Western Europe leads strong uptake in electric shared mopeds

Western Europe leads strong uptake in electric shared mopeds

A new report from fleet sharing tech platform Invers and mopedsharing.com has highlighted a big uptake in moped sharing over the last year. According to the report, around 110,000 mopeds are currently on the road worldwide as sharing vehicles, and 12 million people are registered users.

Over the last 12 months, the number of cities in which moped sharing is offered increased by 43 percent to 175, and the number of operators of moped sharing services increased by 13 percent to a total of 87 providers.

And in the same period there was a big uptake in the share of electric-powered vehicles which grew from 77% to 97% of the fleet.

“The results prove with numbers what we experience in practice in projects and partnerships with our clients. The market is growing because the demand for flexible mobility in urban areas is increasing and mopeds promise significant growth as a sustainable sharing solution for medium distances in the mobility mix,” says Alexander Gmelin, co-author of the report and CPO at Invers. “Both report participants and our clients report that the investment climate has improved recently.”

Spain remains the largest market worldwide, followed by Taiwan, Germany, the Netherlands, India and France. New additions include Cyprus and Georgia. Operators in Germany, the Netherlands and France added the most vehicles to their fleets.

“Western Europe is currently the strongest growth driver in the industry, with more than 36,500 mopeds on offer for sharing. Paris contributed to this growth by becoming an important hotspot for European moped sharing. Three large Dutch providers – GO Sharing, felyx and CHECK – expanded into Germany and contributed to the German market growing by 86% compared to the same period last year, to a current total of 13,000 shared mopeds. In the Netherlands, services were rolled out across a number of medium and small size towns.”

The report also highlights that the consequences of pandemic restrictions or lockdowns means operators are developing a diversified, broad-based offering with multiple revenue sources such as long-term rentals and delivery services.

The report also highlights that many cities and operators are developing a Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) offer to promote sustainable transport alternatives. For example, TIER is pushing MaaS solutions with various transport providers; Cityscoot has integrated its offer into the Uber app; and all major Dutch moped sharing providers such as CHECK, GO Sharing and felyx are connected to local and national MaaS solutions.

Report highlights potential for e-bikes to shift journeys from cars and taxis

Report highlights potential for e-bikes to shift journeys from cars and taxis

Over 100 million car and taxi trips made each year in the UK’s major city regions could instead be on e-bikes according to a new report by consultants Steer for the Urban Transport Group (UTG), which represents the UK’s seven largest municipal transport authorities outside of London.

The report – Fully charged: Powering up the potential of e-bikes in the city regions – looks at how the increasing use of e-bikes can help accelerate the mode shift to journeys that would otherwise be made by cars and taxis.

Sales of e-bikes have rocketed across Europe in the past 18 months but in the UK are low compared to Europe. In 2019 e-bikes accounted for just 3% of new bikes, compared to up to 30% in many European countries.

The report presents different scenarios on the potential for e-bikes and under the ‘Accelerated Growth Scenario’ suggests that e-bikes could contribute 7% of all trips in the seven core city regions.

Ben Still, Managing Director of West Yorkshire Combined Authority and lead Board member for active travel at the Urban Transport Group, said, “These scenarios paint a positive picture of what is possible for e-bikes. They tell us the portion of cycle trips that could be made by e-bikes if Government meets its target on shifting people to cycling, and the number of car and taxi trips which could be removed from our roads.

“E-bikes have unique appeal, enabling longer and more frequent cycle trips, and they can thrive in certain demographics, such as older people, or certain geographies, like hilly or congested towns and cities. E-bikes therefore need to be centre stage of Government’s active travel policy if we are to get more people cycling in our city regions.”

The report highlights the huge opportunity “to power up the potential of e-bikes in the city regions and beyond to meet and exceed government targets for mode shift, revolutionise first and last mile travel and support wider policy goals. This potential is already being capitalised upon across Europe, with e-bike sales rocketing, even in traditionally more car dependent countries. It is time to join the e-bike revolution and enable more people to cycle more often.”

