Swedish parcel locker firm acquires Dutch market leader in same day deliveries

Swedish parcel locker firm acquires Dutch market leader in same day deliveries

Swedish parcel locker delivery company Instabox is entering the Dutch market through the acquisition of Red je Pakketje, a Dutch market leader in same day deliveries. The acquisition gives Instabox a complete and frictionless last mile delivery solution, with home delivery, parcel locker delivery, label-free returns and flexibility to change destination during the delivery.

Founded in 2015 in Stockholm, Instabox operates one of the widest locker networks in the Nordics. With partners such as H&M and IKEA, Instabox delivers e-commerce goods to millions of consumers, mainly through lockers but also direct to the front door via emission-free bike deliveries.

Instabox has been growing by more than 300% annually, making it one of the fastest growing companies in Europe. The Dutch acquisition follows €75 million funding raise earlier this year, led by investor EQT Ventures.

Red je Pakketje has more than doubled in size each year for five consecutive years and is the Dutch market leader in same day deliveries. Instabox’s acquisition will offer a complete solution to consumers and merchants, by providing both locker and home delivery options. Both companies say they share a relentless focus on improving consumer experience and developing a sustainable, completely fossil-free parcel delivery service.

Alexis Priftis, CEO and founder of Instabox, “When we researched the Dutch market we quickly saw that Red je Pakketje have done an amazing job in creating a premium, same-day shipping service that consumers love. I’m especially excited about working with the team since they share our consumer obsession and our passion for making deliveries green.”

Sam Rohn, founder of Red je Pakketje, “This acquisition will enable us to further speed up our growth and offer the fastest most complete delivery solution on the market, whether the customer chooses to receive their parcel at home or to a locker. We know that over three quarters of consumers have abandoned an on-line shopping cart due to a lack of preferred delivery options. We hope to be able to fix that and change an industry that has been shaped by traditional postal companies.”

Locker deliveries is an emerging trend across Europe with countries such as Poland and Germany having 10-30 lockers per 100,000 inhabitants. The Netherlands currently offers less than two lockers per 100,000 inhabitants, meaning there is significant untapped potential. Instabox’s planned expansion will see the Netherlands leapfrog many countries, not only in locker proliferation – but also, it claims, in the quality of the technology.

Founder Rohn commented: “Instabox has already shown that it can truly disrupt a market, having taken a huge market share from the traditional players in the Nordics. Not only by offering better, consumer focused services, but also by applying technology that enables precise delivery slots – at the point of purchase. Becoming part of Instabox will help us to complete our journey and achieve the same dominance here in the Netherlands, as well as expand into other territories.”

Red je Pakketje’s founders will stay with the new company, reinvesting parts of their proceeds into Instabox. The roll-out of lockers is set to start next month, and merchants will be able to start to ship to lockers during the summer.

Tech firms tie up to ease first and last journey segments across Australian cities

Tech firms tie up to ease first and last journey segments across Australian cities

Australian micro mobility company Beam has teamed up with Israeli journey planning app Moovit to give real-time access to nearby e-bikes and e-scooters across Sydney and Canberra.

Initially Moovit’s app will show users where nearby Beam e-bikes can be found in Sydney, and e-scooters can be found in Canberra, with more cities to be added soon.

According to Moovit’s 2020 Global Public Transport Report, people tend to drive to their main transport hub or will forgo public transport and drive directly to their destination, but could be encouraged to use shared micro mobility to improve the first and last segments of their journey.

Juan Carbonell, Moovit head of solutions in Australia and New Zealand, said, “Offering more alternative transport options that can easily get people to their destination, especially during a pandemic, is a critical component of any MaaS ecosystem.”

“This is why we are excited to partner with Beam. In Sydney and Canberra, riders can now find several alternative mobility options to enjoy the most convenient ways of getting from A to B”, Carbonell says.

