Zūm on a mission to transform and electrify US student transportation

Zūm on a mission to transform and electrify US student transportation

US student transportation company Zūm has announced a funding injection of $130 million, which it says will enable it to become fully electric by 2025.

The Series D funding round was led by Japanese multinational Softbank and should allow Zūm to bring 10,000 new buses to America’s streets.

The company says it has already helped 4,000 US schools “begin their transportation transformation… saving millions of dollars that can be diverted back into the classroom.”

Zūm says it can offer schools these savings by providing the tools and technology “to share infrastructure with other nearby districts, deploying appropriately sized vehicles, creating efficient routes, and accommodating families’ changing transportation needs.”

According to Zūm, the country’s student transport system is “riddled with inefficiencies”, with circuitous routes, under-capacity vehicles, and one-size-fits-all schedules that make students spend “too many precious hours each week in transit.” Also, says Zūm, the system’s reliance on diesel fuel vehicles is “significantly impacting” the health of the community and the environment.

“While nearly everyone in the US has an association with the iconic yellow school bus, student transportation is a problem hidden in plain sight,” says Ritu Narayan, Zūm’s CEO and Co-Founder.

Andrew Straub, Investment Director at Softbank Investment Advisers, adds, “Using data and technology, we believe Zūm is modernising school transportation by offering better services, efficiency, and sustainability — while increasing safety for children.”

Inductive bike charging pilot roles out in Holland

Inductive bike charging pilot roles out in Holland

Dutch company Tiler has developed wireless charging technology for ebikes aimed particularly at the e-bike rental market.

The Delft-based start-up’s Tiler system consists of an in-pavement charging tile connected to the local electrical grid, and an inductive kickstand connected to the bike’s battery.

Users position the bike, so the kickstand is aligned with markers on the charging tile. Inductive charging coils below the tile then automatically relay an electrical current through the kickstand and into the battery.

Tiler claims the charging time for its 2-amp system is compatible with a conventional plug-in charger and a planned 4-amp promises to be considerably quicker.

Inductive charging tiles have already been installed in Rotterdam, Delft and even New York.

Tiler says it is initially focusing on businesses and organisations that encourage their employees to cycle. The Tiler system is currently being offered as part of a pilot project, with rental rates starting at €25 per month, for a 36-month contract. Additional kickstands can be ordered separately, allowing multiple bikes converted for inductive charging, to use a single tile.

UK’s biggest grocery chain sets path for fully electric home deliveries by 2028

UK’s biggest grocery chain sets path for fully electric home deliveries by 2028

EO Charging is supplying Tesco, the UK’s largest grocery store chain, with more than 200 AC fast chargers and 5 DC rapid chargers for its home delivery fleet of electric vans.

The Tesco charging depots are located to the North and East of London, at Oxford and a further two in Glasgow. The charging facilities are designed to support full recharging requirements as well top-ups when the electric vans have short turn-around times.

Tesco plans to have a fully electric delivery vehicle fleet by the end of 2028. It has taken delivery of 30 electric vans so far this year and plans for a further 150 in 2022.

The charging infrastructure at Tesco’s delivery depots will be managed by EO Cloud – depot managing and charge scheduling software that integrates with vehicle telematics, reducing, says EO Charging, infrastructure installation costs while optimising vehicle efficiency.

Charlie Jardine, Founder & CEO at EO Charging, says, “Our focus is now to help the business optimise its fleet performance and provide round the clock support and ongoing maintenance of their charging infrastructure.”

London’s West End gets electric waste and street cleansing fleet

London’s West End gets electric waste and street cleansing fleet

Westminster City Council in London and its waste contractor Veolia have unveiled a 60 strong fleet of new and upcycled electric vehicles. The vehicles will make street cleansing services in London’s West End fully electric, reducing emissions and “leading the way towards carbon neutrality”, Veolia says.

The new electric fleet will be one of the largest operated by a waste and street cleansing contract in any local authority in the UK.

The fleet will allow an 89% reduction of CO2e emissions compared to a diesel fleet, in line with Westminster City Council’s carbon net zero by 2040 plans. It will also help improve air quality and lower noise pollution as electric motors are significantly quieter, the local authority says.

