Driverless cars could help curb drink-driving but boost binge drinking – Hardware- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Driverless vehicles are touted as having a number of health and safety benefits like reducing the number of accidents caused by human error, but new research suggests the added safety may unintentionally promote unhealthy behaviours.
A study out of Perth’s Curtin University suggests that while drink-driving rates and the associated damages could plummet with the introduction of autonomous cars, travellers are more likely to engage in binge drinking.
Lead author of the study published in the Drug and Alcohol Review, Leon Booth, said the “unintended negative consequence” in higher rates of alcohol consumption is likely going to be driven by increased availability of affordable and convenient transport.
“We surveyed 1334 adult Australians, about half of whom reported being likely to use an autonomous vehicle after consuming alcohol, while more than one-third were likely to consume more alcohol if they planned to use an autonomous vehicle (AV),” Booth said.
“Lower age, more frequent alcohol consumption, a positive attitude to autonomous vehicles and a preference for using ’ride-share’ AVs were associated with a greater likelihood of engaging in these behaviours.”
Study co-author, Distinguished Professor Simone Pettigrew, added that ass autonomous vehicles become more readily accessible to consumers, this issue is likely to complicate public health initiatives.
“Because the introduction of the vehicles will likely bring both positive and negative health effects, this represents a complex challenge for policymakers charged with reducing alcohol-related harms,” Pettigrew said.
“A particular challenge will be the need to encourage the use of autonomous vehicles after drinking without encouraging drinking per se.”
However, she acknowledged that as the market’s exposure to driverless cars has been “very limited” until now, further research is needed as more people begin using them to understand the full impacts of the technology on people’s behaviour in the Australian context.
In the US, people have already grown complacent around cars with semi-autonomous functions, such as Tesla’s “misleading” autopilot function.
By the end of 2019, 12 crash crashes had been linked with the autopilot system.
Data from a fatal Tesla crash involving 38-year-old Apple software engineer Walter Huang revealed the system had not detected his hands on the wheel in the moments before the crash despite warnings from the carmaker that drivers must remain in control and alert at all times when the autopilot system is engaged.

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IRT Group’s driverless shuttle wins emerging technology project of the year – Projects- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Aged care provider IRT Group has moved past the hype of driverless technologies to deliver an autonomous shuttle service that has won over the ACT government, the police, and most importantly its clients.
Initially, the residents at IRT’s Kangara Waters lifestyle village were understandably cautious about hopping onto a shuttle bus that didn’t have a driver – even though the the project was personally signed off by territory ministers and the police commissioner.
Executive general manager of IT, John Vorhadsky, said that the project was about “taking one for the team” in moving past the gimmicky and overhyped nature of driverless projects to date to deliver something genuinely useful for IRT’s clients.
Taking one for the team meant the project was never envisioned as a profit-making exercise, but rather one to improve the culture at Kangara Waters helping residents be more mobile while paving the way for future driverless projects thanks in no small part to the fact IRT’s submissions to the government have been turned into the template for the approval process.
Setting up the Easymile shuttle involved close work with the vendor to ensure it would be fit-for-purpose in IRT’s demographic and on its mixed-use roads, with engineers from the company even coming out to survey the area and modify the shuttle’s standard operating systems to the safety requirements needed with older users.
During trials, the shuttle proved to be a huge mobility aid for residents – with some now leaving their flats for the first time in months.
Patronage at the local cafe boomed as more people decided to go out more often, highlighting the potential of autonomous vehicles to overcome the isolation that can be experienced as one gets older and faces issues like driving restrictions and health issues.
The launch of the shuttle on Mother’s Day last year also proved a popular draw card, with many residents showing off the service to their grandchildren.
You can read more about IRT Group’s work alongside the other winning projects and finalists here.
Winners were announced at the iTnews Benchmark Awards 2020 gala dinner held at KPMG’s Sydney Office in Barangaroo.

