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Taksi Helsinki appoints Jari Kantonen as GM

Taksi Helsinki appoints Jari Kantonen as GM

Jari Kantonen, aged 49, has been appointed as General Manager of Taksi Helsinki. He starts in the position at the end of spring 2017. Jari Kantonen was most recently the Head of Rail traffic services department at Finrail Oy. Prior to Finrail Oy, he acted as the Operations Director for G4S Finland.

Jari Kantonen has valuable leadership experience from working in both logistics and security and his way of working is based on being an open, collaborative and decisive leader. Kantonen is a strong strategy expert who has taken part in developing companies during major change phases. He brings additional power to Taksi Helsinki’s successful further development.

  • ‘Change manager’ Jari Kantonen will be leading Taksi Helsinki.  
RideCell and Auro Robotics: Autonomous meets new mobility services

RideCell and Auro Robotics: Autonomous meets new mobility services

RideCell Inc. an innovator in carsharing and ridesharing services, and Auro Robotics, maker of driverless zero-emission shuttles, have announced at the City Car Summit in Berlin that they have partnered to deliver exceptional autonomous transportation solutions to universities and corporate campuses. By combining the ridership growth made possible by the RideCell platform with the cost savings of Auro’s driverless shuttles, the partnership improves the efficiency of operating campus mobility services. RideCell also provides a fleet management infrastructure that enables Auro to maintain its autonomous fleets across multiple university and corporate customers.

“RideCell has the leading platform for carsharing and ridesharing in university settings, making them a natural partner for Auro,” said Nalin Gupta, CEO of Auro Robotics. “The RideCell mobility platform allows students and faculty to request a shuttle on demand, and also provides important benefits for our campus customers behind the scenes. In addition to automated scheduling and dispatch, RideCell makes it easy for Auro to manage and maintain our growing fleet of driverless shuttles.”

An autonomous mobility platform is much more than a ride-request app. The RideCell solution optimizes the productivity of each vehicle in the fleet and has been shown to quadruple ridership without increasing the number of shuttles. The intelligent RideCell infrastructure ensures that Auro shuttles are in the right place at the right time. Built-in alerts instruct shuttles when it’s time to head to a charging station and inform shuttle operations of the optimal low-use time for maintenance. With remote tracking and monitoring integrated into each shuttle, Auro can flawlessly manage campus fleets, utilizing real-time analytics to allow customers to reduce wait time and serve more riders, while staying within budget.

“Auro’s state-of-the-art driverless shuttles dramatically improve accessibility and movement across campuses,” said Aarjav Trivedi, RideCell founder and CEO. “We are delighted to partner with them to expand RideCell-powered shuttle programs at campuses across the U.S. with autonomous, zero-emission Auro vehicles.”

Customers at universities and corporate campuses benefit from the RideCell/Auro partnership, as they can now offer reliable, convenient mobility services at a significantly lower cost.

  • RideCell and Auro Robotics: Autonomous meets new mobility services
IAA and Mercedes-Benz to organize ‘me Convention’

IAA and Mercedes-Benz to organize ‘me Convention’

South by Southwest (SXSW) will collaborate with Mercedes-Benz at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt (IAA) in September 2017 to jointly organise the “me Convention”, a conference designed to give fresh momentum to the public debate on relevant future issues.

The “me Convention” will take place from September 15 to 17 in the Festhalle Frankfurt, the traditional stage for the Mercedes-Benz IAA motor show presentation. The day time convention will be complemented by music and other events throughout the city. “Mercedes-Benz is excited to work with SXSW to create a brand new, future-focused event in Germany. With this unique conference, Mercedes-Benz goes far beyond the bounds of traditional motor shows and invites the participants to an exchange of knowledge, opinions and thoughts,” said Dieter Zetsche about the new endeavor.

Hugh Forrest, Chief Program Officer at SXSW, added: “We are honoured to be invited to work with Mercedes-Benz to produce the “ me Convention” at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September 2017. The future of mobility will touch every aspect of the 21st century social fabric, and we look forward to presenting a wide variety of topics that stretch beyond anything one might assume would be offered at an automotive industry event.”

The “me Convention” offers an open and inspiring platform for creative people from many different fields, with the focus clearly on dialogue, interaction, networking, and entertainment. Content at the “me Convention” will cover relevant issues for building the future.

