Table of Contents
- Three Senators have blocked the AV START Act from progressing to the Senate floor for a vote due to safety and security concerns
- Top executives from state departments of transportation and local agencies told senior Trump administration officials that they support federal protection of the 5.9 gigahertz DSRC radio spectrum
- USDOT is organizing a March 1 “summit” to help “identify priority federal and non-federal activities that can accelerate the safe rollout” of automated vehicles
- California is ramping up the state’s efforts to boost electric vehicles
- Ohio Governor John R. Kasich signed an executive order creating a one-stop shop that seeks to make it easier for researchers to advance connected and automated vehicle technologies
- Waymo, has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to expand its fleet with “thousands” of new self-driving minivans
- udelv recently finished a public road test of its automated, last-mile delivery vehicle
- Embark completed a 2,400-mile coast-to-coast trip from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida
- Apple has expanded its fleet of self-driving cars in California
- AAA is working with self-driving technology company Torc Robotics to help establish a set of safety criteria for using self-driving cars
- BYTON, a China-based startup developing smart, premium electric vehicles, has partnered with Aurora to further Level 4 automated driving vehicle capabilities in its vehicles
- A new study concludes that ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft don’t compete with public transit during peak hours
- Fifteen ride-sharing companies signed a joint mobility pledge that outlines ten shared mobility principles to create more livable, sustainable cities
- Self-driving electric cars in ride-sharing service are set to dent oil consumption by 2040
- Bosch has acquired ridesharing startup SPLT
- Ownership of cars and light trucks as well as vehicle miles traveled are increasing
- A new USDOT safety data initiative seeks to break down the silos between its data sets to understand the factors that lead to fatal crashes and learn how to predict and mitigate risks
- Perrone Robotics Inc. (PRI) announced the company is collaborating with UCSD on advanced machine learning methods for automated vehicle perception and control
- A philosophy professor at Mass Lowell, is working alongside two other philosophers and an engineer to write automated vehicle algorithms based on various ethical theories
- Two professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) are working together on an NSF-funded project to create a network of self-driving cars that can share information
- Researchers from U-M shows how energy consumed by automated vehicles can be high enough to turn some into net energy losers
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
- Mcity announced that 42 “Affiliate” companies will invest $150,000 each in the public-private research and development initiative
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
- Nine US regions were announced as finalists for the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants from the Smart Cities Council
- Sprint Corp. said it planned to launch a commercial fifth-generation, or 5G, network in the U.S. in early 2019
- A new study shows that the widespread implementation of DSRC technology would be more cost effective than using cellular systems for V2X
- 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) is partnering with the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University to launch the Resilience Accelerator to encourage professionals and organizations to become involved in resilience opportunities
- The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) showcased its connected/automated vehicle network
- Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is currently installing V2X (vehicle-to-everything) equipment in its streetcars
- Sidewalk Labs announced a new company called Coord dedicated to creating a centralized system that incorporates and coordinates data across bike-share, ride-share and car-share companies
- Ford is acquiring Autonomic and TransLoc
- Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., agreed with NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley to collaborate on research and technology development for future automated mobility services
- Honeywell and LG Electronics Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding to develop and demonstrate automotive software technology and infrastructure that addresses threats associated with vehicle connectivity
- NVIDIA and Continental announced they are partnering to create top-to-bottom AI self-driving vehicle systems
Three Senators have blocked the AV START Act from progressing to the Senate floor for a vote due to concerns about the safety and security of automated vehicles. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has expressed concern that the technology may not yet be developed enough to unleash on roads all over America. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is similarly concerned about safety and wants to require a fallback mechanism so that the driver can resume manual control of the car if needed. Meanwhile, Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts is concerned about privacy and cybersecurity. The AV START Act would allow up to 100,000 automated vehicles to be rolled out onto public roads across the U.S. This would override state laws on automated vehicles, including states that require manual controls or ban automated vehicles entirely.
