CTS and CES 2018: Automotive Tech Innovators Ready to Wow in Las Vegas

In just a few days, Las Vegas will be buzzing with tech innovators from not only the world’s top electronics companies, but also dozens of automakers and firms working on connected and automated driving systems.

It all starts with the 2018 Consumer Telematics Show (CTS), which takes place Monday, Jan. 8 at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.

2018 Consumer Telematics Show (CTS)

CTS aims to bring together power players from automakers and technology companies that are working on connected and autonomous driving systems. Attendees can listen to presentations and forums with top executives and engineers from big-name companies, and have the chance to network.

The long list of companies confirmed to attend and/or participate in this year’s event includes Volvo, Volkswagen, Jaguar Land Rover, NVIDIA, AT&T, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Bose, BMW, Denso, Honda, Ford Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Lamborghini, Nissan, and many more.

See an up-to-date list of attendees on the CTS website here.

Highlights from this year’s list of speakers include:

  • Volkswagen of America: Burkhard Huhnke, Senior VP of e-mobility
  • Karma Automotive: Ken Stewart, Chief Business and Technology Officer
  • Hyperloop One: Matt Jones, Senior VP of Software
  • General Motors (GM): Kurt Hoppe, Global Head of Innovation – Connected Cars; and Nick Pudar, Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Mobileye: Uri Tamir, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives
  • Continental: Lars Shultheiss, Head of Sales & Portfolio, Business Unit Infotainment & Connectivity
  • Audi: Brad Stertz, Director of Government Affairs
  • IBM: Rajiv Phougat, Chief Technologist – Industry Solutions, AAD

Forums and presentations at this year’s event cover a wide array of relevant topics, including the automotive data revolution, next-generation user experiences, the coming reality of autonomous vehicles, connected vehicle cybersecurity concerns, cities and mobility, electric vehicles and more.

The full agenda and schedule for CTS 2018 is available here. 

2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Later in the week, the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) hits Las Vegas, from Jan. 9-12.

For roughly 50 years, CES has been drawing in technology enthusiasts and producers from all over the world. It is often the place where companies officially unveil their newest products and technologies, with flashy presentations. Many times they also show off lofty concepts that haven’t even been fully developed yet, in a bid to impress.

Two venues–the Venetian’s ballroom and the Monte Carlo’s Park Theater–will play host to a long list of keynote speakers this year, which will hail from companies like Intel, Ford Motor Co., the Huawei Consumer Business Group, Baidu, Qualcomm, Verizon, Comcast, Discovery Communications, YouTube, Hulu, and many more. See a full list of this year’s speakers, as well as videos from many of last year’s speeches, on the CES website here.

Though CES initially started out as an event mostly focused on the latest consumer gadgets, it has come to be quite the showcase for the latest in automotive innovation as well. Specifically, in the last decade, many automakers are choosing to show off the progress they are making toward connected and self-driving vehicles. In fact, it was named one of the 10 best automotive shows worldwide by USA Today recently.

This year, forums on topics such as “Autonomous Vehicles in the Cities of Tomorrow,” “The Future of Mobility and Autonomy” and “Cybersecurity and the Auto Industry” are scheduled to take place this year, with panelists from power players like Deloitte, Mobileye, General Motors, Renesas Electronics, Harman and Movement.ai are scheduled to take part.

Major media outlets like TechCrunch and The Verge predict that the automotive portion of this year’s show will be significant.

“Once again, a number of top car companies will be present, including Ford and Toyota. My guess is you’ll be seeing A LOT of self-driving car demo videos out of this year’s show,” TechCrunch said in an advance article.

“The auto industry is flush with [electric vehicle] and smart mobility startups these days. Tesla is still the most sound competitor to any of the big three automakers, but there’s a CVS receipt-sized list of others trying to fill the space between ‘tech company’ and ‘car company,'” said The Verge in their own preview article. “Many of them will be at CES showing off autonomous shuttles, self-driving technologies, electric scooters, and other futuristic transportation ideas — all things that companies like Ford (or Google, Intel, GM, you name it) are also working on in different capacities.”

In fact, The Verge reports that Byton, a Chinese automaker that has poached a lot of talent from Faraday Future, will be at CES showing off their first car — an all-electric SUV that it’s referring to as a “Smart Intuitive Vehicle.”

Get all the information you could ever need about 2018 CES on the official event page here.

