Truck drivers don’t think EVs are up to heavy hauling

Charging infrastructure is “one of the largest unknowns and sources of anxiety for fleets considering near-term adoption of this technology,” according to a May, 2019, report the North American Council on Freight Efficiency.

Battery technology, too, still has a way to go before long-distance heavy hauling is reliable, affordable but – perhaps most importantly – light enough. A 2017 study by Carnegie Mellon University found that a battery powerful enough to drive a Class 8 semi-truck (i.e. a truck capable of hauling 18,000 kilograms, or 40 tons) over a distance of 1,000 kilometres would require a battery that weighs more than the cargo. That puts these vehicles at a distinct disadvantage compared with internal combustion engines (ICE), and it will likely remain that way for years, auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers said.

Spider hair-inspired sensors could give drones a “spidey-sense”

In nature, “mechanosensors” like those spider leg-hairs are perfectly tuned to focus only on the data that the spider needs for survival. They’ll pick up vibrations that indicate a bug is stuck in the web, for example, but won’t concern themselves with lower frequency vibrations that might just be the wind.

Inspired by this, the Purdue team set out to create mechanosensors that will ignore minor forces, and only signal the rest of the machine after that sensation hits a certain threshold. The trick to this is making the sensors out of a material that starts off stiff, but changes shape rapidly when an external force is applied to it. When its changed shape reaches a certain point, conductive particles inside the material come together and allow electricity to flow through. That in turn sends a signal to the rest of the machine, which responds as needed.

Santa Clara County Redefines ‘Street Smart’

Some 500 video cameras mounted on signal poles provide traffic count data, which is used to calibrate signal times for some 1.5 million cars on a daily basis…

The system is also designed for more than cars. Special sensors in the pavement know when a bicycle pedals up to an intersection. The sensors can trigger a change in signal timing to give the cyclist an adequate amount of time to make it through the intersection. “You hear a lot about smart cities and bike lanes, but we started this about 12 years ago,” said Prasad.

Then there are the pedestrians who are trying to walk across 10 lanes of traffic. “These are very large intersections” Prasad explained. “In order to provide them sufficient time we use microwave sensors. That microwave sensor is actually tracking pedestrian movement in the crosswalk. And when the crossing time is about to end, if it still detects a pedestrian, it can provide them an extension.”

Princeton Summit Bolsters Driverless Cars For All, Including The Mobility Marginalized

Professor Alain Kornhauser is a veritable force of nature when it comes to pursuing the cause of the mobility marginalized in the race toward producing and fielding autonomous cars. Speaking with him at his annual Smart Driving Cars Summit that took place last week at Princeton University, it’s the third one to-date (the next one is May 13-14, 2020), his determination and passion were quite evident, and while moderating this important event he managed to cajole and spur the esteemed speakers, keeping them on-track and intently focused on the crucial topics at-hand.

The tag line for the annual event is seeking safe, inclusive, affordable, energy efficient, and environmentally responsible on-demand 24/7 mobility for all people, especially the mobility marginalized.

The Amazing Ways The Ford Motor Company Uses Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

Ford Motor Company, along with General Motors, Toyota and Volkswagen, may have started out as automotive manufacturers, but they now refer to themselves as “mobility service” companies. Ford believes “freedom of movement drives human progress.” While it is now a global company, Ford started out more than 100 years ago in Dearborn, Michigan. The company revolutionized manufacturing by introducing the moving assembly line and made car ownership possible for everyday folks and not just the wealthy. Today, the company focuses on technology first and uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in many ways from connected car solutions to the development of autonomous vehicles.

Self-Driving Trucks Will Carry Mail in U.S. for the First Time

The United States Postal Service is going to put mail on self-driving trucks.

Starting on Tuesday morning, letters and packages moving between Phoenix and Dallas will travel on customized Peterbilt trucks run by TuSimple, an autonomous startup based in San Diego. There will be five round trips between the two cites, with the first haul leaving from Phoenix this morning. It’s the first time that the Postal Service has contracted with an autonomous provider for long-haul service.

“This pilot is just one of many ways the Postal Service is innovating and investing in its future,” the USPS said in a press release that cited the possibility of using “a future class of vehicles” to improve service, reduce emissions and save money. After the initial trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, the Postal Service will assess whether to continue working with TuSimple.

Bolt Mobility Unveils $9,999 Electric Car Designed For Car-Sharing In Cities

Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human, is backing an electric car startup based in Florida called Bolt Mobility. This past week, the company unveiled its first car, the B-Nano, which it says it has been working on in secret for the past two years.

Details about the 2 passenger urban EV are sketchy. According to AutoBlog, the B-Nano — which resembles the Renault Twizy in size and simplicity — is intended to be used much like the two wheeled vehicles used in bike sharing schemes. Short trips of between 2 and 15 miles are its design envelope. No maximum range or top speed is specified by the company.

But the battery — whatever size it is — is engineered to be easily swapped out for fresh battery quickly and easily.

NASA backs development of cryogenic hydrogen system to power all-electric aircraft

The University of Illinois has announced that NASA is underwriting a project to develop a cryogenic hydrogen fuel cell system for powering all-electric aircraft. Funded by a three-year, US$6 million contract, the Center for Cryogenic High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA) will investigate the technology needed to produce a practical all-electric design to replace conventional fossil fuel propulsion systems…

The CHEETA project is a consortium of eight institutions that include the Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Research and Technology, General Electric Global Research, Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Arkansas, the University of Dayton Research Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Although the project is still in its conceptual stage, the researchers have a firm vision of the technology and its potential.

Tesla didn’t fix an Autopilot problem for three years, and now another person is dead

Radar outputs of detected objects are sometimes ignored by the vehicle’s software to deal with the generation of “false positives,” said Raj Rajkumar, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Without these, the radar would “see” an overpass and report that as an obstacle, causing the vehicle to slam on the brakes.

On the computer vision side of the equation, the algorithms using the camera output need to be trained to detect trucks that are perpendicular to the direction of the vehicle, he added. In most road situations, there are vehicles to the front, back, and to the side, but a perpendicular vehicle is much less common.

“Essentially, the same incident repeats after three years,” Rajkumar said. “This seems to indicate that these two problems have still not been addressed.” Machine learning and artificial intelligence have inherent limitations. If sensors “see” what they have never or seldom seen before, they do not know how to handle those situations. “Tesla is not handling the well-known limitations of AI,” he added.

City councils and operators lock legal horns over 5G infrastructure

A growing number of disputes about the installation of 5G equipment risks delaying 5G’s roll-out in the UK, a new report has claimed.

City leaders and legal experts say the Electronic Communications Code, which regulates the legal relationship between landowners/occupiers and operators and was updated in 2017 to smooth the way for the implementation of 5G, is hindering rather than helping.

Alicia Foo, a property lawyer and partner at Pinsent Masons who represents both operators and landowners, told the Guardian: “More and more cases are clogging up the tribunals than ever was the case under the old code.”

Theo Blackwell, London’s chief digital officer, said the Code is ambiguously worded and lacks practical guidance.