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NVIDIA rebound lifts D20

After a down week last week NVIDIA (NVDA) returned to its winning ways, leading the Driverless Transportation Weekly Stock Index to an unlikely rebound. Eight D20 price gainers overcame twelve price losers and forced the improbable bounce as the D20 added 1.3 points or 0.6 percent while both the Dow and S&P lost value.  With the markets jittery about the events in Charlottesville, the Dow dropped 183.81 points to close down 0.8 percent at 21674.51 and the S&P lost 0.6 percent and closed at 2425.55.

NVIDIA was the D20 percentage price gainer adding 3.6 percent to its stock value and closing at $161.50.  Last week’s sell-off despite good news about over achieving on quarterly earnings and sales seems to finally have reversed itself.  In other NVIDIA news, it has invested in Chinese autonomous trucking startup, TuSimple.

Visit the Driverless Transportation D20 Stock Index page to learn more about it and its component stocks.

Up and Comers:

Rumors are that Uber is close to naming GE’s ex-CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, to its recently vacated CEO position.  Uber has gone through a gauntlet of issues starting with sexual harassment accusations of a toxic work environment, to Waymo’s lawsuits claiming that Otto, which Uber acquired last summer, stole trade secrets, and now with a fired CEO founder, Travis Kalanick, and a Board of Directors in open dispute.  If Immelt takes the position he will have the fall-out of those issues and a competitor, Lyft, which has taken advantage of Uber’s public missteps to grow its market share from 15.2 percent last year to 22.9 percent in July, according to Second Measure.

Innoviz, Israeli start-up, has been selected by automotive supplier and D20 constituent, Delphi (DLPH), to be its LiDAR supplier. Delphi has recently declared a shift in focus emphasizing supplying the auto parts market with high tech and driverless solutions.

Automated Driving Tech Could End Rise in Road Deaths

Burney Simpson

Deaths in traffic accidents are on the rise but these fatalities could be reduced if automated technology were installed in passenger vehicles.

That’s the conclusion after reading the major findings in two recent reports –

  • Road deaths rose about 8 percent in 2015;
  • Adding three types of currently-available automated technology to passenger cars could reduce accidents by about 25 percent.

Starting with bullet two, a study from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that the installation of blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, and forward collision warning systems could stop or make less severe 1.3 million crashes a year.

Those crashes cause 10,000 fatalities and 133,000 injuries annually, the researchers report.

It would cost about $600 per light-duty vehicle to install the technology, according to “Cost and benefit estimates of partially-automated vehicle collision avoidance technologies” by Corey D. Harper, Chris T. Hendrickson, and Constantine Samaras. The three are with CMU’s Civil and Environmental Engineering department.

It would cost about $13 billion to install this technology in all light-duty vehicles in the U.S. but this investment would bring an $18 billion benefit in the first year alone.

TRAFFIC FATALITIES RISING

The CMU study comes just as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 2015 traffic fatalities rose nearly 8 percent from 2014 following decades of decline.

An estimated 35,200 people died in traffic accidents in 2015, while total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rose 3.5 percent to 107.2 billion miles, according to NHTSA.

The fatality rate per 100 million VMT last year rose to 1.12, up from 1.08 in 2014.

Those who weren’t even in passenger vehicles saw “significant increases” in deaths from traffic accidents, NHTSA found.

For instance, traffic fatalities rose 13 percent for bicyclists, 10 percent for pedestrians and 9 percent for motorcyclists last year, while fatalities of drivers and passengers rose by 6 percent and 7 percent respectively.

The 2015 findings remain estimates. An annual statistical report will be released later this year.

The numbers for last year run counter to long-term trends. From 1973 to 2013 crash fatalities dropped about 40 percent due to the use of seat belts, the installation of air bags, education campaigns on the dangers of drunk driving, and greater police enforcement.

However, these improvements have largely stayed the same since 2009 (See “Road Safety Hits a Plateau: Fed Traffic Stats“).

Photo: Flipped car at 22nd and Hawthorne by Aaron Parecki, 2010.

Will Bolt EV Give a Jolt to GM Earnings Call?

Burney Simpson

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV may include autonomous technology and Lyft drivers will get the first models off the production line, according to a flurry of news reports.

