actively engaged in temporary and supported housing and vocational development programming.

The Transportation Alliance Project is a pilot fare agreement program that expands and diversifies the current fare agreement model METRO has with area academic institutions. Through TAP, the Arkansas Homeless Coalition will pay a flat monthly fee to METRO for a program total of 1,000 eligible riders on the METRO system. Riders will be vetted by the Coalition’s partner organizations participating in TAP and determined eligible for participation by the Coalition on a monthly basis, depending on individuals’ active participation in partner programs for temporary and supported housing and vocational development.

Singapore releases guidelines for deployment of autonomous vehicles

Singapore has released a set of national standards to guide the local industry in the “safe” development and rollout of autonomous vehicles, outlining guidelines related to vehicle behaviour, functional safety, cybersecurity, and data formats. Called Technical Reference 68 (TR 68), the standards were developed over the past year by various representatives from the autonomous vehicle sector, research and education institutions, and government agencies.

The effort was led by the Singapore Standards Council’s Manufacturing Standards Committee and also included advice from overseas experts, according to a statement Thursday jointly released by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), Enterprise Singapore, Standards Development Organisation, and Singapore Standards Council.

I-95 Express Lanes In Virginia Host Successful Cooperative Automation Trials

One of the most successful managed lane projects in the United States has taken its place as a test bed for some of the most important concepts on the road to introducing autonomous and connected vehicles on American roadways.

The trials combined speed harmonization with connected automation technologies, such as platooning and cooperative merging on the managed lanes, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reported late last year, in a five-minute YouTube video (link is external) that summarized its work with IBTTA member Transurban and the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Transurban said the I-95 Express Lanes in northern Virginia were chosen to host the trials “for the road’s reversible, barrier-separated configuration, which provide for several hours of uninterrupted, high-speed trials on lanes with highway attributes,” wrote Lev Pinelis, Director of Operational Innovation at Transurban in North America.

Congestion Pricing, Often Attacked as Inequitable, Is Actually the Cure for Inequitable Transportation

he best way to ensure that congestion pricing doesn’t hurt the poor is to make sure revenues from new tolls support better transit service — not just build more highways.

That’s a key finding of a new report [PDF] by TransForm, a sustainable transportation advocacy group in California that sees congestion pricing as a way of advancing transportation equity — but only if the plan makes buses move faster, improves air quality and improves transit.

It’s not a given though; for congestion pricing to be fair depends on how it’s structured.

Congestion pricing — currently in use in London and many European cities — reduces driving by 15 to 20 percent, and congestion by 30 percent, TransForm says. A lot of cities want those benefits.

Driverless car company gets subsidy from Michigan taxpayers

Under the proposed arrangement, Waymo will locate “vehicle integration” operations in the state. A light-manufacturing facility space will be built at a Southeast Michigan location yet to be determined. Officials from the state and Waymo say the factory will be the first of its kind, dedicating its space to the mass production of level 4 autonomous vehicles. Those vehicles are supposed to require no driver attention whatsoever, but they operate only within limited and carefully mapped-out areas.

The project is expected to create 100 jobs, “with potential for up to” 400 jobs, and generate total private investment of $13.6 million, according to a press release from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a state agency. The grant is said to be performance-based, meaning that to receive the full $8 million, the company must first reach 400 employees.

Who’s liable when a self-driving car runs you over? Legislative bill attempts to clarify that

Under a legislative bill introduced by State Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln, the manufacturer of the self-driving technology would be liable in a crash involving a vehicle that was capable of “the entire driving task” and operating in autonomous mode.

In the case of a vehicle operating “in concert” with a driver — such as a car with lane-centering technology that required a motorist to touch the wheel every so often or take control when making a stop — the driver would be liable.

Don’t worry quite yet, because there are no cars or trucks on the road yet that perform the “entire driving task,” but Geist said those technologies are coming, and Nebraska’s rules on liability need to be ready.

Micromobility’s 15,000-mile checkup

Will the micromobility market boom or bust? With billions already invested, here’s an assessment of its potential.

