October 2022 Tech Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: November 1, 2022

Safety-focused AV Startup Argo AI and FedEx robot delivery program shut down, tele-operated cars may come to Las Vegas, electric buses as backup power for buildings, and the importance of statewide cybersecurity strategies. These are just a few of the many articles on transit technology assembled for mobility managers and brought to you by the National Center for Mobility Management.

TNCs

Federal gig worker proposal tanks Uber, Lyft and DoorDash stocks by Harri Weber, TechCrunch
“The stock prices of Uber, Lyft and DoorDash slid on Tuesday after the Department of Labor announced proposed changes to how workers should be classified. The prospective guidance is intended to “combat employee misclassification,” the federal agency said in a statement.”

Autonomous Vehicles

FedEx is shutting down its robot delivery program by James Vincent, Verge 
“FedEx is stopping development of its last-mile delivery robot, Roxo. The news was first reported by Robotics 24/7, with FedEx confirming to the publication that the company would be shifting focus away from the bot to more ‘nearer-term opportunities.'”

Argo AI, driverless startup backed by Ford and VW, is shutting down by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“The company, which was founded by veterans of Google and Uber’s self-driving car projects, has lost the financial support of Ford and VW, a source said.”

Ford CEO Farley explains the business factors behind Argo AI’s shuttering by A. Tarantola, Engadget
“In short, Ford is refocusing its investments away from the longer-term goal of Level 4 autonomy (that’s a vehicle capable of navigating without human intervention though manual control is still an option) for the more immediate short term gains in faster L2+ and L3 autonomy.”

Uber and Motional to roll out autonomous ride-hail and delivery services in US cities by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“A spokesperson for Motional, which develops Level 4 autonomous vehicles for ride-hail and delivery networks, said the company believes ‘this will be the largest robotaxi deployment on a major ride-hail network.'”

Why Cruise is making its own chips, and a lot more besides by Roberto Baldwin, TechCrunch
“Amid a hiring spree that began in 2019 and continued into 2020, Cruise doubled down on its own hardware, including its own board and sensors. The investment has helped the company develop smaller, lower-cost hardware for its vehicles. It has also resulted in its first production board, the C5, which is powering the current generation of autonomous Chevy Bolts.”

Don’t expect your car’s safety technology to save you By David Zipper, The Verge
Driver assistance can be as hyped as autonomous vehicles: “Automakers tout advanced driver-assistance systems like adaptive cruise control and emergency braking as a solution to the epidemic of traffic fatalities. But what if they’re just convenience features?”

Halo Car’s teleoperated car-sharing service to roll out this year with no one behind the wheel by Jaclyn Trop, TechCrunch
“Halo Car, a Las Vegas-based startup that combines teleoperations and car sharing, said it will remove the human safety operator from behind the wheel later this year — the last hurdle before its commercial launch. The milestone would mean Halo Car will use humans to remotely control vehicles through public streets and deliver them to its car-sharing service customers.”

Even After $100 Billion, Self-Driving Cars Are Going Nowhere by Max Chafkin, Bloomberg
“They were supposed to be the future. But prominent detractors—including Anthony Levandowski, who pioneered the industry—are getting louder as the losses get bigger.”

AV industry still needs to prove safety to cities and states, mobility leaders say by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
“Consider public acceptance of autonomous vehicles now and when taxpayers may have to pay for the technology that enables connected roads, MOVE America conference speakers said.”

Lyft exec was wrong about driverless vehicles — but he still believes in their potential by Michael Wayland, CNBC
“In 2016, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer predicted most of the company’s rides would be self-driving within five years, a transformation that would largely eliminate the need for costly drivers. Today, the ride-hailing company is still nowhere near that milestone, and Zimmer, Lyft’s president, isn’t saying when he thinks it might come to pass. But he still believes self-driving vehicles remain a critical part of Lyft’s future.”

Shocking: People Who Buy ‘Semi-Autonomous’ Cars Pay Less Attention While Driving by Steve DaSilva, Jalopnik
“The findings were expected but still terrifying: regular users of these driver assist systems pay less attention to the road, and more attention to other non-driving activities.”

Drones in cities are a bad idea by Devin Coldewey, techcrunch
“It’s year five, or maybe 10, of ‘drones are going to revolutionize transport,’ and so far we’ve got very little to show for it. Maybe it’s time to put these foolish ambitions to rest and focus on where this technology could actually do some good, rather than pad out a billionaire’s bottom line or let the rich skip traffic.”

Vehicle Electrification

Fleet Electrification Solution Center
The Environmental Defense Fund has put together a polished process aimed at giving businesses “everything [they] need to know about transitioning [their] Class 3-8 vehicles.”

Oakland tests electric transit buses for resilience in vehicle-to-building pilot by Robert Walton, Smart Cities Dive 
“Battery electric buses and hydrogen fuel cell-electric buses will provide backup power to the West Oakland Branch of the Oakland Public Library, where residents can shelter “in the event of unhealthy heat or smoke conditions,” the groups said in a press release.”

