February 2022 Tech Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: February 28, 2022
Tech update headlines

Passenger hyperloop is dead, glorified golf carts for all, and transit agencies buy automated buses. Just a few of the over 25 articles about transit technology relevant to mobility managers.

TNCs

Uber And Lyft Are Taking On Healthcare, And Drivers Are Just Along For The Ride by Nicole Wetsman, The Verge 
“The studies done so far show that improving health access isn’t as simple as just using an algorithm to book people rides[…]. […] The car needs to be accompanied by a more robust understanding of what people’s barriers to care are and a way to identify the subset of people where access to a more flexible and on-time ride is what’s needed to help them make it to their doctor’s appointments.”

Autonomous Vehicles

Companies are racing to make self-driving cars. But why? by David Zipper, The Washington Post
“It’s a good time to ask an even more fundamental question: What exactly is the point of self-driving cars? The answer, despite more than $100 billion in investment over the last decade, according to McKinsey, remains surprisingly nebulous. And that should trouble us — a lot.”

Tesla recalls Full Self Driving feature that lets cars roll through stop signs by Steve Dent, TechCrunch
“Tesla reportedly agreed to the recall after two meetings with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) officials. It affects nearly 54,000 vehicles including 2016-2022 Model S and X EVs, 2017-2022 Model 3s and 2020-2022 Model Ys. ‘Failing to stop at a stop sign can increase the risk of a crash,’ the NHTSA wrote in the recall report.”

This is not a self-driving car by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
It’s completely understandable why we keep making this mistake over and over again. These are new and complex issues that are not easily understood by people who are not immersed in this linguistic debate on a daily basis. But I thought I’d write this just to serve as a reference point in the future because it’s my guess this is going to come up again. And again.

Self-driving car companies zoom ahead, leaving U.S. regulators behind by David Shepardson, Hyunjoo Jin and Joseph White, Reuters
“Self-driving vehicle companies from Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) to General Motors Co’s (GM.N) Cruise are racing to start making money with their technology, outrunning efforts by regulators and Congress to write rules of the road for robot-driven vehicles.”

‘Full Self-Driving’ clips show Teslas on train tracks and fighting for control, and experts see deep flaws by Faiz Siddiqui and Reed Albergotti, The Washington Post
“The footage includes a scene in which a driver appears to be fighting for control with the advanced driver-assistance software, as well as clips showing cars failing to properly interpret critical road markings and signs and ordinary pedestrian behavior.”

Driverless cars won’t be good for the environment if they lead to more auto use by Giovanni Circella and Scott Hardman, The Conversation
“A transportation future that is automated, electric and shared could be environmentally sustainable – but in our view, it’s unlikely to evolve that way on its own.”

Concerns about safe deployment of autonomous vehicles aired at Congressional hearing by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“While industry representatives praised the potential benefits of automated vehicles (AVs), speakers reflecting the views of state and local government organizations expressed concerns about costs, congestion, and the readiness of their communities for the coming technology in automobiles and commercial vehicles. One witness disputed the safety claims often made for autonomous vehicles. ‘To date, the approach of pursuing voluntary industry agreements, sometimes with government agency involvement, consistently has been demonstrated to be insufficient to ensure public safety,’ said Catherine Chase, president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.”

Intel’s Mobileye, partners to launch self-driving shuttles in U.S. in 2024 by Hyunjoo Jin, Reuters
“Intel Corp’s Mobileye unit plans to build and deploy self-driving electric shuttle vehicles with its partners in the United States in 2024, in a bid to scale up its automated driving systems beyond taxis and delivery vehicles, executives told Reuters.”

Zoox robotaxis are already mingling with the public on semi-private test courses by Kirsten Korosec, TechCrunch
“Zoox has built dozens of custom-built electric robotaxis and is testing them in one or more ‘semi-private courses’ in California, according to the company’s co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson.”

Self-Driving Cars Still Have A Lot To Learn by Owen Bellwood, Jalopnik
“In The Golden State, some of the companies pioneering self-driving cars have been testing their autonomous vehicles out on the streets. Firms like Cruise, Waymo and Apple have all sent fleets of autonomous vehicles out onto the roads in California to test their mettle. And now, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has published a report outlining every issue these self-driving cars faced in 2021.”

Automated Bus Consortium™ issues request for proposals to procure full-size highly automated buses
“The Automated Bus Consortium™, a collective of U.S. transit agencies and departments of transportation, announced today the release of a request for proposals (RFP) to procure up to seventy full-size Level 4 automated buses.”

Vehicle Electrification

More electric buses join transit fleets as costs and technology improve By Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“Planning, training and learning from other cities will smooth the transition to zero-emission bus fleets, say transit leaders.”

