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Director of Business Development and Programs - Stantec GenerationAV
Deployment: A Transportation Technology Policy Update
This update reports on policy and regulatory issues associated with emerging transportation technologies and solutions. The updates are complemented by solution-minded analysis based on the team’s experience and knowledge. Policy is an important tool in managing and leveraging the power and opportunity of innovative transportation technologies, and this update will be sent every two weeks to arm you with need-to-know developments. Please reach out with any questions, feedback, or suggestions!Subscribe
week ending 12-02-22
Cruise Expands Driverless Service to Daytime Hours in San Francisco
TechCrunch+ posted an article by Kirsten Korosec on November 16, 2022 that autonomous vehicle company Cruise announced that it is expanding its driverless service to daytime hours in the City of San Francisco. The service is initially limited to Cruise employees in the western portion of San Francisco, but the plan is to ultimately expand this service to paying customers in wider swaths of the city. Cruise recently announced the expansion of its nighttime paid robotaxi service to nearly all of San Francisco.
Why it Matters:
- Cruise continues to make considerable progress in the expansion of its driverless service in San Francisco, one of the more challenging driving environments in North America, including steep and winding streets and heavy traffic at times. In September, Cruise announced plans to deploy in two more cities, Phoenix and Austin, cementing its status as an industry leader.
- Cruise previously obtained a driverless deployment permit from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) with authority to operate in specified areas of San Francisco. It is unclear whether Cruise needs to return to CPUC to obtain approval for commercial service during the daytime hours.
- Cruise’s announcement comes amidst some setbacks in the autonomous vehicle area, including the closure of Argo AI and layoffs at delivery company Nuro. It will be interesting to see if Cruise continues to make forward progress during this time when other players in the space are struggling.
Waymo Obtains Approval for Driverless Operations in California
A press release was posted on the California Public Utilities Commission website on November 18, 2022 detailing how the the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved autonomous vehicle company Waymo LLC to provide driverless AV passenger service to the public. Waymo had previously been offering this service but with a safety driver present. The company may not yet charge passengers for any rides but is expected to apply for such permission soon. Waymo joins AV company Cruise as the second participant in the CPUC’s Driverless Pilot program.
Why it Matters:
- According to the CPUC, “Waymo’s permit represents a milestone for driverless passenger service, expanding the potential availability of driverless AV rides to more Californians and increasing opportunities for public engagement in the pilot.” Waymo and Cruise are seen as the leaders in the AV passenger space in California with a significant distance between them and other companies still seeking to deploy ride hailing services.
- California has a significant regulatory scheme for AVs, including reviews and approvals required by both the California Department of Motor Vehicles and CPUC. Amongst other things, companies participating in the California AV program are required to submit quarterly reports to CPUC about the operation of their vehicles and submit a Passenger Safety Plan. Note that to date, only AVs under 10,000 pounds are permitted to deploy in the state.
- Waymo is seen as slightly trailing Cruise’s progress in California, but the company has also taken a somewhat more conservative approach, such as maintaining safety drivers in the vehicles, as a precaution.
Argo AI Shuts Down While Nuro Lays Off 20 Percent of Its Workforce
The past month has also seen a significant shakeup in the landscape of AV companies. AV startup Argo AI shut down after its two main supporters, Ford and VW, pulled financial support. Additionally, TechCrunch+ shared news on November 18, 2022 that Nuro, a company that makes an autonomous, on-road delivery robot, announced it laid off 20 percent of its workforce.
Why it Matters:
- Nuro has stated that the layoffs were the result of over-hiring in 2021 combined with inflation and fears of a recession, as the company is still seeking to commercialize on a wider scale.
- Nuro continues to operate in a number of locations in the US and has expressed plans to continue to expand its service.
- Argo AI’s closure came as a surprise to the broader community given their significant financial backing. Despite this closure, a number of other companies continue to press forward and make progress.
Mobileye and Goggo Network Partner to Advance AV Delivery in Europe
Mobileye shared an article on November 27, 2022 that Goggo Network, an autonomous delivery company with operations in Spain and France, is partnering with Mobileye to equip up to forty autonomous vehicles with the company’s Mobileye Drive™ system for goods delivery. Madrid, Zaragoza, Malaga, Barcelona, and Paris will be the initial deployment targets.
Why it Matters:
- Mobileye and Goggo are both significant players in the European AV space and this announcement indicates a notable partnership. Zaragosa, Spain recently became the first Spanish city to test autonomous delivery robots utilizing Goggo devices.
- Delivery robots, carrying goods rather than people, are in general likely to encounter less safety and regulatory pushback than AV passenger vehicles.