The report proposes six areas in which local and transport authorities can play a role in increasing the uptake of e-bikes. These are:

  • Financial incentives – such as grant schemes and tax incentives
  • Changing public attitudes and increasing awareness – through bicycle libraries, loan schemes and better marketing and promotion
  • Infrastructure improvements – including better cycle routes and mobility hubs
  • Security, safety and convenience – with the provision of secure cycle storage and e-bike maintenance
  • Research and monitoring into pilot programmes that test approaches to incentivise the use of e-bikes
  • Shared e-bikes – with local and transport authorities securing funding targeted to introduce e-bikes into existing bike share schemes.
AMSL Aero prepares for flight test on “efficient and affordable” box wing eVTOL

AMSL Aero prepares for flight test on “efficient and affordable” box wing eVTOL

Australian company AMSL Aero is preparing to start flight tests on what it claims will be the world’s most efficient eVTOL design, as well as one of the most affordable.

The box-wing Vertiia is designed to travel up to 1,000 km (620 miles) on a tank of hydrogen, carrying five people or 500 kg (1,100 lb) of cargo at a cruise speed of 300 km per hour (186 mph).

Described as a prototype that is nearly ready to fly, AMSL Aero has set a target date of 2024 to get its aircraft certified and into production. Its small team is now raising another round of funding to finance flight testing and pre-production as it moves toward the certification process.

AMSL Aero co-founder Andrew Moore describes the Vertiia as a hybrid between a tilt wing and a tilt rotor. “It has the advantages of a tilt rotor in the sense that you’ve got a fixed structure, but it reduces the blockage and the waste by having a large, flat area that tilts with the rotors.” There are a number of good reasons for this, he adds, but essentially it makes it lighter and removes all the problems that tilt wings have with gust response and the “barn door” effect.

Dott’s bikes and scooters now feature on Google Maps

Dott’s bikes and scooters now feature on Google Maps

Netherlands-based micromobility company Dott is making it easier for more people to discover its shared vehicles: users of Dott’s e-scooters and e-bikes will now be able to use Google Maps plan their travel in several European countries – including getting cost and travel time estimates.

The Google Map-linked feature is now available in Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain and the UK. A Dott option features details showing the closest available vehicle, walking distance and battery status. Riders are then directed to the Dott app where they can make the journey and choose to pay per trip, or by using a pass to save money on more frequent travel.

The collaboration is designed to highlight the benefits of shared micro-mobility to new and existing users, says Dott, and in so doing encourages more people to switch to sustainable travel.

Henri Moissinac, Dott co-founder and CEO says that working with Google Maps will help his company to present the benefits of shared micro-mobility to a larger audience, “Users can now easily see that Dott’s e-scooters and e-bikes provide efficient travel across a city, avoiding congestion and without causing pollution.”  By comparing journey time and price against other options at a glance, he adds, “we hope to encourage more people to switch to sustainable travel”.

Pavements to be out of bounds for Bird’s e-riders

Pavements to be out of bounds for Bird’s e-riders

Bird has integrated sensors into its vehicles to prevent its micromobility devices from being used on pavements and footpaths.

Bird says technology that prevents pavement riding has become increasingly important as more cities look to integrate shared micromobility into the climate action plans that focus on reduced carbon emissions in their communities.

The new Smart Sidewalk Protection solution combines Bird’s onboard vehicle sensors with U-blox’s centimetre-level pavement mapping to prevent pavement riding in real-time

If a rider attempts to use a pavement the bike or scooter will stop and the rider will have to return to the roadway or bike lane to continue their journey.

Bird chief vehicle officer Scott Rushforth says, “Everything we build at Bird is centred around safety and scalability, sidewalk riding detection is no exception. After three years of building, testing and piloting a range of technologies including but not limited to on board cameras, GPS tracking, ultra-wideband and beacons, we found that each was insufficient with regard to accuracy, precision, immediacy or scalability. Our testing led us to a collaboration with U-blox which resulted in the development of our end-to-end sensor fusion solution that meets our criteria.”

Alex Ngi, product manager positioning at U-blox, says: “Our centimetre-level precise GNSS positioning technology will now be implemented in the expanding micromobility industry, strengthening our contribution to a safer and more ecological world.”

The technology is currently being piloted in Milwaukee and San Diego, and is expected to be piloted in Madrid in early 2022.

Autonomous bus shuttle on trial at Highways UK

Autonomous bus shuttle on trial at Highways UK

Visitors to Highways UK – a sister event to MOVE, taking place in Birmingham next week, will be among the first to have the opportunity to ride a trial autonomous bus shuttle service running at the NEC, England’s National Exhibition Centre.

