UK sets out legal framework for safety and accountability of automated vehicles

UK sets out legal framework for safety and accountability of automated vehicles

The Law Commission of England and Wales and the Scottish Law Commission have issued a joint report that makes a number of recommendations on the introduction of self-driving cars.

The report suggests that a clear distinction should be drawn between “features which just assist drivers, such as adaptive cruise control, and those that are self-driving”.

Under the law commissions’ proposals, when a car is authorised by a regulatory agency as having “self-driving features” and those features are in-use, the person in the driving seat would no longer be responsible for how the car drives.

Instead, the company or body that obtained the authorisation, described as an Authorised Self-Driving Entity, would face regulatory sanctions if anything goes wrong.

“The driver can no longer be the principal focus of accountability for road safety,” say the commissions, in a situation where they are not in control of the vehicle themselves.

The overarching recommendation of the report is the introduction of new laws which would introduce regulations and legal framework specifically tailored to cars capable of driving themselves.

The report, commissioned by the government funded Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles in 2018, is the culmination of three consultations undertaken between 2018 and 2021, with input from “hundreds of stakeholders” from across the automotive industry and other sectors.

It has been presented to the UK parliament and the Scottish Parliament, but the law commissions say “it will be for the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments to decide whether to accept the commissions’ recommendations and introduce legislation to bring them into effect”.

Transport minister Trudy Harrison said the introduction and development of self-driving vehicles in the UK “has the potential to revolutionise travel, making everyday journeys safer, easier and greener”.

She continued, “This government has been encouraging development and deployment of these technologies to understand their benefits.

“However, we must ensure we have the right regulations in place, based upon safety and accountability, in order to build public confidence.”

David Bartos, Scottish Law Commissioner adds, “How should the law deal with self-driving technologies? Our joint report sets out new laws for allowing automated vehicles on our roads, ensuring safety and accountability while encouraging innovation and development.”

German technology alliance targets highly automated driving functions

German technology alliance targets highly automated driving functions

Volkswagen’s automotive software subsidiary Cariad and automotive parts supplier Bosch have announced a partnership to accelerate the introduction of partially and highly automated driving functions for volume production.

For the vehicles sold under the Volkswagen Group brands, the alliance aims to make functions available across all vehicle classes that will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel.

The aim is to offer Level 2 systems for urban and rural areas and Level 3 on certain motorways. The first of these functions are to be installed in 2023.

More than 1,000 experts from Bosch and Cariad will collaborate on the project with targets to be explored and evaluated towards Level 4 autonomy.

Bosch board of management member, Dr Markus Heyn, says, “For privately owned vehicles, progress to automated driving happens one step at a time. At Bosch, we’ve been working successfully on this for many years now. Together with Cariad, we will now be accelerating the market launch of partially and highly automated driving functions across all vehicle classes, and thus making them available for everyone. This will make driving on the roads safer and more relaxed.”

“Automated driving is key to the future of our industry. With our cooperation, we’ll strengthen Germany’s reputation for innovativeness. Bosch and Cariad will further enhance their expertise in the development of pioneering technologies,” adds Dirk Hilgenberg,  Cariad CEO. “This underscores our ambition to deliver the best possible solutions to our customers as soon as possible.”

Dr. Ingo Stürmer, the alliance’s project director at Cariad, comments, “Together, we can test automated driving functions on a broader scale in actual vehicles and implement them more quickly. Our engineering work will be done jointly, with Bosch and Cariad as one team. There has never been an alliance like this in the automotive industry.”

Atlantia buys intelligent transport systems global giant Yunex

Atlantia buys intelligent transport systems global giant Yunex

Siemens Mobility has signed an agreement to divest Yunex Traffic, its international road traffic business, to Italian Atlantia, the Italian-owned holding company active in the infrastructure sector, including motorways, airport infrastructure and transport services.

The €950 million agreement marks the conclusion of a bidding process which has seen Atlantia beat off competition from a large number of international bidders, Atlantia said in a statement.

