NZ Fleet management company rolls out driver fatigue system

NZ Fleet management company rolls out driver fatigue system

New Zealand-based fleet management solutions company EROAD is to integrate Seeing Machines’ Guardian technology into software to help combat driver fatigue and make roads safer.

Seeing Machines’ Guardian technology uses face and eye-tracking algorithms to detect fatigue and distraction, enabling proactive intervention before a risky driving incident occurs.

According to Seeing Machines’ research, in-cab alerts reduce fatigue by upwards of 60%, and continuous driver monitoring decreases the occurrence of fatigue by an additional 30% to achieve a reduction in fatigue-related driving events of more than 90%.

The integration of this technology, says EROAD, will provide operators with a single tool for managing video telematics where previously there were two separate managing systems. This makes it easier for fleet managers to prioritise actionable insights from data, as well as developing a greater understanding of the risks associated with their fleet and coach drivers.

“Our mission at EROAD is to help every community enjoy safer, more productive roads,” says Steven Newman, CEO of EROAD. “We’re all about improving fleet safety through better driver behaviour and the integration of Guardian technology will help us achieve that. The technology is set to become a vital element in the MyEROAD portal to ensure safer and more sustainable outcomes for fleet operators and drivers.”

“We are very happy to be partnering with EROAD,” says Paul McGlone, CEO of Seeing Machines. “Our Guardian technology has seen expanding global penetration into long haul and heavy transport fleets and will be a huge benefit to EROAD users not only in New Zealand, but Australia and America as well. The Seeing Machines purpose is to get everyone home safely so we are closely aligned with EROAD as both companies take pride in helping make roads safer, knowing this integration will help achieve that.”

Japanese researchers improve recovery of rare earth elements from EV motor magnets

Japanese researchers improve recovery of rare earth elements from EV motor magnets

Nissan and Waseda University in Tokyo have announced the start of testing in Japan of a jointly developed recycling process that efficiently recovers high-purity rare-earth elements (REEs) from EV motor magnets. The testing is aimed at enabling practical application of the new process by the mid-2020s.

Most motors in EVs use neodymium magnets, which contain scarce rare-earth metals such as neodymium and dysprosium.

The new method of testing has shown that the new recycling process can recover 98% of the motors’ REEs.

The method also approximately twice as fast as current recovery processes because there is no need to demagnetise the magnets, or remove and disassemble them

In a press release, Nissan states, “Reducing the use of scarce rare earths is important not only because of the environmental impact of mining and refining, but also because the shifting balance of supply and demand leads to price fluctuations for both manufacturers and consumers.”

Nissan has been collaborating with Waseda University since 2017, which has a strong track record of researching non-ferrous metal recycling and smelting.

Vantage Apex offers HD video, 4D radar sensor with integrated Al

Vantage Apex offers HD video, 4D radar sensor with integrated Al

California-based smart infrastructure software management company Iteris has launched Vantage Apex, which it claims to be the industry’s first high-definition video and four-dimensional radar sensor with integrated artificial intelligence.

Built on its machine learning platform, Vantage Apex identifies objects using AI video analytics, extensive image library, high-performance graphics processing, machine learning and neural network algorithms. This enables the high-precision and detailed classification of many different vehicle types and vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Full HD video streaming using 1080p cameras results in ultra-crisp vision with unmatched depth and clarity of traffic at intersections, which can be viewed at traffic management centres or remotely via an app.

Using forward-fire radar technology to virtually eliminate occlusion, the Vantage Apex hybrid sensor uses industry-leading 4D/HD radar technology with a field of view of 200m. The Vantage Apex system enables decision-zone safety functions, collision avoidance and advanced lane-by-lane detection that delivers precise traffic detection and data.

Vantage Apex is connected vehicle ready, with the ability to provide critical infrastructure data through vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications to connected and automated vehicles (CAVs).

