Driverless integration, projects around the world

The first driverless cars that will be tested on the streets of London will resemble the electric passenger shuttles currently being used at Heathrow Airport

News coming out of the UK reveal that the first driverless cars that will be tested on the streets of London will resemble the electric passenger shuttles currently being used at Heathrow Airport. The vehicles will be the result of three British organizations coming together: Westfield Sportscar, Heathrow Enterprise and Oxbotica.

Driverless electric shuttle buses will begin testing in The Netherlands in the coming days. These low-speed buses (without a steering wheel) will be used in mixed traffic.

For all those jurisdictions soliciting Google for a piece of the driverless testing pie, some news over the last few days. It appears as though, in addition to testing in Silicon Valley and Austin, TX, Google has selected four more sites for testing in the US. It seems likely that Ann Arbor, MI will be one of these four sites. In addition, it looks like Google is looking at testing its vehicles in the Nordic climate conditions of Austria. Autocluster AC Styria has apparently signed a letter of intent with Google.

Also testing in snowy winter conditions is Ford. The company is reportedly testing its driverless technology in Michigan.

Nevada has granted Kia and Hyundai permission to gest driverless vehicles on the state’s roads.

In an industry first, Tesla Motors announced that it has equipped many of its cars with the ability to park themselves — as the driver stands outside. To move down the driverless path, Tesla will reportedly hire 4,500 employees for its autonomous driving work. Elon Musk is confident that Tesla will have fully autonomous vehicles by 2017.

Driverless delivery vehicles will be trialled in London as soon as 2017.

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.

Mobility insurance by the mile/km

San Francisco-based Metromile is offering insurance by the mile

San Francisco-based Metromile is offering insurance by the mile. It relies on miles driven rather than driving habits, such as braking patterns, to set UBI rates. For those who drive less than 10K miles annually (increasingly, those in the younger generation), this type of insurance may be of interest.

Changing vehicle ownership landscape

A report released this month presents some statistics that underline the gradual shift away from car ownership

A report released this month presents some statistics that underline the gradual shift away from car ownership:

  • The share of 19-year-olds with driver’s licenses dropped from 87% in 1983 to about 75% in 2009.
  • The average distance traveled by drivers between the ages of 18 and 34 declined 23% between 2001 and 2009, from 10,300 miles per capita to 7,900 per capita.