Your Personal Ride To the Future
More than 200 years since local public transportation appeared in European and American cities, its basic idea looks and functions pretty much the same as when it started. In most cities, trains and buses are still the primary forms of public transportation.
The French company Navya thinks they have an answer that looks different—and the answer is named Arma. Recently brought to the streets of Las Vegas, the small oval-shaped shuttle has a human attendant, but no steering wheel or brake pedal.
Using GPS, electronic curb sensors and additional technology, the Arma doesn’t need lane lines to make its way along busy Fremont Street between Las Vegas Boulevard and Eighth Street — right in the thick of regular traffic.
Not Speedy, But Neither Is Anyone Else
This French bus drives itself
Arma holds 12 passengers, and can reach a top speed of 27 mph. However, it will only “speed” up to 12 mph during a two-week test period, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
The vehicle has a range of about 90 miles for each electric charge and takes about five to eight hours to recharge.
Since first testing the Arma in France in late 2015, Navya vehicles have transported more than 100,000 people, and the fleet has grown to 30 and is in use in seven countries around the world, including the United States.
The U.S. Option
Navya is not the only company pioneering the future of public transportation. American company, Local Motors, showcased its self-driving bus, Olli, on the streets of Washington, DC in June of 2016.
Similar to Arma, Olli is a small, oval-shaped, fully electric and autonomous shuttle. Unlike Arma, however, the only attendant you will find in Olli is its integrated IBM Watson cloud-based cognitive computing system.
Well, hello, Olli
Watson’s main function is to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. Olli’s main party piece, however, is the integration of Watson into the user experience.
Much like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, Watson can understand and respond to passengers’ questions as they enter the vehicle, including questions about destinations (“Olli, can you take me downtown?”) or specific vehicle functions (“How does this feature work?” or even “Are we there yet?”).
After its successful first launch in early 2016, Local Motors plans to bring Olli to more cities around the U.S. in the near future. One unique feature of Olli is that it is designed to be produced locally with the majority of the vehicle created via 3D printing.
As start-ups and tech companies race to find the future of transportation, it sometimes seems as though innovation is pushed simply for the sake of innovation.
Are self-driving shuttles like Arma and Olli the future of public transportation, or are they simply a stepping stone to the next big thing? Only time will tell.
Ford Motor Company hasn’t gone as far as saying it’s giving up as a car company and is now in the “mobility” business, but its recent political alliances, software acquisitions and non-automotive initiatives make it clear that the company is fully committed to hedging its bets as the auto industry may be teetering on the brink of some major changes. The statistics are daunting. Millenials are not buying cars like their older siblings or parents–and some don’t seem to feel the need for even having a driver’s license. Software is a fast-moving but lucrative business, the polar opposite of the old-school car industry. Environmental pressures are raising costs and similarly putting stress on any company committed to the traditional business of mass-producing private automobiles.
Your Chariot awaits–check your phone
Ford CEO Mark Fields has made it very clear during the past year that his company would continue to focus on producing automobiles, but at the same time would aggressively pursue emobility services such as autonomous cars, car sharing and other non-automotive avenues. He reinforced that at San Francisco City Hall in September 2016, announcing Ford was teaming up with San Francisco and other cities around the globe to tackle congestion working with start-ups that will be operating in-house at Ford as well as outside companies. The announcement is a logical result of the explosive growth of Ford’s Silicon Valley lab.
“We’re expanding our business to be both an auto and a mobility company,” said Fields at the announcement. “We want to work with communities to offer even mroe transportation choices and solutions for people–for decades to come.”
To that end Ford has created Ford Smart Mobility LLC, a subsidiary that will design, build, grow and invest in emerging mobility services. One component of the new entity will be the just-acquired Chariot, a SF-based crowd-sourced shuttle service that’s been operating since 2014. It currently operates almost 100 Ford Transit shuttles along 28 crowd-sourced routes in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s designed to fill the gap between taxi and bus services–providing an on-demand, point-to-point transportation option that is convenient, efficient and cost-effective. According to a study conducted by KMPG for Ford, each dynamic shuttle placed in service during peak travel times could be the equivalent of taking 25 vehicles off the road.
The plan is to take Chariot into at least five additional markets in the next 18 months. The company also plans to work with Motivate, billed as the global leader in bike sharing, to add another
Ford adds two wheels to its repertoire
dimension to mobility. The goal is to increase the number of shared bikes in the San Francisco Bay Area to 7,000 by the end of 2018. Next year Ford will launch GoBike, which will give access to the bike-sharing system to users of the FordPass platform.
