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The Smart Transportation Dispatch

   Carnegie Mellon University

CIOs Can Majorly Gain From Edge Data Centers

Massive growth in smartphones and video streaming together with the emergence of the IoT, cloud, big data and AI, is changing the data center landscape today. As managing troves of data, and processing and storing them in real time becomes a big challenge, this push has created a whole new category of data center service providers who are coming up with “edge data centers,” where in order to manage this data efficiently, it first needs to be processed closer to the point where it is generated.

ResearchAndMarkets predicts the global edge data center market to grow at a CAGR of 19.14% during the period 2018-2022, and Edge Data Center will show promising growth. One trend that is expected to drive the demand for edge data centers is increasing adoption of IoT that is helping in creating smart communication environments, such as smart healthcare, smart shopping, smart homes, and smart transportation.

Parking guru Donald Shoup has 3 new recommendations for cities

Donald Shoup, a research professor of urban planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has three new recommendations for how cities plan parking in the follow-up to his landmark 2005 book, “The Cost of Free Parking.”
In his new book, entitled “Parking and the City,” Shoup recommends cities remove requirements for off-street parking; charge the right prices for on-street parking; and spend parking revenue to improve public services on metered streets.
“Each of these policies supports the other two,” Shoup wrote. He said these changes would reverse trends from the early years of cars: separated land uses, low density and ample free parking to create drivable cities while undermining walkable neighborhoods.

Alibaba announces AI deal with Audi, Daimler and Volvo

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd announced three partnerships on Monday with leading carmakers on artificial intelligence-backed connected vehicle services, cementing its commitment to the auto sector.

Under the cooperation, owners of Daimler, Audi and Volvo cars in China will be able to remotely access information about their vehicles, such as location, engine status and fuel checks, using Alibaba’s voice assistant service.

AliGenie, the AI platform powering Alibaba’s iconic smart speaker Tmall Genie, enables voice enquiries that unlock doors and turn on air conditioning before the driver even reaches the car, said Chen Lijuan, head of Alibaba AI Labs, an in-house AI research unit.

The tie-up will also help enrich the in-car infotainment portfolio based on Alibaba’s content offerings from access to video site Youku and music streaming service Xiami.


Meet the car mechanics of the future

In a community college outside Detroit, students are learning skills that could become commonplace on roadside garages over the world in the decades to come: repairing sensors for self-driving cars.

A new course at the Washtenaw Community College in Michigan has started for mobility technicians — the car mechanics of the future — as the state tries to pre-empt new jobs that will emerge from the developments in road transport.

Alexa on wheels? What is Amazon planning with its top-secret robot program

Little is known about what Amazon is up to with its new, top-secret robotic project.

But that hasn’t stopped people from speculating.

Is Amazon creating Alexa on wheels, an artificial intelligence that can follow you throughout your house, tuning lights on and off, answering your questions and playing music to keep you company?

Or will the robot stake out your front door, wait for deliveries from Amazon and make sure they are secure?

Or maybe it’s something completely different….

Amazon also has to make the robots valuable while making them affordable, said Aaron Steinfeld, an associate research professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute. Steinfeld’s research focuses in part on robots designed to interact with humans.

Robots have to be intelligent, like Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices. Alexa, however, can store its intelligence in the cloud, meaning its devices, like an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, can use cheaper hardware and keep costs down.

Mini, Urban-X Building Cities of the Future

And that’s where the Urban-X initiative comes in. A collaboration between Mini and venture fund Urban Us, Urban-X is a start-up incubator, which is a fancy way of saying “we throw money and expertise at people with clever ideas that have an actual chance of seeing daylight.”

These ideas all revolve around improving the urban landscape and the experience of people who work and live there; but they can range from projects that directly impact automotive technology (such as Lunewave’s high-performance radar sensor system), to projects that address urban infrastructure (Roadbotics’ automated pavement-assessment technology), to the decidedly quirky (Sencity’s TetraBIN, an interactive trash can that’s connected to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). In terms of real-world implementation, they can be as immediately physical as Upshift’s car delivery service, or as abstract as Qucit’s AI-optimized city management software (which in no way resembles the basis of a summer sci-fi blockbuster).