Together with SXSW, Mercedes-Benz has identified five relevant themes along its future strategy CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric):

  • New Creation: New ways of thinking, new approaches, new methods and mechanisms of production, as well as the integration of new technologies, will lead us to entirely new designs, products and services.
  • New Urbanity: The development and unfolding of new living environments and new infrastructures creates societies with new attitudes, needs and changed behaviour.
  • New Leadership: Traditional leadership styles and models are increasingly dying out. Greater freedom, exchange and trust are leading to more productivity, efficiency, flexibility and innovation within companies.
  • New Realities: We are creating a new reality: the boundaries between the real and the digital world are becoming increasingly blurred, opening up new ways of living, communicating and consuming.
  • New Velocity: Expecting our goods and services to be available on demand, we are accelerating things that previously took a long time to deliver: societies are being transformed, while technological innovations are springing up on an almost daily basis.

The motto of the convention is: #createthenew.

Visitors become participants – the new Mercedes-Benz trade show concept

The “me Convention” is part of the consistent advancement of the trade show presentations of Mercedes-Benz. Today, the brand with the star is represented not only at the classic motor shows, but also at tech and lifestyle platforms such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, and at the featured speech with Dr. Zetsche at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.

In 2017, the Stuttgart-based brand will open the doors to new dimensions of brand perception at the world’s largest motor show, the IAA Frankfurt: signalling a move away from an exclusively automotive presence, towards a trade show with international convention character that offers the visitor fellowship instead of exhibition, dialogue instead of prestigious presence and inspiration instead of traditional product experience.

Tickets for the three-day “me Convention” go on sale later this spring.

SXSW dedicates itself to helping creative people achieve their goals. Founded in 1987 in Austin, TX, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. SXSW proves that the most unexpected discoveries happen when diverse topics and people come together.

  • SXSW teams up with IAA and Mercedes-Benz at the ‘me Convention’
‘Unsustainable?’ investigates the growth of TNC’s on traffic, travel and  the future of New York City

‘Unsustainable?’ investigates the growth of TNC’s on traffic, travel and the future of New York City

Over the last four years, Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride services have put 50,000 vehicles on the streets of New York City. Customers embraced these new services as offering a prompt, reliable and affordable option for

traveling around town. Their growth also raises questions about their impacton traffic congestion and on public transit and taxi services that are essential components of urban transportation networks. A dearth of factual information has made it difficult, however, to assess their role in the city’s transportation network or decide whether a public policy is needed.

In his report ‘Unsustainable – The growth of app-based services and traffic, travel and the future of New York City, consultant Bruce Schaller presents a detailed analysis of the growth of app-based ride services in New York City, their impacts on traffic, travel patterns and vehicle mileage, and implications for achieving critical city goals for mobility, economic growth and environmental sustainability in New York and other major cities. Findings are based on trip and mileage data that are uniquely available in New York City, providing the most detailed and comprehensive assessment of these new services in any U.S. city.

As Uber and Lyft expanded to cities across the country, they promised benefits to all. Passengers would get a quick, convenient alternative to the hide-bound taxi industry. Shared rides would replace solo drivers, reducing congestion. Uber promised to take “1 million cars off the road in New York City and help eliminate our city’s congestion problem for good.” Lyft promised reductions in carbon footprint from people driving alone.

Customers embraced the new on-demand services, saying they saved time, reduced stress and offered affordable fares. But with over 50,000 on-demand ride service vehicles now on New York City streets, it’s a good time to take a look at the explosive growth of these new companies, also called Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), and their impact on critical City goals for mobility, economic growth and environmental sustainability.

In most of the country, this question is hard to answer because these privately held companies closely guard data on their operations. Uniquely in New York City, because TNCs are required to submit trip records and mileage data is available from mandated vehicle inspections, we finally have the data to see how these promises are working out.

What do these data show?