Munich-based Yunex Traffic is a global leader in the intelligent transport systems and smart mobility businesses. Its traffic management and urban mobility infrastructure and platforms are used in over 600 cities on four continents.

Siemens changed the name of the unit to Yunex Traffic from Siemens’ Intelligent Traffic Systems in February as part of preparations for a possible sale.

The deal is expected to close by September.

Atlantia says the acquisition will deliver savings and new business opportunities when integrated with its existing assets. “We aim to deliver operating and growth synergies between our assets and Yunex in the management of infrastructure, services and technological innovation, in order to improve the travel experience,” said Atlantia CEO Carlo Bertazzo.

Atlantia owns motorway toll-road groups including Spanish group Abertis, operates Rome’s airports and controls digital toll payment company Telepass. Through Yunex it hopes to expand into urban mobility.

“We are certainly keen to expand Yunex Traffic’s business in countries of interest to us, such as Italy, France and Spain,” Atlantia’s CEO told analysts, adding the intelligent transport system sector could generate a business value of around 1.5 billion euros a year in those three countries.

GM seeking commercial applications for its hydrogen fuel cell tech

GM seeking commercial applications for its hydrogen fuel cell tech

GM is planning multiple power generators based on its hydrogen fuel cell charging technology HYDROTEC.

Utilising GM’s Generation 2 HYDROTEC fuel cell power cubes, with outputs up to 600 kilowatts, applications in the pipeline include a mobile power generator, developed with Utah-based Renewable Innovations, to provide a fast-charging capability for EVs without having to expand the power grid or install permanent charging assets in places where there’s only a temporary need for power.

“As pioneers and innovators in the hydrogen power space, Renewable Innovations sees exciting opportunities across consumer, business, government and industrial markets,” comments Robert Mount, CEO and co-founder of Renewable Innovations. “We’ve seen that there’s a need for EV charging in places where there’s no charging equipment, and now we’re committed to bringing the best technology and game-changing applications to market with GM to accelerate the company’s vision of a zero-emissions future.”

Aligned to this, GM and Renewable Innovations have collaborated on the EMPOWER rapid charger to provide more affordable DC fast-charging without significant investment in non-recoverable electrical infrastructure upgrades, such as larger feed wires, transformers and new substations.

While these initial applications are transport related, GM says its new generation hydrogen fuel cell generators could ultimately replace gas and diesel-burning generators at worksites, buildings, movie sets, data centres, outdoor concerts and festivals. They could also back up or temporarily replace grid-sourced electricity for residential and small commercial enterprises at times of power disruption.

“Our vision of an all-electric future is broader than just passenger vehicles or even transportation,” said Charlie Freese, GM executive director of the global HYDROTEC business. “Our energy platform expertise can expand access to energy across many different industries and users, while helping to reduce emissions often associated with power generation.”

British government pump primes £100 million into UK Gigafactory project

British government pump primes £100 million into UK Gigafactory project

UK battery company Britishvolt has received £100 million in government backing for its planned gigafactory in North East England.

Britishvolt also announced backing from investors Tritax and Abrdn, that should unlock a further £1.7bn in private funding in a project with a £4bn budget.

Once complete, the factory will produce batteries for over 300,000 electric vehicles each year, significantly “supporting the UK automotive industry’s transition to a zero emissions future” while creating 3,000 direct skilled jobs and another 5,000 indirect jobs in the wider supply chain.

Kwasi Kwarteng Business Secretary said, “Britishvolt’s planned gigafactory will not only enable the UK to fully capture the benefits of a booming electric vehicle market, but will bring thousands of highly-skilled, well-paid jobs to the North East.

“In this global race between countries to secure vital battery production, this government is proud to make the investment necessary to ensure the UK retains its place as one of the best locations in the world for auto manufacturing.”

Britishvolt also confirmed it has entered into a two-year, multi-million pound agreement with the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), to develop, assemble and manufacture its next generation sample cells for mass production and commercialisation.

