Opel launches Movano-e, its first electric large van and rival to Ford’s Transit

Opel launches Movano-e, its first electric large van and rival to Ford’s Transit

Opel has released details of the all-new Movano-e, the first battery electric vehicle from the German brand in the large van market segment. Its electric propulsion system delivers 90 kW (122 hp) and 260 Nm of torque, with the maximum speed electronically controlled at 110 km/h.

Depending on the model variant, customers can choose between 37 kWh and 70 kWh lithium ion batteries for ranges of 115 or 225 kilometres respectively in the WLTP combined cycle.

A regenerative braking system recovers the energy produced under braking or deceleration, and further increases efficiency.

For professional fleet management, the ‘Opel Connect’ telematics solution with ‘Free2Move Fleet Services’ can track the geographic location of the vehicle, optimise routes, monitor maintenance and fuel consumption and offer tips for more economical driving.

Opel CEO, Michael Lohscheller, says, “The new Opel Movano-e completes our range of electric light commercial vehicles. Our customers from trade and commerce can therefore drive and transport emissions-free. We are convinced that the new generation Movano will win additional market share for the brand.”

Oxbotica and TRL pilot safety framework for off-highway automated vehicles in complex scenarios

Oxbotica and TRL pilot safety framework for off-highway automated vehicles in complex scenarios

The UK Government backed agency Innovate UK has funded an industry led consortium of autonomous driving experts to develop a code of practice to help organisations looking to use autonomous vehicles in off-highway applications such as construction, quarrying and farming.

The resulting protocols and framework were recently tested in a live trial at a UK quarry.

The consortium, including autonomous vehicle developer Oxbotica and mobility research organisation TRL, investigated retrofitting autonomous capabilities, using robust low-cost sensors, to any vehicle, as well as drafting a code of practice that identifies the key elements for safe and efficient use of autonomous vehicles in off-road industries.

The core challenge for the project team is off-road environments, which can include mines, quarries, farms, refineries, warehouses, ports, and airports, feature more varied hazards and less structured scenarios than on-road settings with no universal highway rules, such as speed limits or junction etiquette. A code of practice helps standardise across industries and allows learnings from each domain to be shared.

Off-road vehicles also have to interact with a wide variety of unpredictable objects in their environment, either because they block the vehicle’s path, such as undergrowth or tree branches, or because engaging with them is part of the vehicle’s primary function, such as harvesting or excavating.

With autonomous vehicles commonplace in many of these industries, working to deliver safety, efficiency and productivity, the code of practice will help organisations transition to new working practices and harness the potential benefits with no impact on safety.

To demonstrate the approach and highlight its potential to work across a range of vehicles and industries, Oxbotica and TRL equipped and tested both a Ford Ranger and Range Rover Evoque, retrofitted with Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform, in a UK quarry in April. The vehicles were fitted with a full suite of sensors, including LiDAR, RADAR, and stereo cameras.

Oxbotica’s technology has already operated in a range of environments without road markings across Europe, Asia and America. Its software seamlessly transitions between sensors to operate across multiple domains and environments. The software is capable of using sensors independently or fused in any combination, meaning vehicles can drive with or without maps, depending what is available at any given time.

Ben Upcroft, VP of Technology at Oxbotica, said, “Our autonomy software platform is capable of being integrated with any vehicle, in any environment. In order to harness the true power of this technology, operational regulations need to be developed in unison to ensure safe and efficient deployment. Consortiums such as this are a key stepping stone in ensuring the safe operation of autonomous vehicles in complex scenarios, and enabling the scale up to full commercial deployment in industry settings.”

Dr Ianto Guy, Project Lead at TRL, said, “This Code of Practice seeks to provide high-level guidance to organisations, in all sectors of the off-highway industry, on the ways in which working practices should be adapted to ensure that the adoption of autonomy is as smooth and safe as possible. The aim is that this code will support safe practice, build public confidence, and encourage the cooperation between organisations across all industries employing off-highway autonomous vehicles. It is hoped that off-highway industries will use this code of practice as a starting point for discussion and build on the recommendations made here to develop comprehensive best practice guidelines.”

Bird says bigger battery is key to its world’s most eco-conscious claim for new scooter

Bird says bigger battery is key to its world’s most eco-conscious claim for new scooter

US electric scooter developer Bird says its newest scooter model, the Bird Three, is the world’s most eco-conscious. And according to Scott Rushforth, Bird’s Chief Vehicle Officer, it all starts with the battery system.

