January 2020 Technology Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: January 15, 2020

New In the Podcast Playlist

On the War on Cars podcast: Kara Swisher Says Car Ownership is Finished.

"Last March, renowned tech journalist and prognosticator Kara Swisher wrote a New York Times opinion piece with the headline, 'Owning a car will soon be as quaint as owning a horse.' In it, she declared she would sell her own car and vowed she would never again own an automobile. 'The concept of actually purchasing, maintaining, insuring and garaging an automobile in the next few decades? Finished,' she wrote." In September, Ms Swisher also wrote a follow-up opinion piece titled, "The Ups and Downs of Life Without Wheels of My Own."

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.

The 2020 Consumer Electronics Show

Every January since 1967, CES, "The Global Stage for Innovation", happens in Las Vegas. It's the place where a lot of technology-related announcements get made, and where hype is at its peak. Transportation is a featured topic at CES this year, with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao being a keynote speaker. Below are a few of the announcements (including one from Secretary Chao about AI regulation for AVs) that have made headlines in the transportation press.

But first, a couple anti-hype inoculants: somewhat recent articles for your consideration when assessing the value of a new technology that's made the news:

  • Back in October, Angie Schmitt wrote in The Atlantic about how Uber Copter and the move toward flying cars help wealthy urbanites escape unmaintained infrastructure and thus sap their willingness to participate in the development of policies that advance the mobility of everyone.
  • In December 2018, Jarrett Walker wrote about how futuristic-seeming projects such as Elon Musk's tunnels have the effect of muddying the public discourse about what kind of technology and infrastructure truly scales up to serve the public good effectively.

Now on the latest from CES:

A number of announcements about electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, AKA flying cars

Also news from large players about (non-flying) autonomous vehicles

Overall CES takeaways

Acquisition and Investment Roundup

Cubic Corp. Completes Acquisitions Of Delerrok And Pixia by RTT News

Large fare collection provider Cubic acquires Delerrok, which has gained traction as an e-fare platform provider for small and mid-sized transit operators.

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

How Chicago’s new rideshare fees could lead to more equitable transportation by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network

"The new pricing structure increases charges for downtown trips and lowers rates for shared rides elsewhere in the city."

Uber calls on Congress to boost cyclist, pedestrian safety by Katie Pyzyk, Smart Cities Dive

"Uber also is publicly releasing a free data tool in its Uber Movement platform that shows Jump bike volume within a city, starting with San Francisco, Washington, DC and Paris. The tool will show where bikes and scooters are used most to inform cities' decisions about where infrastructure opportunities exist."

Did Uber Just Enable Discrimination by Destination? by David Zipper, CityLab

"In California, the ride-hailing company is changing a policy used as a safeguard against driver discrimination against low-income and minority riders."

Lyft launches a car rental service with no mileage limit by Sean O'Kane, The Verge

Currently only in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The impact of national ride-hailing regulations: Safety by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

"Incidents of sexual assault and violence have brought renewed scrutiny to ride-hailing, which could lead to bolstered background checks or fingerprinting."

Autonomous Vehicles

Federal AV policy has 'number of parallels' to Boeing 737 MAX policy, critics warn by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

"Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), said USDOT 'chose to disregard legitimate concerns' around safety. Meanwhile, in a statement last week, [Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Cathy] Chase said the claim that AVs must be deployed quickly to avoid the U.S. falling behind other countries — which has been advanced by many, including proponents in Congress — is a 'fallacy.'"

Self-driving cars: Hype-filled decade ends on sobering note by Matt McFarland, CNN Business

It's all a bit harder than many folks thought it was ten years ago.

The road to a safe self-driving future begins with sharing data by Nicola Croce, Mohammad Musa, and Tim Dawkins, World Economic Forum

"[AV driving data]  has always represented a key competitive advantage for AV developers - which is why virtually nothing has been shared beyond the walls of their (mostly) Silicon Valley offices. That is, until now."

A Self-Driving Freight Truck Just Drove Across the Country to Deliver Butter by Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

When the Transportation Revolution Hit the Real World by Alex Davies, Wired

A brief retrospective on the changes in the last decade.

Share Now, formerly Car2Go, is leaving North America by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
An elegy for Car2Go, the smarter Zipcar rival that lost its way by Rob Pegoraro, Fast Company

This after leaving a number of smaller markets earlier in the year. It appears that Daimler and BMW will focusing on Europe instead.

Understanding MaaS and the emerging circular economy of mobility by Robin Chase, Intelligent Transport

Sacramento, CA expands microtransit service with $12M grant by Chris Teal, Smart Cities Dive

The service is operated by ride-hailing company Via. "Via said this expansion, which is funded by a $12 million grant from the Sacramento Transportation Authority, is 'due to its popularity and success.'"

Cities Struggle to Boost Ridership With ‘Uber for Transit’ Schemes by Flavie Halais, Wired

"Helsinki, Los Angeles, Shanghai, Singapore, and other metros have been experimenting with on-demand buses—and not seeing a lot of success."

The Problem with On-Demand “Transit” by Jarrett Walker, Shelterforce

A review of many things about on-demand services just don't pencil out in many situations. Plus, an awesome photo of a dial-a-ride service from 1973.

Toyota launches new brand to focus on mobility services by James Attwood, Autocar

"New Kinto brand will lead Toyota's development of car sharing, subscription and autonomous transport services"

Cubic and Moovit partner to deliver improved mobile experiences by Sam Mehmet, Intelligent Transport

"Under the partnership, Cubic will reportedly integrate Moovit’s MaaS APIs with Cubic’s Traveller App to include service alerts, nearby transit service lines, multimodal trip planning and real-time arrival information."

Roundtable Roundup: Adopting a Common Data Language to Enhance Mobility by Jana Lynott and Dianne Schwager, Eno Transportation Weekly

A report from a roundtable with transit leaders building on the work of TCRP Report 210: Transactional Data Specification for Demand Responsive Transportation.

Personal transport as a service drives across Nordics by Alex Cruickshank, Computer Weekly

"New mobility-as-a-service projects are gaining traction in major cities across Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden"

Personal Car Loses Economic Contest, But Wins Sharing Battle by Neil Winton, Forbes

What's next now that private car sharing is on the ropes?

Open Transport Initiative launches open standard for transport interoperability by Sam Mehmet, Intelligent Transport

E-Fare

Metro delays new payment system contract to consider free fare options by Dug Begley, Houston Chronicle

It's an interesting twist that after so much investment in developing e-fare systems, some agencies may just go fare-free.

Technology and Mobility, Generally

Stop calling Elon Musk’s Boring tunnel public transit by Alissa Walker, Curbed

A car tunnel ≠ public transit. A chronology of how initial hype scales down to something much less disruptive or equitable.

Aira, Microsoft, and Moovit make public transport more accessible for the visually impaired by Paul Sawers, Venture Beat

One-third of young Americans has no driver's license by Frank Jacobs, Global Fleet

This reinforces the podcast at the top of the post. Add in the growing numbers of older adults who'll soon need to give up their car keys, and we have some interesting trends.

Hero image from Newegg via Facebook.

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).