Tom Cooper, Beam general manager, Australia and New Zealand, says, “Our partnership will make it easier to find and ride Beam vehicles. We are excited to work with Moovit and be a leader in bringing integrated and creative transportation options to Australian cities.”

By combining public transport operators and authorities’ information with live information from the user community, Moovit offers travellers a real-time picture, including the best route for the journey, service alerts, and get off notifications.

Moovit recently partnered with Ventura Bus, Victoria’s largest bus provider, and Department of Transport Victoria to launch FlexiRide, offering “Melbourne’s first Demand Responsive Transport service”, to bring more convenient and efficient mobility to people traveling to major local transport hubs.

Swedish researchers suggest buildings could become giant renewable energy storage cells

Swedish researchers suggest buildings could become giant renewable energy storage cells

Researchers from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology have released outline details of a new concept for rechargeable batteries made of cement. The concept could allow buildings to become giant renewable energy storage units.

The idea involves a cement-based mixture with small amounts of short carbon fibres added to increase the conductivity, sandwiched between a metal-coated carbon fibre mesh with iron for the anode, and nickel for the cathode.

“Results from previous studies into concrete battery technology showed very low performance, so we realised we had to think out of the box, to come up with another way to produce the electrode,” says lead researcher Dr Emma Zhang. “This particular idea – which is also rechargeable – has never been explored before. Now we have proof of concept at lab scale,” she says.   

Working with Professor Luping Tang, the pair produced a rechargeable cement-based battery with an average energy density of 7 Watthours per square metre. A modest estimate is that the performance of the new Chalmers battery could be more than ten times that of earlier attempts at concrete batteries. The energy density is still low in comparison to commercial batteries, but this limitation could be overcome because of the huge volume at which the battery could be constructed when used in buildings.    

According to Dr Zhang, the fact that the battery is rechargeable is its most important quality. “The possibilities for utilisation if the concept is further developed and commercialised are huge,” she says. Energy storage in building is an obvious possibility. The researchers see applications that could range from powering LEDs, providing 4G connections in remote areas, or cathodic protection against corrosion in concrete infrastructure.

It could also be coupled with solar cell panels, for example, to become the energy source for monitoring systems in highways or bridges, where sensors operated by a concrete battery could detect cracking or corrosion,” suggests Dr Zhang.

The concept of using structures and buildings in this way could be revolutionary, because it would offer a large volume of energy storage. Concrete is the world’s most commonly used building material, says Zhang, but from a sustainability perspective, it is far from ideal. The potential to add functionality to it could offer a new dimension.

“We have a vision that in the future this technology could allow for whole sections of multi-storey buildings made of functional concrete. Considering that any concrete surface could have a layer of this electrode embedded, we are talking about enormous volumes of functional concrete,” she says.

UK Government backs location data innovations to solve contemporary transport challenges

UK Government backs location data innovations to solve contemporary transport challenges

The UK’s Geospatial Commission has launched the second phase of its transport location data competition, in partnership with Innovate UK.

The competition supports the use of location data to spark innovation and support the future of mobility. Following successful completion of phase one in March with 28 winning innovative companies progressing, the second phase of the competition will award funding of up to £500k for the strongest of these 28 innovations to progress to development and pilot.

These products and services will harness innovative geospatial solutions that can help solve four contemporary transport challenges, namely:

  • Mobility as a service – to help better integration of transport types
  • Active travel – creating safer ways to enable active travel
  • Supply chains – helping better distribution, storage and delivery
  • Boosting capacity – increasing efficiency of transport networks

Winners will develop pilots to commercialise and bring ‘market ready’ geospatial solutions to our transport challenges and support the future of mobility.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Lord True CBE said: “Smarter mobility solutions, underpinned by location data, will enable us to make the most of our transport networks by boosting capacity, reducing environmental impacts and decreasing travel times and I look forward to seeing how this second round competition helps to boost the UK’s future of mobility.”

