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Urban mobility

[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Continental and Fallbrook to collaborate on new CVTs for urban mobility incorporating Fallbrook NuVinci technology

November 20, 2015

Continental has entered into licensing and engineering services agreements with Fallbrook Technologies Inc. (Fallbrook). The central focus of the collaboration is Fallbrook’s NuVinci transmission technology. (Earlier post.)

This innovative continuously variable planetary (CVP) is a new class of continuously variable transmission (CVT) utilizing rotating balls that allow the transmission ratio to change continuously.

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IHS Automotive sees Google leading technology, testing, software development for autonomous driving

November 13, 2015

The key to self-driving cars is software that can interpret all of a vehicles’ sensors and learn to mimic the driving skills and experiences of the very best drivers. Google is the current technology leader in this arena, according to a report from industry analysts IHS Automotive: “Google Self-Driving Car Strategy and Implications”. IHS estimates suggest Google has invested nearly $60 million so far in autonomous vehicle research and development, at a run rate of nearly $30 million per year.

Unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers, Google also has the ability to leverage adjacent technologies and learnings from its other projects and investments—including robotics, drones and related technologies that help automotive operations, such as neural networks, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and machine vision. This provides Google researchers additional expertise not available directly to traditional OEMs.

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BMW Motorrad, Honda and Yamaha cooperate to accelerate development of connected vehicle capabilities in motorcycles

October 08, 2015

BMW Motorrad, Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd. are now collaborating to enhance Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation Systems (C-ITS) applications in powered two-wheelers (PTWs) and are working together to establish a Connected Motorcycle Consortium.

According to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by all ACEM (European association of motorcycle manufacturers) manufacturing members in 2014, C-ITS features will be introduced from 2020 onwards. To accelerate this process, the three manufacturers will begin their cooperation in the field of C-ITS now.

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$90M UR:BAN research initiative presenting results on ADAS and traffic management for cities; intelligent vehicles

October 07, 2015

In Düsseldorf, the 31 partners—automobile and electronics manufacturers, suppliers, communication technology and software companies, research institutes and cities—involved in the UR:BAN research initiative (Urban Space: user-friendly assistance systems and network management) presented the results of four years of work in a two-day event.

UR:BAN’s goal is to develop advanced driver assistance and traffic management systems for cities, with a focus on the human element in all aspects of mobility and traffic. The project pursued its objectives in three main thematic target areas: Cognitive Assistance; Networked Traffic System; and Human Factors in Traffic.

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Los Angeles to lease 160 BEVs, 128 PHEVs as part of commitment to 50% EV purchases by 2017

September 14, 2015

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday announced a commitment to lease 160 pure battery EV vehicles, a move that will give Los Angeles the largest city-owned pure EV fleet in the US. The program commits city departments to the leasing of pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to replace aging city vehicles, including those with conventional internal combustion engines. The announcement came on the eve of the US-China Climate Leaders Summit to be hosted in L.A. this week.

The Los Angeles Police, Fire, General Services, and Water and Power departments will together lease the 160 BEVS. In addition, LADWP and the General Services Department will lease an additional 128 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

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Ford launches Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan; Mobility Challenge Series 2.0

September 11, 2015

Building on the success of Ford’s Innovate Mobility Challenge Series (IMCS) 1.0 in 2014 (earlier post), Ford has launched the Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge in Taiwan, which asks developers to submit traffic-busting solutions for the main highway artery between Taipei and popular tourist destination Yilan.

The Hsuehshan Tunnel Transformer Challenge will task developers with optimizing traffic between the Taipei metropolitan area—home to seven million residents—and Yilan, a popular tourist destination for weekend and holiday getaways. The most common route for cars and buses is Freeway 5, which can get highly congested during peak times. This is particularly true on the stretch between Nangang and Toucheng, where traffic can become severely backed up at Hsuehshan Tunnel.

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Peugeot FRACTAL electric concept adds acoustic spatialization to i-Cockpit; 3D printing

September 08, 2015

At the IAA in Frankfurt next week, Peugeot will introduce FRACTAL, a prospective electric urban coupé design that incorporates the company’s i-Cockpit (first unveiled in 2010) augmented with an acoustic system that features tactile bass systems built into the back of each seat to make driving all the more instinctive, enriching information through the use of acoustics. This additional i-Cockpit feature is characterized by the spatialization and dynamization of sound.

FRACTAL is an ideas incubator that also explores new design and manufacturing processes. 3D-printed parts represent more than 80% of the interior trim surface. The anechoic materials were made through generative design—an incremental, stochastic process used to achieve the perfect component.

