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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Lime Gen4 e-bikes feature e-scooter’s swappable battery

Lime Gen4 e-bikes feature e-scooter’s swappable battery

Lime has officially launched its Gen4 e-bikes in Washington DC, following small-scale pilots in several cities in 2021. They will arrive in more cities around the world this spring.

The most significant advancement is the swappable, interchangeable battery, that is shared with Lime’s Gen4 e-scooters.

With a standardised swappable battery between vehicle types, Lime operations teams are able to replace dead batteries on any e-bike or e-scooter, reducing van trips and saving the energy otherwise required for transporting heavy vehicles.

Additional upgrades to the e-bike include increased motor power and an integrated phone holder.

Wayne Ting, CEO of Lime, says, “The launch of our Gen4 e-bike is an important step toward achieving our mission of building a future where transportation is shared, affordable and carbon-free. Standardising our swappable batteries across modes is a leap forward for Lime and the broader micromobility industry, making operations more efficient and sustainable, while improving reliability for riders.

“In 2021,” he adds “we saw massive jumps in Lime e-bike use in cities, helping to fuel a welcome e-bike boom globally. We’re excited for city residents around the world to try the Gen4 as a great way to leave the car behind.”

Vienna metro trains to feature new level of dynamic journey information

Vienna metro trains to feature new level of dynamic journey information

New trains on the Vienna metro will be the first to feature a new digital passenger information and guidance system developed by Siemens Mobility.

The dynamic and visual presentation of information in the new X-car carriages are designed to make the use of mass transit in the city easier and more convenient. Screens inside the car above each train door display provide passengers with real-time information about further routes and connections at the next station.

“With the new X-car, the Viennese are getting a state-of-the-art metro car that provides all the latest information right where they need it. We are proud to be the first public transport company in the world to offer this service,” said Alexandra Reinagl, Managing Director of Wiener Linien.

The new Passenger Info Plus system has been developed by Siemens Mobility, tailored by Wiener Linien to meet the special public transport requirements in Vienna.

Screens above each door inside the X-car display relevant, continually updated information for the passengers. Screens above doors that will open at the next station show the direction of the station’s exits, other lines for transfers, and departure times for those lines.

Screens above the doors opposite the platform side display a digital metro network map and the train’s current position. The dynamic map shows the train’s position, direction of travel, next stop, and important transfer options. Additional information, such as the current status of other metro lines, or out-of-service elevators, can also be displayed on both sides of the car.

The X-car is currently undergoing extensive tests in preparation for its upcoming operating certification.

Florida DOT initiates multi-partner V2X data exchange platform

Florida DOT initiates multi-partner V2X data exchange platform

Iteris, the Californian-based global leader in smart mobility infrastructure management has been selected by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) as part of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) team to develop a connected vehicle data exchange platform.

Other participants in the FDOT program include Ford Mobility, which will supply V2X data from its connected vehicle platform; Florida International University; Amazon Web Services; Google; and several OEMs, and logistics and fleet companies.

The platform will enable FDOT to analyse real-time road conditions and communicate critical travel information to the traveling public, state and local government entities, private-sector partners, and other stakeholders.

The FDOT project is among the first in the United States to develop a vehicle-to-everything (V2X) data exchange, capturing data from thousands of devices across connected and automated vehicle together with smart mobility infrastructure networks. A key objective of the project is to standardise the collection, analysis and sharing of data from several proprietary systems, which have different coding and encryption methodologies, and to make additional considerations for privacy and safety.

“The primary goal of this technology is to save lives and move people more efficiently on roadways by sharing real-time driving conditions,” said Michael A Brown, SwRI’s Intelligent Systems Division engineer overseeing the project. “This data exchange will lay the foundation for FDOT to send alerts to drivers and traffic managers to coordinate routing, road closures and emergency response.”

The exchange will capture anonymous data both from FDOT-owned roadside units and proprietary data feeds of various car manufacturers. This connected vehicle data will be fused with a breadth of other data both from FDOT-owned infrastructure and third-party data feeds. This stream of enriched data will be the basis for real-time and historic analysis, leveraging a combination of machine learning and traditional algorithms.

“We are thrilled to join the team responsible for developing this vital V2X data sharing program for FDOT,” said Anita Vandervalk, vice president, strategic business development at Iteris. “The V2X data exchange will enable FDOT to communicate critical travel information to the traveling public, state and local government entities, private-sector partners, and other stakeholders.”

Dott wins Marseille e-bike service

Dott wins Marseille e-bike service

Dutch Micromobility company Dott has won a competitive tendering to introduce its e-bike sharing service in the city of Marseille, France, making it the only micromobility provider present in France’s three largest cities – Paris, Marseille and Lyon.

A total of 1,000 shared e-bikes will be available in Marseille from January 30, providing an efficient way to move across the city, free from congestion and without causing pollution.

Henri Moisinnac and Maxim Romain, co-founders, Dott issued a statement reading, “We are happy and very proud of this decision. Thank you to the City of Marseille for its trust in our expertise, we are looking forward to bringing Marseillais a quality, accessible and reliable service.

“This decision recognises ‘the Dott system’, which we have used since Dott’s creation. We are a mobility operator, not a digital platform. We operate the service ourselves everyday, with our own teams who are all colleagues and company shareholders. We are responsible, reliable and always seeking environmental excellence.”