Transit IDEA Project 96: Multi-stage Planning for Electrifying Transit Bus Systems with Multi-format Charging Facilities
“The TRB IDEA (Innovations Deserving Exploratory Analysis) Program’s Transit IDEA Final Report 96: Multi-stage Planning for Electrifying Transit Bus Systems with Multi-format Charging Facilities details a decision support tool that can be used by transit authorities when making electrification-related decisions, including selecting routes for electric bus operations and determining locations for installing dynamic wireless charging facilities (DWCF) to ensure uninterrupted operations of electric buses.”

BasiGo secures $4.3 million in seed funding to accelerate mass transit EV adoption in Kenya by Annie Njanja, TechCrunch
“Kenya-based EV startup BasiGo has closed $4.3 million in seed funding, three months after setting up operations in East Africa’s biggest economy, to provide clean-energy mass transit vehicles in a country that is heavily-reliant on fossil-fuel buses.”

Glorified Electric Golf Carts For All by Aaron Gordon
“OK, it’s not exactly a golf cart, but it’s pretty close. It’s called a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV). They’re typically small, golf cart-sized EVs. Some are straight up golf carts. Others look like small cars but, technologically speaking, are little more than glorified golf carts.”

New Study Finds Rapidly Declining Costs for Zero-Emitting Freight Trucks and Buses, Environmental Defense Fund
“By 2027, electric freight trucks and buses will become less expensive to purchase and to operate than their combustion engine counterparts, according to a new study done by Roush Industries for Environmental Defense Fund.”

3 Design Considerations for Electric School Bus Vehicle-to-Grid Programs by Norma Hutchinson and Greggory Kresge, TheCityFix
“Utilities are exploring how electric school buses can function as giant rolling batteries to support the power grid, enabling greater renewable electricity generation and providing disaster relief, through the use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies.”

The Post Office Is Buying Gas-Powered Trucks, Despite Biden Climate Order by Lisa Friedman, The New York Times
“A senior House Democrat called on Wednesday for the resignation of Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, saying he flouted President Biden’s plan to electrify the federal fleet by placing a multibillion-dollar order for mostly gasoline-powered vehicles.”

How the USPS Justified Buying 9 Times More Gas Cars Than It Needs by Aaron Gordon, Vice
“The postal service says 5 percent of delivery routes are too long for electric vehicles, so it has no choice but to replace 90 percent of its fleet with gas cars. Seriously.”

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

Microtransit Programs Promise On-Demand Transportation For All by Bill Donahue, Bloomberg Green + CityLab
“But in small towns and cities, pilot programs underscore the inefficiencies and high costs inherent in this model.”

Sidewalk detection and safety monitoring are creating ‘watershed moment’ for micromobility by Jason Plautz, Smart Cities Dive
“Cities are ‘setting the bar’ for safety as scooters and other small vehicles proliferate, according to Superpedestrian Development and Public Affairs Director Paul White.”

Virgin just signaled the Hyperloop dream is dying with shock layoffs of half its staff by Eamon Barrett, Fortune
“Virgin Hyperloop laid off almost half of its staff working on Friday, making 111 people redundant, as the company shifts focus from transporting people to shipping freight.”

Research

A Literature Review of Wheelchair Transportation Safety Relevant to Automated Vehicles by Kathleen D. Klinich, Miriam A. Manary, Nichole R. Orton, Kyle J. Boyle and Jingwen Hu, University of Michigan, Transportation Research Institute
“This paper reviews the literature related to wheelchair transportation safety, with a focus on topics that are relevant for providing the opportunity for safe, independent use of automated vehicles to people who use wheelchairs.”

TCRP Synthesis 161: ADA Paratransit and Other Demand-Responsive Transportation Services in Small to Midsized Transit Agencies
“The TRB Transit Cooperative Research Program’s TCRP Synthesis 161: ADA Paratransit and Other Demand-Responsive Transportation Services in Small to Midsized Transit Agencies explores paratransit delivery models for small and midsize systems and documents the way various service and contract models are structured, to enhance the knowledge base of small agencies.” This includes topics related to technology used for such services.

Other News Involving Mobility Technology

Open Mobility Foundation rolls out data standards for curb space by Jason Plautz, Smart Cities Dive
“After creating the Mobility Data Specification tool, a set of data standards for cities to collect data from mobility-as-a-service companies, the nonprofit Open Mobility Foundation (OMF) is rolling out similar standards that will provide open communication about curb space.”

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Kirby Wilhelm (wilhelm@ctaa.org).

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