NACTO to award 10 cities street design grants to aid recovery

Dive Brief:
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and Bloomberg Philanthropies will provide a second round of grant funding for its member cities and local community partners to adapt their streets in response to pandemic needs.

Ten city transportation agencies, in tandem with grassroots organizations, each will receive $50,000, technical assistance and access to a “peer network of cities and consultants” to plan and execute the projects across a six-month period. Applications are due May 20.

Projects must center on the needs of populations disproportionately impacted by the public health, social and economic toll of the pandemic while potentially serving as models for equitable streets response recovery across the county and globe, according to NACTO spokesperson Alex Engel.

Orlando offering rewards for residents who use green transportation

The city of Orlando is trying to encourage commuters to ride greener and reduce the usage of single-occupancy cars. In a partnership with the Miles app, the city is offering rewards to Orlandoans who use transit, bike and walk.

The Miles app gamifies moving yourself around the city, logging each trip and mode of transportation used. As users accumulate miles, they’ll receive personalized rewards that are redeemable either online or at a nearby store. Users can choose from more than 200 brands that offer rewards. The city hopes to create custom challenges for commuters to receive city-specific awards.

Oculii, radar software maker for autonomous vehicles, raises $55 million

Oculii, a startup that makes software to boost the resolution of radars for use in self-driving cars, said on Thursday it raised $55 million in its latest funding round.

Radars are already widely used in cars to assist with emergency braking, blindspot detection, and parking-assist systems, but the low resolution of the image limits its usage, said Steven Hong, CEO of the Dayton, Ohio startup.

The artificial intelligence software Oculii has developed can boost the radar resolution by 100 times, Hong said. The picture created by the software and shown to Reuters looked similar to images and maps created using lidars, a laser sensor used in self-driving cars.

AutoX marks first 100 days of fully driverless robotaxi operations

The launch of AutoX’s fully driverless robotaxi in January 2021 was a major milestone for the company, as it provided the first commercial robotaxi service in China and made AutoX the second company in the world to operate a robotaxi service without a safety driver in the vehicle.

According to AutoX, the service has been well received by Shenzhen residents and officials alike. Within the first 100 days of operation, the company claims its service has won over a group of loyal users from the traditional ride-hailing market…

Shenzhen, also known as the Silicon Valley of China, is the first and only city in China where fully driverless cars can operate on public roads.

Updated Drive Oklahoma mobile app provides users with more real-time travel information

Press and hold on the map to enable Auto Tracking Mode, which automatically switches the view to the closest traffic camera as a motorist’s location changes. This also includes a swipe feature to see all available traffic-camera angles at a location.

Mobile app and website users may customize a favorite traffic camera, digital message sign and map locations that they use most to be their default when opening either application.

New data overlays are included to provide an even more inclusive experience, including weather radar data. Electric vehicle charging station locations also have been added.

Navigation tools at the top of the map help users easily toggle between the various maps and features, including the map legend, menu options and links to surrounding states’ traveler information sites.

Users may also notice an improvement in the traffic-camera images as new technology upgrades to the system allow a higher resolution livestream image.

When Autonomous Cars Teach Themselves to Drive Better Than Humans

Cruise has collected millions of miles of real-world data from its sensorized vehicles that include cyclists doing all sorts of things. And their system has built up a model of how certain it can be that when it sees a cyclist, it can accurately predict what that cyclist is going to do next…

Essentially, based on its understanding of the unpredictability of cyclists, the Cruise AV determined that the probability of a safe interaction is improved when it gives cyclists more space, so that’s what it tries to do whenever possible.

This behavior illustrates some of the critical differences between autonomous and human-driven vehicles. Humans drive around with relatively limited situational awareness and deal with things like uncertainty primarily on a subconscious level. AVs, on the other hand, are constantly predicting the future in very explicit ways.

Ford-Backed Argo Sees New Sensor as Key to Self-Driving Cars

The Pittsburgh-based company, which plans to go public as soon as this year, unveiled a lidar sensor Tuesday capable of “seeing” 400 meters (437 yards) down the road with almost photographic detail. Lidar bounces light off objects to create an image of the road ahead, providing critical information to computers that pilot next-generation technology in vehicles without human drivers.

The new sensor will be at the heart of the self-driving system that will debut on Ford’s ride-hailing and delivery vehicles next year and on VW models in the middle of the decade. Argo’s lidar could remove some roadblocks holding back more widespread adoption of driverless technology, in part by improving the visibility of other vehicles in low-light conditions…

Its lidar’s range is about 100 meters greater than current technology, which could enable driverless vehicles to travel at speeds of 65 miles per hour or more, said Sam Abuelsamid, principal analyst with researcher Guidehouse Insights, which just rated Argo among the leaders in self-driving development.

Colorado Mayor Wants All Electric Car Chargers To Be Universal

A gas-powered car can refuel at any pump, but electric vehicles need special chargers. Tesla, for example, built fast chargers for its own drivers, and another luxury brand, Rivian, is planning its own exclusive network of chargers. But all this has created concerns that electric vehicle drivers are going to have to deal with a frustrating patchwork of charging stations. Sam Brasch of Colorado Public Radio reports on one small-town mayor who’s decided to push back.

BRASCH: Rivian is installing thousands of universal chargers, but only slower ones that can take hours to recharge a car. Some agree with Mayor Wood that all fast chargers should work with all vehicles. Costa Samaras of Carnegie Mellon University says that would help drivers feel comfortable on long road trips, no matter what they’re driving.

COSTA SAMARAS: If you want the same functionality as today’s gas station network, we’ll need something that’s more standardized.

New Sea-Tac program lets travelers reserve a time at airport checkpoint

So could a pilot program that debuts Tuesday at the Seattle airport.

The program, called SEA Spot Saver, seeks to streamline wait times by offering digital reservations, or “virtual queuing,” for passengers to go through the TSA screening process…

SEA Spot Saver will test two options.

The SEA Spot Saver program aims to save travelers wait time in the TSA line.
Alaska Airlines passengers can sign up for a security checkpoint appointment online up to 24 hours before their scheduled departure time or once they are in the terminal.

Passengers will receive a QR code to use at the checkpoint at their reservation time. That option is offered by Pangiam and powered by WhyLine and Copenhagen Optimization…

The second option, operated by VHT, is for passengers flying on Delta Air Lines and all other carriers. This option allows passengers to book a checkpoint appointment time by scanning a QR code once they are in the terminal.

New ‘Smart’ Cycling Study Underway in Denver

An innovative study is underway in Denver to better understand cycling and how to improve safety, connectivity and equity. The Downtown Denver Partnership is putting on the study and they are gathering data in a unique way. 300 cyclists were given lights, that are also sensors, to put on their bikes.

The sensors will be able to track the user’s breaking and swerving, even when they’re on rough and uneven pavement conditions. This will allow planners and engineers to better understand where a safety issue may exist prior to a crash occurring.

The study aims to collect data representative of cyclists of all abilities, and who ride their bikes for a variety of reasons — whether to commute to work each day or for leisure and recreation purposes.