April Tech Updates
- Author: Kevin Chambers
- Date: April 27, 2023
It’s been a busy month in the world of mobility and technology: several big transit agencies announcing big plans on…
2022 is nearly out the door, leaving some clear trends in the realm of mobility technology. Demand for all types of electric vehicles has surged to unprecedented levels, generating new demands and challenges throughout the EV supply chain. Meanwhile, while autonomous vehicles continue to be deployed as pilots, companies shut down or scaled down their ambitions, "testing the patience" of investors. Bikeshare ends on a high note, while scooter-ish ventures struggle to recover from the pandemic. 2023 will be a year to watch for, with the Inflation Reduction Act's clean energy provisions kicking in. Enjoy these 40 articles to start off your new year!
Lyft Aspired to Kill Car Ownership. Now It Aims to Profit From It by Aarian Marshall, Wired
"The company once claimed that ride-hail services and robotaxis would make personal cars obsolete. Mounting losses have prompted a rethink. [...] Over the past few years, Lyft and Uber have had to come to grips with, well, the transportation business. It turns out that it’s very hard to make money off rides; neither has yet posted a true profit. Lyft’s share price has dropped more than 80 percent since it went public in 2019. This month, the company laid off 13 percent of its workforce, citing economic headwinds."
Lyft offers its ride-sharing drivers incentives to switch to EVs by Michael Brady, Smart Cities Dive
"Ride-hailing service Lyft will offer several benefits to U.S. drivers to encourage them to switch to electric vehicles, the company announced in a blog post Monday."
Auto industry reassesses autonomous vehicles, creating uncertainty for city leaders by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
"No clear consensus on the future of AVs exists among technologists, vehicle makers, software and hardware suppliers, and other industry experts. That could leave city and state leaders wondering how to prepare for an eventuality that may or may not happen."
Apple Scales Back Self-Driving Car and Delays Debut Until 2026 by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg
"The car project, dubbed Titan inside the company, has been in limbo for the past several months as Apple executives grappled with the reality that its vision for a fully autonomous vehicle — without a steering wheel or pedals — isn’t feasible with current technology."
Motional and Lyft will launch a robotaxi service in Los Angeles by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
"The AV operator is a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv. LA will be its second robotaxi market with Lyft, after launching a service in Las Vegas earlier this year. [...] Motional, the autonomous vehicle joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv, is bringing its robotaxis to Los Angeles, where they will be available to hail through the Lyft app."
Without New Regulations, Self-Driving Cars Could Make Our Transportation System Even Worse by Yonah Freemark, Next City
"Op-ed: In the decade or so before driverless cars roll out en masse, lawmakers must take the time to develop regulations that maximize their benefits and minimize their harms."
Autonomous driving’s blunders are good news for the climate by Tim De Chant, TechCrunch
"Not quite a decade ago, two technologies were racing toward an unseen finish line. They weren’t competing with each other — the adoption of one didn’t lock out the other. But to avoid catastrophic climate consequences, the order of the finish mattered. Autonomous vehicles had to lose, and electric vehicles had to win."
Waymo’s driverless robotaxis are now doing airport trips in Phoenix by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
"Waymo is sending its fully driverless cars to handle some of the trickiest types of passenger pickups you can muster: airport trips."
U.S. opens safety probe into autonomous driving system in GM's Cruise vehicles by David Shepardson, Reuters
"U.S. auto safety regulators said on Friday they have opened a formal safety probe into the autonomous driving system in vehicles produced by General Motors Co's robotaxi unit Cruise LLC after reports of two injuries in rear-end crashes."
Slow Self-Driving Car Progress Tests Investors’ Patience by Tim Higgins, WSJ
"After years of ambitious targets and bold promises, investors are growing impatient with the pace of driverless-car development, applying pressure on an industry that had become accustomed to latitude and piles of cash from investors."
Self-Driving Taxis Are Causing All Kinds of Trouble in San Francisco by David Zipper, Slate
"They’ve blocked traffic, driven on the sidewalk, sped away from cops—and the city is powerless to stop them. [...] With California officials granting their first AV deployment permits allowing passenger service this year, the city now offers a preview of what’s to come in other places where self-driving companies are now fanning out, with expansions announced for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Austin."
New California law effectively bans Tesla from advertising its cars as Full Self-Driving by Ricardo Cano, The San Francisco Chronicle
"The new law, sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Lena Gonzalez of Long Beach, prohibits California dealers and manufacturers from “deceptively naming or marketing” a car as self-driving if it’s equipped with only partial automation features that still require human drivers to pay attention and handle driving."