Vantage Apex is fully compatible with iteris’ portfolio of infrastructure management software including VantageCare, ClearGuide SPM and VantageLive! as well as and other third-party web and mobile-based traffic measurement applications.

The Vantage Apex AI-powered smart sensor is a key component of Iteris’ ClearMobility Platform, which the company describes as the most complete solution for continuously monitoring, visualising and optimising mobility infrastructure around the world to help ensure that roads are safe, travel is efficient, and communities thrive.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of Vantage Apex, the industry’s first 1080p HD video and 4D radar sensor with integrated AI algorithms,” said Todd Kreter, senior vice president and general manager, Advanced Sensor Technologies at Iteris. “With the addition of Vantage Apex to Iteris’ market-leading portfolio of smart sensors, transportation agencies now have access to unmatched detection and tracking accuracy of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, as well as HD video display for traffic management centres to achieve their goals of improving safety, mobility and sustainability throughout complex transportation networks.”

Israeli telecoms company develops 5G for areas not served by fibre

Israeli telecoms company develops 5G for areas not served by fibre

Israel’s Ministry of Communications and the Israel Innovation Authority have selected telecoms infrastructure specialist RAD for a smart traffic pilot project designed to promote the use of 5G.

Traffic cameras deployed across Israel are generally connected over fibre optics networks and the pilot is to establish alternative telecoms access solutions at sites not served by fibre.

The pilot will be carried out together with Israel’s National Transport Infrastructure Company and forms part of a programme to develop smart applications to improve communications infrastructure around the country.

According to RAD, the new pilot will deliver live video feeds from traffic cameras over a 5G network using RAD’s SecFlow, which would enable addition of many new cameras regardless of fibre availability.

SecFlow is an IIoT gateway designed for large scale automated networks in smart cities, smart energy and smart industry environments. Featuring edge computing capabilities, it aggregates and securely delivers traffic from smart meters, sensors, control units, CCTV cameras and other smart devices over any network, with unified management and fast response.

“Our company has been very active in the areas of IoT and 5G. Our solutions in these fields attract attention around the world thanks to the innovation that they bring. RAD’s selection is a vote of confidence in our technology,” said Udy Kashkash, CEO and president.

“5G will revolutionise industry, transportation, infrastructure, and business. We at RAD are proud to be at the forefront of such initiatives that drive forward the Israeli tech industry.”

Designed for large scale automated networks in smart cities, smart energy, and smart industry environments, and featuring edge computing capabilities, SecFlow aggregates and securely delivers traffic from smart meters, sensors, control units, CCTV cameras, and other smart devices over any network, with unified management and fast response, RAD claims.

Fast-fuelling hydrogen system game-changer for air taxi operations

Fast-fuelling hydrogen system game-changer for air taxi operations

California based hydrogen fuel cell innovator HyPoint has teamed up with US vertical flight pioneer Piasecki Aircraft to build the world’s first manned hydrogen helicopter. A hydrogen powertrain potentially offers a huge increase in range and payload compared to current battery electric eVTOL aircraft.

The aim is to develop a fully US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified hydrogen system that would allow electric aircraft to carry several times more energy on board, vastly boosting flight endurance and reducing refuelling time.

HyPoint claims its turbo air-cooled hydrogen fuel cell system will be able to achieve more than three times the power-to-weight ratio of traditional hydrogen fuel cells systems. It will also offer an energy density around five times existing commercially available lithium battery packs.

HyPoint says the system has been validated in laboratory prototypes, proving it can produce sufficient power to handle the demands of vertical takeoff and landing without the need for a buffer battery.

The initial plan is to develop a 650-kW hydrogen fuel cell system and to integrate this into Piasecki’s PA-890 compound electric helicopter.

The PA-890 is designed to meet existing FAA Part 27 standards for commercial certification. While the FAA has granted experimental certification to several fuel cell aircraft it is yet to do so for commercial uses.