The micromobility phenomenon has the potential to disrupt the industry. Whether the disruption it causes matches the hype generated so far will largely depend on how cities react to the service. While the industry is hoping urban governments view micromobility favorably as an antidote to congestion and pollution, and a way to provide consumers with an enjoyable alternative to gridlock, cities could instead see it negatively. In fact, some anecdotal evidence of the latter has already surfaced. Consequently, in addition to building their businesses, micromobility players will likely have to take proactive roles in lobbying for and shaping the industry in key urban areas.

U.S. Marines 3D Print a Concrete Footbridge

Using a special 3D printer called ACES, or Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures, U.S. Marines from the 1st Marine Logistics Group, along with the Marine Corps Systems Command’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell and the Army Corps of Engineers, created a concrete footbridge in December.

The Marines printed and assembled the bridge during the service’s annual Steel Knight exercise to demonstrate the ability to use concrete 3D printing in an operational environment, the service reported. The Marines trained on how to operate ACES and incorporate new equipment into the process.

According to the service, the bridge is groundbreaking. “This was the first time in the U.S. or western hemisphere that a bridge was 3D printed onsite rather than in a factory setting,” said Capt. Matthew Friedell, USMC, Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell (AMOC) project officer.

Smart cities will only ever be as efficient as their foundations

Whilst we can see that the uptake of CAVs and EVs play a crucial role in the smart city of the future, the challenge is that they have significantly different charging requirements. A move towards decentralised energy is critical to maintaining an effective and fully connected smart infrastructure. Preventing energy from being generated and distributed where the power is needed – primarily in cities – will lead to ramifications far beyond our transportation system.

If, for example, we assume that any existing grid can adequately support thousands of EV owners plugging in at the same time, we are being very short-sighted, and overlooking a very real risk of brownouts and energy shortages and that’s even before we start looking into the impact of Connected Autonomous Vehicles (CAVs).

Meet the entrepreneur building Smart Columbus app for women to get rides to prenatal visits

Although she worked for several tech startups and ran a startup incubator, Mindi Knebel had deeply personal reasons for founding her own software company.

Now her Kaizen Health Inc. is building the Smart Columbus app to ease scheduling Medicaid-covered transportation to prenatal doctor visits – until now, a hard-to-find piece of the puzzle to lower infant mortality rates. City Council awarded a $1 million contract in December…

“There’s plenty of vehicles out there – it’s really a lack of access to them,” Knebel said. “We go find the companies that know the area well.”

Pregnant women will be able to use the scheduling app via text, mobile app, website or phone.

“We need to be able to meet people where they are, in their preferred mode of communication and their preferred location,” she said.

Autonomous vehicle testing shifts up a gear

The expectations are that the automotive industry can introduce autonomous technology slowly and it can gradually gain momentum. However, even if the transportation industry embraces autonomous technology, that doesn’t necessarily mean the world around the industry will embrace it with the same speed or the same degree of momentum.

“When do we think autonomous vehicle technology will make a huge difference to insurance? Probably not in the near-term. It’s going to take some time before we see the benefits become clear in the industry. What we can say with certainty is that once we have fully autonomous vehicles, motor risks are likely to decrease tremendously, and product liability will become more important than ever. It’s going to be exciting to experience how this technology changes the industry.”

How Didi Chuxing is Driving the Electric Revolution In China

With the support of policymakers, China is accelerating its systemic transition to new energy vehicles. BAIC has announced plans to stop the manufacturing and sale of gas-driven car models by 2025. Today, close to 400,000 new energy vehicles are registered with Didi in the world’s largest shared EV network, many through the company’s partnerships with leading EV manufacturers, including BYD.

To build a sustainable and more robust shared mobility ecosystem, XAS is also attracting original equipment manufacturers (OEM), dealers and independent fleet operators to put their fleets on Didi’s open car-sharing program to share Didi’s scale of operation, service standards and data capabilities. XAS now serves drivers/car-owners on Didi and beyond through the main Didi app and a separate XAS app.