A group of top executives from state departments of transportation and local agencies told senior Trump administration officials that they support federal protection of the 5.9 gigahertz “dedicated short range communications” or DSRC radio spectrum that infrastructure owners are using to expand vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connected technologies. The state and local executives said various agencies across the country are deploying “safety-critical applications” that use the DSRC bandwidth, “including red light violation warnings, reduced speed zone warnings, curve speed warnings and spot weather-impact warnings.” As a result, they said this deployment in turn “has created a diverse industry that has responded aggressively in support of these technologies,” with examples such as building DSRC units into traffic signals hardware and spurring development of aftermarket on-board units. The infrastructure-managing agencies “have the ultimate goal of driving traffic fatalities to zero and DSRC is the right technology to invest in to save lives today.” The letter, which was signed by the CEOs of state DOTs in Michigan, Utah, California, Ohio, Wyoming, Minnesota, Arizona, Washington, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana, was sent to USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
The U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) is organizing a March 1 “summit” to help “identify priority federal and non-federal activities that can accelerate the safe rollout” of automated vehicles. The summit comes on the heels of an announcement made by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in January that the Trump administration plans to unveil revised self-driving car guidelines this summer as the government sets out to rewrite regulations that pose legal barriers to automated vehicles. In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is looking for ideas on how it can remove regulatory roadblocks to such vehicles. NHTSA said it wants to find any “unnecessary regulatory barriers” to self-driving cars “particularly those that are not equipped with controls for a human driver.” The March 1 summit at the department’s headquarters in Washington is targeting auto manufacturers, technology companies, road safety advocates and policy makers, as well as the public, and will include “several stakeholder breakout sessions on various topics related to automation,” NHTSA said.
Ohio Governor John R. Kasich signed an executive order creating a one-stop shop, initially housed within the Ohio Department of Transportation, that seeks to make it easier for researchers to advance connected and automated vehicle technologies. The new center, DriveOhio, will bring together those responsible for building infrastructure in Ohio with those who are developing new transportation technologies in an effort to better coordinate efforts and connect transportation providers with automotive and equipment manufacturers. As a first step, the department issued a Request for Proposals asking teams of engineering, technology and data companies to compete for a contract to develop a statewide technology and data framework for its smart mobility initiative. The executive order also calls for the creation of an expert advisory board comprised of leaders in the automotive, telecommunications, software development, insurance, data, cyber security industries, as well as researchers and developers, among others, and directs the Department of Transportation to outfit its fleet vehicles with devices that that can start tracking data that will be beneficial to advancing connected-vehicle research.
California is ramping up the state’s efforts in support of electric vehicles (EVs). Governor Jerry Brown signed an executive order “to curb carbon pollution from cars and trucks and boost the number of zero-emission vehicles driven in California” and set a new target of 5 million zero-emission vehicles in California by 2030, up from a prior target of 1.5 million by 2025. To support this effort, Brown requested that the state spend $2.5 billion over eight years to add 250,000 vehicle charging stations and 200 hydrogen fueling stations by 2025. The governor’s actions and request come on the heels of other recent state efforts to reduce the population of gasoline powered vehicles and/or boost EVs. Introduced at the beginning of the year by Assemblymember Phil Ting, AB 1745, the Clean Cars 2040 Act, would require all new passenger vehicles sold in the state after January 1, 2040 to be zero emissions. Late last year, the California Air Resources Board approved the 2017 Climate Change Scoping Plan, which sets California on a course to reduce climate-changing gases an additional 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, requiring the state to double the rate at which it has been cutting climate-changing gases.
Google's self-driving vehicles arm, Waymo, has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) to expand its fleet with “thousands” of new self-driving minivans, with the first deliveries starting at the end of 2018. Waymo currently has 600 of FCA’s minivans in its fleet, some of which are used in a cutting-edge passenger shuttle for its Early Rider program in Arizona. The first 100 were delivered when the partnership was announced in May 2016, and an additional 500 were delivered in 2017. Neither Waymo nor FCA would disclose the specific number of vehicles that were bought, nor the cost. However, given that FCA’s suggested retail price for the 2018 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivan starts at $39,995, a thousand minivans would cost $40 million before any bulk discount, making this an eight-figure deal. The deal was announced at approximately the same time as another key Waymo advancement: its approval to operate as a transportation network company (TNC) in Arizona by the state department of transportation. TNC status allows the company to charge for Early Rider program rides that are currently provided free of charge. Waymo’s application contained images of the automated Chrysler Pacifica minivans and confirmed the company’s intention not just to build driverless cars, but to operate its own ride-hailing business, thus placing it in direct competition with other ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft. Additionally, Waymo announced that it is expanding its vehicle testing to include Atlanta. Metro Atlanta marks Waymo’s 25th test city in total, including its recent return to San Francisco. Testing so far has consisted of mapping the city with manually driven Waymo vehicles ahead of launching the testing program in full. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles’ recently released Autonomous Vehicle Disengagement Reports 2017, in which all companies that are actively testing self-driving cars on public roads in the state disclose the number of miles driven and the frequency in which human drivers were forced to take control, Waymo not only drove the most automated miles (352,545) for the 12-month period, but also had the fewest disengagements per mile, with 63 for the entire year.
