Table of Contents
- The California Public Utilities Commission signaled it would allow self-driving car companies to transport passengers without a backup driver
- Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is asking the state legislature to allow them to electronically gather vehicular information
- A Minnesota state Senate bill, if approved, would indefinitely ban the use of self-driving cars
- The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution seeking to take a more active role in the development of federal and state automated vehicle regulations and supporting an increase of local government access to AV data
- Connecticut is launching a pilot program to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads
- Michigan Council on Future Mobility is calling on the state to identify and amend laws to prepare for automated vehicles by, among other things, creating a public-private framework for vehicle cybersecurity
- PennDOT unveiled a new policy to establish stepped-up safety oversight of Highly Automated Vehicles
- Siemens is introducing a computing and simulation platform
- NVIDIA announced its new DRIVE Constellation to simulate and test the driving operations of automated vehicles
- Michigan has launched a pilot project to develop maps for automated vehicles using government vehicles
- Waymo submitted an application to the California DMV to test cars without a backup driver
- Ford stated that its self-driving car network will be running “at scale” when it launches in 2021
- Hyundai Mobis said it will start test driving a highly automated vehicle named M.BILLY on the motorways of Michigan this year
- LiDAR Maker Luminar has been cutting costs and scaling up rapidly
- Voyage is open-sourcing its approach to automated driving safety
- Daimler and BMW have joined forces to expand their businesses in new services such as car-sharing and electric vehicle charging
- Washington D.C. is proposing increasing taxes on ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber
- Uber is acquiring the e-bike start-up JUMP Bikes and is adding car-sharing and train tickets to its services
- Shared automated electric vehicles could significantly reduce ride hailing costs and greenhouse gas emissions
- MIT has developed a new imaging system that attempts to gauge the distance of objects obscured by thick fog
- Purdue University and Stanford University believe they have found a novel laser light sensing technology that is more robust and less expensive
- The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) launched the Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI)
- Arizona State University announced the launch of its Center for Smart Cities and Regions
- University of Toronto research shows that adoption of AVs could significantly reduce the amount of urban space dedicated to parking
- Tampa Bay signed an MOU with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at USF to work together on smart city solutions
- Mcity will use pair of self-driving shuttle buses in Ann Arbor to study how passengers, motorists and pedestrians interact with automated vehicles
- Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Waymo announced a long-term strategic partnership to develop and put into ride-hailing service an automated electric vehicle
- JLR has also entered into an agreement with Blackberry to provide secure software for its next-generation connected vehicles
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
- The American Center for Mobility (ACM) hosted its official grand opening ceremony and announced the establishment of partnerships with Microsoft and IEEE
- PennDOT, the PTC, and Penn State are building a state-of-the-art facility envisioned to benefit emergency responders, transportation organizations and research institutions
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
- Transportation for America selected 22 communities to participate in its Smart Cities Collaborative
- NYCDOT announced a pilot program that will allow cyclists to follow pedestrian head-start signals at 50 designated intersections
- Connected Signals deployed a system that is capturing SPaT information in New York City without any direct input from NYCDOT
- The NSF and an industry consortium are supporting wireless research platforms in Salt Lake City and New York City
- Sidewalk Labs hopes to break ground on its first ever smart-city project in Toronto in 2020
- Toyota plans to start selling U.S. vehicles equipped with Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) on-board units (OBUs) in 2021
- Cohda Wireless has released a vehicle positioning system that can eliminate the GPS blackspots that exist in urban canyons between high-rise buildings
California Public Utilities Commission, the body that regulates utilities including transportation companies such as ride-hailing apps, signaled it would allow self-driving car companies to transport passengers without a backup driver in the vehicle. The proposed California rules require that companies hold an automated vehicle testing permit from the DMV for at least 90 days before picking up passengers. The service must be free (i.e., companies would not be allowed to accept payment from passengers), all passengers must be 18 years or older, and no airport trips would be allowed. The proposal also mandates that companies file regular reports to regulators including the number of miles their self-driving vehicles travel, rides they complete, and disabled passengers they are serving. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had already issued rules that took effect in early April allowing for automated vehicle testing without drivers. The commission said its proposed rules complement the existing DMV rules but provide additional protections for passengers.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is asking the state legislature to allow them to electronically gather vehicular information. House Bill 1188, also known as the Electronic Data Transportation Infrastructure bill, would give CDOT the ability to install equipment along the state's highways that can communicate with vehicles. CDOT could then use information collected, such as location tracking, to assist in managing traffic. The bill also prohibits CDOT from collecting personally identifiable information except when necessary such as administering fees on toll roads and HOV lanes. In addition, the department will be required to publish agreements, without revealing confidential information, made with individuals and companies testing automated driving systems. The bill's sponsors say allowing CDOT to collect information will help make highway travel safer and traffic management better.
