Table of Contents
- Chandler, Arizona became the first city in the U.S. to include automated vehicles in its zoning code
- Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an executive order aimed at attracting more testing of automated vehicle technology on Ohio’s roadways
- Participants in Washington state’s road usage charge pilot study have turned in their first surveys describing the ease or difficulty of the commitment so far
- DC Council proposes even higher tax on ride-hailing services
- Peachtree Corners’ City Council adopted a resolution approving $2 million to create the Programmed Autonomous Vehicle Environment (PAVE) project
- Aptiv and Lyft have signed a multiyear agreement to launch a fleet of 30 automated vehicles in Las Vegas
- HOZON Auto has opened an “Autonomous Vehicle Research Center” in Silicon Valley
- The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) plans to open a closed-course testing facility in Michigan for automated vehicles
- ai announced that it is partnering with the Hall Group and the city of Frisco, Texas to operate a fleet of driverless vehicles starting in July
- General Motors is looking at custom vehicle designs that could be almost unrecognizable from those of today
- Uber announced it is closing down its self-driving car operation and will lay off 300 Uber workers in Arizona
- SAE International has signed an MOU with the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Alliance to help create guidelines and standards for development of more integrated and seamless mobility services
- A new report by Shared-Use Mobility Center found that peak ridership with transportation network companies generally falls outside of traditional transit operating hours
- Houston's transit authority has approved the use of an automated bus in a closed loop on the campus of Texas Southern University (TSU)
- The University of Michigan began construction of a $75 million Ford Robotics Building
- Ford has developed a prototype smart car window that lets blind people “see” the passing landscape
- MIT researchers have designed an automated vehicle driving system aimed at navigating unpaved roads by using basic GPS data and sensor technologies
- Perrone Robotics and SAE International offered automated vehicle test rides to the public in Tampa, FL to gauge public acceptance of self-driving cars
- Texas Tech University research concluded that human drivers will not provide reliable, attentive oversight during vehicle automation
- The University of Delaware is investigating the development and assembly of a system by which computers and sensors enable vehicles to communicate with each other to help optimize congestion and safety
- Research from the University of Michigan shows that the presence of a single automated and connected vehicle can help mitigate traffic congestion
- MIT researchers developed a new algorithm for automated vehicles that enables them to change lanes more like human drivers do
- MIT and Cornell researchers established a new dispatching approach that could cut the number of taxis on the road by as much as 40 percent while meeting rider demand
- Innoviz announced that it will supply solid-state LiDAR to BMW in the first publicly acknowledged deal between a major car company and a solid-state LiDAR firm
- Carmera is joining Renovo’s AWare ecosystem to provide improved mapping solutions for automated vehicles
- BMW, Bosch, Ford, General Motors, Groupe Renault, ZF, Accenture, Context Labs, IBM, and other companies launched a joint effort to explore blockchain for mobility
- Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker's new T6 Transporter vans into Apple's self-driving shuttles for employees
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
- An agreement was signed by Michigan governor Rick Snyder and UK business minister Richard Harrington to help facilitate the sharing of transportation technologies and ideas
- Siemens and the American Center for Mobility (ACM) announced a new partnership that brings Siemens’ Simulation and Test solution for Automotive to ACM
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
- Mastercard and Microsoft are working on a two-city pilot that will model the impact of planned and unplanned urban events and inform policy decisions with data
- Columbus, Ohio launches unique 'Smart City' operating system
- San Mateo County, CA opened a smart region innovation center
Chandler, Arizona became the first city in the U.S. to include automated vehicles in its zoning code. Specifically, the City Council approved a measure that encourages new developments to include drop-off and pick-up areas for people using automated vehicles or ride-sharing, an effort the city believes could reduce up to 40 percent of developments’ required parking. Chandler has embraced the self-driving car trend as part of its efforts to grow its high-tech industries. Waymo, Intel and GM are all testing self-driving cars in the city. Uber was testing in Chandler but these tests were suspended after its recent fatal collision in Tempe. The zoning change will take effect June 9.
