Montreal’s transport decarbonisation strategy heralds major investment

Montreal’s transport decarbonisation strategy heralds major investment

Montreal is to invest Can$ 885 million in new charging stations for EVs, eBikes, and city vehicles over the next three years.

In announcing its new transport systems decarbonisation strategy, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said, “When we look at the sectors that emit the most greenhouse gases, transportation is at the top of the list”.

The plans will see more electric buses added to the city’s fleet, with upgrades to existing garages to support the new models.

The city’s bike-share service, Bixi, will receive an additional 2,100 electric bikes within three years.

The city will also add an extra 1,000 EV charging points, on top of the 1,000 it has added since 2014.

The Canadian city also said it would support businesses looking to install private charging stations and will be taking measures to facilitate home charging in apartment blocks. The mayor also said that electric vehicles will get priority parking in some metered areas.

The city will also be looking to replace its own vehicle fleet with electric or more eco-responsible models.

E.ON expands its German EV charger portfolio through Vestel deal 

E.ON expands its German EV charger portfolio through Vestel deal 

Leading German energy company E.ON has partnered with Turkish sustainable technologies company, Vestel, to bring “ultra-convenient” EV charging to more drivers across Europe. The new partnership will see E.ON build upon its portfolio of EV chargers with the introduction of Vestel’s “sleek, and user-friendly models”.

A multi-sector pioneer of sustainable technology solutions and established in 1984, Vestel has become a driving force in electromobility, bringing an extra competitive advantage to the EV charging market with its award-winning range of EV home chargers and DC fast chargers.

Marking the first step in this partnership, the Vestel-made EV home chargers are being initially offered as part of a new E.ON cooperation with ADAC SE, Germany’s largest automobile club.

The Vestel-made range is claimed to be smart and networked, encompassing well-engineered entry level designs as well as powerful step-up models. The range’s compatibility with the E.ON Drive App means customers can charge en route at more than 30,000 charging points throughout Germany, and control their E.ON EV home chargers.

“We are pleased to have found a partner like Vestel who supports us in fulfilling the high customer demand for e-mobility solutions with well-engineered and attractively designed hardware,” says Mathias Wiecher, Vice President E-Mobility at E.ON.

Turan Erdoğan, Chief Executive Officer at Vestel adds, “Perfectly aligned with our commitment to drive sustainable innovation, this collaboration is another valuable opportunity for us to boost the mainstream roll-out of electric vehicle chargers. Our vast manufacturing scale and R&D expertise, as well as our flexibility and agility enable us to deliver exceptional value, high performance products. With our world-class manufacturing complex so close to Europe, we can also ensure greater speed-to-market, providing the fast product turnaround times required to stay ahead of the latest EV charger trends.”

UK trial to electrify 30km of motorway with overhead catenary power

UK trial to electrify 30km of motorway with overhead catenary power

The UK’s Department for Transport has awarded funding through Innovate UK to a consortium to undertake the UK’s first ever study on the electrification of long-range trucks with dynamic charging, using overhead wires on motorways.   

The study is part of the £20m assigned for zero emission road freight trials under the recently announced Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP). The Costain-led consortium includes Siemens Mobility, Scania, The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (Cambridge University and Heriot-Watt University), ARUP, Milne Research, SPL Powerlines, CI Planning, BOX ENERGI and Possible.

Costain’s Sue Kershaw, managing director transportation, said, “This study is another important step towards understanding how industry could work together to tackle one of the largest carbon emission producers in the country and create a cleaner, greener and more efficient road freight network across the UK.”

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) currently emit 18% of all road vehicle CO2 emissions, despite only representing 1.2% of the total number of vehicles on the road and 5% of the total miles driven. They are, however, essential to the health of the UK economy, with the new plan citing them as “critical to our economic wellbeing,” transporting 98% of our food, consumer, and agricultural products across the country.

The consortium has proposed an ‘electric road system’, using the Siemens Mobility ‘eHighway’ technology, as the fastest, lowest carbon and most cost-effective route to decarbonising the road freight industry and delivering cleaner air. The nine-month study starts is a trial for a plan that could see the UK’s major roads served by overhead lines by the 2030s.

The eHighway technology allows adapted trucks to attach to the overhead wires and run using the electricity, similar to rail and tram systems. The trucks come equipped with a battery that charges while they are in motion so they can detach to both overtake vehicles and reach their destination with zero emissions from start to finish.

