U.S. Department of Transportation announces new rural autonomous vehicle research program
- The U.S. Department of Transportation announced a $25 million funding opportunity for a Rural Autonomous Vehicle (RAV) research program. Accredited universities are eligible to apply. One $15 million award will focus on passenger transportation, and another $10 million award will concentrate on the movement of freight to support and enable automated freight and delivery vehicles serving rural areas. “Automated vehicles have the potential to enhance roadway safety and increase mobility options for all Americans, including older Americans, low-income households, people with disabilities, and those who cannot or choose not to drive,” said Dr. Robert C. Hampshire, deputy assistant secretary for research and technology and chief scientist.
New technology installed beneath Detroit Street can charge electric vehicles as they drive
- The nation’s first wireless-charging public roadway for electric vehicles was installed in downtown Detroit. Copper inductive charging coils allow electric vehicles to charge their batteries while driving, idling, or parking above the coils. There will be a few years of testing before this technology becomes available to the public, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. Electreon, an Israel-based developer of wireless charging solutions, helped provide the technology for this project. While the state is still trying to figure out a revenue model, Stefan Tongue, Electreon’s vice president of business development, said that the technology is smart. “The technology knows who you are – you’re a verified and authentic user – you can get a charge.” He added, “this project paves the way for a zero-emission mobility future where EVs are the norm, not the exception.”
BMW gains test license for L3 autonomous driving in Shanghai
- The BMW Group has received a test license for level 3 autonomous driving on high-speed roads in Shanghai. The group will launch vehicles with self-driving functionality when they can do so in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations. This new license would expand areas for BMW to carry out tests. The license BMW had been operating under only allowed it to run tests on 3.5 miles of public roads. This news comes after the Chinese government issued safety guidelines for the use of AVs in public.
People with disabilities hope autonomous vehicles deliver independence
- A pilot program in northern Minnesota called goMARTI has brought five self-driving vans to Grand Rapids, a city of about 11,000 people. The program aims to help people with disabilities gain more independence and a convenient way to travel. The self-driving vans always have a human operator in the driver’s seat. These rural experiments have been set up in a few other states, including Iowa and Ohio. This project is funded through the spring of 2027 with more than $13 million from federal, state, and local sources, and covers 35 miles of road with 71 stops. A 2022 report from the National Disability Institute predicted that autonomous vehicles could help many people with disabilities get out of their homes and obtain jobs.