Ohio Governor John Kasich signed an executive order aimed at attracting more testing of automated vehicle technology on Ohio’s roadways, and giving direction to both government and industry on how to regulate and stage such testing. The executive order opens all of the state’s public roadways to research but establishes guidelines for researchers to follow. Cars must be registered with DriveOhio, the state’s agency devoted to automated vehicle research, have a designated driver, report any accidents, and adhere to traffic rules. DriveOhio will also work with cities and regions to create a database of testing locations that give researchers a better idea of geography, topography, urban density and other factors that can help identify the right spot for testing certain features. The development and safe operation of automated vehicles is what the Ohio Department of Transportation hopes will come from the executive order, said the agency’s director. Kasich hopes his executive order piggybacks onto what Smart Columbus is already doing, fosters even more opportunities across the state, and helps curb traffic accidents and fatalities.
Participants in Washington state’s road usage charge pilot study have turned in their first surveys describing the ease or difficulty of the commitment so far. As more people purchase fuel-efficient vehicles, gas tax revenues decline, prompting the state to examine road usage charges as a more sustainable source of revenue. Now in its second month, the 12-month pilot study is testing how difficult or easy the program would be for drivers to understand and for the state to implement, rather than how much the state could charge drivers. Participants who volunteered to be part of the study could choose one of two service providers to track their miles and invoice them a “charge,” while also receiving a variety of optional additional features. Some drivers use GPS to track their miles, others use a plug-in device and still others use an app provided by the pilot program, or some combination of all. The pilot program also sets up a mock scenario where, if multiple surrounding states or provinces also had a road usage charge program, how Washington could bill its drivers one invoice and then pay a share of the funds to a neighboring jurisdiction and vice versa. Consultants running the program state that early feedback indicates that the options and customization might be off-putting, but the survey results will shed more light on the process. The entire pilot program will allow the transportation commission and eventually legislators to assess what is important to them if a road usage charge is implemented.
The Washington, DC Council introduced a proposal that would hike the city's “gross receipts tax” on ride-hailing services like Uber, Lyft and Via from 1 percent to 6 percent, which is more than the originally-proposed hike to 4.75 percent introduced by Mayor Muriel Bowser in March. The council argued that Bowser's original plan would only raise $18 million to fund the city's Metro rail system, while the new proposal would raise $23 million. The 6 percent tax hike comes in the wake of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's guidance for the city to implement a tax that is "fair and equitable." Khosrowshahi and Bowser spoke at an event together in April, during which the leaders both emphasized a desire to fund public transportation in a way that is appealing to all parties. The council also proposed that ride-hailing services be required to submit data regarding operational and driver information to the District's Departments of Transportation and For-Hire Vehicles, beginning with 2018 data to be due in January 2019. Proponents argue that this data is vital for congestion and sustainability planning, while opponents cite privacy and security concerns.
The I-95 Corridor Coalition has launched a three-month pilot study into the feasibility of replacing the current fuel tax with a mileage-based user fee (MBUF) or road usage charge (RUC) system. The I-95 Corridor Coalition is led by the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), and is comprised of a group of transportation agencies, toll authorities, public safety and related organizations, running along the route of Interstate 95 from Maine to Florida on the USA’s East Coast. Through this new study, the coalition will explore the challenges of managing out-of-state mileage and interoperability with toll authorities. The study will also explore some of the value-added benefits available to drivers through MBUF. The program has two parts. Phase 1 is a focused pilot, which will run in Delaware from May 1 to the end of July. It has more than 120 participants, including Department of Transportation officials, legislators, members of the media and other stakeholders. While MBUF pilot programs have taken place in other states, such as Oregon, California, and Colorado, this pilot will be the first to examine the unique challenges presented by multi-state travel and toll interoperability. Phase 2 will include a multi-state truck pilot in partnership with a private company, to assess the synergy between current reporting requirements on commercial vehicles and MBUF. This is scheduled to begin in 2019. The I-95 Coalition has launched a website to ensure that the public is kept informed about the project.
Peachtree Corners’ City Council adopted a resolution approving $2 million to create the Programmed Autonomous Vehicle Environment (PAVE) projectalong a corridor within the city’s Technology Park. PAVE seeks to retrofit the main thoroughfare through the 500-acre park, known as Technology Parkway, to enable a driverless shuttle to run on a designed lane along the 1.4-mile road. The project also plans to provide a test track for street-level transportation innovations to accommodate cutting-edge vehicle technology. The city’s startup incubator, Prototype Prime, plans to launch an Advanced Vehicle Accelerator to foster collaboration among companies within the advanced vehicle ecosystem. The accelerator will look to explore emerging technologies in the transportation space including electric vehicles, connected and automated vehicles, and more. It will also partner with Tech Connect Hub, which seeks to assist in matching research and startup communities with corporate partners. Technology Parkway was selected as PAVE’s setting due to its relative ease in reconfiguring an existing roadway to allow both passenger cars and automated vehicles to safely co-exist with minimal disruption. The city’s mayor states that the goal for PAVE is economic development that is centered around future technology.
