Tag Archives: autonomous vehicles

Lyft’s Self-driving Cars Returning to the Road

self-driving car on  city highwayIt’s been awhile since we’ve heard anything about autonomous cars getting out there–they shut down along with everyone else this spring–but Lyft’s AVs have started testing again on tracks in Palo Alto, Calif.

The company said it used the three-month, COVID-mandated, off-road pause to employ machine learning and keep its technology rolling, so to speak. Other AV developers have also reported upping their artificial intelligence learning this year for the same reason. Now, Lyft hopes to compare its simulated test results with real-world driving and see how closely the two match. Either way, AVs are starting to take more steps toward reality.

Read the whole story here.

Parking and the Autonomous Future

Autonomous Vehincles self drivingBy Josh Naramore

There has been a tremendous amount of media attention the last few years offering prognostications and insight into a future where autonomous vehicles are the norm. For the City of Grand Rapids, Mich., the future has merged with the present.

In July 2019, the city with partners launched the Grand Rapids Autonomous Vehicle Initiative (AVGR). AVGR is a collaborative, public-private effort to test the readiness of Grand Rapids for self-driving vehicles.

Through the testing of autonomous shuttles, the partnership aims to create more livable cities, attract next-generation innovation and job creators, and place Grand Rapids at the forefront of testing technology in the real world. The partnership has committed to engage the public, explore ridership trends, innovate accessibility for individuals with disabilities, and study impacts to the built environment. Understanding how autonomous mobility will operate in our world and how people will use or adapt to autonomous mobility is essential to making these systems accessible to people of all backgrounds and abilities. Parking and mobility professionals need to prepare for what the future holds and plan to manage it accordingly.

A future in which autonomous vehicles are the norm requires concerted effort on the part of key stakeholders—both in the public and private sector—to develop vehicles, infrastructure, and operational domain sooner rather than later. As the next wave of mobility emerges, it is vital that Grand Rapids stays on the forefront of learning and understanding how new technologies shape and cultivate consumer behavior.

Josh Naramore is director of Mobile GR & Parking Services for the City of Grand Rapids, Mich. He will present on this topic at the 2020 IPMI Virtual Parking & Mobility Conference & Expo; click here for details and to register.


Member News: Cornell “Ghost drivers” Test Cultural Reactions to Autonomous Cars

In a series of studies conducted in three countries over more than five years, a Cornell Tech-led team has pioneered the use of “ghostdrivers” – cars with drivers disguised under a car seat-like hood, to make the car appear driverless – in order to assess and compare how pedestrians across cultures might actually behave when encountering these cars on the roads.

Read more here

Member News: JTA, Beep & NAVYA Autonomous Shuttles Help Transport COVID-19 Tests Collected at Mayo Clinic Drive-Thru Site in Jacksonville

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA), Beep Inc. and NAVYA partner with Mayo Clinic to safely transport COVID-19 samples on their Jacksonville Campus

JACKSONVILLE, (APRIL 2, 2020) – For the first time in the United States, autonomous AV Mayo Jeep COVID 19 support News 040220vehicles are being used to transport medical supplies and COVID-19 tests at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

At a time when healthcare resources and personnel are stretched thin, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has partnered with Beep and NAVYA to use autonomous vehicles to facilitate the safe transport of COVID-19 tests collected at a drive-thru testing location at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

“This deployment is a historic moment for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority,” said JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel P. Ford Sr.  “Along with our partners Beep, NAVYA and Mayo Clinic, we are leveraging our learnings from three years of testing autonomous vehicles through our Ultimate Urban Circulator program. Our innovative team saw this as an opportunity to use technology to respond to this crisis in Northeast Florida and increase the safety of COVID-19 testing.”

On Monday, March 30, 2020, up to four autonomous vehicles began operating along an initial route, in full autonomous mode without attendants or other people onboard, to transport COVID-19 tests from a drive-thru testing site to a processing laboratory on Mayo Clinic campus.  The COVID-19 test samples are placed in secure containers prior to Mayo Clinic healthcare professionals loading the samples onto the shuttle.

“During a time of rapid change and uncertainty, the ability to think innovatively alongside the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, NAVYA, and Beep during the pandemic has strengthened all of our teams through community collaboration,” said Kent Thielen, M.D., CEO, Mayo Clinic in Florida. “Using artificial intelligence enables us to protect staff from exposure to this contagious virus by using cutting edge autonomous vehicle technology, and frees up staff time that can be dedicated to direct treatment and care for patients. We are grateful to JTA, Beep, and NAVYA for their partnership in these challenging times.”