Production of retro electric bubble car to start in September

Production of retro electric bubble car to start in September

Swiss electric scooter and bike manufacturer Micro Mobility Systems has announced its Microlino bubble car will enter production in September, with European pricing expected to start at €12,000.

The two-seater, inspired by the classic 1950s Italian-designed BMW Isetta, is said to be capable of speeds up to 90km/h with acceleration from 0-50km/h in 5 seconds.

Two battery sizes will be available, offering estimated ranges of 125km and 200km. The vehicle can be fully charged from a regular household wall socket in four hours.

The floor-mounted electric motor produces approximately 11kW, sent to the rear wheels via a single speed transmission.

A prototype of the Microlino was unveiled in 2018. The updated variant will be built in Italy built upon a pressed steel and aluminium monocoque for improved safety.

Mobility attitudes report suggests Gary Numan was on to something…

Mobility attitudes report suggests Gary Numan was on to something…

“People feel more protected in their car than in public transport,” says Guillaume Saint of the consumer research organisation Kantar, which recently surveyed 9,500 residents in 13 cities worldwide as the basis for its 2021 edition of its “Mobility Futures” report.

The obvious consequence, he suggests, is a shift to green travel could be slower than thought.

Saint says cities face a pivotal moment as they build back from a pandemic that has reshaped work, life and travel. While he expects the fall in public transport use to persist, he said cities have a one-off chance to transform.

Authorities can capitalise on a growing enthusiasm for biking and walking, while temporary bike lanes in some cities showed it was possible to nudge residents towards green choices.

“They can entice people back to public transport with flexible tariffs for part-time commuters, offering tickets that are valid on multiple types of transport, and making stations more bike-friendly,” he added.

But the resounding message from the report, which polled residents in major cities including New York, Chicago, Beijing, Mumbai and Paris, is the pandemic will fundamentally shape the future of urban mobility.

Work-from-home policies and remote schooling led to a significant drop in urban journeys – a scenario likely to continue as many institutions embrace hybrid working, it found.

City dwellers also spent more time locally and looked to cut their human contact to reduce the spread of infection.

While the share of journeys made by bike or on foot rose by 3% on average during the pandemic that shift was far outweighed by a 5.6% drop in journeys by public transport and a 3.8% rise in those by car.

Last year’s Mobility Futures report predicted that journeys made by green transport would overtake those by car by 2030. But for this to happen, says Barbara Stoll from European environmental campaign group Transport & Environment, “Mayors need to heed the call of thousands of urbanites who are crying out for more space for walking, cycling, public transport and greenery.”

Los Angeles suburb adopts smart parking to support the high street and encourage train ridership

Los Angeles suburb adopts smart parking to support the high street and encourage train ridership

Munich based smart parking solutions provider Cleverciti has introduced its new parking guidance solution at El Monte, a suburb of Los Angeles.

The system is designed to make it easier for locals and visitors to access and support the local shopping district by finding parking easily, while also encouraging ridership on Metrolink by attracting commuters with real-time parking availability and train ridership level updates.

The technology is being deployed at El Monte’s Main Street and MetroLink parking lots, two of the most heavily trafficked and congested areas of the city. Once installed, Cleverciti’s smart parking solution will offer motorists digital turn-by-turn signage to nearly 400 parking spaces. Additionally, a city-branded Cleverciti Guidance app will offer smart phone access.

As motorists approach the parking lots, they will see LED signs fixed to existing lamp posts displaying live parking information including directions to available parking spaces.

“The pandemic-induced work-from-home mandate gave Southern Californians a glimpse of what cleaner air and less traffic congestion could do for the climate and quality of life,” says Alma Martinez, City Manager of El Monte. “We are leveraging game-changing technologies like Cleverciti to create new commuting habits and lifestyle choices for people without them feeling like they are compromising convenience or safety. With Cleverciti, we are confident we will rewrite the commuter and local driver experience for the better and help everyone reduce vehicle miles travelled.”