- Despite this, as delivery robots proliferate and become more commonplace, there are likely to be more policy and regulatory issues that come to the forefront. These include sidewalk and crosswalk access for disabled individuals, right of way debates, and, in the case of delivery robots operating in the streets, interactions with cars, bikes and other modes of traffic.
Pennsylvania Passes Law Allowing AVs on Public Roads
On November 3, 2023, Pittsburgh Inno’s Reporter Nate Doughty shared that a few weeks ago, the Keystone State became the twenty-third state in the country to pass legislation permitting on-road, commercial deployment of driverless vehicles. Pittsburgh in particular has long been a mecca for AV companies given the presence of Carnegie Mellon University and the supporting academic ecosystem, and this bill capped off a months-long effort on behalf of industry to create a legislative and regulatory environment for commercial AV deployment.
Why it Matters:
- States continue to pass legislation while awaiting more active involvement by the federal government when it comes to AV legislation and regulation. However, when Congress and the federal DOT do act there may be a battle over preemption of state laws.
- AV companies expend lobbying resources in states where they plan to deploy, so expect to see a lot more activity from companies and their industry partners in Pennsylvania soon.
Global AV Race Continues
IoT World Today posted Graham Hope’s November 3, 2022 story detailing how Japan has become the latest country to allow driverless vehicles on its roads. Beginning in April 2023, Level 4 vehicles will be permitted to commercially deploy. Interestingly, the National Police Agency seems to be the primary regulatory and enforcement body and they have issued numerous deployment specifications. Given the country’s history of vehicle innovation, Japan will be one to watch as AVs begin operating next year.
Similarly, Israel has moved to allow autonomous buses on its public roads via a pilot program. The Transportation Ministry, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) and Ayalon Highways announced Egged, Metropolin, Dan and Nateev Express will be the pilot program participants. The expectation is for the companies to successfully complete the pilot, collect lessons learned and improve their technology, and then move to commercial deployment.
Why it Matters:
- The appetite to advance AVs is a global one, and Japan and Israel have now surpassed the U.S. in terms of settling on a national framework for AV operations.
- While there are many differences between these countries and the U.S., policymakers, and industry actors can look to lessons learned in Japan and Israel to inform future efforts.
Drones and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)
Reuters posted a two minute read on November 21, 2022 by David Shepardson that shares how the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed new rules that would help pave the way for commercial air taxi operations by around the middle of this decade. Specifically, the FAA issued a proposal to update its air carrier definition to add “powered-lift” operations, thereby laying the foundation that will allow operators to pilot aircraft such as eVTOLs.
Companies in this space have taken note and pushed the FAA to continue issuing necessary rules. The agency issued “airworthiness criteria” for Joby Aviation’s JAS4-1, a four-passenger craft designed to lift off like a helicopter and then fly horizontally like a plane. The action, which gives the public and industry 30 days to comment, lays out the steps Joby would take to get agency approval. The 30-day timeline will expire on December 7, 2022.
Not to be outdone, just last week Amazon unveiled a smaller, quieter drone that will be ready in 2024 and could be making regular deliveries in major cities by the end of the decade. However, they will need to receive regulatory approval and airworthiness criteria similar to Joby before embarking on commercial operations.
Why it Matters:
- There is a lot of money behind commercial drone deliveries in the United States and the FAA is being pressured to commence the numerous regulatory actions that must occur before companies begin deployment.
- Next year, the FAA’s agency reauthorization bill is due, and the drone industry is looking to that legislative action to force the FAA’s hand on rulemakings and related issues.
Caterpillar Leading the EV Off-Road Charge
Batteries News shared an article on November 22, 2022, that Caterpillar Inc. recently announced a successful demonstration of its first battery electric 793 large mining truck and a significant investment to transform its Arizona-based proving ground into a sustainable testing and validation hub of the future. The company completed development of the prototype with support from key mining customers participating in Caterpillar’s Early Learner program. Participants of the program with definitive electrification agreements include BHP, Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Corporation, Rio Tinto and Teck Resources Limited.
Why it Matters:
- Most vehicle electrification headlines focus on passenger vehicles or those that operate on public roads. However, there is a large segment of the American fleet that operates off-road or on private industrial properties. These vehicles should also be targeted for alternative, zero-emission fuels and Caterpillar has long been a leader in this space.
- What to watch for will be how and from where companies that operate these large, off-road vehicles secure their power supplies.
All the recommendations are free to access
- Internet of Things World Today – Subscribe to IoT World Today (informaengage.com)
- Industry Dive Publications – About – Industry Dive
- Government Technology – Government Technology State & Local Articles – e.Republic (govtech.com)
- SAE Smart Brief – SAE SmartBrief – News – SAE Smart Brief
- Route Fifty – Route Fifty – State and Local News and Analysis (route-fifty.com)