On Friday morning, self-declared “pro-labor” President Joe Biden signed into law a dictatorial bill passed by Congress to impose a national rail contract which tens of thousands of railroaders voted to reject.
The Railroad Workers Rank-and-File Committee has announced an online rally this Tuesday at 7 pm Eastern/ 4 pm Pacific time to oppose Washington’s imposition of a contract that workers rejected to block a national strike. Register for the event here. All supporters of the railroaders are urged to attend.
On Friday morning, self-declared “pro-labor” President Joe Biden signed into law a dictatorial bill passed by Congress to impose a national rail contract which tens of thousands of railroaders voted to reject.
After the resolution passed the Senate on Thursday, Biden boasted that he “negotiated a contract no else could negotiate.” Biden falsely claimed that the contract was “so much better” than “anything” railroaders have “ever had.”
In justifying imposing the carrier-friendly contract against the will of workers, Biden repeated carrier and union talking points portraying the 24 percent wage increase as “historic.” In fact, spread out over five years, and after workers have gone three years without any pay raises, this amounts to a cut in real wages after inflation is factored in.
Biden acknowledged that the bill did not include a single day of paid sick leave. Democrats, led by Bernie Sanders and the four House Democrats who are members of the Democratic Socialists of America, used a sham proposal to add seven days sick leave to save face and posture as friends of workers even as they voted in favor of imposing the contract. They knew it had no chance of passing the Senate and crafted it in a way to ensure it would not hold up passage of the anti-strike law.
Biden, after signing a law imposing a contract without sick days, lied through his teeth that he would “continue the fight” to get paid sick leave, something he said he has been at, “a long time.”
Asked by a reporter when railroaders could expect to see paid sick days Biden replied with a wry smile, “when Republicans see the light.” In other words, never. However, Democrats would continue to try to pin the blame for this on Republicans alone.
But in an editorial published Thursday, the Editorial Board of the pro-Republican Wall Street Journal, praised Biden for “keep[ing] the trains running,” in a paraphrase of an infamous quote praising Italian dictator Mussolini.
The rapid move by both parties to impose the contract and block a strike has shocked and angered workers across the country. The Railroad Workers Rank-and-File Committee has received many statements of support over the last 48 hours from workers in other industries.
“I’m not a railroad worker, but a non-union machinist,” one wrote. “And I still support your fight.” He added that he would support a wildcat strike against the contract if one were to break out. “Congress f*cked around. It’s time they f*cking found out.”
Another wrote: “No matter the hardship a shutdown of the distribution network may impose on me, I support you guys. The only way the working class is going to get their fair share of the pie is to shut down the government.
“The political parties have been corrupted and no longer represent the people. You guys do what you need to do.”
Mary, a retired General Motors worker from Flint, Michigan said: “Railroad workers and all rank and file workers deserve justice, pleasures, peace, and perks for themselves and their families just like those at the top. Where will the world be without the rank-and-file, the ones who are abandoned, used and abused? Sounds like slavery to me!
“It sounds like the officials of the rail unions are the same. They refer to the rank-and-file as ‘brother’ or ‘sister,’ but don’t mean it at all. They reek of favoritism and nepotism, with their six-figure wages, with cushy air-conditioned offices. They feel and are treated like they are better than the ‘real’ workers, the manual laborers, with the huge gap between their wages.”
A young GM Flint worker said that “railroad workers standing up for themselves will send a ripple effect throughout the working class. It sends a message to all workers who wish to stand up against the government. Enough is enough! The working class is the majority and must unite with their brothers and sisters if we wish to live a sustainable and fruitful life.”
He said that the “railroad workers’ fight is not only for themselves, but will set an example for all working class people to not allow the government to walk all over us. Enough is enough. History is being reversed. Situations and rights that have been fought for and put in place are being stripped away. But we are the power and the ones who can change it! They are nothing without us and we must unite with our brothers and sisters to demand a comfortable life.”
Railroad workers that spoke to the World Socialist Web Site were furious.
Asked to comment on Biden’s signing of the anti-strike legislation, Tony, a signalman, told the WSWS that Biden was “full of sh*t” and that the agreement was “not a great deal for railroaders.”
“It is not ‘pro-labor’ denying us our right to strike,” Tony said adding that it was “very very disappointing.”
“The unions, Congress and whoever else, pushed it to Christmas,” he said. “I don’t think [Biden] is a friend of labor, I think he is in it for the money….I think the whole thing is very, very, corrupt.”
Tony said a co-worker he spoke to following the Senate vote yesterday was “extremely angry.” While his coworker feels that while many railroaders will continue to do their job, the “quality of work” would suffer given that the contract does nothing to alleviate inhuman schedules or add paid sick days.
As for himself, Tony said, “The retirement is the only thing keeping me in at this point. I have given my life to this company, a call comes in, whether I am at a basketball game, birthday. I was even called out once on Christmas while my son was unwrapping gifts. It’s like ‘sorry son, I gotta go.’”
Derek, a veteran carman from California, said, “The way everything went down. … It was all planned out and staged by every party involved!” He added that the fact the sick day amendment failed in the Senate was “proof that these senators are bought and paid for.”
Asked if he agreed with Biden’s statement that the contract was “so much better” than “anything” he’s “ever had,” Derek replied, “F*ck no! Because I am a yard employee, we are affected the most.”
Derek explained that the tentative agreement includes the imposition of the Automatic Bid Scheduling system. The system will eliminate “bumps” for yard workers, which was one of the few ways workers could add flexibility and a modicum of planning to their schedule.
One worker told the WSWS that forcing the contract through Congress, “is complete and utter horsesh*t. ‘Pro Labor’ is not all it’s cracked up to be.” The worker said the experience “basically just proved the farce of the [Railroad Labor Act] and collective bargaining in general.”
John, a railroader from Nebraska, told the WSWS that the signing of the anti-strike legislation was proof that “they are taking power from the workers.” He said it was “unjust, not giving us the ability to get a fair deal.”
“Why even have a union if they just settle for anything that puts money in their pockets?” he correctly asked.
As to the role of Biden and the Democrats, John said they cared “nothing for the workers. It’s all just a magic show along with smoke and mirrors.” The “unfair” and “unjust” contract left railroaders with “scraps,” he added.
Another railroader told a WSWS reporter: “As I stated multiple times. This isn’t about what is best or even good for the employees. This is clearly about profit. Profit over safety and investing back into your company. Pure corporate greed at its greatest. Class I railroads spend millions and millions of dollars in campaign funds so they will get what they want.”
“I will guarantee you that all of them [shareholders and CEO’s] have had a raise in the past three years,” they added. “Not to mention their bonuses. It is pure greed and the purpose is to bust unions. If you think it’s going to stop with railroads, then you better think again. We work tirelessly on call 24 hours a day, every week, every month. Never knowing when we will be home to try and be a positive role models for our children. Through pandemics and all weather conditions.
“And this is a president that says he supports unions and blue-collar workers. Not to mention he stated about a month ago he got the contracts all settled. But today [he] signs an anti-strike [bill].”
Another railroad worker said the “the pro-union president” and the “pro-Democratic union” are “all take and no give.”
Another worker wrote: “There are 120 thousand [railroad workers] keeping 300 million of us alive. Get what you deserve. We’re behind you. The line must be drawn here. This far. No farther.”
Sexual assaults have been on the rise on the London Underground over the past four years, according to new figures, which say incidents that are being reported are just the tip of the iceberg.
Incidents reported on the London Underground — also known as the Tube — show that sexual assaults have soared by 42 percent in the last four years, according to an analysis by the UK national news agency, PA media.
The attacks recorded on the Underground jumped from 844 in 2015-2016 to 1,206 in 2018-2019, according to the report.
Transport for London (TfL) reported in the meantime that such abusive behavior occurs more commonly in the day, with the longer, busier lines seeing more assaults.
In the 12 months to March 2019, there were 305 recorded sexual assaults on the Central line, making up about a quarter of the total for the year, according to TfL.
Campaigners, however, say sexual assaults are still under-reported and that they need to do more to stop attackers before they strike.