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Route Monkey partners with Heriot-Watt University to develop new algorithms for route optimization

September 07, 2015

Scotland-based route optimization company Route Monkey is teaming up with Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to develop new algorithms to optimize the use of vans, trucks and passenger cars. The partnership with Heriot-Watt University will initially focus on delivering the £1.5-million (US$2.3-million) National Scheduling Platform project—an on-demand route optimization and scheduling solution that can be easily accessed via a web portal.

This integrated mobility platform is intended to enable the efficient transportation of people and goods in ways that deliver the maximum economic, environmental and societal benefits. Funded in conjunction with Scottish Enterprise and Transport Scotland, the platform is due to go live next year.

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in parking services company ZIRX

September 02, 2015

BMW Group has made a strategic investment in on-demand parking and car services company ZIRX through BMW’s venture capital entity, BMW i Ventures. ZIRX intends to eliminate the frustration that drivers face in parking in major urban markets such as New York, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.

This latest investment increases the number of mobility services start-ups in BMW i Ventures’ portfolio to 13. The current portfolio includes companies such as Chargepoint, Life360, Moovit, JustPark, Chargemaster and Zendrive.

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ARPA-E to award $14.5M to 5 projects to reduce energy use for transportation

July 31, 2015

The Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $14.5 million in funding for five projects in ARPA-E’s newest program, the Traveler Response Architecture using Novel Signaling for Network Efficiency in Transportation (TRANSNET).

Many travelers’ and commuters’ transportation choices waste significant amounts of energy due to traffic complications, convenience and variability in transportation styles and preferences. Even when presented with travel options that consume less energy, travelers and commuters may be less likely to use these energy-efficient options if they affect the duration, cost or convenience of a trip. TRANSNET systems will identify less energy-intense travel options for users using software accessible on smartphones or other communications devices and provide the most efficient transportation choices for travelers and commuters.

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U Michigan opens Mcity test environment for connected and automated vehicle technologies

July 20, 2015

The University of Michigan has opened Mcity, the first large controlled environment specifically designed to test the potential of connected and automated vehicle technologies that will lead the way to mass-market driverless cars. Mcity was designed and developed by U-M’s interdisciplinary Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Mcity is a 32-acre simulated urban and suburban environment that includes a network of roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, streetlights, building facades, sidewalks and construction obstacles. It is designed to support rigorous, repeatable testing of new technologies before they are tried out on public streets and highways.

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BMW launches operations at Center of Urban Mobility Competence; boosting electromobility through EV sharing

July 17, 2015

BMW Group has officially launched operations at its Center of Urban Mobility Competence, which it established earlier this year. Its experts are working with cities and the relevant stakeholders to develop sustainable concepts for future mobility in urban areas.

BMW established the Competence Center to help bring the goal of creating a sustainable model for urban mobility, reducing traffic volumes and improving the quality of life in cities within reach, through partnerships with cities themselves. At the same time, BMW also announced that 100 all-electric BMW i3 cars are now available for DriveNow car sharing customers in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. In London the BMW i3 was already added to the DriveNow fleet in May, and other cities in Germany and Europe will soon follow suit.

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BMW Group and NTU Singapore launch US$965K electromobility research program; Electromobility in Asia and Smart Materials

July 01, 2015

BMW Group and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) launched a new electromobility research program, involving the all-electric BMW i3 and plug-in hybrid sports car BMW i8. This new research program will be conducted at the Future Mobility Research Lab located on the NTU campus, which is the BMW Group’s first joint lab in Southeast Asia.

Both parties will be injecting a combined S$1.3 million (US$965,000) to drive the new research projects, on top of the initial S$5.5 million (US$4.1 million) funding allocated to the joint lab in 2013. The new research program will focus on two new areas, Electromobility in Asia and also Smart Materials. This is in addition to the original three research topics on which the joint lab is already working: Advanced Battery; Driver Enhancement; and Intelligent Mobility.

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4 more cities sign Global Clean Bus Declaration raising total to >40K ultra-low emission buses by 2020; London to trial BYD electric double-decker

June 30, 2015

Four additional cities—Amsterdam, Lima, Catalonia (Barcelona) and Rome—signed up to the Global Clean Bus Declaration at the 1st global Clean Bus Summit in London.

The Global Clean Bus Declaration, developed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, launched in Buenos Aires in March 2015 with 20 original signatories. Bus manufacturers including BYD, Volvo, Wright Bus, Optare, Mercedes, Evo Bus, and Alexander Dennis attended the London summit and committed to supporting cities in delivering fleets of new ultra-low emission buses. The World Bank and Green Investment Bank have also signed up to this commitment.