The California startup udelv recently finished a public road test of its automated, last-mile delivery vehicle in San Mateo, California. The udelv vehicle successfully made deliveries to two nearby customers on a 2.5-mile route that included traffic lights, lane changes, left turns without traffic signals, and multiple stops. In line with California’s regulations on automated vehicle testing in the state, the vehicle was supervised by a safety driver and was set to test mode. The custom vehicle has a fully electric powertrain and features 18 secure cargo compartments with automatic doors. In its current configuration, the vehicle can drive for up to 60 miles per cycle and can load up to 700 pounds of cargo, according to udelv. Led by former Tesla and Apple special projects engineering managers, the company is funded by a group of investors, including prominent U.S. and international venture capital funds as well as private investors. The company plans to test dozens of udelv vehicles on the roads in a few states within a short timeframe and eventually use a subscription-based business model to roll out its vehicle fleet.
American Automobile Association (AAA) Northern California Nevada & Utah (NCNU) is working with self-driving technology company Torc Robotics to help establish a set of safety criteria for using self-driving cars. Using Torc’s self-driving system, called Asimov, the partners will collect data from various urban safety cases they observe while driving. In addition to data collected by Torc during previous testing, the partners will collect data in Las Vegas this year and in additional cities in the near future. The intent is to build out a set of guidelines that automakers can follow in order to help coordinate efforts across the industry to ensure safety and enhance consumer trust in automated driving technology in general. The new program is part of AAA NCNU’s larger effort to study and test automated vehicles. In October, it announced a partnership with GoMentum Station, a California testing facility for self-driving cars. AAA NCNU also partnered with the City of Las Vegas to launch the nation’s first public self-driving shuttle in downtown Las Vegas.
Automated trucking technology company Embark completed a 2,400-mile coast-to-coast trip from Los Angeles, California to Jacksonville, Florida. The five-day trip, which included rest stops for its safety driver, is more than four times the distance of Embark‘s prior test route, which ran from Los Angeles to El Paso, Texas. The company expects that once its technology is ready and cleared to run on its own, that the coast-to-coast trip will take only two days. This demonstration helped Embark prove out some of the aspects of its business that depart from what its competitors are doing. For instance, it doesn’t use high-resolution, detailed maps of its route to inform its automated system. Instead, it relies entirely on sensor data and its onboard machine learning in an effort to cut down on cost and time needed in terms of preparation before establishing new routes. While the company is still sorting through trip data, it stated that “the vast majority of the driving was autonomous,” with “hours at a time with no disengagements, and when they did occur they were usually only a few seconds” long. Embark’s goal isn’t to replace the driver entirely. Instead, it is seeking to make it possible for long-haul trips to be managed by fewer drivers. The company expects its test fleet of five trucks to grow to forty by the end of the year.
Apple has expanded its fleet of self-driving cars in California, registering an additional two dozen vehicles with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Apple originally registered three Lexus Rx450h SUVs under its permit to test automated vehicles in April 2017. Since then, it has acquired an additional 24 Lexus SUVs, according to the DMV: two in July, seven in October, two in November, six in December, and seven in January. Apple’s test vehicles have been spotted a couple of times on roadways, most recently last October. The cars appear to be outfitted with standard third-party sensors and hardware, including six Velodyne-made LIDAR sensors, several radar units, and a number of cameras. Apple has been tight-lipped about its self-driving car program, codenamed Project Titan. Various reports indicate that Apple has abandoned its ambitions to build an entirely new vehicle from scratch and has instead shifted focus to building automated software it could develop for existing carmakers. Last July, CEO Tim Cook confirmed in an interview that Apple is currently “focusing on autonomous systems” and that this could be used for many different purposes.
BYTON, a China-based startup developing smart, premium electric vehicles, has partnered with Aurora, a self-driving technology company. The partnership will help BYTON incorporate Level 4 automated driving vehicle capabilities into BYTON vehicles. In the next two years, BYTON and Aurora will jointly conduct pilot deployment of Aurora's automated driving systems on BYTON vehicles. Additionally, BYTON and Aurora will explore the use of Aurora's self-driving system in BYTON's production vehicles. At CES 2018 in Las Vegas, BYTON premiered its BYTON Concept and announced plans to design and build smart premium electric cars for the Chinese, US and European markets. Sales are set to begin in China in 2019, and sales in the United States and Europe to start in 2020.