Opinion: Self-Driving Cars Are a Natural Fit for Rural America by Adam Minter, Bloomberg
"An aging population that often lives far from essential services is giving autonomous vehicles a chance to prove they can make a difference."
Electric vehicle sales surged in 2022 by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
"And the shift toward zero-emission vehicles hasn’t been limited to personal vehicles. With funding from the Federal Transit Administration under its low- or no-emission bus program, more cities and transit agencies are ordering electric transit buses — so many that bus manufacturers are struggling to deliver them."
US Wants Trucks and Buses to Be All-Electric by 2040 by Jay Ramey, Autoweek
"The US has signed on to an effort to achieve 100% zero-emission bus and truck sales by the year 2040, in a move announced at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt last week. The non-binding Global Memorandum of Understanding (Global MOU) on Zero-Emission Medium-and Heavy-Duty Vehicles charts a path toward an electric and hydrogen-powered future for segments that have received relatively little attention in the past decade, even as interest in consumer EVs has grown. [...] A total of 16 other countries signed the MoU, including the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Uruguay, Turkey, Austria, Canada, and others."
Electric transit bus orders boom after FTA funds 1,100 buses by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
"As federal money from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law begins to flow, growing numbers of transit agency orders for electric buses are challenging bus manufacturers to deliver these vehicles amid continued supply chain disruptions."
Group of European cities call for 2027 deadline to end sale of CO2 emitting buses by Christopher Pitchers, euronews
"Paris, Barcelona, Rotterdam and Milan are among some of the 11 places that want [the European Commission] to set a sales target, whereby only zero-emission buses will be sold on the continent."
Electric vehicle makers burning cash, slammed by sky-high costs by Akash Sriram, Reuters
"Every time Lucid Group Inc (LCID.O) or Rivian Automotive Inc (RIVN.O) sells an electric car, they are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to staggering raw material and production costs, their latest earnings statements showed."
Largest bus dealer in the US tackling the transportation crisis with custom Ford E-Transit EVs by Peter Johnson, Electrek
"The largest bus and transport services vehicle dealer in the US, Creative Bus Sales, is teaming up with Forest River Bus to meet the surging demand for zero-emission paratransit electric vans. Creative Bus Sales says it will have 1,000 Ford E-Transit EVs customized by Forest river available by the end of 2022."
High demand for electric vehicles send lithium mines into overdrive by Camila Domonoske, NPR
"Lithium is a key component of electric vehicle batteries, and the world needs a lot more of it to reduce fossil fuel use and avoid climate catastrophe. The obvious but environmentally problematic answer - build mines. Turns out new mines aren't the only way to get more out of a hot commodity."
The dirty road to clean energy: how China’s electric vehicle boom is ravaging the environment by Antonia Timmerman, Rest of World
"In neighboring Indonesia, nickel extraction is causing environmental and social devastation."
American Battery Factory’s first ‘gigafactory’ inches toward reality by Harri Weber, TechCrunch
"American Battery Factory’s big plan to build a bunch of, erm, American battery factories got a jolt Tuesday when Tucson, Arizona, gave the company the go-ahead to locate its first plant near the city’s airport."
Redwood Materials announces $3.5 billion EV battery recycling plant in South Carolina by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
"Redwood claims that by recycling EV batteries domestically, it can help drive down emissions and reduce global insecurity, with an eye toward reuse and recovery."
Electric school buses are giving kids a cleaner, but costlier, ride to class by John Rosevear, CNBC
“They’re much better, and their savings are much greater once you actually get them into the depot,” Sue Gander, a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official, told CNBC in a recent interview. “But the upfront is such that, without [government] incentives, you can’t break even [in comparison to diesel buses].”
U.S. Postal Service to transform delivery fleet with 66,000 electric vehicles by 2028 by Rebecca Picciotto, CNBC
"The electric vehicles would amount to more than half the 106,000 vehicles it plans to acquire for delivery between now and 2028."
Why car companies should fear the golf cart by David Zipper, Fast Company
"Virtually all micromobility devices cost a few thousand dollars or less, a tiny fraction of a new car. The same holds true for an emergent class of electric, four-wheeled low-speed vehicles that resemble golf carts—larger than a micromobility device but still smaller and slower than a car."
Small steps, big effects: How to get started with MaaS by Stephan Sünderkamp, Intelligent Transport
"In this interview, Stephan Sünderkamp, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – HAFAS at Hacon, explains the reasons why this is the case and how these transport companies can overcome these obstacles and begin profiting from MaaS."
