September 18, 2018

Welcome to the NVTA’s regular digest of transportation technologies and emerging travel trends from Northern Virginia and across the nation. 

Save the Date!
We are excited to announce NVTA will be hosting its Fourth Annual Northern Virginia Transportation Roundtable on March 13, 2019. Please stay tuned this fall as we provide event registration details and announce new panelists. Last year’s Roundtable sold-out so be sure to mark your calendars to be sure to secure your spot and be a part of the conversation!
This week we are discussing Governor Northam’s partnership announcement in the fight against drunk driving, the United Kingdom’s first multi-city 5G testbed and Daimler AG’s development of an autonomous twin-purpose vehicle. Also, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore are both part of a pilot program for an app that turns the commuting experience into a game and we take another look at the impacts autonomous vehicles are having on our society. So, without further ado, here’s your Driven by InNoVation update!

Innovative Transportation Technologies

Governor Northam recently announced a new partnership in the fight against drunk driving through the use of technology. Using National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highway safety grant funds, the Commonwealth of Virginia will partner with James River Transportation and the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) Program through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The partnership will conduct in-vehicle, on-road test trials of the DADSS technology. Technology integrators have installed prototypes of the breath-based sensors into four vehicles in the James River Transportation commercial fleet. The data and feedback collected from the prototype sensors, as well as from the drivers themselves, will be invaluable in finalizing the technology as it is prepared for widespread commercialization.
“In 2017, 248 people were killed and 4,430 injured on Virginia’s roadways in alcohol-impaired crashes. Safety is our top priority…DADSS holds the potential to be an integral part of making our roadways safer for all Virginians.” – Shannon Valentine, Secretary of Transportation

The West Midlands has been selected to become the innovative home to the UK’s first multi-city 5G testbed, with the region to pilot new high-speed connectivity applications and services at scale, including the real-world testing of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs).
“5G has the potential to dramatically transform the way we go about our daily lives, and we want the citizens of the UK to be among the first to experience all the opportunities and benefits this new technology will bring…The West Midlands Testbed, which is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, will be instrumental in helping us realize this ambition.” – Margot James, UK Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Source: Daimler AG
Daimler AG is developing an autonomous electric vehicle that can toggle between a people carrier and a delivery van, as the German manufacturer seeks an edge over its rivals in shaping the future of mobility. The Mercedes-Benz maker’s concept consists of a chassis with two “modules” – an egg-shaped minibus that can seat as many as 12 and a cargo version that can switch back and forth in less than two minutes. The approach is designed to meet the needs of logistics companies and public transport operators who are short of drivers and want to use their electric vehicles more efficiently.
“Our new concept underlines that we don’t want to wait and see what happens next, we want to start the phase of autonomous driving quickly.” – Volker Mornhinweg, vans division head , Mercedes

Emerging Trends

University of Maryland researchers are betting that with the right incentives, commuters might switch to “smarter” routes that are better for the environment, for the user and for all the other people trying to move around. Incentrip is part of a $4.5 million research project funded by the Department of Energy to predict traffic and ease congestion. Currently being piloted in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, it essentially turns the commuting experience into a game. When users put their destination into an app, they are shown a handful of options—car, bus, subway, biking and ride-sharing—with information about the length, time and amount of fuel consumed for each mode. The app awards points based on how a user chooses to get around, giving more points for greener and more efficient methods. For drivers who are not ready to pivot to public transit just yet, the app awards a few points for choosing a more “eco-friendly” driving route.

The widespread use of self-driving cars is imminent, but are cities going to be prepared for the popularity of autonomous vehicles? Without the proper urban planning, congestion could become unbearable and even impact the character of towns and cities.

“Autonomous cars aren’t just cars. They’re infrastructure. If the U.S. wants to avoid its past mistakes, American cities have to start thinking about how to use autonomous cars to make their downtown areas more efficient for humans, not just for machines.” – Derek Thompson, staff writer, The Atlantic

While some outlooks have an aggressive timeline on when fully autonomous vehicles will be available to the masses, self-driving cars and shared mobility may take longer than we think.

“Companies are adopting a much more cautious timetable relating to AVs. Most seem to agree that Level 3 AVs are not safe, because the human is likely to tune out when he needs to [quickly] take control of the car…Level 5 vehicles are looking increasingly untenable before at least 2035 and maybe 2050.” – Baruch Feigenbaum, assistant director of transportation policy, Reason Foundation

The Eno Center for Transportation, which strives to impact emerging issues for the nation’s multi-modal transportation system, has thoughtfully compiled research reports and other articles on all things to do with autonomous vehicles on a single website.
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