Local municipality Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council is working with the NEC on the pilot autonomous shuttle service to gain a better understanding of the technology, its application and how the technology might be used in the future.

Visitors to Highways UK can pre-book their free ride to experience one of the first fully self-driving shuttles in the UK. Additionally, there will be a “hop on” service running for the duration of the event and Solihull’s Head of CCAV will be on hand at the NEC on 4 November. The route starts at the Piazza bus stop by Hall 5 and runs down Pendigo Way to Resorts World. If you are visiting Highways UK, your walking route from the train station (and airport) take you very close to the departure point. The round trip takes less than 20 minutes, so a small detour for an amazing conversation point.

Safety supervisors will be on board the vehicle during the project trials and are able to regain manual control of the vehicle immediately at any time if required. The fully electric vehicles will run at a maximum of 20mph.

The trials will support research into potential driverless shuttle services and further explore how smart technology could be used to cut congestion and improve public transport.

For more information on the autonomous trials and the vehicles themselves, please visit www.solihull.gov.uk/CAVtrials

Yandex robots start delivering Russian post

Yandex robots start delivering Russian post

Robots manufactured by Russian corporation Yandex have begun delivering letters and parcels for Russian Post – the country’s national postal operator. Initially, the robots will only be active in Moscow, where the robots will deliver parcels from 27 post offices in several districts of the city.

According to Yandex, 36 robots will be part of the pilot project with one or two being assigned to the 27 post offices – depending on the office’s workload. Russian Post staff will be responsible for charging and changing batteries, loading the parcels into the robots, and noting the delivery address in the system, while Yandex employees will provide maintenance and remote support.

“Our autonomous robots are already being used for a wide range of tasks, not only in Russia but also in other countries,” says Artem Fokin, head of business development for self-driving technologies at Yandex. “The automation of parcel delivery by Russian Post, one of the world’s largest postal operators, is a logical step in the development of delivery, and we hope to scale this technology further.”

The explosive growth of e-commerce is inevitably transforming delivery processes, says Stanislav Chernin, head of innovation at Russian Post. “Every part of the logistics chain can be automated, and technologies are changing processes at every stage: from the first to the last mile.”

Russian Post, Chernin adds, “is open to innovations that make our services more convenient for customers. We are delighted to pilot an autonomous delivery option, to create a business process and study it in detail”.

Autonomous vehicle startup Zoox expands to Seattle

Autonomous vehicle startup Zoox expands to Seattle

Zoox, the autonomous vehicle startup acquired last year by Amazon, is expanding to Seattle. The company says that it plans to open an engineering office and operations facility in 2022, which will act as a base for its autonomous vehicle testing,

The company, which currently employs more than 1,300 people, tests its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco, Las Vegas and Foster City, California, close to its headquarters. It started testing its autonomous vehicles on public roads in Las Vegas in 2019.

The operations facility and engineering office will be staffed mostly by new employees, according to co-founder and CTO Jesse Levinson. The exact number of employees in Seattle has not been disclosed, but Levinson says that it is part of the company’s goal to create 450 new jobs in 2021.

While Zoox is setting up operations in the city where Amazon is based, Levinson told news service TechCrunch that the two companies still operate separately, and the Zoox office and operations hub will not be housed on the Amazon campus. Zoox will, however, work with Amazon “on various collaborations in the future”.

According to Levinson, Zoox has been eyeing Seattle as a test site for years, and it even completed a small pilot in the city in late 2019. He cites the frequency of rain in the area as one the primary reasons: “For better or for worse, it doesn’t rain very much in San Francisco and rains even less than Las Vegas,” he explains. “We want an ODD (operational design domain) that has a significant amount of rain and a frequent amount of rain for our testing.”

Zoox has developed some advanced weather proofing, including what Levinson describes as “active rain mitigation” for its sensors. “We’re very excited about that and we want to test it and validate it in the rain; Seattle is a great place for that,” he adds.

AIR unveils two-seater eVTOL for individual ownership

AIR unveils two-seater eVTOL for individual ownership

The company reimagining personal air mobility is now taking preorders for its sporty two-seater vehicle and plans to begin rollout in 2024

Israeli company AIR, creator of personal eVTOLs for the consumer market, has unveiled its debut vehicle, AIR ONE, and announced it is now accepting pre-orders. It describes AIR ONE as a “sporty, easy-to-operate electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft designed for individual consumer ownership”.

