Spaces on Wheels: A Glimpse of the Driverless Future

When you no longer have to drive, what will you do during your commute? Space10, Ikea’s research and development divison, and creative agency foam have teamed up to design answers to that question as part of their Spaces on Wheels project.

Once fully autonomous, cars will be more than just modes of transportation–they’ll be whatever we want. As Space10 creative strategist Bas van de Poel puts it, “Autonomous vehicles have the potential to profoundly change urban life for the better, but we also need a more holistic view on how we want to live”.

So the question is: what do we, as a society, feel would enrich our lives? The answers are bound to be varied and many, but Spaces on Wheels is an inspired start. The project offers a glimpse of what transportation could look like in the future. The ideas span from leisure to life-saving. There’s the traveling cafe which allows friends to catch up over coffee while still getting where they need to go; and the mobile health clinic, occupied by medical professionals, is designed to bring basic and life-saving services to remote communities.

There are seven concepts in total, designed either to enhance the commuting experience of individuals or improve communities’ access to essential goods and services.  

Check out the renderings of the Space10 designs below:

TrafficCast hurricane coverage 2018: Florence and Michael presented different challenges

Natural disasters like hurricanes that make roads impassable pose a particular challenge for Trafficcast traffic operators tasked with reporting road closures. This autumn we have been challenged by two particularly different, and very difficult, hurricane events.

Slow-moving Hurricane Florence was September’s challenge, which dropped 36 inches of rain on the Carolinas early in the month. On September 10 and 11, evacuation orders were issued for residents in parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, clogging major highways with those obeying orders to flee. TrafficCast went into high gear, partnering with transportation officials in these states, adding extra staffing and coverage to provide the most accurate information about the implementation of contraflow – all lanes going in a single direction, that is – on I-26 away from Charleston, South Carolina, US-378, and US-501 away from Myrtle Beach.

TrafficCast offices in Wilmington, Delaware; Madison, Wisconsin and Shanghai pitched in to cover the thousands of local closures and eventual re-openings of Interstates 40 and 95 and other major roadways in the affected states.

In addition, we had access to live data through TrafficCast’s BlueTOAD units mounted throughout cities in North Carolina, which alerted us to the tremendous impacts of flooding and evacuation in real-time. We also had access to drone data during the extensive period of flooding following Florence, which was tremendously helpful in determining closure extents.   

month after Florence wreaked flooding havoc on the Carolinas, a different and much more powerful storm affected the Gulf Coast as fast-moving Hurricane Michael slammed into the Florida Panhandle on October 10. Michael left Panama City and Tallahassee crippled and other cities like Mexico Beach virtually obliterated, before quickly moving into Georgia and the Carolinas.

TrafficCast teamed up with Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina Department of Transportation officials before the Category 4 storm made landfall, gaining up-to-the-minute information and confirmation of road closures from these official sources. When I-10 was closed in both directions between Mobile and Tallahassee, along with US-98 closed along the coast, TrafficCast was closely monitoring the situation, as well as confirming the hundreds of local roads that closed in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas due to the debris and deluge, so residents would know if and when they could access their neighborhoods.

Here’s what it was like from TrafficCast NOC operator Stephen Keller:

Covering hurricane Michael was an exhausting ordeal. The damage was extensive – Michael passed directly over a long stretch of I-10, leaving behind so much debris that the highway was impassable. Many state bridges that connect the (Florida) panhandle were ravaged by winds and rising water. And hundreds of local roads were blocked due to fallen trees and power lines. With so much to cover, we split our duties between several traffic operators: those most familiar with Florida markets took control of the major closures, while others focused on smaller roads. Hundreds of new records came in every hour, and many of them needed hands-on adjustments due to geo-coding issues or premature end times.

During natural disasters, state DOTs and highway patrol might be understandably overwhelmed and miss some coverage. In these situations, social media can be the quickest source of news. By constantly sifting through our media sources, we were able to manually add many closures that would have otherwise not gone into the system. Sometimes, all we had to go on was a photo of a blocked/flooded road, and we had to do some detective work on [Google Maps] street view to figure out exactly where it was taken. Other times, local news was able to report on dozens of closures that our main sources missed. These too, we manually added into our system.