“A scooter’s battery is directly linked to its environmental impact, and those with smaller batteries require more frequent charging and power fewer trips per charge,” he explains. “Scooters with swappable batteries can compound the issue and increase greenhouse gas emissions by requiring an estimated 1.5 to 2 batteries per vehicle. In other words, smaller and swappable batteries lead to higher overall manufacturing emissions and require more vehicle miles travelled to retrieve, replace and recharge scooters.”

Bird Three, however, has a battery capacity of up to 1 kWh, meaning it requires less frequent charging and delivers more miles travelled on a fully charged battery than any other shared scooter available today. More miles travelled leads to more sustainable rides and, ultimately, decreased carbon emissions throughout the vehicle’s entire life cycle.

The all-new Bird Three, continues Rushforth, is the culmination of four years of experience working in partnership with over 200 cities across the world “to turn drivers into micromobility riders”… It was developed by our in-house team of engineering and vehicle design experts to provide the safest, smartest riding experience possible—all with an unrelenting focus on sustainability.”

And the reason we’ve done this is simple, “If countries like the US and others are to meet their long-term climate goals, as much as 90% of all road vehicles must be electrified and 20% of all vehicle miles reduced by the end of the decade. That means more cities and more riders will soon be relying on micro-electric vehicles instead of two-ton, gas-powered automobiles to meet their short-distance transportation needs.”

Aurrigo secures UK first as its Auto-Shuttle takes to the road in Cambridge

Aurrigo secures UK first as its Auto-Shuttle takes to the road in Cambridge

A trial in Cambridge, England marks the first use of Aurrigo’s self-driving shuttles on public roads in the UK. The 10 seat shuttles will take passengers from the Madingley Road Park and Ride site to locations around the University of Cambridge’s West Campus.

Passengers recruited for the trial project will be able to use Aurrigo’s app to join the shuttle at a number of locations along the two-mile route.

The company has been instrumental in the development of autonomous pods in the UK, but the trial is the first carrying passengers on a main road surrounded by other traffic, including cars, lorries, vans, bikes and pedestrians.

The trial is part of an Innovate UK and Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV)-backed project, led by Aurrigo with Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Smart Cambridge to explore how autonomous technology could be used on the public transport network.

“This is another major milestone in the journey towards making autonomous vehicles a reality on our roads,” said David Keene, Chief Executive Officer of Aurrigo.

“We’ve completed successful trials in city centres, in retirement complexes and at major golf tournaments, but this is the first time these vehicles will be sharing the route with everyday traffic.

“The shuttles, which have been designed and manufactured at our Advanced Engineering Centre in Coventry, will operate the 20-minute journey around the West Cambridge route. They will run autonomously for the majority of the route using our in-house developed driving software and the latest LIDAR and camera technology to identify potential hazards as they move around.”

He continued, “Our technology will help provide new transport solutions for city centres, shopping and care facilities, airports and heritage sites. The trial in Cambridge is the next step in proving it.”

Claire Ruskin, Director of Cambridge Network and business representative on the GCP Executive Board, added, “It is very exciting to see these vehicles working on real roads here in Cambridge. These shuttles could be used on demand all day and night, every day of the year – which is unaffordable with our existing public transport.

“They are flexible and make good use of resources without needing significant infrastructure. As employment around Cambridge is 24/7 for many organisations – including our hospitals, emergency services, and many of our labs – we have been anticipating this new technology to see how real operation will help people get around.”

MaaS Global acquires Wondo marking first steps in expected consolidation of mobility-as-a-service market

MaaS Global acquires Wondo marking first steps in expected consolidation of mobility-as-a-service market

MaaS Global, the Finish mobility-as-a-service platform and the company behind the Whim app has acquired Spanish mobility startup Wondo. As part of the transaction, Wondo invester Ferrovial will become one of the shareholders of the new company.

The Whim app allows users to book and pay for all their journeys using both public and private sector operators either one trip at a time or with a monthly subscription. With over 16 million trips made since its launch in November 2017, Whim is widely seen as a pioneer of a commercially available all-inclusive MaaS solution. Whim is currently live in several European and Asian markets and preparing for new launches.

“The acquisition of Wondo enables us to rapidly expand to new markets and increase our B2B and B2C service offering, which is crucial in the rapidly-evolving MaaS market. MaaS needs critical mass and requires volume and gravity. This transaction is a prime example that the consolidation of the MaaS industry is now taking place, and we intend to continue playing an active role in it” says Sampo Hietanen, CEO and Founder of MaaS Global.