A bill was introduced into the Minnesota state Senate that, if approved, would indefinitely ban the use of self-driving cars there. Sen. Jim Abeler and three other senators introduced SF 3844 to ban the automated driving tests following the death of a woman struck by a self-driving Uber test vehicle in Tempe, Arizona, in late March. Abeler said the woman’s death after she was struck by the self-driving vehicle confirmed his concerns about the technology. “Arizona confirmed my concerns,” Abeler told Minnesota Public Radio. “I’ve been hearing about this and am very worried about it. And very frankly, the idea of driving home while you ride in the back seat is just a recipe for trouble.” While Abeler doesn’t expect the legislation to pass this year, his goal is to start the debate.
The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution signaling that it wants to take a more active role in the development of federal and state automated vehicle regulations and supporting an increase of local government access to AV data. The resolution says the city “should support this new technology and take an active role in the development of federal and state AV regulations,” while also pointing out that Mayor Eric Garcetti last year was appointed co-chair of a federal advisory committee on automation and AV technology. The mayor's role on the committee “provides the city an unparalleled opportunity to shape the implementation of AV,” according to the resolution, which says the city should support any state or federal legislation that would increase local government access to data, such as accidents and unplanned disengagements. It also says the city should support legislation that would prioritize the need for standardized operating plans or law enforcement personnel, and other regulations. The resolution, which was approved 11-1, was authored by Councilman Mike Bonin, who said the goal of the resolution is to seek more local control and data sharing.
Connecticut is launching a pilot program to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads within its borders, seeking to position the state as a technology leader. Connecticut will take a more cautious approach than some other states. Testing will be limited to the four designated municipalities, and cars will also be allowed to operate only in certain areas. They won't be allowed onto limited-access highways and human safety drivers will be required. Connecticut's Office of Policy and Management will oversee the application process. The state government is inviting towns and cities to apply to become test sites and will select up to four municipalities to participate in the program. Municipalities will need to submit plans that include testing locations, goals, a public education strategy, and whether any companies have been contacted. A timeline for beginning the pilot program has not been announced.
The 21-member Michigan Council on Future Mobility, which was created in conjunction with an automated vehicle bill passed in December 2016 and is focused on advancing Michigan's mobility industry, is calling on the state to identify and amend laws to prepare for automated vehicles. Specifically, the council recommends the state create a public-private framework for vehicle cybersecurity as well as study and address liability and insurance risks associated with automated vehicles as part of an effort to ensure the state maintains its national leadership position in the field of mobility. The group is calling for the state to study the Michigan Vehicle Code and the Michigan Insurance Code and seek ways to codify the liability of automated vehicles, by determining whether the word "drive" or "operate" should be amended. The council also wants the state to establish a digital mobility law journal and says discussions are already underway with the University of Michigan Law School. The specific recommendations on cybersecurity call for the state to develop a best practices framework for data-sharing; calls to increase penalties for the unlawful sharing of data collected from connected and automated vehicles and systems; and to continue a leadership role in advising the federal government on regulations.
PennDOT unveiled a new policy to establish stepped-up safety oversight of Highly Automated Vehicles in Pennsylvania. Secretary Leslie S. Richards outlined the voluntary testing policy at the Automated Vehicle Summit in Pittsburgh. The policy builds upon the groundwork established by the state’s Automated Vehicle Policy Task Force, which was created in June 2016. Under the new policy, Secretary Richards will meet with automated vehicle testers over the next 60 to 90 days regarding the interim policies and the Autonomous Vehicle Policy Task Force will reconvene to update policy recommendations it submitted to the General Assembly in November 2016. PennDOT also strongly suggests all self-driving car companies submit a voluntary “notice of testing” that outlines basic information from the company. This includes verification that the highly automated vehicles (HAVs) meet federal and state safety standards as well as policies adopted by PennDOT; proof of a driver or operator training program, with the strong suggestion that these individuals have a clean driving record; a list of all vehicles involved in the program; names of approved drivers and their valid driver’s license numbers; routes and geographic locations for testing; and proof of insurance. PennDOT asks that the companies immediately halt all testing for vehicles that knowingly share hardware or software with a vehicle that is part of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation and urges the federal government to revise its automated driving systems policy. The Pennsylvania General Assembly is currently reviewing draft legislation of the new policies.