Veolia’s energy teams have supported Westminster in installing smart charging infrastructure across Westminster’s West End depots, to ensure vehicles can be charged to meet the demands of a service that operates 24/7.

Councillor Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council, said, “Air quality is one of the most important issues for our residents, and the move to all-electric vehicle fleets is a key step towards our commitment to be carbon zero.

“This collection of state-of-the-art electric vehicles will transform the way we clean our streets and collect waste and recycling across Westminster.  Cleaning in the West End is now fully electric – and the rest of the City soon will be as we roll out more electric vehicles over the next 12 months.

ABB says Terra 360 is world’s fastest car charger

ABB says Terra 360 is world’s fastest car charger

Swiss-Swedish technology company ABB has launched Terra 360, which it says is the world’s fastest car charger capable of fully charging an electric car in less than 15 minutes, and providing 100km of range in less than 3 minutes. It is also the only charger designed specifically to charge up to four vehicles at once thanks to dynamic power distribution.

“With governments around the world writing public policy that favours electric vehicles and charging networks to combat climate change, the demand for EV charging infrastructure, especially charging stations that are fast, convenient and easy to operate is higher than ever,” said Frank Muehlon, President of ABB’s E-mobility Division.

Available in Europe from the end of 2021, and in the USA, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions in 2022, Terra 360 features a user-friendly lighting system that guides the user through the charging process and shows the State of Charge (SoC) of the EV battery and the residual time before the end of an optimal charge session. It is also wheelchair accessible and features an ergonomic cable management system that helps drivers plug in quickly with minimal effort.

Customers can brand the chargers by using different foiling and change the colour of the LED light strips. There is also the option to include an integrated 27” advertisement screen to play video and pictures.

GM says software platform offers drivers “smartphone-like” experience

GM says software platform offers drivers “smartphone-like” experience

General Motor has unveiled, Ultifi, its new end-to-end software platform that supports “frequent and seamless” delivery of software features, apps and, services to customers over the air.

The company says the new platform, which will be available in its vehicles from 2023, will offer the potential for faster software development, along with more cloud-based services.

Owners, says GM, can look forward to a “smartphone-like experience” where regular updates will be able to optimise software running in the vehicle.

Ultifi will also make it possible for software-based features to be added after the point of sale, and in some cases these will be able to be linked to a profile so that they can be transferred between similarly equipped GM vehicles.

Some examples of what’s possible is having a vehicle connected to your home via the cloud, meaning you could deactivate your home’s security system or adjust the thermostat as you near the end of your commute.

And further out, the cloud could also connect your vehicle with surrounding infrastructure to improve safety. Via vehicle-to-everything communication with other connected devices and infrastructure, drivers could be alerted to hazards or changing road conditions and be able to effectively time traffic signals.

Ultifi is designed to run in vehicles with GM’s previously announced Vehicle Intelligence Platform which was developed to provide sufficient power to electrical features as well as enough data bandwidth to quickly move digital information around the vehicle.

It is built on the Linux operating system and has been designed with external developers in mind. This means there’s the opportunity for third-party software developers to create new apps for GM cars.

“GM has decades of experience writing vehicle software, creating a solid foundation to build on,” Mark Reuss, GM’s president, said in a statement. “Now with Ultifi, we will be able to improve our software continuously, and deliver new features and apps to customers in a fraction of the time.”

Driverless Cruising down Alphabet’s Street

Driverless Cruising down Alphabet’s Street

GM-backed Cruise and Alphabet-backed Waymo have been granted permits from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to offer rides to passengers in their robotaxis, albeit under restricted conditions.

A key breakthrough is these permits will allow both companies to charge customers for robotaxi services. Previously both held permits that allowed them to offer trial services but they were unable to collect any payments.

Cruise’s permit enables it to give rides in fully driverless vehicles while Waymo’s requires it to have a human monitor in the vehicle.

Cruise is allowed to operate a fleet of “light-duty autonomous vehicles” within designated parts of San Francisco, but only form 10 at night to 6 in the morning. The cars are also limited to a top speed of 30 mph.

“Today’s approval from the California DMV makes Cruise the first and only autonomous ride-hailing company to receive a driverless deployment permit in the state,” says Rob Grant, Cruise’s Senior VP of Government Affairs and Social Impact.