A long-range, fast-fueling hydrogen system would be a game-changer and a solution to a problem that many of the companies vying to set up air taxi operations are currently not fully addressing. With existing eVTOL powertrains, the planes will need to spend large chunks of their service periods recharging and the planned vertiports, often located in dense inner cities, are unlikely to have enough space to allow the planes to recharge and support a viable level of service

“We are laser-focused on the development and qualification of a 650-kW system for our PA-890 eVTOL Compound Helicopter, which would be the world’s first manned hydrogen-powered helicopter,” says John Piasecki, President and CEO of Piasecki Aircraft. “Success will pave the way for collaboration with other eVTOL OEMs with different platform sizes to ensure broad application of this technology.”

“Initial lab testing funded has demonstrated the technical viability of HyPoint’s hydrogen fuel cell system,” he continues. “While we are benchmarking HyPoint’s technology against alternatives and continue to rigorously test and validate findings, we are very optimistic.

“Our objective is to develop full-scale systems within two years to support on-aircraft certification testing in 2024 and fulfil existing customer orders for up to 325 units starting in 2025.”

Robotaxi reveal keeps Motional’s 2023 autonomous taxi service on track

Robotaxi reveal keeps Motional’s 2023 autonomous taxi service on track

Motional the Boston-based autonomous vehicle company founded in March 2020 as a joint venture between Hyundai Motor Group and auto supplier Aptiv, has unveiled its first commercial robotaxi.

Based on the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5, the IONIQ 5 robotaxi is an electric Level 4 autonomous vehicle that Motional says remains on target to begin transporting public passengers in 2023 through a partnership with Lyft.

The robotaxi has more than 30 sensors – a combination of cameras, radars, and lidar – that provide robust 360-degree perception, high-resolution images, and ultra-long range detection of objects for safe autonomous operation in diverse driving environments.

Woongjun Jang, Head of the Autonomous Driving Center at Hyundai, says, “Hyundai Motor has evolved its IONIQ 5, a battery electric vehicle built on its EV-dedicated platform, into a platform for fully autonomous vehicles. For the IONIQ 5-based robotaxi, we have applied various redundancy systems, in addition to a suite of essential technologies to ensure safety and convenience of the passengers. By successfully integrating the Group’s IONIQ 5 robotaxi with Motional’s autonomous driving technology, we are proud to announce that we have achieved another important milestone on the road to the commercialization of our robotaxi.”

“This robotaxi represents Motional’s vision of a driverless future becoming a reality,” adds Motional President and CEO, Karl Iagnemma. “Through our strategic partnership with Hyundai and Aptiv, we have unparalleled automotive and software expertise across our entire vehicle development process. This deep collaboration enables us to manufacture a robotaxi that’s both highly safe and reliable, and is cost-optimized for global production and mass commercialisation.”

Green hydrogen-from-solar fuels Austrian bus trial

Green hydrogen-from-solar fuels Austrian bus trial

Austrian solar energy company Fronius has completed a two-week test operation with a bus fuelled with green hydrogen at Wels in Upper Austria. The clean hydrogen gas is produced from solar power at Fronius’ SolHub facility at the SAN Biotech Park, in Herzogenburg, Lower Austria.

During the trial, the emission-free Solaris Urbino 12 Hydrogen bus was refuelled daily with around 13 kilograms of hydrogen. Refuelling took around 15 minutes which depending on operating conditions, provided a range of “at least 160 kilometres”.

“The best thing is that heat and water vapour are the only products of the chemical reaction in the fuel cell, they act as a kind of mini power station,” explains Abba Mejer, head of Solaris Bus. “Refuelling with hydrogen is short, convenient and hardly different from refuelling a diesel vehicle.”

Martin Hackl, Head of the Solar Division at Fronius says, “With the Solhub, we offer a complete turnkey solution that makes it possible to produce local, green hydrogen and use it to refuel fuel cell vehicles.”