The self-driving and connected services supplier Aptiv, which spun off from Delphi in 2017, and ride-hailing service Lyft have signed a multiyear agreement to launch a fleet of 30 automated vehiclesin Las Vegas. The vehicles, which were placed into service in early May, enable members of the public to hail an Aptiv-equipped automated BMW using the Lyft ride-hailing app. People using Lyft's app can opt-into the self-driving car program and then hail an automated vehicle from certain locations around the city. The cars have a trained safety driver behind the wheel to take over if there is a problem and to drive the car on private property, which is the law in Las Vegas. Aptiv and Lyft first partnered in January to offer self-driving rides in Las Vegas during CES. The pair gave more than 400 automated vehicle rides to locations on the Las Vegas Strip during the week-long conference. Tests continued after CES ended. This latest announcement represents the first large-scale deployment of Aptiv's automated vehicle technology.
HOZON Auto has opened an “Autonomous Vehicle Research Center” in Silicon Valley. The Chinese automaker’s center will focus on the research of automated driving and artificial intelligence (AI), and lead the development and industrial application of automated driving technology worldwide. Research at the center is envisioned to include core algorithms aimed at improving automated driving, open source architecture system platforms, big data, and deep learning technologies. By opening the center, HOZON is seeking to implement its global R&D strategy that was developed at the beginning of 2018, which focuses on building R&D centers worldwide in five cities across four countries. These locations include Autonomous Vehicle Research Center (Silicon Valley), Italy Torino Design Center (underway), German Engineering and Technology Center (underway), and Shanghai and Jiaxing R&D Centers.
The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) plans to open a closed-course testing facility in Michigan for automated vehicles. Located at the Michigan Technical Resource Park in Ottawa Lake, the 60-acre site will be used to reproduce scenarios that are too risky to execute on public roads, TRI said in a statement, and will involve “congested urban environments, slick surfaces and a four-lane divided highway with high-speed entrance and exit ramps.” TRI plans to lease the track, and the land in the inner ring, from the Michigan Technical Resource Park (MITRP). The 50-year-old track had been used for decades by auto supplier Dana Corp., which is based several miles away near Toledo. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) currently uses the site for vehicle storage, with thousands of mostly Ram trucks and Jeep SUVs parked along the track. The facility will be designed inside the park's 1.75-mile oval test track, and TRI also will have access to other on-site facilities and services. MITRP will maintain responsibility for the oval itself and everything else outside of the oval infield, Toyota said. TRI plans to open the facility in October.
Drive.ai announced that it is partnering with the Hall Group and the city of Frisco, Texas to operate a fleet of driverless vehicles starting in July. For the pilot, Drive.ai’s orange and blue painted Nissan NV200 vans will run only in a tightly geofenced area along fixed routes, which will reduce the amount of onboard data storage required. One such route will serve 10,000 members of Hall Group’s commercial and residential communities in the area. The service will use designated pick up and drop off points, taking riders between buildings and to a nearby stadium and apartment complex, at no charge. It will use fixed pickup and drop-off locations, so the cars don’t have to worry about finding a safe space to pull over. The six-month pilot will keep human safety operators behind the wheel, ready to grab control if the car encounters problems it can’t resolve, as well as humans sitting in a remote location, monitoring the vehicles and issuing instructions as needed. Before the service begins, the partners plan to conduct an extensive public awareness campaign to educate city residents to the fact that automated vehicles are operating in the area. The vehicles themselves will have external billboards to communicate with pedestrians and other drivers. In later stages of this project, Drive.ai hopes to remove the human backup driver and fill the passenger seat with a human “chaperone,” to help guide passengers through the service. The pilot marks Drive.ai’s first large-scale effort to put people in its cars, and the first such deployment in Texas. Waymo has done some testing in Austin, but this service will provide regular rides to the public.