A campaign has been launched by the London police and TfL — entitled “Report It To Stop It” — which works to encourage anyone who experiences unwanted sexual behavior on public transport to report the incident.
“With the campaign in place since April 2015, we fully expected to record a rise in sexual offenses and, though it is clearly a concern that so many people are affected by this type of crime, it is pleasing that previously reluctant victims of sexual offenses now have the confidence to report this to us,” said Detective Inspector David Udomhiaye.
The British Transport Police (BTP) said they expected a rise in sexual assaults following a drive to encourage victims to report unwanted sexual behavior.
Andrea Simon, the End Violence Against Women Coalition’s head of public affairs, however, said it is not enough to just encourage the reporting of sexual harassment and assaults, and that offenders need to be identified and stopped alongside this.
“More undercover patrols take place on the Central line than any other line and a programmed of work is under way to install CCTV on the line as quickly as possible from 2020.” she said.
“CCTV shows that they will move around the transport network looking for women to target, most often during the commuter rush hours when the tube network is busiest,” she added.
TfL director of policing, Siwan Hayward, said to further prevent abusive behaviors, they have dedicated some 3,000 police and police community support officers to catching the attackers.
Ever since legalized recreational marijuana has become a reality in America, the powers that be have been brainstorming new ways in which to prosecute the legal marijuana user. Obviously, driving stoned is high on the list of no-nos, but the police state will exponentially increase now that cops will soon have marijuana breathalyzers.
As there are now 33 states with some form of legal marijuana, the government has been chomping at the bit for ways to find out how much THC you have in your system. Because THC metabolizes far differently than alcohol, this has presented a challenge to the authorities. Until now.
Current THC testing procedures have relied on blood, hair, and urine samples which test only for the presence of THC. Merely having THC in your system, however, is no way of indicating impairment.
Interdisciplinary researchers in Pitt’s Department of Chemistry and the Swanson School of Engineering claim to have overcome these limitations by using carbon nanotubes in their breathalyzer. The THC molecules in your breathe reportedly “bind with the tubes and alter their electrical properties, while sensors detect levels of the compound with an accuracy comparable to, or better than, mass spectrometry, the gold standard for THC detection.”
“The semiconductor carbon nanotubes that we are using weren’t available even a few years ago,” said Sean Hwang, lead author on the paper published in the journal ACS Sensors. “We used machine learning to ‘teach’ the breathalyzer to recognize the presence of THC based on the electrical currents recovery time, even when there are other substances, like alcohol, present in the breath.”
The main question which is most controversial here is the rate at which the body metabolizes THC and the ability of a breathalyzer to determine just how high a person is. This is the problem researchers admit they are dealing with now.
Despite claiming the device is nearly ready for mass production, Ervin Sejdic, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who’s also at the university, to build the prototype, admits they have no way of telling how stoned someone is with their breathalyzer.
With alcohol, you can figure out impairment by measuring the amount of alcohol in someone’s blood, which you can determine from a Breathalyzer using the “blood to breath,” or “partition,” ratio. Make that translation from breath to blood to brain, and you have a relatively accurate sense of how drunk someone is.
“So when it comes to these marijuana breath tests, that’s the million-dollar question right now,” says Chris Halsor, a Denver lawyer who focuses on issues around legal cannabis.
Is there a ratio that links the amount of THC in someone’s breath to the amount in the person’s blood — and then to exactly how stoned that person is?
No, says Sejdic. The correlation “is basically missing, from a scientific point of view.”
So, there you have it. We have a device that can tell police that you have THC in your system, but it cannot tell them how high you are nor is there any standard for what denotes being stoned. Rest assured that the police state is still salivating over the existence of this breathalyzer.
The good news is that the report indicates there are still plenty of tests to conduct before cops have these in their hands. However, their mere existence most assuredly foreshadows more checkpoints in our future.
“In legal states, you’ll see road signs that say ‘Drive High, Get a DUI,’ but there has not been a reliable and practical way to enforce that,” said Dr. Alex Star, whose lab developed the prototype. “There are debates in the legal community about what levels of THC would amount to a DUI, but creating such a device is an important first step toward making sure people don’t partake and drive.”
As stated above, it is certainly never a good idea to drive while impaired. But comparing driving after smoking weed with driving while under the influence of alcohol is most assuredly apples to oranges. Rest assured that the amount of THC in a person’s system to denote a crime will be highly debated over the next few years.
Despite having no set limit on the amount of THC to constitute impairment, police have already been conducting similar stops but with mouth swabs. As TFTP reported last year, the Massachusetts State Police are testing a saliva swab to detect if people are driving under the influence of cannabis. State police have recently tested roughly 170 people at sobriety checkpoints and drug treatment clinics with these swabs, but even they doubt that the tests will hold up in court.
Boston is not alone either—there have also been similar programs announced in Colorado, California, Kansas, and Michigan.
What’s more, as TFTP previously reported, legal weed appears to be making drivers safer. According to a recent report from the Nevada Department of Public Safety, deaths from traffic accidents in Nevada have dropped by over 10 percent in the first year that marijuana was legalized in the state for recreational use.
Prior to legalization in Nevada, between July 2016 and May 2017, 310 people died in traffic accidents, but in the year since legalization took effect, between July 2017 and May 2018, that number was reduced to just 277.
Similar numbers have been seen in other states that have implemented legalization. A study published by the American Public Health Association found that states with legal medical cannabis have lower rates of traffic fatalities than states with full prohibition.
Although correlation does not automatically mean causation, it does seem that legalization is actually making the roads safer, debunking many of the claims that DUI would increase. Critics of marijuana typically cite statistics of how often people test positive for marijuana after car crashes. However, what these assessments usually leave out is the fact that these people often have numerous other drugs in their system, usually alcohol or opiates, which both have a much greater impact on motor skills.
About the Author
Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.
Flights on private jets were up about 10% last year and flights to the islands in the Americas numbered almost 30,000. This helped make the islands in the Americas the number one destination for non-commercial aviation.
Knight Frank partner Alasdair Pritchard said: “Private jets are the path of least resistance for travel. If you can afford it and then experience it, you wouldn’t go back.”
DHL Express, an international courier, and Ehang, a Chinese company focused on producing intelligent autonomous aerial vehicles, have entered into a partnership to solve the last-mile delivery challenges in metropolitan areas across China, read a DHL press release.
A lunch ceremony of the new drone delivery service was held last Thursday (May 16) at the EHang headquarters in Guangzhou, with the attendance of senior DHL executives. This makes DHL the first international courier to provide drone delivery service in China.
“We are delighted to be partnering with EHang to set a new innovation milestone with this new fully-automated and intelligent drone logistics solution, which combines the strength of the world’s largest international express company together with one of the leading UAV companies in the world,” said Wu Dongming, CEO, DHL Express China.
The new service can deliver small packages as far as five miles from the launching pad in Liaobu, Dongguan, Guangdong Province. Using EHang’s Falcon series commercial drone, the new drone delivery service will overcome complex road conditions and traffic congestion common to urban areas.
“This is an exciting time for the logistics sector, with continued growth of the Chinese economy and cross-border trade, particularly in South China and the Greater Bay Area, which is home to an increasing number of SMEs and startups. This means there is a tremendous volume of logistics needs, which in turn creates new opportunities for implementing innovative solutions that can continuously drive growth with greater efficiency, sustainability and less cost,” Dongming said.
The drone will reduce delivery time from 40 minutes to only eight minutes and can save DHL upwards of 80% per delivery.
Mr. Hu Huazhi, Founder & CEO of EHang, said, “Together with DHL we are very glad to bring the first smart drone delivery service route to China in Guangzhou; this marks a new beginning in building air logistics for smart cities. Riding on today’s launch, we expect smart drone delivery as an innovative logistics solution to be expanded and realized in more areas, and we look forward to working with DHL in building the eco-system for a multi-dimensional urban air transport system.”
Given the recent explosion of B2C business operations and delivery in China, deploying the drones in cities offers an innovative solution to the last mile.