The JTA, Beep, NAVYA and Bestmile teams partnered to create, test and deploy the routes for the autonomous vehicles at Mayo Clinic in Florida to address the fluid developments of the COVID-19 pandemic. The routes are isolated from pedestrians, traffic and staff. Beep, Mayo Clinic and the JTA will closely monitor the service from a mobile command center to maintain safe operation.

“Mayo Clinic is known as a leader in innovation and technology for providing world-class healthcare services to their patients in so many important areas of medicine,” said Joe Moye, CEO, Beep, Inc. “It is both humbling and exciting to partner with them in bringing this innovative solution to support such a critical challenge facing our country. We are equally as proud to work with our partners at the JTA, NAVYA and Bestmile, a fleet orchestration and optimization software company, in making this happen and doing our part to support this important cause.”

Beep, an autonomous shuttle fleet service provider, transported the shuttles through Eagle Express Inc. from Lake Nona, Florida, an innovation hub 150 miles away where the company is headquartered in Orlando, Florida. An additional shuttle is being utilized from the JTA’s Ultimate Urban Circulator (U2C) program. The JTA has actively tested AV technology since 2017 to prepare for a conversion and expansion of its Skyway automated people mover in Downtown Jacksonville into a network powered by autonomous vehicles.

“The opportunity to work together with these organizations in an effort to provide a dedicated COVID-19 testing solution represents our goal as a company, and that’s to create a more accessible solution in the moments that matter, whether that be crisis, shortage in manpower and resources, or other areas we can provide aid in,” said Étienne Hermite, CEO of NAVYA.

The use of the autonomous vehicles to safely transport and handle the COVID-19 samples is another example how these vehicles can be repurposed in times of need. #


Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit organization committed to innovation in clinical practice, education and research, and providing compassion, expertise and answers to everyone who needs healing. Visit the Mayo Clinic News Network for additional Mayo Clinic news and An Inside Look at Mayo Clinic for more information about Mayo.

Tia R. Ford
Mayo Clinic Jacksonville
(904) 953-1419


Beep, Inc. (“Beep”) founded by experienced fleet managers and technology entrepreneurs, offers the next generation of transportation services for autonomous passenger mobility to fleet owners and operators in low speed environments?across the public and private sector, including transportation hubs, medical and university campuses,?residential communities, town centers, and more. Beep’s operations are headquartered in Lake Nona, Orlando. www.go-beep.com .

Erica Olson
Beep Inc./Merit Mile
(763) 458-4435

ABOUT Jacksonville Transportation Authority:

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) is an independent agency of the state of Florida, serving Duval County, with multi-modal responsibilities. The JTA designs and constructs bridges and highways and provides varied mass transit services. These include express and regular bus service, monorail, ferry and on-demand services. The JTA serves the largest city in the continental U.S. in terms of landmass. An integrated transportation network is a critical element in any community to properly manage growth, provide mobility and offer a good quality of life. Learn more at  www.jtafla.com 

David Cawton II 
Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA)
(904) 239-7989


NAVYA is a top French name in autonomous driving systems. With over 280 employees in France (Paris and Lyon) and in the United States (Saline, Michigan), NAVYA is a leading specialist in the supply of autonomous driving systems for passenger and goods transport. Since 2015, NAVYA has been the first to market and put into service autonomous mobility solutions in cities and private sites across the globe. For more information: www.navya.tech/en

Travis Ockerman
NAVYA North America
(734) 787-0047

Survey: What Automakers are Building Isn’t Necessarily What Consumers Want

a futuristic car illustrationAutonomous and connected vehicles are all the rage in the news and among automakers, but a new survey shows they’re not necessarily as popular among consumers.

Delotte’s 11th annual Global Consumer Automotive Study asked 35,000 consumers in 20 countries about the transportation that interests them. Among the findings:

  • Interest in electric and other alternatively fueled vehicles is growing; leading the way is Japan, where 63 percent of consumers want alternately powered vehicles. Forty-one percent of Americans do, too.
  • Safety concerns have ratcheted back interest in autonomous vehicles. Nearly half of respondents in most countries feel AVs won’t be safe; only China bucks the trend with a response of 35 percent.
  • While most consumers support the idea of transit and other forms of mobility to reduce congestion, very few actually use those systems. Seventy percent of respondents from India said they never or rarely use transit; that number jumps to 87 percent in the U.S.

Consumers also reported being wary of connected vehicles; the study showed they are largely unsure who they can trust with the data their cars might collect.

Read the summary or download the whole report here.

Is FOMO Hurting Mobility Policy?

mobility, parking, FOMO, policy, CityLabAre cities quick to adopt new transportation technology (autonomous vehicles, for one) because of a fear of missing out or desire to make headlines for being first, without considering the long-term implications of what they’re doing? At least one analyst believes so, and he’s writing about it.