Coventry-based UKBIC is a national battery manufacturing development facility providing battery manufacturing scale-up.

Graham Hoare, President of Global Operations, Britishvolt, says, “UKBIC is an essential ingredient in Britishvolt’s accelerated roadmap to market, providing a platform and environment that delivers high quality development cells in a time period that would be almost impossible in other territories. We are extremely pleased with the service offered by UKBIC and the promising results we’re seeing. By working with our customers early we can offer flexibility and specific attributes linked to their application requirements. This is a vital USP and signals that the age of “off the peg” battery production is no longer suitable for all.”

Remarkable dual-mode flying car receives certificate of airworthiness

Remarkable dual-mode flying car receives certificate of airworthiness

Nearly 50 years after James Bond’s flying AMC Hornet hatchback took to the air in The Man with the Golden Gun, a Slovakian inventor has been granted a Certificate of Airworthiness for a real flying car by the Slovak Transport Authority.

Klein Vision’s AirCar dual-mode vehicle completed 70 hours of flight, over 200 take-offs and landings and conducted the full range of flight and performance manoeuvres. Klein Vision said take-off and landing procedures were achieved without the pilot’s need to touch the flight controls.

Professor Stefan Klein, the inventor, leader of the development team and test pilot, says, “AirCar certification opens the door for mass production of very efficient flying cars. It is official and the final confirmation of our ability to change mid-distance travel forever.”

With the prototype powered by a BMW 1.6 litre engine, AirCar has an estimated travel range of 1,000km, and can reach speeds up to 200 km/h. Conversion from road to air mode takes just a few minutes, with the wings lifting up and out from car’s flanks.

René Molnár, the director of the Transport Authority of Slovakia’s Civil Aviation Division outlines the certification process. “Transportation Authority carefully monitored all stages of unique AirCar development from its start in 2017. The transportation safety is our highest priority. AirCar combines top innovations with safety measures in line with EASA standards. It defines a new category of a sports car and a reliable aircraft. Its certification was both a challenging and fascinating task.”

Klein Vision added that it has completed tests of a new, lightweight monocoque model featuring an aviation engine and variable pitch propeller which is expected to reach speeds of over 300km/h and offer a range of 1,000km.

Swedish-Kenyan company plans EV bus rollout across Africa

Swedish-Kenyan company plans EV bus rollout across Africa

The first electric bus from Swedish-Kenyan EV technology company Opibus is being tested on Nairobi’s roads in readiness for the commercial launch of EV buses in Kenya later this year, and across Africa by the end of 2023.

Opibus has over the last five years been building electric motorbikes and converting existing gasoline and diesel vehicles to electric. So far is has converted more than 170 vehicles for applications ranging from mining to tourism.

The company is now moving to building new EV buses and charging infrastructure. Opibus chief strategy and marketing officer Albin Wilson says, “This first year, we will be testing 10 buses commercially in Nairobi to ensure that the product fits and is optimised for the usage patterns. Once we get this valuable feedback, we will make the required changes and get all our production partners lined up to scale the roll out as rapidly as possible.”

Opibus’ proprietary electric vehicle platform is modular and can be the foundation for several types of vehicles. This enables the creation of a bus that is suitable for the African use case in its reliability, durability, and price point. This also means local and global contract manufacturers can be used to create a globally competitive product, with a rapid scale-up.

In an approach that sounds similar to Arrival’s microfactory concept, Opibus says local production means that the output can be tailored for local market needs. “We are building a product that allows for a rapid scale up, that can leverage global and local manufacturers. Meaning our design is easily implemented across the African continent, as it is a product tailored for the use case, and very cost effective,” said Wilson.

Opibus says it is already looking to develop partnerships that will drive the adoption of EVs across the continent.

Danish EV charging start-up aims to brush aside “old-school” players

Danish EV charging start-up aims to brush aside “old-school” players

Copenhagen-based electric vehicle (EV) charging firm Monta has raised €15 million in a Series A funding round to support its expansion into two new European countries.