It is also hoped streamlined access to parking will encourage footfall to local cafes, restaurants and retail shops struggling to compete with online shopping, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, says Cleverciti, commuters who have previously struggled to find parking spaces at the Metrolink lot before boarding a train will experience a new level of confidence in their transportation choice.

The approach is part of El Montes’ campaign to remove “barriers to boarding the train”. Joe Survance, SVP of Sales, Cleverciti says, “It is encouraging to see this California city take a proactive approach to reduce traffic congestion and improve parking availability – both of which have a tremendous impact on quality of life and quality of climate.”

AI-enabled lidar based system offers “breakthrough” in mobility data gathering

AI-enabled lidar based system offers “breakthrough” in mobility data gathering

A project in New Jersey will act as a testbed project for Californian based Velodyne’s new Intelligent Infrastructure Solution that combines artificial intelligence, mobility data-gathering, analysis and sharing technologies.

The solution is based upon Velodyne’s lidar sensors and Bluecity’s traffic network and public space monitoring artificial intelligence software. It generates real-time data analytics and predictions, helping, for instance, to improve traffic and crowd flow efficiency while protecting vulnerable road users.

The testbed programme is being run by Rutgers University’s Centre for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation (CAIT) in New Jersey.

CAIT will install Velodyne’s sensors at multiple intersections in New Brunswick, New Jersey as part of the Middlesex County – Smart Mobility Testing Ground project in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

“The acquisition and analysis of mobility data is crucial to creating a safer pedestrian and cycling environment and ultimately integrating autonomous vehicles,” said Dr Ali Maher, professor and director at CAIT. “Velodyne’s Intelligent Infrastructure Solution captures data on various traffic activity including vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists in all types of environmental conditions. We envision the solution as playing a critical role in helping us create a safer environment for all road users.”

Anand Gopalan, Chief Executive Officer, Velodyne Lidar adds, “Our solution, powered by Bluecity’s AI-powered traffic monitoring software platform, will be key in the efforts to transform our roads and transportation infrastructure into smart cities, paving the way for a more sustainable, safer future.”

The system creates a real-time 3D map of roads and intersections, providing precise traffic monitoring and analytics. Velodyne says it reliably collects data in any lighting or weather condition, supporting 24/7, 365 days a year operation. The solution advances safety through multimodal analytics that detect various road users including, vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Furthermore, it can predict, diagnose and address road safety challenges, helping municipalities make informed decisions to take corrective action.

Velodyne says the approach is more cost-effective and easier to install than radar and camera-based systems. This lower price point, it says, is because a single lidar sensor installed on a traffic pole can cover an entire intersection or highway section compared to radar and camera-based systems that typically need multiple sensors to cover the same area.

Lidar, it says, also has a privacy advantage over camera-only systems because it does not record details such as hair, skin colour or facial characteristics, which is a growing concern for civic applications.

Velodyne and Bluecity previously collaborated on a traffic monitoring system in Kelowna, British Columbia in a pioneering 5G smart city project. The initiative showed how the lidar-based solution could track near-misses of accidents at problematic intersections, improving roadway safety in a cost-effective and efficient way.

“We are excited to partner with Velodyne in order to bring to market this breakthrough solution that collects and analyses detailed traffic data about road users while preserving anonymity and trust,” said Asad Lesani, CEO at Bluecity. “We believe that Velodyne sensors are best-in-class and this solution will be a game changer for the smart city industry.”

US EV charging company acquires Blue Corner to establish European presence

US EV charging company acquires Blue Corner to establish European presence

Florida-based electric vehicle charging equipment and services company Blink Charging has established a European foothold through the acquisition of Blue Corner based in Antwerp, Belgium, including its portfolio of over 7000 charging ports and charging network.

The acquisition was secured with a combination of cash and stock for €20 million and gives Blink complete operational control of Blue Corner and its EV charging assets.