And while “We can only offer paid rides in driverless AVs to members of the public during those hours,” he added, “We can continue to test with or without passengers in both driverless and with drivers 24/7. We will coordinate with our regulators as we expand hours of operations and geographic corridors.”

Waymo, with its on-board monitor, can operate within certain parts of San Francisco and San Mateo counties at speeds of up to 65 mph.

Both operators are allowed to run their services in light rain and light fog.

British Air Force trials driverless bots for “mundane” air base supplies

British Air Force trials driverless bots for “mundane” air base supplies

Britain’s Royal Air Force is set to trial an autonomous delivery vehicle at its Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire.

Developed by the Academy of Robotics, the driverless Kar-Go bot will deliver tools, equipment and supplies across the airfield, which CEO and founder William Sachiti says is the perfect example of the bot’s capabilities.

“Moving goods securely around a site is a major challenge for almost all large organisations and although we have optimised everything we do to be able to do trials like this where the technology can complement the core work taking place on large industrial sites, every site has its own nuances and challenges,” says Sachiti.

Squadron Leader Tony Seston adds, “Bringing self-driving technology onto a base offers many advantages. Ultimately, we could see fleets of autonomous vehicles with different autonomy levels delivering supplies, spares, tools, food and also providing airfield services such as aircraft fuelling, runway sweeping and snow and ice clearance.

“However, we must ensure we introduce this in a way that is secure and safe for our personnel. We see this trial as our first steps into understanding how we can deliver this vision safely,” he continues.

As such a safety team will monitor vehicles from a mobile command hub and will be able to take control of the vehicle if necessary.

The trial is part-funded by the RAF’s Astra programme, an internal project designed to scope out the future of the service.

RAF Brize Norton is the largest airforce base in the UK and, according to station commander Group Captain Emily Flynn, Kar-Go should allow troops to get on with important work.

“This trial is part of a continued programme to take away the mundane tasks that cause added stress and inconvenience for our people, to help our highly-trained personnel to do the jobs they joined the RAF to do and to do them to the best of their ability.”

UK project explores use of connected vehicles and roadside sensors to predict incident hotspots

UK project explores use of connected vehicles and roadside sensors to predict incident hotspots

A UK Government backed consortium led by Ford Mobility is developing a digital road safety tool that could predict potential incident hotspots using data from sources including connected vehicles and roadside sensors

Ford is partnering with Vivacity Labs, Oxfordshire County Council and Loughborough University with support from Transport for London following funding from the British government innovation agency, Innovate UK, and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The Data-Driven Road Safety Tool will use data from connected vehicles, smart roadside sensors and local-authority data to enable cities to take pre-emptive action to address roads and junctions that pose the highest risks to road users.

“Soon every new vehicle will be a connected vehicle, and we see this as an opportunity to reduce road traffic incidents and save lives in a significant way,” said Jon Scott, project lead, City Insights, Ford Mobility, Europe. “By collaborating with leading innovators, experts and academics – and with the backing of Innovate UK – we truly believe we can help improve mobility for millions around the world.”

The initiative follows extensive Ford research into the opportunity for connected vehicles and predictive analytics to help improve road safety. Now, up to 700 passenger and commercial vehicles will be voluntarily connected across Oxfordshire and London as part of the 18-month project.

Detailed telematics data from the fleet of vehicles – such as brake or accelerator pedal usage and steering wheel angle – will be analysed alongside information from up to 25 additional smart sensors to be provided in Oxfordshire by Vivacity Labs a specialist in traffic capture and classification.

Vivacity’s roadside sensors employ machine learning algorithms to detect near-miss incidents and analyse movement patterns of vulnerable road-users such as cyclists and pedestrians, as well as non-connected vehicles. All data shared by the sensors is anonymised with video feeds discarded at source, enabling safer roads without intruding on privacy.

“This project enables us to extend our AI research into road safety, while also providing the opportunity to work with experts at Loughborough University and explore a wider integration of our system into Ford’s Mobility ecosystem,” said Peter Mildon, chief operating officer, Vivacity Labs. “Unlocking the potential road safety benefits of Vivacity’s existing traffic sensor network has been a goal for us for some time, so it’s rewarding to see this underway in London and Oxfordshire.”

