House Hearing on “The Future of Automated Commercial Motor Vehicles: Impacts On Society, The Supply Chain, and U.S. Economic Leadership”
- Last week, the House Highway and Transit Subcommittee held a hearing regarding autonomous trucks and how they will impact our society. The hearing was scheduled to ask experts’ questions about the future of transportation and logistics. Several of the speakers believed that self-driving trucks are not only safe but would improve highway safety and even create, not eliminate, trucking jobs. Some Representatives questioned this notion. Chris Urmson, co-founder and CEO of Aurora Innovation, an autonomous truck manufacturer said in his testimony that, “Autonomous vehicle technology is not science fiction, it’s not hypothetical. In fact, it’s already here.” Aurora currently hauls 50 loads per week between four cities in Texas. Jeff Farrah, executive director of the Autonomous Vehicles Industry Association, added that 5,800 Americans died in accidents involving trucks last year. Farrah believes that the overwhelming cause of those crashes was due to human error. “Autonomous trucks are designed to remove that error from the equation and are programmed to serve as model drivers,” Farrah said. He added that, according to federal statistics, autonomous vehicles will create some 35,000 jobs per year for the next 30 years. This is the biggest concern for federal lawmakers. While legislators say they are not against using autonomous trucking some are worried about trucking jobs as only the large trucking companies will be able to make this type of investment, leaving the smaller trucking companies to struggle. Safety is also a major concern. Cathy Chase, the president of the Advocated for Highway and Auto Safety said, “People are concerned about sharing the road with driverless trucks.” Chase thinks that all autonomous trucks should be required to always have a driver onboard.
Major Car Manufacturers Partner to Create a New Company Focused on Optimizing EV Grid Services
- BMW, Ford, and Honda have teamed up to create ChargeScape, an equally owned company focused on creating a single, cost-effective platform connecting electric utilities, automakers, and interested electric vehicle customers. ChargeScape plans to provide services where EVs can provide support to the electric grid and enable EV customers to earn financial benefits through a variety of managed charging and energy-sharing services. The company will enable the use of plugged-in EV batteries by securely providing energy data to electric utilities and system operators like aggregated-demand response, alignment of charging and EV battery utilization with off-peak, low-cost hours, and the availability of high renewable energy. Thomas Ruemenapp, BMW’s Vice President of Engineering said, “ChargeScape aims to accelerate the expansion of smart charging and vehicle-to-everything solutions all over the country, while increasing customer benefits, supporting the stability of the grid and helping to maximize renewable energy usage.” ChargeScape is pending regulatory approvals but is expected to be operational by next year.
Waymo One Tour Will Offer Free Rides in Some L.A. Neighborhoods
- Coming this October, people in the Los Angeles area will be able to ride for free in a Waymo driverless taxi. The company is offering an “early access” program that will offer around-the-clock rides in a different neighborhood each month. The program will start on October 11th in Santa Monica and over the next several months will operate in Century City, West Hollywood, Mid-City, Koreatown, and Downtown L.A. To try out one of Waymo’s driverless taxis passengers must ask for a ride on the app and have a “ticket to ride” which can be delivered in person at a Waymo pop-up or by signing up on a waitlist.
Cruise CEO Announces Winterized Version of The Origin AV is Two Years Away
- Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise, announced that his company is planning to build a winterized version of the Origin AV. Cruise currently has limited its testing to cities that have primarily sunny weather as they provide the optimal testing environment for an autonomous vehicle, allowing the company to develop this technology before testing in cities with harsher winters. Vogt said that while it would be possible to test in cities with harsh winters you would have to flip the service on when it is sunny and off when it started to snow. He says, “It’s not ideal from a customer standpoint.”