Fronius’s aim with the trial was to prove the practical feasibility of locally produced green hydrogen. “We are showing that the technology works and is suitable for everyday use,” says Thomas Rührlinger, who develops new business models at Fronius.

“Sustainable and locally produced hydrogen holds great potential and strengthens domestic value creation as well as regional business models,” he adds. “In the next few years, we expect to see a large number of additional implementations with customers from commercial and production companies, municipalities and transport companies, as well as logistics, tourism, operators of special vehicles and in the context of renewable energy communities.”

Baltic ferry powered by solar modules comes into service

Baltic ferry powered by solar modules comes into service

German ferry company Oderhaff Reederei Peters has put a solar-electric ferry into service for the short crossing from the port town of Kamp on the German Baltic coat to the island of Usedom. Power comes from solar modules on the ship’s roof.

Usedom is a tourist destination and particularly popular with cyclists. The new ship carries 20 people and 15 bicycles at a service speed of 8km/h hour across the Szczecin Lagoon, which is only 500m wide at this point. The boat has a maximum speed of 15 km/h.

The solar modules generate a power output of 4.3 kilowatts, which is sufficient for the short journey, although the boat has an 80Kw/h back-up battery.

The 14.65m-long boat took steel sheet manufacturer Ostseestaal three months to construct with input from sister company Ampereship, a specialist in electric solar-powered ships and ferries.

The new emission-free ferry should save 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year compared to the diesel ferry it has replaced.

Meanwhile Ostseestaal and Ampereship, both based in the Hanseatic city of Stralsund on the German Baltic coast, have a full order book for similar electric-solar boats for various inland navigation services within Europe.

Five little ducks will go shopping one day…

Five little ducks will go shopping one day…

German startup DroidDrive has unveiled the Trailerduck, a last mile e-cargo system that combines a bike with an electric cargo trailer, that can handle a two cubic metre payload of up to 300 kg, emission-free.

Connected by a draw-bar, the Trailerduck features “follow-me” technology that recognises what the towing bike is doing and then mimicks it, with the cargo trailer following the lead rider effortlessly.

At 1m wide, the trailer can travel both on the street and on bike paths and swappable batteries means there is no downtime for charging. DroidDrive says it will start shipping its first units for purchase or monthly hire towards the end of next year.

The company is also developing what it calls the Ducktrain system. This consists of a platoon of up to five Duck electric cargo vehicles which use LiDAR technology to wirelessly track and follow the human-driven leading bike or ebike. This means that although the ducks form a train, none of them are physically linked to one another.

DroidDrive envisages that within about three years, the Ducks will be able to travel at least part of their delivery routes autonomously, without the need for a guiding vehicle in front.

Google Maps tie up sees Spin’s biggest integration into journey planning apps

Google Maps tie up sees Spin’s biggest integration into journey planning apps

A tie up by Spin, the micromobility business of Ford and Google Maps, means Google Maps users are now able to see, in real-time, the nearest available Spin e-bike or e-scooter in 84 towns, cities and campuses in the United States, Canada, Germany, and Spain.

The information offered includes how long it will take to walk to the vehicle, as well as estimated battery range and expected arrival time. Users will then be directed to the Spin app to pay for the vehicle, unlock it and take their ride.

The integration is designed to bring wider public awareness of Spin’s vehicle availability and point people towards a more sustainable option for short journeys in urban areas.

“With this integration, Spin is making it easier for hundreds of millions of Google Maps users to easily incorporate shared bikes and scooters into their daily trips,” commented Ben Bear, CEO of Spin.

“Our goal is to make it as low friction as possible for consumers to plan multi-modal journeys. It needs to be just as easy, and even more convenient to get around with bikes, buses, trains and scooters as it is with a personal car. This collaboration with Google is our biggest platform integration yet with many more in the pipeline.”

