Along for the Ride #10: Being a Pedestrian in an AV World

A weekly roundup of the latest in autonomous vehicles and urbanism, with a human focus.

Read of the Week

'Jaywalking' in the Era of Self-Driving

Bloomberg discusses an opinion held by some AI researchers that in order to make AVs safer on the streets, pedestrian behaviour needs to be controlled. Naturally this idea went over swimmingly with urban advocates everywhere. The beauty of being a pedestrian is having true autonomy of where and when you travel - and no autonomous vehicle can (nor should) take that away.

Streetsblog with the rebuttal to Automotive AI advocates everywhere.

Government and Policy

Insider Information

Major AV companies are hiring public sector heroes to help them lobby governments. Uber, Waymo, Lyft and Voyage have all hired prominent public servants - this can be a good thing when it comes to steering the direction of the company and AV implementation.


Senator Gary Peters Pushes AV Start Act Ahead

Peters wants to get the bill on the road before the end of the year. He is concerned over the lack of oversight self-driving companies are currently operating under.


New Hampshire Postpones Self Driving

Governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, vetoed self-driving testing in the state last month - NH is one of the first to adamantly reject testing. Concerns over safety drove the decision.


The Big Smoke Waves Goodbye to the Automobile

(Or at the very least, they are trying to). The City of London (the district, not the entire metro) is considering a non-electric vehicle ban to bring down air pollution. Given that the City has the highest density of transport offerings in London, and is home to more commuters by bike than car already, this isn’t infeasible.

In the UK: Government Plans for AV Simulations

The UK government revealed plans this week to invest in an AV simulator, as a part of its efforts to become ground zero for AV testing.


Uber's Blurred Lines

There has been plenty of gossip about how Uber will proceed with its self driving operations - including a potential sale of their unit. The NYT details the possible future of this unit.


Apple's Patent Reveals How They're Thinking about HMI

A patent under review by Apple is looking at how the car will communicate with passengers about it’s next moves, in an attempt to put passengers at ease when travelling in an AV.

(HMI = Human Machine Interface).


Board Boots Zoox's CEO

Tim Kentley-Klay cofounded the $3.2 billion valued AV company, despite having no previous experience in automotive or AI. It all sounds very dramatic, and there’s a string of tweets from Kentley-Klay about how “Silicon Valley is up to its worst tricks”.


A Day in the Life: AV Edition

(Is it just me, or is there another Waymo fluff piece of PR in the news every week?) In the event that you ever wondered what it was like to have spinning eyes and commute billions of data points every second, now you know what it feels like to be a Waymo mini van. (This story technically details the routes, destinations and users Waymo’s car are seeing).


Driving Data Collection

Data collection and computer response time in vehicles needs to get faster. Austin Russell, chief executive of Luminar, discusses how AVs will need to rapidly process information from their surroundings and how crucial network connection is for this task.


Self-Driving Cars Should Look Down

Making rounds this week was this story about radars which can penetrate through the ground to tell vehicles exactly where they are. Yet another military innovation making its way onto city streets.


Kroger: Future is Driverless Delivery Pods

Kroger is partnering with Nuro to (eventually) deliver groceries via driverless pods - currently they are bringing people to and fro the store. Interesting here is to consider how land use will change as commercial deliveries continue to grow.


Nvidia Ready to Help If Tesla Calls

Nvidia predicts Tesla will need some help with their chip, and after their partnership with Tesla folded, they are waiting for the company to come to its senses. As always, I naturally love a company that takes a healthy poke at Mr. Musk.


Ford Simulates AV Safety with Ghost Driver

Ford hid a driver in a vehicle (“Ghost Driver”) to better understand how people interacted with a car when they thought nobody was behind the wheel. Details can be found in their safety report in last week’s edition of AFTR.


Research and Academia

People are Less Comfortable with AVs

Consumer confidence is dropping for AVs. This research has been repeated multiple times since Uber’s Tempe Arizona fatality - and continues to show a drop in public support for self-driving.

And yet, 96% of passengers in Las Vegas’ Aptiv & Lyft collab would happily use the service again (link). They also completed over 5,000 trips (link).


Research Predicts Adoption Rates of CAVs

The University of Memphis has developed a method for determining the potential of AV adoption. This interview with project lead Sabya Mishra from UoM details the work.



Parking & Civic Advocacy

Rethinking how we understand the social, cultural and political power of parking can transform our understanding of streets, and what equitable street design can be.


WFC: Working from Car

Forbes discusses how the future of work and mobility are about to collide. They are of the belief that AVs will lead to more hours spent working while en route to physical locations - such as work, meetings, home, school. To consider here is how we regulate VMT if this pattern emerges. I’m all for convenience, but not at the expense of the environment or human wellbeing.


The Modern Automobile Must Die

A look at Germany’s climate change efforts show that transportation continues to be a barrier to the country reducing their GHG emissions by 40% by 2020.


Have a beautiful weekend friends.


By Sarah Barnes

This weekly newsletter on cities, transportation and technology is curated weekly by Sarah Barnes, a transport nerd based in San Francisco, CA.

The newsletter encourages new conversations about advanced transportation technology, primarily autonomous vehicles, which focus on people, equity, design and the cities we want to (and need to) be building for the future.

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