Along for the Ride: Weekly Newsletter on AVs and Urbanism - Issue #3

Happy Friday friends!

Without further delay, here’s what happened this past week in the world of self-driving and cities.

Volvo's Autonomous Bus.

Volvo's Autonomous Bus.

Policy and Government

  • New York City’s Department of Transport states the obvious: The federal government is foregoing city input on self-driving vehicles. I can imagine this is incredibly frustrating for city officials who actually want to influence the direction of policy which will affect them and their citizens most. (link).

  • Why are so few people talking about induced demand and autonomous vehicles? Highlighting one of the more nuanced arguments about how AVs may increase demand for vehicle use. (link).

  • On a similar note, people are beginning to clue into the fact that if self-driving cars do induce more trips, this could lead to greater energy consumption. (link).

  • New coalition forms in the US to support innovation and workers’ rights. The Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO) includes the likes of Ford, Daimler, Waymo, Uber, Lyft. They have listed their goals for their first six months here. The coalition is not the first of its kind, but will hopefully be more successful than previous versions which have yet to produce progressive policies at a federal, state or local level.

  • Massachusetts is betting big on self-driving: the state will pilot the technology across 15 towns and cities. The Mayor of Somerville had some beautiful words about how important taking a people-centric approach will be when it comes to city planning. (link).

    • “… if we plan our communities for the automobile, we’re going to be a car-centric society for a lot longer than we should be and the impacts will be negative over the long haul.” - Mayor Curtatone.

  • South Australia’s Tonsley Innovation District is piloting an all electric shuttle service for first- and last-mile transport. Sadly, the program only runs from 10am-2pm on weekdays due to limited battery capacity. (link).

  • The Vancouver Courier discusses how AVs, planned right, could unlock urban land and road space. Changing land-use could be a big win for cities facing population growth and housing crisis. (link).

  • Wired picks up a piece about urban financing and autonomous vehicles, and discusses a plethora of new ideas to finance transportation infrastructure, such as charging drivers for empty seats. (link).

  • ‘Autopilot buddy’ banned by NHSTA. The gadget tricks autopilot systems into believing that the drivers’ hands are on the steering wheel while operating, allowing drivers to lose focus on the road. Used by many Tesla drivers, this gadget is coming to an end, and rightfully so. Until vehicles are dispatched with fully autonomy, drivers need to keep their eyes peeled. (link).

  • If you are within the industry check out the Texas Mobility Summit, coming October 2018. They are accepting bid offers to provide autonomous vehicles and services to government agencies in the state.

  • Arup has been shortlisted by the UK Government’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to make streets fit for AVs. (link).


  • Meet RideOS, like ‘Waze’ but for self-driving vehicles specifically. They’ve just partnered with Ford and are developing a system which gives routes and directions for self-driving fleets. (link).

  • EyeNet is pedestrian detection for AVs, and car detection for pedestrians. The system is designed to alert both cars and nearby pedestrians when they are at risk of a collision. I’m skeptical about how well this will work in practice, but would love to believe it could. (link).

  • Rental car company Enterprise partners with Voyage. An industry destined for disruption is ready to figure out where they go next. (link).

  • Be still my beating heart: Volvo demonstrates an electric and autonomous bus. At 12-metres long, this is one of the first examples of mass road transport going autonomous. (link).

  • NuTonomy, a company which has always been at the bleeding-edge of self-driving tech, is now expanding their pilots to their home-base of Boston in partnership with Lyft. They are well known for their trials in Singapore. (link).

  • Well this is just cool.. and maybe even cute: autonomous robot chargers will roam about NYC charging EVs. (link).

  • Uber is piloting a new program where users pay less for their ride by waiting longer. The program touches on how financial incentives will be used (now, and in the future) to shift behaviour change and optimize traffic flow. (link).

Research and Academia

  • Researchers from King’s College London discuss how autonomous vehicles could make society more reliant on vehicles in Metro UK.

  • Curb access in cities is a hot commodity. The International Transport Forum has released a new report about how to manage the space. (link).

  • CB Insights highlights the impact of AVs on healthcare - including not only induced benefits, but also using the technology for ambulance services. (link).

As you may have been able to tell.. I have found a new platform for the newsletter! Part of me actually prefers the analog style.. I’ll play around with it.

There you have it. 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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