GM executives are considering addressing these topics during the auto OEMs second-quarter conference call on Thursday even though the Bolt EV won’t be officially released until late this year.

First, the electric-powered Bolt will include technology from Cruise Automation, the developer of self-driving systems that GM bought early this year, reports Motley Fool.

The Verge reported in May that Bolts outfitted with autonomous tech sensors were being live tested on San Francisco streets and Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt was behind the wheel of one of them.

Second, the 2017 Bolt EV may be offered initially to Lyft drivers in California and Colorado through the ridesharing firm’s Express Drive program, Fortune disclosed. GM invested $500 million in Lyft in January.

Express Drive offers special rental prices on select GM vehicles to Lyft drivers who complete a certain number of rides per week. The Express Drive program has been over-subscribed since it was launched in Chicago and expanded to three more cities. Los Angeles and San Francisco may offer the program this fall.

Full production of the 2017 Bolt EV could begin in October according to Green Car Reports. Plans call for a base price of $37,500 and a production level of about 25,000 vehicles.

RIDESHARE + AUTONOMOUS = REAL INTERESTING

GM President Dan Ammann said at a Fortune conference this month that both rideshare and autonomous vehicles are interesting “and it gets really interesting if you put the two together.”

GM’s call to analysts to discuss second quarter results is scheduled to begin this Thursday at 10 a.m. Eastern time.

Along with revenues and earnings numbers, GM will tell analysts the price it paid for Cruise, a figure it has kept under wraps. Many press accounts estimated San Francisco-based Cruise cost GM $1 billion.

Proponents believe the 2017 Bolt’s 200-mile range will alleviate consumer concerns about running out of power. It is set to compete with two other electrics in the mid-$30,000 range – the Tesla Model 3 and the remade Nissan Leaf.

The Bolt may get the glory if it comes out first. The Model 3 has garnered about 400,000 reservations even though it won’t be put into production until the fall of 2017. The Leaf is scheduled for the 2018 model year.

Driverless Cars a Decade Away: MotorWeek’s Davis

Consumer acceptance of autonomous autos will be slow and widespread use may be a decade away, according to experts at a conference held this week by the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C.

John Davis, executive producer, creator and host of the long-running MotorWeek TV show, told the conference that testing of the technology could go on for quite a while.

Autonomous systems “may be a decade away, maybe longer,” said Davis. “The public is all charged up about something that may be a ways off. We need to temper that enthusiasm.”

Davis cautioned regulators from forcing autonomous safety equipment on car buyers. For instance, consumers did not warm to airbags for years, said Davis. 

The recent fatal crash involving a Tesla vehicle using its Autopilot automated-driving system is raising more concerns, said Davis.

Davis spoke and led a panel at the 2016 Sustainable Transportation Summit, held by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The summit primarily focused on electric vehicles and efforts to increase their use but autonomous technology interested many in the crowd.

GM’s Mary Beth Stanek wouldn’t commit on the consumer acceptance of electric vehicles outfitted with autonomous systems. She noted consumers generally look for proven technology when buying a car.

“Consumers don’t want too big a change from what they are doing today. If they like an internal combustion engine, they will stay with that,” said Stanek, director of vehicle technologies and government relations.

However, Stanek predicted that people will turn to autonomous and electric vehicles as mapping systems improve and communications technology like DSRC and 5G become widespread.

BRINGING FUEL ECONOMY

For that matter, “self-driving vehicles could lead to fuel conservation, they could force us to become smoother drivers (with) less stop and start,” said Davis. “It will take a while for the concept of not driving like a maniac to take hold,  (but it) will bring more fuel economy and people will like that.”

The view of Davis runs counter to that of auto OEMs Toyota and BMW with each pledging to have an automated or autonomous vehicle on the road by 2020 or 2021.

That coming-soon theme was echoed at the conference by Ford’s Ken Washington. Ford is testing autonomous vehicles in Michigan and Arizona, and soon in California, said Washington, vice president of research and advanced engineering.

Ford is developing SAE Level 4 High Automation vehicles, where the vehicle navigates itself — and its passengers — safely to their destination.

“In the next four years this is a reality that is very near,” said Washington.

One autonomous technology proponent at the conference was Chunka Mui, a business strategy consultant and author of “Driverless Cars: Trillions are Up for Grabs.”

