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Traffic anomalies no longer a mystery thanks to drivers´ Bluetooth devices.

Traffic anomalies no longer a mystery thanks to drivers´ Bluetooth devices.

Thanks to years of collecting traffic data, based on the movement of driver´s mobile devices, Aarhus municipality in Denmark can now see the effects in road traffic of construction projects, roadwork, traffic accidents and faulty traffic lights.

Aarhus, Denmark’s second-largest city has been using BlipTrack Bluetooth sensors for several years to collect traffic information, based on the movement of road users´ Bluetooth devices. The sensors, placed on the entire road network, including adjacent highways, provides the city with both real-time and historic traffic information, including driving times, speed, dwell times and flow.

Besides the benefits of real-time reporting, which enables the city to gain in-depth insight and understanding of current road density, flow and formation of queues, and share traffic information with road users on signs, the historical data is now being used to detect driving time anomalies. Effectively, this means that the city can pinpoint road sections and intersections where driving times deviate from the norm as a result of construction projects, incidents, roadwork, faulty traffic lights and other factors.

The data provides a thorough comparison of current vs typical driving times, minute-by-minute throughout the day. The typical driving times, which are continuously updated, are based on various type of days (weekdays, weekend, vacation season or not) and time of day.

If driving times deviate from the typical driving time, the system automatically raises a flag. As the system logs and visualizes all deviations, traffic engineers can create historical performance and reliability reports based on deviations from the norm. The city is provided with an overview of the current situation and tendencies over time, to initiate countermeasures.

Alarm visualization can be displayed in various ways; for example, over time and for each road section, based on intersection errors, or the impact of a major traffic accident. It can show the scattering effect that can cause both a deterioration and improvement of driving times – depending on what alternative routes motorists choose to take advantage of – or if road users are prevented from reaching parts of roads.

“The benefits we have gained from the solution since implementation are very significant. We now discover errors and irregularities that we would not have a chance to see otherwise. In addition, it is extremely educational and easy accessible to study how the incidents of various kinds influence the road network,” says Asbjørn Halskov-Sørensen, ITS Project Manager at Aarhus Municipality.

With the new approach, Aarhus now enjoys a full overview and understanding into all dynamics of its traffic. Since the city has full access to all the raw data, unlike with similar solutions, the plan is to combine the solution with existing surveillance systems. This would enable the city to qualify the individual system’s alarms to an even greater extent.

Besides providing the city of Aarhus with visibility on driving times anomalies, the solution is also implemented in cities in UK, Sweden, Thailand, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, Canada and Ireland. BlipTrack also is successfully employed in optimization efforts in more than 25 international airports, including Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, JFK Airport in New York, Copenhagen, Oslo, Manchester, Dublin, Brussels, Geneva, San Diego, Keflavik and Edinburgh. In recent years, the solution has been rolled out in train stations, ports, ski resorts, amusement parks and at events all over the world.

  • BlipTrack Bluetooth sensors help to collect traffic information.
International Road Transport Union (IRU) underlines international dimension of BUS2BUS

International Road Transport Union (IRU) underlines international dimension of BUS2BUS

Europe’s borders have long since ceased to be a hindrance to coach travel. That is why the Bundesverband Deutscher Omnibusunternehmer (bdo) and the International Road Transport Union (IRU) are joining forces in order to address the industry’s key topics at international level at BUS2BUS.

Whereas the bdo closely collaborates with Messe Berlin in its role as the non-commercial sponsor of BUS2BUS, the IRU now officially supports Messe Berlin’s newly organised business platform. The IRU will not only be represented with a stand, but will also be organising two workshops at the Future Forum. These events will discuss the future of long-distance coach travel and bus tourism. It means that BUS2BUS, from which over 70 exhibitors from 13 countries have already registered, is also becoming an increasingly international event for congress and workshop topics. Thus, BUS2BUS, which will take place on 25 and 26 April, will be a cosmopolitan marketplace featuring a congress, exhibition and Future Forum.