Lisbon becomes VW’s software development hub

Volkswagen Group is developing a software development center for Volkswagen Group IT and MAN Truck & Bus AG in Lisbon. About 300 IT specialists, especially software engineers, web developers and UX designers, will be employed at the new facility over the next few years. They will be concentrating on the development of cloud-based software solutions for the further digitalization of corporate processes within the Group and for the connected vehicle.

“We want to recruit highly qualified, highly motivated IT specialists in Portugal. Our new software development center in Lisbon will be the decisive next step. We are transferring the success story of our Berlin digital labs to Portugal: combining exciting tasks with the most advanced agile working methods of the IT scene”, said Martin Hofmann, CIO of the Volkswagen Group.

Stephan Fingerling, MAN’s Chief Information Officer: “We are gradually moving away from being a commercial vehicles manufacturer with a focus on hardware to become a provider of sustainable and intelligent transportation solutions. Digital services have an important part to play in this transformation.”

Blockchain startup CarBlock partners with YourMechanic to disrupt auto repair space with blockchain technology

CarBlock is the world’s first blockchain-based transportation solution built on data generated by smart devices. CarBlock aims to use the circulation of car data on the blockchain to disrupt the entire connected car industry.

Last Friday, the company announced its partnership with YourMechanic, the nation’s largest online marketplace for car repair services. The partnership will allow YourMechanic access to expanded vehicle data to better serve their customers and provide more accurate pricing. YourMechanic is the nation’s largest online marketplace for car repair services. This is CarBlock’s second partnership announcement in less than two weeks. On April 17, the company announced a strategic partnership with nonda to empower drivers to use their data and ultimately earn rewards for providing said data to companies in need.


Portland, OR to improve infrastructure planning through bike data collection

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is partnering with tech startup Ride Report to collect feedback from thousands of local bicyclists.
Ride Report is a mobile app that uses sensors and machine learning to track users’ bike riding habits and goals, and it solicits input at the end of each ride about users’ experiences while riding on hundreds of Portland’s streets.
PBOT said it plans to use the shared, but anonymous, data to help it make better, safer planning decisions to further develop the city’s biking infrastructure.

NYC’s Central Park to become permanently car-free

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced, beginning June 27, cars will be banned on Central Park’s Center Drive, Terrace Drive, East Drive and West Drive, making the park permanently car-free.
The move is intended to reduce air pollution and improve safety in the park, where more than 42 million people visit each year for exercise or leisure. The transverse roadways at 65th, 79th, 86th and 97th Streets will not be affected, as they were built into the park’s original design.
“For more than a century, cars have turned parts of the world’s most iconic park into a highway. Today we take it back,” de Blasio said in a statement.

Northern Arizona railroad union members wary of autonomous trains

The thought of a 10,000-ton train going through northern Arizona with no conductor aboard has some railroad workers worried about what autonomous trains might mean for safety of pedestrians and those who live in areas with railroads.

Last month, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a request for information about automated railroad operations and integrating automation more fully into railroads.

“FRA seeks to understand the rail industry’s plans for future development and implementation of automated train systems and technologies and the industry’s plans and expectations related to potential fully-automated rail operations,” the administration wrote in the request.

Some in northern Arizona say the idea is a recipe for disaster.

“It’s a horrible idea for a lot of different reasons,” said Ellis Laird, the Winslow legislative representative for the SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation) union. “Right now, we have two sets of eyes on each train. Humans can react to different situations, I don’t think they will ever be able to program a computer for every different situation.”

The 25 Ways AI Can Revolutionize Transportation: From Driverless Trains to Smart Tracks

With massive breakthroughs in smart technologies being reported every month, it won’t be long until our transport industries are dominated by AI.

Here are just some of the ways artificial intelligence is changing the face of transport, and what we can expect in the near future.