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‘Taking one for the team’ to debut first driverless car in aged care sector – Projects- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Autonomous vehicles have long been touted as an opportunity to increase mobility and accessibility among the elderly, but so far IRT Group is the only aged care provider to make it a reality.
The project kicked off at its Kangara Waters lifestyle village in Canberra where IRT essentially had to build everything – including the government approval processes – from scratch.
Executive general manager of IT, John Vohradsky, said the opportunity to deploy a driverless shuttle was identified through the organisation’s “push-pull” IT strategy of meeting the pull of IRT’s needs across its business streams while continuously identifying opportunities to push new technologies.
“We were looking to push the new driverless technology to see how we could meet three main challenges pulling on the organisation, like the isolation the elderly can feel when their family and friends move away or people they know pass away,” he told iTnews.
That issue can be compounded by mobility issues resulting from either an injury or the loss of a driver’s license, both of which can greatly impact on seniors’ independence and their ability to connect to vital community services.
“Before introducing the shuttle, some of these people hadn’t left their units in months.
“The only people they’d have contact with would be IRT staff,” Vohradsky said.
However, IRT knew from the outset that the initiative would be a loss-leading exercise.
“You can’t just go down to the corner store and buy a driverless shuttle. These things aren’t cheap to buy or rent, and there isn’t anywhere you can buy them in Wollongong or Sydney.
“And you can’t just put one on the road and have it go. You need to do tests and deal with the fact that every road rule in Australia assumes a human driver is behind the wheel.
“We decided to take one for the team because we were confident this solution would benefit our residents, but also the wider industry.”
Part of that involved working with the ACT government to develop an approval process, which essentially turned IRT’s submission into a template for future work. Even still, the project had to receive ministerial approval and a signature from the police commissioner.
Vohratsky also had to contend with a very conservative user base who weren’t thrilled with the reports fatal car crashes connected to Tesla Autopilot, electric vehicle fires or Uber’s fatal collision with a pedestrian.IRT worked with French autonomous vehicle manufacturer Easymile to modify the standard operating software to make it safer for seniors and fit for the Kangara Waters Lifestyle Village’s mixed-use roads.
While IRT had initially thought of using an ad hoc, Uber-style offering, a routine shuttle bus on a closed loop proved to be easier to set up and more effective.
Residents who hadn’t left their units for months became unexpected regulars at the local coffee shop, and staff who were concerned about the disruption found it easy to modify their schedules.
Vohradsky said the positive outcomes showed how this kind of innovation could become “the new normal” in an industry often regarded as being at the back end of the tech adoption bell curve.

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Autonomous vehicle R&D group ‘Capri Mobility’ is testing ‘driverless pods’ in the UK – Blog – 10 minute

In context: Autonomous vehicle technology is on the rise, and numerous companies have reached major milestones in this industry. Waymo has begun a limited rollout of its completely driverless ride-hailing service, and Tesla vehicles continue to get impressive (but buggy) new self-driving features every year.
Now, UK-based self-driving tech R&D organization Capri Mobility is working on an autonomous vehicle experiment of its own. Yesterday, Capri began offering South Gloucestershire and Bristol residents the opportunity to ride in their “driverless pods.” These pods are relatively small four-person vehicles with rounded roofs, large glass windows, and — of course — no safety drivers of any kind.
Capri’s public pod testing will continue over the following week between the hours of 10AM and 4PM every day. On January 26, the public trial will come to an end, and Capri will take whatever lessons it learned from the experiment and use them to improve upon its technology for future tests.
Capri’s current trial is taking place at the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol, and its current aim is to offer shoppers the chance to “experience autonomous vehicles” and learn more about the technology in use. Indeed, public education is a major part of Capri’s operations — the organization is doing its best to show the world how autonomous vehicles work while eliminating some common fears and misconceptions.

Capri’s reason for choosing the Mall at Cribbs Causeway as a testing location is two-fold. First, given how much foot traffic the commercial destination gets, it’s an excellent way for Capri to learn how its pods will react in a complex, ever-changing environment. Second, Capri hopes that, someday, this sort of technology will “improve customer [experiences]” and allow Mall owners to replace parking lots with more condensed pick-up and drop-off points.
Naturally, Capri is keeping safety in mind with its latest test. Its pods reportedly admit an “audible sound” to alert nearby passerby to their presence, and “Safety Marshals” walk near the pods at all times to answer the public’s questions and ensure that nothing goes wrong.
If you live in Bristol and you want to take one of Capri’s pods for a spin, there don’t appear to be any special forms to fill out or sign-ups to worry about. Just go to the Mall at the appropriate time and look for one of Capri’s workers — they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

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Voyage raises $31 million to bring driverless taxis to communities – gpgmail


Voyage, the autonomous vehicle startup that spun out of Udacity, announced Thursday it has raised $31 million in a round led by Franklin Templeton.

Khosla Ventures, Jaguar Land Rover’s InMotion Ventures and Chevron Technology Ventures also participated in the round. The company, which operates a ride-hailing service in retirement communities using self-driving cars supported by human safety drivers, has raised a total of $52 million since launching in 2017. The new funding includes a $3 million convertible note.

Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron has big plans for the fresh injection of capital, including hiring and expanding its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which always have a human safety driver behind the wheel.

Ultimately, the expanded G2 fleet and staff are just the means toward Cameron’s grander mission to turn Voyage into a truly driverless and profitable ride-hailing company.

“It’s not just about solving self-driving technology,” Cameron told gpgmail in a recent interview, explaining that a cost-effective vehicle designed to be driverless is the essential piece required to make this a profitable business.

The company is in the midst of a hiring campaign that Cameron hopes will take its 55-person staff to more than 150 over the next year. Voyage has had some success attracting high-profile people to fill executive-level positions, including CTO Drew Gray, who previously worked at Uber ATG, Otto, Cruise and Tesla, as well as former NIO and Tesla employee Davide Bacchet as director of autonomy.