The funds will also see Monta double its employee count and develop in five active markets across Europe.

The funding round was led by early-stage venture capital firm Creandum, with what Monta described as “significant” investment also coming from venture capital firm Headline. It takes the total raised by Monta to €20 million since the company was founded just over a year ago, having previously raised €5 million in pre-seed and seed rounds.

“For too long the EV ecosystem has been dominated by old-school players like electricity companies, hardware manufactures and charge point operators,” Casper Rasmussen, CEO and co-founder of Monta, said.

“As a tech company, we’re building a charging architecture free from legacy software that is ready to scale across borders and hardware. With this latest funding round, we’re one step closer to accomplishing this mission.

Monta has developed a product for both EV drivers and chargepoint owners, with its chargepoint management system providing chargepoint owners with a solution to attract users and manage chargepoint use, pricing, access and transactions. Monta also provides EV drivers with reservation, virtual queueing and payment features.

RideMicro app integrates shared and public journey planning

RideMicro app integrates shared and public journey planning

Wave Transit, a major public transport provider in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA, is launching an on-demand service and mobility app that enables locals to plan, pay, and ride both shared and public transportation journeys.

By downloading and using the free RideMicro app Wilmington residents can assess public and shared transportation journey options with real-time arrival information, and hail and pay for on-demand rides.

Powered by Moovit’s white label app solution, the app supports an on-demand service that automatically assigns multiple passengers heading in the same direction to a shared vehicle.

Previously, the RideMicro pilot programme operated a phone-based request and dispatch service. The enhanced service provides more connections from surrounding areas to fixed routes and makes it easier to book and track journeys.

When a user inputs their destination, the app will display the most convenient public and shared transportation routes. If the user selects the Transit On-Demand option passengers are guided to a pickup location within a short walking distance. Rides can be booked up to a week in advance.

The app combines information from Wave Transit together with dynamic crowdsourced information to calculate the best route for each journey at any given time. RideMicro also provides step-by-step journey guidance including “get off” alerts.

Marie Parker, Wave Transit executive director says, “RideMicro fills in the gaps where one option may be too expensive and another option may not be convenient.

“RideMicro is one step towards a better, more comprehensive mass transit system. Helping more people safely and efficiently commute to work, school, shopping, appointments, or just for entertainment has never been easier or more cost-effective.”

AutoFlight ramps up certification program with new European site

AutoFlight ramps up certification program with new European site

Chinese electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) developer AutoFlight is aiming to secure European certification for its Prosperity I air taxi aircraft from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency by 2025.

The Prosperity I, the company’s first crewed aircraft, is a three-passenger eVTOL aircraft with a projected range of 250km.

To support the process Autoflight has established a European operation at Augsburg airport in southern Germany and aims to identify other locations in Europe at which test and demonstration flights will be carried out.

Former Airbus Helicopters government business manager Mark Henning, a German aeronautical engineer by background, has taken up the new post of managing director at AutoFlight Europe.

“We are bringing aircraft construction back to Augsburg, creating a high-tech location and jobs as we build drones and create a completely new market segment for air taxis,” Henning said. “What I really like about AutoFlight and Prosperity I is the underlying simple concept. Simplicity translates into safety and efficiency.”

UK vehicle renter adds “London cab” based electric van to fleet

UK vehicle renter adds “London cab” based electric van to fleet

LEVC (London Electric Vehicle Company) has announced a new partnership with Europcar Mobility Group UK – one of the UK’s leading commercial vehicle rental providers – supplying a fleet of 100 new VN5 electric vans. The vehicles will be made available across Europcar’s nationwide rental locations in the UK.

VN5, based on LEVC’s electric version of the iconic London black taxi, incorporates eCity range extender technology, which comprises an advanced battery electric powertrain offering a pure electric range of 100km, together with a small backup petrol range-extender increasing total range to over 500km.