Spin says micromobility is continuing to gain traction and is becoming a mainstream transportation solution, particularly for those living in urban areas or campuses. As e-scooters and e-bikes are being increasingly built into journey-planning platforms, residents and visitors can more easily take a multimodal approach to the way they get around cities.

This latest integration follows Spin’s recent addition into a number of global and regional journey planning platforms such as CityMapper, Moovit, Transit app and Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe (KVB).

Volta Minus One trials prototype Zero full electric 16-tonne truck

Volta Minus One trials prototype Zero full electric 16-tonne truck

Volta Trucks, the Swedish automotive company specialising in the manufacturing of electric trucks, has confirmed the start of engineering evaluation and development testing of the first prototype Volta Zero at the HORIBA MIRA testbed site at Nuneaton, UK.

The start of testing follows the recent reveal of the prototype chassis of the Volta Zero – the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle designed specifically for inner city logistics.

Dubbed ‘Volta Minus One’ by development engineers (as the forerunner to the production-specification Volta Zero), the prototype vehicle uses the proposed production specification chassis frame and drivetrain of the finished vehicle and will test all the electro-mechanical and thermal properties of the truck.

This includes the high-voltage battery supplied by Proterra, and the compact rear axle, electric motor and transmission eAxle unit from Meritor. The unconventional bodywork of the prototype is purely designed to protect the development driver from the elements when the vehicle is moving at speed. The production vehicle will feature a cargo box design, but the prototype uses a flatbed to allow engineers to add different levels and locations of loads to test its weight carrying capacity.

The prototype Volta Zero will continue testing at HORIBA MIRA over the coming months. The forthcoming test and development programme with this and later-specification prototypes also includes periods of cold weather testing north of the Arctic Circle, and hot weather testing in southern Europe. The comprehensive programme will ensure that the production-specification Volta Zero vehicles deliver the durability and reliability expected by fleet operators and vehicle owners.

These learnings will be taken into the production of Pilot Fleet vehicles that will be tested and evaluated by key customers who have signed up for both testing and the option to purchase series production trucks. This is designed to develop their understanding of how the Volta Zero will integrate into their operations. Full-scale production of customer- specification vehicles will then follow at the end of 2022.

Chief Product Officer of Volta Trucks, Ian Collins, said “The start of testing and evaluation of the first prototype Volta Zero is a major milestone on our journey towards production, and an exciting time for all of the Volta Trucks team and our customers. To have achieved this landmark moment in just eight months is a great example of the nimble and agile approach we have at Volta Trucks. We work at high pace to ensure that we can bring zero emission, full-electric commercial vehicles to market quickly, because our customers require vehicles as soon as possible. We need to go through a comprehensive and thorough development programme, but the start of prototype testing is evidence that we are on track to deliver production vehicles, on time, by the end of next year.”

Swedish drone delivery start-up receives operational authorisation to pilot last-mile trial

Swedish drone delivery start-up receives operational authorisation to pilot last-mile trial

Swedish drone start-up Aerit has received operational authorisation from Transportstyrelsen, Sweden’s national transportation agency, to pilot last-mile drone deliveries.

Aerit’s operational authorisation is made possible by the Specific Operations Risk Assessment (SORA) process provided by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that came into effect in January this year.

“The authorisation is an important milestone in Aerit’s journey to become the world’s leading drone delivery service. We are now ready to show what we can deliver”, said Aerit CEO and Co-founder, Alexander Perrien.

“Drone delivery will soon be a part of everyday life, improving sustainable access to goods and services regardless of time, location, or personal ability,” added Perrien.

“Transportstyrelsen has been an outstanding resource for the development of our drone platform, Nimbi, and procedures to ensure the safety and robustness of our operations. We look forward to working with them on our path to achieving LUC certification.”

LUC is short for Light Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator Certificate. It enables drone operators to self-authorise operations across the European Union without applying for further operational authorisation.