A new national study by the Shared-Use Mobility Center found that ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft don’t compete with public transit during peak hours and suggests that transit agencies should find ways to work with the private companies to supplement public service. The study, “Broadening Understanding of the Interplay Between Public Transit, Shared Mobility and Personal Automobiles,” found that ride-hailing services are busiest in the evenings and on weekends, times when public transit often is reduced. The study looked at ride-hailing data from Seattle, Nashville, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco from 2010 to 2016. With the exception of a high number of airport trips, a majority of ride-hailing trips were short distances in downtown areas, the study showed. Even when a high number of trips occurred during peak transit hours, the study said, there was no indication that transit ridership was hurt. In fact, researchers said, the study reinforced findings in 2016 that showed that ride-hailing services can augment public transit. The study was performed for the Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP), a part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Fifteen ride-sharing companies, including Uber and Lyft, signed a joint mobility pledge that outlines ten shared mobility principles to create more livable, sustainable cities. The principles, which attempt to “ensure that ongoing developments in technology, operational systems, ownership, and service business models lead to more livable, sustainable, and just cities,” was the brainchild of Zipcar cofounder Robin Chase, who developed it alongside a handful of NGOs. They include issues such as planning cities and mobility together, prioritizing people over vehicles, and supporting the shared and efficient use of vehicles, lanes, curbs, and land, among others. The principles were first released in October, but the fifteen companies didn’t sign on until this month. They don’t include specific metrics for transportation companies to hit in the coming years, but Chase says success will be evaluated based on whether the U.S. and other countries start to shift away from personal car ownership and rely more on shared transportation modes.
The emergence of self-driving electric cars in ride-sharing service are set to dent oil consumption by 2040, oil and gas giant BP said, forecasting a peak in demand for the first time. In its benchmark annual Energy Outlook, BP forecast a 100-fold growth in electric vehicles (EVs) by 2040, with its chief economist painting a world in which vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increases as does the use of shared mobility via automated vehicles, which it expects to be in fleet service beginning in the early 2020s. The company expects the vast majority of shared mobility to be EVs because of their lower maintenance costs, and that the average EV will be driven about two and a half times more than an internal combustion car. Unlike many other forecasts, including previous BP Energy Outlooks, which looked solely at the growing share of EVs in the car fleet, BP this year focused on the share of VMT powered by electricity. Under BP’s Evolving Transition scenario, which assumes that policies and technology continue to evolve at a speed similar to that seen in the recent past, some 30 percent of VMT will be powered by electricity by 2040, going from almost zero in 2016. At the same time, the number of EVs is set to increase from 3 million today to over 320 million by 2040, representing roughly 15 percent out of a total car fleet of 2 billion. The company attributes the gap between the increasing number of EVs on the road and VMT powered by electricity to the expected growth in shared mobility by EVs.
Bosch has acquired ridesharing startup SPLT that offers employers, universities and municipal authorities workforce-focused ridesharing services to help them offer shared commute as a means of increasing convenience and alleviating route congestion. Bosch is also establishing a new dedicated mobility services division. The SPLT acquisition is a cornerstone piece of Bosch’s new focus on mobility services, with the aim of offering everything from shared rides in cars to company buses on the same, easy to use platform with end user smartphone apps and easy ride booking. SPLT will continue to operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary of Bosch post acquisition close.
In the 10th report in a series examining changes in various aspects of motorization in the U.S. since 1984, Michael Sivak, research professor in the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s Human Factors Group, determined that ownership of cars and light trucks as well as vehicle miles traveled are again increasing. Specifically, the research found that vehicle-ownership rates per person and per household are at their highest levels since 2008 and 2009, respectively. Although annual distances driven per person and per household, which peaked in 2004, are down 5.3 percent and 7 percent, respectively, from their maximum levels, they have risen for three consecutive years. The ownership rate per person for 2016 is .766, while the rate per household is 1.968. Per person rates are down from their 2006 peaks of 2.5 percent per person and 4 percent per household but have increased four straight years and household rates have gone up three years in a row. These trends contradict the narrative that motorists are buying fewer vehicles and driving less as they move to urban centers and rely more on shared mobility and are important to consider in gauging consumer appetite for the transportation “sharing economy.”