Consortium members Siemens Mobility, Scania and SPL have previously trialled smaller electric road systems in Germany and Sweden, with this UK initiative being the first in the world to investigate deploying it at a much larger scale.

The project will look at electrifying at least 30km of the M180 motorway, linking Immingham Port with the logistics hubs of Doncaster and its airport. The partners plan to take the lessons learned from Europe, and provide technical, economic, and environmental recommendations for installing a proof-of-concept system with a bigger demonstration fleet.

Professor David Cebon, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (Cambridge University and Heriot-Watt University), said, “Our previous research says that overhead catenary power will provide the lowest cost, lowest carbon, and most rapidly deployable solution to decarbonise long-haul road freight in the UK. This project will test the concept at the next level of detail. Moreover, the technologies this consortium is working on could be deployed in most countries once demonstrated, supporting the global move towards greener logistics.”

Mercedes develops new level of road condition alerts. “Look out, pothole”

Mercedes develops new level of road condition alerts. “Look out, pothole”

Mercedes-Benz has developed its vehicle-to-infrastructure warning system to include the detection of potholes and speed bumps.

The newest generations of the C-Class and S-Class and the new EQS electric hatchback feature a suspension control unit that can detect and register a pothole on the Mercedes’ cloud with the information then available to other connected Mercedes vehicles.

Once the information is repeatedly detected beyond a threshold level, it will show up as an icon on the Mercedes navigation map and the vehicle will give an audible warning approximately ten seconds before the feature is reached. The alert will mention specific features such as “Look out, pothole” or “Attention, speed bump.” The warnings are available in 36 languages.

Mercedes says its cars built since 2016 are capable of receiving the warning information. Owners will need an active Mercedes Me account as well as the Car-to-X Communication feature.

Mercedes’ vehicle-to-infrastructure warning system also has the ability to detect and share information about slippery roads, cross winds, road works, accidents, breakdowns, reduced visibility, heavy rain and snow.

While this system is limited to Mercedes vehicles, other manufacturers are developing vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, massively increasing the utility of vehicle generated data with huge potential to improve road safety and provide roads authorities with highly cost effective, real-time asset condition information.

Trial investigates potential of wireless charging at taxi ranks

Trial investigates potential of wireless charging at taxi ranks

UK electric vehicle technology company Sprint Power is leading a UK government-backed project that aims to demonstrate the suitability of wireless charging technology for taxis.

Taxi ranks in the medium to large cities of Nottingham, Coventry and London are to be fitted with inductive pads allowing the vehicles to charge while waiting for the next ride. Wireless charging has the potential to increase range and by reducing the need to plug-in means vehicles can be in service for more of a driver’s shift.

The project involves a fleet of ten range-extended LEVC TX (the low emission version of London’s iconic “black cab”) and eight pure-electric Nissan models. Sprint Power has modified the vehicles for both wireless and plug-in charging and developed the charging technology.

Project partner University of Nottingham is currently commissioning the first prototype, with all vehicles due to be on-road from early autumn. Members of the public will be able to spot the special taxis by their distinctive livery, while passengers can learn more about how the technology works via posters in each vehicle.

Funding for the project has been awarded by Innovate UK, a non-departmental public body funded by the UK government and designed to drive research and development into new technologies. In addition to Sprint Power, the consortium includes CENEX (Centre of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell Technologies), Coventry University, Nottingham City Council, Shell, Parking Energy, and Transport for London.

Founder and CEO of Sprint Power, Richie Frost, said: “We are delighted to be part of this pioneering project and are on track to deliver these custom-built products for the taxis hitting the streets of Nottingham.

“I firmly believe this exciting project underscores the importance of wireless charging technology to this country’s shift towards sustainable mobility.”

Innovate UK launches UK Transport Vision 2050 with six areas of focus

Innovate UK launches UK Transport Vision 2050 with six areas of focus

The UK’s government backed innovation agency Innovate UK has launched its UK Transport Vision 2050.

The vision sets out what the UK transport system might look like in 2050 and outlines the likely steps along the way to achieving it.

The project is described as an attempt to gather the UK government and industry around a single vision of transport as “an interconnected system that delivers for people and places”.

It is also to provoke debate, and Innovate UK is seeking feedback to help refine and improve the vision.

