January 2021 Tech Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: January 20, 2021

A slightly quieter few weeks as we come out of the holidays and transition to a new administration.

COVID-19 and Public Transit

Public Transit and Shared Mobility COVID-19 Recovery: Policy Recommendations and Research Needs by Susan Shaheen, PhD and Stephen Wong, PhD, University of California Institute of Transportation Studies
The report includes a thoughtful list of technology-related actions for COVID-19 recovery that transit agencies can take over the next few years.

TNCs/Ride Sourcing Companies

Uber will charge significantly more per trip as new Seattle law goes into effect Jan. 1 by Michelle Baruchman, Seattle Times
“Uber will charge customers about 25% more on each trip starting Jan. 1, as Seattle’s new minimum wage law for ride-hailing drivers goes into effect. By April 1, as the compensation for drivers fully phases in, fares could increase by 50% compared to today’s prices, said Harry Hartfield, a spokesperson for Uber.”

Lyft announces additional fee for California riders to cover cost of Prop. 22 driver benefits by Carly Graf, SF Examiner
“Starting Wednesday, Lyft will tack on an additional fee to all rides in California in order to cover the costs of new worker benefits required as a result of the passage of Proposition 22 in November.”

Uber is bringing its EV and public transit features to more cities by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
“Uber claims that ‘100 percent’ of rides on its platform will take place in electric vehicles by 2030 in the US, Canada, and Europe, and by 2040 for the rest of the world. But rather than pay drivers directly to trade their gas-burning vehicles for electric ones, the company will impose an extra fee on trips completed in an electric vehicle to incentivize drivers to make the switch.”

Autonomous Vehicles

CMU team to examine autonomous vehicles for people with disabilities, Ed Blazina, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“a team from Carnegie Mellon University has received a grant to develop a prototype system for autonomous vehicles that will allow anyone to control most vehicle functions — from summoning the vehicle to their location to controlling the windows and the temperature of the air conditioning — from their cellphones.”

FAA approves first fully-automated commercial drone flights by Tal Axelrod, The Hill
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week approved the first fully-automated commercial drone flights, giving a small firm the green light to operate drones without direct supervision by human controllers or manned piloting.”

California permits Nuro AV deployment by Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive
“The deployment permit now grants Nuro permission to deploy its light-duty vehicles for commercial delivery services in nine cities across Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.”

Autonomous delivery robots hit Japanese streets by Sakurai Reiko, NHK
“Japanese companies have started testing autonomous delivery robots on public streets.”

U.S. exempts self-driving vehicles from some crash standards by Joseph White, Reuters
“The new rules would exempt from certain crash standards automated vehicles that are designed to carry only goods, not people.”


Creating a cashless and accessible fare system in Dayton, Ohio, by Brandon Policicchio – Greater Dayton RTA, Intelligent Transport
“Brandon Policicchio of Greater Dayton RTA talks cashless fares, and explains what his authority is doing to make transit accessible for everyone.”

Vehicle Electrification

RMI details urgency of ride-hailing electrification by Kristin Musulin, Smart Cities Dive
The brief, Racing to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption: Decarbonizing Transportation with Ridehailing, by the Rocky Mountain Institute, can be found here.

BYD wins largest pure-electric bus order outside of China by BYD Motors LLC via Mass Transit
The company won a bid for 1,002 units in Bogotá, Colombia.

The future of transportation is small and electric by Robert Neuwirth, City Monitor
On the electrification of small personal transportation throughout the globe, with conjectures about how the Biden administration might support electrification.

There’s A Caveat With Electric Vehicles by José Rodríguez Jr., Jalopnik
Moving from fossil fuels to EVs involves many trade-offs. It’s valuable to know what they are. These ones involve collecting lithium for the batteries.

VW’s prototype robot is designed to offer full-service charging for electric vehicles by Kirsten Korosec, Tech Crunch
Electrically powered robots made to plug in EVs (which may themselves be robots).

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

Why some bike shares work and others don’t by Hope Ngo, BBC
Key elements of success for introducing a new mobility mode.

7 mobility startups to watch in 2021 by Cailin Crowe, Smart Cities Dive
Some interesting specialties here, including scooter management, curb management, bicycle electrification, and tracking informal transportation networks.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Novel Access Modes: A Case Study in the San Francisco Bay Area by Caroline Rodier, PhD, Andrea Broaddus, PhD, Miguel Jaller, PhD, Jeffery Song, PhD, Joschka Bischoff, PhD, and Yunwan Zhang
“This paper expands upon existing research to model the travel and revenue impacts of a fleet of automated vehicles that provide transit access services in the San Francisco Bay Area offered over a range of fares. The model simulates a fleet of AVs for first-mile transit access at different price points for three different service models (door-to-door ridehailing and ridesharing and meeting point ridesharing services).”

One app to rule them all: Israel wants to combine all the ridesharing operators on one platform by Tomer Hadar, CTech
“From car-sharing to electric scooters and bikes, Transport Ministry calls on all mobility providers to share their data”

Technology, Generally

What Is Open-Source Urbanism? by Susanna Moreira, ArchDaily
From Spain, applying open source technology approaches to urban design. A counterpoint to more centralized “smart cities” models.


We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Sage Kashner (kashner@ctaa.org).

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