Aerit is a sustainable drone delivery startup based in Stockholm, Sweden, and part of KTH Innovation, The Innovation Growhouse Stockholm, and the European Institute of Innovation and Technology Urban Mobility Accelerator. Its Nimbi drone is capable of autonomous pick-up and delivery of up to 4kg of goods and requires no additional infrastructure for senders or receivers.

UK Government invests in novel corner technology for EV platforms

UK Government invests in novel corner technology for EV platforms

Tel Aviv-based REE Automotive has been awarded £12.5 million funding from the UK government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC). REE’s award is one of four recently announced as part of the UK’s investment into net-zero road transport.

The funds will allow REE to work towards commercial production of its breakthrough REEcorner technology and ultra-modular electric vehicle platforms, including engineering design, validation, verification and testing and product homologation.

REEcorner technology puts critical vehicle components such as steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control, into a single compact module in the arch of the wheel.

REE’s EV platforms provide more room for carrying passengers, cargo and batteries and offer enhanced body design flexibility.

Ian Constance, Chief Executive at the APC said of the latest funding awards, “These projects address barriers to people making the switch to electric vehicles and they also provide potential solutions to the challenge of how we decarbonise public transport and the movement of goods. By investing in these innovations, we’re taking these technologies closer to the point where they are commercially viable, which will strengthen the UK’s automotive supply chain, safeguard or create jobs and reduce harmful greenhouse emissions.”

Mike Charlton, REE’s COO added, “REE is honoured to have been selected as recipient of UK funding to support REE’s investment in the UK automotive ecosystem following an extensive vetting and selection process. With the opening of our UK Engineering Centre in February this year, this reaffirms our commitment to the region and is in line with our plans for the mass production of our breakthrough REEcorner and electric vehicle platform technology. The UK is an ideal location for a pioneering automotive company like REE thanks to the country’s commitment to vehicle electrification which dovetails with our vision of propelling a zero-emissions, greener future.”

Ford delivers E-Transit prototypes to companies in Germany, Norway, and the UK

Ford delivers E-Transit prototypes to companies in Germany, Norway, and the UK

Ford’s all-electric E-Transit van has begun customer trials in Europe within major fleets operating in Germany, Norway and the UK.

In preparation for the spring 2022 launch, ten E-Transit prototypes are undergoing intensive real-world trials with key operators in the postal, municipal and utilities, last mile and grocery delivery sectors.

The trial will be relevant for the entire E-Transit lineup as it features many variants including van, double-cab-in-van, chassis cab conversions with box van, refrigerated box, tipper, and dropside bodies. Ford plans to offer 25 E-Transit configurations in Europe.

Among the trial partners are AWB waste disposal, Balfour Beatty, the City of Cologne municipal fleet, DHL Express, DPD, Norwegian Post, Ocado, and Recover Nordic. These companies will operate the E-Transit over six- or 12-month periods. The trials mark the latest phase in the development of the new E-Transit, following an intensive testing program at Ford proving grounds and engineering facilities.

Dave Petts, Ford of Europe’s market lead, urban electrified vans said, “Real-world mileage in customer hands provides valuable feedback on usage patterns and charging behaviour so that we can refine the operating experience.”

The Ford E-Transit is suitable for payloads of up to 1,616 kg for the van and up to 1,967 kg for the chassis cab models. The electric motor, which Ford claims to be the most powerful motor of any all-electric cargo van sold in Europe, has a peak output of 198 kW and 430 Nm of torque. The motor is powered by a battery with a usable capacity of 67 kWh, enabling an estimated driving range of up to 350 km on the combined WLTP cycle.

Siemens app offers Stuttgart riders ‘best price’ transport

Siemens app offers Stuttgart riders ‘best price’ transport

Siemens Mobility subsidiary Eos.uptrade has integrated a ‘best price’ ticketing module into an app provided by German transport agency Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen (SSB).

Siemens says the module automatically calculates the best possible price at all times, removing the need for passengers to decide whether a single ticket, day ticket, weekly or monthly is the right choice for them.