Image: Toyota unveils a concept car at 2017 CES / Credit: CES Photo Gallery

PlugFest 2017 Helps Vendors, Manufacturers Make Progress on Connected, Driverless Technology

Jennifer van der Kleut

Representatives from several technology firms and equipment manufacturers say they walked away from last week’s PlugFest By the Bay in California feeling optimistic about the progress being made in the connected and driverless vehicle industries.

Companies from around the globe gathered in Fremont, California in the San Francisco Bay Area October 16th to 20th for another iteration of PlugFest, which allows different vendors to literally plug their equipment into each other’s to test interoperability and functionality as they work toward certification by OmniAir.

OmniAir is an independent, nonprofit industry consortium that has created a certification program that sets forth a series of standards for DSRC equipment (Dedicated Short Range Communications). The group encourages companies to bring their equipment up to their standards, which helps increase consistency throughout the industry, and the likelihood that one certified product will be able to function in tandem with others.

Once a product or piece of equipment is certified by OmniAir’s connected-vehicle program, it is added to the organization’s list of certified vendors, plus it allows the manufacturer access to test records and reports for other certified products.

In addition, OmniAir’s website indicates that many local, state and federal agencies–including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)–are already starting to require proof of OmniAir certification in order to submit to requests for proposals or to work on pilot programs.

At the 2017 PlugFest in Fremont, companies such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL), Dekra, 7layers, IntertekDanlaw and eTrans Systems brought their products to test functionality and interoperability with other vendors as they work toward certification.

Andrew Donaldson from Danlaw, a Michigan-based company that designs and manufactures connected-vehicle telematics, DSRC systems and V2X systems (vehicle-to-traffic system), participated in PlugFest in two ways–by testing their own products together with other products, and also to support other laboratories that use Danlaw’s systems as they work toward certification.

“We allowed them to test in two-hour slots and see if their systems are ready, and if not, why not,” Donaldson explained.

He said he was significantly impressed with the progress he saw from vendors that he had seen at another PlugFest event just a few months ago.

“Vendors are much further on than they were at the last PlugFest in May in Texas,” he said. “Some of the longest-term vendors are already passing tests.”

In addition, Donaldson said he was also encouraged by how many new vendors he saw.

“There are lots of vendors just getting into the space,” he said.

Though it will be a while before these newest vendors achieve certification and are ready for deployment, Donaldson said that is why events like PlugFest are so important, and so valuable for the industry as a whole.

“Some of the newer faces are still struggling a little bit, but we all were in the beginning. So it’s to be expected,” he explained. “But I think the industry has moved forward considerably over the past 12 months.”

Donaldson said confidently that attending three different PlugFests over the past year has helped Danlaw products make significant progress.

“We are getting very close to being ready for deployment,” he said. “That was one of the goals of this event–our devices and equipment are in good shape to do that.”

Rob Baily of eTrans Systems said he felt the same way after leaving PlugFest last week.

“The event allows us [vendors and manufacturers] to sit down together and ‘plug in,’ in order to ensure that [our products and systems] can talk to each other using defined standards,” he explained.

eTrans Systems brought their unique V2X software to last week’s PlugFest in order to test it with other vendors, as well as to support two companies that use eTrans software with their products–Danlaw, and Renesas Electronics.

“There were several vendors there running test systems and pre-certifcation testing, and we were working together with them, running tests on some of our devices like our DSRC radios, and various levels of our software,” Baily explained.

He too said he was impressed by the obvious progress that PlugFest events is bringing about in the connected-vehicle industry overall.

“It’s come a long way from last year, when people were struggling to get the very basics in place, so this year we were able to do a lot more advanced testing,” he said. “So it really shows how far the industry has come just in the last year.”

To learn more about OmniAir, click here.

To learn more about eTrans Systems, click here.

To learn more about Danlaw, click here.

Images: Credit/OmniAir.org

News Roundup: Driverless EZ10 Shuttle Scheduled to Debut in Taiwan This Summer, Industry Predictions From Australia, and More

Jennifer van der Kleut

The latest driverless transportation headlines from the past week, summed up for you:

Driverless shuttle will launch in Taiwan this summer

A new EZ10 autonomous shuttle is scheduled to launch in Taiwan on various campuses of National Taiwan University (NTU) this summer. The vehicle itself was manufactured by French lightweight automobile manufacturer Ligier, and the self-driving technology is the product of another French company, EasyMile–original developer of the EZ10–together with Taiwanese firm 7Starlake. The shuttle has no back or front and can easily change direction at any point on its route. The shuttle can cruise at up to 20 miles per hour, and can carry up to 12 passengers, six sitting and six standing. It is also equipped to carry handicapped passengers. The shuttle is expected to debut first with a single route at the NTU Shuiyuan Campus in July, and will expand to additional routes later. Read more from Euro Transport Magazine.

