Autonomous Vehicles
May 21, 2019

The Other Electric Avenue~Powering Electric Vehicles As They Drive

From Bloomberg.com, Sweden is experimenting with a road surface that actually recharges electric cars as they drive the highway. A one mile section of road in Gotland will be rebuilt with charging panels at a cost of 12.5 million dollars. If the trial is successful, Sweden plans to build more than 1,200 miles of this recharging road in the near future. You can find out more information and view a video on this project here.

And here is a video that describes the technology and its potential application in France.

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Seattle’s Crosscut columnist Knute Berger thinks it might be – in this piece: Is Seattle freeing itself from the automobile age?

In South Lake Union, you see folks zipping along on monowheels, hoverboards and electric bikes and scooters. These electronic gadgets seem less intrusive and more versatile than, say, a Segway, and some can be carried by hand or in a backpack.

Other innovations are in the works. Boeing is testing a pilot-less “autonomous” air taxi — a kind of flying Uber. Is the era of the flying car, as envisioned on The Jetsons, finally at hand? In Snohomish County, Amazon is testing a small delivery bot, named Scout, that can bring Amazon Prime customers their order. It looks like a robotic cooler on six wheels. It could someday be more efficient than fleets of street-clogging delivery cars and trucks.

The quest for car-free city living is speeding up, not slowing down. Seattle was reshaped and improved by a technology that arrived as a circus toy. Don’t be too quick to dismiss the driverless novelties that might be flying overhead or rolling along the sidewalk to deliver goodies in your neighborhood.

Of course, ‘careful what you wish for.’

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TransLink is hosting regional conversations on Transport 2050, the latest version of its strategic plan.  Last week at a packed Robson Square theatre, it began with “The Future of Mobility” – lots of thought nuggets from TL’s strategic planner, Andrew McCurran and a panel of those in what we used to call alternative transport (not any longer) – ride-hailing, car-sharing, bike-sharing, electric mobility, and scooters!

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Here are a few tasty items:

Say good-bye to the ‘bike lane’;  hail the ‘mobility lane.’  Since it’s illegal for electric scooters to use the sidewalk (yeah, right) and it’s obvious already that electrification is leading to new kinds of vehicles faster than self-powered two-wheelers, they will all use the bike lanes or demand their own right-of-way.  Expect conflict.

(By the way, in cities with both bike- and scooter-share, the latter outperforms the former.)

Will there be space available on a reconfigured road as the number of traditional vehicles (you know, cars) diminishes?  Assuming, of course, that the number of cars really does drop.  Data from the use of Uber and Lyft in American cities indicates just the opposite: more cars and more congestion.

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As TransLink prepares to update Metro Vancouver’s transportation plan through to 2050, it will be convening discussions with the public around the future of how we’ll move.

 

Technological advances in electrification, automation and the sharing economy are converging to reshape the transportation sector. Shared micromobility is already taking many cities by storm with the rise of electric scooters and dockless bikes. How will Metro Vancouver adopt these technologies in a way that supports our quality of life?

You’ll also have an opportunity to demo an electric scooter or e-assist bike following the event.

Reserve here.

 

Emcee: Bowinn Ma, MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale and Parliamentary Secretary for TransLink

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For anyone that likes to explore cities and spaces on their own, Google Maps has developed an augmented reality mode  that makes it easy to ascertain what direction a pedestrian should be headed in~there is a large animated type of arrow to guide your direction.

You know those moments where there are no references to help you figure out which direction north is, and no way to determine exactly where you are. Using global localization which brings together Visual Positioning Services (VPS) and Street View, the smartphone camera becomes a “sensor” making wayfinding so much easier.

With a limited release in February for people who will augment the app with new locations and take photos, it is in the feedback stage. And here is the best part~the new feature is solely for walking directions, not for vehicular drivers.

In those pesky locations where GPS does not work because it is bouncing off buildings and cell towers, the Augmented Reality (AR) application uses the camera to suss surrounding buildings and street grids to pinpoint a walker’s location.

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Kudos to the European Parliament who are not messing around about saving lives and reducing injury on European roads. Realizing that simply slowing speed on roads by one kilometer an hour would save 2,100 lives, the installation of  intelligent speed assistance (ISA) in new vehicles is being mandated to all new purchased cars in the next three years.

The ISA does not brake the vehicle, but limits the top speed by throttling engine fuel. Speed sign recognition cameras and a GPS-driven speed limit data system inform the vehicle about traveled speed.

Carlton Reid in Forbes.com observes that even though this technology has existed since the early 20th century speed regulators on vehicles have never been adopted by governments. The use of ISA if universally applied can reduce deaths by 20 percent.

Currently the vehicles with this technology can shut it off.

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It is the question to ask at the City Program’s Simon Fraser University seminar with Autonomous Vehicle expert Tim Papandreou and the question I did ask Ole Thorson of the International Federation of Pedestrians. 

When an autonomous vehicle is going to crash into a crowd of pedestrians, who does the car save? Does it save the vehicle occupants first? And who makes that decision?

Caroline Lester asks that question in The New Yorker. While a “level four” autonomous vehicle is independent on highways, it still needs a human to guide it. “Level five” vehicles will make their own judgements, including  the decision cited in what is called “The Trolley Problem”.

“If a car detects a sudden obstacle—say, a jackknifed truck—should it hit the truck and kill its own driver, or should it swerve onto a crowded sidewalk and kill pedestrians? A human driver might react randomly (if she has time to react at all), but the response of an autonomous vehicle would have to be programmed ahead of time. What should we tell the car to do?”

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