Experts from the Transport Safety Research Centre at Loughborough University, led by Ruth Welsh, senior lecturer, Traffic Safety and Ford’s Global Data Insight and Analytics team will analyse driver and vehicle data, while Oxfordshire County Council will focus on how local authority-provided data sources combined with the predictive tool can improve road safety for all users.

“Oxfordshire County Council is committed to enabling innovative applications for connected vehicle technology that will benefit our communities,” said Llewelyn Morgan, head of innovation, Oxfordshire County Council. “By connecting vehicle data with smart infrastructure, we hope this project will help improve safety for all road users.”

The project follows two successful trials in London in which analysts and data scientists from Ford Mobility sampled more than a million miles of driving by connected vehicles to identify, analyse and provide detailed safety mitigation guidance to local authorities on various road safety hotspots in Greater London.

Recommendations for improvements included the introduction of red-light cameras to deter signal jumping, cutting back vegetation to ensure road signage was clearly visible, double-height signage and signals, resurfacing carriageways and raising service covers.

Ford Mobility is also working with authorities in Cologne, Germany, and Valencia, Spain, to identify further ways in which analysis of information connected vehicles and infrastructure can benefit urban mobility.

Mercedes gives ACC battery cell manufacturer “vote of confidence”

Mercedes gives ACC battery cell manufacturer “vote of confidence”

Mercedes-Benz has joined Stellantis and TotalEnergies as a major investor in new French battery cell manufacturer Automotive Cells Company (ACC) with an ambition to scale up development and production of next-generation high-performance battery cells and modules.

Through the agreement, the three partners each have a one third stake, providing ACC with an investment of more than seven billion euros in a combination of equity, debt and subsidies. The aim is to reach a battery cell manufacturing capacity of at least 120 Gigawatt hours in Europe by the end of the decade.

ACC’s R&D centre at Bordeaux in South West France is already operational and the pilot manufacturing site in nearby Nersac will start production at the end of this year.

Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG says, “Mercedes-Benz pursues a very ambitious transformation plan and this investment marks a strategic milestone on our path to CO2 neutrality. Together with ACC, we will develop and efficiently produce battery cells and modules in Europe – tailor-made to the specific Mercedes-Benz requirements.

He adds, “This new partnership allows us to secure supply, to take advantage of economies of scale, and to provide our customers with superior battery technology. On top of that we can help to ensure that Europe remains at the heart of the auto industry – even in an electric era. With Mercedes-Benz as a new partner, ACC aims to more than double capacity at its European sites to support Europe’s industrial competitiveness in the design and manufacturing of battery cells.”

Yann Vincent, CEO of ACC, comments, “To have Mercedes-Benz join us as a new shareholder is a major milestone for ACC. Mercedes-Benz will bring a vote of confidence in our technology roadmap and product competitiveness that significantly strengthens ACC’s business potential and underpins our ambitious growth plans. This is our contribution to an electric and sustainable future.”

Volocopter and Geely JV aims to bring affordable air taxis to China

Volocopter and Geely JV aims to bring affordable air taxis to China

German urban air mobility (UAM) pioneer Volocopter and Aerofugia, a subsidiary of China’s leading automobile and technology group, Geely Technology Group, have finalised a joint venture company to develop a UAM capability in China.

Under the deal, the JV has signed an agreement to purchase 150 Volocopter aircraft and Geely Holding Group’s CEO, Daniel Li Donghui, has joined Volocopter’s advisory board.

The JV, headquartered in Chengdu, says it will work closely with the aviation, transportation, and government agencies in Chengdu and other parts of mainland China to bring urban air mobility to China within the next three to five years

Volocopter has also signed a manufacturing agreement with Volocopter Chengdu and General Aviation Manufactory Base of Geely Technology to produce Volocopter’s aircraft and parts in China.

This production agreement is in anticipation of a fast-growing demand for air taxi services after commercial launch in China.

Florian Reuter, CEO, Volocopter, says, “Geely has been a valuable partner since they became our strategic investor in 2019. Today marks another important milestone on our journey to bring affordable electric air mobility to China, the biggest single market opportunity for the UAM industry. With the joint venture company up and running we are in pole position to introduce air taxi services globally in a safe, sustainable, and practical manner.”

