July Tech Updates

  • Author: Kevin Chambers
  • Date: August 1, 2023

In this edition of the NCMM tech updates: beware the autonomous vehicle "safety dance," Citi Bike is for sale as bikeshare booms, catenaries are better than batteries in SF, air taxis may "take off," and transit tech predictions for the year.


Lyft, the Largest Bikeshare Operator in North America, Wants Out of the Business by Aaron Gordon, Vice
"Lyft’s CEO recently said the company isn’t doing a good enough job directing bikeshare riders to taxi trips."

Autonomous Vehicles

NHTSA Announces New Autonomous Driving Regulations by Suzanne McElligott, U.S. News & World Report
"The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to make a move that may hasten the deployment of driverless cars onto our roads but wants more data from the automakers in return."

The Safety Dance by David Zipper, Slate
"Autonomous vehicle companies claim that 'humans are terrible drivers' and their tech is needed to save lives. Don’t buy it."

VW will test its autonomous ID Buzz in the US starting this month by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
"The automaker plans to start testing a small fleet of driverless microbuses in Austin, Texas, later this month. More US cities will follow in the run-up to a commercial launch in 2026."

Driverless taxis to start paid service in capital by Luo Wangshu, China Daily
"A larger fleet of driverless taxis will soon be available for hire in the capital city as the Office of the Beijing High-Level Autonomous Driving Demonstration Zone has decided to launch the commercial operation of autonomous vehicles and expand their serviceable area."

On the cusp of 24/7 service, robotaxis face pleas and protest in San Francisco by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
"City leaders are seething about snarled traffic and blocked emergency vehicles, while the companies are promising more cars will lead to better behavior."

Pranksters Claim They Can Stop Self-Driving Cars With Orange Cones, Waymo and Cruise Not Amused by Joe Kukura, SFist
"A viral video this week made the curious claim that self-driving robotaxis on SF streets can be brought to a halt with the placement of an orange cone on the vehicle’s hood. Cruise and Waymo have both responded that the jokers doing this need to knock it off."

Waymo’s Driverless Taxis Monitor San Francisco Traffic by Ricardo Cano, San Francisco Chronicle
"Waymo's driverless cars spend a lot of time testing their technology on San Francisco's streets. But the black-and-white vehicles are also observing their surroundings, gathering data."

Ford picks up the pace on hands-off driving with BlueCruise 1.3 release by Tim Stevens, TechCrunch
"Latitude’s goal, then, isn’t to create fully autonomous driverless shuttles of the sort that Waymo and Cruise have been developing for years. Instead, the shift is back to technologies that can be deployed to passenger vehicles more quickly and more profitably."

Big Tech Is Watching You as You Drive by Paris Marx, The New Republic
"For 15 years, we’ve waited for Silicon Valley to solve the problems on our roads, and it’s continually failed to deliver. Instead, tech companies have kept us trapped in our cars by distracting us from investments in improved transit and other transport options. Now, we’re letting them load our vehicles with new technologies so they can get their own cut of the profits made from our dependence on automobiles—by scraping our data, forcing subscriptions into our cars, and using drivers as guinea pigs to test new tech."

Tesla under investigation in California over Autopilot safety issues and false advertising by Wes Davis, The Verge
"Tesla is facing a new investigation with the California attorney general’s office looking into safety issues with the company’s Autopilot feature as well as its marketing practices, CNBC reported on Wednesday."

Vehicle Electrification

How the E.V. Revolution Could Help Bankrupt Public Transit by Emma Foehringer Merchant, The New Republic
"Mass transit is essential to reaching America’s climate goals—but moving away from gas-powered cars risks depriving it of crucial funding."

USDOT Release Guide for Planning Urban Electric Mobility Infrastructure by Metro Magazine
"The U.S. Department of Transportation, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (Joint Office), released a free technical resource to help larger communities take full advantage of Federal funding for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and other forms of electric transportation."

Study: Trolley Buses with Batteries are the Best Path to Zero Emissions by Roger Rudick, Streetsblog
"Combining battery technology with existing trolley bus infrastructure is the best way for San Francisco to achieve zero emissions and a robust transit service, according to a study released Wednesday by The Climate and Community Project."

GM’s battery production woes worsen as CAMI EV plant shuts down amid shortage by Peter Johnson, electrek
"General Motors (GM) is halting production at its CAMI EV assembly plant in Ingersoll, ON, Canada, for the month amid overwhelming demand for its Ultium battery platform."

Rivian wins in Georgia as EV maker gets green light to build $5B facility by Peter Johnson, electrek
"Despite opposition, the Georgia Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal contesting the legitimacy of Rivian’s expected property tax breaks for its new $5 billion EV facility in the state."

Mobility as a Service and New Mobility

Bikeshare Is Still Growing in Popularity After Pandemic Cycling Boom by Immanual John Milton, Bloomberg CityLab
"The pandemic-era spike in biking has translated to continued growth for the largest US bikeshare systems."

Citi Bike is for sale by Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge
"Lyft is exploring a sale of its bike and scooter business, which includes New York City’s popular Citi Bike. The news comes several months after the struggling ridehail company laid off a third of its workforce in an effort to reduce costs."

What America’s bike-share schemes tell you about venture capital, The Economist
The basic problem, says David Spielfogel, the chief business officer of Lime, which operates dockless bikes and scooters, is that the boom, funded by venture capital, is deflating like a punctured tyre, and too many operators “haven’t figured out how to run a profitable business”.

Air Taxis, Hyped for Years, May Finally Take Off by Niraj Chokshi, The New York Times
"In a document published on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration outlined the steps that it and others need to take to usher in a competitive air taxi market in at least one location by 2028 with limited operations starting as early as 2025."

In the ‘brave new world’ of urban air mobility, who will benefit? by Dan Zukowski, Smart Cities Dive
"EVTOL aircraft are expected to aid law enforcement and firefighting efforts and provide emergency medical and freight transportation in addition to their air taxi operations."

How Lime CEO Wayne Ting defied the scooter rental odds and got to profitability by Ainsley Harris, Fast Company
"Lime CEO Wayne Ting reinvented the scooter rental company—its hardware and operations—and steered it to profitability."

Spin e-scooters exit Pittsburgh amid state budget impasse by Kalena Thomhave, Smart Cities Dive
"Pittsburgh’s e-scooter purge is not due to a citywide ban like that in Paris. Rather, it comes amid a lack of state-level action needed to renew the pilot program. Pennsylvania is one of the only U.S. states where e-scooters are not legal."

Kansas City sees IRIS as the 'future' of public transit. But is it coming at the expense of buses? by Noah Zahn, KCUR
"The city’s new on-demand transit service, IRIS, will now serve riders across the entire metro — with the intention of filling in the gaps of existing bus routes. The expansion is happening at the same time that KCATA hikes the cost of providing bus service to surrounding municipalities, causing concerns about accessibility."

‘SeaBubbles’ Electric Flying Water Taxis: Already a Thing in France by Thom Taylor, MotorBiscuit
"Yes, a commercial shuttle service in Paris already uses these five-seat electric flying taxis. Called “SeaBubbles,” the shuttle service is now available for public use."

Other News and Opinion Involving Transit and Technology

Technology-enabled mobility: Five predictions for 2023 by Carol Schweiger, Intelligent Transport
"The transportation industry is at a critical stage given the focus on climate change, equity, inclusion and the environment, and is attempting to address each of these."



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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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