Tag Archives: autonomous

ROPEd Into the Future

Black flying car (air taxi) takeoff from or land to Drone Port. 3D rendering image.By Kirk McManus

The future of parking is already here. The next generation of parkers and parking entities will involve flying airships, driverless automobiles, a phone app, a web browser, and a car charger. Lift Aircraft already has an FAA-approved, single seat flying airship. A person with a backpack or purse can fly themselves to their next destination. The airship has no doors or windows and maybe not a heater or air conditioner, but when the model T first originated it didn’t have air conditioning, GPS, a radio or heated seats. It only takes an hour of training to begin flying back and forth to work. Eventually flying airships will have the same safety and comfort features as the modern automobile.

The arrival of airships completely changes the parking paradigm. Parking garages and parking lots will have to be redesigned or renovated to make room for flying airships. Airships driverless vehicles and vehicles will use the same parking spaces.

Typically when an entry lane or exit lane of a parking garage or parking lot and the gate arm won’t raise, the driver presses an intercom button or a screen to get assistance. But what happens in a driverless car when there is no driver to press a button for help? What happens when the driverless car is disabled in the entry or exit lane?

A driverless car simply returns to its point of origin or parks elsewhere, most likely in a free parking stall. (Return to Origin or Park Elsewhere—ROPE). This frees up more parking spaces for more vehicles in payment stalls and fills up free parking stalls faster. It also reduces revenue to the parking provider since the driverless car doesn’t pay to park.

An airship can’t be booted and may be require a larger tow truck or towing airship The airship must be chained and locked to the ground or other surface object to prevent takeoff.

The technology in a driverless car must be able to detect a gate arm when entering or exiting a parking garage or lot. Whatever frequencies a driverless vehicle or airship uses to navigate must not interfere with the frequencies used in raising gate arms or counting parking stalls. A driverless car can’t insert a credit card or debit card to pay on exit, print out a ticket upon entry, and pull a receipt at an exit lane either. A flying airship can’t easily stop at an entry lane to pull a ticket, print a bar code ticket or insert a credit or debit card to enter or exit a parking area.

Accommodations must be made so that flying airships can take off and land. Flying airships, driverless vehicles and standard vehicles will all be in the mix, making parking a challenge and with many opportunities for growth!

The future is here. We can start now to prepare by installing conduits and infrastructure and electric services for future growth. Installing airport lighting on top light poles, parking garages and our facilities so the infrastructure is there before the flying airship arrives.

Conduit can be installed underground to make room for future expansion. Parking garages will need higher ceiling heights and larger entrances and exits to allow for airships to enter and exit. A decision may need to be made as to how old a passenger can be in a driverless vehicle in case the driverless vehicle becomes inoperative or in an accident. Typically, technology evolves faster than safety policy, or public policy.

What a great time it is to be in parking. As we look to the future we’ll need more technology experts, GIS experts, and happy faces at the customer service counter to keep our customers happy!

Kirk McManus is a parking and transit service repair technician at the University of Nebraska.

GM’s Cruise Shows Off First Autonomous Ride in San Francisco

Photo courtesy Cruise

Cruise, GM’s autonomous-vehicle arm, showed off video of its first driverless ride in San Francisco last week. The company recently began offering the journeys in its Bolt-based autonomous cars to company employees and other invited guests in the city.

Company President Kyle Vogt was the first to hail a driverless ride last week and shared thoughts on the experience on his social channels.  He hailed the service six times that night, documenting each ride. The company plans to eventually let members of the public hail its rides on an app.


Michigan City Gets On-demand Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous car on a road. Inside view.May Mobility recently launched on-demand, autonomous vehicles in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“The on-demand service, which includes four May Mobility Lexus RX450h vehicles and one wheelchair-accessible Polaris GEM equipped with May Mobility’s autonomous technology, operates within a 1.36 square-mile service zone that includes more than 20 designated pick up and drop off areas in downtown Grand Rapids,” explains MITECHNEWS.COM.

Riders can request vehicles using an app, which also suggests the best pick-up and drop-off points for their intended routes. The project’s partners are working on technology that would remind people to take belongings left on seats as well.

Read the whole story here.

TNC Drivers Fear Losing Work with Miami, Austin Autonomous Vehicle Trials

Phone based GPS in a car at night.Transportation network company (TNC) drivers in Miami say they fear losing their income when 1,000 autonomous cars are launched as ride-hails later this year.

Argo AI, Ford, and Lyft announced they’d trial the self-driving cars in Miami and Austin this winter. Drivers for Lyft and Uber say they’re concerned the autonomous cars will cut their rides, hours, and paychecks.

Florida has one of the highest-used TNC networks in the country, and drivers there say the autonomous vehicles are hitting their routes many years ahead of when they anticipated. And because a driverless “robotaxi” cuts a driver out of the ride-hail equation, they say they fear perhaps losing those jobs completely as more self-driving cars hit the roads.

Read the whole story here.

Why Big Tech is Building Autonomous Cars

Zoox self driving vehicleThe race to build driverless vehicles is expensive, slow, and fraught with metaphorical–and real–potholes. So why are so many big tech companies jumping in?

Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and others have partnered with automakers, other tech companies, and different specialists in the race to produce a truly driverless car. Analysts say there’s only one good reason for it: They have to.