Jing Chao, Chairman of Volocopter Chengdu, adds, “With its establishment, Volocopter Chengdu can accelerate the deployment of air taxis and UAM business. UAM is an important part of the new aviation industry.”

Analysis reveals cheapest cities to hire e-bikes

Analysis reveals cheapest cities to hire e-bikes

A new report reveals The Hague in the Netherlands to offer the cheapest e-bike daily rental. The report from personal finance experts money.co.uk shows there is significant variation in daily rental rates even within the same country. In nearby Amsterdam, for instance, the daily charge is nearly ten times greater than in The Hague, suggests the research.

The Cycle Cities report compared 40 global cities and in terms of e-bike rental costs, the best value cities are:

  1. The Hague, Netherlands (£2.56 daily hire charge)
  2. Madison, United States (£10.78/day)
  3. Brisbane, Australia (£12.20/day)
  4. Cluj-Napoca, Romania (£15.65/day)
  5. Prague, Czech Republic (£16.76/day)
  6. Limassol, Cyprus (£17.03/day)
  7. Luxembourg, Luxembourg (£17.10/day)
  8. Vienna, Austria (£19.59/day)
  9. Valencia, Spain (£21.29/day)
  10. Amsterdam, Netherlands (£21.46/day)

 

The report also presents a Cycle-Friendly Index, which allows for cycling laws, the number of mapped bike paths per resident, pollution levels, topography and average annual temperatures/rainfall levels.

From this assessment, money.co.uk rates the world’s ten most friendly bike cities (ranked on a maximum possible score of 280) to be:

  1. Copenhagen, Denmark (216)
  2. Tallinn, Estonia (210)
  3. Amsterdam, Netherlands (209)
  4. Helsinki, Finland (201)
  5. Tel Aviv, Israel (192)
  6. Oslo, Norway (185)
  7. Adelaide, Australia (185)
  8. Perth, Australia (183)
  9. Canberra, Australia (177)
  10. Valencia, Spain (173)
Kinto launches DerbyGo and becomes UK’s largest MaaS scheme

Kinto launches DerbyGo and becomes UK’s largest MaaS scheme

Kinto, Toyota’s mobility brand, has launched a major new app-based service that will help people plan and make integrated journeys, saving time, reducing their environmental impact and helping transport planners design more effective future strategies.

DerbyGo (by Kinto) is the largest and most ambitious Mobility as a Service (MaaS) scheme yet to be introduced in the UK.  Produced in partnership with Derby City Council, University of Derby, Derby College and technology partner FOD Mobility Group, it will give thousands of local people easy and immediate access to journey planning, booking and payment via a single app on their smartphone.

The project has been developed as part of Derby’s Future Transport Zone programme, supported with around £500,000 of Government funding. Toyota – and its Kinto operations – entered into a collaboration arrangement with the council to support its future mobility programme in March this year.

Initially operating as an 18-month trial, DerbyGo (by Kinto) is being rolled out first to students and staff at University of Derby and Derby College. At launch, the app will offer a basic level of capability, serving as a research and development element of Derby’s live lab approach to its Future Transport Zone. As the wider concept evolves, DerbyGo will integrate a growing number of mobility features and capabilities to enhance travel in and around Derby, with users helping test, inform and optimise its potential.

The launch of DerbyGo this week coincides with the arrival of around 10,000 new students on campus, together with thousands more moving to the city for the first time, following a year of remote studies due to the pandemic. They are seen as ideal first adopters for the service, with many likely to be familiar with using apps for travel services, maximising the potential early uptake.

Initially the app will focus on the rail and bus services serving Derby and the university and college sites, providing real-time route information, ticket booking and payment. As a live lab, the trial will be constantly refined for ease-of-use and functionality, with further transport services, such as taxis and other bus operators, being added to enable more efficient, connected journey planning.

This will also be the first MaaS platform to integrate transport accessibility information for people with special mobility needs. The app will provide a direct link to Sociability, a UK startup business which collects, maintains and shares detailed, reliable and accurate accessibility information for local venues. DerbyGo users will be able to research the accessibility features of their destination at the same time as ensuring that their transport mode of choice is equally accessible – all within the DerbyGo app.

Growth in user numbers and the range of services available will help reduce the number of car journeys being made, easing congestion, improving air quality and reduce the city’s carbon emissions.  