Designed, engineered and built at LEVC’s EV factory in Coventry, VN5 operates in the one-tonne sector and shares the same, distinctive design and a lightweight aluminium monocoque as the TX electric taxi. LEVC is owned by China’s Geely Group.

Joerg Hofmann, LEVC CEO, said “I am delighted we have signed this agreement with Europcar, which will enable many businesses to try our innovative new electric van before they buy. LEVC and Europcar share a common goal to advance the accessibility of sustainable transport, and I am confident that business will see that VN5 is the ideal green mobility solution, offering zero-emission capability with no range-anxiety.”

Ron Santiago, Managing Director, Europcar Mobility Group UK, added, “The addition of the VN5 addresses an urgent need amongst commercial vehicle users. Research in 2021 found that 89% of businesses expect a quarter or more of their fleet to enter a Clean Air Zone more than once a week. The VN5 gives customers a compliant solution eliminating the need to factor in additional costs for entering Clean Air Zones. There is also concern that electrified vans may not be able to meet the high-pressure demands of businesses, with uncertainty about the range they can offer.

Santiago adds, “There is a clear gap in availability of electric vehicles, as well as cost barriers for outright purchase. Available as part of our long-term rental solutions, it means businesses have flexibility without having to commit to lease or outright purchase, giving them the chance to really understand how electric will work for them and their drivers.

Yamaha increases Taiwan’s electric scooter battery swap potential

Yamaha increases Taiwan’s electric scooter battery swap potential

A variant of Yamaha’s new electric EMF scooter developed for the Taiwanese market will utilise Gogoro’s battery swapping platform for refuelling. The EMF joins the Yamaha EC-05 as the second vehicle collaboration with Taiwan’s Gogoro.

The ‘Powered by Gogoro Network Program’ gives partners like Yamaha access to Gogoro’s intelligent drivetrains and controllers, components, and smart systems, so they can develop unique electric vehicles that integrate with Gogoro Network battery swapping.

The EMF will be available in Taiwan in March.

Horace Luke, founder and CEO, Gogoro, says, “Gogoro is excited to be supporting Yamaha’s growing portfolio of Gogoro-powered vehicles and we look forward to their new Taiwan customers using Gogoro’s battery swapping. Yamaha and Gogoro remain committed to bringing better and more sustainable transportation solutions to market that integrate Yamaha’s incredible vehicle design and engineering together with Gogoro’s leading battery swapping.”

Hyundai’s advanced air mobility division invests in UK vertiport developer

Hyundai’s advanced air mobility division invests in UK vertiport developer

UK vertiport developer Urban-Air Port (UAP) has secured investment from Supernal, previously the Urban Air Mobility Division of Hyundai Motor Group. The funding will help support UAP’s plans to develop 200 vertiport sites across the world in the next five years.

Vertiport sites will provide the infrastructure needed to enable mass adoption of eVTOL aircraft – such as cargo drones and air taxis.

This is the first time a major eVTOL company has invested in a ground infrastructure developer to enable advanced air mobility.

Supernal’s investment will help support the development of UAP’s various new vertiport models and expansion into new markets.

The world’s first fully operational hub for eVTOLs, Air-One, will open for “public visitation” in the UK city of Coventry in April this year. Supernal says it will start operating commercial services from 2028.

Ricky Sandhu, Founder and Executive Chairman of Urban-Air Port, says, “Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs need Urban-Air Ports. Despite the unparalleled potential of eVTOL aircraft to revolutionise mobility, the importance of the ground infrastructure that enables them is too often overlooked. With Supernal’s investment and expertise and connection to Hyundai Motor Group, we can supercharge the rollout of sustainable, intermodal and scalable ground infrastructure that will unleash the future of advanced air mobility globally.”