Oleg Kamberski, head of Passenger Transport, IRU: ”The IRU is very pleased to be supporting BUS2BUS and to be playing an active part in the event’s Future Forum. BUS2BUS will provide an excellent opportunity for the various players from the bus and coach industry to come together and debate the future of our business. The discussions will certainly provide valuable input into the IRU’s current work on a 2030 vision.”

Christiane Leonard, vice president of the Passenger Transport Council (CTP) of the IRU and managing director of the bdo: ”The IRU’s involvement underlines the significance of BUS2BUS as the new leading event for the bus industry. We look forward to this new and unique high-level event in Berlin, where together with industry representatives important political stakeholders will debate the latest challenges as well as visions for the future of bus transport.“

From 25 to 26 April 2017 visitors to BUS2BUS in Berlin can experience the future of the bus industry on several levels. Combining an exhibition, congress and Future Forum, it represents a globally unique meeting place for debating new business approaches and for building new, cross-sectoral partnerships. At BUS2BUS visitors can view buses on display as well as in action. As a marketplace BUS2BUS enables visitors to put solutions into practice and test drive vehicles on the outdoor display site. The bdo Congress will provide an opportunity for close networking and at the Future Forum the markets of the future will invite visitors to make new discoveries.

  • IRU and BDO want to make BUS2BUS the new leading event in the bus industry.  
U.S. Minivan market collapsed In Q1 By 20%. However, Fiat Chrysler gained market share

U.S. Minivan market collapsed In Q1 By 20%. However, Fiat Chrysler gained market share

The U.S. minivan market was down 20% year over year for the first quarter of 2017 on a unit basis. The market leader by far is FCA, which was down 13% as an average for its multiple minivan models. However, all the other competitors were down more than 13%, so FCA’s market share actually grew from 49% to 53%.

Keep in mind that FCA has a much higher share of its sales going to fleet customers (rental car agencies etc.) than companies such as Honda.

The plug-in hybrid version of the Chrysler Pacifica was delayed from January 1 to late April 2017. Honda also gets an all-new Odyssey by June.

When does being down 13% year over year mean that you gained market share? When you’re Fiat Chrysler (NYSE:FCAU) and you’re looking at the U.S. minivan market, that’s when.

The U.S. minivan market is currently running around 500,000 units per year, or under 3% of the total U.S. light vehicle market. We just got the 1Q 2017 sales numbers, and it’s not a pretty picture. Overall, the U.S. minivan market was down 20% year over year during the first quarter of 2017. In an overall light vehicle market that was flat to down perhaps 1%, that’s a massive underperformance. Pickup trucks, for example, were up 5%.

One year ago, the market share leader was FCA with 49%. That’s an insanely high number to begin with. If you’re down 13%, that is normally evidence of your market share falling from such an unusually high level.

But not in this case.

Why? Because the competitors were down even more. Just look at this massacre! Toyota down 25%, Honda down 23%, Kia down 37%, and Nissan down 33%. This is nothing short of wild.

Is this a “canary in the coal mine” sign of a falling U.S. birth rate? Slowing family formation? I don’t know, but one can wonder – and should continue to monitor. This is as good a place as any other to point out that FCA has a very high share of its sales going into fleets, such as rental companies.

  • Where’s the US minivan market going?
A Startup You’ve Never Heard of Just Raised More Than Uber

A Startup You’ve Never Heard of Just Raised More Than Uber

If we look back over the last 10 years, there has been a larger and larger focus on on-demand delivery of goods and services. Whether that be Amazon Prime or Uber. There’s no argument that the most important thing is you get what you want, when you want it. At least, that’s what I thought until I heard about Picnic — a year and a half old Dutch grocery delivery startup that is running on a different philosophy. And it’s paying off.

Picnic recently raised €100 million as part of their series B round. To put that into perspective, Uber raised $US37 million in series B.

The most interesting thing about Picnic is how they approach delivery.