  • Initially, on-demand companies grew mostly by attracting yellow cab passengers. A January 2016 report from Mayor de Blasio concluded that the growing number of Uber and Lyft trips was not the primary cause of worsening congestion in the Manhattan Central Business District.
  • Since June 2015, however, TNC passenger volumes have tripled, to 500,000 riders per day. TNC growth far outpaced the drop in yellow cab rides, leading to large additions in overall taxi/for-hire ride volumes.
  • As a result of growing trip volumes, TNCs added 600 million miles of driving to city streets in 2016 — more than total yellow cab mileage in Manhattan.
  • Most of the added driving is in Manhattan and congested parts of Brooklyn and Queens near the East River, where streets have the least ability to accommodate additional traffic. TNCs added an estimated 7 percent to existing miles driven by all vehicles in these congested areas from 2013 to 2016.
  • Since mid-2015 TNCs have offered and heavily promoted “pooled” options such as UberPool and LyftLine. TNC mileage nonetheless continued to grow rapidly because exclusive-ride trips still predominate, and because most TNC customers are coming from transit, walking and biking. Migration from these modes translates to increased mileage even if TNC rides are shared.

The growth of on-demand ride services is also working to undercut the essential role of mass transit in absorbing growth in residents, workers and visitors. In the two decades before the arrival of TNCs, transit served the growth in travel from new residents and workers throughout the city. That meant the city could grow sustainably — without adding to congestion, slowing commerce, diluting air quality or adding to greenhouse gas emissions.

Since 2013, however, this picture has changed. TNC ridership growth has accelerated at the same time that subway and bus ridership began to decline. As a result, TNCs are now the leading source of growth in non-auto (i.e., non-personal car) travel in New York City.

A continuation of TNC-led growth in travel is not sustainable for a growing New York. Adding TNC mileage to already-congested streets will lead to mounting costs for businesses and consumers from increasing traffic delay and hinder progress toward the City’s goals for mobility, economic growth and the environment.

The central task for public policy is to shift growth back to sustainable, high-capacity modes, ranging from bus to subway to biking, while at the same time maintaining the mobility improvements that TNCs offer.

The report discusses how city and transit officials can make buses and subways a competitive choice when up against the deep-pocketed, nimble and aggressively customer-focused TNCs. These include short-term initiatives such as count-down clocks, bus lanes and traffic signal retiming and major capital projects such as installation of new subway signal systems.

The report also discusses the inevitable need for road pricing as TNC fare reductions begin to erase longstanding financial disincentives for traveling by motor vehicle in congested areas of the city.

These initiatives are urgently important to head off continued shift of travel from transit to TNCs, and are far more critical than headline-grabbing but low-ridership distractions like the LaGuardia AirTrain and BQX streetcar.

The report also lays out implications for other large cities that have experienced rapid growth in on-demand ride services. The findings show how the growth of on-demand services are becoming central to changes in how people travel within dense urban areas, the effects on travel and transit, and the need for a strong data-driven public policy response that incorporates street management, transit services and road pricing.

  • There is a need to make New York City buses and metros a competitive choice again.
Renault-Nissan and Transdev to develop mobility services for self-driving vehicles

Renault-Nissan and Transdev to develop mobility services for self-driving vehicles

The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Transdev have agreed to jointly explore development of mobility services with fleets of electric driverless vehicles for public and on-demand transportation. The companies will collaborate to develop a comprehensive, modular transportation system to enable clients to book rides, and mobility operators to monitor and operate self-driving car fleets.

“As the mobility services landscape keeps evolving, we have a great opportunity to offer innovative, connected mobility solutions for the evolving needs of our customers, fully aligned with our vision of a zero-emission, zero-fatalities society,” said Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan Alliance senior vice president of Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services. “Partnering with Transdev allows us to share our knowledge as leaders in electric vehicles, autonomous drive and connected-car technologies with one of the largest multi-modal mobility operators worldwide. Together we will develop an advanced driverless mobility system that will enhance existing public and on-demand transport systems.”

The research will initially include field tests in Paris-Saclay with Renault ZOEs, the leading electric vehicle in Europe, and Transdev’s on-demand dispatch, supervision and routing platform.

“The future of mobility will be P.A.C.E. – Personalized, Autonomous, Connected and Electric,” said Yann Leriche, chief performance officer at Transdev. “As a worldwide leader in public transport and on-demand shared services, we are committed to pioneer in mobility to always offer our clients the best solutions for their journeys. Our partnership with Renault-Nissan will reinforce our innovation capabilities and accelerate our time-to-market by combining our strengths with those of a global car manufacturer that shares the same willingness to enhance daily mobility to the benefit of clients.”

