Poor urban design could be at fault for Uber driverless car crash

March 23, 2018 by  
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Uber’s self-driving cars are grounded after a fatal accident over the weekend — but a Cato Institute article questions if bad urban design was really to blame. Elaine Herzberg, the woman killed, seems to have been using a pedestrian path, which the institute described as poorly designed, before attempting to cross a street. The video is disturbing and heartbreaking to watch, and our thoughts continue to be with Elaine’s loved ones. Our cars remain grounded, and we're assisting local, state and federal authorities in any way we can. https://t.co/wUfLw2nNnk — Uber Comms (@Uber_Comms) March 22, 2018 A fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona involving an Uber driverless car left in its wake questions about the safety of autonomous vehicles . But it seems “the accident could not have been prevented no matter who was in control of the car ,” according to Randal O’Toole for the Cato Institute. Related: Uber grounds all self-driving vehicles after fatal Arizona accident Herzberg was reportedly walking on a roadway median before stepping out into traffic — and the Uber car, which did have a backup driver at the wheel, didn’t even have a moment to brake. The Cato Institute shared an aerial view, seen below, of Herzberg’s probable path. In between the northbound and southbound lanes of North Mill Avenue, there’s a median strip with a paved pedestrian path. There’s a sign, seen via Google Maps , indicating no pedestrians, telling them to use a crosswalk — so pedestrians or cyclists using the trails aren’t supposed to walk over the strip. But the Cato Institute pointed out the pedestrian path saves almost two-tenths of a mile, making it a tempting alternative for people walking or biking. O’Toole was loath to blame the victim in his article, but didn’t think the car was at fault either. He said “the question that must be asked is why are there paved trails between the north and southbound lanes of Mill Avenue when there is no safe way for pedestrians to use those trails?” Via Cato Institute Images via zombieite on Flickr and Cato Institute

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Did Uber flub its chance to expand self-driving ride-hailing service to San Francisco?

December 28, 2016 by  
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A few weeks ago, Uber quietly expanded its self-driving ride-hailing service to its hometown of San Francisco. The launch marked a triumphant leap forward just three short months after the company initially began offering riders in Pittsburgh the option of hailing a self-driving car. Unfortunately, the California Department of Motor Vehicles swiftly shut down the San Francisco operation by revoking the registrations on Uber’s 16 self-driving vehicles, citing the company’s failure to obtain the proper permits. That decision prompted Uber to announce it would look for another city to roll out its self-driving pilot program, but many questions remain about whether they will ever be able to pull it off in their home state.

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Did Uber flub its chance to expand self-driving ride-hailing service to San Francisco?

7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

December 28, 2016 by  
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These seven rustic cabins designed and built by students at the University of Colorado Denver function as base camp for a non-profit focused on wilderness education. Clad in hot-rolled steel, the COBS Year-Round Micro Cabins blend with the surrounding pine forest and remain comfortable even in extremely cold weather. https://youtu.be/HwwYRDhGRxc The structures were built by 28 students as part of a design-build program called the Colorado Building Workshop . Organized by the architecture school at the University of Colorado Denver, the workshop produced 14 similar structures in 2015. Related: Modern low-maintenance cabin is a seamless extension of the Puget Sound landscape The cabins, each offering around 200 square feet of interior space and 100 square feet of deck, are elevated and supported by metal columns with concrete footings. Sheets of hot-rolled steel, which form low-maintenance rainscreens , envelop structurally insulated panels (SIPs) used for the walls and flat roofs, providing a high degree of thermal insulation . Birch plywood line the interior walls to create a warm, cozy atmosphere. All the electrical appliances, including lighting, heating and refrigerators within each structure are powered by a single electrical circuit. + Colorado Building Workshop + University of Colorado Denver Via Dezeen Photos by Jesse Kuroiwa

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7 new micro-cabins in Colorado provide superior insulation in extreme weather