6. SURTRAC by Rapid Flow Technologies: Decentralizing Traffic Flow
One particularly promising traffic control system is SURTRAC by Rapid Flow Technologies. Designed specifically for urban areas, it allows lights at intersections to respond to vehicle flows on an individual level, instead of as part of a centralized system.

Natural gas returning as smart transportation fuel

Natural gas had “lost a little of its luster,” admitted Brett Lindsay, vice president of sales at Clean Energy Fuels Corp. He is far from alone in this assessment. Executives with Trillium CNG and Ryder System were among others who told Fleet Owner that some of the initial excitement surrounding natural gas as a transportation fuel subsided in recent years. With a prolonged period of stable diesel fuel prices and new competition emerging from electric vehicles, “we’ve got to go back out and spark it again,” Lindsay said.

There are several new tools at the disposal of the natural gas industry that could make that effort successful.

L.A. City Council committee moves Elon Musk’s tunnel project forward

Elon Musk’s proposed network of traffic-dodging tunnels moved a step closer to reality this week, when a Los Angeles City Council committee approved excavation permits the tech tycoon is seeking for a 2.7-mile “proof of concept”‘ tunnel on the Westside.

The Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee noted Wednesday, April 18, however, that Metro will need to review the project, in part to ensure it does not conflict with the agency’s own plans to build a transit system along the Sepulveda corridor.

The committee also added an amendment to clarify that the tunnel was not a public mass transit system and only a proof of concept — a distinction needed for the committee to also find that the project is exempt from the often-stringent requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

Robo-Taxis Are The Future Of Transportation — And China’s DiDi Is Racing To Get There First

Beijing-based Didi Chuxing (literally “Beep-beep Travel”), or DiDi for short, is China’s leading Uber clone. It is everything Uber is, and then some. With investors like Alibaba (owner of Alipay) and Tencent (owner of WeChat), DiDi is the overwhelmingly dominant ride-hailing app in China. In 2017 DiDi sold an incredible 7.43 billion rides, nearly twice as many as Uber. Even deep-pocketed Uber gave up the chase and traded its China business for a 17.7% stake in DiDi in 2016.
Of course, DiDi is also developing autonomous driverless cars. Its technology partner is an electric car startup called CHJ Auto. Together they are working to create an all-electric robotaxi that can shuttle passengers around China’s crowded megacities with no drivers at all. But that doesn’t mean an existential crisis for DiDi: unlike Uber, DiDi doesn’t have to pretend to be a mere sharing app. China has regularized the status of ride-hailing services so they are regulated more or less like conventional taxis.

Autonomous Electric Shuttles to Begin Service in Ann Arbor

While the majority of automakers and technology companies are testing driverless vehicles in California, Arizona, and Pittsburgh, Michigan has become a prominent site for autonomous testing, as well. While the majority of companies choose to test autonomous vehicles on a state’s public roads, Navya is approaching its testing a little different in the Northern state.

Navya, the french startup that began testing autonomous shuttles in Las Vegas at the beginning of the year, has started to do the same in Michigan. The company, according to the Detroit Free Press, will begin using electric 15-seat shuttles as part of the University of Michigan’s bus service. The vehicles will carry passengers on a small loop in the college’s North Campus.

Gov. Snyder in UK to promote tourism, mobility in Michigan

On Thursday, Snyder signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Michigan and Minister Barbara Eibinger-Miedl of the Austrian state of Styria. The document formalizes cooperation in the automotive sector among Michigan, Styria and leading automotive suppliers and research and technical institutions. He also was joined at the headquarters of AVL by representatives of the AC Styria Cluster, which facilitates the advancement of auto mobility in Styria. AVL is an independent company involved with the development, simulation and testing technology of vehicle powertrains.

“This agreement establishes a formal relationship to share best practices and knowledge transfer between Michigan and Styria in the development and deployment of intelligent vehicle transportation,” Snyder said. “The similarities between the two states in terms of auto advancement are striking, and through cooperation we will continue making great strides.”

