Michigan 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.
It’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.
Much was written when Teslas under a new “Smart Summon” feature started crashing in parking lots–which was exactly where the feature was designed to work. This week, Wired took a shot at breaking down what that means for autonomous vehicles (AVs) in general, and why parking lots and garages will prove especially tricky for driverless cars. Among their findings:
- As designed now, AVs will likely lose their GPS signals in underground garages, leaving them to find their way without a main source of direction. While they can use cameras to navigate, experts fear tight spaces like garages might leave those systems not as helpful as they are on roads.
- Parking lots aren’t like highways, where other cars are all traveling in the same direction and around the same speed. Parking means bikes, people, and all sorts of vehicular movements and maneuvers.
- Parking lots, in particular, are less defined than roads–Teslas seem to be having a hard time figuring out what’s pavement and what’s grass, for example.
- Finally, parking lots are a uniquely human experience, with lots of nuance and rule-bending.
“In fact, parking lots are one of the most human places you could put a car that doesn’t need a human to drive,” the article says. “Their rules are not always consistent, and drivers, moreover, don’t always follow them. They’re full of little people-to-people interactions: a wave to let the dad behind the stroller know that that you’re going to stop and let him cross; a nod to tell the other driver to inform him that you’re waiting for this woman fiddling with her keys to finally pull out of her spot.”
Read the whole story here.
In what many believe is a step toward a greater role in mobility, automaker Ford this week acquired Journey Holding Corporation, which develops intelligent transportation software, and Quantum Signal AI, which develops robotics–notably a testing simulator for artificial intelligence (AI) systems; it develops systems for the U.S. military. Ford said the buys will help advance its Transportation as a Service (TaaS) platform.
Journey Holding will be merged with TransLoc, which was bought by Ford earlier this year and develops technology for transit operations. Together, the entity will provide micro-transit on demand services. Analysts say this week’s acquisitions will help Ford get closer to its goal of launching autonomous vehicles by 2021.
Read the whole story here.
Are 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?
A new book suggests that autonomous cars will not only cart us around, but run our errands for us when we’re not even on board. This weekend, Engadget took a look at that, considering all the things we use our cars for that have nothing to do with going from point A to point B, and asking if shared cars are realistic for everyone.
“Do any of these people have kids?” writes columnist Andrew Tarantola. “Have they seen how much equipment, junk, and random stuff hauling around a human child generates? Have they thought about the logistics of moving all that stuff from car to car? No, of course they haven’t. Half the reason for having a car is that it is a mobile base for you and all the stuff you don’t know where else to put.”
“A car isn’t just a transportation device,” he continues. “It’s also a space. A location. A car is one of the few things that can be a means to a location and an independent location itself.”
There’s more to read and think about in the article, here. For more on what AVs might really mean to us, see what #IPI2019 keynoter Larry Burns, PhD., had to say in our interview.
A new study says autonomous vehicles may decide to cruise around rather than parking when not in use, raising concerns that they may add to gridlock in downtown areas.
Human-driven cars must be parked when the humans get out of the vehicle. But driverless cars can just keep going and won’t have the same incentive to actually park for periods of time, the study says. Their decision may be to keep moving around rather than entering a lot or garage and paying to park; one expert said an AV is expected to cost about $0.50 per hour to operate, so it’ll be cheaper to keep driving. And that could spell traffic trouble in already crowded areas.
Read the whole story here and let us know in the comments–do you share the study’s concerns?
Talk about the future of mobility–specifically, shared, electric, autonomous vehicles–and it won’t be long before somebody brings Lawrence Burns into the conversation. That’s for good reason; before he wrote the bestseller “Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car–and How it will Reshape Our World,” he was the expert Waymo (formerly Google’s self-driving car project) and General Motors turned to for guidance. He’s also, among other things, behind much of the AV infrastructure of Babcock Ranch, the world’s first community built for autonomous transportation, and he’s one of the world’s foremost experts on the future of transportation.
So what does Burns think that AV future looks like? He recently talked with The Parking Professional about it:
- “If Google hadn’t stepped up and said they were going to go for it, I don’t think the auto industry would have done this on its own. They’re just not inclined to disrupt themselves to the extent of taking the driver out of the car.”
- “What will convince you is when you get your first chance to take a ride in a truly autonomous car. You ride in those cars and you’re blown away by what they can do. Are there things they can’t do still? Yeah. But the things they can do are phenomenal.”
- “What we see now is a once-in-a-century chance to design a transportation service that gets rid of all those negatives and at lower cost than owning and operating a car, and it’s much safer. People loved horses when Henry Ford came along, and people still love horses. No one is going to say you can’t drive your car.”
- “The traditional model of parking having to be adjacent to the destination is going to be disrupted considerably.”
- “Parking is a really important part of this future story. A really important part. People who have a stake in the industry need to anticipate what’s coming. I think there will be some big winners, but I think there will be some big losers too.”
Read the whole interview, including Burns’ thoughts on how cities and organizations should be setting themselves up for AVs, how parking professionals should be rethinking things, and exactly when he thinks everything will change, in the January issue of The Parking Professional. And then get ready for more–Burns will join parking and mobility professionals from around the world in Anaheim, Calif., next June as the 2019 IPMI Conference & Expo keynote speaker. We can’t wait!
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.
What happens if the autonomous vehicle you’re in gets hacked? Experts say it’s not a small concern and keeping the driverless cars’ data and systems secure should be top of mind. But they also say developers may not have considered all the possible risks.
Tripwire‘s State of Security blog addresses several areas AVs might be at risk:
- If a hacker accesses the cloud database used by an AV, the car can be manipulated remotely.
- Encrypting data for some safety features could slow down those features, but leaving them open makes them very vulnerable to hacking–and hackers could shut them down completely.
- Every system made by each manufacturer uses its own coding system–there is no universal standard. If those manufacturers don’t all adhere to security standards or consider all risks and address them, some cars could be easily accessed by criminals.
Manufacturers’ resistance to sharing their technologies with each other, the blog says, raises the risk of hacking or other security flaws. And that’s a very scary thing. Read more about it here. Then let us know in the comments: Valid concerns or not enough information in play?