“The vehicles work in a way that’s reminiscent of old-fashioned milkmen: they follow set routes and deliver at set times, so costumers always know when to expect their fresh foodstuffs. That’s not only more efficient than how most grocery delivery companies go about it now — criss-crossing town to deliver at requested times, sometimes coming back to the same street after doing a delivery across town — but also allows Picnic to deliver for free.”

It’s not on-demand. At first glance, Picnic couldn’t be more different to Uber. A recently released New York Times piece gives a fascinating look into how Uber influences drivers to drive more. And not to over simplify, but it is all in the hopes of increasing the supply of drivers on the road.

And in turn, that should bring down the time it takes for you and I to get a ride. One of the most fascinating pieces is the algorithm called forward dispatch.

“To keep drivers on the road, the company has exploited some people’s tendency to set earnings goals — alerting them that they are ever so close to hitting a precious target when they try to log off. It has even concocted an algorithm similar to a Netflix feature that automatically loads the next program, which many experts believe encourages binge-watching. In Uber’s case, this means sending drivers their next fare opportunity before their current ride is even over.”

Queueing drivers has obvious benefits for both riders and drivers. For riders, the wait time is lower and for drivers, the idle time is lower. The article’s general focus was on how forward dispatch made the default behaviour to continue to drive. That’s true. But what forward dispatch is really about is boosting efficiency. It means that the driver is always driving towards another fare. What’s interesting to think about is this is exactly why Picnic doesn’t do on-demand delivery.

For Picnic, it’s all about not crisscrossing the city in order to delivery food at a specific time. Because of the lack of volume, they are forced to maintain strict paths. Both Uber and Picnic are focused on bringing down the amount of time that is spent travelling in the wrong direction. Forward dispatch is only viable if you have volume. Picnic’s old school approach is a way to maximum the amount of time spend travelling in the right direction. Without volume. It’s the method of the milkman.

Read more:

  • PicNic: the method of the milkman, not of Uber.


Register now: Taxi & Mobility Update shows all sides of the mobility debate

Register now: Taxi & Mobility Update shows all sides of the mobility debate

Join us in Brussels on May 4 and 5! A great variety of eminent speakers will be showing all sides of the mobility debate at the annual international Taxi & Mobility Update conference at the Van der Valk Hotel in Brussels. Now is the time to register as there is still room. Don’t miss the chance to update yourself on the latest developments in the taxi & mobility industry! Regulatory issues, autonomous vehicles, Mobility as a Service (MaaS), the future of public transport, new business models and more.

Register now on MobilityIntell for Taxi & Mobility Update 2017, Brussels, 4-5 May!

Some of a host of confirmed speakers:

  • Shwetha Surender from Frost & Sullivan who gives a riveting introductory keynote: “A view towards the horizon: Mega Trends in the Mobility Industry”
  • “Rethinking mobility for a human city” by Prof. Dr. Cathy Macharis, Head of the VUB Research group MOBI – Mobility, Logistics and Automotive Technology Research Centre.
  • UITP Secretary-General Alain Flausch on “The leading Role of Public Transport in New Mobility.”
  • Andy Boland, CEO of Addison Lee, one of the largest private hire companies in Europe: “New business models for a changed business environment”
  • “Mobility as a Service – The Future of (Public) Transport” by Sampo Hietanen, CEO MaaS Global Ltd
  • Alwin Bakker, Founder and CEO of “The Autonomous Future”
  • Olli-Pekka Rantala, Director-General of the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication’s Services Department, Helsinki on Finland’s new Transport Code.
  • Kate Toran, Director of Taxis and Accessible Services SFMTA), San Francisco: “A view towards the horizon from where it all began.”
  • Regulatory keynote – Matt Daus, President of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR): “A quick update on new regulatory accents worldwide.”

Register now on MobilityIntell for Taxi & Mobility Update 2017, Brussels, 4-5 May!

