The Ligier Group has shown its driverless shuttle vehicle at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Chengdu, China, this week, and has partnered with Robosoft Technology to create the Easymile Company to market it.
Featuring video camera-based guidance tech (developed at the Institut Pascal) to position it on a roadway, the EZ-10 continuously monitors its path along a virtual track after an initial manually-driven journey down that route. It can detect obstacles – or people – in its path up to 50m away and stop or slow down automatically and can seat up to 10 (with four wheelchair-users). Designed for use on set routes at specific sites such as industrial complexes, airports and amusement parks (links between car-share and bike-share facilities are also mentioned), it can respond to multiple summons from call points or smartphones in an on-demand service. A fleet of five will now go on trial at the Michelin Europe Technology Centre, Ladoux. More here.
The Connected Car Expo takes place this week in LA; the keynote speech by “futurist” Peter Schwartz (wouldn’t mind his job title…) is previewed in a special Automotive News supplement. Schwartz talks about issues of consumer concern, security and regulation; the potential road safety, traffic and emissions benefits; and separating out the different roles of driving for essential transportation and driving for fun (the latter including personalised and selectable driving modes).
Interesting quote about driving in 50 years’ time: “We will look back at driving the way people look back at horses today. Are there still people going out to ride horses? Yes, there are people going out to ride horses and they enjoy it, but we don’t use horses as transportation”. Does he mean driving as a pleasure/leisure activity for a wealthy, privileged few, then? (Probably yes, I reckon). BTW, some three-quarters of vehicles sold by 2035 will have autonomous capabilities, according to Navigant Research’s latest forecast.
Daimler’s Car2Go reckons it’s going to have 1million registered users by the end of the year, reports Automotive News Europe. Its ‘free-floating’ carshare fleet currently consists of 12,000 Smart Fortwos in 29 cities across North America and Europe, and it is about to expand into China, giving 60 locations by the end of 2016. Car2Go is yet to make a profit, however.
A 100m stretch of ‘solar road’ – said to be the world’s first – has been opened this week in Krommenie, the Netherlands. It’s only on a cycle path next to the N203 at the moment, but its PV panels sit under thick super-strength glass, and the electricity collected is thought to be enough to power streetlights and illuminate road signs. Ultimately, such roadways could power electric cars and nearby houses or buildings, claim the designers. A three-year trial is now underway; more here and at the SolaRoad website. This glass is expensive, though, and the system’s only 30% as efficient as simply putting PV panels on nearby buildings, says Treehugger.
All types of UK road traffic rose 2.2% in the quarter July-October 2014, to 77.9billion vehicle miles, the highest quarterly figure since 2008. Compared to the same period in 2013, car traffic rose 1.4%, light goods rose 6.9%, and totals are conclusively up compared to Q3 five years ago (up 1% compared to 2009); ten years ago (up 1.5% compared to 2004); and 18.8% compared to 1994. All types of roads saw higher traffic levels in the last quarter, with the greatest rise on urban minor roads (up 3.5%), and motorway traffic has reached a record high. So much for peak car?
A test fleet of V2X-enabled Hondas has taken to the road in Munich to start a 1300km tour across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, communicating with traffic signals, smart traffic lights, congestion warnings and hazard alerts as they go. This is led by NXP Semiconductors in partnership with Siemens, Honda and Cohda Wireless, to showcase these countries’ ITS “corridor”. More here. (And details of Mexican research into data transference between vehicles here).
Australia: a 430km network of EV super-chargers – 12 locally-developed and manufactured Veefil points – is being built across SE Queensland, linking Brisbane with Noosa northwards up the Gold Coast and southwards to Byron Bay. More here. And also from the state: nanotechnology is the key to creating cars powered by their own supercapacitator-fitted body panels, say researchers at Queensland University of Technology.
More here on the Fraunhofer Institutes’ development of the self-charging EVs: the Afkar project in Stuttgart involves an EV parking itself, finding a space with facilities for recharging (using wireless induction) and even moving itself on once charged to free the charger up for another car. This has particular relevance for car-sharing scenarios, they say.
The US Air Force is to replace its entire non-tactical fleet with plug-in vehicles, with a view to using them as back-up power in an energy crisis situation, reports EV Fleet World.