Logistics

Dispatch is another organization with a vision of making robotic deliveries.

The future of deliveries may involve the use of drones zooming above pedestrians and traffic. Google X hopes to launch drone deliveries by 2017. The company’s “Project Wing” promises to deliver items via drones anywhere in a 5-mile radius within 5 minutes. project wing

Amazon released the latest design for its Prime Air delivery drone. A narrated video explains the service.prime-air_03-554x383

Meanwhile, Drone Delivery Canada, a Canadian delivery drone service is claiming that drone delivery services will be possible within two years. And, the Uber of drones has arrived: Future Aerial.

The future of deliveries may also involve small robot vehicles that travel on sidewalks. This is the vision of Starship Technologies, a London based startup. Starship Technologies says the 40-pound robot could make local deliveries in 30 minutes or less. The technology could be useful for neighbourhood restaurants and retailers. Because the robot is largely automated, requiring almost no human involvement, Starship Technologies thinks the costs of delivering goods will drop by an order of magnitude. The slow speed and grounded approach also removes some of the safety concerns with drone delivery.starship1

Dispatch is another organization with a vision of making robotic deliveries. Unlike Starship Technologies, Dispatch is targeting university campuses with hopes of scaling into other private locales.

Yet another company with a similar delivery robot vision is SIDEWALK. The company claims its robots can provide “instant (±15 min)” first/last-mile city delivery service of packages weighing up to 20 kg.

Transit

Do ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, reduce or add to the number of car trips undertaken in major cities?

Transit has been ambivalent about some of the newer mobility options, including ride sharing. While these mobility options have the potential of taking riders away from transit, they also can contribute to an urbanite’s decision to give up vehicle ownership. In the latter case, transit ridership would be helped. The STM, Montreal’s public transit service, is making improvements to lure back some riders who are opting for the convenience of car-sharing services.

In Chicago, a cease-fire is emerging between mass transit and an array of sharing services, a striking change from when public officials searching for solutions to traffic gridlock generally bowed to a simplistic formula advocated by the transit agencies.

Do ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, reduce or add to the number of car trips undertaken in major cities? The Natural Resources Defence Council has announced that it will partner with UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center (TSRC) to assess the environmental impact of Uber and Lyft across the US.

Insurance

Who should pay for a self-driving crash? B

Who should pay for a self-driving crash?  Bastiaan Krosse, who heads the automated driving programme at research institute TNO, said decisions on insurance need to be taken now, before the self-driving car becomes a reality. 

USAA is offering insurance for ridesharing drivers in three more US states.

Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance have jointly developed a new insurance product to cover risks involved in demonstration tests of self-driving cars. The new policy will cover possible risks involved in demonstration tests of self-driving cars in a comprehensive manner. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance and Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance believe the new product will encourage more companies to demonstrate their technology. Insurance premiums will differ, depending on the number of vehicles used in a demonstration test and the test period. They are expected to be between tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars) and hundreds of thousands of yen per test per year. The two insurers expect to sell policies to automakers, research institutions, parts suppliers, telcos telecommunication firms and software companies. 

Daimler has established its own warranty insurer: Mercedes-Benz Versicherung AG. This move is likely an indication of how Daimler will support its driverless vehicle introductions.

Driverless integration

BestMile, a spin-off of EPFL that offers a solution to control fleets of autonomous vehicles, has signed up with its first customer and formalizes its partnership with CarPostal as part of a two-year project in Lausanne, Switzerland.

BestMile, a spin-off of EPFL that offers a solution to control fleets of autonomous vehicles, has signed up with its first customer and formalizes its partnership with CarPostal as part of a two-year project in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The consumer

Safety features are increasingly introduced into vehicles. This however does not mean that motorists understand these features. In a survey by the university, a majority of drivers expressed uncertainty about the way many of the safety technologies work. About 40% reported that their vehicles had behaved in unexpected ways. The least understood technology was adaptive cruise control, which can slow or speed up a vehicle in order to maintain a constant following distance. That technology has been available in some models for at least a decade. As additional features are introduced into the vehicles, will it become necessary for drivers to be trained on using the technology?

graph

In a recently released survey, 62% of young city professionals would consider using a self-driving vehicle if one was available. The research, conducted by the Transport Systems Catapult, shows that 39% of people in the UK would also consider one.