 

Australia association insists all cars will be driverless, all highways will have dedicated lanes, within 10 years

One major association in Australia is getting mightly confident about the nation’s progress toward driverless cars. A new report from Roads Australia, one of the biggest associations for the nation’s roads, predicts that all new manufactured cars will be driverless within 10 years, and that all Australian roads will feature dedicated lanes for driverless cars within 5 to 10 years. The report also refers to American ridesharing company Lyft in stating that by the year 2025, it will be cheaper to pay to ride in a driverless car than to own and maintain one’s own vehicle, and that vehicle ownership will be all but nonexistent. While many say they are encouraged by Roads Australia’s report, however, plenty of others are calling it “ambitious” and “unrealistic,” including David McCarthy, an executive from Mercedes Benz in Australia. McCarthy said he is more inclined to believe that increasing levels of driving autonomy will happen over the next many years, but that reaching full autonomy across the board within 10 years is unlikely, in his opinion, not only due to the technology’s progress, but also lags in legislation. Read more from Drive.

 

Uber fires head of its self-driving car division

Presumably yielding to mounting pressure during their court battle with Google’s Waymo, Uber has fired Anthony Levandowski, the head of its self-driving car development division. Levandowski was previously the head of Google’s self-driving division, and Waymo alleges that when he left the company to accept the job with Uber, that he downloaded as many as 14,000 files, many relating to Waymo’s Lidar system, which is the key component to its self-driving car technology. Previously, a judge ordered that Levandowski halt working on any driverless car technology until the lawsuit was settled, but this week, Uber opted instead to fire Levandowski, who is still required to cooperate in the court battle and investigation. Uber has replaced Levandowski with self-driving car engineer Eric Meyhofer. Read more from Bloomberg.

TU-Automotive Detroit Set to Bring Together Driverless, Connected-Car Experts, Transportation Officials and More

TU-Automotive Detroit is the world’s largest annual conference and exhibition dedicated to automotive technology, covering connected cars, autonomous vehicles and overall mobility solutions.

TU-Automotive Detroit 2017 will take place June 7 and 8 in Novi, Michigan at the Suburban Collective Showplace.

For these two days, industry leaders and disruptors from major auto manufacturers like General Motors, Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW, along with cutting-edge technology companies like Lyft, car2go, Fontinalis Partners and more will lay out their visions for the future of personalized mobility.

The program can be viewed here: www.tu-auto.com/detroit

Organizers say, the message of this year’s conference revolves around the clear need for agile technological innovation and a “laser-like focus” on putting the customer first, whether in terms of user experience or new business models.

“For the first time, rapid developments in AI (artificial intelligence) and data analytics make the promise of a truly personalized mobility experience closer to a reality,” organizers say on the event’s website.

Gareth Ragg, managing director of TU-Automotive, said, “Since the turn of the century, TU-Automotive Detroit has united the worlds of automotive and digital. It’s the annual event around which the connected vehicle developed from exciting but niche technology into something that is shaping the entire future of mobility.”

Ragg added that several new features are being added to the event this year, including several round-table discussions and even speed networking.

“In the self-learning era for auto, no one company or single part of the value chain can do this alone. We are proud to offer the forum for everyone to unite together,” he said, adding that he promises this year’s event will address every pressing question facing the industry today, including automation, business strategy, HMI, cybersecurity, data exchange, smart cities and more.

Key topics to be addressed this year include:

Pivoting from Metal to Mobility: Creating customer-first products and services, such as dynamic leasing and in-car payments. Engaging consumers and diversifying revenue streams to unlock the ‘new auto business.’
• Test Track or Highway? From technology development (perception and AI) to overcoming societal barriers (regulation and trust), map out the billions of miles required to validate autonomous vehicles. What’s the risk/reward ratio?
• Cybersecurity Never Sleeps: With auto attack surfaces proliferating, collaborate with regulators, associations and partners to create best practices for end-to-end cybersecurity.
• Next-Gen Wireless Infrastructure: Evaluate 5G vs. LTE vs. DSRC for the rollout of data-thirsty IVI, critical OTA services and future-proofed ADAS. Which spectrums deliver on speed, safety and security?
• Build the Smart Urban Ecosystem: Think beyond the car and transportation silos in a data-sharing urban mobility mix. Keep auto brands relevant as cities invest millions to become sustainable and smart.