Within the vision, Innovate UK has identified six key areas, namely:

  • travel and transport demand
  • connectivity
  • energy vectors
  • autonomy
  • business models
  • infrastructure

The vision and pathways highlight major new opportunities for economic growth and societal benefit, showing how businesses need to adapt and evolve in order to secure market position and grow.

While developed for the UK, Innovate UK says the challenges and opportunities are largely the same across the globe. The major trends identified are:

  • powering of transport in the future will radically change, bringing significant opportunities and risk for UK design, production and supply chains
  • electricity, hydrogen, ammonia and sustainable fuel will replace petroleum and create new opportunities for generation, production and distribution
  • greater connectivity, autonomous systems, new business models and robotics will transform transport

The Transport Vision 2050 has grown out of extensive research into the future of transport and out of consultation with partners in both the public and private sectors. The document will be regularly updated and used to inform decisions on future investments.

British bank installs 600 EV chargers for staff and customers

British bank installs 600 EV chargers for staff and customers

British bank NatWest is to install 600 electric vehicle charging points across its UK locations by 2023. Charging infrastructure is to be supplied by EQUANS, the new brand for renewable power generator Engie’s services-led activities.

The charging points support the bank’s pledge to convert its fleet to electric vehicles but will also be available to its customers.

“At NatWest we are helping our staff decarbonise transport and achieve Net Zero commuting. Working in partnership with EQUANS to provide EV chargepoints at key strategic office locations supports our staff in making that transition to electric vehicles and help reduce our carbon footprint,” said Michael Lynch, Climate Solutions Lead at NatWest.

NatWest has strategically selected locations where demand is high and power is readily available. The five-year partnership with EQUANS will benefit both employees and customers of the bank, while the chargers will also support the company’s transition to an electric fleet.

The first NatWest chargers are to go into operation before the end of August at Donegall Square East in Belfast.

“This partnership demonstrates a clear and strong commitment from NatWest on where they stand on the net zero transition,” said Jerry Moloney, Managing Director for EQUANS’ Futures business in the UK & Ireland. “The only way we will convince a greater proportion of the population to consider electric vehicles is by giving them greater options and better access to chargers.”

London gets retractable charge points designed to keep streets clear of clutter

London gets retractable charge points designed to keep streets clear of clutter

Prototypes of a new design of retractable on-street electric vehicle charge points that sit flush within the pavement when not in use have been installed within the London Borough of Brent. The aim is to deliver on-street charging while keeping streets clear of clutter.

Five of the Trojan Energy charge points have been installed for a small group of trial participants to carry out real-world testing. The full trial of 150 charge points across Brent and the adjacent borough of Camden will then go live later in the year.

The system has been designed with input from Disability Rights UK.

The charge points, says start-up Trojan Energy, represent a critical moment in the three-year Subsurface Technology for Electric Pathways (STEP) project funded by the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and delivered by Innovate UK, which has seen the charge points developed from concept, through manufacturing and now deployment.

In use up to 15 of the “flat and flush” charging points will be installed in parallel from one electricity network connection, with power distributed across the chargers. London’s electricity network operator UK Power Networks, as a partner in the STEP project, is looking at how to manage the additional load presented as the uptake in EVs continues and more people charge at peak times.

Ian Mackenzie, CEO of Trojan Energy commented, “Trojan Energy is delighted to reach this important milestone in the STEP project, as it represents the first implementation of our flat, flush and futureproof charging technology. We’d like to thank Innovate UK for their support, all the project partners for their expertise and help, and OZEV for their funding. We can’t wait to see the first driver reactions and hear their feedback so we can generate learnings for the wider project rollouts across Brent and Camden.”

Transport Minister Rachel Maclean added, “Innovation is key to creating cleaner, greener local communities – not only in the capital, but right across the country.

“This project is a great example of how technology is being used to solve a real-world problem to ensure that our EV infrastructure fits in seamlessly in our local towns and cities. This is crucial as we build back greener and encourage more people to make the switch, which is why I’m delighted this government is backing its delivery.”

The full trial will see 10 sets of 15 charge points deployed on six streets in Brent and four streets in Camden.

Strategic energy consultancy Element Energy are leading the project and have designed a survey alongside academic partners Institute of Transport Studies at the University of Leeds to evaluate the success of the project. Results from the pre-trial survey suggest that 50% of EV Driver participants find their current charging situation inconvenient and are in need of a better solution, with over 70% stating that the availability of local charging points was an important factor for their EV purchase.