The acquisition is part of Blink’s international expansion plans and provides the company a significant infrastructure footprint in Europe. Blue Corner chargers are located across Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France.

Blink’s European expansion allows the Company to capitalise on Europe’s burgeoning EV industry. “EVs enjoy a much higher market share in Europe. This brings increased utilisation for EV charging stations. In addition, the historically higher price of fuel makes driving an EV a stronger value proposition for drivers,” said Blink Founder and Chief Executive Officer Michael D Farkas.

Sales of plug-in electric vehicles in Europe rose 137% to 1.4 million vehicles last year, whereas US sales rose just 4% to 328,000, according to ev-volumes.com. In addition, European regulations are further accelerating widespread EV adoption regulatory support for zero-emission vehicles.

“We are very excited about this acquisition and the opportunity it provides Blink to have a significant presence in Europe quickly. As a key contributor to the expanding EV landscape, we are continuously looking for opportunities to strategically increase our global assets while also making EV charging more accessible.

Accurate real time information on EV charge point status vital to electric vehicle uptake, warns telecoms experts

Accurate real time information on EV charge point status vital to electric vehicle uptake, warns telecoms experts

A new report from IoT research analysts Beecham, sponsored by UK-based mobile virtual network operator Caburn Telecom, warns that in the race to deliver the EV charging network needed to support the rapid expected transition to electric vehicles, the importance of connectivity must not be overlooked.

As Caburn explains, IoT systems acquire data from devices, process it for use in applications, and generate real-time information that is communicated to third parties.

In EV charging, the public charge points are the devices. They process operational status, metering and user data and communicate the information so that the charge point operators (CPOs) can monitor their maintenance needs, users can be billed, and the utility and communications companies can be paid.

Uptime is critical, but the track record to date is poor. And that, says Caburn, is largely because the complexity of the connectivity part of any IoT solution is too often underestimated.

The report points to anecdotal negative media coverage and research data that indicates outages have already become a serious issue for EV charge points.

It says a UK 2019 survey conducted by Zap-Map found that almost 25% of public charge points were out of service. Of those, 7.5% were flagged with a problem, but 16% were not communicating their status.

This, say Caburn, suggests the charge point operators were either unaware of the status of the charge points or unable to rectify them remotely.

The key point, it says, is it is hugely frustrating for users – already subject to range anxiety – to find that available charging points are not working. And unless addressed this will become a major obstacle to the wide-spread adoption of EVs. That in turn could prove a significant blocker to the UK Government’s ambitious transport decarbonisation agenda.

A priority for CPOs, believes Caburn, is to ensure they offer high uptime for their charging points and provide accurate real time information on their status. And CPOs that fail to provide this, it warns, risk reputational damage and loss of market share that will become increasingly severe over time.

The solution, says Caburn, is CPOs should not by default simply turn to their regular enterprise mobility partner. Instead they should be looking to partner with a mobile virtual network operator that offers non-steered access to multiple networks, and a management platform that allows the CPO to monitor the charge-points in real-time and to remotely correct faults.

Multi-network roaming, it says, maximises geographical coverage and connection resilience. Non-steered access ensures that no network is prioritised and in the event of a connectivity issue the charge points can change between them automatically and with minimal delay.

And to meet driver expectations for trouble-free journeys, concludes Caburn, CPOs need to make a detailed evaluation of their requirements when selecting their communications partners. Connectivity is a crucial resource and must be planned at an early stage of any IoT project to ensure its long-term success.

Study suggests ride-hailing can intensify urban transport challenges and road congestion

Study suggests ride-hailing can intensify urban transport challenges and road congestion

New research suggests that the perceived environmental and traffic congestion easing benefits of ride-hailing services are harder to attain and more complicated than previous modelling predicted.

Researchers at the Future Urban Mobility Research Group at Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT, and Tongji University conducted a study to look at how ride-sharing service offered by Transport network companies (TNCs) impacts urban mobility in the United States.