Funds will also be used to increase its fleet of second-generation self-driving cars (called G2) that are currently being used in a 4,000-resident retirement community in San Jose, Calif., as well as The Villages, a 40-square-mile, 125,000-resident retirement city in Florida. Voyage’s G2 fleet has 12 vehicles. Cameron didn’t provide details on how many vehicles it will add to its G2 fleet, only describing it as a “nice jump that will allow us to serve consumers.”

Voyage used the G2 vehicles to create a template of sorts for its eventual driverless vehicle. This driverless product — a term Cameron has used in a previous post on Medium — will initially be limited to 25 miles per hour, which is the driving speed within the two retirement communities in which Voyage currently tests and operates. The vehicle might operate at a low speed, but they are capable of handling complex traffic interactions, he wrote.

“It won’t be the most cost-effective vehicle ever made because the industry still is in its infancy, but it will be a huge, huge, huge improvement over our G2 vehicle in terms of being be able to scale out a commercial service and make money on each ride,” Cameron said. 

Voyage initially used modified Ford Fusion vehicles to test its autonomous vehicle technology, then introduced in July 2018 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, its second generation of autonomous vehicles. But the end goal has always been a driverless product.

gpgmail previously reported that the company has partnered with an automaker to provide this next-generation vehicle that has been designed specifically for autonomous driving. Cameron wouldn’t name the automaker. The vehicle will be electric and it won’t be a retrofit like the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid vehicles Voyage currently uses or its first-generation vehicle, a Ford Fusion.

Most importantly, and a detail Cameron did share with gpgmail, is that the vehicle it uses for its driverless service will have redundancies and safety-critical applications built into it.

Voyage also has deals in place with Enterprise rental cars and Intact insurance company to help it scale.

“You can imagine leasing is much more optimal than purchasing and owning vehicles on your balance sheet,” Cameron said. “We have those deals in place that will allow us to not only get the vehicle costs down, but other aspects of the vehicle into the right place as well.”


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Voyage’s driverless future, ghost work, B2B growth strategies, and Black Hat takeaways – gpgmail


Inside Voyage’s plan to deliver a driverless future

In the autonomous vehicle space, startups have taken radically different strategies to building our AV future. Some companies like Waymo have driven all across different types of environments in order to rack up the datasets that they believe will be needed to effectively maneuver without a human driver.

That’s the opposite strategy of Voyage, where CEO and founder Oliver Cameron and his team have focused on driving safety in the incredibly constrained context of two retirement communities.

Our transportation editor Kirsten Korosec talked with the company and analyzes their approach in a new profile for Extra Crunch, and also drops some news about a partnership the company has brewing with a major automotive manufacturer.

Cameron, who shies away from discussing timelines, describes the company as inching toward driverless service.

Its self-driving software has now reached maturation in the communities it is testing in, and Voyage is now focusing on validation, according to Cameron.

Voyage has developed a few systems that will help push it closer to a commercial driverless service while maintaining safety, such as a collision mitigation system that it calls Rango, an internal nickname inspired by the 2011 computer-animated Western action-comedy about a chameleon.

This collision mitigation system is designed to be extremely fast-reacting, like a reptile — hence the Rango name. Rango, which has an independent power source and compute system and uses a different approach to perception than the main self-driving system, is designed to react quickly. If needed, it will engage the full force of the brakes.

Startup ads are taking over the subway

Public transit is just swimming in startup ads. From complete Brex takeovers of the San Francisco Caltrain station to the sleep puzzles posted by Casper across the New York City subway, startups have been taking advantage of this unique out-of-home advertising space. What’s the full story though? Our reporter Anthony Ha takes a look at how the subway ad market came to be in the past few years, and what the future holds for other marketers.


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Inside Voyage’s plan to deliver a driverless future – gpgmail


In two years, Voyage has gone from a tiny self-driving car upstart spun out of Udacity to a company able to operate on 200 miles of roads in retirement communities.

Now, Voyage is on the verge of introducing a new vehicle that is critical to its mission of launching a truly driverless ride-hailing service. (Human safety drivers not included.)

This internal milestone, which Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron hinted at in a recent Medium post, went largely unnoticed. Voyage, after all, is just a 55-person speck of a startup in an industry, where the leading companies have amassed hundreds of engineers backed by war chests of $1 billion or more. Voyage has raised just $23.6 million from investors that include Khosla Ventures, CRV, Initialized Capital and the venture arm of Jaguar Land-Rover.

Still, the die has yet to be cast in this burgeoning industry of autonomous vehicle technology. These are the middle-school years for autonomous vehicles — a time when size can be misinterpreted for maturity and change occurs in unpredictable bursts.

The upshot? It’s still unclear which companies will solve the technical and business puzzles of autonomous vehicles. There will be companies that successfully launch robotaxis and still fail to turn their service into a profitable commercial enterprise. And there will be operationally savvy companies that fail to develop and validate the technology to a point where human drivers can be removed.

Voyage wants to unlock both.

Crowded field


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