BlaBlaCar changes gear by offering drivers car leases

BlaBlaCar changes gear by offering drivers car leases

BlaBlaCar, whose amateur (mainly private) drivers share costs with passengers on long-distance journeys, will offer them cheaper car leases through French bank Societe Generale in the latest threat to traditional transport models, write Reuters and USNews. The Paris-based start-up will first offer the new packages for Opel models through the bank’s leasing business to more active BlaBlaCar drivers in France, before deploying the program more widely, Chief Executive Nicolas Brusson said.

BlaBlaCar, whose phone app has some 40 million users in 22 countries, is among the so-called mobility services whose growth is disrupting carmakers and transport companies alike. Besides ride-sharing, they include mainly local ride-hailing services such as Uber and car-sharing firms such as Avis-owned ZipCar, which offer access to self-drive vehicle fleets for as little as an hour at a time.

“The goal is to expand that geographically,” Brusson said. “We can pioneer a new approach to car ownership based on usage.” In response to the threat, vehicle manufacturers and transport operators have struck deals with providers of mobility services over the past decade or developed their own.

Daimler launched car-sharing through its Car2Go subsidiary in 2008. Among many more recent deals, Opel parent General Motors invested $500 million in ride-hailing firm Lyft and PSA Group has backed several startups. Even France’s state-owned SNCF railway has partnered with Zipcar.

BlaBlaCar allows car owners to cover their expenses but not make a profit – which shields it from regulatory costs and tax, further improving its appeal to passengers. Thanks to its potential scale, the Societe Generale ALD Automotive partnership adds the competitive clout of corporate leasing to BlaBlaCar’s already frugal peer-to-peer model. The start-up’s 9 million drivers buy an estimated 1.3 million new cars each year.

Read more:

  • BlaBlaCar now offers Opel cars through ALD Societe Generale.
Arthur D. Little predicts how future mobility solutions will affect automotive OEM’s

Arthur D. Little predicts how future mobility solutions will affect automotive OEM’s

Arthur D. Little (ADL) recently released a new study, “The Future of Automotive Mobility.” Based on a global survey of 6,500 participants, including customers, industry players and regulators, the report examines how the megatrends of electric mobility, car sharing and autonomous driving are likely to impact on the global automotive ecosystem and future OEM sales.

The report notes that the future of mobility will no longer depend primarily on the preferences of customers, but will increasingly be driven by regulation as cities seek to resolve traffic-generated problems such as congestion and poor air quality. Electric mobility, car sharing and autonomous driving solutions all have an important role to play in meeting these challenges – however, the effect on traditional OEM’s production volume may not be as severe as some experts have predicted.

For example, a key component of autonomous driving will be “mobility-on-demand” solutions, in which customers use “robot taxis.” Based on real mobility data from almost 100 mega-cities, ADL simulated the effect of robot taxis upon mobility behavior and car sales. The findings revealed that even with total market coverage, their effect was not as bad as the predicted worst case scenario.

Klaus Schmitz, Partner in ADL’s Automotive Division, explains: “In a moderate scenario, in which 11 metropolitan regions implement the new form of urban mobility by 2030, global vehicle sales will rise to 121 million vehicles a year, a 39% increase compared to today. In a progressive scenario of 52 pioneer cities, sales will amount to 119 million vehicles, a 34% increase.”

The report details how new roles are being created in the automotive-supplier pyramid, with the shift to the electric drive train and the increasing importance of software being additional factors to consider. However, a major challenge for manufacturers is the loss of direct access to the mobility customer.

Wolf-Dieter Hoppe, author of the study and Associate Director at ADL, warns: “Millions of individual customers will be replaced by a few very large, multinational fleet operators. These could take over the dominant role of OEMs in the ecosystem, as they would have direct customer access as well as considerable volume power. In particular, this would be a problem for today’s premium manufacturers.”

  • ADL: “A key component of autonomous driving will be “mobility-on-demand” solutions, in which customers use ‘robot taxis.’”
Daimler and Bosch: fully autonomous cars within 5 years

Daimler and Bosch: fully autonomous cars within 5 years

Look out, startups. The big guns are taking on autonomous driving with serious intent. Daimler, one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world, announced that it is partnering with Bosch, one of the largest automotive tech and hardware suppliers in the world, to bring fully autonomous vehicles to urban roads “by the start of the next decade.”