Autonomous Delivery Trucks Are On Their Way

The electric vehicles probably move too slowly to deliver hot foods. Ice cream may not stand up to the desert sun. Then there is the “last twenty feet” problem. Customers will have to walk out to the curb and lug their bags back to the front door. So much for the service being ideal for the infirm.

These are considerable obstacles. Nuro has assembled a team of the brightest problem solvers. They come from the finest schools, like Carnegie Mellon, MIT, Caltech, Oxford and Stanford. And they have won prestigious world competitions like DARPA Urban Challenge, DARPA Robotics Challenge and ImageNet.

Nuro is charging ahead so hard because the prize is so big. Delivery is a big piece of the digital transformation puzzle. Automation removes the last significant friction point in the path between pressing a virtual smartphone button and having real goods show up at your doorstep.

Waze adds Beacons to NYC tunnels so drivers can stay connected to GPS apps

The Waze Beacons themselves are just battery-powered microcontrollers that use low-powered Bluetooth signals to communicate with smartphones, allowing for Waze to provide alternative location services to drivers even when out of GPS range (relying on Google’s near-field Eddystone technology to communicate).

The Beacons are installed on tunnel ways and can be used to ferry information to drivers underground (for privacy reasons, the Beacons only relay information one way), making it possible to alert drivers of sudden changes in traffic or accidents even without GPS.

Crowdsourced maps should help driverless cars navigate our cities more safely

ur current street maps aren’t much good for helping driverless cars get around. Although we’ve mapped most roads, they get updated only every couple of years. And these maps don’t log any roadside infrastructure such as road signs, driveways, and lane markings. Without this extra layer of information, it will be much harder to get autonomous cars to navigate our cities safely. Robotic deliveries, too, will eventually require precise details of road surfaces, sidewalks, and obstacles.

A Swedish startup called Mapillary thinks it has the answer. It’s an open platform that crowdsources images of streets taken by people on their smartphones: a sort of Wikipedia of mapping. It says it is now one of the biggest publicly available databases of street-level imagery in the world.

9th International Visualization in Transportation Symposium: Call for Presentations

Abstracts, limited to a single page of text and graphics and indicating the chosen topics, should be submitted by February 27, 2019, to the following link:

Presentations will be selected and authors informed of decisions by mid-April, 2019. All abstracts should focus primarily on the visualization components of their research.

Publication in the Transportation Research Record (TRR)
Authors of abstracts presented at the conference will have the option of
submitting a full paper for potential publication in the TRR.

Symposium is Scheduled for November 5-6, 2019 in Washington, DC.

Crown Castle has 20,000 small cell nodes in 2020 pipeline: CEO

Crown Castle expects to deploy approximately 20,000 small cell nodes in 2020 and beyond, CEO Jay Brown said during a conference call with investors.

The executive also confirmed that the company aims to deploy between 10,000 and 15,000 small cells this year. Last year, Crown Castle had put nearly 7,000 small cell nodes on air, Brown said…

Brown also highlighted that the company sees growing business opportunities in the 5G field as the U.S. market “will lead the way on 5G.”

The executive said that most of the activity in the small cells segment continues to be concentrated in the top 30 markets in the United States.

Coursera, University of Toronto partner on AV education course

Online learning provider Coursera will partner with the University of Toronto on a new four-part education course about autonomous vehicles (AVs).

The $79-a-month course will include lessons on AV technology like LiDAR, software, motion planning, intersection management and safety. Students will use the open-source simulator CARLA to try out new features and innovations. The pair hopes the education course, primarily aimed at those with an engineering background, will help democratize AV research and encourage more people to get into the burgeoning industry.

“Once you can increase the supply of talent, once you can get tens of thousands of people, maybe hundreds of thousands of people, who understand how this works, it will make everything, I think, a lot more sensible in terms of calibrating the supply and demand,” Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda told Smart Cities Dive.

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