Siemens is introducing a computing and simulation platform aimed at speeding the validation and verification of automated vehicles. The new platform involves existing technologies from two relatively new Siemens acquisitions. Those include TASS International’s PreScan simulation environment and Mentor Graphics DRS360 data fusion platform. PreScan, which has existed for about a decade, is a physics-based simulation platform for developing and validating connected and automated systems. DRS360 is a product that takes raw, unfiltered data from cameras, radar, and LiDAR systems and fuses it for subsequent use by a central processor. In automated vehicle applications, PreScan would feed the simulated data to DRS360, essentially as if it were real-world information. Siemens says that the platform could potentially allow automakers to simulate billions of test miles and countless scenarios that could take place in real life, thereby helping to reduce the amount of physical testing that would otherwise need to take place on public highways and test tracks.
Following on the heels of Siemens’ announcement, NVIDIA similarly announced its new DRIVE Constellation, a cloud-based platform that uses two different GPU-equipped servers and software to simulate and test the driving operations of automated vehicles. One of the two servers that make up the platform runs the NVIDIA DRIVE Sim software, using NVIDIA GPUs to simulate the output of the image sensors and provide photo-realistic visualization of virtual vehicle travel. The simulated sensor output is constantly fed to the second server, which contains a DRIVE Pegasus autonomic driving platform that uses AI to “act” on the sensor input. The resulting driving decisions are fed back to the DRIVE Sim server to complete the closed-loop system. DRIVE Sim software generates photoreal data streams to create a vast range of different testing environments. It attempts to simulate different weather such as rainstorms and snowstorms; blinding glare at different times of the day, or limited vision at night; and all different types of road surfaces and terrain. Risky situations can be scripted in simulation, with the intention to test the automated vehicle’s ability to react, without putting anyone in harm’s way.
Michigan has launched a pilot project to develop maps for automated vehicles using fleet vehicles. Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle is one of two officials who will participate in the pilot project to test the possibility of attaching “machine vision devices” to snow plows, police cars or other government vehicles to passively map changing roadway conditions. The goal is a “hyper-accurate, high-definition map database” that includes such information as dog-eared lane markings, potholes, cracks or other unexpected features. Some automakers believe that such maps are required to operate highly automated vehicles safely. The state is partnering with Continental Automotive Systems in Auburn Hills, a subsidiary of German auto supplier Continental AG, on the pilot, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Waymo submitted an application to the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test cars without a backup driver behind the wheel. According to a source familiar with the matter, Waymo plans to start testing near its Mountain View headquarters, an area where its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans have already logged many miles with backup drivers. Over time, the company will expand testing of automated vehicles with no backup driver to more of the Bay Area. Waymo’s approach will be to extensively map a terrain by having vehicles with test drivers cover it first, before using driverless cars. California’s new regulations allowing the on-road testing of automated vehicles without backup drivers went into effect at the beginning of the month. So far, only two companies have applied for such permits, and the other company’s identity has not been publicly revealed.
Ford stated that its self-driving car network will be running “at scale” when it launches in 2021. Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president and president of Global Markets, told the Financial Times in an interview that the automaker launched its recent Miami pilot precisely so that it “can scale [by] then.” Farley also stressed that this would be a truly Ford-run service. While Ford does have self-driving car partnerships with companies like Lyft, it intends to “own the fleet” for its own services. The company's own efforts are focused more on delivery than on passengers. However, its leadership has repeatedly talked about preparing for the decline of car ownership and, therefore, shifting toward services (such as its on-demand commuter vans) instead of pure car sales.
Hyundai Mobis, South Korea’s biggest auto parts maker, said it will start test driving a highly automated vehicle named M.BILLY on the motorways of Michigan this year. The company obtained an approval to carry out the test from the local government in 2016. The vehicles, which have a Level 3 rating that requires a driver to remain engaged and assume control during emergencies, will also be tested in South Korea and Germany this year after obtaining a license from the local transport authorities. The testing will also help advance the company’s Level 4 automated driving development. Hyundai Mobis is also seeking to increase the number of M.BILLY automated vehicles to 10 by the end of 2018, with an aim to mass-produce a highly automated vehicle in 2022. To help achieve this goal, the company plans to increase the number of engineers in the automated vehicle R&D department by more than 15 percent by 2021 from the current 600.