Mui took a bottom-line approach, pointing to a study by Barclays that found that a driverless electric vehicle providing a car-share service could reduce operating cost-per-mile by as much as 80 percent compared with a standard vehicle.

And some locales offer rich ground for autonomous vehicles, Mui said. For example, the congested island-nation of Singapore is now testing driverless cabs developed by MIT-offshoot nuTonomy.

The Singapore government is supporting the concept, the population there is aging, the test is in a dense, high-population area, the country seeks to be a ‘knowledge capital of the world’ and nuTonomy has been preparing for the test for years, said Mui.

AN ALL-ELECTRIC ISLAND

Along those same lines, new technology investor Mark Platshon encourages the US to think creatively as it promotes electric and autonomous vehicles.

“I’d like to see Hawaii as a test bed. An all renewable (energy), all electric island,” said Platshon, managing director of The Autonomous World Fund. “Make autonomous vehicles a top priority.”

Platshon was on a panel led by Mui that also featured executives from Federal Express and Local Motors.

olli-tool-tips2Federal Express is looking to reduce costs for its ground-vehicles, according to Russell Musgrove, managing director of global vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles show promise because FedEx research has found that the driver accounts for 15 percent of fuel use, said Musgrove.

The package delivery firm would like government permission to operate longer trucks so it could take more trucks off the road, and it is trying to find a manufacturer that can deliver a mini-fleet of electric trucks.

“We now have 110,000 vehicles worldwide. We need electric vehicles. We tried to get that first 100. We can’t find a manufacturer that will meet our specs. People think we can just go to an EV store,” said Musgrove. “This is a niche space, manufacturers can’t make enough money making this.“

Mui suggested that maybe Local Motors could help. The firm custom creates vehicles using 3D printers and other equipment. It recently launched Olli, a driverless shuttle that carries about a dozen passengers.

Local is the opposite of Detroit’s assembly line style of mass production, said Justin Fishkin, chief strategy officer.

“We make vehicles locally. It takes about eight weeks to build and put on the road,” said Fishkin. “Our cars have about 500 pieces while (auto OEMs) use about 50,000 and about 500 suppliers are involved.”

Musgrove and Fishkin agreed to talk after the conference.

Photo: Chevy’s electric Bolt.

 

Land Rover Video Demos Off-Road V2V Connected SUVs

A video from Jaguar Land Rover shows the firm’s luxury off-road SUVs conducting vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications, and automatically taking control of a vehicle when the road surface changes.

The video is posted on The Auto Channel YouTube site. It is two videos from Jaguar Land Rover pasted together, then duplicated in what appears to be a glitch. There’s is no voice over describing the activity.

The vehicles are equipped with a mix of cameras, lidar, radar and ultrasonic sound, according to engadget.  Jaguar Land Rover did not report when all the technology in the video would be available commercially.

The video shows two of the Land Rovers in an off-road test area with difficult conditions performing what the auto OEM calls ‘Connected Convoy’ research, or a form of vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications.

The demo shows a front car driving through the difficult road area and stopping after about 50 yards, where the driver decides to change his vehicle’s Terrain Response to adapt to conditions.

That change is automatically transmitted wirelessly to car 2, where the driver can decide whether to make the same change.

In another capability, car 1 travels over some rocks and hilly terrain, and the vehicle wirelessly shares wheel slip and suspension data with the rear car. In this demo, car 2 activates its Optimum Terrain Response mode to better handle the road.

The vehicles also apply technology that helps them to identify and predict upcoming road surface changes.

A camera on the front of a vehicle scans the road ahead and finds it will change from asphalt to gravel. The vehicle then prompts the driver to change the terrain response mode.

That capability is pushed further when the vehicle automatically reduces speed to adjust to a new road surface, in this case standing water about a foot deep. The vehicle then automatically returns to its previous speed when the car has driven past the water.

Jaguar Land Rover is a UK-based subsidiary of India’s Tata Motors.

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.

Driverless Tests Go Live in Virginia

Burney Simpson

Virginia has taken another step to on-road automated vehicles following the enactment of legislation supported by the Va Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).

Automated vehicles now can carry standard license plates and operate on Virginia’s roads as long as the vehicle is being operated by an institution of higher learning as it conducts technology research.