Sarah Clements, Principal Consultant at Element Energy and the Project Manager commented, “The sheer volume of participants signed up to this trial demonstrates the crucial need for on-street charging in residential areas. STEP is tackling a key barrier to EV uptake by providing convenient access to chargers for those that cannot charge at home. One aspect we are particularly keen to understand is whether deployment of this on-street technology will give confidence to local consumers to upgrade to EV – an important policy focus in the UK today”.

As part of the trial, renewable electricity supplier Octopus Energy is offering the opportunity for customers to merge their car charging costs with their home energy bill through Octopus’ EV roaming service, the Electric Juice Network. This will create a seamless system for paying for all the electricity they use in one place, as if charging at home.

Bird to implement geofenced slow-riding zones

Bird to implement geofenced slow-riding zones

Californian micromobility company Bird is to work with cities across the world to extend its network of geofenced slow-riding zones. Dubbed Community Safety Zones, these new areas will focus on areas of high pedestrian activity, starting with schools.

Bird scooters passing through these new Community Safety Zones will automatically reduce their maximum allowable speed to 13 Km/h and trigger an in-app message explaining the reason for the deceleration. The areas will also be clearly visible on the in-app Bird service map, allowing riders to plan their routes accordingly.

“It is fantastic when companies innovate to support community traffic safety,” said Jenn Fox of campaign group Vision Zero Network. “Community Safety Zones can support localities working to improve safety for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. We’re impressed by the initiative and Bird’s efforts to listen to local communities and respond to community feedback.”

The Community Safety Zones will be piloted in Miami, Marseille and Madrid. Based on the results of these first programs, Bird says it will work with elected officials and community organizations over the coming weeks to implement new geospeed areas across all of Bird’s more than 250 global partner cities, potentially expanding the program to include parks and shopping centres.

VW to acquire Europcar anticipating mobility services complementing car ownership

VW to acquire Europcar anticipating mobility services complementing car ownership

Volkswagen (VW) has confirmed it is to buy French car rental company Europcar. VW is interested in gaining access to Europcar’s infrastructure and technology as the basis for developing future mobility services such as ride-hailing and car-sharing.

In a news release, VW said, “The Volkswagen Group is taking a major step forward in its new auto strategy to become a leading provider of individual mobility in the electric and fully connected age. In a consortium with London-based asset manager Attestor Limited and Dutch mobility provider Pon Holdings BV, Volkswagen agreed to launch a recommended takeover offer for Europcar Mobility Group…”

Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess said, “The mobility market is changing rapidly as customers increasingly demand new and innovative on-demand mobility solutions, such as subscription and sharing models to complement car ownership.”

“Europcar provides advanced fleet management capabilities as well as a broad network of stations at major airports, railway stations and city locations and will help accelerate Volkswagen’s delivery of its ambitious mobility services targets.”

Europcar has more than 3,500 rental stations across more than 140 countries and a fleet of over 350,000 vehicles in 2019, serving over 5 million customers per year.

The announcement also said that the minimum acceptance threshold for the takeover offer is 67%, and existing shareholders holding 68% in Europcar have committed to accept the takeover offer. The offer price represents a 27% premium to the closing price as of June 22 — the last day before the consortium’s approach became public and implies an enterprise value of 2.9 billion euros.

VW says the transaction provides a compelling opportunity to create a leading mobility platform and deliver new solutions to meet growing customer demand for services complementing car ownership.

Volkswagen has previously owned Europcar, and in June said it was considering buying a majority stake in the company to tap into the trend for consumers to rent rather than own a vehicle, according to a Reuters report. Volkswagen sold the company in 2006.

Though Volkswagen will have a majority shareholding in the joint holding company, it will neither control the consortium nor Europcar, the release added.

TotalEnergies wins Amsterdam EV public charging network concession

TotalEnergies wins Amsterdam EV public charging network concession

The municipality of Amsterdam has awarded the concession for the expansion of its electric vehicle public charging network to TotalEnergies. As part of this new concession, TotalEnergies will expand Amsterdam’s network with 2,200 new EV charging points, to be installed by Autumn 2022.

