Thursday, 6 November 2014

Have our long-range transportation plans ‘missed the future’?

This post is a brief synopsis of my post on Linkedin: Has the D.C. long-range transportation plan ‘missed the future’?

With every day that goes by we move closer to the deployment of fully autonomous (driverless, self-driving) vehicles (AVs).  New developments in the AV sector are occurring all the time now, and public awareness of the technology is high. The public, businesses and governments are also becoming increasingly aware that AVs could significantly impact on daily life and operational and business models.

So it may come as a surprise that the various long-range transportation plans (LRTPs) being produced by most jurisdictions around the world are only just recognizing AVs and their potential impacts. Yet these are the very documents designed to look decades into the future and intended to guide us and prepare us for what the future of transportation could be like.

The new LRTP for the District of Columbia (including Washington D.C.), 'moveDC' is a great example in that it recognizes that AVs could have a huge impact, and even recommends that D.C become a national test-bed for the technology.  But it falls short of actually conveying just how transformational AVs could be on all of the other recommendations that it makes for transportation (including transit, pedestrians, bicycling and roads etc.).

So for the next 5 years or so, before the 'moveDC' document is likely to be updated, the public, politicians, planners and engineers will all be looking to this blue-print for guidance. They will be making decisions and committing funds to expensive infrastructure that they might not have done if they had a better understanding of how transformational AVs could be.

It is time for us to start considering the impacts of AVs in our LRTPs as we are already well into the planning timeframe where could not only impact, but even disrupt some of our current plans.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Don’t laugh; the new Google prototype car has implications for your business

When I set out to write my article 'Don’t laugh; the new Google prototype car has implications for your business' on LinkedIn I hoped that it would reach at least 2,000 people. 

After I hit the 'post' button I realized that there was already at least half-a-dozen stories on this subject and most of them were using the same stock photo! So I lowered my expectations as competition was high and some of the other authors were professional writers. 

But thanks to incredibly strong support and interest, at it's peak this article was top of the list on 'LinkedIn Pulse' and went moderately viral. 

The number of views has slowed right down now, but it has topped over 133,000 views at the time of writing - such is the interest in this amazing subject. To put that into context - this blog has been running 16 months and has been viewed 15,000 times in total - with unique visitors probably below 5,000.

'The acceleration is accelerating' - to quote a concept that I learned from Siggi Becker.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

'Designing a Driverless World'

It was a pleasure to be invited by Arup to participate in the 'Designing a Driverless World' workshop down in San Francisco on Feb 6, 2014.

The hosts, Arup, are a consulting engineering company that I had the pleasure to work for in both the Republic of Ireland in England, for four years in the not so distant past.  Arup are a really interesting company that remain privately owned, despite being big enough to compete with anyone for the design of major infrastructure projects.  They also invest a significant sum in research and development and have their own Foresight, Research and Innovation people. In my personal opinion you might consider them the Cadillac, or Rolls Royce (depending on which side of the Atlantic you are on) of Consulting Engineers.

So it was a pleasure to spend time with my fellow consulting engineers, transportation planners, urban planners, transit operators, developers, architects etc. that really seemed to have a rapidly growing awareness of what is coming with automated vehicle deployment.  Many of the panellists and presenters obviously had a much better grasp of some of the intricacies of the subject, including Google and Qualcomm representatives amongst others.

You will see from the Arup write-up of the day that the discussions were lively, varied and included the occasional good-natured disagreement as you would expect with such varied perspectives of what the future may hold.

Of one thing I am certain, 'Designing a Driverless World' will be different to how we are designing now.



Monday, 3 March 2014

February 'AV Update' - The Momentum is Building

At CAVCOE we recently posted the February version of our automated vehicles news round-up 'AV Update' onto our website.

As you look through the previous versions of AV Update you can quickly see how there is very significant momentum building, and how this technology is rapidly grabbing the public's imagination. But surely this is what we should expect from a technology that is likely to see money flows in excess of 8% of GDP?....

In this February issue we can see a growing awareness of how AV's might impact on life in our cities. This is something that I feel very strongly about and I have written an article on this subject which is due to be published very shortly.  As soon as it is available then I will discuss it more, but for those of you that have been reading my blog posts you will recognize it as a development of my Automated Vehicle Zones (AVZ) thinking.

Why wouldn't we create the right environment for AVs to provide their full benefits as soon as possible? Why would we wait for the natural decline of human driving when it limits the benefits that we know are there with AVs?

Monday, 27 January 2014

January Issue of AV Update - and why we need to dig beneath the headlines

The latest issue of AV Update is now out for January - please subscribe if you don't want to wait for us to post up on the CAVCOE website.  There is no advertizing or commitment required from subscribers - and it is just as easy to unsubscribe if you no longer wish to receive it.

There is a very clear accelerating growth trend in the number of announcements and articles on the subject of autonomous vehicles (AVs) online.  When I started researching this subject in earnest around September 2011 there was probably one article on the BBC News site every two or three months.  This week it is possible that for a short while that there were three different articles that talked about AVs on the site at the same time.

This month we had two studies released which caught my attention.  The IHS study which I personally didn't think a great deal of, as it was only made available to the press for free (so my comments are limited to the press release), and forecast some market penetration rates for AVs which I found to be very conservative as it seemed that they had been calculated from an automotive industry perspective. When an industry faces potential disruption then it may not be wise to base your calculations on the historical growth in that sector.

The Rand study appeared to be significantly better researched and provided some great background work.  I didn't agree with their treatment of shared vehicle fleets as I think that there are compelling business reasons why they are both inevitable and likely to grow at a rapid rate.

So despite my impression that the Rand report was significantly better, it was the IHS report that got most media exposure.  Now it could be that IHS have a much better media distribution system, or it could be that the media found it easier to latch onto an easy headline, e.g. '9% of Cars to be Driverless by 2035'.

My disdain for the headline writers continued with the CES in Las Vegas.  Induct launched the Navia as the world's first commercially available driverless low-speed electric shuttle at CES,which was the real headline for me.  I was also very impressed that Audi demonstrated on public roads their miniaturized shoe-box sized self-driving technology in a gorgeous looking A7.

But what got the real headlines at CES?  Why, a drifting self-driving BMW of course...

To further 'add insult to my injury' in this matter, the BMW CEO for North America seemed to think that BMW still want to keep the driver involved with the 'ultimate driving machine'.


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

CAVCOE and the Latest AV Update

I am very pleased to announce that the latest issue of AV Update is now also available here.

In this issue Barrie Kirk and I announce that we have just launched a new non-profit organization:
The Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence (CAVCOE)
which is now the official publisher of AV Update.

If you would like to receive AV Update directly by email, then just hit the 'subscribe' button on the the front page of the new CAVCOE website at:
www.cavcoe.com

There is more about CAVCOE and what it is all about on the website if you are interested.  We believe that just about everyone is going to be a stakeholder in some shape or form when Automated Vehicles appear, and we want to help in whatever way we can to maximize the benefits and mitigate the downsides.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Second Edition of 'AV Update'

The latest, and second, edition of Autonomous (or Automated) Vehicle Update is now available here.

Interest in AV's is continuing to increase and for the first time that we are aware of a national leader has pointed towards this technology.

Also it is encouraging that the US House of Representatives had planned to discuss the impact of AV's on surface transportation.  Although postponed, we look forward to tuning in live to this meeting when it is eventually re-scheduled.