LiDAR Maker Luminar has been cutting costs and scaling up rapidly. The company, whose newest LiDAR unit has a 120-degree field of view, has accelerated its production capabilities after opening a 136,000-square-foot facility in Orlando, Florida, giving it the ability to manufacture 5,000 units a quarter by the end of the year. Luminar’s partners include the Toyota Research Institute, as well as three other unnamed automakers. Its chip design firm, Black Forest Engineering, which was acquired for an undisclosed sum, is making Luminar’s receivers out of indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) instead of silicon, enabling Luminar’s LiDAR to see farther and better without the risk of damaging people’s retinas. InGaAs is more expensive than silicon, but it can detect light at the 1,550-nanometer wavelength, which poses less danger to human eyesight. This lets Luminar make sensors 40 times more powerful than competitors', and it gives it the ability to see objects in the dark, even those that are extremely unreflective. Luminar also brought the cost of its receivers down from tens of thousands of dollars per unit to about $3.
Voyage, the self-driving car spin-out from Udacity, is open-sourcing its approach to automated driving safety. Dubbed Open Autonomous Safety (OAS), the initiative aims to help automated driving startups implement better safety-testing practices. Companies looking to access the documents, safety procedures and test code can do so via a GitHub repository. Version one includes: Scenario testing, which looks at fundamental questions such as how self-driving cars behave around pedestrians and when cars back out of driveways; Functional safety, which helps to ensure safety without a driver present; Autonomy assessment, to validate whether or not car is moving in the right direction and to ensure that it is solving the most appropriate problems; Testing toolkit, comprised of a library of traffic, roadway and vehicle assets. Later this year, OAS will release driver training material, additional scenarios and fault injection code and tests.
Daimler and BMW have joined forces to expand their businesses in new services such as car-sharing and electric vehicle charging to compete with Uber in the United States and Didi Chuxing in China. The deal includes: Car-sharing units Car2Go and DriveNow; ride-hailing services mytaxi, Chauffeur Privé, Clevertaxi and Taxibeat; on-demand mobility platforms ReachNow and moovel; parking facilitators Parkmobile and ParkNow; and charging service providers ChargeNow and Digital Charging Solutions. Daimler and BMW will each hold a 50 percent stake in a joint venture. They said their goal was to offer customers a menu of intelligent, seamlessly connected mobility services that could rapidly be expanded around the world, while continuing to compete on the market for luxury cars.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser proposed increasing taxes on ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber to help fund public transit improvements. The proposal, which is part of the Mayor’s 2019 budget, would increase fees on gross receipts on “for-hire” vehicle services from 1 percent to 4.75 percent. These fees are then passed onto customers as city fees on trips. Bowser’s proposal follows another major city, Chicago, that turned to for-hire vehicle services to fund its struggling transit system. Last fall, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, citing ride-hailing’s drain on mass transit, successfully pushed for a 15-cent fee increase on Uber and Lyft trips to fund a modernization plan for the Chicago Transit Authority. While Bowser previously said ride-hailing companies aren’t responsible for Metro’s problems, she defended the fee increase as bringing ride-hailing companies on a par with taxis, which are taxed at 50 cents per trip. Before going into effect, the proposal must be approved by the D.C. Council, which will hold public hearings and vote on the spending plan before June.
Uber is acquiring the e-bike start-up JUMP Bikes to add bike share to its transportation options. JUMP Bikes, whose brand will continue as part of the Uber family, operates dockless bike-sharing services in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Dockless bike-sharing afford riders the ability to locate GPS-tracked bikes through apps, unlock them and ride them from any location where the last user left them. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. It comes just months after JUMP and Uber teamed on a pilot program to integrate JUMP services into the Uber app in San Francisco. Both Uber and JUMP say the goal is to offer multiple modes of transportation within the Uber app, to give users options for fast and affordable transportation, and to make it easier to live without owning a car. Uber’s move to acquire JUMP signals the company’s ongoing effort to expand its reach beyond its core ride-hailing services. Uber has been working to partner with fixed transit systems and pursuing automated vehicle ventures, food delivery services and now bike sharing. The company also announced this month that it will add car-sharing and train tickets to its services by launching Uber Rent in collaboration with Getaround, a peer-to-peer car sharing service that offers privately owned cars for rent, and partnering with Masabi, which offers mobile ticketing services for public transport, to let customers book and use tickets for train, bus and ferry services in the app.
Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and UC Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group found that shared automated electric vehicles could significantly reduce ride hailing costs, as compared to present-day taxis, and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Using models they built and data from more than 10 million taxi trips in New York City, the researchers also found that "range anxiety" is moot with shared automated electric vehicles because smaller cars with a smaller battery range were sufficient to complete the trips, although more charging stations would be needed. To complete the study, the researchers developed an agent-based model to simulate the movement of 7,000 taxis around Manhattan throughout the day. They also built models to analyze the cost of service and optimal placement of vehicle chargers. They found that costs would be lowest with a battery range of 50 to 90 miles, and with either 66 slower Level 2 chargers per square mile or 44 faster Level 2 chargers per square mile. The study also estimated that such a fleet, if it were to draw its power from the current New York City power grid, would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 73 percent and energy consumption by 58 percent compared to a fleet of automated conventional gas-powered vehicles. The study was supported by DOE's Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) as part of its SMART Mobility Lab Consortium, managed by VTO's Energy Efficient Mobility Systems Program.
Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have developed a new imaging system that can gauge the distance of objects obscured by thick fog. The imaging-sensing system uses a time-of-flight camera, which fires short laser bursts toward an object. It then counts how long it takes for the light to bounce back. Fog typically scatters the laser light, making it difficult for automated vehicles. But the researchers developed an algorithm that finds patterns in the scattered light to reveal distance. Researchers from MIT Media Lab's Camera Culture Group tested the system using a small tank of water with the vibrating motor from an immersed humidifier. Tests in extreme fog indicated that the system performs as well as, or better than human vision, whereas most imaging systems perform far worse. The researchers’ goal is to integrate the new technology into self-driving cars so that even in bad weather, the vehicles can avoid obstacles.
Researchers at Purdue University and Stanford University believe they have found a novel laser light sensing technology that is more robust and less expensive than currently available with a wide range of uses, including a way to guide highly automated vehicles. The laser beam steering being tested is based on light-matter interaction between a silicon-based metasurface and short light pulses produced for example by a mode-locked laser with a frequency-comb spectrum. The method’s inventor said the use of photonic metasurfaces was key to the new advancement, stating that metasurfaces provide simple, compact and power efficient solutions to photonics design, and that the combination of those two technologies provide a much simpler – and possibly cheaper – approach than LiDAR. Such a beam-steering device can scan a large angle of view in nanoseconds or picoseconds compared with the microseconds current technology takes. The researchers say their innovation is orders of magnitude faster than conventional leading-edge laser beam steering devices that use phased antenna-array technology. The challenge for the researchers now is to scale up the innovation and move it from the laboratory to the real world.
The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) launched the Maryland Transportation Institute (MTI), a research and education institute that unites engineering, planning, social sciences, computer sciences, business, public policy, and public health experts. Led by the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor Lei Zhang, the MTI will leverage the largest transportation data and data analytics center in the nation – the CatLab – and a U.S. Department of Transportation-designated National University Transportation Center, among other things, to focus on transportation big data, connected and automated transportation, congestion mitigation, freight and logistics, infrastructure planning and policy, transportation safety and security, smart cities and communities, and future mobility systems. The MTI was formed through support from 10 UMD colleges and schools and altogether will coordinate more than $20 million in annual research expenditures to spur innovation in the transportation sector.
Arizona State University announced the launch of its Center for Smart Cities and Regions with the goal of improving the ability of communities to leverage the Internet of Things and other new technologies to advance their economic, social, cultural and overall health. The center's creators intend to bridge the gap between urban governance and science and technology research by working with policy-makers, city planners, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and the public, to enhance the capacity of cities and regions to use data analytics and emerging technologies. One of the center's first projects will be working with cities, including Tempe, to manage the risks and benefits of self-driving cars. Additional projects include: building a “smart campus” that makes the ASU community experience better; developing educational programs around smart technology; and exploring the processes around discovery, research, and innovation in health and healthcare. The Center for Smart Cities and Regions joins the growing number of similar other establishments at well-known higher education institutions such as the Smart Cities Research Center at University of California, Berkeley; the Center for Urban Innovation at Georgia Tech and the Smart Cities Center at Columbia University.