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has been forming partnerships to accelerate the development of advanced connected-car technologies and mobility services. These include a partnership with Microsoft to develop a single global platform that will improve the customer experience by making driving more intuitive, intelligent and fun; and a partnership with Japanese internet company DeNA to begin tests in Japan to develop driverless vehicles for commercial services.

  • Initial tests in Paris with Renault ZOE’s.
Comparing the Top 5 European countries for electric vehicle adoption

Comparing the Top 5 European countries for electric vehicle adoption

FleetCarma’s John Morland has provided an impressive overview of the EV-market in five European countries. Behind China, many consider Europe a hotbed for electric vehicles. While overall European sales numbers were only up 13%, and exponential growth will be required to meet Europe’s goal of “8 million EVs by the end of 2020,” significant milestones were hit in 2016.

By the end of the year, Norway, the Netherlands, and France each achieved cumulative plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) sales of more than 100,000. In Norway, plug-in electric vehicles even accounted for more than 33% of new car registrations. Norway, the Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany account for 82% of the cumulative sales of PEVs in Europe, and we can take a look at these top 5 countries to better understand what’s working and what isn’t.

In this article, we survey each country’s incentives, energy costs (electricity and gasoline), and charging infrastructure.

1) Norway

In March 2016, PEVs reached a market share of 33.5% according to Inside EVs. Every third new car registration for March in Norway was a PEV! Norway’s accomplishment is both surprising and predictable. Contradictory? Yes, but here’s another contradiction: Norway is a major petroleum producer, but almost all its electricity comes from hydro-electric power.

Norway could have gone either way – so what pointed to EVs?

In 1990, a Norwegian coalition government began its support for zero emissions vehicles (ZEVs) by introducing exemptions on purchase and import taxes. At that time, the coalition was concerned with improving the local environment and the worldwide climate as well as preserving fossil fuels. Promotion, education, and infrastructure development over the next 26 years seem to have assured today’s successes. Norway’s original goal was to have 100,000 ZEVs on the road by 2020, but as of September 2016, HybridCars reports that there are a total of 121,330 PEVs; plus some hydrogen cell cars.

Norway has high taxes on high emission vehicles, which help to pay for these incentives. Norwegian PEV drivers, in a survey, identified the zero tax incentive for ZEVs as the highest motivator for their purchase. Around 96% of electric car owners in Norway have access to a charging station in their own home or apartment. Additionally, Norway has a well-established charging system for those without access to a charging station or for those travelling extended distances.

The world’s largest EV fast-charging station opened in rural Norway (Nebbenes about 60 km north of Oslo), September 1, 2016.

The average number of charging stations in Norway is 2.4 for every 1,000 registered vehicles.

2) France

France is home to a number of vehicle manufacturers, including Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen, as well as assembly plants for foreign brands. The Renault Zoe alone accounted for almost half of all French PEV sales during 2014. France made tremendous gains in PEV numbers going from less than 10,000 registered PEVs in 2012 to over 100,000 in 2016.

Here’s the current offering—France doesn’t offer indirect incentives at the national level.

  • Environmental bonus or feebate (bonus/malus)—It’s a one-time tax that penalizes (malus) high CO2 emitters and rewards (bonus) low emitters. It can be as high as 27% of the list price to a maximum of 6,300 euros ($6,744 US). The malus revenue finances the bonus.
  • Conversion—Up to 3,700 euros ($3,961 US) applies to diesel car owners who switch to a ZEV.
  • There are various other vehicle taxes that are reduced by varying amounts depending the amount of CO2

A zero emissions vehicle buyer can receive up to 10,000 euros ($10,705 US) for the combined incentives. After this past December’s air quality scare in Paris, Forbes reports that this now applies to light trucks and taxis with a 1,000 euro ($1,070 US) bonus for electric scooters.

Since 2013, the French government has provided funding to assist public charging. Unfortunately, charging availability information for France is limited. The highest density in any of the regions is 0.1 charging points for every 1,000 registered vehicles.

3) The Netherlands

The latest Netherlands plan is to phase out all internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles by 2035. Here’s another contradiction—the Netherlands, home of Shell Oil, proclaims an end to the ICE. However, the EV transition is understandable given that around 90% of the population lives in urban settings whose short travel distances are favorable to PEVs.

Rather than singling out PEVs, the system is based on the level of each vehicle’s CO2 emissions. As in Norway and France, the main incentives are delivered in taxation schemes. The Netherlands has not introduced indirect incentives nationally—they’re at the municipal level.

