Ford reveals plan for $700M plant, jobs at Rouge plus all-electric Ford F-150 secrets

Ford Motor Co. revealed Thursday an audacious plan to build a $700 million plant at the Rouge complex that would create the first all-electric F-150, the nation’s bestselling vehicle…

Kumar Galhotra, president, Americas & International Markets Group, talked with reporters before the event and said of the all-electric Ford F-150:

“It will be the fastest F-150 ever” in terms of 0 to 60 mph.
“It will be the most powerful.”
“With the battery and the electric motors, it will have most torque of any F-150 we’ve ever built, and the torque will be instantaneous. … It totally changes the driving dynamics.”
“It will have a giant frunk … or a trunk in the front.”
“Bidirectional power transfer, so you can obviously charge it or you can use the power for powering your home or the work site.”
New technology on the electric F-150 will allow mobile power generation so people may use trucks as a power source for camping, too.
More>>

Volocopter now accepting reservations for flights in its electric air taxi — but not until 2023 at the earliest

Volocopter, the German aviation startup, is now accepting reservations for flights on its 18-rotor electric aircraft. This is the first time members of the public are being invited to fly in the company’s battery-powered vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle.

Volocopter won’t say exactly where or when the flights will take place, so reserve your ticket with a degree of caution. The flights will take place “within 12 months” after Volocopter’s commercial launch which is expected in “2-3 years,” a spokesperson said. As for where, Volocopter has conducted flight tests in Singapore, Helsinki, Dubai, and its headquarters in Bruchsal, Germany — so most likely in one of those cities.

Tickets cost €300 ($355) and can be reserved with a 10 percent deposit. But there will only be 1,000 presale reservations made available and only for a limited time, Volocopter said. The flight will only be 15 minutes in length or €20 for each minute of airtime.
More>>

INSTITUTE FOR ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN CONSTRUCTION PLANNED

A University of Illinois team has received grants and support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) to plan the establishment of the National Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Construction…

More than 40 industry partners from architecture, engineering, construction, owner, technology providers and venture capital investment firms will join researchers from the University of Illinois and Carnegie Mellon University in this multi-disciplinary effort to design the new institute through a series of planning workshops. The goal is to identify key areas for the highest impact of AI in design, construction and operation of the built environment. The team will also actively engage in the development of AI methods and tools, as well as entrepreneurship education, to bring these solutions to the market…

Additional team members from Carnegie Mellon University are Burcu Akinci and Pingbo Tang.
More>>

Aurora explains commercialization focus on trucking industry

Sterling Anderson, co-founder and chief product officer at Aurora, said in a prepared statement that trucking will prove the company with the best path toward getting to market quickly. In a Tweet on the subject, Anderson said the company is looking at product paths that include everything from middle mile to last mile to mobility services.

“If you can swing this technically, it allows for an elegant transition from the largest market (today) with the best unit economics and lowest level of service requirements to smaller, but rapidly growing markets with more challenging unit economics and level of service needs,” Anderson wrote in the tweet.

Interiano echoed this thought, saying that while Aurora plans to commercialize its tech in the trucking industry first, the company does see its tech being used in deployment applications across a wide variety of industries.
More>>

Transit Needs Tech and Innovation Now More Than Ever

Transit trends calling for more mode integration or data-driven decision-making have not been swept to the sidelines as the sector recovers from the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, transit may be leaning more on these efforts as it looks for more opportunities to rebound from sharp pandemic-related declines.

“Whether it’s service reliability, or analyzing data to make smarter decisions, or passenger information, these are trends that existed before the pandemic, but we’re seeing it now accelerate this digital transformation across agencies and cities around the world, and ultimately, I think, that will really help the industry emerge much stronger,” said Jonny Simkin, CEO of transit data platform Swiftly, during a CoMotion LA panel Sept. 17.
More>>

Human Driver of ‘Driverless’ Car Charged in 2018 Ped Death

E-taxi driver Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was behind the wheel of a Volvo XC90 SUV equipped with “self-driving” technology that ride hail giant Uber was testing on the streets of Tempe, Ariz., on March 18, 2018, when she struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, 49. It was the first recorded pedestrian fatality under the wheels of a so-called “autonomous ” car in human history…

“The fact that this driver has been charged with a crime does not vindicate Uber in any way,” said Bryant Walker Smith, a lawyer, engineer, and internationally recognized expert in autonomous vehicles. “For me, this crash comes down to a vicious cycle: The driver falsely assumed that Uber’s software would be vigilant, and the designers of that software falsely assumed that the driver would be vigilant. … I would argue that the companies that develop and deploy these vehicles are driving them — conceptually and morally, even if not legally.”
More>>

Autonomous vehicle firm Seegrid raises $52 million funding round

Pittsburgh,
Seegrid, a Findlay-based company that develops autonomous vehicles for handling materials in factories and warehouses, announced it closed on a $52 million funding round Tuesday.

The latest investment is part of a funding round first announced in March, when G2VP, a venture firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., put $25 million toward the company.

Seegrid plans to use the new funds to accelerate new product development, to finance potential acquisitions in the future and to grow its workforce. Already, the company reported a 35% increase in employee headcount for 2019 last December.

Founded in 2003, Seegrid’s technology was first created from research at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University. The autonomous, vision-guided vehicles are meant to increase productivity, improve safety and reduce labor costs for manufacturing, warehousing and logistics.
More>>

Mayors to prioritize infrastructure, tech investments in COVID recovery: survey

Dive Brief:
While nearly all mayors expect drops in their operating budgets in the next 12-18 months due to COVID-19, most mayors also believe investing in infrastructure and technology can spur an economic recovery, according to a survey from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Siemens USA.

Of the 124 mayors surveyed, 69% said infrastructure is their top investment priority to create jobs and economic growth amid recovery, while 63% said they will prioritize the expansion of virtual and online city services. Meanwhile, 67% of mayors said now is the right time to invest in transit-related projects that will help with longer-term needs.

As they ready their cities for the return of in-office workers, 97% of mayors said there will need to be investments in technology to reimagine and adapt how commercial buildings are used. Ninety-four percent of mayors also called on the federal government to provide emergency fiscal assistance to cities to mitigate budget shortfalls.
More>>

GM unveils ‘Ultium Drive’ family of electric motors

General Motors revealed new details about its Ultium battery platform for its upcoming lineup of electric vehicles. The automaker said the battery will power “a family of five interchangeable drive units and three motors” collectively known as “Ultium Drive,” which will aid GM in its transition to an “all-electric future.”…

The Ultium platform is intended to be flexible and multifaceted, with the goal of eventually undergirding a variety of vehicle types and shapes. In this way it’s similar to Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix, also known as its MEB platform.

For example, Ultium is expected to provide the foundation for GM’s upcoming Hummer pickup truck and SUV; the luxury Cadillac Lyriq SUV; an electric delivery van; and two electric vehicles that the automaker is making in partnership with Honda.
More>>

US: Next-Gen Transportation Isn’t Going Anywhere Without Data

Effectively operating the transportation systems of tomorrow is going to take more than thoughtful planning; it’s also going to require a lot of good data, experts say.

This process is already playing out with the wide adoption of standardized methods for collecting and using transportation data, namely through open-source software and the Mobility Data Specification (MDS), which lays out a road map to connect mobility companies with local governments.

MDS is often credited with making emerging forms of mobility — bikes, e-scooters, rentable and sharable cars — integrated mobility options within the larger transportation ecosystem…

However, the specifications are not without its controversy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in partnership with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), filed a case in Federal District Court in California this summer, seeking to halt trip-data collection by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.
More>>