Jaiwon Shin, Chief Executive Officer of Supernal and President, Hyundai Motor Group, adds, “At Supernal, we are on a mission to transform how people and society move, connect, and live; therefore, it is essential we not only develop electric air vehicles, but also help shape the broader advanced air mobility market from the ground up. We are pleased to continue working with Urban-Air Port and support its efforts to create ground infrastructure that works seamlessly with eVTOLs and integrates the advanced air mobility industry with existing modes of transportation.”

Non-internet dependent EV charging technology gets BMW backing

Non-internet dependent EV charging technology gets BMW backing

BMW i Ventures has invested in German electric vehicle charging start-up HeyCharge, whose proprietary system enables EV-charging without an internet connection.

Traditionally, EV chargers require an app or RFID card and a proper internet connection to begin activation. Yet most underground garages do not have an internet access point, or the ability to install such boxes.

Chris Cardé, Founder and CEO, HeyCharge, first recognised the problem after bringing home his first electric car to a Munich apartment building.

With 56% of Germany and 46% of Europe living in apartment buildings, and 37% of renters in the US, this is an obvious next step for the expansion of EV charging stations, but the current reliance on internet connectivity is holding scalability back. That’s why HeyCharge has made its mission to help get a cheap, commercial, scalable solution to this section of the population.

HeyCharge’s patent-pending technology, SecureCharge, eliminates the need for an on-site internet connection, allowing the app and chargers to communicate directly over bluetooth with the HeyCharge App. This maximizes availability of the system while minimizing latency between the phone and the charger. When combined with Access Point, HeyCharge’s simple and effective hardware component, total costs can be reduced up to 80% in buildings.

As the number of EVs on the road increases, there will be a large need for a scalable charging option that fits into consumers’ everyday lives. “The rapid growth of the electric vehicle market in coming years will necessitate greater infrastructure build-out of charging solutions around the globe,” said Kasper Sage, Managing Partner, BMW i Ventures.

“HeyCharge is the first company to enable EV-charging without internet connection, which is a key enabler to cover untapped white-spots. With HeyCharge’s technology, it becomes attractive to install chargers in locations that before would have not been commercially viable.”

“In addition to our full wallbox, the HeyCharge Access Point is a bring your own wallbox device that places the bare minimum for access control and consumption invoicing on the building side, allowing for a fast and easy installation that can be made by any electrician in minutes,” explains Cardé. “We are excited to use this investment to scale our product globally and bring low-cost charging options to consumers. HeyCharge’s solution makes EV charging not just scalable but also more cost-effective and accessible so that easy EV charging is made possible wherever you live or work,” he adds.

Nuro refines autonomous delivery vehicle and gears up for production

Nuro refines autonomous delivery vehicle and gears up for production

American robotics company Nuro has introduced a third generation of its autonomous, last-mile delivery vehicle as it gears up to manufacture at scale later in the year. The vehicle is the first to benefit from a collaboration with Chinese-owned car maker BYD North America.

Formed in 2018 by two engineers from Google’s Waymo project, Nuro says that every new detail is to enable production at scale and it hopes to be the first company to achieve this in the “zero occupant” segment.

Nuro was the first company to receive an autonomous driving exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) which it achieved on the basis that its vehicles are designed to carry goods, not humans.

Its second generation vehicle hit the headlines last year through a pizza delivery trial with Dominos in Houston, Texas.

The latest version, which has a maximum operating speed of 70km/h, is equipped with an exterior airbag that inflates across its entire front to reduce impact in the event of a collision. A network of self-cleaning sensors provide a 360 degree view of its surroundings. The vehicle itself has been reduced in size allowing more room for passing cyclists and pedestrians.

The delivery compartments have also been modified and can carry twice the previous version, roughly 24 bags of groceries and 220kg in weight. Modular units are available to provide heating and cooling compartments.

Enhanced Volvo electric truck offers 85% range improvement

Enhanced Volvo electric truck offers 85% range improvement

Volvo Trucks has launched an enhanced version of its Volvo VNR Electric offering an increased range of up to 85% and faster charging. The VNR Electric, first introduced in December 2020, is one of Volvo Trucks six all-electric heavy truck models specially designed for the North American market.