GM-backed Pure Watercraft launches electric pontoon boat

GM-backed Pure Watercraft launches electric pontoon boat

Pure Watercraft, the Seattle based manufacturer of electric boats and propulsion systems, unveiled its all-electric pontoon boat at CES in Las Vegas and opened pre-orders on its web site. This is the first product to result from Pure Watercraft’s collaboration with General Motors announced last November.

Pure Watercraft’s 7.4m-long pontoon boat can transport up to 10 people and offers a top speed of up to 23 mph. It is powered by single or twin Pure Outboard motors and a GM battery pack of up to 66 kWh.

Pure Watercraft says, “It offers versatility for cruising, watersports and fishing while providing a quiet boating experience that only an all-electric boat can”. Pricing is expected to start at $45,000 for the single outboard version.

“Pontoon boating is booming, because people want to get out on the water and socialise with family and friends in the great outdoors. This boat gives them a more enjoyable experience, free from engine noise and the hassles of fuel and maintenance, at a price comparable to that of a conventional pontoon boat.”

Pre-orders are currently being accepted on the company’s website, with first deliveries expected in late 2022.

Smart antibacterial helmet aimed at shared micromobility operators

Smart antibacterial helmet aimed at shared micromobility operators

Chinese micromobility manufacturer Okai, which supplies vehicles to many big-name shared mobility operators including Bird, Lime, dott and SPIN, earlier this month launched its SH10 smart helmet at CES 2022 show in Las Vegas.

Conscious that we are moving to a post Covid world, the helmet is made with antibacterial materials and targeted at shared operators that are increasingly required to provide helmets as part of their operating licence. The SH10, says Okai, makes for a safer and more hygienic ride.

The helmet also features Bluetooth to connect to the Okai app, from which riders can customize and configure front and rear LED displays to improve visibility. A smart integrated speaker allows riders to listen to music, apparently without affecting aural awareness on the road.

Airseas starts testing half-sized kite on French cargo ship

Airseas starts testing half-sized kite on French cargo ship

French company Airseas has installed its first half-size automated Seawing kite to a cargo ship and will commence trials this month. A full-size kite is estimated to save up to 20 percent on fuel and emissions.

The kite has been fitted to the 154m long cargo ship Ville de Bordeaux, owned and operated by Louis Dreyfus, which is on a long-term lease to Airbus. The multinational aerospace organisation uses it to move large aircraft structures between its distributed manufacturing plants around Europe and its final assembly plant in Toulouse.

The 500 square metre Seawing deploys automatically, first emerging from storage on a trolley, then raising up from the deck on a mast to catch the wind, and finally being released on a long cable to grab the steady, strong winds at around 200 m above sea level.

The Seawing will operate in a figure-eight trajectory, monitored and controlled by a system that places the kite for maximum traction power. The Seawing computers also interface with the ship’s navigation systems, monitoring forward wind conditions and re-routing the ship to take the most efficient path possible.

The half-size kite is to undergo testing before being deployed for commercial operation.

Airseas estimates the full-size system will cut both diesel consumption and shipping emissions by 20 percent.

Airseas says the Seawing system can be retrofitted to virtually all ship types, requiring only about two days for the conversion and not getting in the way of cargo operations in port.

“A decade ago, we embarked on the ambitious project of channelling our unique aviation expertise towards creating a cleaner and more sustainable shipping industry,” says Vincent Bernatets, CEO and Co-Founder of Airseas and a former engineer at Airbus. “Today, I am beyond proud to see that vision becoming reality. This first installation marks a significant milestone not only for Airseas, but also for wind and other renewable propulsion technologies in general. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the world needs to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions now. In shipping, we can achieve this by using the full set of tools we have available to us today. Wind propulsion is one of these and will play an essential role in helping shipping achieve its much-needed decarbonisation transition.”

No human intervention truck completes 80-mile run in Arizona

No human intervention truck completes 80-mile run in Arizona

San Diego head-quartered autonomous trucking startup TuSimple has completed its first autonomous truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle, according to the company.

TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System (ADS) navigated the 80-mile run along surface streets and highways between a railyard in Tuscon, Arizona and a distribution centre in Phoenix. The one-hour and 20-minute test run was completed with no human intervention, marking a milestone for the company that aims to scale its technology into purpose-built trucks by 2024, says president and CEO Cheng Lu.

Along the journey, TuSimple’s Autonomous Driving System successfully navigated surface streets, traffic signals, on-ramps, off-ramps, emergency lane vehicles, and highway lane changes in open traffic while naturally interacting with other motorists.

Cheng Lu said, “By achieving this momentous technical milestone, we demonstrated the advanced capabilities of TuSimple’s autonomous driving system and the commercial maturity of our testing process, prioritising safety and collaboration every step of the way. This test reinforces what we believe is our unique position at the forefront of autonomous trucking, delivering advanced driving technology at commercial scale. This year, we were laser-focused on putting our technology through a rigorous test on open public roads under real-world conditions, and to see all our hard work and dedication come together is extremely rewarding.”

The test was performed in close collaboration with the Arizona Department of Transportation and law enforcement. Unmarked police vehicles followed behind the truck. In addition, TuSimple ran a survey vehicle to look for anomalies in front of the truck, and “an oversight vehicle behind it to put the autonomous truck in a “minimal risk condition”.