General Motors is lookingat further business opportunities for self-driving cars, such as custom designs that could be almost unrecognizable from those of today. Mike Abelson, the company's vice president of global strategy, said the designs will continually change to meet consumers’ evolving expectations, and eventually won't include a steering wheel or pedals as the company moves toward releasing a Level 5 automated car. According to Abelson, GM is “thinking about several models” to drive revenue from self-driving cars. While GM initially is using specially modified versions of the Chevrolet Bolt EV for its planned robotaxi fleet in 2019, the U.S. automaker’s next wave of driverless vehicles will do away with the steering wheel and pedals, and could feature different seating arrangements.
Uber announced it is closing down its self-driving car operation and will lay off 300 Uber workers in Arizona, stating that it will instead focus on its automated vehicle efforts in San Francisco, Toronto, and Pittsburgh. The news came two months after one of its self-driving Volvos struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It was the first known fatality involving an automated vehicle. Arizona had been regarded as one of the most welcoming states for self-driving vehicles. But following the fatality, the state suspended Uber's ability to test on state roads. Since the crash, Uber has been cooperating with a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Uber said it plans to resume tests on public roads in Pittsburgh this summer, once the NTSB's preliminary report has been released.
SAE International has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Alliance to support and foster collaborative efforts in creation of guidelines and standards for development of more integrated and seamless mobility services. Under the MoU, SAE International and MaaS Alliance agree to share knowledge in the shared mobility guidelines and standards development and pursue, where feasible, into coordinated technical efforts and harmonization. The first SAE shared mobility standard will be “SAE J3163 Taxonomy and Definitions Related to Shared Mobility and Enabling Technologies.” This recommended practice, which is slated to be published later this year, will provide a taxonomy for shared modes and related service, operational, and business models.
A new report by Shared-Use Mobility Center, an imprint of the Transit Cooperative Research Program at the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, found that peak ridership with transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, generally falls outside of traditional transit operating hours, potentially dispelling the notion that TNCs compete with and displace public transit. The study, known as Who’s Riding TNCs and What Does It Mean for Public Agencies?, partnered with an undisclosed TNC to afford researchers with access to TNC ridership information from Chicago, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Los Angeles and Nashville from May 2016. The researchers also had access to survey data from the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Agency (BART), Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), New Jersey Transit and Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), as well as survey data collected by the Shared-Mobility Center from roughly 10,300 users of transit and TNCs. For the most part, residents surveyed across the study areas were using public transit to get to and from work. Only about a quarter of the weekly ride volume in TNCs was taking place during rush hour, which is opposite what one might see in normal public transit usage and solo driving. Additionally, use of TNCs tended to spike on weekends and late in the evenings when transit service tends to be scaled back. Peak ridership with TNCs was Saturday at about 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., the research showed, accounting for 20 to 27 percent of total TNC usage. The research can serve as a resource to transit agencies who may want to partner rather than compete against TNCs to facilitate transit ridership. Los Angeles Metro has already undertaken steps to possibly partner with companies to provide on-demand, micro-transit service. The agency is contracting with RideCo, NoMad Transit and Transdev to come up with three feasibility studies to show how the project might be structured.
Houston's transit authority has approved the use of an automated bus in a closed loopon the campus of Texas Southern University (TSU) this fall. The automated shuttle will operate on TSU's Tigerwalk, a 1-mile stretch of road closed to public traffic but open to cyclists and pedestrians. Riders will not be charged to use the shuttle, which will be about the size of a minivan, similar to those used in Las Vegas and Arlington, Texas. The shuttle is expected to top out at 12 miles per hour and will be used in this initial phase to study how automated technology could be used in other closed-loop environments, such as business parks and medical centers. TSU's Center for Transportation Training and Research will also be involved in studying the shuttle's impact in the limited environment. The transit authority, known as METRO, has yet to purchase a vehicle for the pilot, but the board dedicated up to $250,000 in spending for the first phase.
The University of Michigan began construction of a $75 million Ford Robotics Buildingon its Ann Arbor campus. Scheduled to open in 2020, the 140,000 sq. ft, four floor complex will house classrooms, offices, an open collaboration area and lab space for a variety of robotic technologies. Plans include a three-story fly zone for automated aerial vehicles, an outdoor obstacle course for walking robots, high-bay garage space for self-driving cars, and dedicated space for rehabilitation and mobility robots such as prosthetics and exoskeletons. The building will also be home to the recently-launched UM Robotics Institute. Ford, who contributed $15 million toward the construction of the building,will lease the fourth floor and plans to place more than 100 employeesfor robotics research and engineering in collaboration with the university and other industry players. The arrangement is expected to help expand the automaker's research into robotics, including automated vehicles. Ford's ongoing collaboration with Michigan Engineering on automated vehicle development is the company's largest university research project to date.
