July 2021 Tech Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: July 29, 2021

This month’s tech updates include cracking EVs, inaccessible EVs, US lithium, and readying the grid for climate change.

New In the Podcast Playlist

From the Talking Headways Podcast: “This week we’re joined by Andrew Salzberg, head of policy at Transit app. Salzberg talks with us about Transit’s “Guide to Open Mobility as a Service” and discusses how policy can create a better travel experience for everyone. We talk about data standards, what MDS is actually for, and making mobility more like e-mail.”
The playlist is hosted on the ListenNotes service. From the playlist page located here, you can listen to the episodes directly from your browser or click the “subscribe” button to add it to your podcasting app.

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

Uber and Lyft Can’t Find Drivers Because Gig Work Sucks By Edward Ongweso Jr, Motherboard by Vice
“Drivers told Motherboard they’re never coming back because of horrific working conditions before and during the pandemic.”

Lyft is bringing back a version of shared rides by Sara Ashley O’Brien, CNN Business
“Lyft is now slowly bringing back a revamped shared rides option. But as it does, it must confront shifting public health concerns as well as financial risks that predated the pandemic.”

Autonomous Vehicles

Argo AI teams up with Lyft to offer driverless ride-hailing service by Michael Machosky, NEXTpittsburgh
“Pittsburgh’s self-driving startup Argo AI is partnering with Ford Motor Co. and ride-hail company Lyft to offer robotaxi service in Miami by the end of the year and in Austin in 2022.”

Hyundai Just Bought Boston Dynamics. Now What? by Jenn Halweil & Skylar Walters, Interesting Engineering
“On June 21, Hyundai Motor Group, Boston Dynamics, Inc., and SoftBank Group Corp. announced the acquisition of Boston Dynamics by Hyundai for over $1.1 billion. What does this merger mean for the future of robotics and mobility?”

Elon Musk just now realizing that self-driving cars are a ‘hard problem’ by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“Tesla CEO Elon Musk is finally admitting that he underestimated how difficult it is to develop a safe and reliable self-driving car. To which the entire engineering community rose up as one to say, ‘No duh.’ Or at least that’s how it should have happened in a just world.”

Tesla Says Autopilot Makes Its Cars Safer. Crash Victims Say It Kills. by Neal E. Boudette, The New York Times
“A California family that lost a 15-year-old boy when a Tesla hit its pickup truck is suing the company, claiming its Autopilot system was partly responsible.”

Vehicle Electrification

SEPTA’s cracking battery buses raise questions about the future of electric transit by Ryan Briggs, WHYY
“It’s been nearly a year and a half since a passenger set foot inside one of SEPTA’s Proterra buses, which cost nearly a million dollars apiece when they rolled out in 2019. Most are now gathering dust in a South Philly bus depot, riven by cracked chassis and other defects. The diesel and hybrid buses that  SEPTA planned to replace with the all-electric fleet remain in service, with no timeline for the e-buses to return.”

Electric Vehicles Are The Future For Everyone — Except Disabled People by Christopher Reardon, The Verge
“By locating the battery in the floor of the vehicle, auto companies are making it difficult to convert EVs for wheelchair users”
“Retrofitting these vehicles with ramps seems close to impossible due to the architecture. And the only EV on the horizon that could be made accessible isn’t coming until 2023 — and even then, it’s unclear that it will be marketed toward disabled drivers.”

Study dispels myth that electric cars pollute as much as gas-powered cars due to ‘dirty’ grid by Fred Lambert, Electrek
“The ICCT looked at the entire life cycle from sourcing of the battery materials to the production of the vehicle, both BEVs and ICEs, and then compiled driving data in different markets to get an average life-cycle emission from the use of the vehicles.”

Tesla Semi electric truck is finally nearing production by Fred Lambert, Electrek
“After years of delays, Tesla is finally getting closer to the start of production of Tesla Semi, its all-electric semi-truck. The whole truck industry is watching.”

GM moves to secure critical U.S.-sourced lithium for electric vehicle batteries by Michael Wayland, CNBC
“GM announced the deal Friday as a way to accelerate the adoption of lithium extraction methods that cause less impact to the environment and increase domestic supply of the metal. Both are major concerns of the Biden administration as well as investors as automakers release a slew of new EVs this decade.”

The US power grid isn’t ready for climate change by Rebecca Heilweil, Vox
“It’s abundantly clear that the power grid in the United States is not ready for the effects of climate change, including the extreme weather events that come with it. After all, climate change isn’t just increasing the demand for energy to keep people cool or warm amid heat waves and winter storms. It’s also damaging the grid itself.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces $182 Million in Grants to Expand Low or No Emission Transit Vehicles & Facilities Nationwide
“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today announced approximately $182 million in funding for low and no emissions buses and the facilities that support them. This program helps contribute to the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by fifty percent by the end of the decade.”

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

U.S. Finally Gets First Mobility as a Service Platform by Kea Wilson, Streetsblog USA
“Today, the Steel City will launch its long-awaited Move PGH pilot, which is being touted as the first comprehensive ‘mobility as a service’ (MaaS) app in United States history.”

Can ride-sharing technology change local transit? Seattle-area county testing app-based bus system by Mike Lewis, GeekWire
“In a project announced Wednesday, The Routing Company is launching a pilot program to change a portion of Bainbridge Island’s bus system to an app-based, on-demand ride-sharing service that will allow people to call the bus right to their front door and get delivered directly to their destination.”

The Innovative Mobility Landscape: The Case of Mobility as a Service by Philippe Crist, et al, International Transport Forum

Other Noteworthy Mobility Technology News

This app shows pedestrians the shadiest walking route on hot days by Adele Peters, Fast Company
Most mapping apps are designed with drivers in mind. A new tool from a Barcelona public agency helps pedestrians avoid the sun on their stroll.

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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