Among the more than 150 leading experts scheduled to attend the event are:

• Dieter May, Senior Vice President Digital Business Models, BMW
• Burkhard Huhnke, Senior Vice President, E-Mobility, Volkswagen of America
• Jeffrey Massimilla, Chief Product Cybersecurity Officer, General Motors
• Kirk Steudle, Director, Michigan DoT
• Mircea Gradu, Executive Director, Engineering and Quality, Hyundai Motor America
• Robert Grant, Director of Government Relations, Lyft
• Ken Stewart, Chief Business & Technology Officer, Karma Automotive
• Paul DeLong, CEO, car2go N.A.
• James Fish, Chief Innovation Officer, Bosch

The event’s full program can be viewed here.

Register to attend this year’s event online. Automaker and government passes are complimentary.

DRIVERLESSTRANSPORTATION.COM READERS CAN GET A $150 DISCOUNT PER PASS WITH THE PROMO CODE “TUDDT.”

Follow the conversation at #TUDetroit.

Hype-less AVS 2016 Asks the Right Research Questions

Burney Simpson

Is this the show for autonomous driving nerds? No, that’s not quite fair. The Automated Vehicles Symposium 2016 is for the research types, the folks that dig deep to develop the systems that are going to bring driverless cars to fruition.

If that’s a nerd, wear the name proudly.

The AVS organizers must be doing something right. Last year it drew 870 attendees, a 50 percent rise from 2014. This year it looks to bring more than 1,000 academics, researchers and government staff to the San Francisco Hilton at Union Square on July 19-21, with ancillary meetings on the 18th and 22nd.

The conference is managed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and the Transportation Research Board (TRB), a division of the National Research Council.

The Symposium calls itself the “largest gathering in the world of professionals involved with making automated vehicles a reality.”

Jim Misener acknowledges there’s a certain nerd factor to the show, but that’s because it is heavily weighted to engineers, scientists and deep thinkers.

“This show is less about the hype, and more about understanding what the research questions are,” said Misener, a director of technical standards with Qualcomm Technologies, the telecom giant’s chip design and R&D arm.

IMPORTANT MATTERS

There are two parts to the AVS, notes Misener.

In the morning there are short speeches on big topics by the likes of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and reps from Ford and Nissan. Speakers cover ‘important matters’ like ethics, regulations, and autonomous activities around the globe.

After lunch you get the real action with 4-hour multipart breakout sessions that include presentations, Q&As, panels, videos, the ubiquitous PowerPoints, and general discussion. These sessions are designed to encourage frank interaction, and are closed to the media.

Misener helped to organize two of the 22 breakouts.

Enabling Technologies focuses on the foundational technology for driverless vehicles – mapping, algorithms, communications, sensing (sensors), and data.

In brief, the seminar is designed to educate on the strengths and limitations of each of these five technologies in 2016, and how they might work together in successful autonomous vehicle deployments. The discussion can lead to an understanding of technology gaps, and the research needed to close the gaps.

The ultimate goal is to define state of the art driverless technology, and determine how we can advance to that, said Misener.

He also helped organize a workshop on the aftermarket technology for autonomous vehicles.

AUVSI14aThe average car in the US is 11 years old, making aftermarket devices an important way to get autonomous technology into vehicles already on the roads.

“There could be a market for these devices. They could usher in safety and mobility services that get us to automated vehicles,” said Misener.

Other breakouts will address such topics as sustainability, cybersecurity, shared mobility, you get the drill, the usual.

Many attendees will come early for the Monday, July 18 ancillary meeting of the engineering organization SAE On-Road Automated Vehicle Standards Committee. The second ancillary meeting is on Friday, July 22, with the EU-US-Japan Automation in Road Transportation Working Group.

In addition, the AUVSI is holding on July 18 the Startup Connection at the Hilton. It offers demonstrations, presentations and networking for firms in unmanned systems and robotics, and investors looking for new companies.

Feds Should Preempt States on Driverless Regs: SAFE

Burney Simpson

Autonomous vehicles would be developed faster if federal rules could preempt state laws on the technology, the Washington, D.C-based advocacy group SAFE argued last week.