California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

December 28, 2016 by  
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Only a week after Uber launched its fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco, the state of California has already shut the experiment down. Just hours after Uber launched the service, the state’s Department of Motor vehicles was threatening legal action for not properly licensing the cars as test vehicles. After Uber refused to apply for the permits necessary, the state simply revoked the registration of the cars. The major issue that caused talks to break down was, ironically, whether Uber’s cars are actually self-driving. While they’re marketed as autonomous, the company believes they shouldn’t be subject to the same regulations as other businesses for their test vehicles, claiming the cars must be monitored by a human driver at all times because they’re not as sophisticated as models from Tesla or Google. The state, however, disagreed. Related: California hits the brakes on Uber’s self-driving cars after one runs a red light Uber, for its part, remains defiant, reportedly seeking a new test market where it could redeploy the cars. The company may not have to look far: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey is already welcoming the vehicles in his state. While there’s no word on exactly when the self-driving cars would debut within the state, Uber has confirmed it has shipped cars to Arizona and will be expanding its self-driving pilot program in the near future. While California is taking a cautious approach to self-driving technology, Ducey claims the special permits are a form of “over-regulation.” It’s unclear exactly what, if any, restrictions Arizona will place on the cars. While that may be a welcoming market for ridesharing services, other drivers may not be terribly happy with this relatively new technology side-by-side with their vehicles on the road. Via Newsmax Images via Mark Warner and Wikimedia Commons

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California bans Ubers self-driving cars, but Arizona welcomes them

Uber is working on flying electric cars to disrupt transportation again

October 28, 2016 by  
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Self-driving cars just became so passé. Uber is now working on flying cars , according to a 98-page white paper on their futuristic project Uber Elevate. They describe the service as ” on-demand aviation ” and it focus on Vertical Take-off and Landing ( VTOL ) aircraft. Uber believes that Uber Elevate will free up traffic and shorten commutes. Users could complete the two hour commute from the Marina District of San Francisco to San Jose with a snappy 15 minute flight. Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden wrote in a Medium post, “Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground.” Related: AeroMobil unveils futuristic flying car, plans to launch by 2017 Uber hopes to design a sustainable flying car powered by electricity. They also imagine pilots will operate the vehicles at first, but ultimately the VTOLs could glide through the skies autonomously. Flying is typically seen as a costly mode of travel, but Uber thinks VTOLs could offer an affordable alternative. In the Medium post Holden said air travel is so expensive now because of “low production volume manufacturing.” VTOLs could be expensive initially, but over time “high production volume manufacturing” will lower costs. VTOLs could even utilize infrastructure already in place, like helipads. Parking garage roofs or land around highway interchanges could also act as “vertiports,” or places where several VTOLs can land, take off, and charge. Will there be lanes in the sky as on the ground? Uber doesn’t seem to think so. Holden says one of the benefits of VTOLs is they “do not need to follow fixed routes.” If the flying cars can pursue several different paths, this could limit potential air travel congestion. Via The Verge Images via Uber and Joby Aviation Facebook

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Uber is working on flying electric cars to disrupt transportation again

Stolon Studio transforms an urban brownfield into a sustainable live/work London community

October 28, 2016 by  
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Unlike traditional mews , the three two-story homes are airy and filled with natural light—a challenge since the site is landlocked on all sides. Built from pale ‘stock’ bricks, each steel-framed structure was carefully placed on-site and individually designed to maximize natural light and views through large triple-glazed walls while providing privacy. Thick insulation inserted in the walls, floors, and roof creates a balance between natural light and thermal performance. Related: Dublin’s Beautiful 3 Mews Houses Weave Natural Daylight and Lush Gardens Into Their Industrial Aesthetic The homes face a shared multifunctional courtyard landscaped with a geometric pattern of resin-bound gravel and grass strips laid out to look like a ground-plane extension of the brick columns. Trellis netting provides support for climbing plants that grow across the building facade to provide privacy and shade. In addition to the common courtyard, each home opens out to a semi-private courtyard that serves as an outdoor extension to the indoor open-plan living space. Green roofs top the sustainable live/work community to help slow stormwater flow, which is collected and recycled. Underfloor heating is used throughout. + Stolon Studio Via ArchDaily Images © Robert Barker

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Stolon Studio transforms an urban brownfield into a sustainable live/work London community