University of Toronto research shows that adoption of automated vehicles (AV) could significantly reduce the amount of urban space dedicated to parking. For the study, researchers created a computer model in which they could simulate the effects of various layouts for AV parking lots. They then used an algorithm to optimize the design for various factors, including minimizing the number of relocations and maximizing the proportion of the lot that was used for parking versus lanes for relocation, entering or exiting. Their analysis showed that, for a given number of cars, a well-designed AV parking lot could accommodate 62 percent more cars than a conventional one. Depending on parking lot dimensions, in some cases they were able to increase the capacity even further. For example, square-shaped AV parking lots could accommodate up to 87 percent more cars. This improved use of space could translate into much smaller parking lot footprints, provided the total number of cars that need to park in them remains constant. The research also demonstrated another advantage of AV parking lots is that the design is not fixed. Rather than designating permanent parking spots, operators can simply signal the cars to rearrange themselves. While the researchers’ designs only work for parking lots reserved exclusively for AVs, rather than a mix of AVs and conventional vehicles, they nonetheless hope that municipal parking authorities will be able to use their design approach to enhance urban spaces.
Tampa Bay officials signed a memorandum of understanding with the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida (USF) to work together on smart city solutions. The MOU comes after more than two years of work on the part of the city and university to form an agreement to investigate smart cities technologies. A goal of the partnership is to offer the city a mechanism for elevating conversations around smart transportation projects it is already involved with “to the national level,” according to Tampa Bay’s Smart Cities Program manager. As such, USF and Tampa will jointly apply to become part of MetroLab Network, which consists of more than 35 city-university partners that use data and analytics to solve real-world urban problems. The university and city wish to use the network to learn from what other communities are doing while also sharing its own perspectives. The MOU formalizes an already friendly and collaborative relationship the city has had with USF. For instance, the city is creating a mini-traffic management center on the university campus that will offer real-world training. The center is one component of a broad effort by the city to address modern transportation issues. The effort also includes connected transportation research via the USDOT-supported Tampa Connected Vehicle Pilot, which was launched in 2017 and is being led by the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority.
The University of Michigan’s Mcity automated vehicle research program will use pair of self-driving shuttle buses in Ann Arbor to study how passengers, motorists and pedestrians interact with automated vehicles. The electrically powered, 15-seat Navya shuttles will be part of the university’s bus service, carrying passengers on a course approximately ¾ miles long in the North Campus. Anybody with a university bus pass will be able to use the shuttles, which will have safety drivers. The shuttles will run year-round. Should heavy rain or snow during the winter months disable the vehicles’ navigational sensors, the shuttle will stop and alert the driver to take control with a joystick. Navya’s North American headquarters are in Saline, just southwest of Ann Arbor. The company has about a dozen employees there, including an assembly building on U.S. 12 that should complete the first U.S.-made shuttle soon.
Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and Waymo announced a long-term strategic partnership to develop an automated electric vehicle based on JLR’s I-Pace for Waymo’s driverless transportation service. The first prototype I-Pace with Waymo’s self-driving technology will begin public, on-road testing at the end of 2018, and officially become part of Waymo’s commercial ride-hailing service starting in 2020. Waymo and JLR’s engineers will work in tandem to build these cars to be self-driving from the start, rather than retrofitting them after they come off the assembly line. Long-term, the companies say they plan to build up to 20,000 vehicles in the first two years of production, with the goal of serving a potential 1 million trips a day. It is unclear how much money would be trading hands under the deal.
JLR has also entered into an agreement with Blackberry to provide secure software for its next-generation connected vehicles. For the deal, Blackberry will license its QNX and Certicom technology to JLR and will also assign a team of engineers to help the car company develop the Electronic Control Units (ECU). The first project that will be powered by the ECU will be an infotainment system that will control many of the car’s interior functions. JLR said it was hoping to ensure “the highest security required” for its connected vehicles. “Working with BlackBerry will enable us to develop the safe and secure next-generation connected car our customers want,” said the company’s vehicle engineering director.