David Zipper, fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes on CityLab that a fear of missing out–FOMO–is driving some mobility decisions, potentially actually setting back good policy in favor of splashy headlines. “More likely than not, your elected officials are basing mobility policy decisions not on cost-benefit analysis or strategic foresight, but on a classic modern insecurity: FOMO,” he writes.

“The problem with these projects is that they are the policy equivalent of Instagram glamour shots, crafted to elicit admiration and envy rather than improve lives,” he continues. Read the whole article here and let us know on Forum–is FOMO damaging good mobility policy?

Ford, Cities Partner on the Future of Mobility

Ford Motor Company’s in-house futurist has started in-depth meetings with U.S. city leaders to try and forecast how shared, autonomous vehicles might affect daily life and what infrastructure, regulations, and other things need to be put into place before widespread adoption. A few highlights from a Washington Post story on the effort:

  • “‘Somewhere along the way, we had the obvious, but latent, idea that we need to build cars that people want. I think cities have the same thing,’ [Ford Futurist Sheryl] Connelly said, adding that urban planning has become one of the world’s most influential jobs.”
  • “Ford will begin testing self-driving vehicles in the District early this year, with plans to launch them commercially in Washington, Miami and other cities in 2021. Waymo began rolling out a commercial robo-taxi service in suburban Phoenix in early December, and autonomous shuttles are coming to cities from Youngstown, Ohio, to Jacksonville, Fla.”
  • “As District [of Columbia] officials put it, they don’t want to be stuck ‘making 100-year decisions for technology that is changing in 10 years.'”
  • “More recently, the company shifted toward a strategy of not only selling cars, but moving people. Ford is making a five-year, $1 billion investment in the self-driving start-up Argo AI to help build the foundation for autonomous ride-sharing and delivery businesses, and it is growing its shared-van service, Chariot.”
  • “Self-driving vehicles are just one piece of the bigger picture facing cities, as they try to balance immediate concerns with futuristic ones. That means fixing roads and bridges and finding ways to slow drivers at dangerous intersections, while also focusing on what infrastructure might be needed for the future and what information should be collected and shared as roads, and the people on them, are tied together through digital networks.”

A big priority, the article says, is designing systems and structures that can change very quickly, either with the technology itself or if what experts predict now ends up not being reality.

Read the whole article here.

Meet the Army of People Behind Waymo’s Robot Cars

Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project, is getting ready to launch a robotic taxi service outside Phoenix, Ariz., stocked entirely with its autonomous vehicles. A story from Citylab says while the cars may drive themselves, there will be lots of humans behind the scenes, ready to jump in to help.

Teams in four different areas–technicians, dispatchers, fleet response, and rider support–in nearby Chandler, Ariz., will stand ready to intervene if and when the cars need it. Citylab explains, “What humans lack in regularity, precision, and relentlessness, we (typically) make up for with manual dexterity, adaptability, and excellent visual sensors. Anywhere Waymo can’t quite make things work automatically, in come the people. Humans are the masking tape, the glue, the putty, the clamp. Humans are the hack.”

Read the whole story here.

More Than Driving Lessons

By Kim Fernandez

I’m writing this in a Starbucks, not because it’s summertime and the living is easy, but because the parking lot is where my son and I rendezvoused with a very brave ex-police officer for the teenager’s second, two-hour driving lesson.

My memory of the first time I took the keys and drove off by myself is of pure joy. Real freedom in my non-transit-friendly hometown, the ability to come and go as I pleased, and the feeling of being in control of the 84 horses under the hood of my very safe, very sensible Plymouth Reliant K (oh hush) were about the best thing I could imagine. Driving on an open road remains among my favorite things to do, which is why I haven’t entirely embraced the idea of autonomous vehicles. I like driving myself.

On the third week of his learner’s permit, my son drove me to today’s lesson. We were about a half-mile from the house when he muttered, “I hate this,” and I noticed the death-grip he had on the steering wheel. The idea of having a car drive him instead of the other way around is super appealing to him and he’s already asking me why he has to learn to back-in park when he’ll never have to do it. “Dude, relax,” I said. “This is actually fun.” Eye roll. What does Mom know?

For the moment, he’s out there driving. He’s nervous, I’m nervous, my bet is his instructor is most nervous of all. But it also has me realizing that my perspective—that driving is fun—isn’t shared by everyone. Which makes me wonder how it’ll all balance out when the technology is good enough to take over and a good number of people want it to, but not everyone’s in love with the idea.