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Ford Smart Mobility shifts from research to implementation; company announces new programs, next areas of focus

June 24, 2015

In the opening keynote at Ford’s annual trends conference, 2015 Further With Ford, CEO Mark Fields announced the next phase of the company’s Smart Mobility plan, originally announced in January this year at CES (earlier post). Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to deliver the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data; the initial stage was the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe.

Fields said that Ford, which has “learned tons in the past several months” from those initial experiments, is now moving from research to the start of implementation, including new strategic areas of focus, new pilot programs and new mobility product experiments.

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Navigant forecasts global smart urban mobility market to hit $25.1 billion in 2024

The global smart urban mobility infrastructure and services market is expected to grow from $5.1 billion in 2015 to $25.1 billion in 2024, according to a new report from Navigant Research—a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.4%.

Navigant expects growth through 2018 to be rapid, at a rate of more than 20% annually. From 2019 onward, Naigant projects a slower pace—from around 20% from 2018 to 2019 to a 12% growth rate at the end of the forecast period. Navigant expects growth to slow in some of the developed country markets, which are early adopters of mobility solutions. This effect will be balanced by the introduction of advanced urban mobility systems in developing markets, especially China, according to the report.

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ITF report finds self-driving shared vehicles could take up to 90% of cars off city streets; total kilometers travelled increases

April 30, 2015

A fleet of self-driving shared cars combined with high-capacity public transport could make 90% of conventional cars in mid-sized cities superfluous under certain circumstances, according to a study published by the International Transport Forum (ITF) at the OECD. Even during peak hours, only about one-third (35%) of the current number of cars would be needed to provide the same number of trips as today.

However, while the number of cars is drastically lower, total vehicle kilometers travelled (VKT) increase—more than doubling in one scenario at peak periods due to detours for pick-ups/drop-offs, repositioning and a shift from bus trips to shared cars. The additional travel could increase environmental impacts, if the fleets used conventional engines. If a fleet of electric vehicles were used instead, a fleet of shared self-driving vehicles would need only 2% more vehicles, however, to accommodate battery re-charging times and reduced travel range.

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BASF and Floatility partner on ultra-lightweight solar-powered electric scooter: 12kg e-floater

March 26, 2015

BASF and Floatility have partnered for the development of an ultra-lightweight and solar-powered electric scooter. Weighing less than 12 kilograms (26.5 lbs) and consisting of more than 80% composite and plastic materials from BASF, the scooter will give commuters the sensation of floating and thus has been named ‘e-floater’. The e-floater is designed to bridge the gap on the last mile between home or city center and the nearest public transport.

BASF will provide versatile plastic materials and support the project with its extensive development capabilities. Molding multiple parts to create complex shapes with plastic materials enables design freedom and the streamlined construction of the ‘e-floater’.

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Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London entering beta phase

March 19, 2015

Ford’s Go!Drive on-demand car sharing experiment apps allows users to register, select a vehicle and pay through a mobile app. Click to enlarge.

Ford’s Go!Drive car sharing on-demand experiment in London is entering its beta phase, which will entail ramping up the fleet from 20 to 50 units and beginning to look at different elements of customer access around car sharing, including pricing and incentives in terms of how the car sharing model and operate smoothly and efficiently, according to Alicia Agius, product innovation manager of Ford Europe.

Go!Drive was originally announced as “City Driving On-Demand” and is one of the original set of 25 Smart Mobility experiments announced by Ford CEO Mark Fields at CES in January. (Earlier post.) While there are many car-sharing services based on the reservation model, the focus of this experiment is on-demand use, as well as gaining understanding about EV preference—half of the Go!Drive fleet is Focus Electrics, the other half Ford Fiestas with EcoBoost engines. Go!Drive provides guaranteed parking and one-way rentals; there is no membership fee and the cost is 17p/min ($.26/min). The target is to have more than 2,000 Londoners in the program.

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German project exploring integration of electromobility with transport services

March 09, 2015

A project funded by the German government—“BiE – Bewertung integrierter Elektromobilität” (evaluation of integrated electromobility)—is exploring how mobility services (such as public transport services and car sharing) can be integrated better with electric vehicles and into the everyday life of users. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding BiE with €2 million (US$2.2 million) under the federal program “Electric Mobility”. BiE is part of the “Cluster Electric Mobility South-West”. The joint project is coordinated by cantamen GmbH, a provider of IT solutions for fleets and carsharing.

The BiE project focuses on concepts for the seamless cooperation of various mobility service providers as well as on the optimized planning of larger, electrically driven car sharing fleets. The paramount project goal is to design an evaluation system for the integration of electric mobility into everyday life. Based on characteristics, the project tools will make specific calculations regarding the use of electric mobility in various areas.