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
The American Center for Mobility (ACM) hosted its official grand opening ceremony, with more than 400 in attendance. The 500-acre USDOT-designated automated vehicle providing ground built at the historic Willow Run site in Ypsilanti Township also announced the establishment of partnerships with Microsoft and, a few days later, with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). ACM will collaborate with Microsoft to design a cloud-based Data Management & Analytics Platform (DMAP) solution to collect, store and analyze data from tests conducted at the Center. The solution will be based on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. The goal is to use Azure and the DMAP solution to enable ACM and its partners to accelerate the development of CAV technologies, apps and industry standards, to create a safe environment for testing, validating, and enabling collaboration. IEEE will help ACM create new voluntary standards for the advanced mobility industry – covering vehicles as well as traffic lights and controls. In addition to serving as the Center's exclusive data and cloud provider, Microsoft will also hold a position on ACM's Industry Advisory Board (IAB). ACM and IEEE will identify needs for standards, as well as validation and conformance testing requirements, as part of the agreement. IEEE and the American Center for Mobility will also promote the importance of standards, interoperability and validation and testing compliance. The grand opening and partnership announcements coincide with the start of ACM's next phase of construction that will add an urban intersection by this summer, followed by a series of building facades and additional urbanized infrastructure expected by the end of the year. The expansion project also includes a headquarters and lab with demonstration space.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) announced that they are partnering with Penn State University (Penn State) to build a state-of-the-art facility envisioned to benefit emergency responders, transportation organizations and research institutions. The Pennsylvania Safety Transportation and Research Track, PennSTART, will offer training, testing and research opportunities for traffic incident management, tolling, intelligent transportation systems technology, work zones and commercial, transit, connected and automated vehicles. A proposed concept of the track and testing facilities indicates that vehicles will be able to reach highway speeds and test in rural and urban intersections. There is a roundabout, highway ramp, six-lane highway, parking lot and toll infrastructure. The facility should open in 2020, and A location for the facility, which should open in 2020, has not been determined. In January 2017, the City of Pittsburgh and Penn State’s Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute were designated one of the USDOT’s 10 automated vehicle proving grounds.
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
Transportation for America selected 22 communities to participate in the second cohort of the organization’s Smart Cities Collaborative. The Collaborative explores how emerging technologies and new mobility options can improve urban transportation. This year’s participants will work together and find ways to handle the rise of automated vehicles, deal with concerns around preemptive laws at the federal level, and work with private mobility companies that provide transportation services. Last year’s group tackled challenges related to AVs, shared mobility and how to use data to manage complex transportation networks. More than 50 cities applied to join, and of those accepted into the program, 12 were part of last year’s inaugural cohort of cities. The 22 participating cities are: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boulder, CO; Centennial, CO; Gainesville, FL; Houston, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Los Angeles, CA; Madison, WI; Miami-Dade, FL; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Monica, CA; Seattle, WA; Toronto, ON; Washington, DC; and West Sacramento, CA. The Collaborative held its first meeting in Denver on April 16-17. Throughout the year the communities will participate in a variety of interactive workshops, both with each other and with leading transportation experts. From there, the participants will receive direct technical assistance and share the results of their projects with the rest of the Collaborative to drive best practices across the country.
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) announced a pilot program that will allow cyclists to follow pedestrian head-start signals at 50 designated intersections. As part of the initiative, which will run until October of this year, DOT will install temporary signage at intersections that already have “leading pedestrian intervals” (LPI) signals indicating that people on bicycles will be able to use these signals to proceed ahead of motorists. LPIs are alreadyproviding pedestrians with a seven- to 11-second head start for crossing before traffic can turn. Turning cyclists still have to yield to pedestrians. Last year, more than 800 LPIs were added to New York intersections, bringing the city's total to more than 2,500. The city credits the LPIs with a 37 percent reduction in pedestrians and cyclists killed or severely injured at the intersections where they have been installed. Cities such as Washington, DC, have been successfully using the LPI tactic with cyclists, and New York's pilot will likely further increase the practice's visibility and consideration by other cities.