The installation of 1,100 chargers, each equipped with two charging points, will give a boost to Amsterdam’s Clean Air Action Plan, which aims to achieve completely emission-free transport by 2030. Providing sufficient charging points to support strong growth of electric vehicles is core to the clean air plan.

TotalEnergies says it will offer a “hassle-free and transparent” customer experience, while guaranteeing both the availability and the quality of the charging service.

Total Energies says it is taking a data-driven approach in which chargers are proactively added to meet demand. For the first time in Amsterdam, Total Energies will make large-scale use of clustering of chargers and the expansion of the charging network will be partly based on requests from drivers of electric vehicles.

Egbert de Vries, Amsterdam’s Deputy Mayor for Traffic, Transport, Water and Air Quality said, “With the installation of 2,200 new charging points in the city, we are taking the next important step towards cleaner air for all Amsterdam residents. Together with TotalEnergies, we will continue to work on the roll-out of a reliable charging network, which is essential for the transition to electric transport. I look forward to a great collaboration.

“This policy is a striking example of joint efforts towards more sustainable and emission-free mobility, delivering affordable energy that is increasingly reliable and accessible to as many people as possible.”

With over 6.500 charging points in operation, TotalEnergies is already the largest EV charging operator in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam which includes the three provinces of Noord-Holland, Flevoland and Utrecht.

TotalEnergies says this new concession reinforces its position as a key player in electric mobility across Europe, supporting its plan to operate more than 150,000 charging points by 2025.

Musk tweet confirms Tesla to make US Supercharger network open to all

Musk tweet confirms Tesla to make US Supercharger network open to all

Tesla is to make its North American high capacity EV charging network available to other EVs. The intention was “officially” announced by company’s CEO Elon Musk in a recent tweet: “we’re making our Supercharger network open to other EVs later this year.”

Musk reminded followers that Tesla developed it proprietary charging connector because at the time “there was no other solution for fast charging”.

“We created our own connector, as there was no standard back then & Tesla was only maker of long range electric cars,” the tweet continues. “It’s one fairly slim connector for both low & high power charging.”

Observers predict Tesla will now switch to a new connector compatible with the CCS Combo 1 to allow other EVs with CCS1 inlets to use the Tesla chargers. Tesla’s European Superchargers are already retrofitted with CCS Combo 2-compatible plugs. Other EV manufacturers are not willing to leave the CCS standard so this appears the most practical solution and might just sow the seeds for everything to switch to the CCS Combo 2 globally – a move considered highly desirable in the switch to EVs.

Shell ties up with UK supermarket chain doubling access to Shell Recharge stations

Shell ties up with UK supermarket chain doubling access to Shell Recharge stations

Multinational energy company Shell will install 800 electric vehicle chargers at high-end British grocer Waitrose by 2025, roughly doubling the number of Shell Recharge stations in the UK.

Around 100 Waitrose shops will gain charge points, with each site expected to receive six 22kW chargers and two 50kW rapid chargers.

The first installation is expected to take place early next year, in a move to create what Shell terms ‘destination charging’, where customers charge their EVs at a location they’re primarily visiting for another activity, in this case shopping.

“This is great news for EV drivers across the UK, knowing they can easily, quickly and reliably charge up at Shell charge points while shopping at Waitrose,” said Bernadette Williamson, the general manager of Shell UK Retail. “We want to make EV charging as hassle-free as possible and support our customers wherever they want to charge.”

The partnership will also result in the number of Shell forecourt shops selling Waitrose food increase from 57 to 125 by 2025.

“We’re also delighted to bring our customers 800 new charging points for electric vehicles, including new rapid charging capabilities, as the UK moves more and more towards a sustainable transport network,” said Waitrose executive director James Bailey.

There are 108 Shell Recharge points located across the UK, with almost half located in London.

Shell recently acquired EV charging company Ubitricity and has set itself a goal of installing a total of 5000 charge points on forecourts and other locations by 2025.

US Electric Highway Coalition gains support of major energy company

US Electric Highway Coalition gains support of major energy company

US Energy company and utility Exelon has joined the Electric Highway Coalition, a partnership of 14 US utilities established to create a seamless network of rapid electric vehicle charging stations connecting major highway systems, stretching from the Atlantic Coast through the Midwest, South and into the Gulf and Central Plains regions.