DHL plans to scale up from the Liaobu location to many other cities across China. The international courier operates in more than 220 countries and territories could start launching drone delivery service in other Asian countries in the next several years.
Volkswagen’s ID.3, which gets 550 km to a full electric charge, shocked the auto industry last week. But rather than going electric, others may be going without. (Friso Gentsch/Volkswagen)
Volkswagen, the company that alternates with Toyota for the title of world’s biggest carmaker, shook up the global industry last week when it announced it would begin accepting orders for its new electric car, the ID.3.
With a price and a 550 km range that challenge the Tesla 3, the new Golf-sized battery-powered car signalled a startling shift for the German automotive sector that only a few years ago seemed locked into its historic specialization in fossil fuel technology.
But just as skeptics have repeatedly underestimated the ability of the car business to adapt to climate change, there is early evidence of a potentially bigger transformation underway: the move to abandon car ownership altogether.
“I had an F-150, so when I did drive it was quite expensive,” said Calgary resident Damien Prud’homme, who gave up his Ford truck about six months ago. Besides the price of gas, the other expenses for the 10-year-old truck, including growing maintenance bills and insurance, just didn’t seem worth it because he drove it so seldom.
Instead, the telecom technician, who drives a company vehicle when on the job and who could afford to own a car if he wanted one, now uses car-share service Car2Go for occasional private trips. Prud’homme estimates his total cost for car sharing at about half of what he paid every month for insurance alone.
As the highrise building boom continues, downtown population concentrations mean not everyone can get around by car, whether it’s one they own or one they rent. (Don Pittis/CBC)
As General Motors shuts down plants in Canada and the U.S. and carmakers scramble to catch up to Tesla, many car analysts say a move away from private car ownership could be a hitch the industry hasn’t foreseen, and the reasons are not just economic.
In my family, after selling our beloved VW wagon back to the company last October as part of the “dieselgate” scandal, and stumped over what to buy next, we decided to wait a while and try going without. Since then, it seems I keep encountering more people who have abandoned their private cars.
So far, anecdotal information about a decline in Canadian car ownership is not backed up by the stats, according Denis DesRosiers, one of Canada’s best known automotive number crunchers.
10 million more cars on the road
“Vehicle ownership in Canada is at all-time record levels, and it’s been increasing,” said DesRosiers, citing figures showing there are now 10 million more vehicles on the road than there were in the year 2000.
Recent figures have shown sales growth tailing off, which some have blamed on rising interest rates, although DesRosiers said the decline is likely temporary and sales remain at historic highs. DesRosiers said car ownership has never been evenly spread. He notes that his own daughter, an urban dweller in her 30s, does not own a vehicle, but he himself owns three.
Charlotte Yates, a longtime car industry analyst who is now vice-president at Ontario’s University of Guelph, says other research may indicate something else happening: like DesRosier’s daughter, younger urbanites are delaying car ownership or abandoning it altogether.
Strapped by the high cost of housing, a downtown lifestyle, salaries that aren’t as high as previous generations and a growing variety of alternatives to car ownership, there are signs that fewer young people are getting driver permits, and many more are adopting a lifestyle that just doesn’t include a car.
That will grow as cities become more dense, something that has already happened in places like Hong Kong and New York.
“What I’m talking about is not a snapshot,” said Yates, referring to DesRosiers’ statistics. “This is about what we are projecting is going to be the long-term effect of shifting consumer demand amongst young people.”
Canadian car-sharing company Communauto, founded 25 years ago and now operating in 13 cities from Edmonton to Halifax, is one alternative to owning a private vehicle. (Communauto)
Current research by urban planning specialist Ahmed El-Geneidy at Montreal’s McGill University seems to confirm Yates’ analysis, with studies that show urban 30-year-olds today take public transit far more often than people in the same age group 20 years ago.
El-Geneidy’s research in Toronto shows that while some better-off urban dwellers may buy a car once they move to the suburbs to start families, high downtown housing costs force low-income families to move out along existing transit routes to avoid the cost of car ownership.
Public transit use, along with services like Uber and Lyft, car sharing and bike sharing plus traditional car rentals are all elements of a new way of looking at transport called “Mobility as a Service,” or MaaS. The term implies people will increasingly hire their transport as needed and as appropriate rather than investing in the capital cost and upkeep of a private vehicle.
Wilson Wood, a senior executive with the Canadian car-sharing service Communauto, is one of the people profiting from that change. Founded in Quebec City 25 years ago, the company, a global pioneer in car sharing, has spread to 13 cities across Canada, from Edmonton to Halifax, with a branch in Paris that Canadian members can use as well (if they dare).
Wood said his figures show that every Communauto vehicle represents about 30 members who decades ago might have owned a personal vehicle.
Not everyone can drive
While car-share numbers remain tiny compared to private cars on the road, Wood said his company continues to grow and continues to be profitable as people reconsider buying cars that sit unused most of the time.
The fact is that in jammed urban cores with highrise population densities it’s simply impossible for everyone to travel in a car, whether you own it yourself or rent your ride — something that Marco D’Angelo, CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, realized before getting rid of his own car about six months ago.
“Someone’s not going to use a ride-sharing program 100 per cent of the time,” he said. “But once they’ve moved away from having a privately owned vehicle that’s parked 96 per cent of the year, all of sudden all of the options are on the table.”
That’s certainly true in our household. We have not ruled out buying another car. If VW’s new ID.3 had been available when we turned in our diesel last October, it is very possible we would spent the rebate on one of those.
But now that we’re living comfortably without a car, without car insurance, without snow tire changes and maintenance bills and parking hassles, never mind considering the tens of thousands of dollars in purchase price and our carbon footprint, like others who decided to wait, we’ll have to find a very good reason to go back.
Don Pittis was a forest firefighter, and a ranger in Canada’s High Arctic islands. After moving into journalism, he was principal business reporter for Radio Television Hong Kong before the handover to China. He has produced and reported for the CBC in Saskatchewan and Toronto and the BBC in London. He is currently senior producer at CBC’s business unit.
When Tesla broke ground on its first factory in China last week, some people were questioning the timing of the company’s expansion to the country. Amid trade tensions, a general economic slowdown and cooling consumer confidence, the Chinese automobile market contracted by 2.8 percent in 2018, marking the first annual decline in more than two decades. As China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) reported on Monday, the production and sale of automobiles amounted to 27.8 and 28.1 million units, respectively, last year, following six consecutive months of declining sales.
But then again, it’s a very specific segment of the market that Tesla is after, and looking at electric vehicle sales paints and entirely different picture. According to CAAM, sales of new energy vehicles, as plug-in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are referred to in China, grew by more than 60 percent last year, reaching 1.26 million units. According to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the Shanghai-based Gigafactory will produce lower-cost versions of the Model 3/Y specifically targeted at the Chinese market. “Affordable cars must be made on same continent as customers”, Musk wrote on Twitter, not to mention that a production plant in China could shield his company’s Chinese ambitions against tariffs and other import duties.
As the following chart shows, the Chinese market for electric cars is more than three times the size of its U.S. counterpart, illustrating why it makes sense for Tesla to double down on its ambitions in what is still the world’s largest automobile market.
This chart shows electric vehicles sales in the United States and China.
Officials say aim is to make it ‘difficult to move’ for those deemed ‘untrustworthy’
Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial “social credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity.
The system, to be rolled out by 2020, aims to make it “difficult to move” for those deemed “untrustworthy”, according to a detailed plan published by the government.
It will be used to reward or punish people and organisations for “trustworthiness” across a range of measures.
A key part of the plan not only involves blacklisting people with low social credibility scores, but also “publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis”.
The plan stated: “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.”
For those deemed untrustworthy, “everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price”.
The credit system is already being rolled out in some areas and in recent months the Chinese state has blocked millions of people from booking flights and high-speed trains.
According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips.
The state has also begun to clamp down on luxury options: 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.
The aim, according to Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research centre of the State Council, is to make “discredited people become bankrupt”, he said earlier this year.
The eastern state of Hangzou, southwest of Shanghai, is one area where a social credit system is already in place.
