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
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
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.
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 is about software. The following graphic helps to demonstrate this.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As demonstrated by the agreement reached at COP21, governments around the world are turning to electric transportation as a solution to combatting climate change…and rightly so. A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows electric cars not only eliminate tailpipe emissions, but that they beat gasoline cars in cradle to grave emissions regardless of the source of electricity.
Reducing emissions from transportation by promoting the uptake of zero emission and plug-in hybrid vehicles is a key part of Ontario’s new climate change strategy. The Government of Ontario also announced a residential and business EV charging incentive program.
More positive Canadian environmental news: Manitoba will join Ontario and Québec in introducing a cap-and-trade system for large carbon emitters.
Québec is a signatory to the International ZEV Alliance.
On Canada’s West Coast, Vancouver councillors are set to vote on an ambitious energy strategy that would see the city getting every last joule of its power from renewable sources within 35 years.
In Montreal, Taxelco launched its electric taxi service called Téo.
And, in always exciting Silicon Valley, Faraday Future, a mysterious electric vehicle start-up, with 400 employees, plans to build a $1 billion EV pla
The Transportation Evolution Institute has been involved in a number of sustainable mobility-related initiatives in Canada and abroad. We thought we would end the year by providing readers with a brief update of some of these activities.
As many of you are aware, the Institute supports the SEAMless™ vision of mobility developed by MARCON. As a brief summary for those who are not familiar with this model, SEAMless refers to Shared, Electric, Autonomous, Multimodal mobility. In this sustainable transportation ecosystem, mobility is accessible via technology that is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. A user is presented with mobility options (including but not limited to information about cost, time of departure, time of arrival, active and non-active modes to be used, environmental footprint and level of sharing with others) enabling him/her to reach his/her destination. Travel options take into consideration the user’s set preferences (example: increased physical activity) and physical limitations (example: options may limit active mobility).
The Institute’s activities over the last few months reflect our work in promoting the SEAMless mobility model.
Electric mobility: The Institute is a staunch supporter of electrification of transportation, wherever possible. Within Canada, the Institute collaborates with Electric Mobility Canada, the national organization promoting electrification of transportation, in all its forms. The Institute also collaborates with AVERE, the European electric mobility association.
Our environmental realities and the blatant inability of internal combustion engines to help us meet our pressing environmental commitments means that electric propulsion systems charged with electricity generated increasingly through renewables is an important solution.
For Canada, it is a no-brainer. Almost 70% of Canada’s electricity is generated through renewables and thanks to utility efforts, this percentage is increasing. Instead of importing fossil fuels and hurting the provincial trade balances, it makes strong economic sense to use electricity produced locally to power our mobility solutions. This approach supports a domestic good and the local jobs required to deliver this good to the mode of mobility.
A 2015 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled “Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave” says that “over their lifetime, battery electric vehicles produce far less global warming pollution than their gasoline counterparts – and they’re getting cleaner.”
Car sharing: Sharing is an important part of the SEAMless Mobility model. Research has demonstrated that a shared vehicle replaces 9 to 13 individually owned vehicles. Shared, electric mobility is increasingly being encouraged by municipalities as a way of dealing with stifling congestion and pollution issues. One need only look at the efforts and plans of cities like Helsinki, Oslo, Paris and London.
The Institute collaborates with the Car Sharing Association and supports efforts of car sharing organizations to electrify their fleets. Not only is car sharing fleet electrification important in terms of immediate environmental impact, but it has the advantage of educating car sharing users about electric vehicles. In fact, research undertaken this year in the US concluded that an individual who has used an electric vehicle in car sharing mode is 43% more likely to buy an EV if a change in his/her lifestyle requires him/her to purchase a vehicle.
Research undertaken this year by some of the Institute’s members in the area of car sharing fleet electrification and discussions with car sharing fleets in Canada and abroad lead us to believe that municipal – fleet collaborations present strong opportunities for car sharing electrification.
Mobility as a Service (MaaS): Last month’s newsletter article described the plans of the government of Finland to implement MaaS as a way of moving to a sustainable mobility model based on usership instead of ownership of mobility. It is a model that makes significant sense from the perspective of the Finnish people as well as the Finnish government. For the latter, it is an economic development policy that also helps the country better manage its expenditures while helping to meet its emissions reductions targets. For the citizens of the country who, like motorists around the world, use their vehicles on average 4% of the time, the car is generally their second greatest expense after lodging (first for home owners who choose to invest in their lodging). If the Finnish people can be presented with an integrated mobility system composed of a variety of options for moving around, a system that is convenient and easy to use, and one that costs less than vehicle ownership, why would ownership make sense?
MaaS means sharing of mobility assets. It also means true integration of multimodality. Where possible, electrification is encouraged. Shared, electric and multimodal: three of the four pillars of the SEAMless Mobility model.
A few weeks ago, Catherine Kargas was in Finland, collaborating with the Finnish government on this important step in sustainable transportation. She moderated the MaaS Summit (involving transportation, technology, transit and government stakeholders from around the world) that took place in Helsinki and represented the Institute at the MaaS Alliance meetings. We are pleased to announce that the Institute is a member of the MaaS Alliance.
Automated technology: The Finnish Government is interested in incorporating autonomous vehicle technology into MaaS: the fourth pillar of the SEAMless model.
Given its numerous benefits, the Institute is a firm supporter of automated vehicle technology. We are pleased to have contributed to the discussions at the Ontario AV Ministerial Roundtable that took place on October 29th 2015.
Over the last three years, the Institute’s members have visited the developers of this technology in Canada, the US as well as Europe. A couple of our members recently completed a tour of numerous organizations in Europe that are involved in the development and early commercialization of the technology. We are proud to report that some of these organizations will be demonstrating their capabilities at EVS29 that will take place in Montréal, June 18-22, 2016. Don’t miss the opportunity to see and experience tomorrow’s electric mobility.
We are working on exciting projects that we hope to report on in the coming year. In the meantime, we take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a great start to 2016.
NSW Transport and Infrastructure Minister Andrew Constance made some fantastic statements over the last couple of weeks. Understanding the implications of autonomous vehicle technology, he stated: I don’t want to see governments making multibillion-dollar investments and then it turns out that with the advent of driverless cars we’ve made the wrong decision”. He is calling on smarter governments that make investments taking new technologies into consideration. Isn’t this a more respectful way to invest taxpayer money?