“Protecting our future means ensuring electric vehicles are an affordable, accessible, and reliable transportation option for customers in the communities we serve,” said Calvin Butler, CEO of Exelon Utilities. “Our customers and communities want cleaner air and action on climate change – just one reason why we want to make sure rapid charging is as easily available along major highways as traditional gas stations. Our partnership with the Electric Highway Coalition will help alleviate range anxiety by creating convenient, rapid charging stations that will give travellers in our communities the confidence to know they can rely on electric vehicles for long distance travel wherever they need to go.”

The members of the EHC have agreed to work together to ensure efficient and effective fast charging deployment plans that enable long distance EV travel, avoid duplication and complement existing corridor fast charging sites. Sites initially will be located less than 100 miles apart on major roadways. Additionally, each site will have at least two charging stations with universal vehicle compatibility and at least 100 kilowatts of output per station. This will enable drivers to get back on the road in 20-30 minutes. Each member company will determine its own execution methods, specific pricing models and charging equipment providers for their service territory.

The Edison Electric Institute estimates 18 million EVs will be on US roads by 2030, and the progress made by the Electric Highway Coalition demonstrates to customers that industry leaders are united in a commitment to ensuring accessibility and convenience for rapid charging stations across an expanded network of major highways.

Exelon has already committed to electrifying half of its utility vehicle fleet by 2030 and will continue to find new ways to partner with leaders across the industry to provide equitable, safe and sustainable energy and transportation solutions for customers.

In addition, Exelon’s utilities continue to actively work with stakeholders to promote the expansion of EV infrastructure and remove barriers to adoption. Through approved programs at each of its utilities, Exelon will enable the installation of more than 7,000 residential, commercial and/or utility-owned charging ports across Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware and New Jersey.

The installations will help jurisdictions achieve climate and zero-emission vehicle goals, improve air quality in their regions and prepare for the economic opportunities connected to the growing EV market.


Mexico calls on international expertise to decarbonise road freight

Mexico calls on international expertise to decarbonise road freight

British energy and environment consultancy Ricardo is leading an international consortium to support the Mexican Government’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the freight sector.

Over the next 12 months, specialists in sustainable transport will work with organisations, including Mexico-based Centro Mario Molina and Urbanistica, to provide advice to the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) as part of the Sustainable Transport Programme.

The country’s commitment to reducing GHGs by 22% by 2030 depends on the successful decarbonisation of its transport sector, which contributes to 25% of total CO2 emissions nationally. Road activity is responsible for 97% of all transport emissions and freight transport plays a key role by moving nearly 75% of land-based cargo across the country while railways serve the remaining transport flows.

Lorenzo Casullo, Associate Director, said: “Initiatives addressing greenhouse gas emissions will also improve urban air pollution and noise levels that negatively affect Mexican cities.

“This project demonstrates our growing influence in Central and Latin American countries as we continue to win more work across the region. Being able to deliver the entire project in Spanish, thanks to the multi-lingual capabilities of our team, is a bonus for us and shows the global support Ricardo is able to offer.”

Ricardo’s focus will be on green freight, helping national and local policy makers, as well as freight operators based in Mexico, to reduce the climate change and air pollution impacts of the transport of goods through a series of practical actions.

The team will provide regulatory advice to the Mexican Ministry of Environment on how to implement the regulations on air pollution standards for trucks. Ricardo and partners will also engage in capacity building efforts, looking at training courses and case studies covering telematic applications for fleet management and eco-driving.

Further support will come from pilot projects at the sub-national level, helping regions and cities test new business models for more effective vehicle scrapping policies, fleet renewal schemes and urban logistics approaches.

The project will support the cooperation between Mexico and Germany, which aims to promote climate mitigation efforts in Mexico’s road freight sector by supporting ministries, authorities and companies.

Mobileye starts New York autonomous vehicle testing program

Mobileye starts New York autonomous vehicle testing program

Mobileye, the intel owned company that specialises in vision-based autonomous vehicles, is now testing its AVs in New York City. The company says the trial in New York – the largest city in North America and one of the world’s most challenging driving environments – “proves how its unique approach is enabling rapid geographic and economic scalability”.

The aim is to test Mobileye’s camera-only autonomous vision system on NYC’s highly congested and often unpredictable streets. The company will initially run two cars, increasing to seven in the near future. Under New York rules the cars must have a safety driver with hands on the steering wheel at all times.