People are awarded credit points for activities such as undertaking volunteer work and giving blood donations while those who violate traffic laws and charge “under-the-table” fees are punished.
Other infractions reportedly include smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.
Punishments are not clearly detailed in the government plan, but beyond making travel difficult, are also believed to include slowing internet speeds, reducing access to good schools for individuals or their children, banning people from certain jobs, preventing booking at certain hotels and losing the right to own pets.
When plans for the social credit scheme were first announced in 2014, the government said the aim was to “broadly shape a thick atmosphere in the entire society that keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful”.
As well as the introduction in Beijing, the government plans a rapid national rollout. “We will implement a unified system of credit rating codes nationwide,” the country’s latest five-year plan stated.
The move comes as Beijing also faces international scrutiny over its treatment of a Muslim minority group, who have been told to turn themselves in to authorities if they observe practices such as abstention from alcohol.
Hami city government in the far-western Xinjiang region said people “poisoned by extremism, terrorism and separatism” would be treated leniently if they surrendered within the next 30 days.
As many as a million Muslim Uighurs are believed to have been rounded up and placed in “re-education” centres, in what China claims is a clampdown on religious extremism.
A self-driving car program, now known as Waymo, is about to quietly launch a fleet of paid rides in the world’s very first commercial driverless car service.
Imagine a world where you hail a cab and step into an empty vehicle. This empty car takes you to your destination while you sit in the back, read and swipe the app for payment.
This world is coming to Phoenix, Arizona in just a few weeks. And of course, the company is owned by Google.
They’ve already been testing this for 10 years.
The secretive Waymo has been quietly testing the technology of self-driving cars for a decade and has clocked in millions of driverless miles. Waymo still isn’t telling anyone what the new company or app will be called. But in early December the people of Arizona will start to see it for themselves. Google and Waymo are both sibling subsidiaries of Alphabet Inc.
Bloomberg reports that things will start small and slow, with the service being only available in 100-square mile Phoenix area.
The first wave of customers will likely draw from Waymo’s Early Rider Program—a test group of 400 volunteer families who have been riding Waymos for more than a year. The customers who move to the new service will be released from their non-disclosure agreements, which means they’ll be free to talk about it, snap selfies, and take friends or even members of the media along for rides.” (source)
Alphabet X’s lab is already shuttling employees to and from the job site in driverless vans in Mountain View and just last week Waymo got approval to begin testing cars with no backup drivers in Silicon Valley, the same spot Tesla’s Autopilot is based.
Will there be 10 million self-driving cars by 2020?
Business Insider predicted in 2016 that there would be 10 million self-driving cars on the roads by 2020 and because of this new announcement, this might actually happen with stunning accuracy.
Waymo will launch a commercial self-driving car service in the Phoenix area before the end of the year, says CEO John Krafcik. The venture, which pushes Waymo to the front of the driverless car race, will first be open to a small group of people. Krafcik added that businesses like Walmart and Avis were also willing to pay the service to transport their customers. Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, announced deals earlier this year to purchase thousands of vehicles from Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover. (Source)
Bloomberg says this is what we can expect in December:
When Waymo starts its commercial program, there will be backup drivers in some cars to help ease customers into the service and to take over if necessary, according to the person familiar with the plans. The fleet of heavily modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans will drive themselves more than 99.9 percent of the time, based on data from Waymo’s test program submitted to California regulators.
Some volunteers in the Phoenix Early Rider Program won’t switch over to the new commercial program, the person said. Instead, they’ll continue to test new features and offer feedback to the company. For example, volunteers may receive cars with no backup driver with increasing frequency.
The company is taking a plodding approach across the U.S. to avoid any possible mishaps like crashes from setting the whole program back.
Among the biggest concerns of driverless tech are fatalities, loss of jobs and industry, hacking, forced dependency on smart-grid, and EMF health hazards. (DARPA is heavily involved in this technology, let’s never forget.) But none of these fears are in any way halting this new roll out.
The Moral Dilemma of Self-Driving Cars and Crashes
Although car crashes are among the biggest complaints of driverless tech, it’s almost being sloughed off as a foregone conclusion. Inevitable casualties of a New Boom. None of the companies trying to get into the door seem all that worried about it.
Although Uber’s driverless cars require human intervention every 13 miles, getting drivers to pay attention remains a struggle. In March, an Uber self-driving vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. Video footage from inside the car showed that the “human monitor” sitting behind the wheel was looking away from the road in the moments before the collision.
Twisted irony: blaming the human insidea self-driving car for running over a human. But, is it only a matter of time before there is no human element to driving at all? And until we can’t take the wheel when something goes wrong?
In the world of A.I. people are things that are scanned and belong in an algorithm. But in reality, people on the road are unpredictable. How do self-driving cars navigate school buses, children playing, aggressive drivers, ambulances and high-speed chases or bicyclists?
So far, the driverless cars belong to geo-fenced zones. But what happens when they are unleashed and the number one rule is to avoid collision? Does that mean the passenger’s life is sacrificed to save the largest number of people like in some Utilitarian Ethics class? What about when people must break the rules of the road such as pulling over to avoid a high-speed ambulance behind them?
Or, will there have to be certain highways built for driverless cars that don’t allow any variables to get into the way? Coincidentally, “smart roads” with crash-sensors are already here in the U.S., too!
People in rural areas will be left behind and that isn’t as good as it sounds.
Do you know what this means? The rural areas will be left behind. It sounds good now, but not when the only jobs and resources available are in the “smart” cities. There’s already talk of altering the roads in a major way, just to accommodate the coming swath of driverless cars. Just another glimpse into Agenda 21/Agenda 2030.
Will it be impossible to get around with putting your life into the hands (claws? pinchers?) of tech-guided vehicles? Will those who are outside of the cities still be able to drive their regular, old-fashioned vehicles on major thoroughfares? Or will they be stranded in a place with no jobs until they finally drink the Kool-Aid? Sounds a lot like microchips, doesn’t it?
A Corporate Circle Has No End…
The other big complaint about driverless tech is the inevitable loss of jobs.
There is a glaring irony here. Corporate cronyism once married government red tape to create a miserable, expensive transport system for decades: taxis, limousines, etc. When Uber and Lyft came along, they were the feared “wave of disruption” to the jobs that had been comfortably secured for so long. One could even speculate that strict blood-alcohol limits buoyed the transport industry as well as state revenue and prison systems.
But many argue that the ride-share innovation was badly needed to provide affordable, on-demand service and create a gig economy by opening up job opportunities to unlicensed people. Once the tech became available, there was no stopping it. Now, a giant corporation is creating the eye-popping futuristic tech and will be directly competing against Uber, Lyft and other ride-share platforms.
Google’s parent-company is causing the “wave of disruption” and will directly extinguish a lot of jobs; even the gig economy jobs that many rely on to get by. The economic circle is complete since we are back to a large, corporate monopoly – this time, funded by DARPA. (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)
Golden Rule of Business and War: He who has the gold makes the rules.
One could say the Silicon Rule is this: He who has the gold, rules the tech. And he who is first in tech could be last, since gold begets gold.
“The early start also makes Waymo’s ride-hailing service worth about $80 billion—even before the service is launched—according to an analysis by six Morgan Stanley analysts in August,” reports Bloomberg. The fact that Waymo’s brand will be the one to offer licensing to driverless truckers and other transporters actually adds another $96 billion in current value.
GM, Tesla’s Autopilot, Mercedes, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, and others aren’t not far behind at all. GM is only a year from launching their own driverless vehicles and Ford is launching theirs in 2020. Uber and Lyft are still in the launch running.
Frankly, the presentation of Waymo’s tech is nothing short of breath-taking.
What are the future health effects of having laser- and lidar-emitting vehicles gumming up the roads?
Let’s not forget that DARPA – nicknamed the Pentagon’s “mad science” division – was the first outfit to be interested in non-human driven vehicles. It has funneled half a billion dollars to universities and companies over the last 20 years to make driverless vehicles happen.
Two British firms have teamed up to launch an initiative to increase connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) services across London by 2021 to boost UK driving services capabilities amid fierce competition from rival companies.