  • New car registration tax—It’s based on the amount of a vehicle’s CO2 emissions, and is zero for zero emission vehicles, which can save thousands of dollars compared to high CO2 emitting vehicles. Plug-in Hybrids (PHEVs) get a graduated reduction.
  • Ownership tax—It’s a tax based on vehicle weight and type of powertrain. ZEVs are exempt from this tax while PHEVs get a weight reduction credit.
  • Tax exemption on private use of company cars—Private use of a company car for more than 500 km adds a taxable benefit to an employees income. Again ZEVs are exempt from this and PHEVs receive a graduated reduction. This is significant because around 90% of PEVs are registered to companies.

Because taxes are based on the size and weight of a vehicle, the most significant benefits are earned on large PEVs. Surprisingly (but understandably), over 50 percent of the PEVs in the Netherlands are SUVs.

In 2016, the government reduced the amount of the exemptions for PHEVs. This tax was significant because it could save a top-percent tax earner from 6,000 to 7,000 euros ($6,600 to $7,700) per year.

The benefit was reduced because many plug-in hybrid owners were running their vehicles on gas or diesel instead of electricity. The government hoped that this move would encourage more BEVs, but instead the Netherlands experienced a 73% drop in sales in the first six months of 2016. The market recovered somewhat by year-end, but overall PEV sales declined.

The charging infrastructure in the Netherlands has been achieved with public-private partnerships. This partnership is a consortium of regional and state-owned electricity grid operators. The average number of charging stations in the Netherlands is 1.1 for every 1,000 registered vehicles.

4) United Kingdom

The UK has car manufacturers such as Vauxhall, Mini, and Land Rover as well as car assembly plants, and is the second largest car market in Europe. The UK doesn’t have an official PEV goal, but unofficially the government has a plan to make PEVs 5% of 2020 car registrations.

The UK has three policies for incentives:

  • The Plug-in Car Grant—Covers 35% of the cost of a car (up to a maximum of £4,500 ($5,600 US) depending on the model) and 20% of the cost of a van, up to a maximum of £8,000 ($9,900 US).
  • Electric vehicles (with CO2 emissions below 100g/km) are exempt from the annual circulation (ownership) tax.
  • Private use of company cars—Reduces the taxable income benefit based on the CO2.

The Plug-in Car Grant is the most important incentive for private cars—in some cases, it can reduce the total cost of EVs below the cost of conventional cars. Indirect incentives are left to the regional governments.

In 2013, the UK government announced a grant of up to 75% of the installation costs of new charging points. The average number of charging stations in the UK is 0.31 for every 1,000 registered vehicles.

5) Germany

Germany is the economic driver of the European Union and a manufacturer of some high-end cars such as BMW, Mercedes, and Audi.  “The car is holy in Germany,” says Sascha Müller-Kraenner, the Berlin-based European representative of The Nature Conservancy.

Germany ranks last of the five in PEV registrations. However, Germany has acted in response to its commitment to the Paris Agreement because, although it has been successful at reducing its overall greenhouse gas emissions by about 21% since 1990, its transportation emissions have increased.

The German government has adopted an incentive and investment program to encourage a switch to PEVs. Additionally, it has approved a push for a Europe-wide ban on ICE cars by 2030. No EU law has resulted, but it has generated some publicity in favour of PEVs.


  • Ownership tax—10-year exemption for BEVs registered before 2016 and a 5-year one for BEVs registered between 2016 and 2020. PHEVs pay the tax, which is lowered in proportion to their lower CO2.
  • Grants—4,000 euros ($4,950 US) for pure electric cars and 3,000 euros ($3,713 US) for hybrids. The grant applies only to cars up to a maximum list price of 60,000 euros ($74,250 US).
  • Private use of company cars—The tax on the taxable benefit to employee income is reduced by a formula involving the capacity of electric energy storage in the vehicle.
  • Minor incentives
    • BEVs exempt from emissions inspection
    • Low interest loans for companies to purchase PEVs


  • Preferential or free parking, access to HOV lanes, and restricted traffic zones for low emission vehicles (electric range of 40 km or more).

Funding for electric vehicle charging infrastructure primarily relies on private-public partnerships. The average number of charging stations in Germany is 0.19 for every 1,000 registered vehicles. The following map shows the density of chargers.