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Volkswagen Group invested €11.5B (US$12.9B) in R&D in 2014; ongoing focus on electromobility and digitalization of vehicles

March 02, 2015

The Volkswagen Group invested €11.5 billion in research and development last year, more than ever before and more than any other company worldwide. Speaking on the eve of the Geneva International Motor Show, Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, underscored the Group’s increasingly aggressive R&D stance: “Volkswagen is an innovation think tank. We develop technologies that point the way well into the future.

According to Winterkorn, the company now employs 46,000 researchers and developers as well as more than 10,000 IT experts, all of whom are working on the mobility of the future such as alternative drive concepts or the digitalization of vehicles and factories. He went on to say that the car manufacturer is positioning itself at the forefront of automotive change with its forward-looking “Future Tracks” program. (Earlier post.)

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Ford expands Smart Mobility projects with connected e-bike study

Ford Motor Company is expanding its global Ford Smart Mobility plan (earlier post) with a new experiment to study how connected electric bicycles can work seamlessly with cars and public transport to deliver faster and easier daily commutes and help businesses operating in urban centers.

Ford detailed the new experiment called Handle on Mobility at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Ford Smart Mobility is the company’s plan to help change the way the world moves through innovation in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data. These experiments will help test transportation ideas for better customer experiences, more flexible user-ship models and social collaboration that can reward customers.

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Siemens researching use of infrastructure radar sensor networks to support parking management

February 26, 2015

Siemens is researching the use of infrastructure sensor networks in an advanced parking management solution intended to counter the increasing parking space crisis in cities. The system, analogous to vehicle-based research underway by Ford Motor on the same problem (earlier post), will be used this spring for the first time in a pilot project in Berlin.

In the Siemens concept, networks of stationary sensors collect information about the parking situation in cities. The information is forwarded to the drivers in order to make it easier for them to find unoccupied parking spaces. In addition, the data is transmitted to a parking management center so that cities can intelligently manage their parking spaces.

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Ford targeting smart parking as element of Smart Mobility; vehicle sensors, connectivity and big data

February 18, 2015

At CES 2015 in January, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. (Earlier post.) Three of the initial projects announced as part of the plan address the ongoing problem of urban parking.

Although there are “dozens” of apps available that can help a driver find a parking space, said Dave McCreadie, Ford’s manager of electric vehicle infrastructure and smart grid technology and part of the cross-functional group working on the mobility projects, “the data behind the apps seems a bit thin.” Ford’s idea is to leverage the cloud, in-vehicle sensors, connectivity and advanced data analysis including probability algorithms to provide a much more comprehensive picture of available parking without incurring a cost in infrastructure build-out.

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ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index: US cities held back by transportation, environmental factors

February 16, 2015

The largest US cities—New York, Los Angeles and Chicago—score best in economic factors but are hindered by poor transportation infrastructure, lack of green spaces and diminishing affordable housing, according to the inaugural Sustainable Cities Index by ARCADIS, a leading global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm.

Well established European cities come top of the overall rankings, with Frankfurt in first place, followed by London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Asian cities show the most divergence, with Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore in the top ten and Manila, Mumbai, Wuhan and New Delhi forming four of the bottom five cites. No North American city makes it into the top ten. Toronto is the highest ranked at 12th; Boston (15th) and Chicago (19th) are the most sustainable US cities.

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Ford enters 2 new European research collaborations for innovation in mobility and autonomous vehicles

February 04, 2015

Ford Motor Company has entered into two new research collaborations driving innovation in mobility and autonomous vehicles.

This month, the Ford European Research & Innovation Center in Aachen, Germany, and the Technology and Innovation Management Institute of RWTH Aachen University will launch the Personal Mobility Experience Innovation project. Ford also this year is contributing to the UK Autodrive initiative that is researching how driverless and connected cars can be integrated into everyday life.

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Ford opens new Silicon Valley research center; focus on connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, big data

January 22, 2015

Ford has opened its new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto, growing its global research team and accelerating the company’s work in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and big data.

The new Research and Innovation Center Palo Alto joins Ford’s global network of research and innovation centers, including its location in Dearborn, Michigan, which focuses on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, big data and analytics; and Aachen, Germany, which focuses on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

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Ford announces Smart Mobility plan; 25 initial projects

January 06, 2015

At CES, Ford CEO Mark Fields announced “Ford Smart Mobility”—a plan to use innovation to take Ford to the next level in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience and big data. The initial step is the creation of 25 mobility experiments across the globe designed to help change the way the world moves.

Smart Mobility builds upon Ford’s Blueprint for Mobility (earlier post). As outlined by Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford in his keynote at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Blueprint for Mobility defines the start of Ford’s thinking on what transportation will look like in 2025 and beyond, and the technologies, business models and partnerships needed to get there.

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