Mobileye’s True Redundancy approach first ‘doubles down’ on the computer-vision subsystem before adding a lidar/radar subsystem for redundancy.

Of particular interest will be to evaluate how the car’s vision and automated control system copes with pedestrians, bicyclists, aggressive drivers, double-parked vehicles, construction zones, emergency vehicles, tunnels and bridges.

Professor Amnon Shashua, senior vice president of Intel and president and CEO of Mobileye, says, “Driving in complex urban areas such as New York City is a crucial step in vetting the capabilities of an autonomous system and moving the industry closer to commercial readiness.”

Mobileye plans to begin operating an autonomous ride-hailing service in Israel in early 2022.

Malaysia to trial integration of urban air mobility services within an existing airport

Malaysia to trial integration of urban air mobility services within an existing airport

Malaysia Airports has signed a memorandum of understanding with Skyports, a designer and operator of vertiport infrastructure for electric air taxis, and Volocopter, a pioneer of urban air mobility (UAM).

The collaboration forms part of the five-year regeneration plan for Subang’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (LTSAAS), which was Kuala Lumpur’s main airport before the opening of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in 1998. The project will explore the deployment of electric air taxi services at LTSAAS as well as other locations throughout Malaysia.

As a first step, the three parties will combine their aerospace and aviation expertise to conduct a feasibility study examining suitable vertiport solutions to enable the safe take-off and landing of passenger eVTOL vehicles, considering factors such as demand, customer flow, and how to integrate UAM operations within an existing airport.

Malaysia Airports’ Group CEO, Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, says, “Air taxi technology and revolution is the next big thing that we want to see happen in Malaysian aviation. With LTSAAS offering a synergistic ecosystem within the aviation and aerospace sectors, it is timely for us to explore this new service as it complements other key developments of the regeneration initiative. Volocopter and Skyports are both leaders in their respective fields of advanced air mobility and we hope to further futureproof LTSAAS’s position in Asia Pacific by catering to research, assembly, manufacturing, maintenance, repair and overhaul in addition to air taxi operations.”

Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter, adds, “The Southeast Asian Market is one of the largest and most interesting ones for UAM due to its geographical layout and dense population. Our feasibility study will help give us insights on demand, customer expectations, and airport integration, which we can apply to other markets in the region. Having expert partners like Skyports and LTSAAS understanding the local needs, is decisive in bringing revolutionary technologies like electric air taxis to new markets.”

UK publishes plan to decarbonise its entire transport system by 2050

UK publishes plan to decarbonise its entire transport system by 2050

The UK Government has published its long-awaited Transport Decarbonisation Plan which provides a ‘greenprint’ to cut emissions from “seas and skies, roads and railways, setting out a pathway for the whole transport sector to reach net zero by 2050”.

The plan is based around commitments focused on:

  • increasing cycling and walking
  • zero emission buses and coaches
  • decarbonising railways
  • zero emission cars, vans, motorcycles and scooters
  • accelerating maritime and aviation decarbonisation

It also set out targets for phasing out the sale of new diesel and petrol heavy goods vehicles – with a 2035 phase out date for vehicles weighing from 3.5-26 tonnes and 2040 for vehicles weighing more than 26 tonnes. This builds on the commitment last year to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine cars from 2030 and hybrids from 2035.

“Transport is not just how you get around. It is something that fundamentally shapes our towns, cities, and countryside, our living standards and our health. It can shape all those things for good, or for bad,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

“Decarbonisation is not just some technocratic process. It’s about how we make sure that transport shapes quality of life and the economy in ways that are good.

“The Transport Decarbonisation Plan is just the start – we will need continued efforts and collaboration to deliver its ambitious commitments, which will ultimately create sustainable economic growth through healthier communities.”

Responding to the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, Cllr David Renard, Transport spokesperson for the Local Government Association, “the national voice of local government”, said, “Given that transport is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the UK, the Transport Decarbonisation Plan is key to how the country will achieve its net-zero ambition.

“Councils are already doing a lot to reduce carbon and other harmful emissions to protect their communities and the environment, by investing in cycle lanes, clean air zones, better public transport and EV charging infrastructure. However, the scale of the challenge requires a collaborative approach between local and national government, industry and our communities.

