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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Federal Highway Administration Quietly Acknowledges the Driving Boom is Over

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has very quietly acknowledged that the Driving Boom is over, cutting its forecasted driving estimates by between 24 percent and 44 percent.

After many years of aggressively and inaccurately claiming that Americans would likely begin a new era of increased driving, the agency’s latest forecast finally recognizes that the Driving Boom has given way to decades of far slower growth. The amount that the average American drove actually declined nearly 9 percent between 2004 and 2014, resulting in about a half trillion fewer total miles driven in 2014 than if driving had continued to increase at earlier rates.

The new forecast is a major departure from the FHWA’s past record of chronically predicting aggressive and inaccurate increases in driving. An analysis of these projections showed that the Department of Transportation (USDOT) had issued 61 driving forecasts in a row that overshot their mark.

The FHWA’s new forecast suggests that driving per-person will essentially remain flat. The benchmark is important because excessively high estimates of future driving are used to justify wasteful spending on new and wider highways. Meanwhile, policymakers pay little attention to repairing existing roads, and don’t invest enough in other modes of travel.

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Marginal Cost of Transportation: Robotaxis and Sprawl Repair

Author: Neil Salmond

The most insidious result of the car-first development pattern is the constituency of car owners it creates. Once you own a car – and so mentally discount the cost of insuring, maintaining, fuelling the car – then every trip looks free. Political discussions and public investment decisions begin to assume that everybody comes with a machine; they conflate ‘driver’ with citizen, and relegate non-cyborg humans to a category of ‘other’, the ‘pedestrian’ who isn’t naturally considered first in site layout or public space design, but who must be ‘accommodated’ by so-called ‘complete’ streets and ‘extra’ features like crosswalks. Sidewalks are the original war on the car.

Paraphrasing Churchill, we shape our cities and then they shape us. This is what makes sprawl repair so difficult. Since it is nearly impossible to live in motordom without using a car for most daily needs; and nearly impossible to use a car for most daily needs without becoming obsessed with ensuring scarce congestion and abundant parking – how will we ever break the cycle?

The three answers are: education, example and technology.

Education comes from Strong Towns, from the CNU, from Streetsblog and the Atlantic; from everyone who reads and shares Jane Jacobs, Charles Montgomery, Duany, Speck, Walker and Mouzon; who shares Kunstler’s TED talk, quotes Leinberger’s 19 types and uses Minnecozzi’s yield metaphor. From the citizen who stops to ask themselves why that road widening really didn’t make any difference to her commute time after all; or why their only local housing choices seem to be single-family house or condo.

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India: Govt plans multi-model transport body for movement of goods

The government plans to set up a multi-model transport organization to facilitate faster movement of goods through rail, water, air and road, railways minister Suresh Prabhu said on Thursday.

The minister said it will help farmers and agriculturists enable better price discovery and the government is already working on a Cabinet proposal for the same. “We want to provide you (industry) a better logistics and supply chain infrastructure. For that we are working on a proposal to set up multi-model transport organization for movement of goods and cargo, it will comprise of all four means of transport, including road, rail, air and ship,” Prabhu said at a food processing event.

Speaking on the sidelines, he said the government will move a Cabinet note for setting up of this multi-model transport organisation. “… so whosoever wants to move goods, they can approach this authority which will then facilitate the movement of goods and will convey through which medium it could be delivered in faster way and will be cost effective,” the railways minister said.

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Economic output less dependent on road transportation

For the past 10 years, motorization in the U.S. has been on the decline, due mainly to more telecommuting, greater use of public transit, increased urbanization of the population and changes in the ages of drivers.

The economy, says a University of Michigan researcher, has had little to do with it.

Building on previous research that examined changes in vehicle ownership, distance driven and fuel consumption over the past 30 years, Michael Sivak of the U-M Transportation Research Institute studied the link between road transportation and economic activity going back to the end of World War II.

He found that distance driven per inflation-adjusted Gross Domestic Product reached its highest values in a broad plateau from the early 1970s to the early 1990s, and then decreased steadily. Today, this miles-per-thousand-dollars measure is down 22 percent from its absolute maximum achieved in 1977.

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Climate Change Targets? No Problem! We Have Win-Win Solutions

Author: Todd Litman

Yesterday, the United States and China announced that both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades. Under the agreement, the United States will reduce its carbon emissions 26-28 percent below the 2005 level by 2025, and China would peak its emissions by 2030 and aims to produce 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by that year.

Now, it’s up to practitioners—policy advisers, planners, engineers, and designers—to identify suitable strategies for achieving these targets. Unfortunately, there is plenty of skepticism about climate change. Fortunately, there are plenty of good “win-win” policies that reduce emissions and achieve other economic, social, and environmental objectives. These are “no regrets” policy policies and programs which are justified regardless of the value placed on greenhouse gas emissions.

Here are some good information resources about them:

The Transport chapter of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change report examines potential strategies for reducing transportation climate change emissions. It concludes that a range of strong and mutually‐supportive policies will be needed to decarbonize the transport sector and fully exploit potential co‐benefits.

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