P.S.: Unrelated to the above, a minute ago, a state trooper walked in and got in line. Two people, one in line and one who jumped out of her seat as soon as she saw him, insisted on paying for his order and thanked him for his service. Which is another great reminder: There are a lot of good people in this world. Have a great weekend.

Kim Fernandez is IPI’s director of publications and editor of The Parking Professional.


Myths Busted

Myths Busted
by Thomas E. Curtis, CAPP

Will autonomous vehicles really lead to the demise of the parking garage? 

Parking garages will be obsolete by 2025 (2020 if you believe Uber CEO Travis Kalanick). Of course, the paperless office was hinted at in 1964 and predicted by 1975. Decades later, the use of office paper is only starting to level off, and we are still tens of years away from that visionary dream. So, will the driverless car eliminate the need for parking garages? Probably not and definitely not anytime soon.

In May 2013, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a policy on automated vehicle development that enumerated a classification system:

  • No-Automation (Level 0): The driver is in complete control of the primary vehicle controls at all times.
  • Function-Specific Automation (Level 1): Automation involves one or more specific control functions, such as electronic stability control or lane-keeping assist.
  • Combined Function Automation (Level 2): At least two primary control functions work in unison, such as adaptive cruise control in combination with lane assist.
  • Limited Self-Driving Automation (Level 3): The driver can cede full control of all safety-critical functions in certain traffic conditions.
  • The driver is expected to be available for control with the system, providing sufficient time for transition.
  • Full Self-Driving Automation (Level 4): The vehicle performs all safety-critical functions for an entire trip. The driver provides navigation input but is not expected to be available for control at any time.

SAE International enumerates an alternative classification system that has five levels ranging from driver control to self-driving.

We have seen in the past decades, and will continue to see during the next several years, autonomous features added to standard vehicles. We are now seeing Level 2 features offered in higher-end vehicles: lane-departure warnings combined with adaptive cruise-control that speeds up or slows down cars to maintain their spacing in traffic. These are the features that move us toward the driverless car and are available from most automakers  today. Some auto manufacturers claim Level 3 features will be available in the next five to seven years. Examples of these vehicles are being tested by auto manufacturers and technology firms on public streets today.

Self-Driving Prophecies
Kalanick and Elon Musk, co-founder of Tesla Motors, believe self-driving vehicles (Level 4) will be here in five or six years. Musk does, however, concede regulatory impediments will slow the transition to market saturation.

What else will slow the transition to the driverless car?

Currently, less-than-ideal weather conditions are a concern because technology doesn’t allow the vehicle to navigate in snow or heavy rain. Then there is the recent software hack of the Jeep Cherokee. And, of course, there are ubiquitous computer glitches. The old “blue screen of death” might not be just a figure of speech anymore. However, most in the automotive industry believe these technology hurdles will be crossed in the near future.

There are those who have their doubts. Richard Ni and Jason Leung, in their paper “Safety and Liability of Autonomous Vehicle Technologies,” state that Professor John Leonard of MIT has noted that the leap between Level 2 and Level 3 technology is quite extreme and that Google’s test environments have not accounted for extreme but realistic conditions such as snow, glare from the sun, and difficult left-turn situations. He noted that little progress has been made and expressed doubts that Level 3 technology will be available as quickly as car manufacturers claim.

Cost of the technology will be a factor well into the future. According to industry experts, technology costs will increase to about $3,000 per vehicle in 2035, down from $7,000 to $10,000 in 2025. Top-of-the-line, 64-laser rotating Lidar systems retail for about $45,000, though prices will drop as people start buying. The Audi A7 that drove semi-autonomously from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas in early 2015 carried two LIDARs, two shortrange Radars, four mid-range Radars, two long-range Radars, four top-view cameras, one 3-D camera, and four ultrasonic sensors.

Audi’s current active safety package, which includes adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and blindspot detection, is priced at $2,550. And it’s not just the technology that is expensive but the manufacturing as well. As noted by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute, “Because system failures could be fatal to both vehicle occupants and other road users, all critical components will need to meet high manufacturing, installation, repair, testing, and maintenance standards, similar to aircraft components, and so will probably
be relatively expensive.”

Infrastructure will be a major concern. Automakers say that a driverless vehicle needs to be connected to an external system that feeds it information about surrounding vehicles, traffic conditions, road work, and the like. Autonomous features such as lane-keeping assist technology needs to “see” the lane markings. It may not activate or work at 100 percent effectiveness when the markings are not sufficiently visible. Because the road cannot communicate with the vehicle and the vehicles can’t yet communicate with each other, the current autonomous system depends on being able to see objects and the lines on the road. This makes it good for superhighways but not so much on smaller roads.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has encouraged the development of roadway sensors. It also funds research for the Connected Vehicle Program. However, Anthony Foxx, U.S. secretary of transportation, in his introduction to “Beyond Traffic 2045,” notes, “The federal government alone cannot achieve resolution of all of the issues and concerns the future will bring.” A few states—notably California, Nevada, Iowa, Michigan, and Florida—do appear to be focused and invested in driverless vehicle technology and infrastructure. This may cause development of incompatible infrastructure between states.