Key developments targeted for the app’s evolution include monitoring parking availability and potentially introducing pre-booking priority for cars with more than one person on board, encouraging the uptake of car sharing. The app will also allow digital parking management and the introduction of electronic payment.

The future roadmap will also look at access to car sharing and access to rental cars at specific locations. Micro-mobility services, such as e-bike schemes are also planned for integration within the app, as early as Spring 2022.

Throughout the 18-month pilot, performance will be monitored, allowing changes and improvements to be made promptly and effectively.

Richard Balshaw, Kinto UK Group Vice President, said, “Today is an exciting first step in helping deliver better mobility for all. With the enthusiasm and vision of Derby City Council, University of Derby and Derby College, we are able to launch DerbyGo (by Kinto) and develop a wealth of mobility services to encourage and enable easier and more efficient journeys. Constant monitoring of performance will help plan better transport and parking provisions, bringing associated benefits of better traffic flow and less vehicle pollution.”

Professor Chris Bussell, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the College of Science and Engineering at University of Derby, and Chair of the Derby Climate Change Commission commented, “I am delighted that the university is collaborating with Toyota UK, Kinto and Derby City Council to run this pilot of the DerbyGo app with our students.

“This is an exciting and evolving technological aid to achieve the goals we hold in common with our partners to move towards cleaner, greener mobility around our city, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality and wellbeing for the local population.

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

Utrecht supports development of bi-directional EV charging ecosystem

The city of Utrecht, the Netherland’s fourth largest city, and EV car sharing and bi-directional charging operator We Drive Solar have done a deal with German EV developer Sono Motors to provide the city with 100 of its Sion solar cars. The initiative supports Utrecht’s goal of becoming the first region in the world with a bidirectional EV charging ecosystem.

Sions, which incorporate range-extending solar panels in the vehicle’s body, are one of the first cars to offer vehicle to grid capabilities. They will access We Drive Solar’s bidirectional chargers and feed energy back to the grid through their 54kWh batteries.

This will allow the energy stored in the car’s battery to reduce grid instabilities by delivering 11kW either directly to other electric vehicles and homes or back into the grid via the bi-directional on-board charger.

Combined, the 100 Sions will be able to provide 1.1 megawatt peak power to the city, which says Sono, is equivalent to the energy generated by a photovoltaic power plant the size of two football fields.

“This is the perfect project for Sono Motors to further our vision of a world free from fossil fuels as it is a clear demonstration that electric vehicles can support the transition of the energy sector as a whole,” stated Jona Christians, CEO and co-founder of Sono Motors.

The cars will plug into We Drive Solar’s bi-directional electric vehicle charging network, which is claimed to be the largest in the world. It currently offers 250 V2G charging stations, and 2,000 solar panels. We Drive Solar recently completed a deal with Hyundai and 150 bi-directional Ioniq 5s will join the Sion’s as part of the Utrecht-based shared, bidirectional electric vehicle fleet.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with an innovative company like Sono Motors. They are the perfect partner for this venture as they already incorporate the use of solar energy, sharing and bidirectional charging into their product offering” said Robin Berg, Director of We Drive Solar in a statement.

Hyundai backs plan to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide

Hyundai backs plan to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide

Urban-Air Port and the Urban Air Mobility division of Hyundai Motor Group plan to develop 65 electric urban-air ports worldwide to meet the growing demand for autonomous airborne drones and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger vehicles.

The partnership aims to establish a global network of urban-air ports across the US, UK, EU and Asia Pacific and provide the infrastructure “to unlock clean urban air mobility worldwide”.

Hyundai is developing its own eVTOL vehicle which it plans to enter into service in 2028. In large part its motivation in developing air mobility hubs is the lack of infrastructure remains a major block on market growth.

Urban-Air Port plans to plug this gap with more than 200 electric air mobility hubs worldwide in the next five years.

The collaboration is set to deliver the world’s first fully operational urban-air port – named Air-One – early next year in Coventry, UK.

Ricky Sandhu, founder and executive chairman of Urban-Air Port, said, “The sector is soaring and we know that a future with electric flying vehicles and drones in cities is going to be a reality soon.

“But it can’t happen if we don’t have the infrastructure on the ground and in the air to make it happen. Urban-Air Port will change the way we travel forever – unlocking clean urban air transport for everyone, improving connectivity in congested cities, cutting pollution and boosting productivity.”

