Driverless vehicles: Fewer cars, more miles

Author: Bernie DeGroat

Autonomous vehicles may reduce the number of vehicles a family needs, but may lead to an increase in total miles driven, say researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

UMTRI researchers Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak examined U.S. National Household Travel Survey data that contained comprehensive information about each trip made by a person within a selected household, including the exact start and stop times of each trip.

They found a general lack of “trip overlap” between drivers within a majority of households based on vehicle sharing. In other words, families rarely use more than one vehicle at a time.

The study is based on sharing of completely self-driving vehicles that employ a “return-to-home” mode, acting as a form of shared family or household vehicle. This would mean that driverless vehicles could operate without any passengers at all.

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Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ could reshape the auto world

Author: Jonathon M. Trugman

Detroit had a good year in 2014, selling 16.5 million autos — up 1 million from 2013. The stock of Ford and GM has revved on the good news, jumping 5.7 and 7.8 percent, respectively, in 2015.

That’s better than the S&P 500, which has risen 2.5 percent.

Motorists responded well, not only to low-interest-rate loans but to all the technology in cars today — everything from touch screens and Wi-Fi hotspots to hybrid technology and back-up cameras.

But in just one week, Detroit’s vibe has gone from hip to has-been.

With reports last week that Apple hopes to bring a car to market in five years, every motorist who remembers the pre-iPhone era of smartphones must be feeling like their new car will go the way of BlackBerry, Nokia and Palm Pilot.

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TNCs Challenge 20th-Century City Taxi Regulation: Reinventing Urban Mobility

“It is obvious that the rise of well-funded brands like Uber, Lyft, and other transportation network companies (TNCs) dependent on online-enabled platforms to connect passengers with drivers is globally eroding the franchises of locally regulated taxis. Drawing on remarks recently made on the VerdeXchange 2015 Conference panel “How Technology and Competitive Drive Are Reinventing Mobility and the Urban Environment,” Bill Rouse, General Manager of Yellow Cab of Los Angeles, and Gabe Klein, a Special Venture Partner at Fontinalis Partners with experience leading public-sector DOTs, offered TPR their perspectives. Here, they address changes to the urban ground transportation system that unregulated competition is bringing to cities. Both comment on how cities can capitalize on new technologies while still maintaining options for passengers.”

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Google’s Car Is the Face of Future Robots

Author: Jeremy Hsu

Robots probably won’t look human when they first begin appearing on the streets in the next several years. But some robot cars such as Google’s self-driving vehicles will have recognizable faces designed to win human hearts and minds. Google hopes to begin testing its custom-made robot cars on the roads of Northern California starting in 2015.

Google’s self-driving car prototype represents a cuddly vision of the robot future that is almost the complete opposite of what most dystopian science fiction films have imagined. The vehicle’s headlights combine with a pert “nose” to give the impression of a wide-eyed baby confronting the world for the first time. Wired has described the car as “an egg with the face of a koala.” Cartoonist Matthew Inman, creator of the popular website The Oatmeal, dubbed the Google cars “adorable Skynet Marshmallow Bumper Bots.” In other words, Google’s car has a face that wordlessly asks people to trust it when they see the driverless vehicle ambling down the road.

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Boulder Makes It Easy for Low-Income Residents to Take Bus, Bike, and Carshare

SMART likes to share interesting news and innovations from newsletters we receive. This was published by Mobility Lab in Mobility Lab Express. See for more newsletters you may find interesting.

Author: Paul Mackie

Boulder Housing Partners (BHP), in partnership with Boulder nonprofits eGo CarShare and Boulder B-cycle, have begun offering a “multi-modal toolkit” to 271 BHP rental households.

What that means is that these households have free annual B-cycle bikeshare memberships, free annual transit passes called Neighborhood Eco Passes that allow them to ride buses operated by RTD, and a 50 percent discount on carshare vehicles through eGo CarShare. Through the grant partnership, eGo CarShare was able to add carshare vehicles in or near five low-income communities served by BHP.

“Transportation, for a lot of folks, can be a #2 or #3 top cost. So how can public transportation be more accessible, and how do we encourage them to use it?” asked Tim Beal, director of sustainable communities at BHP.

Karen Worminghaus, executive director at eGo CarShare, helped lead the effort in securing a $100,000 Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) grant to launch the program, and additional funding came from Mile High Connects and The Denver Foundation.

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Audi autonomous car completes long-distance trip to CES

Arriving in time for the opening of the International CES 2015 (Consumer Electronics Show), Audi’s ‘piloted driving’ concept vehicle has completed a 560-mile (900km) long-distance test drive that began in Silicon Valley, California and ended in Las Vegas, Nevada. Known as ‘Jack’, the Audi A7 3.0 TFSI quattro autonomous concept car proved itself capable of driving in multi-lane highway traffic, and the selected group of journalists that were behind the wheel were impressed with its ability to provide a comfortable drive in real-world, everyday driving situations. As required by state laws in California, an experienced Audi test driver accompanied the drive from the passenger seat, with the journey providing a large quantity of actionable data to help further development of the company’s piloted driving program.

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