Ford’s master plan is to establish an interconnected mobility network that includes real-time data such as weather conditions, usage patterns and bike availability.
FordPass users just got another feature to add to their app, which already includes mobility services, on-call guides, a loyalty program and a link to Ford Hubs, a physical storefront that showcases Ford technology. The latest feature gives FordPass users the ability to find, book and pay for parking at garages in more than 160 cities in the U.S., even before starting a trip. The FordPass app is free for Ford owners and non-owners alike.
The Future of Driving Is Arriving
Those gifts that you ordered from Amazon are shuttled through a massive warehouse by a self-driving vehicle. In 2019, 100 Volvos that can self-drive with the touch of a button will be in use in Gothenburg, Sweden. A year later, more than 1,000 self-driving cars from several automakers will be on the roads of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Within 10 years, a major city will have thousands of two-seat electric vehicles that pick you up with a command from your smartphone app and take you to your destination. Think of a convergence of Car2Go, Uber and Google maps. Advanced planning is already occurring in Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo.
Autopilot (self-driving) vehicles are not some future fantasy; they are on the roads today. In California, where I live, they are legal. When I was at the 2014 LA Auto Show and Connected Car Expo, major automakers were showing their capabilities.
Disruptive driving has a face
Disruptive technology, whether it is cloud-based music delivered to mobile devices or self-driving cars, never happens without problems, drawbacks and false starts. It is the same for self-driving vehicles, which are first succeeding in specific fleet applications, then campuses, and then one city at a time.
Regulators will resist, people who like to drive will object, some transit advocates see will see improved cars as a threat, and there will be the inevitable accident. But resistance won’t stop progress. Self-driving cars will dramatically reduce the 2.5 million people transported to hospitals due to car collisions, serve many people don’t like to drive and benefit transit as last-mile solutions.
Threatened industries will fight the self-driving cars that will cost them billions: insurance premiums will be lowered, hospital revenues will drop, fuel efficiency will hurt oil companies, taxi drivers will get new jobs, highways won’t need to be widened, DUI lawyers will need work and fewer police will be needed. Lobbyist and ad campaigns will fight the change, but self-driving cars will win and people will be more productive, safer and less stressed. With cars being the number one killer of Americans aged 4 to 35, there has got to be a better way.
In the long term, 100 percent self-driving cars may transform mobility. In 2015, the bigger impact will be that millions will drive cars with advanced safety technology.
Safety and Advanced Driving
You may already be using technology that facilitates better driving, such as GPS navigation, backup cameras, onboard warnings, monitors and adaptive cruise control. In 2015, you may well be driving a car with advanced driver-assist and safety features. Cars have had adaptive cruise control for 10 years. Lately, more will warn you if you drift out of your lane and brake before you do to avoid accidents.
My car has blind spots. Before changing lanes, I turn my head to look at the new lane and hope I did not miss a car next to me. The best of the semi-autonomous and self-driving cars not only have
2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid
no blind spots, they have algorithms to estimate the blind spots of all nearby cars and stay out of them. They are the best of defensive driving.
When I drove the Toyota Avalon Hybrid with adaptive cruise control, the car automatically slowed when I too quickly approached the car in front of me. My test parallel park of Ford Escape was a breeze when the SUV parked itself.
A concept version of the Mercedes S500 with Intelligent Drive System is already self-driving people through long-distance roads and stressful city streets. In 2015, this luxury plug-in hybrid won’t be self-driving, but will offer safety features such as PRE-SAFE braking to avoid hitting pedestrians or rear-ending the car in front, lane keeping assist and cross-traffic assist.
GM CEO Mary Barra has announced that in 2017 GM will offer a new Cadillac with Super Cruise technology. With a touch of a button, the car will steer itself, accelerate and brake to stay at freeway speeds or avoid collisions in stop-and-go traffic. The 2017 Cadillac CTS will include V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) communication, in the hopes that self-navigation will be improved with wide adoption of V2V.
Mercedes, Ford, GM, BMW, Volvo and others are optimistic about soon offering traffic-jam-assist, where the driver selects a button to have the vehicle self-drive at up to 25 to 30 mph during stop-and-go traffic.
Volvo with Drive Me will have 100 self-driving-capable vehicles (enabled with the touch of a button) on the roads of its headquarters city of Gothenburg, Sweden, within five years. The new Volvo XC90 already has a number of semi-autonomous capabilities such as lane keep and maintaining a safe distance from the car in front. In five years, these cars will also be able to drop-off passengers and valet park themselves. By 2020, Volvo’s vision is that no one will die or be seriously injured in a new Volvo.