Pittsburgh-based company introduces road inspection technology to French Creek group

Every year municipal governments find themselves confronted by roads that need repaving and limited budgets with which to address the problem. Technology developed in Pittsburgh that provides concrete data for prioritizing the roads in need of repair could be hitting the pavement in Crawford County’s future construction seasons.

Representatives of RoadBotics, a start-up launched out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2016, gave a presentation on the company’s road inspection technology during the French Creek Council of Governments quarterly meeting Thursday.

“You can use this data to make all your plans,” Product Manager Nikhil Ranga said of the system that uses vehicle-mounted cameras to collect images of every inch of roads in a given municipality.

Cities Struggle to Contain Curbside Congestion

Some of the most sought-after real estate in cities may end up being the space next to a curb. Thanks to online shopping, curbsides in dense urban areas now have to make way for delivery vehicles, in addition to electric vehicle charging ports, bike-share docking stations, smart parking meters or kiosks, and of course, pedestrians. The increasing number of curbside functions are far removed from merely parking a vehicle.

“As we think about reimagining our curbsides and redesigning our streets, we need to think about where the delivery activity is going to happen and where necessary distribution activity might happen,” said Alison Conway, an expert on transportation logistics challenges, e-commerce, and urban street-space. Conway spoke at City College in New York on Wednesday, April 18 during a Meeting of the Minds webinar. Meeting of the Minds is a nonprofit dedicated to studying smart cities issues and solutions.

How Uber moves the ‘blue dot’ to improve GPS accuracy in big cities

Recently, I sat down with two Uber engineers who may have a solution for all this chaos. Andrew Irish and Danny Iland were both PhD students at UC Santa Barbara when their startup Shadow Maps was acquired by Uber in 2016. Since then, they’ve been working on integrating their technology into Uber’s app. They recently began beta testing in 15 cities across the globe, and based on early results, they are now getting GPS signals that are twice as accurate as before.

Carnegie Mellon lab cleared for take off at Pittsburgh International Airport

Raj Rajkumar, director of the Metro21 Smart Cities Institute, said researchers could work on placing sensors around the airport that would give travelers better information about wait times or how long it takes to get from one place to another. Both Rajkumar and Cassotis stressed the work will likely come out of new ideas proposed once researchers spend more time at the airport.

Rajkumar said Metro21 has secured funding from the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and the Heinz Endowments to begin work at the airport. Additional funding will come through state and federal research grants and from companies working on smart city and airport innovations.

“The goal is to make the airport smarter while making it more convenient and usable,” Rajkumar said.

Futuristic smart corridor planned for Main Street

A smart corridor is being planned for 2.5 miles of Main Street near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, stretching from Goodell Street to Humboldt Parkway. The project comes in conjunction with the city’s $13 million reconstruction of Main Street –– including streetscaping –– that is set to begin construction in 2020.

The corridor will feature self-driving shuttles, dedicated bicycle lanes, a detached cycling lane parallel to the street and smart technology including parking alerts and travel time. The project plan is expected to be complete by January 2019. Construction of the futuristic network will slowly be implemented over several years, ensuring that developers are staying up to date with the latest available technology.

The medical campus received a $75,000 grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to help fund the project. The authority also awarded UB researchers with roughly $210,000 of the $250,000 necessary to purchase a self-driving Olli bus in February.

FHWA Offers $60 Million in Transportation Technology Grants

The Federal Highway Administration has made $60 million in grant money available for states and cities that are leading transportation-related technology projects.

The agency published a Notice of Funding Opportunity on April 18 allowing agencies to compete for grants through its Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Program.

“These grants promote the use of cutting-edge technology to improve safety and reduce traffic congestion,” acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye Hendrickson said. “Innovation will improve connections between rural communities and provide all Americans with safer transportation options.”

This grant program was created in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act as a way to improve the performance of the transportation system, reduce congestion and improve safety.

