Along for the Ride #114

Heya friends, happy Friday!

This week the United States confirmed that Juneteenth will officially be a Federal Holiday. Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of Black communities who had been enslaved in the United States. While it may seem like a step forward (and it is!), there are still many states that are banning Critical Race Theory from being taught in schools and systemic barriers to voting, etc that have not been addressed. We need to not only celebrate emancipation, but also actively participate in dismantling the evolution of institutional racism as it is experienced today. Here’s some resources for how you can contribute and celebrate!

Secondly, I’m excited to share that I will be participating in the Shared Use Mobility Center’s 2021 National Shared Mobility Summit. They invited me to host a session on July 15th for this newsletter audience to come and meet me, and are offering subscribers to this newsletter 50% off registration (NSMS202150). I would *love* to meet each and every subscriber, so I hope you’ll be able to attend! You can register here!

OK onto le news:

Government and Policy

What happens to city streets post pandemic?

This article looks at contention that has arisen in DC after businesses learnt to love their parklets during the pandemic, and are now contemplating a “business bloodbath” for a proposal to introduce a bike lanes on their streets. Turns out streets can only be for people, if those people mean clear profit, which cyclists rarely fit the bill for despite being excellent consumers.

Vancouver contemplates higher parking prices for gas vehicles, SUVs

Vancouver is seeking public feedback on a plan, the Climate Emergency Parking Program, that is hoping to reduce gas-powered and sport-utility vehicles in the city. The plan would penalize residents who purchase gas-powered vehicles after 2023 with street parking fees of up to $1,000 a year (!). The city is also looking at putting two parking initiatives in place by 2022 that could cost drivers more money depending on their vehicles. If approved, the changes are expected to generate around $60 million between 2022 and 2025 that would be used for climate emergency initiatives in the city. We love to see it.

Birmingham’s latest AV trial

In partnership with Oxbotica, Project Endeavour will operate in a five-mile area around Lea Hall station, between Birmingham International Airport and the city centre. The trials will give Oxbotica’s AVs the opportunity to experience numerous traffic scenarios and weather conditions throughout the day. The routes include roundabouts, traffic lights, and junctions in industrial and residential areas.

How remote work is changing rush hour

This piece looks at how a slight change in rush hour commuting can reap great reward if cities chose to act upon the opportunity. “Lower peaks could mean more space on city streets for bike lanes and more equitable bus service, with more off-hours resources available for essential workers. It could mean improved traffic in urban cores, even as afternoon traffic worsens in suburbia.”

UrbanAge Debates: Localising Transport

If you have a spare hour, here’s a talk from LSE Cities. Speakers discuss how “the early 2020s are going to be an inflection point hard to overestimate: digital connectivity will increasingly substitute physical access, public transport finance will require new business models, and fiscal recovery packages have the potential to either entrench transport-intense urban development or accelerate progress towards urban patterns based on density and mixed use.”

Latest US AV regulation stalls, again

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee rejected another attempt this week to lighten regulations to allow for increased deployments of autonomous vehicles. A significant amount of pushback came from union groups and attorneys. Currently, manufacturers are allowed to build 2,500 autonomous vehicles solely for testing. The amendment would have paved the way for an introduction of 15,000 AVs per manufacturer per year exempt from the regulation. That number would also be set to balloon to 80,000 per manufacturer per year by 2024.

Industry

GM to fund Cruise’s manufacturing of Origin

Cruise announced this week that the company has secured a multi-year credit line of $5 billion from GM financial (no surprise there), to help purchase thousands of their Origin vehicles. This new credit line will give Cruise $10 billion in total capital to help roll out its autonomous Origin vehicles (which are also being manufactured by GM).

TuSimple expands operations in Texas

AV trucking company TuSimple announced this week it will open a new Texas facility that will enable it to put trucks to work hauling freight on the roads of the southeastern U.S. states within six months.

Baidu building more vehicles

Chinese AV-start Baidu is partnering with state-owned automaker BAIC to build 1,000 more AVs over the next three years. Baidu is currently testing in three cities across China.

Waymo announces another 2.5B in funding

Did it seem like just yesterday (July 2020) that Waymo announced a multi-billion dollar funding round? Well it was, and a mere year later they’ve got another one. The round includes funding from Waymo parent company Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz and more.

Huawei’s plan for AVs

Huawei announced this week their intention to develop AVs by 2025. Huawei is a bit late to the party, but the move will help the telecommunications giant diversify its offering.

FedEx and Nuro partner

Starting in Houston, FedEx is expanding its portfolio of last-mile solutions through a "multi-year, multi-phase agreement" with Nuro to test autonomous delivery vehicles.

Research and Academia

Understanding human mobility

I love the title of this article, because it just makes it all seem so simple. Understanding human mobility, indeed. Via Carnegie Mellon:

“This research explores how to formally analyze and understand human mobility using large sets of real-world data from ride-sharing services for more than a dozen cities and to derive succinct characterizations for large urban areas which account for both geographical and temporal changes. We provide an open-source framework to understand properties of human movement, generate synthetic human mobility data, and apply it to different what-if scenarios for real-world applications. Using such a framework would help public entities and researchers alike to thoroughly understand a complex and highly relevant phenomenon.”

Opinion

Electric vehicles won’t save us

“This isn’t a story about Elon Musk, or Tesla, or a contrarian take about how “oil is good, actually.” I unconditionally support electric vehicles in their quest to take over the primacy of gasoline-powered vehicles in the market. But I don’t save that enthusiasm for their prospects on society broadly. From the perspective of the built environment, there is nothing functionally different between an electric vehicle and a gasoline propelled one. The relationship is the same, and it’s unequivocally destructive.”

Extra Bits + Bobs

LACI Recruits 3rd Cohort

Last year LACI (Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator) launched their Market Access program, a holistic, pilots-focused program for later-stage startups deploying leading cleantech solutions in Southern California. They now have open applications for their third cohort. To date, Market Access companies have raised an average of $16M across investors such as Maniv Mobility, Baron Davis, UBS, Building Ventures, Denso, Contrarian Ventures, and more for their Series A and B raises. If this is something you’re interested in, hop to it, applications close June 30th!

That’s all from me! Have a beautiful weekend folks!

Sarah