Ford has developed a prototype smart car window that lets blind people “see” the passing landscape. The “Feel the View” prototype, which was developed with Italian startup xyz, uses vibrations to give blind and visually impaired passengers a sense of the scenery outside. The smart window takes pictures using an external camera and turns them into high-contrast grayscale images. These images are reproduced on the glass using special LEDs. When a passenger touches the image, different shades of gray vibrate with a range of 255 intensities. The idea is that blind or visually impaired passengers can touch the scene and use the varying intensities of vibration to create in their mind what the landscape looks like. The smart window also has an AI voice assistant that taps into the car’s audio system and put what the passengers are feeling into context. For instance, it might tell the passenger “snowy mountain,” as depicted in the video, or “lake.” The prototype is part of Ford’s advanced research, which means there are no plans (at least not publicly) to bring this to market. Some speculate that this is the kind of technology that could show up in Ford’s automated vehicle program, given that the company has been using research vehicles to learn the logistical challenges of delivery by a driverless vehicle, including how an automated vehicle will interact with passengers and give them the information they need as they travel.
A team of computer scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have designed an automated vehicle driving system aimed at navigating unpaved roads by using basic GPS data and sensor technologies. The system, named MapLite, uses simple GPS data that can be found on Google Maps and an array of sensors to scan the surroundings and navigate along unpaved roads, observing road conditions over 100 feet in advance. One of the project’s researchers distinguished MapLite’s approach from other navigational approaches by commenting that, rather than relying heavily on 3D maps and only using sensors and vision algorithms for specific aspects of navigation, like avoiding obstacles, MapLite uses sensors for all parts of navigation, and uses GPS data only to obtain a rough estimate of the car’s location in space. The researchers tested the system on a Toyota Prius modified to include LiDAR and other sensors. The project is backed by the Toyota Research Institute. Moving forward, the CSAIL researchers will attempt make MapLite more versatile, capable of navigating various road types, and are working with Toyota to incorporate the system into future vehicles.
Perrone Robotics and SAE International offered automated vehicle test rides to the public in Tampa, FL to gauge public acceptanceof self-driving cars. Participants took rides in highly automated Lincoln MKZs on Tampa’s Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. The rides encountered a pedestrian and a parked vehicle, which gave riders the chance to see how the cars react to real-world obstacles. The three-day demonstration didn’t just give the public a chance to experience the cars first-hand, but also gave the engineering association a chance to collect feedback on how comfortable riders really are. Riders were surveyed before, during and after the ride to identify areas for future public education. The demonstration follows a string of activities by the city to further CAVs. The city was awarded a federal grant in 2015 to outfit the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway as an experimental site for V2X technologies to connect vehicles and traffic signals. This is in addition to a recently-signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the city and the University of South Florida promising to partner and research "creative" transportation solutions.
A study by human factors/ergonomics researchers at Texas Tech University concluded that human drivers will not provide reliable, attentive oversight during vehicle automation, especially when they've been behind the wheel for an extended period. To test the role of vigilance in automated driving, the researchers asked 22 young adults to drive a simulated automated vehicle for 40 minutes. The drivers' task was to observe vehicles stopped at intersections and distinguish between those that were positioned safety versus unsafely, a roadway hazard that the simulated vehicle's automation could not detect. Participants then pressed a button on their steering wheel to indicate a dangerous vehicle. The drivers detected 30% fewer hazards at the end of the drive than at the beginning, and they also tended to react more slowly to hazards as the drive progressed. Additionally, participants reported in a post-task questionnaire that monitoring for automation failures was difficult and stressful.
The University of Delaware is investigating the development and assembly of a system by which computers and sensors enable vehicles to communicate with each other to help optimize congestion and safety. In a 20-by-20-foot floor space, a diverse 30-member team has created a carefully laid out “Scale Smart City”. 35 battery-powered, computer-guided model cars and trucks equipped with tiny cameras traverse the mini city’s roadways, speeding up or slowing down as they try to keep a safe distance behind the vehicles ahead, stopping at intersections, and taking care to turn left or right only when the path is clear. The project replicates city driving, about 30 miles per hour, and uses algorithms to track energy usage, the level of the batteries, power levels, and the time it takes to go through intersections in an attempt to even out traffic flows. Many questions remain to be resolved, such as identifying the most effective infrastructure system and determining the best means for transmitting information to vehicles operating within the system. The researchers believe that underground sensors, overhead cameras, and/or aerial drone(s) are possibilities for infrastructure that can sense congestion and transmit signals to vehicles on the road. The project’s next step is to use real vehicles in a controlled environment, such as on the university’s developing STAR Campus, which may be a year or so away. The university is already in talks with the Delaware Department of Transportation on how to move the project forward.