“Conducting naturalistic data collection with a standard license plate — meaning the vehicle could not be easily identified from other vehicles on the roadway — allows us to perform a realistic comparison to other vehicles and traffic,” Myra Blanco, director of VTTI’s Center for Public Policy, Partnerships, and Outreach, said in a press release.

The new law also allows moving images to be viewed in a vehicle while an automated driving system is activated. Previously, the state had banned videos to be shown inside a moving vehicle.

A lead sponsor of the legislation was Del. Glenn Davis of Virginia Beach (See “Careful Steps on Driverless Laws for Tennessee, Virginia”).

CONNECTED CORRIDORS

VTTI offers important test operations for auto OEMs, Tier 1 suppliers, and others.

In the driverless arena, it launched last summer the Virginia Automated Corridors, 70 miles of roads in the northern and central parts of the state for the testing of automated and connected vehicles.

The VAC includes a segment of the congested Washington, D.C., Beltway, along with state routes, suburban and rural roads, and winding mountain lanes (See “Va Tech Leaves ‘Em Eating its Dust in the Race to be the Top Driverless Test Track”).

The VAC is a partnership between VTTI, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Transurban, and Here, the high-definition mapping business.

Virginia Tech also operates the 2.2 mile Virginia Smart Road, a closed-research facility near Blacksburg in southwest Virginia.

Blanco told Driverless Transportation last year that VTTI and the VAC offer a “one-stop shop” for autonomous car testing.

EVERYTHING FROM A TO Z

“We will do everything from A to Z. We provide license plates, insurance, the facilities, and so on,” said Blanco. “And we are an independent evaluator, something like Underwriters Laboratory. That’s key. We will facilitate the full process, and you will have an independent evaluator.”

Last October VTTI earned national visibility with a demonstration of automated and connected vehicles in Northern Virginia with Sen. Mark Warner, U.S. Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Greg Winfree, Virginia state officials, Tier 1 auto suppler Continental, and others.

However, state competition for driverless testing dollars has gotten tougher since then.

Michigan last year opened its 32-acre Mcity testing facility near Ann Arbor, attracting Ford and other auto OEMs. In January, the state announced a 330-acre testbed for autonomous vehicles in nearby Willow Run.

California’s Silicon Valley area boasts GoMentum Station with tests from Daimler, Honda, and others.

Driverless SmartShuttle in Switzerland is no Cuckoo Clock

Burney Simpson

Switzerland last week officially began offering live rides on the SmartShuttle autonomous, electric vehicle from Navya in the city of Sion.

The transportation system is led by PostBus Switzerland with a fleet management platform from BestMile. The BestMile platform gives PostBus a real-time overview of the fleet, and allows for its remote control.

Navya’s ARMA steering systems use Velodyne’s LiDAR Pucks, GPS RTK navigation devices, stereovision cameras, inertial navigation systems and odometry, according to a press release.

The SmartShuttle can be tracked in real time with a smartphone app or at a kiosk at a station. It was first announced last year and has been in a test mode since then.

“In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock,” Harry Lime in ‘The Third Man,’ 1949.

France’s Navya operated its driverless vehicle on the open road last year during the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress (ITS) in Bordeaux. The vehicle can carry up to 15 passengers at a top speed of 16 miles an hour.

Switzerland-based BestMile is a spinoff from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL in English) in Lausanne. EPFL-developed algorithms enable dispatching and routing, charging management, maintenance planning, and emergency handling, according to BestMile.

OLLI SHUTTLE COUSIN

BestMile was a partner in the June launch in Maryland of the self-driving Olli shuttle by Local Motors (See “New Self-Driving Olli Shuttle ‘Talks’ with Passengers”).

The free service in Sion operates Tuesday through Sunday in the afternoon, carrying passengers on a loop between the Place du Midi and popular cathedrals. Plans call for the service to be expanded and to operate on a regular schedule through the week.

Sion, capital of the canton of Valais in southwest Switzerland, had a population of 33,296 in 2014. Most jobs are in the service sector, and it’s a popular tourist destination.

PostBus is Switzerland’s leading bus company, carrying more than 140 million passengers each year.

SmartShuttle image from BestMile.