Wondo provides integrated access to multiple modes of transportation. “Given our shared DNA, we are thrilled to join forces with the MaaS Global team to contribute to the creation of the leading global MaaS platform. We complement each other’s geographical reach and service offering and have a similar vision on the future developments of the MaaS sector,” says Ion Cuervas-Mons, CEO of Wondo.

Wondo has historically been backed by Ferrovial, the Spanish-based multinational focused on transport infrastructure and urban services. As part of the transaction, Ferrovial becomes one of MaaS Global’s strategic investors.

“Ferrovial is very pleased to join forces with MaaS Global to develop a winning value-added proposition in the mobility-as-a-service space. This is another step in the strategy of the company to be at the centre of the changes that are transforming the shape of urban mobility”, says Andres Camacho Donezar, Director of Mobility at Ferrovial.

Audi charging hub concept largely independent of local grid capacity

Audi charging hub concept largely independent of local grid capacity

Audi is developing a concept to develop modular electric vehicle charging hubs incorporating second life batteries to reduce loads on the power grid. A pilot project, launching later in the year, will provide a practical test for a possible roll-out across Germany.

Each hub will comprise six self-contained charging “cubes”, each incorporating charging connections and storage batteries.

Audi says combined the batteries will offer 2.45 MWh of electricity, providing a charging output of up to 300 kW for each bay, but the whole assemblage will remain functional through a single 400-Volt hookup. Additional energy will be provided by solar panels on the roof.

Users will be able to book charging bays in advance and the system can accommodate both overnight charging at a relatively modest 11kW output or 300kW high power top up charging.

For instance, the hub will be able to provide enough energy to charge an Audi e-tron GT for up to 100 kilometres in about five minutes, and from nearly empty to 80 percent in just under 25 minutes under ideal conditions. The hubs will feature high end lounges for short stay users.

Audi says by leveraging recycled lithium-ion batteries and green energy generation, the modular concept provides flexibility and scalability while making it easier to select locations for the charging stations. The hub can be installed and adapted to the individual location quickly and independent of local network capacities.

Oliver Hoffmann, Audi’s Board Member for Technical Development says, “The charging hub embodies our aspiration for the electric era and highlights Audi’s commitment to Vorsprung durch Technik. A flexible high-performing charging park like this does not require much from the local electricity grid.”

May Mobility equips Toyota to test “Autono-MaaS” service in Ann Arbor

May Mobility equips Toyota to test “Autono-MaaS” service in Ann Arbor

May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle technology and shuttle operations, is testing a Toyota Sienna equipped with the next generation of its autonomous driving kit and will work with Toyota to add the vehicle to public shuttle fleets in 2022.

The automated Sienna features Toyota’s vehicle control interface, which allows seamless technology integration and robust operation of key vehicle control systems, such as steering, brakes, and acceleration.

“As we’ve seen throughout the industry, companies developing self-driving vehicles need strong OEM partners to be successful,” said Edwin Olson, co-founder and CEO of May Mobility. “With Toyota, May Mobility can deploy our unique self-driving technology on the best vehicles in the world.”

The Sienna technology integration is a major milestone in May Mobility’s cooperative relationship with Toyota, confirms Olson. From the initial investment in May Mobility to the Series B fundraising in 2019, the relationship has expanded to include a shuttle fleet in Hiroshima, Japan. May Mobility is also providing autonomous shuttle services in Indianapolis, Indiana, as part of a Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF) initiative about to come into service.

Keiji Yamamoto, Operating Officer of Toyota and President of Connected Company said, “We are delighted that Toyota’s “Autono-MaaS”(autonomous-mobility as a service) vehicle based on the Sienna will be utilised for May Mobility’s public road testing. Toyota continues to collaborate with automated mobility service providers through these vehicles and is implementing Autono-MaaS swiftly, aiming to realise a society where all people have the freedom of movement.”

Modifications to the Sienna include the addition of LIDAR, RADAR, and camera sensors, along with the compute and control modules that make up May Mobility’s autonomous driving kit. The May Mobility Toyota Sienna shuttle is currently being tested on public roads in Ann Arbor. Additional shuttles are under development and will be ready for use in public fleets in 2022.

Robot runner trial set to speed up home food and grocery deliveries from Singapore mall

Robot runner trial set to speed up home food and grocery deliveries from Singapore mall

Singapore superapp Grab is set to pilot a robot runner service from several restaurants at the Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) mall in Singapore.

The autonomous delivery robots will collect orders from the restaurants for pick by Grab’s delivery-partners at a central collection point for onward home delivery. The service will allow the Grab delivery-partners to shave off between five to 15 minutes between deliveries, the soon-to-be public company said in a statement.