A new USDOT safety data initiative was launched to merge 21st century data sets with the data that the department has been collecting for generations, with the goal of breaking down the silos between its data sets to understand the factors that lead to fatal crashes and, in the process, learn how to predict and mitigate risks. USDOT has a three-point plan to transform its data sets from rows and columns into understanding and action. The first part involves creating visualizations of its data sets to understand the relationships between different factors that contribute to fatal collisions (e.g., weather, time of day, road quality). The next piece is the integration of private sector solutions, like the navigation app Waze, to gather data in real time and compare it with historical data to predict the likelihood of collisions and unsafe road conditions ahead of time. The final piece is preparing for artificial intelligence applications that can sift through vast quantities of data to find links between less obvious factors that contribute to collisions. The effort will begin with two pilot projects, and its ultimate objective is to identify 3-5 key factors that contribute to fatal car accidents, and then work with states and cities to mitigate them.
Perrone Robotics Inc. (PRI) announced the company is collaborating with Professor Robert Hecht-Nielsen of the University of California, San Diego's (UCSD) Vertebrate Movement Laboratory (VML) and its research team on advanced machine learning methods for automated vehicle perception and control. The collaboration is based on a new method for perception and machine learning for automated vehicles and will combine Hecht-Nielsen's work on artificial neural networks (ANN), confabulation theory, and vertebrate movement mathematics with PRI's applied experience in automated vehicles and robots. The VML team's observed data show that, contrary to standard human neuroscience claims that neuronal calculations required for making human movements are carried out almost entirely in the brain, almost all of the neuronal calculations occur within sets of neurons within the spinal column. Further, these calculations take on a mathematical form that is incompatible with “Deep Learning” approaches that current automotive AI researchers use. As part of the collaboration, the UCSD VML research team will publish new research on machine intelligence, while PRI will have exclusive access to this project and use it to implement highly competent control of driverless vehicles for automobile, truck, and other ground vehicles. The project's intended outcome is a new framework for PRI's MAX platform that will apply innovative learning techniques to MAX-based applications, specifically in the driverless car space. Work on the new platform will continue through 2018 and into 2020.
Nicholas Evans, philosophy professor at Mass Lowell, is working alongside two other philosophers and an engineer to write automated vehicle algorithms based on various ethical theories. Their work, supported by a $556,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, will allow them to create various scenarios and show how an automated vehicle would respond to the so-called “Trolley Problem” – ethical dilemmas represented by a hypothetical trolley heading towards five people that can be diverted by an onlooker by pulling a lever to redirect the trolley to impact one person stuck on the only alternative track. To do this, Evans and his team are turning ethical theories into a language that can be read by computers. Evans is not currently taking a stand on which moral theory is right. Instead, he hopes the results from his algorithms will allow others to make an informed decision, whether that is by car consumers or manufacturers. Evans isn’t currently collaborating with any of the companies working to create automated vehicles but hopes to do so once he has results.
Two professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Raghvendra Cowlagi (mechanical engineering) and Alex Wyglinski (electrical and computer engineering), are working together on an NSF-funded project that is bringing together Cowlagi’s study of decision making for automated vehicles and Wyglinski’s study of wireless communications to create a network of self-driving cars that can share information about everything from traffic congestion to icy road conditions and accidents snarling traffic ahead. While WPI has researchers working on other aspects of automation, (self-operating underwater vehicles, automotive cybersecurity, and self-driving controls), Cowlagi and Wyglinski’s team effort is taking them in a new area by bringing together researchers in two different fields of study who typically do not communicate with, work with, or even talk with each other. The two researchers want to enable self-driving cars to be more reliable and safer, whether they are driving on a rural back road, on a busy city street, or in heavy traffic on a highway. They believe that vehicular connectivity is an essential component of vehicular automation, stating that “with just radar, LiDAR, and sensors…[an automated vehicle] won’t have the situational awareness it would need.” Their solution involves selective listening, whereby an automated vehicle can “make do with information from five cars, instead of 100 different cars…[to] save processing energy.” Rather than accomplishing this “by brute force with a super computer,” their project instead seeks “to do this quickly in a smart and efficient way” onboard a vehicle.