It’s already 2017, so the start of the next decade is not quite three years away. But with the resources available to the Daimler-Bosch partnership, they plan on co-developing vehicles capable of SAE Level 4 fully automated driving and SAE Level 5 driverless operation. The focus of the partnership will be on the software and algorithms required to make those advanced driving systems safe and predictable.

According to press releases from both companies, the goal is to create shared cars that can operate autonomously within designated areas of a city. The user can call the car via app, ride without a driver, and be dropped off, leaving the driverless car to pick up another customer. The companies hope to both ease traffic and improve accessibility for those who can’t drive or don’t have a driver’s license.

Of course, other ride hailing companies are already headed down this driverless road, most notably Uber. But Uber and Daimler formed a partnership in early 2017 to develop self-driving cars. And Mercedes-Benz, which is under the Daimler umbrella, has been showcasing fully autonomous concept cars at auto shows in recent years.

But in an interesting side note, the head of the Mercedes-Benz Cars R&D validation and testing, Jochen Haab, said in a recent interview that a ‘driverless taxi’-type situation was “at least a decade away.” Haab was in Australia overseeing an autonomous driving pilot project–one that may move a bit more quickly now.

Read more:

  • Will Daimler and Bosch leave the Silicon Valley start-ups behind?
LiDAR: Not just for autonomous vehicles

LiDAR: Not just for autonomous vehicles

The first time I ever heard of LiDAR, writes Calum McClelland, Director of BD @ Leverege in Medium, was in regard to autonomous vehicles, used as a way of identifying (and therefore avoiding) objects. Curious how it worked, I began investigating LiDAR and discovered that there are many, many applications beyond just autonomous vehicles. LiDAR is extremely useful in fields like archeology, physics, and astronomy, among others.

Since I work in the Internet of Things at Leverege, LiDAR applications in IoT are particularly interesting to me, so below I’ll share some cool use cases for LiDAR in smart agriculture, smart retail, and smart cities.

But First: How Does LiDAR Work? If you’re anything like me, you love knowing how and why things work the way they do. So I’ll share a quick explanation of LiDAR before we check out some applications.

The term “LiDAR” originated in the early 1960s as a combination of the words “light” and “radar”. Some people treat LiDAR as an acronym, either for “Light Detection And Ranging” or for “Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging”, but such acronyms were created retroactively. Just as sonar uses sound waves and radar uses radio waves to create a map of the environment, LiDAR uses light.

LiDAR works by rapidly firing lasers (up to 150,000 times per second in some systems) at a target and then measuring the time for the light to bounce off that target and travel back to the source. Since the speed of light is constant, you can figure out the distance to the object:

Distance = (Speed of Light x Time of Flight) / 2

This will give you millions of points, called a “point cloud” in aggregate, which creates a digital mapping of the environment.

For LiDAR systems that are moving (e.g. on an airplane or on a car), you also need a position (GPS) and navigation system. Although light is literally the fastest thing there is, it isn’t instantaneous. So if you’re moving, not only do you need the time of flight for the light, but you also need the exact location of where the laser was fired and the exact location of where the returning laser is received. This lets you build an accurate point cloud like the picture above.

Applications of LiDAR: Although LiDAR has become extremely useful for autonomous cars of late, it’s had important applications for decades now. Before we jump into the IoT applications, here are two non-IoT applications that I found particularly cool. Archaeology: Planes flying with LiDAR systems can capture high-resolution models of archeological sites that can reveal micro-topography otherwise hidden by vegetation.

In 2012 LiDAR was used to find the legendary city of La Ciudad Blanca in the Honduran jungle. Despite the heavy foliage, LiDAR was able to show extensive man-made structures which ground searches had failed to find for hundreds of years. Vegetation can be filtered and “lifted” off of the underlying surface, which revealed a complex of mounds and ancient building foundations in Honduras.