Infused, says AIR, with a spirit of adventure, its inaugural vehicle “will feature aerospace innovation alongside cutting-edge automotive manufacturing techniques and product maturity to enable mass production of vehicles and accelerated integration of advanced air mobility into society on both a commercial and personal level”.

As the eVTOL industry gains traction with a primary focus on air taxis and other urban use cases, AIR asserts that it puts the freedom to fly directly into the hands of consumers, “with its sleek and playful AIR ONE vehicle intended for adventure, fun, and day-to-day flying by consumers”.

According to AIR’s CEO and co-founder Rani Plaut, “the future of mobility is in the sky, but to get there we need to build consumer confidence in eVTOLs as a legitimate mode of everyday transport and develop vehicles on a mass-scale to bring that vision to life”.

He describes AIR ONE as “our hat in the ring,” asserting that it simultaneously shows consumers “the first in a line of diversified, playful models for personal flight”, as well as “demonstrating cutting-edge technology that will enable high-volume production and scalability”.

The company’s inaugural vehicle is an all-electric two-seater eVTOL that offers a range of 110 miles on a single charge at speeds up to 155 miles per hour, with a flight time of one hour. AIR ONE prioritises everyday practicality for consumers, the company claims, with collapsible wings for easy parking and its ability to take off from or land on any flat surface.

At the heart of AIR ONE is the company’s ‘fly by intent’ software, which is designed to manage complex functions and navigation, so that usage isn’t restricted to highly skilled pilots and trained professionals. Additional safety features include an AI-enabled monitoring system which does frequent inspections of the vehicle and eliminates checklists for riders to ensure paramount safety, even for riders with minimal training.

Based on technology and manufacturing techniques from the automotive and aerospace industries, AIR ONE is designed from inception to be a fun, safe and practical vehicle that adheres to aerospace standards and regulations. To this end, AIR is currently working with the FAA to obtain G1 certification.

AIR has begun taking preorders. Pricing information will be announced in early 2022.

Moscow metro embraces facial recognition payment system

Moscow metro embraces facial recognition payment system

Moscow has rolled out a facial recognition payment system in its metro system, as part of a rapid expansion of this controversial technology in Russia.

Rights activists have criticised the biometric technology – already in use at dozens of the city’s supermarkets – as an example of creeping state surveillance.

“To enter the metro, passengers do not need a card or a smartphone,” says Deputy Moscow Mayor for Transport, Maxim Liksutov, “they just need to look at the camera on the turnstile”.

The official said he expected the system dubbed ‘Face Pay’ to be used by 10 to 15 per cent of passengers within the next two to three years, adding that signing up to the system – which requires a bank account that has metro riders’ biometric data on file –  is voluntary.

The Moscow authorities expect the facial recognition payment system to speed up traffic in the city’s sprawling metro network. They have promised that the data will be securely encrypted with turnstile cameras reading a ‘biometric key’ rather than an image of the passenger’s face.

The authorities are working to expand an initiative to collect Russians’ biometric data, which began in 2018.

Earlier this year, the Kommersant business newspaper reported that authorities are hoping to increase the number of people who have signed over their biometric data from around 160,000 to 70 million over the next two years.

Pony.ai authorised to conduct driverless tests on Beijing’s public roads

Pony.ai authorised to conduct driverless tests on Beijing’s public roads

Silicon Valley-based autonomous driving company Pony.ai has been authorised to conduct driverless tests on public roads in the Chinese capital Beijing. The company is one of the two autonomous software companies to receive a Beijing permit, and is authorised to conduct testing in an area of around 20 square kilometers in a pilot zone for autonomous driving vehicles.

This area covers major subway stations, residential buildings and tech parks, which is said to provide Pony.ai with some of the most challenging road conditions in which to test its autonomous technology. The company says this is a critical milestone on its path to commercialisation and mass deployment.

In June, 2021, Pony.ai was authorised to conduct driverless tests in California and Guangzhou, China. Soon after, but prior to receiving its driverless test permit in Beijing, it received in a permit to conduct tests on certain sections of Beijing highways.

“Pony.ai is well on track to build a safe and reliable ‘Virtual Driver’, which paves the way for future mass deployment,” says Ning Zhang, VP and head of Pony.ai’s Beijing R&D Center. “Obtaining driverless test permits is a solid proof of Pony.ai’s leading position in the autonomous driving industry.”

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.