Modeling published by the University of Michigan (U-M) Center for Sustainable Systems and Ford Motor researchers shows the substantial energy consumed by automated vehicles can be high enough to turn some into net energy losers, despite their potential to efficiently move people around and between cities. For this work, the U-M team modeled both conventional and battery-electric versions of Ford's Focus sedan carrying small, medium, and large-sized sensing and computing packages that enable them to operate without human oversight under select conditions. The small and medium-sized equipment packages required 2.8 to 4.0 percent more onboard power, attributed primarily to the computers and sensors, and secondarily to the extra 17-22 kilograms of mass the equipment contributed. Yet this added energy consumption was more than offset by automation’s more efficient driving, employing techniques such as platooning of vehicles through intersections and on highways to cut congestion in cities and aerodynamic drag on the highway. As a result, the smaller vehicles delivered a 6-9 percent net energy reduction over their life cycle. In contrast, adding the large equipment package increased net energy consumption by 5 percent, thanks mostly to the aerodynamic drag induced by its rooftop sensors. While this modeling result likely overstates real impacts from future automated vehicles, which will likely manage to streamline sensors arrays, all of the modeled packages may still understate power consumption by future automated driving subsystems should such vehicles employ street maps of far higher resolution than those used today, use higher-bandwidth data transmission via today's 4G network (which alone could boost power consumption by onboard computers by one third or more), encourage longer commutes, or prompt any number of other indirect effects.
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
University of Michigan's automated vehicle testing facility, Mcity, announced that 42 “Affiliate” companies will invest $150,000 each in the public-private research and development initiative. Affiliate companies include automotive manufacturers and suppliers, chip and hardware makers, insurance providers, and companies engaged in such technologies as advanced modeling, big data acquisition, and intelligent transportation systems. They include companies such as 3M, BMW, HERE, J.D. Power, Microsoft, Savari, Velodyne LiDAR, and ZF, among others. In addition to Affiliate members, Mcity has 11 member companies that make up its Leadership Circle, with each member committing $1 million over a three-year period to support Mcity's ongoing programs. The university states that, to date, Mcity has invested roughly $20 million in 40 separate R&D projects, and that the total investment at Mcity and the U-M Transportation Research Institute in connected and automated vehicle research, development and deployment activities will exceed $100 million by 2020, with funding from U-M, government agencies, and industry. In January 2017, Mcity was designated one of ten Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds by the USDOT.
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
Nine US regions were announced as finalists for the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants from the Smart Cities Council. These finalists include: Louisville and Jefferson County, KY; Albuquerque, NM; Los Angeles, CA; Aurora, IL; Birmingham, AL; Fairfax County, VA; Las Vegas, NV; Cary, NC; and the state of Virginia. In addition, Puerto Rico is being awarded a special grant to accelerate its hurricane recovery efforts. The goal is that Puerto Rico would replace damaged infrastructure with smart technology, improving efficiency. Puerto Rico is also seeking to develop a centralized program for sustainable development. In March, the Smart Cities Council will hold a workshop in Puerto Rico to help government officials develop a smart city roadmap. The five winners of the Readiness Challenge Grants will be announced in early March. The winners will use the workshops, products and services to bolster initiatives in connected infrastructure, open data platforms, Internet of Things (IoT), public Wi-Fi, sustainability, and more, receiving a year's worth of free mentoring, products, and services, as well as a custom-designed, on-site readiness workshop and membership in the Smart Cities Leadership Circle. The estimated in-kind value is $200,000 per winning entity.
Sprint Corp. said it planned to launch a commercial fifth-generation, or 5G, network in the U.S. in early 2019 and begin offering commercial service and handsets at that time. The announcement puts the company roughly in line with competitors’ announcements for U.S. deployments. Verizon Wireless plans to deploy a 5G network in Sacramento, CA in the second half of 2018. Similarly, AT&T plans to provide 5G services in 12 markets by the end of 2018. While there is no technology that has been adopted or designated as being the 5G standard by consensus, the most likely standard to see wide deployment is 5G New Radio (NR), which is being standardized by the 3GPP, a cooperative responsible for the development of the 3G UMTS and 4G LTE standards. Preliminary finalized versions of 5G NR were released by the 3GPP in December 2017, which some say will help facilitate the deployment of the technology. Automakers such as Ford are looking at 5G to facilitate vehicular connectivity and automation, given that the technology offers much lower latency than current 4G networks.