The results presented in a new paper titled “Impacts of transportation network companies on urban mobility” published in Nature Sustainability, assessed how ride-sharing has affected road congestion, public transport ridership, and private vehicle ownership.

Jinhua Zhao, SMART FM principal investigator and associate professor at MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning says, “While mathematical models in prior studies showed the potential benefits of on-demand shared mobility could be tremendous, our study suggests that translating this potential into actual gains is much more complicated in the real world.”

Analysis of mobility trends, socio-demographic changes, and ride-sharing usage datasets found the arrival of a ride-sharing service led to increased road congestion in terms of both intensity and duration. Specifically, congestion increased marginally at 1 percent while the duration of congestion rose by 4.5 percent. Perhaps more significantly they also found a 9 percent drop in public transport ridership and an insignificant decrease of only 1 percent in private vehicle ownership.

This study, based on datasets from Uber and Lyft, the two most popular ride-sharing companies in the United States, found that easy access to ride-sharing discourages commuters from taking greener alternatives, such as walking or public transportation. Survey data from various US cities also showed that approximately half of TNC trips would otherwise have been made by walking, cycling, public transport, or would not have been made at all.

“We are still in the early stages of TNCs and we are likely to see many changes in how these ride-sharing businesses operate,” says Hui Kong, one of the researchers at the MIT Urban Mobility Lab. “Our research shows that over time TNCs have intensified urban transport challenges and road congestion in the United States. With this information, policies can then be introduced that could lead to positive changes.”

Dutch e-moped company secures investment for modal and geographical expansion

Dutch e-moped company secures investment for modal and geographical expansion

GO Green, the parent company of Dutch shared electric moped provider GO Sharing, has raised €50 million, led by investment company Opportunity Partners. GO Sharing plans to use the investment to convert its current service into a multimodal shared mobility program with the addition of e-bikes and electric cars. It will also support and accelerate international expansion with new services about to start in Belgium, Germany, UK and Turkey.

Sister company GreenMo, which recently acquired a majority stake in Dutch start-up e-bike to go and took over the Belgian company zZoomer, will support GO Sharing in its modal and geographical expansion. The company already leases more than 10,000 e-bikes in the delivery market.

GO Sharing CEO Raymon Pouwels said, “Users will soon be able to book e-bikes and electric cars in our app, in the same way that they already book shared mopeds now. The e-bikes are a healthy alternative for short trips in the city. The electric cars can be picked up at strategically located hubs in the urban periphery, so that they become part of the journey between cities providing an essential element in our mission to turn vehicle ownership in to integrated shared mobility.”

Volta sets out plan to produce 27,000 electric trucks annually from 2025

Volta sets out plan to produce 27,000 electric trucks annually from 2025

Swedish full-electric commercial vehicle manufacturer, Volta Trucks, is to launch four new fully electric commercial vehicles by 2024 and expects to produce more than 27,000 electric trucks annually from 2025.

Building upon its Volta Zero model launched last Autumn – a 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed for inner-city last mile deliveries – the company plans to expand its product line with three additional variants in the medium/lower-end of the heavy-duty class: 7.5-tonne, 12-tonne, 16-tonne and 19-tonne.

Volta says the first 16-tonne “pilot fleet” vehicles will be delivered by the end of 2021, with series production starting around 12 months afterwards. The vehicle, it says, is currently in the engineering development phase, with early prototype testing due to start shortly.

The 19-tonne and mid-size 12-tonne variants will be offered in 2023, with the smaller 7.5-tonne vehicles expected to start production in late 2024.

Also wrapped up in Volta’s Road-to-Zero emissions strategy is the launch of its Truck-as-a-Service (“TaaS”) proposition, which the company hopes will “revolutionise the financing and servicing of commercial vehicle fleets”. TaaS will offer fleet managers a “frictionless way to electrify their fleets”, with a monthly fee providing access to a Volta Zero, and all of its servicing, maintenance, insurance and training requirements.