In a recent interview with CNN, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk stated, “The Tesla car next year will probably be 90 percent capable of autopilot.” When asked by the interviewer how this would happen, Musk replied, “With a combination of various sensors, cameras plus image recognition, radar, and long-range ultrasonics.”
Fleets Have Used Semi-Autonomous Vehicles for over 10 Years
If you have bought something through Amazon, it may have been routed through their warehouse by an autonomous Kiva robot, rather than a person in a forklift. Goods movement is probably the
Amazon’s Kiva robots keep things moving
biggest area of success for autonomous vehicles (unless you count the Rumba that vacuums your home), with a fast return on investment (ROI) due to optimal routing and delivery.
Self-driving buses are a natural for university campuses and center city fixed-routes. Autonomous electric buses are being tested in Italy. Campus shuttles are being tested at a Swiss university. In campuses from Stanford University to Google HQ, people are shuttled without anyone driving the vehicle.
100% Autonomous Vehicles Have Been on California Roads Since 2009
Google, in partnership with Stanford University, has successfully had self-driving vehicles on the road since 2009. It is legal in California, but automakers must have at least $5 million in insurance or post a bond. So far, permits have been issued to Google, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Delphi and Audi. Other states have followed suit, as will other automakers and their partners. Google has clocked a half-million autonomous vehicle miles.
Test fleets in urban centers will be followed by wider adoption in cities such as Ann Arbor or Shanghai or Tokyo. Singapore is the most promising country aiming to resolve regulatory issues and make self-driving cars legal nationwide.
These new cars are networks of supercomputers on wheels, with hundreds of millions of lines of code, quickly analyzing input from lasers, sensors and high-resolution cameras to safely drive the autonomous vehicle. The best self-driving cars will not depend on V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) or V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure), because for decades most cars on the road will not have V2V, and most streets will not have V2I. Were automakers to wait for V2V and V2I, we would wait years for global standards, wait decades for infrastructure investment, and wait more decades for all drivers to adopt.
Yet, V2V and V2I will be extensively tested in Ann Arbor and a few other locations in a partnership including several automakers, U.S. DOT, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the University of Michigan. By 2020, there will be a wealth of data about thousands of cars, trucks and buses using V2V, V2I, advanced safety and self-driving capability.
Vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) peaked in the U.S. 10 years ago, primarily because record number of Americans now live in cities where there are better options than driving, including transit,
Car2Go features short-term Smart drives
walking, bicycling, car sharing and taxi alternatives. Transit activists and environmentalists worry that VMT will increase with self-driving cars. Most likely, the opposite will occur as future commuters and city dwellers use a next-generation Google Maps or other apps to guide them through what’s termed intermodal transit—mixed travel with two-seat electric self-driving shuttles, such as the 100 Google is building, that take them from home to a variety of transit modes and from transit to work. With no need to go over 25 mph, these vehicles can be low-cost electric cars.
People spending two and three hours daily in the car will not start spending four or five, even if the car does the driving. With the promise of more cars moving faster with less congestion, self-driving provides the option of less time on the roads.
The Car2Go car-sharing service has 800,000 members in 29 cities that currently use an app to find the nearest Smart Car, logon, drive a few miles, and then log-off. It’s one-way car sharing. A current problem with many car and bike sharing systems is that the vehicles may start at transit centers, but end-up in the wrong parts of the city. With self-driving vehicles, the cloud system can route them to places where they are needed. They can even be clustered at wireless inductive charging locations.
According to a recent report from Navigant Research, the proportion of vehicles sold worldwide with some degree of autonomous capability will be significant by 2025 and is expected to reach 75 percent by 2035. Some will be premium sedans and SUVs, some will be buses, shuttles and trucks, and many will be small electric urban cars that work seamlessly with transit, upgrading our current taxi and car sharing options.
We’re entering a whole new world of connected, autonomous vehicles.
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By John Addison (12/23/10)
BMW and the German Chamber of Commerce invited me to a dinner about BMW’s electric future last week at Stanford University. BMW Group owns MiniCooper, BMW, and Rolls Royce. Although they didn’t lend me a Rolls Royce to take friends to dinner in Napa Valley, they did let me take the MiniE for a spin.
The MiniE electric car delivered the acceleration and handling that has made the MiniCooper popular. The regenerative braking was set high to capture energy and return it to the lithium batteries. Regen was so high that at 30 mph, I could lift my foot off the accelerator and come to a stop in about 100 feet. AC Propulsion did a good job in designing the electric drive system for this concept vehicle. In the USA, 450 have been leasing the MiniE; couple of hundred are also leased in Germany, UK, and now France. Valuable data has been collected from these drivers
UC Davis ITS, BMW and the California Air Resources Board have analyzed the data. Drivers found that the 100-mile electric range met 90 percent of their needs; a second car or transit covered the remaining 10 percent. Drivers enjoyed driving this BMW EV. They found the performance and handling smooth. The car is easy to drive. Seventy-three percent liked the aggressive regen.