For the summary, more detailed information and a number of interesting maps, click to FleetCarma’s article:

  • Different incentives have increased the number of EV’s in these countries (Norway, The Netherlands, France, UK, Germany).


UITP meets in Montreal for multimodal conference and trade show.

UITP meets in Montreal for multimodal conference and trade show.

On 15-17 May 2017, the international public transport community, including urban transport decision-makers and industry suppliers will come together in Montréal for the Global Public Transport Summit, the not-to-miss rendez-vous for urban transport professionals.

The UITP Global Public Transport Summit is a unique biennial event that covers all urban and regional transport modes. It combines a full programme of congress sessions with an extensive Exhibition of the latest solutions, innovations and products in public transport and urban mobility.

The UITP Summit gathers public transport professionals from across the board. This is your chance to exchange ideas and challenges with likeminded colleagues, create quality relationships and network with your peers from around the world.

A one-of-a-kind opportunity, the UITP Summit is:

  • The only event to address the strategic and networking needs of CEOs and high-level managers, whilst giving middle management answers to daily operational questions
  • The best start to leading your own transition, whether it’s exploring trailblazing innovation or learning about real-world solutions
  • A truly global event where international transport experts share their strategic vision for the sector, exchange best practices and network
  • The only event that covers the entire sustainable mobility landscape and the challenges of urban transport worldwide
  • The only place where transport leaders rub shoulders with urban leaders, tech wizards and policy watchers
  • Bound for Montreal: the UITP’s Global Public Transport Summit.
Aston Martin will focus on cybersecurity before developing a self-driving Lagonda

Aston Martin will focus on cybersecurity before developing a self-driving Lagonda

Aston Martin CEO Dr. Andy Palmer (who came from Nissan) was on stage at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, kicking off the event with the North American unveil of the AM-RB 001, Aston Martin’s new hypercar, TechCrunch writes. The fancy car is pretty cool, if that’s your bag (it presumably goes fast and is good-looking, as you can see below), but Palmer’s comments on autonomous driving led his remarks, and they’re especially interesting coming from the Chief Executive of a company that makes cars people thrill to drive.

Palmer said that it’s “no longer a question of if, but when” with regards to an autonomous driving future – in other words, the CEO of a company that makes cars adored by the same people who decry the idea of having control over their precious metal conveyance box taken away from them is acknowledging that it’s now basically curtains for primarily manually driven vehicles. Palmer also offered an anecdote from his personal life, noting that his children don’t place personal value or identity in getting access to cars – they derive these things from other sources, including apps, mobile devices and social networks.

That, combined with the rapid advances in technology and investment in vehicle automation, are contributing to a trajectory that puts us on a path to autonomous cars, according to Palmer. But that doesn’t mean Aston Martin is getting out of the luxury sports car market. In fact, Palmer added that “full autonomy is unlikely to be a near-term goal for a luxury sports car manufacturer,” and reiterated that truly autonomous tech is still a ways off.

Still, Palmer said that advancements in self-driving tech will help in the near-term with features including advanced driver assist and safety offerings. And while he brought up his company’s plans to develop an autonomous Lagonda eventually, he said that before things proceed to that stage he believes the industry needs to focus on basics first – basics including defines against cyber attacks, where Palmer said the “real battleground exists today.”

Palmer cautioned all car companies to ensure that “before we beta test our customers, let us understand the technologies,” including issues like connectivity, and what happens in situations where situational observation from sensors might not be sufficient, but where getting a 4G connection also isn’t possible. He made it clear that Aston Martin will ensure these basic questions are answered long before developing or fielding any kind of autonomous vehicle.

Still, it’s very interesting to hear a luxury sports automobile company CEO speak at such length about autonomous driving tech, particularly when he’s just unveiled, and is standing next to, one of the most elaborate and expensive odes to human-powered driving ever created. Aston Martin has previously expressed interest in autonomy as a way to provide luxury and comfort in settings where the thrill of driving isn’t available anyway – like when you’re stuck in traffic – but its clear the company’s thinking around this area continues to mature.

  • Andy Palmer (Aston-Martin): “it’s no longer a question of if, but when” we have autonomous cars. Most important: cybersecurity.
“Act now, and autonomous vehicles can help reduce traffic”

“Act now, and autonomous vehicles can help reduce traffic”

Autonomous vehicles should be used in shared fleets, and integrated with traditional public transport. This is the most efficient way to reduce the number of cars on the road, and help eliminate congestion issues. That is the conclusion of a paper published by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), reports Allinx, the Association of European Mobility Management Professionals.