According to Siemens, the integrated solution means once registered all relevant data is stored in the app and the payment method specified for the customer is used for monthly billing.

Andre Rodenbeck, CEO rail infrastructure at Siemens Mobility, says, “This is another example of how smart and innovative applications can intelligently integrate and coordinate transportation to create a more seamless and convenient travel experience.”

E.ON expands its German EV charger portfolio through Vestel deal 

E.ON expands its German EV charger portfolio through Vestel deal 

Leading German energy company E.ON has partnered with Turkish sustainable technologies company, Vestel, to bring “ultra-convenient” EV charging to more drivers across Europe. The new partnership will see E.ON build upon its portfolio of EV chargers with the introduction of Vestel’s “sleek, and user-friendly models”.

A multi-sector pioneer of sustainable technology solutions and established in 1984, Vestel has become a driving force in electromobility, bringing an extra competitive advantage to the EV charging market with its award-winning range of EV home chargers and DC fast chargers.

Marking the first step in this partnership, the Vestel-made EV home chargers are being initially offered as part of a new E.ON cooperation with ADAC SE, Germany’s largest automobile club.

The Vestel-made range is claimed to be smart and networked, encompassing well-engineered entry level designs as well as powerful step-up models. The range’s compatibility with the E.ON Drive App means customers can charge en route at more than 30,000 charging points throughout Germany, and control their E.ON EV home chargers.

“We are pleased to have found a partner like Vestel who supports us in fulfilling the high customer demand for e-mobility solutions with well-engineered and attractively designed hardware,” says Mathias Wiecher, Vice President E-Mobility at E.ON.

Turan Erdoğan, Chief Executive Officer at Vestel adds, “Perfectly aligned with our commitment to drive sustainable innovation, this collaboration is another valuable opportunity for us to boost the mainstream roll-out of electric vehicle chargers. Our vast manufacturing scale and R&D expertise, as well as our flexibility and agility enable us to deliver exceptional value, high performance products. With our world-class manufacturing complex so close to Europe, we can also ensure greater speed-to-market, providing the fast product turnaround times required to stay ahead of the latest EV charger trends.”

UK trial to electrify 30km of motorway with overhead catenary power

UK trial to electrify 30km of motorway with overhead catenary power

The UK’s Department for Transport has awarded funding through Innovate UK to a consortium to undertake the UK’s first ever study on the electrification of long-range trucks with dynamic charging, using overhead wires on motorways.   

The study is part of the £20m assigned for zero emission road freight trials under the recently announced Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP). The Costain-led consortium includes Siemens Mobility, Scania, The Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (Cambridge University and Heriot-Watt University), ARUP, Milne Research, SPL Powerlines, CI Planning, BOX ENERGI and Possible.

Costain’s Sue Kershaw, managing director transportation, said, “This study is another important step towards understanding how industry could work together to tackle one of the largest carbon emission producers in the country and create a cleaner, greener and more efficient road freight network across the UK.”

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) currently emit 18% of all road vehicle CO2 emissions, despite only representing 1.2% of the total number of vehicles on the road and 5% of the total miles driven. They are, however, essential to the health of the UK economy, with the new plan citing them as “critical to our economic wellbeing,” transporting 98% of our food, consumer, and agricultural products across the country.

The consortium has proposed an ‘electric road system’, using the Siemens Mobility ‘eHighway’ technology, as the fastest, lowest carbon and most cost-effective route to decarbonising the road freight industry and delivering cleaner air. The nine-month study starts is a trial for a plan that could see the UK’s major roads served by overhead lines by the 2030s.

The eHighway technology allows adapted trucks to attach to the overhead wires and run using the electricity, similar to rail and tram systems. The trucks come equipped with a battery that charges while they are in motion so they can detach to both overtake vehicles and reach their destination with zero emissions from start to finish.