Wireless Charging: How One Startup is Helping Electric Cars Cut the Cord

The future of mobility is electric. We have the technology and given the ever-rising concerns surrounding global warming and fossil fuels, we certainly have the motivation. But with only about 20,000 charging stations across the USabout ⅙ the number of gas stations—electric vehicles aren’t yet practical for widespread use. While more designated charging stations are needed, one startup believes they have the technology to bring simplified car charging to homes, parking lots, and eventually the roads themselves .

WiTricity is working on a form of wireless charging called magnetic resonance. This technology draws energy from the electric grid through a wire which leads into a copper coil on the ground, creating a magnetic field. As a second copper wire attached to the bottom of a vehicle enters this magnetic field, an electric current is generated and used to charge the car’s battery pack. So to charge your vehicle, you simply need to pull into the spot and wait a few hours. WiTricity claims that this method is just as efficient as current cable charging systems. But unlike cables, coils can transfer energy straight through asphalt and pavement, allowing this tech to be used in parking lots and driveways. This capability is at the core of WiTricity’s loftiest goalturning cars into mobile power banks.

WiTricity wants to install their technology underneath roadways so cars can refuel while driving. But they’re being realistic about the complexity of making this happen in the coming years. CEO, Alex Gruzen, says cities and states won’t want to tear up hundreds of miles of roadway to install electric charging. For now, Gruzen has sights on airports and train stations with large stretches of taxi lanes. Cars could charge while they’re in line.  Eventually, WiTricity wants to see electric cars rolling around as giant batteries. They could store up electricity until needed and then divert back any excess directly into the grid either for payment or credits for free for their next refuel. While this practice of redistributing energy to the grid could exist with cable charging, it is likely much simpler and faster via the coil method.   

Check out this video demo of WiWtricity’s wireless charging:

#ev #travel #transportation #tech #fossilfuels

Virtual Reality and Road Safety Education

Virtual Reality (VR)—it’s all fun and games until someone figures out how to use it for the benefit of safety education. And it appears that time is upon us. While still in its infancy, the mainstay of VR has been entertainment, giving users next-level experiences of visual media like video games and films. But since it’s conception (and likely well before it), developers and members of various disciplines have recognized VR for it’s potential educational applications. Since transportation is an industry impacting nearly all members of our society on a daily-basis, it’s the perfect candidate for improvement by way of VR. Recently, two new safety programs have been created to educate pedestrians and drivers alike.

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With the school year underway crosswalks are once again flooded with young children. In Canada, child pedestrian injuries are a leading cause of injury-related death. To combat these unfortunate statistics, researchers at the University of Guelph are implementing a VR program that teaches students when and how to cross streets safely in real-life scenarios. By wearing the VR goggles, children are fully immersed in pedestrian environments and given the chance to test their reaction time and general attention. A digital character acts as the child’s coach, offering positive reinforcements and directions for improvements. This immersive, tailored approach appears to be working. In a study of 130 children aged 7-10, those trained with the VR program made 75 to 98 percent few road safety errors than their counterparts.

Truckers in England have also received their own VR training program. Highway England has created a VR smartphone app that gives users a simulated view from a truck cab traveling down a highway. This application was initially designed for the use of commercial truckers, but Highway England states that it’s equally beneficial to private drivers who will no doubt encounter heavy goods vehicles (HGV) on the road. A few of the scenarios included in the application are: overtaking, tailgating, joining from a ramp lane, and more. The main goal of the application is to develop awareness for blind spots on trucks, which are naturally much larger than those of an average four-wheel vehicle.

We’re still in the early phases of VR technology, but if these programs are any indication, the future of virtual education tools is looking bright. One could imagine VR technology finding its way into mainstream driver’s education at some point in the near future. If it means safer roads, let the games begin.