Connected Signals, the Oregon-based V2I startup, has revealed details of its patent application for a system that is attempting to capture signal phase and timing (SPaT) information in New York City without any direct input from NYCDOT. This new system is predicated on software that accesses publically-available webcams located throughout Manhattan to determine traffic signal behavior. The fact that New York City’s signals are meticulously timed to create ‘green waves’ for traffic traveling up or downtown, and that this wave is not interrupted by priority for public transit or emergency vehicles, may mean the process of propagation works better than it might in some other cities. The company believes that the 50 intersections monitored via webcam will be sufficient to propagate out from, and cover 1,000 intersections with the EnLighten app in real time. The ultimate aim is that the data will be used in Connected Signals’ EnLighten app that seeks to inform drivers whether they will safely make the next green light up ahead, or how long a light will remain red.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is partnering with an industry consortium of 28 networking companies and associations, as well as universities to support wireless research platforms in Salt Lake City and New York City. The NSF announced it will deploy its first two Platforms for Advanced Research (PAWR) testbeds to support research motivated by real-world challenges on experimental, next generation wireless test beds at the scale of cities and communities, and overall to advance the state of the art for wireless technology beyond today's 4G, LTE and emerging 5G capabilities. In Salt Lake City, municipal and state officials have partnered with researchers at the University of Utah and Rice University on the testbed, which will cover 2.3 square miles of the former’s campus, 1.2 square miles of downtown Salt Lake City and a two-mile corridor in between. New York City will bring together that city’s leadership as well as researchers from Rutgers University, Columbia University, New York University, Silicon Harlem, City College of New York, University of Arizona and IBM to cover 1 square mile in West Harlem and will focus on wireless and cloud-based communications. The PAWR Industry Consortium has committed $50 million in cash and in-kind contributions that include equipment, expertise and human resources, while the NSF has committed $50 million toward developing the platforms over the next seven years.
Alphabet Inc’s urban innovation company Sidewalk Labs hopes to break ground on its first ever smart-city project in Toronto in 2020 and begin testing some of the proposed technologies this summer. This is the first time a timeline has been publicly disclosed for the project designed to increase land efficiency, cut costs and conserve energy in one of the world’s priciest housing markets. The project originated in March 2017 when government-backed agency Waterfront Toronto requested proposals to develop a 12-acre environmentally-friendly mixed-use area that would add jobs and be affordable for all ages and income brackets. Sidewalk Labs was chosen in October 2017 based on a proposal that included the use of automated vehicles, a thermal grid that does not use fossil fuels, low-cost modular buildings with flexible uses, and robotic delivery and waste-management systems. According to Sidewalk Labs, a development plan is expected to be approved by the Sidewalk and Waterfront Toronto boards by the end of 2018, and the first residents could move in as early as 2022. Sidewalk has invested $50 million for testing and engagement this year.
Toyota plans to start selling U.S. vehicles equipped with Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) on-board units (OBUs) in 2021. The company hopes to have most of its lineup equipped with the technology by the mid-2020s. Automakers were granted the 5.9 GHz band spectrum that DSRC uses in 1999 for “vehicle-to-vehicle” and “vehicle to infrastructure” communications and have studied the technology for more than a decade, demonstrating how it can effectively help prevent collisions and congestion, among other things. In December 2016, the Obama administration proposed requiring the technology and giving automakers at least four years to comply. The proposal requires automakers to ensure all vehicles “speak the same language through a standard technology.” The USDOT is currently reviewing and must decide whether to adopt the pending proposal that would require all future vehicles to have the technology. Toyota said it hopes that by announcing its plans, other automakers, governments and traffic-infrastructure providers will follow suit regardless of legal mandates. Toyota has been selling DSRC-equipped vehicles in Japan since 2015, where there are more than 100,000 equipped vehicles on the road.
Cohda Wireless has released a vehicle positioning system that can eliminate the GPS blackspots that exist in urban canyons between high-rise buildings. Cohda, which has experience developing collision avoidance systems for underground mines, has designed its new vehicle-based system, dubbed “V2X-Locate”, to enable equipped vehicles to identify their location using roadside units (RSUs) from any standards-based manufacturer. The system uses ranging measurements to these fixed RSUs to enable enhanced positioning accuracy. The ranges from spatially separated RSUs are fed into the system’s positioning engine to calculate a true line-of-sight path regardless of the existence of multipath signals. Accordingly, V2X Locate can identify vehicle position to sub-meter accuracy in environments that degrade GPS accuracy, such as tunnels, underground parking lots and between high-rise buildings. Cohda has already demonstrated the efficacy and accuracy of its V2X-Locate system in a 2017 trial in New York City where it repeatedly demonstrated sub-meter accuracy while driving along Sixth Avenue, home to some of the tallest buildings in the city. Comparably tested GPS-based systems were as much as tens of meters off course, at times showing cars driving through buildings.