East Coast DOT’s Get Ready for Connected & Automated Vehicles

East Coast transportation officials gathered this week near Baltimore to catch up with the latest in autonomous activity at the ‘Connected & Automated Vehicles: What States Need to Know’ conference.

The event was organized and led by the I-95 Corridor Coalition, a partnership of state departments of transportation and related agencies in the 16-state region from Maine to Florida. Roads in these states account for 16 percent of the nation’s road miles and 35 percent of vehicle miles traveled.

The conference was designed to explain the importance of connected and automated technology, update officials on activities in the sector nationwide, and help assist states in developing next steps, said Dr. Trish Hendren, executive director of the Coalition.

About 200 registered for the conference at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum, Md.

Much of the conference was devoted to officials from state DOTs and related agencies updating each other on activities within their borders.

Here are some highlights from the first day of the conference –

SAVING MONEY

A number of state DOT officials stressed how connected technology may help save the agency some bucks. Virginia DOT’s Dean Gustafson noted that Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications could mean the elimination of various signs and traffic signals that cost as much as $1 billion to develop, install, maintain.

Joah Sapphire, who has worked on the New York DOT’s connected efforts for Global Dynamic Group, suggested that a DOT could look at individual line items and find savings. For example, information gathered through connected tech could help New York reduce the $417 million it spends annually on salt and sand to treat roads during bad weather.

New York is already testing driverless trucks to be used in work zones that could make the space safer for crews, said Sapphire.

Gustafson said that states have to work together so communication systems work across borders. He acknowledged that states can be very competitive, especially when they seek research dollars or revenues from technology.

“It will be hard to compete with Michigan and the auto industry there. And Silicon Valley and venture capital (in California),” said Gustafson, state operations engineer. 

(However, Virginia is no slouch, busy testing with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, expanding its testbed last year to include parts of Washington Beltway, the Federal Highway Administration working on parts of Virginia’s Connected Corridors, and more ongoing projects.)

Gregory C. Johnson, state highway administrator for Maryland, said that states should look to ways to monetize the V2I technology and the highway land they own. “I’m looking for a state to come up with that magic bullet (of monetization) so I can copy them,” said Johnson.

IS STAFF PREPARED?

Gene Donaldson, TMC operations manager with the Delaware DOT, said he has insisted the state install information-gathering technology whenever it lays down highways. And he teased the crowd by saying a certain firm asked Delaware if it could run its autonomous vehicle across the state to Pennsylvania. (The answer was yes as Delaware law doesn’t forbid it, said Donaldson. He wouldn’t name the firm.)

However, he warned that schools aren’t training enough people today in technology already installed, like traffic signals. How do you take advantage of V2I technology if you don’t have staff ready to work with it, asked Donaldson.

TESTING

Several officials gave reports of strong research they are doing on connected and autonomous technology.

Dr. Gene McHale of the FHWA talked about research conducted in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The FHWA is testing connected vehicle tech with the 5.9 GHz band at nearby air bases and labs, and on I-66 in Virginia. One finding — 22 percent fuel savings when fully automated ‘glide path’ systems are used so vehicles avoid stopping at intersections.

Mark Kopko, manager of advanced vehicle technology with the Pennsylvania DOT, said the state is operating three testbeds with more than 20 intersections equipped with DSRC technology around Pittsburgh. Keystone State’s jewel is Carnegie Mellon, a robotics and autonomous technology leader.

The Pennsylvania legislature could soon consider SB 1268 that will allow NHTSA Level 4 testing, said Kopko. If approved, Pennsylvania will have greater leeway in driverless testing, and it already has plans regarding truck platooning.

MORGAN STANLEY

Adam Jonas, a transportation analyst with Morgan Stanley, woke up the crowd after lunch with a presentation on the changes coming to the transportation business.

The ‘shared autonomy’ industry will be led by giants like Apple and Google who develop driverless vehicles that offer personalized transportation services akin to what Uber and Lyft are doing today, Jonas predicted.

People worldwide now ride a total of 10 trillion miles annually, said Jonas, and at $1 a mile, the market for transporting people is $10 trillion.

That’s an intriguing figure but the real money comes when the ‘megafleet’ operators sell to advertisers and others the eyeballs of riders sitting in the driverless cars.