Consortium members Siemens Mobility, Scania and SPL have previously trialled smaller electric road systems in Germany and Sweden, with this UK initiative being the first in the world to investigate deploying it at a much larger scale.

The project will look at electrifying at least 30km of the M180 motorway, linking Immingham Port with the logistics hubs of Doncaster and its airport. The partners plan to take the lessons learned from Europe, and provide technical, economic, and environmental recommendations for installing a proof-of-concept system with a bigger demonstration fleet.

Professor David Cebon, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Road Freight (Cambridge University and Heriot-Watt University), said, “Our previous research says that overhead catenary power will provide the lowest cost, lowest carbon, and most rapidly deployable solution to decarbonise long-haul road freight in the UK. This project will test the concept at the next level of detail. Moreover, the technologies this consortium is working on could be deployed in most countries once demonstrated, supporting the global move towards greener logistics.”

Starship Technologies expands US college autonomous takeaway delivery services

Starship Technologies expands US college autonomous takeaway delivery services

Starship Technologies, a provider of autonomous delivery services at US college campuses, is to provide deliveries from on-campus restaurants including Starbucks, Panda Express and Subway at four additional locations.

The University of Illinois Chicago, University of Kentucky, University of Nevada, Reno and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach, Florida campus join the list of college campuses where Starship robots provides deliveries with its fleet of over 1,000 robots.

Starship’s delivery robots began its autonomous delivery services at George Mason University in Virginia in January 2019. The service is now available across nearly 20 different campuses in 15 states.

Starship Technologies’ zero-emission robots have made more than 1.5 million autonomous deliveries, travelled millions of miles and make more than 80,000 road crossings every day.

Alastair Westgarth, CEO of Starship Technologies, says, “We’ve worked hard to become a trusted and integrated partner on our campus communities and that hard work has paid off. We are continuing to add new schools every semester, with more to be announced this fall. The students love the robots and the schools appreciate the ability to offer this service. We can’t wait to meet the students at each of these schools and look forward to hiring students on all of the campuses to give them real world experience working with robots and AI.”

Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Services at University of Nevada, Reno, adds, “Everyone wants to resume in-person classes and be back on campus so we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s done responsibly. The robots offer several advantages – they make social distancing easier, they are convenient, the students we have spoken with love this idea and they continue our heritage of being an innovative campus.”

“I never thought I’d be sharing sidewalks with a robot when I thought about going to college but they feel right at home with the coming age of innovation and technology,” says Johan Restrepo, a student at Embry-Riddle. “It seems really futuristic yet completely normal at the same time. It’s always fun to see them travelling around campus and having the option to get food delivered is a huge bonus that my friends and I can’t get enough of!”

Mercedes develops new level of road condition alerts. “Look out, pothole”

Mercedes develops new level of road condition alerts. “Look out, pothole”

Mercedes-Benz has developed its vehicle-to-infrastructure warning system to include the detection of potholes and speed bumps.

The newest generations of the C-Class and S-Class and the new EQS electric hatchback feature a suspension control unit that can detect and register a pothole on the Mercedes’ cloud with the information then available to other connected Mercedes vehicles.

Once the information is repeatedly detected beyond a threshold level, it will show up as an icon on the Mercedes navigation map and the vehicle will give an audible warning approximately ten seconds before the feature is reached. The alert will mention specific features such as “Look out, pothole” or “Attention, speed bump.” The warnings are available in 36 languages.

Mercedes says its cars built since 2016 are capable of receiving the warning information. Owners will need an active Mercedes Me account as well as the Car-to-X Communication feature.

Mercedes’ vehicle-to-infrastructure warning system also has the ability to detect and share information about slippery roads, cross winds, road works, accidents, breakdowns, reduced visibility, heavy rain and snow.

While this system is limited to Mercedes vehicles, other manufacturers are developing vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communications, massively increasing the utility of vehicle generated data with huge potential to improve road safety and provide roads authorities with highly cost effective, real-time asset condition information.