Along for the Ride #122

The newsletter strikes back!

Heya friends,

Writing to you today… still from London (thank you flight delays and cancellations)! I missed writing, so thought I would put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) sooner than my actual return. I’ve had such a lovely time meeting up with a few of you, shout out to Michael, Freya, Matt, Alia, Georgia, Rachel, Bridget, James and Haibo for welcoming me back to London with caffeine, pastries, and other delights.

Secondly, a huge thank you to Anthony Rosado for taking the wheel with last week’s edition. I was personally very moved by his words, commitment to bringing youth into decision making processes, and approach to bettering our transportation systems. If you missed it, you can catch-up here.

Finally, I’ve been tracking the news while away, so most of this week’s edition is a lot of links, with a couple deep dives scattered throughout. I hope you enjoy!

Read(s) of the Week

Toyota halts e-palette pilot during paralymics as blind pedestrian is hit

During the paralymic games in Tokyo last month, a blind athlete due to compete was hit by one of Toyota’s autonomous shuttles. According to Toyota CEO, Akio Toyoda, this collision “shows that autonomous vehicles are not yet realistic for normal roads”. After a short hiatus the vehicles are now back in action (BBC).

Why AVs aren’t a climate solution… at all

A new study led by Ashley Nunes, a fellow at the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School, concluded that fleets of electric autonomous taxis could dramatically increase energy consumption and emissions that contribute to climate change — not reduce them.”

Nunes’ main argument argues that as AVs make travel more frictionless, it is possible (if not highly likely) that in America this will increase the number of trips, vehicle miles travelled, and ultimately emissions—even when the vehicles are electric.

Government and Policy

Telosa is supposed to be the future city of America, and it looks horrible (to me)

Where do I begin with this… Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person "new city in America" and appointed Bjarke Ingels to design it. The highlights of this vanity project?

  • Built in a desert somewhere in America (a great decision given climate change!)

  • That skyscraper in the middle? Of course it is named “Equitism Tower”

  • The billionaire has described it as the “most open, most fair and most inclusive city in the world.” I would always trust a billionaire to deliver on this. Not skeptical at all.

  • It has plans to be a 15-minute city, ban fossil-fuel cars, and you know it has flying UAVs. It also seems suited to attract the upper echelon of society, so it will be equitable for who?

  • Based on the likely states proposed for it’s home (Texas, Arizona, Utah) it will almost definitely be built on unceded indigenous land. And based on the architect and billionaire’s viewpoint, all forms of local, state and national politics will… just dissipate?

Not to sound so pessimistic, but it’s hard to imagine a project of this scale (the current price tag is $400 billion), coming to fruition and delivering on all of the environmental and social components. I would love to live in passive-house utopia where there is no poverty or hardship. But this is not the world we live in, and it takes more than some fancy renderings to convince me otherwise.

North America

  • The self-driving industry does not like NYCDOT’s approach to regulating testing (Streetsblog)

  • US government investigating Tesla, and it looks more grim for Tesla week-by-week (BBC, GovTech)

  • Colorado launches their latest AV pilot (GovTech)

  • Nashville opens a new department of multimodal transport (Smart Cities World)

  • Some advice for USDOT to measure transport equity (Transit Center)

  • How to win the war on car idling (Bloomberg) I personally recommend (passive) aggressively telling drivers :)

Asia

  • Beijing is considering bringing Didi under state control (Bloomberg)

  • How Singapore is shaping the future of mobility (Project Syndicate)

  • AV industry calls for clearer regulations and standards in China (Nikkei Asia)

Europe-ish

  • Paris caps vehicle speeds at 30km/hr (Rfi France)

  • London’s AV trial comes to a close (SmartCitiesDive) [I’m clearly still avoiding the reality of brexit]

Industry

Industry news

  • Waymo launches ride-hailing service in SF (WSJ) and decides to stop selling their LiDAR technology (CNBC). A short history about the company’s once-was delivery service (TechCrunch), and how Waymo believes they are 99% of the way there, but the last 1% is the hardest (Bloomberg)

  • VW and ArgoAI inching closer to trials on German roads (Bloomberg), and officially reveal a real-life version of the ID Buzz (TechCrunch)

  • Cruise’s announces solar panel plans (TechCrunch)

  • What does Tesla’s “full-self driving” actually entail? Hint: not really being fully self-driving (NYT), here’s a nice piece about why Tesla is designing their own chips (Wired)

  • Motional expands to Santa Monica (TechCrunch), and reveals latest vehicle (TechCrunch)

  • Intel’s Mobileye and car rental company Sixt are partnering to bring AVs to their German fleet in 2023 (TechCrunch)

  • Hyundai is betting big on hydrogen and becoming carbon neutral by 2045 (TechCrunch)

  • Ford hires (rumoured) Apple Car Project exec Doug Field (CNBC)

  • WeRide building an autonomous van for urban logistics (Reuters)

  • Yandex plans to launch AV trial in Moscow this year (Reuters)

IPOs, Acquisitions, and other financial funny business

  • Are AVs starting to deliver profits? (Bloomberg)

  • Pony.ai’s IPO plans dashed (Reuters)

  • Xiaomi acquires Deepmotion (AutoNews)

  • AV trucking company Gatik expands into Texas, raises $85 million (TechCrunch)

Research and Academia

Opinion

  • Will artificial intelligence help make life-or-death decisions for AVs? (Washington Post)

  • Can AVs actually be job creators? (Bloomberg)

  • Can we undo highway damage? (WaPo)

  • Where will we park all the electric cars? (BBC)

That’s all from me. Have a beautiful weekend friends.

Sarah