A new study by industry analysts ABI Research says the widespread implementation of DSRC technology would be more cost effective than using cellular systems for V2X (vehicle-to-everything) communications. The research found that the cost of implementing C-V2X plus LTE will carry a system cost between US$13.50 and US$15 higher than DSRC plus LTE. The lower costs of DSRC plus LTE can be attributed to the cost advantages associated with DSRC being the longer established and incumbent technology. ABI’s new cost analysis indicates that C-V2X’s complexity and challenging requirements add cost over DSRC, when taking into account that V2X is safety-critical technology. The key architectural differences that impact on cost according to the report are: LTE ruggedization and automotive qualification, the need for high accuracy clock source, the cellular royalty scheme, and the use of Wi-Fi which is bundled with DSRC for free (DSRC is part of the Wi-Fi standards family). Altogether, the report says that since both DSRC and 4G cellular are available technologies with mature products currently on the market, the cost analyses strengthen the industry view that the hybrid model of DSRC plus cellular is not only simpler to design and deploy but is more affordable as well.
100 Resilient Cities (100RC) is partnering with the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University to launch the Resilience Accelerator. 100RC, a cohort of cities from around the globe, has worked since 2013 to help members combat a variety of social and environmental threats. The organization touts four main “pathways” to make a city more resilient: appointing a chief resilience offer to lead efforts; developing a robust resilience strategy; partnering with private, public and NGO sectors; and networking with other member cities. With the launch of the Resilience Accelerator, 100RC is seeking to encourage professionals and organizations to become involved in resilience opportunities by calling for design professionals or experts, resilience practitioners, organizations committed to advancing resilience-building projects, or investors looking to identify projects ready for resources, all to join the cause and advance the efforts put forth by 100RC. The Resilience Accelerator is aimed at connecting urban leaders working on projects with academics at the Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes at Columbia University and others through “immersive workshops” to help find funding, map cities, collect data, test and evaluate different strategies, and “fine-tune” resilience plans. The Resilience Accelerator is Funded by $3.7 million from The Rockefeller Foundation.
The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) showcased its connected/automated vehicle network, which UDOT states is the first operational network of its kind in the nation, to visiting transit leaders and local media. The network uses Designated Short Range Communications (DSRC) radios that are installed at 24 intersections along a corridor where they communicate with buses, also equipped with radio equipment, about the vehicle's speed, direction and lane location. Software that coordinates processing that information recognizes the bus, calculates whether it is on schedule or otherwise and, if necessary, can help move the bus through the next intersection by slightly increasing the length of the greenlight phase. Other data gathered by UDOT, like the volume of vehicles as well as other routes that feed into and impact traffic in the corridor gets rolled into the calculations performed by the “Multi-Modal Intelligent Traffic Sign Systems” software. UDOT states that the brain behind the system, developed in partnership with the University of Arizona, is capable of communicating with other smart and networked vehicles. UDOT states that while the system currently helps move transit vehicles more efficiently, there are other future applications and uses for the two-way communication and monitoring system, and expects there may be some interest from automated vehicle developers to use the corridor for testing how emerging onboard driverless technology can interact with infrastructure data. UDOT is moving forward with the connected/automated vehicle system, as well as an even bigger network as part of a new bus rapid transit system that would be almost double the size of the showcased system, with 45 sensor-wired intersections.
The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) is currently installing V2X (vehicle-to-everything) equipment in its streetcars as part of its involvement in the USDOT Connected Vehicle (CV) Pilot program. Part funded by USDOT and partly by local agencies, the CV Pilot involves installing radios and computers in over 1,600 vehicles and at over 40 fixed locations at downtown intersections to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication. A unique feature of the Tampa project is the installation and operation of collision warning applications in 10 of the historic electric streetcars. Originally envisioned for buses, THEA is adapting the application for streetcars. Global positioning system (GPS) and DSRC antennas are being installed on cars and streetcars, as well as onboard units (OBUs) and display screens. When an OBU predicts a potential collision between a streetcar and an CV-instrumented automobile, it displays a warning on both the streetcar’s and automobile’s screens, and emits audible alert signals. Hardware and software operation are now being tested in Tampa, and the parameters of the warning algorithms are being tuned so that warnings provided to streetcar and automobile drivers give sufficient time for appropriate reactions.