Research from the University of Michigan shows that the presence of a single automated and connected vehicle can help mitigate traffic congestion. For the experiment, published in the journal Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies, Associate Professor Gabor Orosz and team took eight cars out onto the roads of southeast Michigan. The vehicles were a mix of sedans that had the ability to broadcast their position and velocity. One car was picked to act as the automated vehicle, and the onboard computer was wired into its brakes, with the ability to apply them just as much as necessary, as early as possible. The team drove around as a convoy, cruising at 55 mph until one driver braked, stomping the pedal harder each time. The humans behind that car hit the brakes hard enough to throw them against their seat belts. But the connected car in the pack got advanced notification that a car several ahead was slowing, and it started slowing more gently. The human drivers behind that car were also able to brake more gently, thereby preventing a backup. Driving more smoothly saved energy too, by as much as 19 percent in the connected car, and 7 percent for the human-driven vehicles behind it. A similar experiment at the University of Illinois in May 2017 showed that if one in 20 cars was at least partially automated, it could eliminate these stop-and-go waves of traffic.
Researchers from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) developed a new lane-change algorithm that allows for more aggressive human-like lane changes than conventional models by relying on immediate information about other vehicles' directions and velocities to make decisions. Most existing lane-change algorithms have one of two drawbacks: Either they rely on detailed statistical models of the driving environment, which are difficult to assemble and too complex to analyze on the fly; or they are so simple that they can lead to impractically conservative decisions, such as never changing lanes at all. The MIT researchers' system evaluates automated vehicles’ “buffer zones” in real time. These buffer zones describe not only the vehicles' current positions but their likely future positions within some time frame, thereby facilitating the planning of lane changes by directing vehicles to stay out of other vehicles' buffer zones. For the new system, if the default buffer zones are leading to performance that is far worse than a human driver's, the system will compute new buffer zones along with proof of collision avoidance. That approach depends on a mathematically efficient method of describing buffer zones, so that the collision-avoidance proof can be executed quickly. The researchers tested their algorithm in a simulation including up to 16 automated cars driving in an environment with several hundred other vehicles. The project was supported, in part, by the Toyota Research Institute and the Office of Naval Research.
A study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Senseable City Laboratory and Cornell University established a new dispatching approach that could cut the number of taxis on the road by as much as 40 percent while meeting rider demand. The approach, as described in “Addressing the Minimum Fleet Problem in On-Demand Urban Mobility,” which published May 23 in Nature, offers a network-based solution to the classic “minimum fleet problem”. As such, it helps to establish the minimum number of vehicles needed to serve all the trips, without incurring any delay to the passengers, given a collection of trips, as specified by origin, destination and start time. Instead of “ride-sharing,” the researchers considered the notion of “vehicle sharing” in their model system. Using a 2011 data set of 150 million taxi trips taken in New York City over a year, the group used the Hopcroft-Karp algorithm – a matching formula co-developed more than 40 years ago by Cornell computer science professor John Hopcroft – to solve the problem of matching rides to riders with the fewest vehicles possible. The results: With optimal service levels, their research allows for a 40 percent reduction in fleet size, compared with current taxi operation. Even if trips are not known in advance, a real-time version of the algorithm, in which customers hail rides with an online app, allows for a 30 percent reduction. The researchers say their results could become even more relevant down the road as fleets of networked, automated vehicles become commonplace.