Volta says it will also adopt a network manufacturing strategy with a number of assembly facilities distributed across its key geographies, minimising unnecessary transportation and cost.

Finland starts roll-out of multimodal contactless transit payment system

Finland starts roll-out of multimodal contactless transit payment system

Littlepay, the UK-based, transit-focused payment service provider, has implemented the first phase of its open loop payment system for public transport in Finland’s capital Helsinki and its second city, Tampere. Tap-to-pay is also now live on selected ferries and trams in Helsinki and on buses operated by Nysse in Tampere.

The development is a major milestone for Littlepay, Helsinki Regional Transport (HSL) and TVV lippu- ja maksujärjestelmä Oy (LMJ) to enable contactless payments. Future phases of the programme involve multi-modal roll-outs across a number of other Finnish cities.

Mari Flink, Customer Experience and Sales, Director at HSL says, “We believe our riders will appreciate the convenience of the new systems. On public transport, it’s so simple to tap a contactless card or device on a reader, rather than queuing to buy a travel card or ticket, or downloading a transit app.”

Mirroring a trend seen across the world, the adoption of contactless payment in the Nordics accelerated significantly during the pandemic. Data from paytech leader Nets shows that the ratio of contactless card payments rose from around 56% at the start of 2020 to 74% in November.

Petri Carpén, Director at Nets, says: “The Nordic region has long been at the forefront when it comes to contactless payment. Although the trend was clear when we entered 2020, the change in consumer behaviour over the last year has been unusually rapid.”

The fare collection systems used in Helsinki and Tampere are an example of Littlepay’s modular approach. Both use Littlepay for transit payment processing and Nets for card scheme connectivity. However, the solutions vary in their choice of integrated hardware. In Helsinki, PPT Excellence validators handle card taps, while in Tampere, hardware is provided by Pusatec and Logos.

Littlepay says this ability to plug-and-play different connected validators and acquiring services is a key advantage of the system. The payment gateway has secured numerous partnerships with ticketing technology providers and financial institutions, which allow it to offer a range of hybrid solutions. All integrations are PCI Level 1 certified and compliant with card scheme rules for transit.

For the Tampere deployment, Littlepay also developed fare capping rules to introduce zonal, time-based capping. This allows the transit agency to configure fare caps depending on the when a passenger is travelling and the zones they enter during their journey. The new capping rules are designed to offer flexibility and value. Passengers can travel across as many zones as needed within the travel window and trust that they will be charged the best fare for the journey taken.

Photo credit: HSL

South Korea sets up seventh autonomous vehicle technology demonstration zone

South Korea sets up seventh autonomous vehicle technology demonstration zone

South Korea’s government has designated Pangyo, a satellite city south of the capital Seoul, as a demonstration zone for autonomous vehicle technologies and related services.

The district is the seventh demonstration zone set up over the last year by the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport to accelerate the development of autonomous driving technology and mobility services such as car-sharing and self-driving taxi-hailing.

Pangyo already boasts road infrastructure for self-driving cars including a control tower and an advanced internet of things service network that enables, for instance, traffic lights to communicate with each other and vehicles using vehicle-to-everything communication technology.

The programme at Pangyo aims to seamlessly connect public transport with autonomous shuttles, premium taxi-hailing, and inter-linked last-mile mobility services. Demonstrations will begin as early as July 2021. Mobility services will be offered free or for a small fee.

“The experience gained at the autonomous vehicle technology demonstration zone would become an important footstone for companies that are preparing to commercialize their services,” said Vice Transport Minister Hwang Seong-kyu. Furthermore, he added, “More demonstration zones will be set up across South Korea to accelerate the commercialisation of services and have citizens familiarise themselves with new technologies.”