The operational range of the class 8 truck (that is having a gross weight above 15 tons) has been increased from 240km to 440km, says Volvo. The improved performance is due, among other things, to improved battery design and a new six battery package option offering energy storage of up to 565kWh.

The new Volvo VNR Electric also reduces the required charging time, as the 250kW charging capability provides an 80% charge in 90 minutes for the six-battery package, and 60 minutes for the four-battery version.

“It is a testament to Volvo Trucks’ leadership in a continuously evolving industry that we are bringing the enhanced version of our VNR Electric to the market only a year after sales of the VNR Electric first started,” said Peter Voorhoeve, President, Volvo Trucks North America.

The enhanced Volvo VNR Electric will be built in the company’s New River Valley plant in Virginia, which is the exclusive producer of all Volvo trucks in North America.

Globally, Volvo Trucks has set the target that half of all trucks sold are electric by 2030. “We are determined to lead the transformation of the transport industry. In only eight years’ time, our goal is that half of our global truck sales are electric. The interest among customers is high, and it’s quickly becoming a competitive advantage for transporters to be able to offer electric, sustainable transports,” commented Roger Alm, President Volvo Trucks.

Chinese manufacturer launches “compatible with all” EV battery swapping service

Chinese manufacturer launches “compatible with all” EV battery swapping service

China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) has launched an electric vehicle battery swapping service which it says will allow drivers to change car batteries in one minute.

Comprising battery blocks, battery swap stations and a phone app, the EVOGO battery swap solution will be rolled out across ten cities in China, said Chen Weifeng, general manager of CAES, an operating subsidiary of CATL.

For reasons perhaps lost in translation, the battery blocks are designed to look like a bar of chocolate. The “Choco-SEB (swapping electric block)”, says Weifeng, is a mass-produced battery specially developed for EV battery-sharing. “It boasts,” he says, “the advantages of high-energy density with small size, flexible combination and minimalist design.”

Incorporating “the latest CTP (cell to pack) technology”, it can achieve a weight energy density of over 160 Wh/kg and a volume energy density of 325 Wh/L

A single block can achieve a driving range of 200 km and is compatible, says CAES, with 80% of global battery EV platform-based vehicles on the market and “all” battery EV platform-based models to be released in the next three years.

CAES claims that unlike conventional battery swap solutions, EVOGO is designed to suit vehicles ranging from small passenger cars to logistics vehicles.

Most EV owners, it says, purchase cars with the biggest battery they can afford to alleviate range anxiety, but typically use only 10 to 20 percent of the total capacity. This means, says CAES, they have paid “a high sunk cost for a power capacity that is rarely needed”.

EVOGO’s flexible model allows customers to choose the number of battery blocks to rent according to their driving needs. Only one block is needed for inner city commuting, but for longer trips, customers can rent two to three blocks, says Weifeng.

Veolia to build major UK EV battery recycling facility

Veolia to build major UK EV battery recycling facility

French waste management company Veolia has announced its first electric vehicle battery recycling facility in the UK, which will have the capacity to process 20% of the UK’s end-of-life electric vehicle batteries by 2024.

Veolia’s new facility at Minworth in the West Midlands will establish recycling and treatment capacity for the anticipated 350,000 tonnes of end-of-life electric vehicle batteries predicted to be in the UK by 2040.

The plant will discharge and dismantle batteries and then mechanically and chemically separate the components.

The materials required for battery manufacturing largely rely on traditional water and energy intensive processes. It is estimated that 500,000 gallons of water is required to extract one tonne of lithium. But, says Veolia, use of recycled materials, or ‘urban mining’, could reduce water consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions from battery production by up to 50%.

Furthermore, says Veolia, it will use its international network and materials recovery expertise to establish a European circular economy battery solution in the next five years.

“This is an important first step on the UK’s journey to create an ethical and sustainable supply chain for batteries that will be increasingly necessary as we transition to a greener economy,” said Gavin Graveson, Veolia Senior Executive Vice-President, Northern Europe Zone.