Urban-Air Port’s modular hubs are specifically designed for compact environments, supporting any eVTOL or drone vehicle, and with maintenance and charging able to take place on-site.

The ultra-compact off-grid design enables urban-air ports to be located in dense urban areas and remote locations and can be easily moved to alternative sites, as the air-mobility sector develops.

Urban-Air Port is also partnering with hydrogen fuel cell developer AFC Energy to provide zero emission off-grid power. The first roll out of the system will be deployed at Urban-Air Port’s Air One site in Coventry.

Ford puts Mustang Mach-E on police duty in US and UK

Ford puts Mustang Mach-E on police duty in US and UK

Ford is using a pilot programme with Michigan State Police to demonstrate that a vehicle with an electric powertrain can stand up to the demands of police work.

The company is providing the US state enforcement agency with an all-electric police pilot vehicle based on the 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV to evaluate through 2022. The trial will also give Ford a real-world performance benchmark while it continues to explore the requirements for purpose-built electric police vehicles.

Ford recently introduced a Mustang Mach-E police concept car to the UK.

Like many EVs the Mach-E is quick off the mark and capable of 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 111mph. Ford says the car will be “a useful weapon against crime… while offering police forces one of the most economical and environmentally-friendly cars on their fleets”.

“The vehicle range is uncompromised as the blue light equipment is being drawn from the vehicle’s 12V battery and not the drive battery,” says Terry Adams, Blue Light Direct Sales Manager, Ford of Britain and Ireland.

He adds, “In future developments we will look to increase this battery capacity to allow for additional equipment to be fitted.”

Volocopter eyes Los Angeles’ urban air mobility services potential

Volocopter eyes Los Angeles’ urban air mobility services potential

Volocopter, the German electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft manufacturer, has signed a partnership deal with Los Angeles-based Urban Movement Labs to explore the possibility of bringing the company’s urban air mobility (UAM) services to the Los Angeles area.

Volocopter hopes to launch its UAM services in the next two or three years after achieving final certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), followed by certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which will allow the company to bring its services from Europe to the United States.

Urban Movement Labs is a collaboration between Los Angeles communities and local government, as well as mobility innovators including Google-backed self-driving car project Waymo, rideshare company Lyft, and US telecommunications giant Verizon.

“Our partnership with Urban Movement Labs is a great entryway into the US with our innovative urban air mobility services,” said Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter.

“By leading the conversation about urban air mobility with broad stakeholders in Los Angeles, Volocopter can strategically identify and address how our services can benefit cities in the country.

Volocopter is the only eVTOL company to already hold two strategic EASA certification approvals to design and produce aircraft in-house, and most recently demonstrated its eVTOL progress at the Oshkosh airshow in Wisconsin, where Volocopter conducted the first public flight of a crewed eVTOL in the US.

“We are executing a community-first strategy to engage with community-based organisations and inform a policy framework that will guide the development of UAM infrastructure in the City of Los Angeles,” said Sam Morrissey, Executive Director at Urban Movement Labs.

“Through our partnership with Volocopter we can explore specific pilot projects to advance a future UAM network that reflects what we hear from Angelenos and establishes standards for future UAM operation.”

Walmart, Ford, Argo AI to launch multi-city autonomous delivery service

Walmart, Ford, Argo AI to launch multi-city autonomous delivery service

Ford Motor Company, Argo AI and Walmart are working together to launch an autonomous vehicle delivery service in Miami, Austin and Washington DC. The delivery service will use Ford self-driving test vehicles equipped with the Argo AI’s self-driving system to deliver Walmart orders to customers. Initial integration testing is expected to begin later this year.

Argo’s cloud-based infrastructure will integrate with Walmart’s online ordering platform to route orders and schedule package deliveries to customers’ homes.

Bryan Salesky, founder and CEO, Argo AI, says, “Our focus on the testing and development of self-driving technology that operates in urban areas where customer demand is high really comes to life with this collaboration. Working together with Walmart and Ford across three markets, we’re showing the potential for autonomous vehicle delivery services at scale.”