Inside the only lithium producer in the U.S., which provides the critical mineral used in batteries by Tesla, EV makers by Pippa Stevens, CNBC
“The U.S. used to be a leader in lithium production, but it’s since ceded that position to foreign nations, including China. Now the Biden administration has said that bringing battery supply chains back to U.S. shores is a matter of national importance, and the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act — the largest climate package in U.S. history — underscores this new push toward domestic production of vital materials.”

There’s lithium in them thar hills – but fears grow over US ‘white gold’ boom by Oliver Milman, the Guardian
“The treasured mineral is critical for electric vehicles and could help slow global heating, but locals worry about the harmful extraction near tribal land”

BMW plans to invest $1.7 billion in U.S. to produce electric vehicles by Michael Wayland, CNBC
“The investment will include $1 billion for production of EVs at BMW’s South Carolina plant, and $700 million for a new battery-assembly facility in the state. BMW also announced a deal to purchase battery cells from Japan-based Envision AESC, which will build a new battery cell factory in South Carolina.”

Environmentalists say NJ Transit’s plan to add 550 diesel buses will make air pollution worse in cities by Larry Higgs, NJ.com
“NJ Transit officials argue they’re caught between an aging bus fleet and a hard market place for electrics. NJ Transit will need to replace 1,338 NABI Transit/Suburban buses that went in service between 2009 and 2014 in order to maintain service and prevent deterioration in fleet reliability, said Jim Smith, a spokesperson. Smith said there is limited availability of battery powered ‘zero emission’ buses to buy and that it takes time to build the infrastructure needed to charge them.”

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

MobilityData takes over micromobility open-data standard by Michael Brady, Smart Cities Dive 
“MobilityData, a nonprofit aiming to ease travel through shared data and information, will permanently oversee the General Bikeshare Feed Specification, an open standard for micromobility data-sharing”

Bird is pulling its scooters out of ‘several dozen’ cities, but it won’t say which ones by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge 
“Bird is exiting three European countries — Germany, Sweden, and Norway — as well as ‘several dozen’ small- to mid-sized cities in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The cash-strapped shared scooter company also said it would be laying off an undisclosed number of employees in the affected markets, though it declined to share which cities it would be leaving.”

E-Bikes Gain Momentum as a Climate, Traffic Solution by Alex Brown, Stateline
“As electric bicycles, or e-bikes, grow in popularity, enthusiasts increasingly see them as a tool to reduce auto traffic and air pollution, not just as a fun new toy.”

Stockholm Thinks It Can Have an Electric Bikeshare Program So Cheap It’s Practically Free by Aaron Gordon, Vice
“The new service, Stockholm eBikes, started relatively small, with just over a thousand bikes this past summer, but will grow to more than 5,000 for this coming summer. However, this is not just another bikeshare program. First, all of the bikes are electric. And second, it is ridiculously, ludicrously, almost impossibly cheap to use.”

MaaS needs legislation, says Antwerp’s transport chief by Christopher Carey, Cities Today
Thoughts from Koen Kennis, Deputy Mayor for Mobility at the City of Antwerp.

MaaS Global, creator of MaaS app Whim, lays off staff as it ‘re-organises’, TransportXtra
“Sampo Hietanen, CEO and founder of Finnish start-up MaaS Global, creator of the mobility-as-a-service app Whim, has said the company is ‘reorganising’. That includes laying off more employees, after having closed at least one country operation last month, specialist magazine Mobility Payments reported.”

E-fare

Study: Cash payments remain a key part of equitable transit, Around the O
“Today, there are more ways than ever to pay a bus fare. Instead of painstakingly counting their change into a farebox, transit riders can quickly tap their phone or swipe an auto-reloadable transit card. These modern options bring increased convenience for many riders and speed up the boarding process. But they also risk leaving behind the most marginalized public transit users. Leaving an option to pay with cash remains an essential part of equitable public transit, a new study says.”

Research

How can smart mobility bridge the first/last mile gap? Empirical evidence on public attitudes from Australia by Luke Butler, Tan Yigitcanlar, Alexander Paz, and Wala Areed, Journal of Transport Geography
“The study findings offer policy insights and potential opportunities and challenges associated with the implementation of smart mobility in urban areas.”

    Other News Involving Transit and Technology

    Cybersecurity needs a statewide approach, state chief information officers, Deloitte say in new report by Michael Brady, Smart Cities Dive
    The report recommends that states adopt a statewide cybersecurity approach and reform their recruiting and retention practices to attract cybersecurity professionals, many of whom are younger and have different values and expectations than older workers, it says. It also recommends that states increase their cybersecurity budgets and upgrade technology to combat new cybersecurity threats.

    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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