Grab designed the robot in partnership with Techmetics Robotics, a US firm that provides robotics services for healthcare, assisted living, and hospitality use, among others.

During its pilot phase, the robot will serve up to 35 GrabFood and GrabMart merchants in PLQ and accommodate over 250 orders a day.

The pilot is expected to last for a month, after which Grab will review its performance and viability before rolling out the service to other locations.

“We are working towards a longer-term collaboration with Grab to meet the demands of customers and improve shopping experiences,” said PLQ general manager Audrey Balakrishnan.

Chart Industries invests in cryogenic hydrogen refuelling start-up

Chart Industries invests in cryogenic hydrogen refuelling start-up

Germany’s Cryomotive, a green-tech start-up and US company Chart Industries, a leading global manufacturer of liquefaction and cryogenic equipment, have entered a strategic partnership to develop hydrogen fuelling systems that offer refuelling times and range similar to diesel powered vehicles.

The partnership will enable Cryomotive to leverage its proprietary technology with Chart’s established position in the refuelling and hydrogen station market.

Cryomotive’s CcH2 CRYOGAS technology offers a range of 1000km with a green hydrogen refuelling time of 10 minutes for long-haul heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

Chart is also acquiring a minority share of Cryomotive. Dr Christiane Heyer, Cryomotive’s Managing Director and CFO, adds: “This investment by Chart embedded in a commercial and support agreement will enable us to speed up Cryomotive’s development of CRYOGAS technology and to join forces on preparing a roll-out of CRYOGAS refuelling stations. We are now intensifying our discussion with additional investors as the financing round continues.”

By 2025 Cryomotive is expecting to deliver the first commercially produced products ready for what it anticipates to be a fast and growing worldwide market.

Ford invests in next generation batteries… again

Ford invests in next generation batteries… again

Ford and South Korea’s SK Innovation have signed a memorandum of understanding to create a joint venture – BlueOvalSK – to produce approximately 60 GWh of next generation battery cells and array modules annually. Production will start mid-decade, with the potential to expand.

By 2030, Ford expects the annual energy demand for its vehicles to be up to 140 GWh in North America and 240 GWh globally. The company has invested in and is working with a number of battery suppliers, including the new BlueOvalSK venture, to secure capacity and scale delivery for next-generation Ford and Lincoln battery electric vehicles.

Jim Farley, Ford president and CEO, says, “This MoU is just the start; it’s a key part of our plan to vertically integrate key capabilities that will differentiate Ford far into the future. We will not cede our future to anyone else.”

Kim Jun, SK Innovation CEO & President says, “We are delighted to be entering into collaboration with Ford, one of the most active players in vehicle electrification today. We are proud to be opening this new chapter in their long history. Our JV with Ford will play a pivotal role in fleshing out the electric vehicle value chain in the United States, a key objective of the current US administration.”

Lisa Drake, Ford’s North America chief operating officer, comments, “Through the JV, Ford and SKI will jointly develop and industrialise battery cells at scale that are tailored to deliver optimum performance and value for our Ford and Lincoln customers. SKI is an important partner in helping deliver batteries with better range and value for our fully electric vehicles by mid-decade.”

To support its longer-term battery plans, Ford is investing in battery R&D. Last month Ford announced a new global battery centre of excellence – named Ford Ion Park – to accelerate its battery and battery cell technology R&D – including future battery manufacturing.

Oxford Superhub sets blueprint for fast, convenient, omnipresent EV charging

Oxford Superhub sets blueprint for fast, convenient, omnipresent EV charging

Fastned, the Dutch electric vehicle fast charging company, has joined up with UK-based Pivot Power, Tesla Superchargers and Wenea, to build Europe’s most powerful EV charging Superhub in Oxford. The Energy Superhub Oxford (ESO) will initially feature 38 fast and ultra-rapid chargers in a single site, with up to 10MW of power on site.

It is the first of up to 40 similar sites planned across the UK, with the Oxford site due to open towards the end of this year.

ESO is set to be one of the largest charging stations in Fastned’s pan-European network. Tesla will operate 12 dedicated 250kW Superchargers. Spain’s Wenea, one of the largest EV charging services providers in Europe, will run 16 fast charging points offering outputs in the range 7-22kW.

The site is directly connected to the high voltage national electricity grid, to provide the power needed to charge potentially hundreds of EVs at the same time quickly, without putting strain on the local electricity network or requiring costly upgrades.