The not-for-profit Securing America’s Future Energy released its The National Strategy for Energy Security: The Innovation Revolution paper, a 160-page pdf listing a host of new approaches to powering transportation, at a series of presentations at the Newseum.

The report calls for the federal pre-emption of state autonomous vehicle regulations, the start of live testing of the vehicles in select communities, and an office at the Department of Transportation to lead development of the technology.

“We need uniformity and consistency of regulations across all 50 states so autonomous vehicles can be developed,” said Amitai Bin-Nun, director of Safe’s Autonomous Vehicle Initiative.

ElectricCharge1Safe was joined at its event by John Krafcik, chief of Google parent Alphabet’s self-driving cars group, along with executives from Nvidia, producer of graphic processing units; Peloton, groundbreaker in truck platooning research; and Moovel, Daimler’s urban mobility operator.

Safe advocates for America’s energy security, arguing the country’s transportation sector is too dependent on foreign oil. Instead, the “widespread adoption of plug-in electric vehicles would put an end to oil’s stranglehold on the U.S. transportation system,” according to its website.

Safe’s Energy Security Leadership Council is led by Frederick Smith, president and CEO of FedEx Corp., and General James Conway, a retired Marine Corps Commandant.

Safe has set a goal of reducing oil demand by 50 percent by 2040, and autonomous vehicles are central to that objective, Conway said.

“I would argue that we probably don’t get there unless the autonomous vehicle movement succeeds and becomes our mainstay,” said Conway, according to Safe’s The Verge news source.

Safe’s national strategy paper comes amidst a contentious debate over driverless regulations in California, a leading autonomous vehicle center.

Last December the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles floated the idea of requiring drivers physically sitting behind steering wheels in driverless cars. Google responded the proposal failed to understand the point of the vehicles, and didn’t recognize the capabilities of the technology.

Soon thereafter, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) pledged to release this summer guidelines for the states on autonomous vehicles.

Since then, the California State Legislature has considered several proposals that sought to limit the authority of the state DMV.

THREE REG CHANNELS

Most states haven’t taken a hard look of driverless technology. As of April, eight states and the District of Columbia are either allowing testing of the technology on their roads, or are conducting research on the topic, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“We don’t know where states will wind up. They might include (requirements) for a driver and a steering wheel,” said Bin-Nun. “Designing a vehicle for different states is very difficult for the auto OEMs.”

Safe believes driverless oversight should be organized in three channels, said Bin-Nun.

First, regulations on vehicle hardware should continue to be set at the federal level, while states should continue to control local licensing, insurance, traffic laws, and driver-for-hire rules, he said.

Third, a federal office should regulate autonomous vehicle safety rules, said Bin-Nun.

Safe last year created its autonomous vehicle task force and ramped up its promotion of electric-engine equipped autonomous vehicles (See “Autonomous Cars = Lower Oil Imports”). Bin-Nun became director of the department in February.

A shift to electric-powered vehicles would reduce the use of gas-powered internal-combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

In contrast, electric vehicles get charged by power supplied by the electric power industry. Domestic energy sources coal, natural gas, nuclear plants, hydro plants, and wind and solar provide the fuel for electric utilities, according a study from The Washington Post.

Photos: Electric car reloading/recharging, 2011, by Ludovic Hirlimann; Foto e vide di tutti I modelli, 2015, by Automobile Italia.

Truck Platooning Works in EU Test

Smart Highways

Dutch businesses say they are “keen to go forward” with truck platooning, as a trial of the technology this week showed it works in the European Union.

The trial organizers say Albert Heijn, Jumbo and Unilever have all said they want to conduct increased testing of freight shipments with trucks driving in “trains” along the highway.

Dutch Infrastructure and the Environment Minister Schultz van Haegen welcomed six columns of trucks which had driven from a number of European cities to Rotterdam over the past several days.

The European Truck Platooning Challenge, organized by Rijkswaterstaat, featured DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania and Volvo Group driving in platoons across national borders, which marked a global first.

Van Haegen said, “The results of this first ever major try-out in Europe are promising. Truck platooning ensures that transport is cleaner and more efficient. Self-driving vehicles also improve traffic safety because most traffic accidents are due to human error.