Scott Griffith, CEO, Ford Autonomous Vehicles & Mobility Businesses, adds, “Pairing Walmart’s retail and e-commerce leadership with Argo and Ford’s self-driving operations across these multiple cities marks a significant step toward scaling a commercial goods delivery service.”

“We’re excited to expand our autonomous delivery efforts in three new markets alongside Argo and Ford,” comments Tom Ward, Walmart’ssenior vice president of last mile delivery. “This collaboration will further our mission to get products to the homes of our customers with unparalleled speed and ease, and in turn, will continue to pave the way for autonomous delivery.”

Walmart had previously partnered with General Motor’s Cruise on a self-driving delivery pilot and with self-driving vehicle startups Gatik and Nuro to explore delivery through autonomous vehicles.

Luna and Tier partner on e-scooter-based mobile sensor networks

Luna and Tier partner on e-scooter-based mobile sensor networks

Irish micromobility tech platform Luna is to partner with European e-scooter operator Tier to explore the use of computer vision to capture accurate and up to date mapping and geospatial data.

Luna’s vision and AI technology will identify, for instance, if an e-scooter is operating in a heavily pedestrianised area and modify its drive settings to react appropriately to its environment. It also equips e-scooters to detect the kind of lane or surface they are riding on, again modifying the vehicle’s response.

But beyond this, Luna is developing a series of algorithms and analytics tools that will allow scooter operators and cities to gain new insights into how the urban realm is performing.

In an early application Tier and Luna are exploring the possibility of trialling the approach in Paris, where Tier operates a fleet of 5,000 scooters.

The two companies are also looking at opportunities in the Middle East with “smart city stakeholders” to examine the potential for bespoke computer vision solutions to tackle local issues around safety and infrastructure optimisation. Additional pilot projects are also being explored in Spain

The principle is scooters capture data on a daily basis, compared to traditional condition surveys that might typically take place on an annual basis.

Tier and Luna are also embarking on a technical integration project to examine how the Luna’s computer vision hardware can be built into Tier vehicles at the point of manufacture.

Luna chief executive Andrew Fleury said, “Luna is thrilled to be partnering so closely with Tier across multiple geographies in the EU and Middle East.

“Cities and stakeholders everywhere are looking towards smart technology to help find solutions to some of the operational challenges that are holding the shared scooter industry back from fulfilling its potential.

“Tier is embracing Luna technology, even at this early stage of its evolution, in order to pioneer the future of micromobility, and deliver safe and sustainable services.”

Fleury added the technology would not only “do the basics of looking after rider and pedestrian safety,” but also “look to the future where scooter fleets act as mobile sensor networks in the smart cities of tomorrow.”

Baidu pilots Apollo Go robotaxi service in Shanghai

Baidu pilots Apollo Go robotaxi service in Shanghai

Chinese search engine and tech giant Baidu has begun testing its Apollo Go robotaxi offer in Shanghai.

While Baidu says its robotaxis have Level 4 capabilities a human safety operator will be present during all rides to comply with local regulations. Level 4 means the cars are technically fully autonomous, but within geographically defined areas.

The Shanghai fleet will be made up of Baidu’s electric Hongqi EVs and the aim is to run a fleet of 200 vehicles in the city.

Riders in Shanghai can use the Apollo Go app to call a robotaxi from 9:30am to 11pm and be picked up or dropped off at one of 150 stations across the Jianding District, which is home to Shanghai University, the Shanghai International Circuit and many tourist attractions.

Shanghai is also the location of Baidu’s Apollo Park, an autonomous vehicle facility for operation, testing and R&D. The park will be the base for the 200 AVs Baidu hopes to bring to the city, which would make it the site of the largest self-driving fleet in East China.

Shanghai is the fifth city to offer Apollo Go robotaxi services and Baidu says it plans to expand to 25 more cities in the next three years, bringing the potential of autonomous driving to three million people in China.

In a press release, Wei Dong, vice president and chief safety operation officer of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, says, “achieving this large-scale implementation requires three steps: regionalization, commercialization and verification via unmanned on-road operation. Baidu has already made headway in autonomous ride-hailing, achieving a 60% drop in cost per mile with the 5th generation robotaxi vehicle release in June. With the launch in Shanghai, Baidu Apollo is continuing to deliver on China’s vision of developing a world-leading autonomous driving market.”