China’s ambition to powerthe world’s electric cars took a huge leap forward this week

In a public offering on June 11 in Shenzhen, battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) raised nearly $1 billion to fund ambitious expansion plans, and its stock has been shooting up every day since. Thanks largely to the company’s new plants, China will be making
70 percent of the world’s electric-vehicle batteries by 2021, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)…

China is already the world’s largest car market, but its domestic businesses sell only a small fraction of vehicles and components globally.  “China sees EVs as the way to assert their global dominance in automotive,” says Venkat Viswanathan, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, whose work focuses on
batteries. “To make it work you need scale, and they do scale better than anyone else.”

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. asked to build Chicago high-speed transit between O’Hare and downtown

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will formally announce Thursday that his administration is entering one-on-one negotiations with Musk company to build the high-speed system that will utilize electric vehicles running through twin underground tunnels, said Adam Collins, the mayor’s spokesman.

The effort has been met with some skepticism from experts.

“The concept of car elevators on skates add a bunch of engineering challenges, such as reliability and safety of the elevator, loading and unloading times, and the number of dedicated areas in a city you’d need to do this at scale,” Constantine Samaras, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, told Forbes earlier this year.

Massive growth in Big Infrastructure could spell inspection changes

Thus, the biggest challenge of all when inspecting Big Infrastructure is size. Infrastructure like pipelines, utility poles, and the like are big, vast, and require a close and considered look. Yet, the devil is always in the detail. For example, those hundreds of thousands of bridges around the world carrying across ravines, rivers and roadways all need someone to go look – closely and carefully – and see how they’re holding up.

RoadBotics has learned a few things about the challenges of inspecting Big Infrastructure. The company uses AI and standard smartphones to inspect road surfaces and other assets accurately and inexpensively for private and public organizations across the US and around the world. What has been learned from this, arguably, is transferable to any inspection regime, particularly those short on people, money, and time:


Waymo has been testing self-driving cars with 400 riders in Phoenix for a year. Here’s what it’s learned so far

Through their experiences, Waymo has learned a few things:

  • It needs to get better at designating specific pick-up entrances at a store so that frustrated riders won’t have to lug shopping bags through the hot sun to reach a car
  • On narrow streets, riders prefer to cross the road to reach a car, instead of having it drive to the end of a road, turn around and come back
  • It needed to figure out how to accommodate people with service animals (it figured this out after a query from a passenger)
  • The best way to wake sleeping passengers is with a little chime sound.

Not all the rides have been seamless, which is kind of point of this experimental phase.


NYC DOT Chief: Feds Are Forgoing City Input on Self-Driving Vehicles

Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the city’s department of transportation, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday that, to date, the feds have not “meaningfully involved” cities in developing policies for the vehicles.

“I urge you to enlist cities as partners,” she added.

Trottenberg specifically called for the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to engage with cities more directly going forward.

Free Power From Freeways? China Is Testing Roads Paved With Solar Panels

Now, such roads are finally becoming viable. Prices have fallen drastically in recent years — thanks in large part to soaring Chinese production, a solar panel costs a tenth of what it did a decade ago. Road builders in China even want to design solar roads that can wirelessly recharge electric cars running on them, emulating a recent American experiment.

China’s leaders in solar road development are Pavenergy and Qilu Transportation. The two companies are working together here in Jinan, in Shandong Province, with Pavenergy making panels for Qilu, a large, state-owned highway construction and management company that operates the highway.

PennDOT To Discuss Regulations With Autonomous Vehicle Operators

“To make sure that the regulations aren’t too onerous,” he said. “We want safety and security for our citizens, but we also want companies who feel that Pennsylvania is a place where they can do innovative things.”

There are five entities that test self-driving cars in Pittsburgh: Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University and Uber.

Aptiv, Aurora and Uber declined to comment. In statements made to 90.5 WESA, both Argo AI and Carnegie Mellon University said they look forward to continuing discussions with city and state officials to ensure safe testing and safe deployment of self-driving vehicles.

Four Communities Selected for Inaugural Georgia Smart Communities Challenge

Four Georgia communities developed and will implement smart design solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the state. The projects, which tackle housing, traffic congestion, sea level rise and shared autonomous vehicles, are supported through the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge.

This new Georgia Tech-led initiative brings together industry and public agencies to help local governments implement smart development. The strategies developed by the selected communities will serve as models that could be implemented elsewhere across Georgia.

The program provides seed funding and access to technical assistance, expert advice and a network of peers. A Georgia Tech researcher will advise and conduct research in support of each group’s goals.

Ford’s ‘self-driving’ vans are now delivering food in Miami

Ford has retrofitted a fleet of its Transit vans with touchpad-accessible lockers, from which Postmates customers with the right access code can retrieve their food. The lockers are varying sizes to accommodate different types of deliveries. (Some even have cupholders.) Audio prompts and light displays are used to guide customers to the appropriate locker.
The pilot is underway in Miami and Miami Beach, with “over 70 businesses” participating, including restaurants and hardware stores, the company said in a Medium post. The vans are manually driven by human drivers for now, as Ford is just using them to test different methods of food delivery. Eventually, the automaker says it will deploy a fully self-driving delivery service by 2021. “Ultimately, we are testing how businesses and consumers interact with a self-driving vehicle,” Ford says.

Annapolis Junction firm to bring first automated car parking lots to Columbia

The parking tech is not available yet, but STEER has an active waitlist where drivers can sign up to get access upon release. The company plans to set up its first parking operation in Columbia’s Merriweather District by next August, thanks to a partnership with development firm Howard Hughes Corp…

The Merriweather District will be home to multiple designated STEER drop off and pick up points, where drivers can exit and return to their vehicles. They will be able to send their cars to be parked and call them back via a mobile app. All of the new parking garages in the area will also have STEER-designated spaces for the automated vehicles. Sonalker said most vehicles manufactured in 2012 or later should be eligible for STEER technology integration.