Increased safety and reduction in deaths and injuries that connected technology brings will encourage citizens to shift to driverless vehicles and give up some privacy, Jonas argued.

Also, Jonas predicted a public/private partnership between a city and business in 2018 or 2019 will set aside an area exclusive to operating connected and/or automated vehicles. He declined to name the city.

DSRC AND COMMENTS TO THE FCC

Several speakers suggested the state officials may want to leave comments for the Federal Communications Commission as it considers whether to open up the 5.9 GHz spectrum to Wi-Fi communications.

In brief, the federal government set this section of the spectrum aside in 1999 for transportation safety messages using Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC). Connected vehicle proponents want to keep this space for this use as the technology grows.

Telecommunications firms have asked the FCC to allow them to use at least part of the 5.9 band. These firms say they will use it to offer bandwidth for Wi-Fi as it surges in popularity.

“The wireless community is very vocal,” said Blair Anderson, deputy administrator with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Dr. Gummada Murthy, associate director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, is fighting to keep the band reserved for transportation-related uses.  

“We don’t want to share it unless you can prove that sharing it will not compromise safety,” said Murthy.

He’s holding a webinar on June 30 for state DOT and local officials that will encourage them to send official comments to the FCC on DSRC.

ITS AMERICA 2016

A number of these East Coast speakers attended last week’s ITS America 2016 conference in San Jose. General impression was the technology was impressive, the number of connected and autonomous projects was impressive, the conference was impressive. Etc.

HERE HEATS UP

HERE announced it had been selected by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to provide its real-time traffic data for the state’s roadways. North Carolina joins seven other East Coast states in using Here’s Real-time Traffic Services.

North Carolina DOT chose Here through the I-95 Corridor Coalition’s Vehicle Probe Project that is designed so states and others can purchase, validate and share data.

DRUMMERS

Interesting to see who is spending some money to catch the eye of East Coast transportation officials. Conference sponsors included Ch2m, HNTB, Inrix, Jacobs, National Energy Research Laboratory (NREL), and WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Exhibitors included Cambridge Systematics, CATT Lab from the University of Maryland, Consensus Systems Technologies, HERE, Inrix, Kapsch TrafficCom, Kimley-Horn, NREL, and Southwest Research Institute.

The I-95 Corridor Coalition addresses such major topics as alternative transportation system funding, freight supply chain, MAP-21, FAST Act implementation, tolling issues, and connected and automated vehicles.

Connected, Automated Vehicles Can Reduce Fuel Use: NREL

Burney Simpson

Fuel savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions are two potential benefits of the shift to connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology, according to tests conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The laboratory, a subset of the U.S. Department of Energy, is ramping up its research on CAV and Transportation as a System (TAAS) technology, said Jeffrey Gonder, a senior engineer and researcher.

In a test conducted with GM, NREL found that connected vehicles traveling ‘Green Routes’ could garner energy savings of 5 percent. The downside was that the green routing approach also meant longer travel times.

The test was conducted with the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt vehicle powered with a battery pack, drive unit, and gas-powered engine.

The Volt uses GM’s OnStar system that gives it real-time information on driving routes, traffic and road topology, according to Connectivity-Enhanced Route Selection and Adaptive Control for the Chevrolet Volt.

The 5 percent energy savings is modest but it can be achieved with software adjustments and no change in the engine, said Gonder.

A second study on truck platooning used the Peloton Technology system.

It found that fuel savings decreased as the following truck drove closer to the lead truck. Following too close cut air flow to the second truck, causing its cooling fan to work harder and the engine to burn more fuel.

The NREL study found that a two-truck platooning system achieved its optimum fuel savings with a following distance of 50 feet at a speed of 65 MPH.

The study was highlighted in Assessing the Energy Impact of Connected and Automated Vehicle (CAV) Technologies.

Gonder said NREL plans to show additional test results with presentation posters at the Automated Vehicles Symposium running July 19-21 in San Francisco.

Studies of CAVs impact on energy and greenhouse gas emissions are being conducted by NREL, the Argonne National Laboratory, the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The studies are based on five focus area ‘pillars’ – mobility decision science, connectivity and automation, multi-modal, urban science, and vehicles and infrastructure.

Photo by NREL, 2012.

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