“For Apple and other behemoths that are diving into self-driving tech or have grand plans for their own cars, that push isn’t just about breaking into a new market — it’s about defending valuable turf,” write Bloomberg‘s Reed Stevenson and Mark Gurman. They explain that, beyond profit or bragging rights, the tech companies are trying to win “the last unclaimed corner of consumers’ attention during their waking hours.”

They offer a full analysis of what’s at stake and what can be won in Transport Topics. Read it here.

The Future Impact of Autonomous Vehicles

robot holding car key or car remote controlBy Jim Anderson

Autonomous vehicles (AVs): What are the effects on today’s transportation network and future smart-city design? There is much speculation and opinion as to the evolution of AVs and the continued emergence of transportation network company (TNC) use in the fabric of the urban transportation environment.

Notable architect and planner with architectural firm HOK, Brian Jencek was recently interviewed by Automotive World, and stated,  “The hope is that public and private partnerships will flourish to support municipal transport systems. If managed properly, AVs could improve social equity and lead us into a more just future.”

What we know today is that AVs will be driven by artificial intelligence (AI). supported exclusively by advanced connectivity and data-driven cloud infrastructure. The automotive industry is investing heavily in alternative energy and technology for the future of mobilization. The consumer adoption and acceptance will be predicated upon a safe, predictable, secure, and efficient experience.

Jencek observes, “In the future, these (AV) fleets will need somewhere to go” as they complete their delivery service. This is a topic for today’s city planners to consider–places for AV’s to re-charge and await the next transportation opportunity. The TNCs are currently a factor in emerging urban congestion as they drive about awaiting their next fare.

As we are at the cusp of this technological revolution, stay tuned for continued awareness of AI advancements in data-center infrastructure to support the necessary computer power for AV success. See excerpts from the Automotive World article here.

Jim Anderson is market development manager, building solutions team, with MasterBuilder Solutions and co-chair of IPMI’s Planning, Design, & Construction Committee.

Walmart Jumps into Autonomous Vehicles with Investment in Cruise

Autonomous car concept. Driverless vehicle.Retail giant Walmart entered the autonomous vehicle sphere with an investment in Cruise, General Motors’ autonomous, all-electric vehicle development arm, this week.  The funding round, which included other investors, totaled $2.75 billion and raises Cruise’s value to more than $30 billion.

Walmart invested about five months after entering a pilot program to use AVs for deliveries around Scottsdale, Ariz., and company officials say they’d be open to investing in other AV development as well–even outside of Cruise. “Over the years we’ve been doing a lot to learn more about the role autonomous vehicles can play in retail, and we’ve seen enough to know it’s no longer a question of if they’ll be scaled, but when,” wrote company President and CEO John Furner in a blog post yesterday.

“This investment is a marker for us–it shows our commitment to bringing the benefit of self-driving cars to our customers and business,” he wrote.

Read more about it here.

Forbes: Considering Limited-access Parking for Autonomous Vehicles

Limited-access highways, which offer high-speed roadway without much interaction with adjoining property or areas, are considered a great proving ground for autonomous vehicles, allowing them to travel quickly while minimizing the potential for accidents. Today, Forbes wonders if a similar concept would be prudent for parking lots, which may present more dangers for AVs than roads.

“For autonomy, parking lots are a very difficult environment because of the complexity of participants and the irregular travel patterns. Parking lots have dynamic actors such as pedestrians, shopping carts, children, trucks, and oh yes automobiles,” writes the site.

The article suggests a valet-style model for AV-friendly parking lots, offering (verbatim):

  1. Dropoff: Customers would enter the curb-side for dropoff and direct their car to self-park with an approximate expectation of pickup.
  2. Routing: Automobiles would enter a limited access parking lot (physically isolated) and be directed by the local Parking Lot Electronic Manager(PLEM) to an appropriate spot with a route.
  3. Packing: From time-to-time, PLEM would ask the car to move in order to allow other cars to pick up curbside.
  4. Pickup: Finally, upon summon or based on approximate scheduling, the automobile would make its way to the curbside pickup.

It also suggests splitting parking lot capacity into managed and conventional areas.

Read the whole story here and let us know in the comments: What do parking professionals think?

Wired: Public Skepticism, Union Opposition Will Greatly Delay Autonomous Transit

It wasn’t so long ago that autonomous buses and shuttles felt like part of the near-term future. But delays in technology and COVID-19 have put the brakes on that prediction, and now Wired says autonomous transit will have to get past public nerves and strong opposition by unions to happen.

We’ve known for awhile that riders would be nervous about trips on driverless buses, but hiccups in testing have exacerbated that. And unions that represent transit workers have stepped up their efforts to slow or stop pilot programs, including showing up to protest in-person. All of this, the site says, may greatly delay a driverless future.

Read the story here.

AVs Get Their Own Lane in Michigan

Sign reading Detroit 94Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer yesterday announced the establishment of dedicated lanes for autonomous vehicles (AVs) on a 40-mile stretch of highway between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The lanes will be built thanks to a private-public partnership (P3) and construction is expected to begin after a two-year study to determine the best strategy.

Much of the project will be funded by companies owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which hopes to expand it to other states. It will be headed up by Cavnue, which hopes to begin running AVs with human backup drivers along the highway to collect data. They plan for self-driving buses to get first crack at the lanes, followed by smaller shuttles, freight trucks, and some personally owned AVs.

Ford, which is part of the project’s advisory board, recently began renovating an old railroad station in Detroit for use as its AV headquarters.

Read the whole story here.