The network connection, developed by Pivot Power, has capacity to expand to key locations throughout Oxford to meet mass EV charging needs, from buses and taxis to commercial fleets.

Fastned’s goal is to build a network of 1,000 fast charging stations across Europe by 2025.

Michiel Langezaal, CEO of Fastned says, “Our mission is to accelerate the transition towards electric mobility by giving freedom to electric drivers. EV drivers experience this freedom when they know that fast and convenient charging is omnipresent. The Oxford Superhub is a great milestone towards that goal. We need hundreds more and will therefore continue to engage with landowners and partners such as Pivot Power. Big stations are the only way to provide charging capacity to the exponentially growing number of EVs coming to our roads.”

Matt Allen, CEO at Pivot Power, adds, “Our goal is to help the UK accelerate net zero by delivering power where it is needed to support the EV and renewable energy revolution. Oxford is one of 40 sites we are developing across the UK, combining up to 2GW of battery storage with high volume power connections for mass EV charging. Energy Superhub Oxford is a blueprint for what we want to replicate right across the country.”

ZF and Mobileye to develop driver-assistance and safety technology for Toyota

ZF and Mobileye to develop driver-assistance and safety technology for Toyota

Germany’s ZF and Mobileye, an Intel company, have been chosen by Toyota to develop advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) for use in multiple vehicle platforms. As part of the agreement, ZF will also supply its Gen 21 mid-range radar and be responsible for the integration of camera and radar in Toyota vehicles.

Mobileye’s EyeQ4 system-on-chip vision processing device will be combined with ZF’s Gen 21 mid-range radar technology to interpret the environment around the vehicles. Together, these technologies will help prevent and mitigate collisions and enable new levels of assisted lateral and longitudinal vehicle control.

This new relationship with Toyota significantly extends the reach of Mobileye and ZF safety technology. Professor Amnon Shashua, senior vice president of Intel and president and CEO of Mobileye, says, “Mobileye is delighted to be working with ZF to develop leading driver-assistance and safety technology for Toyota, the world’s largest automaker.”

“ZF looks forward to working closely with Toyota and Mobileye to develop advanced safety systems designed to meet advanced global safety regulations,” adds Christophe Marnat, executive vice president, Electronics and ADAS division at ZF.

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.

Hyundai puts down marker for Europe’s hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport

Hyundai puts down marker for Europe’s hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport

South Korean automotive manufacturer Hyundai plans to ship a new series of fuel-cell trucks to Europe later this year to test the European appetite for hydrogen-powered heavy goods transport.

Building on a pilot trial in Switzerland, Hyundai says it will release a new class of its Xcient hydrogen fuel cell truck, equipped with more efficient fuel cells and a longer life-span, during the fourth quarter, according to Mark Freymueller, CEO of Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM).

Hydrogen recharging infrastructure is quite limited across Europe but hydrogen fuel cells offer a greater range than battery electric vehicles and a generally considered more appropriate for heavy vehicles.

And although more expensive than battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles will potentially benefit from Europe’s desire to build a world-leading industry around the hydrogen technology.

HHM, a joint venture between Hyundai and Swiss hydrogen company H2 Energy, has been renting out “green” hydrogen trucks to commercial clients in Switzerland since last October in what is claimed to be the world’s most advanced pilot in the field.

HHM plans to go into other European countries next year. “Germany and the Netherlands are the most likely,” Freymueller told Reuters, adding there was also interest for pilots from Austria, Norway, France, Italy, Spain and Denmark.

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.”

Volocopter’s newest eVTOL aircraft built for longer flights and higher payloads

Volocopter’s newest eVTOL aircraft built for longer flights and higher payloads

Volocopter, the German urban air mobility (UAM) group, has unveiled its newest aircraft, VoloConnect, offering a larger aircraft with a longer range. This electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), says Volocopter, is designed to connect suburbs to cities on trips of up to 100km.

The new aircraft will be integrated into Volocopter’s existing portfolio of eVTOLs: VoloDrone, VoloCity, VoloPort, and the digital platform, VoloIQ.

VoloConnect uses a hybrid lift and push design to transport up to four passengers electrically at a cruising speed of 180 km/h, with a top speed of 250 km/h. The compact aircraft is naturally stable and efficient during forward flight while maintaining a low stall speed – critical factors for urban flights.

Florian Reuter, Volocopter CEO, says: “VoloConnect embodies the next dimension of our mission to offer affordable, efficient, and sustainable flight mobility solutions for cities around the globe. Leveraging customer insights from our existing VoloCity and VoloDrone, VoloConnect’s capacity to support longer missions and higher payloads serves another strong growing market demand.”