What concerns did drivers have about buying an electric car? They worried about the uncertain future of EVs. What if their choice was like the Betamax they once owned as consumers moved on to new platforms. They worried about safety. They worried about batteries lasting years. They asked, “Will my friends think I’m stupid or smart?” Those paying to be in the trials are committed early adopters who think that our nation being 95 percent dependent on oil for transportation is stupid.
Drivers have told BMW that 100 km (60 miles) is not enough electric range but 200 km (120 miles) is enough. 250 km would be ideal for survey participants. This tells BMW to extend range with more batteries, or by reducing the weight of the vehicle, or by offering a plug-in hybrid, or by doing all of the above.
BMW will test its second-generation electric concept car in six cities, starting in Fall 2011. This Active E will be a Series 1 BMW converted to be an electric car. The Active E will be BMW’s first opportunity to test new electric drive system technology and SB LiMotive lithium batteries.
In two years, BMW will start selling two cars that deliver BMW “driving pleasure” – the new Megacity Vehicle and the new BMW Plug-in Hybrid Sports Coupe.
2013 BMW Megacity Vehicle (MCV)
The Megacity Vehicle will be designed from the wheels up to be a pure battery electric hatchback. It will be more aerodynamic than a MiniCooper, with four doors, and more room for 4 adults.
BMW will follow Tesla’s success in extending the range of an electric car by using lighter materials. The Megacity will use an aluminum chassis and a carbon fiber outer skin to save up to 600 pounds. BMW’s innovative use of materials is the result of its joint venture with SGL Group, a leader in carbon materials.
Use of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) allows BMW designers to give this hatchback a sleek design. BMW states, “The Megacity Vehicle…will be fully electric and the world’s first volume-produced vehicle with a passenger cell made of carbon – it will also be built using a completely different architecture to any vehicle seen before.”
Klaus Draeger, member of the Board of Management, responsible for Development states, “Drive trains are, and will continue to be, one of BMW’s core competencies. Electro-mobility and BMW’s hallmark driving pleasure go together extremely well – provided you do it right. That is why we are developing the power train for the Megacity Vehicle ourselves – including the electric engine, power electronics and the battery system.”
To fully exploit the potential of the new emission-free engine, BMW has also developed a totally new approach to the body for the Megacity Vehicle. Top priority was to offset the additional weight of the battery storage unit – creating not a micro car, but a concept that would offer urban drivers the best possible use of space. The Megacity Vehicle consists of two horizontally divided, independent modules: The “drive” module integrates battery and drive train, as well as structural and crash functions, in a single structure within the chassis. The complementary “life” module – the upper portion of the vehicle – consists primarily of a high-strength, extremely lightweight passenger cell made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP).”
Will BMW go for low cost or extended range? By using innovative materials to reduce weight, BMW could use only 16kWh lithium battery pack to deliver 100 mile electric range and keep the price below $30,000, the strategy of the Mitsubishi i. Or BMW could follow the strategy of the Tesla S and offer larger pack options to achieve 250 km (150 miles), the range considered ideal by survey participants.
The BMW Megacity will face electric car competition from many of the Top 10 Electric Cars including the Nissan LEAF, Honda Fit, and Mitsubishi i.
BMW Plug-in Hybrid Sports Coupe
In two years, we will also see BMW selling a sports coupe with premium features and performance. This wing door plug-in hybrid will be powered with two electric motors and a fuel-efficient engine. The final version of this plug-in hybrid is likely to have much in common with the Vision EfficientDynamics concept shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show. The concept was speced to accelerate from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds, using the 3-cylinder turbo diesel engine in a rear axle hybrid configuration, coupled with a front axle second electric motor. The beautifully designed sports coupe, seats 2+2. The PHEV hugs the ground and is so aerodynamic that the drag coefficient is only 0.22. The concept is electronically limited to 155 mph, more than enough speed for most autobahn drivers.
When this exciting BMW sports car reaches the market, it will face plug-in hybrid competition from the Chevrolet Volt, Fisker, and most likely Lexus. Top 10 Electric Cars
BMW is likely to deliver award winning design, premium features, and excellent handling. BMW plans to show production versions of these exciting new electric cars at the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London.