#vr #virtualreality #gaming #tech #cars

Hurricane Florence and the Way Back Home

On Tuesday September 11, three days before Hurricane Florence was predicted to hit the southeast coastline, residents began stocking up on supplies, preparing their homes, and heading inland. While the storm was re-categorized in severity several times, local ordinances continued to warn residents of the impending damage and urged them to get out while they could. This proved wise. The intense winds and historic levels of rainfall brought by Florence leveled homes and has left entire neighborhoods and swaths of major roadways like Interstate 40 completely submerged in flood water.

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To expedite the evacuation, eastbound lanes on Interstate 26 and southbound Interstate 77 were reversed, doubling the amount of cars able to travel towards safety at one time. The vigilance of our Traffic Operators in tracking weather reports, press conferences, and updates from southern departments of transportation, helped us relay this closure information to residents in timely fashion. These major shutdowns, along with literally hundreds of other smaller road closures, remain high priority for operators across all of our offices at all times of day and night. As could be expected, the roads leading back to the coast aren’t likely to all open up at once so we remain diligent in following and reporting the re-opening of all routes.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is encouraging drivers to use real time travel-based apps over traditional GPS, since they are more likely to have the most recent routing updates. The TrafficCarma app will indeed have all the latest travel data along with user comments on traffic, accidents, and closures. We’re committed to providing the most up to date travel information for residents eager to return home. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by Florence and we wish you safe travels.   

 

#travel #hurricaneflorence #northcarolina #weather

Innovation Roundup: Size, Sound, and Sight

While they seem to take up the lion’s share of space in the spotlight, autonomous vehicles and Tesla gossip don’t wholly define the broad, bright future of the automotive industry. There are countless technologies in production aimed at redefining how we interact with our cars and how our cars interact us and the world around them. But we’ll keep this brief.

The following are three recent innovations that embody the three major areas of automotive innovation: safety, efficiency, and personalization.

The Shrinking Car

Israeli engineers are developing what they call the “City Transformer”. It’s electric and comes equipped with all the standard features found in your current car. But with the tap of a button, it shrinks down to fit in a motorcycle-sized parking spot. Four City Transformers could fit into a standard parking spot.

Separated Sound Zone

A series of speakers throughout the car target specific seats while neutralizing sound coming from all other speakers will allow the driver and passengers to enjoy their respective entertainment unobtrusively.

Jaguar’s Autonomous Pod with Eyes

To address the distrust much of the public expresses towards autonomous vehicles, Jaguar poses a clever, albeit kind of spooky, addition to driverless vehicles. Eyes affixed to the front of a vehicle are designed to provide a sense of predictability by showing pedestrians that it is indeed aware of their presence.

 

 

For all the latest industry news

#innovation #tech #travel #cars

Mid Year Update

Chances are, if you read or hear local traffic information while in your car, it comes from TrafficCast International.  TrafficCast – that’s us! – is a North American leader in travel-time forecasting and traffic information, developing technology, applications and content based on advanced digital traffic information, and we have the data to prove we’re out in front.  

As of mid-year 2018, you’ll find 80% of top U.S auto OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) displaying TrafficCast data. And 1.5 Billion is the number of data points the information TrafficCast serves up every day. Pair that with incident data from 250+ sources and anonymous device data from the Company’s 12,000+ IoT device deployments, and it means that updated travel information from various sources are delivered from TrafficCast every 60 seconds.

BlueTOAD Spectra and BlueArgus are surging in nationwide placement and use as well. BlueTOAD is the most advanced traffic-monitoring system on the market, directly measuring travel times using cost-effective, non-intrusive roadside technology. BlueTOAD Spectra detects anonymous Bluetooth signals broadcast from mobile devices to determine accurate travel times and speeds Presently, BlueTOAD technology, delivering analytics to assist traffic management and predict future traffic patterns on roads and at events, is at work throughout the US. coast to coast, some 4,400 devices have been installed by federal, state and municipal transportation and engineering departments and large event planners. And with new offices opening to serve BlueTOAD clients regionally, TrafficCast expects the growth seen at mid-2018 to continue.  

#traffic #driving #travel #BlueTOAD #roadsafety #solutions #TrafficCast