Reuter adds: “We are confident that this aircraft family, and the years of experience and leading innovation on which it’s founded, will pioneer the way for electric UAM services to launch commercially and internationally.”

Volocopter is the first and only eVTOL company so far to attain Design Organisation Approval from European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Suncor and ATCO seek fiscal support for potential CCS hydrogen project in Alberta

Suncor and ATCO seek fiscal support for potential CCS hydrogen project in Alberta

Two Canadian companies, Suncor Energy and ATCO are collaborating on early-stage design and engineering for a potential blue hydrogen project near Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced using natural gas, with the CO2 emissions generated during the process captured and stored.

According to the partners, the project could produce more than 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen per year, reduce Alberta’s CO₂ emissions by more than two million tonnes per year, significantly advance Alberta’s hydrogen strategy, generate substantial economic activity and jobs across the province, and make a sizable contribution to Canada’s net zero ambition.

Suncor Energy is Canada’s leading integrated energy company, whose controversial operations include oil sands development, production and upgrading, offshore oil and gas, and petroleum refining in Canada and the US.

The hydrogen production facility would be located at ATCO’s Heartland Energy Centre near Fort Saskatchewan and could be operational as early as 2028 provided, say the partners, that it has the required regulatory and fiscal support to render it economic. In addition to supplying hydrogen to Suncor and the Alberta gas grid, the project would make hydrogen volumes available for Alberta’s other industrial, municipal and commercial transport users.

The parties anticipate that Suncor would construct and operate the hydrogen production and CO₂ sequestration facilities and ATCO would construct and operate associated pipeline and hydrogen storage facilities. The hydrogen production facility design would be capable of being replicated.

It is expected that 85% of the produced clean hydrogen would be used to supply existing energy demand. Specifically, 65% of the output would be used in refining processes and cogeneration of steam and electricity at the Suncor Edmonton Refinery, reducing refinery emissions by 60%. In addition, approximately 20% of the output could be used in the Alberta natural gas distribution system, also further reducing emissions.

Although several provincial and federal policies, fiscal programs and regulations have been put in place to support decarbonization and the development of a low-carbon fuels industry, Suncor Energy and ATCO maintain that further regulatory certainty and fiscal support is required for the project to progress to a sanctioning decision.

UK firms develop new approach to crucial autonomy question “Where am I, everywhere, every time”

UK firms develop new approach to crucial autonomy question “Where am I, everywhere, every time”

UK firms Oxbotica and Navtech have launched Terran360, the world’s first all-weather radar localisation solution for industrial autonomous vehicles, with a claimed typical location accuracy to within 10cm on any vehicle, in any environment.

Combining Navtech’s FMCW radar sensor and Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform, Terran360 is said to be an entirely new offering to the off-road autonomy market. It utilises a single long-range, high-definition radar sensor to give a detailed 360 degree picture of a vehicle’s surroundings, allowing it to work alongside conventional systems and be deployed in GPS-denied environments or in harsh conditions not suitable for LiDAR or vision while maintaining full pinpoint localisation at all times.

Navtech’s high-resolution radar sensor is able to operate in the harshest conditions – such as in rain, fog, dust, or dirt and in complete darkness. The vibration resistant and IP67-certified sensor is designed to be maintenance free for 10 years, helping to reduce disruption to operations with no compromise to precision, reliability, or safety.

Terran360’s output can be fused with other sensor feeds or used as a standalone system, and is also able to provide independent and highly accurate vehicle motion. The system operates on any vehicles, from slow moving to speeds of up to 120kph (75mph) and has been comprehensively tested on different vehicle platforms and in dramatically different environments, including in mines, on urban roads, on railways and in marine settings.

Paul Newman, Founder & CTO at Oxbotica, said: “We are delighted to launch Terran360 in collaboration with Navtech. We are bringing a game-changing localisation system to market that gives operators and manufacturers a new way to answer the crucial autonomy question of “Where am I?” – and one that is unimpeded by environment or place.”

Phil Avery, Managing Director at Navtech Radar, commented: “We are extremely proud to launch this outstanding product for commercial use, offering a radar localisation solution never seen before. Thanks to decades of experience in delivering radar solutions for safety and mission critical applications, and together with Oxbotica’s world-leading autonomy software platform, Terran360 is trusted to answer the fundamental question for autonomous vehicles: “Where am I?”, everywhere, every time.”

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.”