Private taxi hire company Addison Lee has teamed up with self-driving software company Oxbotica to digitally map over 250,000 miles of public roads “in and around the capitol”.
The pair aim to increase market shares of autonomous vehicles in the near future, worth £28 billion by 2035, according to estimates, Addison Lee said in a press release.
“Urban transport will change beyond recognition in the next 10 years with the introduction of self-driving services, and we intend to be at the very forefront of this change by acting now,” Addison Lee CEO Andy Boland said.
Boland also noted that autonomous technologies offered many benefits, including freeing up traffic congestion and fighting air pollution through the use of electric vehicles (EVs).
The initiative has gained support from UK chancellor of exchequers Phillip Hammond, who stated he wants to see “genuine driverless vehicles” throughout the UK by 2021.
Government officials have also requested the Law Commission to review driving laws in order to help the UK remain a leading force behind the CAV market. Major market competitors such as Uber have also joined the race to conquer shares of the global market.
Addison Lee was founded in 1975 and is Europe’s biggest private hire car service, with roughly 10 million journeys per year. The company is owned by US private equity company Carlyle Group and has boosted market shares in the US, operating in over 100 cities nationwide.
Social Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Britain
Multinational professional services firm Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) partnered with the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) to research the “human and social impact” of CAVs on social mobility, which identified £51 billion in potential profits and the potential to protect drivers from roughly 25,000 auto accidents.
The study looked at three groups-young people, the elderly, and those with disabilities-and found that CAVs could help six out of 10 people in the UK. In a survey conducted by the SMMT, 56 percent of those queried said they felt positive about CAVs and 43 percent said they would use one if made available today.
A SMMT report also recommended that the UK government increase public awareness to dispel myths on CAVs and highlight their benefits, in addition to increasing digital infrastructure and coverage.
“Poor mobile internet coverage is already leading some automotive manufacturers to look to other countries to roll out new connected technologies,” the report said, adding that failing to address the issue would “undermine the UK’s competitive advantage against other international players and delay the roll-out of CAVs in Britain.”
It added that British authorities should increase and optimize funding for research and development, arguing for a nationwide “CAV testbed” to achieve results.
The UK government has published a report noting that it had established a team in 2015 to “secure the UK’s position at the forefront of this change for the safe development, production and use” of CAVs.
The government also established Project GATEway the same year, which provided £5.3 million for CAV research and testing while also surveying “over 32,000 members of the public”.
UK automaking powerhouse Coventry also initiated the UK Autodrive initiative, the largest of three in Britain designed to trial CAVs through the “Introducing Driverless Cars to UK Roads competition” spearheaded by the Innovate UK agency with £19.4 million in funding.
Waymo plans to launch the “world’s first self-driving transportation service” this year…
San Francisco (AFP) – Google-owned Waymo is adding as many as 62,000 Fiat Chrysler minivans to its autonomous fleet in an expanded collaboration announced by the companies on Thursday.
Delivery of the Chrysler Pacifica minivans was expected to begin later this year, with the automaker also exploring the potential to build Waymo technology into a self-driving car it might add to its model line-up for consumers.
“FCA is committed to bringing self-driving technology to our customers in a manner that is safe, efficient and realistic,” chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne said in a release.
“Strategic partnerships, such as the one we have with Waymo, will help to drive innovative technology to the forefront.”
Waymo plans to launch the “world’s first self-driving transportation service” this year, with people able to summon rides from driverless vehicles using a smartphone application.
The announcement came a day after Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi reportedly said at a Code technology conference that the company is speaking with Waymo about putting its cars to work at the smartphone-summoned ride service.
Uber early this year negotiated a settlement with Waymo over trade secrets purportedly purloined from the self-driving unit of Google-parent Alphabet.
Uber suspended its own autonomous car testing in April after an accident that killed a woman pushing a bicycle in a street in Arizona.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik has publicly contended that the fatal accident involving a self-driving Uber car would not have occurred with his company’s technology.
“Waymo’s goal from day one has been to build the world’s most experienced driver and give people access to self-driving technology that will make our roads safer,” Waymo chief executive John Krafcik said in a joint release with Fiat.
Fiat and Waymo first announced a self-driving car partnership two years ago, and said that engineers from their companies have been working together since then.
Fiat has delivered 600 Pacifica Hybrid minivans to Waymo so far, the companies said. Earlier this year the companies said “thousands” more would be added.
Waymo and Jaguar Land Rover in March announced they have joined forces on a posh, self-driving electric car tailored for a ride-hailing service run by the Google-owned firm.
Waymo and Jaguar said they aim to develop a “premium self-driving electric vehicle” based on a new I-PACE model.
Waymo appeared to be hitting the accelerator in a race for leadership in autonomous ridesharing, which involves most major automakers, technology developers and services such as Uber and Lyft.
Separately, Japanese telecom giant SoftBank said Thursday it will invest $2.25 billion in General Motors’ autonomous car program in exchange for a stake in the venture.
The investment from the SoftBank Vision Fund in the GM Cruise Holdings will be executed in two stages, with the first $900 million coming after the transaction is finalized and another $1.35 billion once GM vehicles are ready for commercialization.
GM has said it plans to commercialize its Cruise program in 2019 through ridesharing.
This is perfect, it’s the article I have been waiting for. These are some of the things I was trying to predict but talented and clever Geoff Nesnow went all the way and came up with 73 scenarios that portray a more than likely possible future. No more cars, no more driver’s licenses, no more parking, cheap transportation, and probably a massive revolution as this future will bring in unemployment rates never seen before.
I originally wrote and published a version of this article in September 2016. Since then, quite a bit has happened, further cementing my view that these changes are coming and that the implications will be even more substantial. I decided it was time to update this article with some additional ideas and a few changes.
As I write this, Uber just announced that it just ordered 24,000 self-driving Volvos. Tesla just released an electric, long-haul tractor trailer with extraordinary technical specs (range, performance) and self-driving capabilities (UPS just preordered 125!). And, Tesla just announced what will probably be the quickest production car ever made — perhaps the fastest. It will go zero to sixty in about the time it takes you to read zero to sixty. And, of course, it will be able to drive itself. The future is quickly becoming now. Google just ordered thousands of Chryslers for its self-driving fleet (that are already on the roads in AZ).
In September of 2016, Uber had just rolled out its first self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh, Tesla and Mercedes were rolling out limited self-driving capabilities and cities around the world were negotiating with companies who want to bring self-driving cars and trucks to their cities. Since then, all of the major car companies have announced significant steps towards mostly or entirely electric vehicles, more investments have been made in autonomous vehicles, driverless trucks now seem to be leading rather than following in terms of the first large scale implementations and there’ve been a few more incidents (i.e. accidents).
I believe that the timeframe for significant adoption of this technology has shrunk in the past year as technology has gotten better faster and as the trucking industry has increased its level of interest and investment.
I believe that my daughter, who is now just over 1 years old, will never have to learn to drive or own a car.
The impact of driverless vehicles will be profound and impact almost every part of our lives.
Below are my updated thoughts about what a driverless future will be like. Some of these updates are from feedback to my original article (thanks to those who contributed!!!), some are based on technology advances in the past year and others are just my own speculations.
What could happen when cars and trucks drive themselves?
1. People won’t own their own cars. Transport will be delivered as a service from companies who own fleets of self-driving vehicles. There are so many technical, economic, safety advantages to the transportation-as-a-service that this change may come much faster than most people expect. Owning a vehicle as an individual will become a novelty for collectors and maybe competitive racers.
2. Software/technology companies will own more of the world’s economy as companies like Uber, Google and Amazon turn transportation into a pay-as-you-go service. Software will indeed eat this world. Over time, they’ll own so much data about people, patterns, routes and obstacles that new entrants will have huge barriers to enter the market
3. Without government intervention (or some sort of organized movement), there will be a tremendous transfer of wealth to a very small number of people who own the software, battery/power manufacturing, vehicle servicing and charging/power generation/maintenance infrastructure. There will be massive consolidation of companies serving these markets as scale and efficiency will become even more valuable. Cars (perhaps they’ll be renamed with some sort-of-clever acronym) will become like the routers that run the Internet — most consumers won’t know or care who made them or who owns them.