Physics and Astronomy: During the Apollo program, retroreflectors were placed on the Moon. As the name implies, these retroreflectors are used to reflect back lasers that are shot from observatories on Earth. The data generated by these LiDAR systems in observatories across the world can be compared to find the exact position of the Moon measured with millimeter precision. Using these exact measurements, we’ve been able to conduct tests of general relativity.

LiDAR is also extremely useful for mapping the surfaces of celestial bodies. For lunar and martian landers, it’s critical to have accurate topographical maps so that flat landing sites can be chosen. In 2001, the Mars Global Surveyor produced a spectacularly precise global topographic survey of the red planet which has been crucial in subsequent missions to Mars.

Read more:

  • ‘LIDAR: Not just for autonomous vehicles’, writes Calum McClelland (Leverege).
In Silicon Valley, the voice of caution guides a high-flying Uber

In Silicon Valley, the voice of caution guides a high-flying Uber

Travis Kalanick, the famously combative chief executive of Uber, took the stage at a Vanity Fair conference in San Francisco last October and quickly faced a prickly question, writes Kate Bennermarch in the New York Times. Why all the blunders at the company, Vanity Fair’s editor, Graydon Carter, asked. And had Mr. Kalanick learned anything?

Off in the wings of the auditorium, Bill Gurley appeared to tense.

Mr. Gurley has a lot riding on Uber. His venture capital firm, Benchmark, bought into Uber six years ago, when the ride-hailing company was a mere pipsqueak. Today, what was a 20 percent stake in Uber is worth billions.

Mr. Gurley is a rare figure, a Silicon Valley habitué who chides some of the biggest start-up stars to show some discipline and drop their arrogant behavior. That day in October, Mr. Kalanick passed Mr. Gurley’s test. He answered calmly, saying that he could learn from leaders who had failed in the past. “We’ve made mistakes,” Mr. Kalanick said. “We always find a way to learn and to get better.”

Mr. Gurley relaxed visibly. Now, however, Uber faces precisely the kind of test Mr. Gurley has warned about. Former employees have said they were sexually harassed and discriminated against at the company. This month, Uber ended its use of a tool to thwart authorities in various cities who were trying to stop the ride-hailing service, after complaints that the behavior was unethical. Mr. Kalanick himself was caught on a video, which quickly went viral, in which he told one of Uber’s drivers that “some people just don’t want to take responsibility” for their own behavior, using an obscenity. Bennermarch continues by saying that caution is needed at Uber’s helm.

At the same time, Uber is facing business challenges — a tarnished image, legal difficulties and competition from rivals like Lyft — and is spending big to get around those issues. The company needs to resolve the controversies and get its business back on track.

Mr. Gurley has become deeply involved in that effort. In recent weeks, he has been active in a review of Uber’s practices, according to a person briefed on the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversations are confidential. Mr. Gurley is also helping the company search for a chief operating officer. Throughout, Mr. Gurley has remained one of Mr. Kalanick’s few trusted advisers, and the two communicate several times a week, according to three people who have spoken with the men.

Helping to right the ship at Uber is a somewhat fitting role for Mr. Gurley, who for years has warned about excessive risk-taking on the part of start-ups. Going against the Silicon Valley orthodoxy, the venture capitalist has urged technology start-ups to go public as soon as they are able, instead of continuing to take venture capital funding: Taking on too much venture funding, he has said, can fuel a lack of discipline.

“Bill was the one who pushed hard for my company, Net Gravity, to be profitable at the height of the dot-com boom” in the late 1990s, said Thuan Pham, a tech entrepreneur who joined Uber in 2013 and is now chief technology officer. “It was a very unpopular stance. At Uber, he is willing to speak up too.”

Mr. Gurley, 50, didn’t respond to requests for comment on Uber. In one of three interviews last year, he said of his warnings for start-ups that “I say these things because the longer bad behavior goes on, the worse things end up.”

Uber declined to comment on Mr. Kalanick’s relationship with Mr. Gurley.

Continue reading this longread on

  • Is Travis Kalanick the right man for Uber’s CEO position?