Mixed Fleets: The Future of Microtransit and Paratransit by Kristoffer Vik Hansen (CEO and co-founder of Spare), Mass Transit
"Mixed fleets, also referred to as intelligent trip brokering, utilize non-dedicated service providers (such as TNCs and taxis) enabling transit agencies to access vehicles which are not part of their own dedicated fleet network."
In-Depth Focus: Mobility-as-a-Service by Intelligent Transport
"Intelligent Transport Issue 4 2022’s Mobility-as-a-Service In-Depth Focus features articles from Transdev and Keolis Group discussing why MaaS is only one piece of the mobility integration puzzle to achieve modal shift and drive the transition away from the private car, and the role that mobile applications play in making MaaS more easily accessible."
Micromobility service provider Spin to leave 10 U.S. markets by Michael Brady, Smart Cities Dive
"Bird, Lime, Spin and others have largely blamed changing travel behaviors, new restrictions on micromobility use, market competition and broader economic concerns, such as inflation and less available venture capital funding, for their financial struggles."
Micromobility’s rocky 2022 recovery by Michael Brady, Smart Cities Dive
Micromobility’s growth in the U.S. started strong in 2022 before sputtering in the face of economic headwinds.
Research: Scooters Cut Car Travel and Emissions More Than Previously Thought by Kea Wilson, Streetsblog USA
"A pair of new studies are challenging the myth that micromobility doesn’t cut car travel or reduce more emissions than the modes they tend to replace. [...] Taken together, Lime says the two studies are proof positive that cities are underestimating how critical micromobility is to their residents — and their collective climate future."
Bikeshare Roars Back From the Pandemic by Sarah Holder, Bloomberg
"E-scooters were less resilient, in part because their operators pulled out of many cities in early 2020 as lockdowns started, tourists vanished, and the investor cash that had helped them initially flood markets dried up."
PBOT bulks up ‘transportation wallet’ program by Jonathan Maus, BikePortland
"Along with their more developed 'Access for All' program, PBOT is also planning to launch a Transportation Wallet app created in collaboration with RideShark. This new tech will 'allow users to more precisely track their credits and more easily redeem them' and 'provide program planners with useful information to better tailor the program to customers’ needs and deliver more targeted outreach to drive program engagement.'"
NCHRP Research Report 1001: Framework for Assessing Potential Safety Impacts of Automated Driving Systems
"The report describes a framework to help state and local agencies assess the safety impact of ADS and is designed to guide them on how to adapt the framework for a variety of scenarios."
NCHRP Synthesis 597: Micromobility Policies, Permits, and Practices
Micromobility vehicles and shared micromobility technologies are deploying rapidly in many cities across the United States and internationally. Lacking a standard definition, micromobility can include any small, personal transportation technology that travels slower than 20 to 30 miles per hour, may be motorized, and is frequently operated on pedestrian- or bicycle-oriented infrastructure (often, bicycles, e-bikes, or e-scooters).
NCHRP Web-Only Document 331: Mobility on Demand and Automated Driving Systems: A Framework for Public-Sector Assessment
"[This document] provides resources that identify key stakeholders and partnerships, offers emerging lessons learned, and provides sample regulations that can be used to help plan for and integrate emerging modes"
TCRP Legal Research Digest 59: Legal Issues and Emerging Technologies
"[This publication] provides transportation attorneys with guidance and resources to assist with these legal changes resulting from the implementation of technology, including regulatory challenges, risk management, cybersecurity, privacy, handling confidential and proprietary information, intellectual property rights, civil rights and environmental justice compliance, labor and employment law, and procurement issues"
How a ‘City Bus Manager’ Video Game Could Become an Advocacy Tool by Kea Wilson, Streetsblog USA
"Unsurprisingly, the game has already attracted a small army of transit nerds who are painstakingly customizing their buses to their tastes and debating the merits of various route planning approaches on a companion Discord channel."
Elon Musk’s Boring Company Ghosts Cities Across America by Ted Mann and Julie Bykowicz, WSJ
"The six-year-old company has repeatedly teased cities with a pledge to “solve soul-destroying traffic,” only to pull out when confronted with the realities of building public infrastructure, according to former executives and local, state and federal government officials who have worked with Mr. Musk’s Boring. The company has struggled with common bureaucratic hurdles like securing permits and conducting environmental reviews, the people said."
Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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