Uber rolls out unlimited rides in New York City for $100

September 28, 2016 by  
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It just got a little bit easier to get from Point A to Point B in New York City . Uber is rolling out unlimited rides for $100 for two weeks or $200 for the month through their Uber Plus program. While a spokesperson has said subscription plans, which have also been offered in other cities, are a “small beta project,” if they continue they could change the way we get around in urban areas. To start, the plan just works below 125th Street in Manhattan , and all rides must begin and end in the borough. The rides must be UberPOOL rides, or trips shared with other random riders. The plan will begin at the start of October, and users can choose the $100 two week plan for October 1-14 or the $200 plan for the month. If a ride costs more than $20, users must cover the amount that goes over. Related: Uber customers can now order an electric car ride in Chicago In September, Uber offered their Uber Plus program in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Boston, San Diego, Miami, and Seattle. Prices varied but users could pay an upfront fee to get a cheap rate on a certain amount of rides. They are still offering plans in four of those cities (Seattle and Miami can no longer benefit from the offer). For example, in San Francisco in October UberPOOL rides are $3 and UberX rides are $9 , after upfront fees of $20 for 20 trips and $40 for 40 trips. As in Manhattan, there’s a specified zone for the rides: north of Cesar Chavez Street. (September’s offer was $20 for 20 rides, $30 for 40 rides, with UberPOOL at $2 and UberX at $7.) Forbes notes the system is much like an Amazon Prime subscription, which provides an additional incentive to use Amazon. Uber’s program could entice people away from other companies like Lyft, and if they make the program more permanent, could even prompt some locals to give up their cars entirely. It remains to be seen how long Uber will run the program, and if New York City’s offer will change in November as San Francisco’s did from September to October. Via Forbes Images via Uber ( 1 , 2 )

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Uber launches self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

September 15, 2016 by  
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Pittsburgh Uber riders now have a chance of being greeted by a self-driving car . Uber just rolled out a fleet of autonomous cars to test the technology in the real world. They’ll also watch how passengers and other drivers respond to the autonomous vehicles . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmofgf-Y3Mc Uber’s self-driving cars are outfitted with a Lidar unit, which is provides a 360 degree view, and cameras so the cars can respond to the unexpected along the road. While the technology is advanced enough for fully autonomous driving, for now a human driver will ride along, poised to take the wheel if necessary. Related: Uber confirms rumors they are testing a self-driving car Testing how the self-driving cars respond to obstacles and how humans respond to the cars are both important aspects of Uber’s real-world research. Carnegie Mellon University robotics researcher Aaron Steinfeld told TechCrunch, “Autonomy – typically people are a little bit nervous about it. But once they experience it they tend to build up familiarity and become accepting of it.” What about all the drivers who could lose their jobs? While Uber says technology can be ” disrupting ,” they also said self-driving cars could open up new employment opportunities. Self-driving Uber cars ultimately could cruise around cities 24 hours each day, and thus would require more maintenance than the average car which may only be driven for a few hours daily. According to a statement from the company, “Of course, we can’t predict exactly what the future will hold. But we know that self-driving Ubers have enormous potential to further our mission and improve society: reducing the number of traffic accidents, which today kill 1.3 million people a year; freeing up the 20 percent of space in cities currently used to park the world’s billion plus cars ; and cutting congestion, which wastes trillions of hours every year.” + Uber Via TechCrunch Images via Uber

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Uber launches self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

Uber confirms rumors they are testing a self-driving car

May 19, 2016 by  
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For the past year, rumors have been swirling that Uber is getting into the game of self-driving cars . The company opened the Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, where journalists spotted a vehicle that looked suspiciously like a driverless one marked with the Uber logo. This week, the company officially announced in a press release they are testing a self-driving car on the streets of Pittsburgh . The car is a hybrid Ford Fusion, and while it has “self-driving capabilities,” a driver will be present to take over if needed. Along with testing its autonomous function, the car will collect data for maps . According to Uber, the vehicle has been equipped with “a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.” Related: The self-driving car didn’t start with Google, or Tesla Uber allowed Pittsburgh Tribune-Review journalist Aaron Aupperlee to take a ride. He said , “The car’s sensors detected parked cars sticking out into traffic, jaywalkers, bicyclists, and a goose crossing River Avenue.” The transportation networking giant claims they still have a long way to go, but that they’ve received support from Pittsburgh city leaders including the mayor, who expressed excitement that Uber is pursuing innovative technology in his city. Uber said the city environment in Pittsburgh is the perfect place to test out their self-driving car, since it has to face challenges such as snow, hills, and narrow roads . While many have focused on the developments coming out of leaders like Google and Tesla in the self-driving car sphere, The Verge reports many experts are actually following Uber’s progress as they stand to benefit more as a company from autonomous technology. In their press release heralding the Pittsburgh test car, Uber said self-driving vehicles could save millions of lives, claiming, “1.3 million people die every year in car accidents – 94 percent of those accidents involve human error.” Via The Verge Images via Uber and Wikimedia Commons

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Google’s self-driving car could rival Uber and Lyft

December 23, 2015 by  
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Google is reportedly working on a plan to expand its self-driving car fleet, which will involve turning its self-driving car division into a dedicated company. The standalone company would commercialize the project and give Google a driverless rival to ride-sharing services, like Uber and Lyft. Read the rest of Google’s self-driving car could rival Uber and Lyft

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