Another recently released survey from the World Economic Forum and BCG indicates that 58% of consumers are open to trying self-driving cars.

Government planning required

According to the National League of Cities, only about 6% of the biggest cities in the US are planning or thinking about autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars in their long-range transportation plans.

According to the National League of Cities, only about 6% of the biggest cities in the US are planning or thinking about autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars in their long-range transportation plans. What’s even more surprising is that only 3% of these cities’ transit plans are even taking into account the impact of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft even though they already operate in 60 of the 68 largest markets in the U.S. That’s according to a content analysis of transportation planning documents from the country’s 50 most populous cities. In a context where much of the transportation spending is for infrastructure that is expected to be usable for multiple decades and knowing the ETA of fully autonomous vehicles, shouldn’t governments be taking this technology into consideration?

Unlike most cities, LA is taking the arrival of driverless vehicles seriously. The City is forming the city’s Coalition of Transportation Technology, which is the first city project in the world to seriously tackle the logistics of introducing autonomous vehicles on a massive scale to public streets.  The new Coalition aims to adapt the Los Angeles infrastructure around connected and autonomous vehicles, developing plans and processes for common concerns on how vehicles move throughout the city, adjusting for the expected increased safety to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians offered by driver-less vehicles, as well as tackling issues like parking and adaptation and integration with piloted vehicles.

With significant federal infrastructure investments expected, the President of GM Canada stated that government and industry need to work together to build smart roads for smart cars to ensure the auto industry’s future in Canada.  The Institute fears that reliance on governments and their infrastructure programs may slow the introduction of automated vehicles on our roads.  This is exactly why newcomers to the industry such as Google and Tesla, to name only two, are ensuring that their technology can operate as independently as possible from state/province/federally owned communication infrastructure.

Another reason for government planning is jobs. The use of driverless / robotic vehicles will translate into job displacement.  Governments need to assess the impacts and determine how to make the transition as painless as possible. In the UK, Royal Mail’s Chief faced a “health and safety” challenge from the Communication Workers Union after she mooted the idea of introducing a driverless van service in the future. Unions need to be part of the transition conversation

Governments positioning to reap the economic benefits

The first Australian driverless car trial, in Adelaide, was a success.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will ease regulations to allow for self-driving cars to be tested on public roads from fiscal 2017 with the aim of companies providing the service for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Abe’s decision, which came from a meeting with the head of Toyota Motor Corp and other executives, could be a boon for Japan’s auto sector as they catch up with Google in the development of self-driving cars.

The first Australian driverless car trial, in Adelaide, was a success.

Massachusetts officials are preparing for a legal push to allow for testing of driverless vehicles on the state’s roads and highways.

And, last but not least, US Transportation Secretary Foxx announced that an update to the US self-driving car policy will be released in coming weeks.

An autonomous vehicle project to develop platooning will be undertaken in The Netherlands

Positioning for future mobility

Kia announced it will invest £1.3 billion into the development of self-driving technology by 2018.

Apple was granted a major public transit related patent. According to Apple, the app brings users public transit information for subways, buses, trains, and ferries with lines and stations right on the map, the new Transit feature is customized for each city where it’s available — so signs on your screen will look the same as the ones on the street, and you’ll know exactly where the nearest subway station entrance is. When you plan a route, just one tap pulls up schedules and you’ll get step-by-step directions to keep you on track. Combining this with all other mobility options will make integrated mobility usage that much easier.

 

Toyota will spend a billion dollars for research on self-driving technologies.

Kia announced it will invest £1.3 billion into the development of the technology by 2018. The first goal will be to introduce partially-autonomous driving technologies, such as a remote parking system that will make a car park itself at the press of a button. Cars equipped with this technology could be on the road by 2020.  The intent is to develop entirely driverless cars by 2030.

Microsoft will be developing driverless vehicle technology with Volvo.

Uber has made big moves implementing location technology by signing a deal with TomTom, buying Microsoft’s mapping technology, and outright purchasing deCarta this year. The company is working with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to develop autonomous vehicle technology.