Alphabet’s smart cities division, Sidewalk Labs, announced a new company called Coord dedicated to creating a centralized system that incorporates and coordinates data across bike-share, ride-share and car-share companies. Coord spun out of a different Sidewalk company, Flow, that launched in early 2016 to help cities tackle transportation challenges. Coord is currently building a data library that offers real-time dynamic toll prices for 85 percent of US tollways, which it aggregated and standardized from different public and private sources to help cities better manage their traffic. It is also working with cities to digitally map on and off-street parking, so they can better allocate curbside space to meet demand. Coord currently is working with Google Maps to pilot a feature in Seattle and San Francisco that helps commuters find parking spots with its real-time parking data. It is also building partnerships with other navigation apps and aims to eventually offer real-time data for bike-share price and availability as well as for other transportation services. Altogether, Coord’s data could help create a more coordinated transportation network, presenting commuters with a more comprehensive list of transportation options and their costs plus a recommendation for which combination to take.
Ford is acquiring Autonomic and TransLoc, two of its partners, in deals that will help its new mobility business take shape. The acquisitions follow Ford’s announcement at CES that it would be working with Autonomic, a transportation architecture and technology provider, on its forthcoming Transportation Mobility Cloud open platform for cities and transportation partners. TransLoc is a company that builds technology to support “microtransit” services, including, real-time tracking, demand modelling and response analysis, as well as consumer-facing mobile apps and services. All of those components are important pieces for the Transportation Mobility Cloud, which Ford hopes will be adopted by partners including other automakers, public transit providers, and service operators including ride-hailing and ride sharing companies. Ford is acquiring both of these companies through its Smart Mobility LLC subsidiary, part of a general realignment of its Mobility group. ‘Ford X,’ which will be essentially a skunkworks where Ford can incubate internal idea, concepts and projects before deciding what to pursue to more mature product status. Those more mature experiments that demonstrate true market viability will reside in the company’s new Mobility Business Group. Finally, Ford is establishing a Mobility Marketing and Growth division, which will focus on global marketing efforts regarding its mobility businesses. The new structure of Ford’s Mobility group is meant to more quickly develop and flesh out experimental new mobility offerings internally, using both existing resources.
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., agreed with NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley to collaborate on research and technology development for future automated mobility services, including a working demonstration in Silicon Valley. This update to the existing research collaboration between Nissan and NASA defines a new scope of activities into 2019. Under the terms of the five-year research and development partnership, researchers from the Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley and NASA Ames have been working together to advance automated vehicle systems. In January 2017, Nissan introduced Nissan Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM), a new platform for managing fleets of automated vehicles, developed from NASA technology. This new phase in the joint collaboration will further develop the technology and test the use of SAM for managing automated transportation services, ahead of public implementations. The research collaboration with NASA is part of Nissan’s roadmap for the technology and business evolution of the automotive industry, called Nissan Intelligent Mobility. This roadmap consists of three workstreams of inter-related innovations in automated drive (Intelligent Drive), electrification (Intelligent Power) and infrastructure technologies (Intelligent Integration). SAM represents a major milestone in Nissan Intelligent Integration, providing the infrastructure to safely and seamlessly integrate automated mobility services into existing urban environments.
Honeywell and LG Electronics Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding to develop and demonstrate automotive software technology and infrastructure that addresses threats associated with vehicle connectivity. The solution to be developed by the collaboration will integrate LG's intrusion, detection and protection software (IDPS) technology for securing vehicle hardware from external attacks with Honeywell's IDPS solutions for securing internal vehicle communication and control networks along with its security monitoring and analytics capabilities for security operation centers. The collaborative solution seeks to ensure passenger vehicle safety and security by identifying and validating software commands and data generated by the more than 100 million lines of code that govern modern vehicle operation, and thereby to provide automakers a next generation cybersecurity solution for system communications within the vehicle as well as an increasing amount of external communications via cellular and satellite connectivity.
NVIDIA and Continental announced they are partnering to create top-to-bottom AI self-driving vehicle systems built on the NVIDIA DRIVE platform, which includes the NVIDIA DRIVE Xavier system-on-a-chip, the NVIDIA DRIVE OS (operating system), and DRIVE AV (automated vehicle) software stacks. The two companies will initially develop highly automated driving features, including 360-degree perception and automatic lane changing on highways, plus the ability to merge in traffic. In addition, the system will integrate HD maps, enabling vehicles to localize themselves and provide mapping updates. But the ultimate goal of the partnership is to enable the production of AI computer systems that can scale from automated Level 2 features through full Level 5 self-driving capabilities, with a planned market introduction in 2021.