Innoviz announced that it will supply solid-state LiDAR to BMW, in advance of the automaker’s 2021 planned timeframe to launch Level 3 and Level 4 highly automated vehicles. It is the first publicly acknowledged deal between a major car company and a solid-state LiDAR firm. Founded in 2016, Innoviz has been developing a micro-electromechanical system-based (MEMS) solid-state LiDAR system. The BMW deal is for the next-generation InnovizOne sensor, which is specifically designed to be automotive grade and integrated into new vehicle builds. While the exact cost of the new unit is undisclosed, Innoviz stated that the InnovizPro currently costs in the “low thousands of dollars” and the InnovizOne “will be well under $1,000 for its product cycle”. In addition to the hardware, Innoviz is providing its own computer vision software platform that will be integrated into the core stack being developed by BMW. The Innoviz software is designed to analyze the LiDAR point cloud and recognize targets of interest, classify what they are and track them. The company claims that the vision software can distinguish vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and even road lane markings when the reflectivity is sufficient. The actual processing of the sensor data will take place in the central computer platform along with all the perception, path planning and control operations. BMW is partnering with Intel and its subsidiary Mobileye to develop its automated driving systems. Suppliers Magna International and Aptiv are also working with BMW. Magna is responsible for the overall hardware integration into the vehicle while Aptiv is handling the electronics integration. Production of the InnovizOne sensors is slated to begin in 2019.
Carmera is joining Renovo’s AWare ecosystem to provide improved mapping solutions for automated vehicles. Carmera, which has developed a real-time, street-level intelligence platform for automated vehicles, currently crowdsources map data from a vehicle-based sensor network and employs machine vision and geospatial processing pipelines to produce continually updating, 3D maps that allow automated vehicles to localize their positions with centimeter accuracy. AWare is Renovo’s operating system that merges software, data analytics, and automotive-grade safety systems into a unified solution for automated vehicle deployments. With Renovo as a partner, Carmera is poised to deliver mapping services to Renovo’s AWare-powered fleets while gathering updated map data and participating in the company’s vehicular sensor network. Carmera joins other AWare ecosystem companies including Samsung, Verizon, Velodyne Lidar, Parsons, Inrix and Argus Cyber Security.
BMW, Bosch, Ford, General Motors, Groupe Renault, ZF, Accenture, Context Labs, IBM, and other companies accounting for over 70 percent of global vehicle production (in terms of market share) announced the launch of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), a joint effort to explore blockchainfor use in a new digital mobility ecosystem. Blockchain technology operates by distributing information to a network of independent computers and ensuring that transactions are secure and data privacy, ownership rights, and integrity are protected. By working collaboratively to explore the technology, the MOBI consortium aims to increase transparency and trust among users, reduce the risk of fraud, and reduce frictions and transaction costs in mobility, such as fees or surcharges applied by third-parties. Initially, MOBI will be working with its partners on projects related to: Vehicle identity, history and data tracking; Supply chain tracking, transparency, and efficiency; Automated machine and vehicle payments; Secure mobility ecosystem commerce; Data markets for automated and human driving; Car sharing and ride hailing; and Usage-based mobility pricing for vehicles, insurance, energy, congestion, pollution, infrastructure, and other applications. Altogether, the MOBI consortium hopes to stimulate more rapid and scalable adoption of the technology by companies developing automated vehicle and mobility services. Chris Ballinger, former Chief Financial Officer and Director of Mobility Services at Toyota Research Institute, is joining MOBI as Chairman and CEO.
Apple has signed a deal with Volkswagen to turn some of the carmaker's new T6 Transporter vans into Apple's self-driving shuttles for employees. The deal comes in the wake of Apple’s efforts in recent years to establish partnerships with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and other companies to develop an all-electric self-driving vehicle. Apple originally began its car project in 2014. At the time, Apple planned to build a single vehicle that would upend society and industry, in what would be the automotive version of the iPhone. The company set to work on an electric driverless car with a lush interior reminiscent of a lounge or living room, where passengers face one another instead of the road, according to two early employees of the project. Apple initially intended to build the car in-house, with preliminary discussions of an Apple automotive plant in the south of the United States, two former employees said. But those plans quickly shifted to finding a manufacturing partner to build, but not design, the cars. The company first worked with Magna Steyr, a Canadian-Austrian contract manufacturer that has produced low-volume vehicles for other automakers, and also worked with Torc Robotics to retrofit 55 Lexus S.U.V.s with sensors to run self-driving tests in California. After exploring relationships with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, BYD, and McLaren, Apple established a partnership with Volkswagen late last year. The frame, wheels and chassis of the T6 automated vans will remain, but Apple is reportedly replacing many components, including the dashboard and seats. Apple is also adding other computers, sensors and a large electric car battery. The shuttles will ferry employees between two of Apple’s Silicon Valley campuses and will include a driver behind the wheel to take control if needed, as well as an operator in the passenger’s seat tracking the van’s performance. Executives thought the shuttle would be completed by the end of 2018, but that deadline will reportedly be missed. It is unclear whether Apple’s partnership with Volkswagen will extend beyond the shuttle.