Airport, CMU partner on innovation lab

Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh International Airport will partner to create the Aviation Innovation Laboratory that will develop and deploy high-tech projects around the airport.
The lab was announced Thursday during a news conference at
Pittsburgh International Airport with Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis and CMU President Farnham Jahanian.
The memorandum of understanding builds on three years of previous work between the airport and CMU. CMU faculty and students from its Metro 21: Smart Cities Institute will work on projects throughout the airport.


If Tesla can develop autonomous cars without that tech, Keeney says that would be a huge advantage. “It’s a riskier strategy but it could pay off for them in the end,” she explains. “If Tesla solves [self-driving cars without LIDAR], everyone else is going to be kicking themselves.”

That’s a huge “if.” Without LIDAR data, Tesla may find itself at a disadvantage, according to Raj Rajkumar, the co-director of General Motors-sponsored connected and autonomous driving research lab at Carnegie Mellon University. (CMU is a school so famous for its robotics chops that Uber poached dozens of staffers in 2015.)

LIDAR is seen by many in the industry as an essential tool for creating cars that can drive themselves, and Rajkumar says there is heavy skepticism about Tesla’s approach. “We don’t think the hardware will be sufficient to do that, and I don’t think Tesla is particularly anywhere close to getting to [fully] driverless operation,” he says.

Self-driving cars mean new tech, but they also mean new-age vehicle technicians

As part of a new 10-year strategic plan, Rosedale Technical College introduced a five-prong initiative on Wednesday to proactively adapt its curriculum to match industry needs — in the autonomous car industry and beyond.

The nonprofit located in Kennedy Township will begin offering a certification program for autonomous vehicle technicians.

“Autonomous vehicles, they’re here. And not just the test vehicles, but the semi-autonomous features in the cars you’re driving today, self-braking, self-parking,” said Dennis Wilke, president and director.

In about a year, he estimates, the school should have a state-of-the-art autonomous vehicles lab. Rosedale is partnering with national firms like Snap-on, a tools designer and manufacturer based in Kenosha, Wis., to determine what the space should look like. The firms will also provide equipment.

Rosedale isn’t the only school that offers programs for highly automated vehicle specialists.

Community College of Allegheny County offers a two-year automotive technology program at its campus in Oakdale to teach students to service and repair high-tech vehicles.

Could Boston Join Seattle in Proposing Congestion Pricing?

“Two cities on the United States’ east and west coasts, both with epic local traffic problems, are considering congestion pricing as a way to get people and goods moving again,” writes Bill Cramer, communications director for the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA), on April 12.

Planetizen readers may have read on April 6 that “Seattle will develop a plan to toll city roadways as part of its efforts to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse-gas emissions.” The proposal has the backing of Mayor Jenny A. Durkan.

The news was reassuring to pricing advocates who had seen the New York State legislature on March 30 fail to include plans in its budget legislation for a future cordon toll to apply to trucks and passenger vehicles in Manhattan’s central business district.

Jack Ma says Alibaba ‘doing a lot of research’ on driverless cars

The competition is heating up in China, the world’s largest car market, with internet firm and Alibaba rival Baidu recently predicting that self-driving vehicles will hit the road in the country within three to five years.

Both Baidu and Chinese tech giant Tencent are pursuing the technology, stirring speculation about Alibaba’s plans.

“We’ve been doing a lot of research on driverless things,” Ma told reporters on Thursday while on a business trip to Bangkok.

“What we want to do is (figure out) how we can make the cars more automatic, more friendly, more like a partner of human beings rather than just a driving tool,” he said.

The scooter invasion is here: How Austin and the Bay Area are coping

You would not think that something like an electric scooter would prompt the need for urgent regulation, but that’s the situation in some cities. Following the dockless bicycle rentals that have sprung up in some cities, electric scooters are now taking others by storm. One Austin, Texas, resident describes the scene there as like a “scooter bomb went off.”

The issue is this: Innovation is taking place at an ever increasing pace. The rental companies say they’re in a race to establish a market before competitors leave them in the dust; they can’t afford to wait for regulation.

But that’s putting cities in a race that they didn’t enter. If they don’t adapt quickly, livability is at stake. — Kevin Ebi

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