4. Vehicle designs will change radically — vehicles won’t need to withstand crashes in the same way, all vehicles will be electric (self-driving + software + service providers = all electric). They may look different, come in very different shapes and sizes, maybe attach to each other in some situations. There will likely be many significant innovations in materials used for vehicle construction — for example, tires and brakes will be re-optimized with very different assumptions, especially around variability of loads and much more controlled environments. The bodies will likely be primarily made of composites (like carbon fiber and fiberglass) and 3D printed. Electric vehicles with no driver controls will require 1/10th or fewer the number of parts (perhaps even 1/100th) and thus will be quicker to produce and require much less labor. There may even be designs with almost no moving parts (other than wheels and motors, obviously).
5. Vehicles will mostly swap batteries rather than serve as the host of battery charging. Batteries will be charged in distributed and highly optimized centers — likely owned by the same company as the vehicles or another national vendor. There may be some entrepreneurial opportunity and a marketplace for battery charging and swapping, but this industry will likely be consolidated quickly. The batteries will be exchanged without human intervention — likely in a carwash-like drive thru
6. Vehicles (being electric) will be able to provide portable power for a variety of purposes (which will also be sold as a service) — construction job sites (why use generators), disaster/power failures, events, etc. They may even temporarily or permanently replace power distribution networks (i.e. power lines) for remote locations — imagine a distributed power generation network with autonomous vehicles providing “last mile” services to some locations
7. Driver’s licenses will slowly go away as will the Department of Motor Vehicles in most states. Other forms of ID may emerge as people no longer carry driver’s licenses. This will probably correspond with the inevitable digitization of all personal identification — via prints, retina scans or other biometric scanning
8. There won’t be any parking lots or parking spaces on roads or in buildings. Garages will be repurposed — maybe as mini loading docks for people and deliveries. Aesthetics of homes and commercial buildings will change as parking lots and spaces go away. There will be a multi-year boom in landscaping and basement and garage conversions as these spaces become available
9. Traffic policing will become redundant. Police transport will also likely change quite a bit. Unmanned police vehicles may become more common and police officers may use commercial transportation to move around routinely. This may dramatically change the nature of policing, with newfound resources from the lack of traffic policing and dramatically less time spent moving around
10. There will be no more local mechanics, car dealers, consumer car washes, auto parts stores or gas stations. Towns that have been built around major thoroughfares will change or fade
11. The auto insurance industry as we know it will go away (as will the significant investing power of the major players of this industry).Most car companies will go out of business, as will most of their enormous supplier networks. There will be many fewer net vehicles on the road (maybe 1/10th, perhaps even less) that are also more durable, made of fewer parts and much more commoditized
12. Traffic lights and signs will become obsolete. Vehicles may not even have headlights as infrared and radar take the place of the human light spectrum. The relationship between pedestrians (and bicycles) and cars and trucks will likely change dramatically. Some will come in the form of cultural and behavioral changes as people travel in groups more regularly and walking or cycling becomes practical in places where it isn’t today
13. Multi-modal transportation will become a more integrated and normal part of our ways of moving around. In other words, we’ll often take one type of vehicle to another, especially when traveling longer distances. With coordination and integration, the elimination of parking and more deterministic patterns, it will become ever-more efficient to combine modes of transport
14. The power grid will change. Power stations via alternative power sources will become more competitive and local. Consumers and small businesses with solar panels, small scale tidal or wave power generators, windmills and other local power generation will be able to sell KiloWattHours to the companies who own the vehicles. This will change “net metering” rules and possibly upset the overall power delivery model. It might even be the beginning of truly distributed power creation and transport. There will likely be a significant boom in innovation in power production and delivery models. Over time, ownership of these services will probably be consolidated across a very small number of companies
15. Traditional petroleum products (and other fossil fuels) will become much less valuable as electric cars replace fuel powered vehicles and as alternative energy sources become more viable with portability of power (transmission and conversion eat tons of power). There are many geopolitical implications to this possible shift. As implications of climate change become ever-clearer and present, these trends will likely accelerate. Petroleum will continue to be valuable for making plastics and other derived materials, but will not be burned for energy at any scale. Many companies, oil-rich countries and investors have already begun accommodating for these changes
16. Entertainment funding will change as the auto industry’s ad spending goes away. Think about how many ads you see or hear about cars, car financing, car insurance, car accessories and car dealers. There are likely to be many other structural and cultural changes that come from the dramatic changes to the transportation industry. We’ll stop saying “shift into high gear” and other driving-related colloquialisms as the references will be lost on future generations
17. The recent corporate tax rate reductions in the “..Act to Provide for Reconciliation Pursuant to Titles II and V of the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2018” will accelerate investments in automation including self-driving vehicles and other forms of transportation automation. Flush with new cash and incentives to invest capital soon, many businesses will invest in technology and solutions that reduce their labor costs.
18. The car financing industry will go away, as will the newly huge derivative market for packaged sub-prime auto loans which will likely itself cause a version of the 2008–2009 financial crisis as it blows up.
19. Increases in unemployment, increased student loan, vehicle and other debt defaults could quickly spiral into a full depression. The world that emerges on the other side will likely have even more dramatic income and wealth stratification as entry level jobs related to transportation and the entire supply chain of the existing transportation system go away. The convergence of this with hyper-automation in production and service delivery (AI, robotics, low-cost computing, business consolidation, etc) may permanently change how societies are organized and how people spend their time
20. There will be many new innovations in luggage and bags as people no longer keep stuff in cars and loading and unloading packages from vehicles becomes much more automated. The traditional trunk size and shape will change. Trailers or other similar detachable devices will become much more commonplace to add storage space to vehicles. Many additional on demand services will become available as transportation for goods and services becomes more ubiquitous and cheaper. Imagine being able to design, 3D print and put on an outfit as you travel to a party or the office (if you’re still going to an office)…
21. Consumers will have more money as transportation (a major cost, especially for lower income people and families) gets much cheaper and ubiquitous — though this may be offset by dramatic reductions in employment as technology changes many times faster than people’s ability to adapt to new types of work
22. Demand for taxi and truck drivers will go down, eventually to zero. Someone born today might not understand what a truck driver is or even understand why someone would do that job — much like people born in the last 30 years don’t understand how someone could be employed as a switchboard operator
23. The politics will get ugly as lobbyists for the auto and oil industries unsuccessfully try to stop the driverless car. They’ll get even uglier as the federal government deals with assuming huge pension obligations and other legacy costs associated with the auto industry. My guess is that these pension obgligations won’t ultimately be honored and certain communities will be devastated. The same may be true of pollution clean-up efforts around the factories and chemical plants that were once major components of the vehicle supply chain
24. The new players in vehicle design and manufacturing will be a mix of companies like Uber, Google and Amazon and companies you don’t yet know. There will probably be 2 or 3 major players who control >80% of the customer-facing transportation market. There may become API-like access to these networks for smaller players — much like app marketplaces for iPhone and Android. However, the majority of the revenue will flow to a few large players as it does today to Apple and Google for smartphones
25. Supply chains will be disrupted as shipping changes. Algorithms will allow trucks to be fuller. Excess (latent) capacity will be priced cheaper. New middlemen and warehousing models will emerge. As shipping gets cheaper, faster and generally easier, retail storefronts will continue to lose footing in the marketplace.
26. The role of malls and other shopping areas will continue to shift — to be replaced by places people go for services, not products. There will be virtually no face to face purchases of physical goods.
27. Amazon and/or a few other large players will put Fedex, UPS and USPS out of business as their transportation network becomes orders of magnitude more cost efficient than existing models — largely from a lack of legacy costs like pensions, higher union labor costs and regulations (especially USPS) that won’t keep up with the pace of technology change. 3D printing will also contribute to this as many day-to-day products are printed at home rather than purchased.