“We will not reach carbon neutrality without increasing our investment and development of new technologies and recycling opportunities. As the demand for electric vehicles increases, we will need this facility – and more like it in the UK – to ensure we don’t hit a resource crisis in the next decade.”

“Alongside other projects across the globe, bringing Veolia’s expertise to the UK recognises the size of the national market and appetite to recycle locally and responsibly. Urban mining is essential if we are to protect raw materials and will in turn create a new, high-skilled industry,” Graveson added.

Serve’s pavement delivery robots achieve Level 4 autonomy

Serve’s pavement delivery robots achieve Level 4 autonomy

Serve Robotics’ driverless delivery robots have become the first to complete commercial deliveries at Level 4 autonomy. This milestone means the San Francisco-based walking pace pavement delivery robots are able to operate routinely without human intervention, and can rely on their onboard capabilities to ensure safe operation.

This industry first, says Serve Robotics, represents a major step forward for the autonomous vehicle industry, “significantly lowering the barriers for autonomous delivery at scale”.

Level 4 autonomy is the ability to navigate without human intervention in designated areas. The company’s robots are equipped with an extensive array of technologies that ensure safety by utilising multiple layers of redundant systems for critical navigation functions. This includes multiple sensor modalities—active sensors such as lidar and ultrasonics, as well as passive sensors such as cameras—to navigate safely on busy city sidewalks.

Serve Robotics’ achievement required development of a wide range of market-leading capabilities, such as automatic emergency braking, vehicle collision avoidance, and fail-safe mechanical braking.

“I’m proud that Serve Robotics has achieved Level 4 autonomy, which further enhances public safety by significantly reducing the potential for human error. This milestone begins to unlock the full potential of robotic delivery,” said Serve Robotics co-founder and CEO, Dr Ali Kashani. “This technical and commercial milestone is an achievement for the entire AV industry, and accelerates our mission to make delivery more accessible and sustainable.”

Serve’s technical breakthrough was possible with input from key technology partners, notably NVIDIA and Ouster. The NVIDIA Jetson platform, designed for robots and other autonomous machines, powers the AI computing necessary for the robots to understand their complex environment in real time. Ouster’s lidar sensors provide the small, lightweight, power-efficient sensing technology that enables the robots’ reliable self-driving capabilities.

“Serve Robotics’ accomplishment represents a breakthrough for commercial deployment of AV technology for sidewalk delivery,” said Murali Gopalakrishna, General Manager for Robotics at NVIDIA. “We look forward to Serve continuing to leverage the NVIDIA Jetson edge AI and Isaac robotics platforms to further advance their technological lead.”

Serve’s self-driving robots have successfully completed tens of thousands of contactless deliveries in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Founded in 2017 as the robotics division of Uber delivery service Postmates, Serve was spun off as an independent company in February 2021 backed by Uber along with 7-Eleven, Delivery Hero and other international investors.

US logistics firm forms self-driving alliance with Waymo

US logistics firm forms self-driving alliance with Waymo

Arkansas-based JB Hunt Transport Services, one of the largest supply chain solutions providers in North America, has entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Waymo Via to advance and integrate commercial autonomous driving technology in transportation and logistics. The companies’ goal is to achieve fully autonomous transport within the next few years.

Waymo Via is its trucking arm of Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google-parent Alphabet. JB Hunt Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President Craig Harper said a pilot on the I-45 in Texas last year helped “get a hands-on understanding of how autonomous driving technology could be implemented within our operations. This strategic alliance will continue that momentum and further explore the intricate details that would make this a value-driven solution for customers,” he said. “We believe autonomous driving technology will help us create the most efficient transportation network in North America, and our collaboration with Waymo Via is a pivotal step towards fulfilling that mission.”

The expanded collaboration will include multiple pilots to further analyse the operational capacity and capability of a Class 8 truck equipped with Waymo’s self-driving technology.