“What it also makes clear is that we Europeans need to better harmonize rules of the road and rules for drivers. This will open the door for up-scaled, cross-border truck platooning. The hands-on experience gained here will be very useful in the informal European transport council on 14 April in Amsterdam.”

According to Erik Jonnaert, secretary-general of ACEA, the European umbrella organization representing the six truck manufacturers involved, the benefits of platooning go beyond road transport which is more efficient, safer and kinder to the environment,.

“Platooning also reinforces the leadership position of our automotive industry in terms of new technology; this also boosts Europe’s competitive position in the global marketplace. Meanwhile, there are still plenty of barriers in place that hinder the launch of this technology.”

The Challenge opened on March 29 with the departure of the first “trains” of trucks from a number of European cities. Columns of trucks drove from Sweden, Germany and Belgium to Rotterdam.

This article is from Smart Highways, the only magazine about Intelligent Transport Systems aimed solely at the U.K. market.  It also publishes Seven Days, a weekly email.

 

Plan in the Works for Driverless Highway from Canada to Mexico

Jennifer van der Kleut

Many experts have said one of the biggest concerns with introducing self-driving cars into society is mixing them on the same streets with human-driven cars.

That’s one of the main reasons why North Dakota native Marlo Anderson says he is working with the Central North American Trade Corridor Association (CNATCA) to develop his idea for an “autonomous highway” that would stretch from Canada to Mexico.

Anderson’s “Autonomous Friendly Corridor” would actually make use of an already-existing highway that he says is widely underused–U.S. Highway 83.

Highway 83 runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. In the north, it crosses the border into Manitoba, and it ends at Mexico in the south.

Anderson told Transport Topics he hopes to test his idea in 2017 by riding in an autonomous vehicle from Bismarck, North Dakota to Pierre, South Dakota.

Anderson also said he and the CNATCA are working to create a coalition between the six states Highway 83 passes through and Canada to help make the Autonomous Friendly Corridor a reality.

“It’s pretty strong now between Canada and North Dakota,” Anderson told Transport Topics. “This will set a footprint for the rest of the country to follow.”

Anderson told KFYR-TV that he believes the corridor will not only help the move toward driverless technology to progress, but will also help alleviate general transportation issues in the U.S.

Anderson explained, the bulk of the American highway system is designed to help move people and goods between the east and west–but traveling north and south is much more of a challenge.

“Going North to South is very very difficult. We feel the autonomous corridor would alleviate some of that strain of moving North and South,” he said.

KFYR explained that with the Autonomous Friendly Corridor, unmanned cars would be able to deliver goods, and landport stations would be situated every 200 miles for re-fueling and unloading cargo.

In addition, “Drones could come in, pick up packages and move them to another location too. So this landport is kind of a new concept that we’ve been tossing around too, and there’s a lot of interest in that as well,” said CNATCA Treasurer Dave Blair.

The Autonomous Friendly Corridor is being dubbed a “visionary project” by planners.

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) Growing in the EU

Burney Simpson

The Mobility as a Service concept is gaining adherents in Europe.

The start-up MaaS Finland garnered 2.2 million Euros ($2.4 million) in an early funding round last month with hopes of going back to investors for more this fall, according to release from the firm.

French transportation giant Transdev and Turkey’s commercial auto manufacturer Karsan Otomotiv Sanayii and Ticaret AS, each own 20 percent of MaaS Finland.

MaaS Finland officially opened its doors in February. It plans to deliver its services in Finland and two other countries this year, then expand in 2017.

Proponents believe MaaS will bring greater efficiency to transportation services, lower public reliance on autos, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The European Mobility as a Service Alliance says that MaaS offers travelers “tailor made mobility solutions based on their individual needs. … for the first time, easy access to the most appropriate transport mode or service will be included in a bundle of flexible travel service options for end users.”

HOW IT WORKS

Consumers access their MaaS provider through a smartphone app. The provider creates and manages a trip for the user by finding the right solution with a combination of public transport, car-sharing, ride-sharing, taxi, and bicycle-sharing.

In one business model the gateway firm purchases the rides/transport on a volume basis from the individual providers. The gateway firm also conducts data analysis on the subscriber’s preferences, and uses the information to develop more efficient trips for the customer.

The consumer receives either a single bill for the trip, or becomes a monthly subscriber to the service.

The MaaS concept takes advantage of the move away from car ownership by millennial consumers, and the corresponding growth in transportation sharing services like Uber and BikeShare.