Ford’s CEO said that his company should be able to have vehicles that can be fully autonomous on roads where high-definition maps are available. The key, he said, is making sure that the regulatory and legal issues get worked out.

GM Canada will outfit a fleet of 2017 Chevrolet Volts for an autonomous vehicle program at the GM Technical Centre in Warren, Michigan.

Google-patent

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Google that reveals various aspects of the technology behind their next-gen autonomous vehicles. Google’s invention relates to autonomous vehicles for manoeuvring a user or passenger to a destination, for example taking a trip, autonomously. The patent covers everything from encryption keys to authenticate a ride to various aspects of the vehicle. For instance, the vehicle doesn’t provide the user with a steering wheel, brakes or gas pedal. The passenger is simply seated in the vehicle as if they were in a cab. Google discusses a control console for users and an emergency stop button system. To put riders further at ease, Google is initiating a concierge service reachable by the center user console or via a user’s own smartphone should they feel nervous or are about to freak out over not knowing what to do if something goes wrong, like how to unlock the door of the vehicle which is controlled by an on-board computer system.

 

The future of mobility must be sustainable

The future of mobility is about software.

The future of mobility is about software. The following graphic helps to demonstrate this.

mobility and sofware

A fully driverless future is still some years away. In the meantime, sustainable transportation models need to encouraged and facilitated by governments. MaaS (Mobility as a Service) described in the last newsletter is a step in the right direction. The Institute encourages this form of mobility and recommends the electrification of transportation wherever it makes sense.

MaaS Summit

Catherine Kargas facilitated the first ever MaaS Summit that was held Helsinki, organized by the Government of Finland, on November 10th 2015. The Institute congratulates Finnish Transport and Communications Minister Berner and her government on their sustainable mobility vision and the political will to make it happen.

Several articles have been written about the prospect of fully automated vehicles increasing vehicle kilometres travelled. To ensure that driverless vehicle technology contributes to a more sustainable mobility ecosystem, it is essential for governments to get involved and set the parameters within which mobility suppliers will be able to function as seamlessly as possible. The use of existing and future transit infrastructure (metros and trains) should be optimized as these are often the most efficient modes. Regulations should ensure that cooperation occurs between various modes and become fully integrated. Common payment platforms are but one way to achieve this goal. Where possible, active mobility should be encouraged.

Ridesharing

More ridesharing offerings are popping up in cities around the world.

Now available in over 350 cities around the world, Uber is looking to combine ride-sharing and delivery services. UberRush has already launched in three US cities, providing local businesses with same-day delivery of goods. The company is also announcing the launch of UberPool in a number of cities around the world, including London and Paris.

Oh, and in case you weren’t aware, with the latest round of fundraising, Uber is now valued at $62.5 Billion USD!!! On paper, it is worth more than GM (valued at around $55.6 Billion USD).

More ridesharing offerings are popping up in cities around the world. Via, a NY-based app, announced entry into the Chicago market.  The app offers on-demand carpool rides for up to four passengers headed the same direction. A professionally chauffeured SUV will pick customers up and deliver them to their location, just like Uber or Lyft, but it will cost just $5 when the ride is prepaid, or $7 if payment is made at the time of the pickup.

In Paris, a ridesharing service was launched specifically targeting people with disabilities.

But the ridesharing world may be changing quickly with the possibility of an Uber union? In Seattle, determined immigrant drivers, a hard-charging union and an ambitious City Council member have pushed the city close to enacting the groundbreaking legislation establishing collective-bargaining rights for contract employees like Uber drivers.

Car sharing

Electric car sharing is gaining popularity in cities around the world.

Audi has launched its “Audi at Home” vehicle sharing service in San Francisco and Miami. Residents of two residential communities will be able to reserve vehicles via their smartphone for “spontaneous booking” of vehicles, each made to suit a specific set of tastes.

Electric car sharing is gaining popularity in cities around the world. In previous newsletters, we discussed the 1,000 EV car sharing project of the City of Montreal.

The City of Palermo launched its electric car sharing service a few weeks ago while in Canada, EMC initiated discussions with a car sharing leader and a municipality already known for their spirit of innovation and their commitment to a cleaner environment in order to implement a new EV car sharing model

And, at the LA Auto Show, Evercar launched its electric on-demand car sharing service.Evercar