Regulation will be problematic. NHTSA has shown little interest in promulgating regulations. To this point, regulations have primarily been handled at the state level. Bryant Walker Smith, professor at the University Of South Carolina School of Law, states, “Typically, federal mandates for new technology arrive only after it dominates the market.” Examples of this include seat belts, air bags and backup cameras. What happens when the task is delegated to the states? Inconsistent state regulations pose the risk of 50 states with 50 different regulations. The Audi test car was allowed to test in California and Nevada, but the states have different regulations and license plates. The test car was stopped for a license plate change when it crossed state lines.

If we believe regulation will be problematic where does that leave liability? How do we insure a vehicle not con-trolled by a person? Who is responsible in an accident? Is it the owner, the driver, the service provider (Uber, Lyft), the infrastructure provider (DOT), the manufacturer? The RAND Corporation in its report “Autonomous Vehicle Technology,” enumerated several options. The recommendation is that “aggressive intervention with
respect to regulation or liability is premature.”

Other Vehicles
Then there is the problem of the more than 250 million cars and trucks already on the road in the U.S. These cars aren’t going away anytime soon. The average vehicle age is estimated to be 11.7 years by 2019. This is generally because of higher quality. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory recently projected car and truck survivability rate
at more than 50 percent after 13 years. Even if we assume that the driverless car is available and working by 2020, there will still be more than 100 million cars on the road that are driver-operated in 2035. Musk notes that even if driverless cars were available tomorrow, it would take 20 years to replace the entire fleet of vehicles on the road.

Last but certainly not least is the consumer: people. Consider that a lot of us own cars because we like cars. We like driving cars. Cars are very personal things. I don’t see us giving up cars for a Kalanick vision of an on-call Uber fleet anytime soon. Even if we keep personal vehicles, many have concerns about Big Brother. The electronic data recorders (EDRs) in vehicles today record a tremendous amount of information about us already. How safe is that information in a self-driving connected vehicle? Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s top sales executive, told a panel at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, “We know everyone who breaks the law. We know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”

What It All Means
How does all this affect parking and the parking garage? Well, it appears doubtful that parking lots and garages will become obsolete within the next few decades, but they will change. They are already changing with cashierless and gateless implementations. And there are an increasing number of robotic garages.

One thing parking professionals should note is that there is a difference between autonomous cars and driverless cars. In July 2015, Business Insider Intelligence predicted that “Fully autonomous cars are further divided into user-operated and driverless vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance questions, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while driverless cars will remain a long ways off.”

Steven Shladover, transportation researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, insists that Level 5 vehicles—robocars that require no human input—“are not on the horizon.” Autonomous cars with drivers still require parking, and people generally like to park close to their destinations. In the near future, we will continue to see the incremental changes being made in our industry. Even IHS automotive, which aggressively
predicts self-driving cars by 2025, forecasts that only a very small percentage will be driverless. And even those  may be severely restricted to driverless zones.

Sometime in the distant future, there may be fewer cars. There may be fewer parking spaces. Currently it is easy to envision a distant future where there will be small robotic garages strategically placed outside of the city center and in suburban hubs—places where drivers send and summon their cars or driverless vehicles go to charge their batteries. But for the next few decades, it’s very likely that the only vehicles able to take us from home to work while we focus attention on our electronic gadgets will still be taxis and limos.

There is no doubt that change is coming, but it will most likely be evolution, not revolution. Although the change may be slow, now is the time for stakeholders to come together. Consideration should be given to both design and operation of the garage of the future. There are many changes coming that the young professionals in parking and other stakeholders should consider now.

So, how does the parking industry adapt? What will the parking garage of 2060 really look like? Will it be a completely automated, robotic garage with charging ports? Will it be more efficient? Will current garages be converted to the SCADPad, a 16 × 8 foot dwelling designed for a single occupant fitted with a bed, kitchenette, and bathroom? All are considerations for another article.

As a side note, this article was created and transmitted electronically. No paper was used.

THOMAS E. CURTIS, CAPP, is a division manager for Platinum Parking in Houston. He can be reached at thomascurtis@platinumparking.com.

TPP-2016-02 Myths Busted