The paper, titled Autonomous Vehicles: A Potential Game-Changer for Urban Mobility, concluded that autonomous vehicles that are put to use in shared fleets as ‘robo-taxis’ or mini-buses, or in car-sharing fleets, will be able to get people to places that are too difficult to reach with current transport modes. By plugging these first/last-mile gaps and connecting to existing public transport options, autonomous vehicles can make an important contribution to reducing the number of vehicles on the road.

According to the UITP, shared fleets integrated with public transport offer the best chance of an urban future in which noise and air pollution are signficantly reduced, traffic proceeds more efficiently and the reduction in vehicles on the road frees up parking lots and more, vast areas of urban space. “When 1.2m people around the world die each year in car-related deaths, 90 percent of which are due to human error, the road safety benefits are also significant”, adds UITP Secretary General, Alain Flausch.

But for the rollout and integration of autonomous vehicles to be truly successful, the UITP stresses that the safety and security of the driverless operation of these vehicles must be fully guaranteed. Without that assurance, autonomous vehicles will not be able to play a game-changing role in enhancing public transport. The UITP stresses that public authorities have a crucial role to play in rolling out autonomous vehicles, and in ensuring that their shared use has a maximum impact on the development of shared mobility and the reduction in single-car occupancy. Road pricing and car taxation are two suggestions for governments to help reshape mobility behaviour.

Another is help in setting up platforms for Mobility as a Service: the best way forward is to trial the integration of autonomous vehicles into general road use with real-world tests and to prepare for the impact on employment, as some jobs are likely to disappear – two areas in which the role of government is indispensible, the UITP argues.

“Autonomous vehicles are a potential game-changer for urban mobility and cities and countries must act now to shape their roll-out,” concluded Mr Flausch. “They offer the chance for a fundamental change – as a key part of tomorrow’s integrated transport systems with public transport as a backbone – but if we do not act now vehicle automation might even further increase the volume and use of private cars with all of the associated negative externalities”.

  • Game changers according to UITP’s Alain Flausch: autonomous vehicles and Mobility as a Service.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is leaving Trump’s business advisory council

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick is leaving Trump’s business advisory council

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says he has stepped down from US president Donald Trump’s economic council, Reuters reports.

“Earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community,” Kalanick wrote in an email to Uber employees. “I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”

Kalanick joined Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum on December 14. Other participating CEOs include Tesla’s Elon Musk, Pepsi’s Indra Nooyi, General Motors’ Mary Barra, and Disney’s Bob Iger. Kalanick is the only one so far to step down. (Musk, reached by tech site Gizmodo said that he plans to remain on the council for now.)

Kalanick’s decision to resign was initially hardly noticed, but resurfaced last week as Uber became a leading target of liberal outrage after a Twitter user accused the company of attempting to break up a taxi workers’ strike at New York’s John F. Kennedy International airport on Jan. 28, also noting Kalanick’s participating in Trump’s business advisory council. The tweet took on a life of its own, and #deleteUber was soon trending on Twitter.

In an attempt to control the damage, Kalanick condemned Trump’s immigration ban as “wrong and unjust” in a Facebook-post. He also announced a $3 million legal dense fund to help Uber’s thousands of affected drivers. But it was too little, too late. Although Uber refused to comment on the number of Uber-users who actually deleted their accounts, the number is rumoured to be above 200.000.

About Kalanick’s phone-call to president Trump, Business Insider reported that it was ‘disastrous.’ After Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s call with president Donald Trump last Thursday and decision to quit his business-advisory council, the sentiment within the White House, according to Mike Allen of Axios, is “If you want to cut off your access to the White House, f— you.”

That quote came to Allen from “some in Trump’s inner circle,” he reported. (Allen is deeply sourced within the Trump administration.). To be clear, Kalanick likely wasn’t literally told “f— you” during his call with Trump. But that’s apparently how the White House feels about Kalanick’s decision to distance himself and Uber from the administration after Trump signed an executive order last Friday temporarily barring citizens from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the US.

  • Kalanick turned his back on president Trump’s economic advisory council – but too late.