USDOT-Designated Automated Vehicle Proving Grounds
An agreement was signed by Michigan governor Rick Snyder and UK business minister Richard Harrington to help facilitate the sharing of transportation technologies and ideas between bodies such as the UK’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles and Transport Systems Catapult, and Michigan’s USDOT Automated Vehicle Proving Ground American Centre of Mobility and Mcity. The areas of collaboration range from insuring self-driving cars to technology for smart motorways. It also includes new education programs focused on how to create new jobs as transportation technologies evolve, such as technicians to clean and repair sensors for self-driving vehicles. Michigan has signed similar agreements with Austria, the Netherlands, parts of Canada and is exploring similar deals in Asia, said Governor Snyder.
Siemens and the American Center for Mobility (ACM) announced a new partnership that brings Siemens’ Simulation and Test solution for Automotive to ACM to support virtual and physical testing and validation of automated and connected vehicles. Included in the Siemens Simulation and Test solution for Automotive is Simcenter PreScan software, which produces highly realistic, physics-based simulation of raw sensor data for potential driving scenarios and traffic situations and was developed by recently acquired TASS International. The partnership was formalized with Michigan Governor Snyder who on the same day signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Dutch government on supporting innovation and deployment of connected and automated vehicle technologies. Siemens is already part of similar strategic initiatives in Singapore and the Netherlands, once considered to be early adopters of AV technology, applications and solutions and now leaders in the testing and deployment of automated vehicles and infrastructure in real-world environments.
Smart Infrastructure and Cities
Mastercard and Microsoft are working on a two-city pilot that will model the impact of planned and unplanned urban events and inform policy decisions with data. The objective of the joint effort is to use Mastercard's payment network and Microsoft's data analytics and cloud technologies to offer mayors, policy makers and urban planners more insight into the root causes of urban challenges – like major infrastructure investments, adverse weather and traffic incidents – and better strategies on how to solve them. The two companies are also seeking to develop smart city solutions in the areas of transportation – including the potential for a cloud-based automated transit fare collection system – as well as tourism, water and power. Microsoft also announced that it will join Mastercard's City Possible initiative, a global effort that seeks to encourage cities and businesses to co-create and scale solutions to urban problems. Additionally, Mastercard's payment technologies will be embedded in Microsoft's CityNext program, which pushes digital transformation in smart cities.
2016 USDOT Smart City Challenge winner Columbus, Ohio unveiled an operating system on Thursday that will gather data for its pioneering smart city transportation project. The city's Smart Columbus team will manage and distribute 1,100 data feeds through the new operating platform to government offices and private companies. The information that is collected will help Columbus integrate self-driving cars, connected vehicles, smart sensors and other developing transportation technologies into the life of the city. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said launching the Smart Columbus Operating System is a major milestone on Columbus' smart city journey, allowing officials to better analyze, interpret and share data that will help solve critical challenges and inspire innovation, with the ultimate goal being to make life better. The operating system launch comes amid efforts by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to advance smart transportation technology statewide. Kasich signed an executive order authorizing automated vehicle research to take place on all public roads across the state. The order extended Kasich's efforts to make Ohio a hub of smart vehicle research and development.
San Mateo County, CA has opened SMC Labs, which it is touting as a “smart solutions” innovation center in Silicon Valley. The first-of-its-kind center for the region will initially have two innovation zones to test solutions: one on the San Mateo County Center campus in Redwood City, and another at East Palo Alto City Hall. The initiative will use IoT, machine learning, data analysis and blockchain to address regional issues. San Mateo County Chief Information Officer Jon Walton said in a statement that a digital divide exists in San Mateo County between those in cities who are tech-savvy and those in smaller suburban or rural communities that have been traditionally underserved. Like San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, who has pledged to provide publicly owned open access broadband internet before he leaves office in June, this initiative promises to do similar work in a section of the Bay Area where house prices are skyrocketing. To help accomplish this goal, the new center has partnered with businesses, including T-Mobile, machine network Helium, smart city platform Fybr, asset tracker RoamBee and engagement tool Ntropy.