Volkswagen Tries to Play Catch Up On Driverless Tech

Volkswagen AG’s next step into autonomous driving looks like it could be disappointing. But it’s also probably the best option the German giant has if it’s going to become a serious player in driverless technology.

The world’s largest automaker is in talks to invest in Argo AI at a $4 billion valuation, the automated car company backed by Ford Motor Co., Bloomberg News reported. The deal could be finalized in the next few months…

And as much as Argo doesn’t have the same aura as a Cruise or Waymo, it has advantages over much of the rest of the industry. Chief Executive Officer Bryan Salesky was an early employee of what was then known as the Google self-driving car project, and has now evolved into Waymo; and Argo’s Pittsburgh headquarters means it’s well placed to hoover up top artificial intelligence and robotics experts from Carnegie Mellon University. Its access to talent is enviable.

Automated Driving Systems Aren’t Ready to Save Pedestrians: Safety Group

Pedestrian fatalities in the United States climbed sharply over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2017, which constitutes the most recent data available, on-foot fatalities increased 35.4 percent — despite walking not growing in popularity. All told, the United States lost 49,340 people within the timeframe; about 13 people per day.

While still lower than vehicular deaths, the influx of pedestrian fatalities is cause for alarm for many. Forty countries, backed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, recently agreed to a resolution requiring passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to come equipped with automated braking systems starting as early as 2020. The primary goal? Improving pedestrian safety.

Not everyone is in agreement as to the solution’s effectiveness, however. Earlier this month, the National Complete Streets Coalition released Dangerous by Design 2019 to highlight the country’s plight — and suggested that the old ways might still be the best.

The document, sponsored by Smart Growth America, attributed the increase in pedestrian deaths to a myriad of factors.

Audi Upgrades Communications Tech To Help Drivers Hit Green Lights

Back in late 2016, Audi became the first automaker in the U.S. market to enable vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications in some of its vehicles. Initially only available in Las Vegas, Audi is now adding four new cities to the lineup and deploying a new feature designed called Green Light Optimization Speed Advisory (GLOSA) to help drivers hit more green lights…

The recommended speed is calculated based on the signal timing data, distance to stop and local speed limit profile. If the driver is going over the posted speed limit, no GLOSA advisory will be displayed.

This can help improve overall traffic flow and reduce fuel consumption by reducing the repeated acceleration and braking of going from one red to another.

How Pricing Insurance for Cars of Future Could Bring Insurers, Carmakers Together

Yet these are all opportunities for the legacy insurance companies quickest to adapt—as well as startups like Avinew. Policies that protect products will become more widespread, while mobility as a service, Keith said, will mean we’ll want to “insure our safety as a passenger” as well. Without a driver, there’s no driver to insure.

Nationwide thinks the smoothest road ahead will be one on which insurers and automakers each have a hand on the wheel. “We’re working to build deeper relationships with car manufacturers,” Scharn said.

Perhaps that means mergers on the horizon between insurers and automakers? Krause of Accenture said “those conversations are going on as we speak.”

No driver, no problem? Driverless shuttles coming to Lake Nona

New shuttles in Orlando’s Lake Nona community will soon take you for a spin around the neighborhood – for free. The twist: No one is behind the wheel.
Lake Nona unveiled the first autonomous vehicles in Florida on Tuesday.
To find one of the new Move Nona shuttles, all you have to do is use an app to request a pickup.

The shuttles run on batteries and are guided by sensors, with a goal of reducing air pollution and congestion. Each shuttle can accommodate eight seated passengers and there’s standing room for a few more.

“We want to be one of the autonomous vehicle central points of all the United States, so this is a really big announcement today,” said Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer.

China buys one out of every two electric vehicles sold globally

China’s overall car sales might be declining—but electric vehicle sales nearly doubled from the year before to cross one million for the first time.

In 2018, China’s electric vehicle (EV) sales, which include battery vehicles and plug-in hybrids, reached 1.2 million. That’s more than half the electric vehicles sold worldwide in the same period, according to data released last week by Germany’s nonprofit Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW).

China’s followed by the US, which purchased around 360,000 EVs last year, about a fifth of the total global sales.

Driverless Vehicles Will Transform Cities? One Already Has: The Elevator

In 1894, some ten years before automobiles mainstreamed horizontal transportation, the Otis Elevator Company installed the world’s first push-button elevator. Arguably this small vehicle did more to reshape cities than the motor car. Roads have long been wide, but buildings only started to climb skywards with the introduction of reliably safe vertical transportation.

Few people give elevators much thought yet this form of driverless mass transit is phenomenally popular. According to the Elevator Escalator Safety Foundation, over 210 billion passengers use elevators in the U.S. and Canada each year. That’s 325 million trips per day, second only to automobile journeys.

Long after the banishment of cars from urban streets – a measure more and more cities are considering – vertical transportation will still be necessary.

Ford trials multi-modal delivery to reduce congestion

Ford is trialling a new “warehouse on wheels” digital delivery service in London in partnership with Gnewt by Menzies Distribution, which will coordinate multiple modes of transport including pedestrian and – one day – bicycle couriers.

The automotive company’s cloud-based software identifies optimum places for van drivers to pull over near multiple drop-off points and then hand over to last leg delivery.

Gnewt is a sustainable urban parcel delivery service that uses an electric fleet. During the trial, its last-mile delivery service will be driven by Ford’s intelligent cloud-based, multi-modal routing and logistics software MoDe:Link, that manages all aspects of parcel delivery from depot to doorstep.

This could help couriers, fleet managers, logistics and food delivery companies optimise processes and increase van utilisation, saving time and money while boosting capacity.

How smart cities can create a road map to reduce risk and improve resiliency

A new report, Smart and Safe: Risk Reduction in Tomorrow’s Cities, from the EastWest Institute (EWI), gives direction to urban leaders who want to reduce risks and create more resilient cities.The report covers four main areas: Cybersecurity, cyber resilience, privacy and data protection and collaboration and coordination in governance. Unisys, Microsoft, Huawei Technologies and NXP Semiconductors provided input.

“The rapid evolution of smart cities is both exciting and daunting due to the incredible pace of technological change and adoption,” said Bruce McConnell, EWI global vice president and co-author of the report. “This guide was developed to recognize and support all key stakeholders involved—municipalities, governments, urban planners, businesses and community leaders—to help them safeguard smart cities for the future.”

Study Finds Bike-Share Hurts Buses, but Might Help Trains

Bike-share operations — along with e-scooters — could be contributing to reductions in bus ridership as city dwellers forgo waiting at bus stops and grab a bike easily and cheaply via smartphone app. A study has found that every 1,000 bikes on or near a bus route in New York City contributed to a 1.7 percent to 2.4 decrease in bus ridership. That’s from a new study out of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Kentucky.

Bus trips tend to be two to three miles in length, said Greg Erhardt, one of the authors of the report Understanding the Recent Transit Ridership Decline in Major US Cities: Service Cuts or Emerging Modes?

Given that the length of bus trips closely mirrors those of bike trips, the two modes operate in competition to each other.