Texas pilot project integrates on demand AVs and public transport

Texas pilot project integrates on demand AVs and public transport

New York based on-demand ride-share company Via is taking part in a pilot programme that integrates on-demand autonomous vehicles into existing public transport services in Arlington, Texas.

The city is carrying out the RAPID (rideshare, automation and payment integration demonstration) research programme following a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration to run autonomous vehicles as part of Via’s on-demand ride-share service.

Passengers use Via’s app to book a trip within the RAPID pilot area, which includes the central library, City Hall, University of Texas (UTA) at Arlington and a range of offices and restaurants.

Maggie Campbell, CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation, says: “Downtown Arlington measures only about one square mile but has an abundance of small and medium-sized businesses, popular locally-owned restaurants, cultural destinations, residential communities, which together with the university generates strong demand for hyper-local movement within our district.”

Autonomous vehicle retrofitter May Mobility is providing five AVs for the pilot, with four hybrid electric Lexus RX 450 and one fully electric Polaris GEM, that can accommodate a wheelchair passenger. A safety driver will be onboard at all times.

Sharareh Kermanshachi, Principal Investigator for the University-based research team says, “The research is focused on assessing and comparing rider perceptions before, during and after the RAPID project to examine potential gaps in existing and new services, recommend strategies to overcome potential challenges of the AV system, and remove adoption barriers for an enhanced ridership experience.”

Vianova develops centralised digital platform to integrate Milan’s shared mobility

Vianova develops centralised digital platform to integrate Milan’s shared mobility

A collaboration between Milan’s Mobility and Environment Agency (AMAT) and the French tech start-up Vianova is to develop a centralised digital platform to improve access to all the cities shared mobility services including e-scooters, e-bikes, e-mopeds and cars.

The initial model will integrate 17 micromobility operators, including Cityscoot and Lime.

The initiative, which is funded by the EU funded European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), is part of Milan’s Open Streets plan “Strade Aperte” which will convert 35 kilometres of roads into cycling and pedestrian lanes

Valentino Sevino, director of mobility planning and monitoring at AMAT, says: “Thanks to our collaboration with Vianova, the city of Milan will be able to equip itself with a powerful tool to better monitor the demand for shared mobility and plan specific interventions to ramp up the city’s mobility offering with new services.”

Vianova chief operating officer Thibaud Febvre says: “With AMAT’s support, we’re able to provide a centralised solution that is tailored to the needs of the local government and will help make Milan’s urban environment more liveable and attractive.”

Dubai plans to deploy 4,000 robotaxis on its roads by 2030

Dubai plans to deploy 4,000 robotaxis on its roads by 2030

Cruise, the San Francisco based autonomous vehicle company backed by General Motors and Honda, has revealed plans to launch a robotaxi service in Dubai. The company will start testing its vehicles in the kingdom in 2023, with plans to launch a commercial ride-hailing service “soon after”. The news was announced by Dubai’s crown prince, Hamdan bin Mohammed.

The Dubai robotaxi service will use the Cruise Origin, an all-electric shuttle that has no steering wheel or pedals and is designed to travel at highway speeds.

Cruise will establish a new local Dubai-based company, which will be responsible for the deployment, operation and maintenance of the fleet. Cruise says its goal is to scale up to at least 4,000 vehicles in Dubai by the year 2030.

The plan supports Dubai’s 2030 vision for autonomous technology and will raise its global profile in autonomous transport, says Crown prince Hamdan bin Mohammed. It is, he says, a “major step towards realising Dubai’s self-driving transport strategy aimed at converting 25% of total trips in Dubai into self-driving transport trips across different modes of transport by 2030”.

Dubai’s Roads & Transport Authority, RTA, will facilitate the governance of the service and support the introduction of the appropriate legislative environment, policies and regulations required for operating the technology, confirms Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, chairman of the board of executive directors at the RTA.

  • Cruise also this week said it had raised $2.75 billion in its latest funding round with additional investment from Walmart and others, taking the startup’s valuation to over $30 billion.