“(A)sk yourself: ‘What would happen if I gave up my car?’” MaaS Finland CEO Sampo Hietanen, who holds a 10 percent stake in the company, said in a release.

“For one hundred euros [per month], you could have unlimited access to public transport services plus limited access to taxi rides and a rented car for a given number of kilometers.”

Other MaaS Finland shareholders include InMob Holdings of Cyprus; Neocard; Korsisaari; GoSwift; MaaS Australia; Goodsign; IQ Payments; and Delta Capital Force, according to a company release.

The European Mobility as a Service Alliance was launched at the 2015 ITS World Congress in Bordeaux, France. The Alliance was founded by 20 organizations, including AustriaTech, Ericsson, Helsinki Business Hub, Connekt, MOBiNET, Xerox, and ITS Finland and ITS Sweden.

The early provider UbiGo tested its MaaS service in Gothenburg, Sweden. It reported 70 subscribers made 12,000 transactions in six months. No customers cancelled the service after the test. Volvo was one of the partners in the test.

UbiGo says consumers pay only for what they use, without the hassle of owning a car.

Last May UbiGo was awarded the Promising Innovation award by the International Transport Forum of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.

Photo: (Untitled) by Caitlin H, 2011.

Maryland Moving on Autonomous Vehicles

Burney Simpson

Maryland recently launched the Autonomous Vehicle Working Group to research the impact of driverless technology on safety, insurance, licensing, privacy, cybersecurity, and other major issues.

The group includes about 20 leaders  from its state agencies, along with reps from auto and trucking trade groups.

The second meeting of the working group ended last week with a sense that autonomous technology could impact virtually all ground transportation in the state. Indeed, the group decided to rename itself the Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Working Group to better reflect the growth of connected technology.

During the meeting there were presentations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) of the Transportation Research Bureau (TRB).

Nat Beuse, NHTSA’s associate administrator for vehicle safety research, discussed the U.S. Department of Transportation’s call for $4 billion in driverless research dollars, its plans to release this year a model state policy on autonomous vehicles, and the Smart Cities competition.

TALKING CYBERSECURITY

Beuse noted that NHTSA is talking cybersecurity with Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md.

Ray Derr, NCHRP project manager, said his organization receives $40 million in pooled funds annually from the states. It is in the midst of several research projects related to driverless technology, including its impact on society, regulations/policies, freight, and transit.

Derr said that trucking freight firms may be early driverless technology adopters as they consider platooning of trucks.

Platooning, also known as tethering, refers to the practice of two or more trucks connected on the highway with Wi-Fi communications technology. The trucks travel closely in tandem, improving aerodynamics and lowering fuel costs by 5 to 10 percent. (See “Truck Slow Down Could Speed Truck Platooning”).

MOVING RAPIDLY

Tethering makes sense for “firms that make multiple runs, where a truck visits the same place several times on the same day,” said Louis Campion, president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

Trucks operated by Wal-Mart and other large retailers make these kinds of trips between their stores and distribution centers, Campion said. “This is moving fairly rapidly,” said Campion.

If platooning catches on, trucking firms will need more talented and trained technicians, he said.

Beuse and Derr also made several next-step recommendations.

In the near term, start looking at current laws that will be impacted by the technology, said Beuse.

Keep your eye on aftermarket technology and ‘shade tree mechanics’ that want to install driverless equipment in their vehicles, said Beuse. This is all so new its unknown how the technology will perform.

AVS 2016

Derr suggested working group members attend the Automated Vehicles Symposium 2016 to be held July 19-21 in San Francisco. The event, sponsored by the TRB and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, will include seminars on issues the working group is considering, said Derr.

In the meantime, check out what such leaders as California and Michigan are doing in the driverless arena, said Derr.

Long term, be prepared for public push back when there are accidents or the technology doesn’t perform as promised by some of its advocates, said Beuse.

In addition, there will be discussion on privacy issues related to the data collected by the state from connected technology.

The Maryland working group is chaired by Christine Nizer of the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration.

Members include reps from Maryland’s departments of disabilities, information technology, aging, legislative services, and others. The Maryland Insurance Administration, the state police, the State Highway Administration, and the Transportation Authority (tolls), are also involved.

There are also reps from AAA–Mid Atlantic, the truck group, and an auto manufacturer’s trade group.

The working group met as Maryland’s legislature failed to pass a proposal that would fund its own study group (See “Autonomous Vehicle-Testing Dollars Entice States”).