28. The same vehicles will often transport people and goods as algorithms optimize all routes. And, off-peak utilization will allow for other very inexpensive delivery options. In other words, packages will be increasingly delivered at night. Add autonomous drone aircraft to this mix and there’ll be very little reason to believe that traditional carriers (Fedex, USPS, UPS, etc) will survive at all.
29. Roads will be much emptier and smaller (over time) as self-driving cars need much less space between them (a major cause of traffic today), people will share vehicles more than today (carpooling), traffic flow will be better regulated and algorithmic timing (i.e. leave at 10 versus 9:30) will optimize infrastructure utilization. Roads will also likely be smoother and turns optimally banked for passenger comfort. High speed underground and above ground tunnels (maybe integrating hyperloop technology or this novel magnetic track solution) will become the high speed network for long haul travel.
30. Short hop domestic air travel may be largely displaced by multi-modal travel in autonomous vehicles. This may be countered by the advent of lower cost, more automated air travel. This too may become part of integrated, multi-modal transportation.
31. Roads will wear out much more slowly with fewer vehicle miles, lighter vehicles (with less safety requirements). New road materials will be developed that drain better, last longer and are more environmentally friendly. These materials might even be power generating (solar or reclamation from vehicle kinetic energy). At the extreme, they may even be replaced by radically different designs — tunnels, magnetic tracks, other hyper-optimized materials
32. Premium vehicle services will have more compartmentalized privacy, more comfort, good business features (quiet, wifi, bluetooth for each passenger, etc), massage services and beds for sleeping. They may also allow for meaningful in-transit real and virtual meetings. This will also likely include aromatherapy, many versions of in-vehicle entertainment systems and even virtual passengers to keep you company.
33. Exhilaration and emotion will almost entirely leave transportation. People won’t brag about how nice, fast, comfortable their cars are. Speed will be measured by times between end points, not acceleration, handling or top speed.
34. Cities will become much more dense as fewer roads and vehicles will be needed and transport will be cheaper and more available. The “walkable city” will continue to be more desirable as walking and biking become easier and more commonplace. When costs and timeframes of transit change, so will the dynamics of who lives and works where.
35. People will know when they leave, when they’ll get where they’re going. There will be few excuses for being late. We will be able to leave later and cram more into a day. We’ll also be able to better track kids, spouses, employees and so forth. We’ll be able to know exactly when someone will arrive and when someone needs to leave to be somewhere at a particular time.
36. There will be no more DUI/OUI offenses. Restaurants and bars will sell more alcohol. People will consume more as they no longer need to consider how to get home and will be able to consume inside vehicles
37. We’ll have less privacy as interior cameras and usage logs will track when and where we go and have gone. Exterior cameras will also probably record surroundings, including people. This may have a positive impact on crime, but will open up many complex privacy issues and likely many lawsuits. Some people may find clever ways to game the system — with physical and digital disguises and spoofing.
38. Many lawyers will lose sources of revenue — traffic offenses, crash litigation will reduce dramatically. Litigation will more likely be “big company versus big company” or “individuals against big companies”, not individuals against each other. These will settle more quickly with less variability. Lobbyists will probably succeed in changing the rules of litigation to favor the bigger companies, further reducing the legal revenue related to transportation. Forced arbitration and other similar clauses will become an explicit component of our contractual relationship with transportation providers.
39. Some countries will nationalize parts of their self-driving transportation networks which will result in lower costs, fewer disruptions and less innovation.
40. Cities, towns and police forces will lose revenue from traffic tickets, tolls (likely replaced, if not eliminated) and fuel tax revenues drop precipitously. These will probably be replaced by new taxes (probably on vehicle miles). These may become a major political hot-button issue differentiating parties as there will probably be a range of regressive versus progressive tax models. Most likely, this will be a highly regressive tax in the US, as fuel taxes are today.
41. Some employers and/or government programs will begin partially or entirely subsidizing transportation for employees and/or people who need the help. The tax treatment of this perk will also be very political.
42. Ambulance and other emergency vehicles will likely be used less and change in nature. More people will take regular autonomous vehicles instead of ambulances. Ambulances will transport people faster. Same may be true of military vehicles.
43. There will be significant innovations in first response capabilities as dependencies on people become reduced over time and as distributed staging of capacity becomes more common.
44. Airports will allow vehicles right into the terminals, maybe even onto the tarmac, as increased controls and security become possible. Terminal design may change dramatically as transportation to and from becomes normalized and integrated. The entire nature of air travel may change as integrated, multi-modal transport gets more sophisticated. Hyper-loops, high speed rail, automated aircraft and other forms of rapid travel will gain as traditional hub and spoke air travel on relatively large planes lose ground.
45. Innovative app-like marketplaces will open up for in-transit purchases, ranging from concierge services to food to exercise to merchandise to education to entertainment purchases. VR will likely play a large role in this. With integrated systems, VR (via headsets or screens or holograms) will become standard fare for trips more than a few minutes in duration.
46. Transportation will become more tightly integrated and packaged into many services — dinner includes the ride, hotel includes local transport, etc. This may even extend to apartments, short-term rentals (like AirBnB) and other service providers.
47. Local transport of nearly everything will become ubiquitous and cheap — food, everything in your local stores. Drones will likely be integrated into vehicle designs to deal with “last few feet” on pickup and delivery. This will accelerate the demise of traditional retail stores and their local economic impact.
48. Biking and walking will become easier, safer and more common as roads get safer and less congested, new pathways (reclaimed from roads/parking lots/roadside parking) come online and with cheap, reliable transport available as a backup.
49. More people will participate in vehicle racing (cars, off road, motorcycles) to replace their emotional connection to driving. Virtual racing experiences may also grow in popularity as fewer people have the real experience of driving.
50. Many, many fewer people will be injured or killed on roads, though we’ll expect zero and be disproportionately upset when accidents do happen. Hacking and non-malicious technical issues will replace traffic as the main cause of delays. Over time, resilience will increase in the systems.
51. Hacking of vehicles will be a serious issue. New software and communications companies and technologies will emerge to address these issues. We’ll see the first vehicle hacking and its consequences. Highly distributed computing, perhaps using some form of blockchain, will likely become part of the solution as a counterbalance to systemic catastrophes — such as many vehicles being affected simultaneously. There will probably be a debate about whether and how law enforcement can control, observe and restrict transportation.
52. Many roads and bridges will be privatized as a small number of companies control most transport and make deals with municipalities. Over time, government may entirely stop funding roads, bridges and tunnels. There will be a significant legislative push to privatize more and more of the transportation network. Much like Internet traffic, there will likely become tiers of prioritization and some notion of in-network versus out-of-network travel and tolls for interconnection. Regulators will have a tough time keeping up with these changes. Most of this will be transparent to end users, but will probably create enormous barriers to entry for transportation start-ups and ultimately reduce options for consumers.
53. Innovators will come along with many awesome uses for driveways and garages that no longer contain cars.
54. There will be a new network of clean, safe, pay-to-use restrooms and other services (food, drinks, etc) that become part of the value-add of competing service providers
55. Mobility for seniors and people with disabilities will be greatly improved (over time)
56. Parents will have more options to move around their kids on their own. Premium secure end-to-end children’s transport services will likely emerge. This may change many family relationships and increase the accessibility of services to parents and children. It may also further stratify the experiences of families with higher income and those with lower income.
57. Person to person movement of goods will become cheaper and open up new markets — think about borrowing a tool or buying something on Craigslist. Latent capacity will make transporting goods very inexpensive. This may also open up new opportunities for P2P services at a smaller scale — like preparing food or cleaning clothes.
58. People will be able to eat/drink in transit (like on a train or plane), consume more information (reading, podcasts, video, etc). This will open up time for other activities and perhaps increased productivity.
59. Some people may have their own “pods” to get into which will then be picked up by an autonomous vehicle, moved between vehicles automatically for logistic efficiencies. These may come in varieties of luxury and quality — the Louis Vuitton pod may replace the Louis Vuitton trunk as the mark of luxury travel
60. There will be no more getaway vehicles or police vehicle chases.
61. Vehicles will likely be filled to the brim with advertising of all sorts (much of which you could probably act on in-route), though there will probably be ways to pay more to have an ad free experience. This will include highly personalized en route advertising that is particularly relevant to who you are, where you’re going.