“In order to support local government in its role of leading places and providing a greener future, councils want to work with government and business to establish a national framework for addressing the climate emergency, supported by long-term funding, guidance for individuals and clarity on the practical steps that will be needed locally to help the public to transition to more sustainable forms of transport.”

Drones could answer inequities in health-care supplies to remote British Columbia communities

Drones could answer inequities in health-care supplies to remote British Columbia communities

Drone Delivery Canada Corp has signed an agreement with the University of British Columbia (UBC) as part of UBC’s remote communities drone transportation initiative (DTI).

The project will test the flight infrastructure required for defined-route deliveries using DDC’s Sparrow drone for deliveries to Stellat’en First Nation, the aboriginal community of Stellako, located in Central Northern British Columbia, Canada.

DDC will install enabling infrastructure, including its DroneSpot takeoff and landing zones, over the summer and expects to begin providing drone delivery services during the second half of 2021. The trial is DDC’s fourth First Nations project but its first in British Columbia.

All operations will be conducted in accordance with appropriate Canadian regulations. Flights will be remotely monitored by DDC from its operations control centre located in Vaughan, Ontario.

“We’re pleased to have finalised our contract with Drone Delivery Canada and to be moving on to the next stage of this project. As we transition into a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the risk of wildfires, we are looking forward to learning about how this innovative transportation technology can be used to meet community needs and help address inequities in access to health-care supplies and services,” said Dr Michael Allard, Vice Dean, Health Engagement, UBC Faculty of Medicine.

“Based on the isolated location of our community and the needs of our residents, drone transport may enhance our access to COVID-19 testing and medication without traveling and endangering other members of our community,” said Chief Robert Michell of the Stellat’en First Nation. “The futuristic potential of this initiative is exciting. With drone technology, there is so much you can do.”

The project is supported by pension-fund backed LifeLabs, Canada’s leading provider of laboratory diagnostic information and digital health connectivity systems.

“We applaud this UBC Faculty of Medicine initiative to embrace drone delivery to benefit First Nations communities. We also look forward to working with LifeLabs as an important partner in this project. LifeLabs will be supporting the project to ensure an end-to-end solution by participating in data evaluations, sample logistics and training,” said Michael Zahra, President and CEO of DDC.

“Improved delivery times of essential supplies to remote locations can make all the difference in protecting the Stellat’en First Nation community and saving lives,” said Charles Brown, President and CEO of LifeLabs. “We are proud to be participating in this project that will also help to advance our knowledge for the future use of drone technology to transport clinical materials and samples for lab testing.”

Dutch EV charging provider Allego to build out infrastructure at Radisson hotels across Europe

Dutch EV charging provider Allego to build out infrastructure at Radisson hotels across Europe

Dutch charging provider Allego is partnering with Radisson Hotel Group to build charging infrastructure for electric vehicles at its hotels. Allego will provide and operate charging solutions at more than 220 Radisson Hotel Group locations across Europe.

According to Allego the goal is for every European Radisson Hotel Group hotel to offer on-site EV charging to its guests by 2025.

Hotels in high-traffic locations will offer ultra-rapid (150 kW and above) and rapid (50 kW) chargers, while AC chargers will be provided for guests staying overnight or attending meetings and events. The high power chargers are also intended to appeal to shorter stay guests, who will be able to use the on-site restaurants or other “convenient amenities” of the hotels while charging.

The rollout is expected to begin in the UK and Nordic countries, followed by other European countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands.

“We are delighted to partner with the Radisson Hotel Group, which represents a key partner for our pan-European EV charging network, supported by their attractive footprint and high-traffic locations,” said Allego CEO Mathieu Bonnet.

“This partnership will allow us to bring our reliable, seamless charging experience and our pan-European network to a larger group of EV drivers and tap into Radisson Hotel Group’s well-situated network of hotels across Europe.”

Charging will be offered with contactless payment via credit or debit card.

Allego has won several similar contracts for charging points at corporate sites in Europe over the last few months. In Germany, the Dutch charging infrastructure specialist has started to increase the charging capacity from 50 to 150 kW at 40 rapid-charging locations built as part of the EU Fast-E project. In selected locations, 300 kW rapid chargers will also be installed.

Editors note: we were visited by friends last week whose return journey was just beyond the range of their electric car so they used their petrol engined one instead. They stayed in a hotel locally and reported that if the hotel had had charge points they definitely would have used their electric car for the trip.