62. These innovations will make it to the developing world where congestion today is often remarkably bad and hugely costly. Pollution levels will come down dramatically. Even more people will move to the cities. Productivity levels will go up. Fortunes will be made as these changes happen. Some countries and cities will be transformed for the better. Some others will likely experience hyper-privatization, consolidation and monopoly-like controls. This may play out much like the roll-out of cell services in these countries — fast, consolidated and inexpensive.
63. Payment options will be greatly expanded, with packaged deals like cell phones, pre-paid models, pay-as-you-go models being offered. Digital currency transacted automatically via phones/devices will probably quickly replace traditional cash or credit card payments.
64. There will likely be some very clever innovations for movement of pets, equipment, luggage and other non-people items. Autonomous vehicles in the medium future (10–20 years) may have radically different designs that support carrying significantly more payload.
65. Some creative marketers will offer to partially or fully subsidize rides where customers deliver value — by taking surveys, by participating in virtual focus groups, by promoting their brand via social media, etc.
66. Sensors of all sorts will be embedded in vehicles that will have secondary uses — like improving weather forecasting, crime detection and prevention, finding fugitives, infrastructure conditions (such as potholes). This data will be monetized, likely by the companies who own the transportation services.
67. Companies like Google and Facebook will add to their databases everything about customer movements and locations. Unlike GPS chips that only tell them where someone is at the moment (and where they’ve been), autonomous vehicle systems will know where you’re going in real-time (and with whom).
68. Autonomous vehicles will create some new jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs. However, these will be off-set many times by extraordinary job losses by nearly everyone in the transportation value chain today. In the autonomous future, a large number of jobs will go away. This includes drivers (which is in many states today the most common job), mechanics, gas station employees, most of the people who make cars and car parts or support those who do (due to huge consolidation of makers and supply chains and manufacturing automation), the marketing supply chain for vehicles, many people who work on and build roads/bridges, employees of vehicle insurance and financing companies (and their partners/suppliers), toll booth operators (most of whom have already been displaced), many employees of restaurants that support travelers, truck stops, retail workers and all the people whose businesses support these different types of companies and workers.
69. There will be some hardcore hold-outs who really like driving. But, over time, they’ll become a less statistically relevant voting group as younger people, who’ve never driven, will outnumber them. At first, this may be a 50 state regulated system — where driving yourself may actually become illegal in some states in the next 10 years while other states may continue to allow it for a long time. Some states will try, unsuccessfully, to block autonomous vehicles.
70. There will be lots of discussions about new types of economic systems — from universal basic income to new variations of socialism to a more regulated capitalist system — that will result from the enormous impacts of autonomous vehicles.
71. In the path to a truly driverless future, there will be a number of key tipping points. At the moment, freight delivery may push autonomous vehicle use sooner than people transport. Large trucking companies may have the financial means and legislative influence to make rapid, dramatic changes. They are also better positioned to support hybrid approaches where only parts of their fleet or parts of the routes are automated.
72. Autonomous vehicles will radically change the power centers of the world. They will be the beginning of the end of burning hydrocarbons. The powerful interests who control these industries today will fight viciously to stop this. There may even be wars to slow down this process as oil prices start to plummet and demand dries up.
73. Autonomous vehicles will continue to play a larger role in all aspects of war — from surveillance to troop/robot movement to logistics support to actual engagement. Drones will be complemented by additional on-the-ground, in-space, in-the-water and under-the-water autonomous vehicles.
Note: My original article was inspired by a presentation by Ryan Chin, CEO of Optimus Ridespeak at an MIT event about autonomous vehicles. He really got me thinking about how profound these advances could be to our lives. I’m sure some of my thoughts above came from him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Geoff Nesnow is an entrepreneurial futurist, a visionary who defines himself as “a systems thinker with lots of data points and a deep network.” He currently teaches graduate business students, writes about business and technology, advises startups and runs entrepreneurial competitions. Along the way, he built a small nutrition company and is still trying to make systematically reducing gang violence self-funding.
(ZHE) In the not-too-distant future, law enforcement will be able to easily track our movements thanks to RFID microchips, which some workers – as we’ve previously reported.
Indeed, some people are happily lining up to be microchipped – even throwing parties to celebrate their coworkers embracing the microchipping phenomenon, without any regard to how this technology could be used to further totalitarian aims.
As technology that tracks our movements becomes more widespread, an unassuming article in a trade journal about RFID technology – which uses radio signals to track movements of people or products – highlights a portentous development: Honduras, the Philippines and the Cayman Islands are deploying license plates with RFID technology to help track their citizens’ movements on highways and other roads.
The specific technology being used by these three countries are called the IDePlate and IDeSTIX. The former is implanted in license plates while the latter is in innocuously attached to a car’s windshield. Together, they allow authorities to track their citizens, while also providing a fallback in case a license plate is stolen.
The RFID technology, developed by the Dutch firm Tonnjes E.A.S.T, uses cryptography to verify the owner of a car, which can then be ascertained by the operator of a scanner similar to the license plate scanners that are already in wide use by police in the US (which, as we pointed out several years ago, will soon be operated by drones).
Tonnjes offers governments the hardware needed to fabricate and install the tags, while also providing the software to program them.
“The RFID-enabled plate is designed to be forgery-proof, says Jochen Betz, Tönnjes’ managing director. The UCODE DNA IC uses cryptographic authentication based on the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Each time a tag is interrogated, it generates a new AES calculation based on its unique crypto key, which the reader receives and is programmed to verify. That ID number can then be linked to data about the vehicle and registration in a database.
“By using both the IDePlate and IDeStix, the system enables users to identify any misuse of license plates. The problem with plate identification alone, the company explains, is that it cannot detect if the wrong plate is attached to a car. ‘Plate theft is very difficult to avoid,’ Betz states, so the IDeStix provides a level of redundancy. The IDeStix is a hologram-printed windshield sticker that is placed on the window’s interior.
“The RFID-enabled sticker can be interrogated simultaneously with the plate tag, and can then respond with its own encrypted code that is linked to the vehicle’s information. Tönnjes sells the RFID-enabled blank or finished plates to government agencies and offers equipment to emboss a plate number. They can then use their own software to link each tag’s encoded RFID number with the plate ID.”
While governments are just beginning to roll out these systems, RFID Journal notes that one potential complication in rolling out the windshield-sticker tags (which, again, are necessary to compensate for license-plate theft) is the number of tags already attached to vehicles, mostly by their manufacturers, to track their movements.
“When it comes to the capturing and filtering of data, Betz notes, one software-based challenge for a system like this is the large number of RFID tags already attached to parts of most modern vehicles. In fact, he estimates, there can be 15 or more RFID tags on a single car, most attached to parts that were being tracked by the manufacturer prior to the car’s sale. ‘We don’t want to talk to 17 tags [on a single car],’ he states. Therefore, the system is designed to screen out all tag reads that are not recognized as part of the IDePlate system.”
In the Cayman Islands, the RFID-tagging system was adopted last year, with the island’s government installing checkpoint readers (also created by Tonnjes) to capture vehicles’ information.
“In the Cayman Islands, the system was taken live in 2017, with approximately 50,000 vehicles now equipped with the RFID-enabled plates and windshield stickers. Between five and 10 checkpoint readers provided by Tönnjes are scheduled to be installed around the county. The company supplies the middleware and software that captures the tag ID reader data and feeds that information, linked to the vehicle IDs, to the Cayman Island government’s vehicle database. The reader installation is posing a unique challenge, Betz says, since the devices had to be mounted on hurricane-proof gantries. The Cayman Islands government needs to ensure that the gantries would be able to sustain high winds.”
The Philippines has ordered millions of plates to begin rolling out its own system…
“In addition, the Land Transportation Office (LTO), a department of the Philippine Ministry of Transport, has hired Tönnjes to deliver 3.25 million of its license plates for cars and motorcycles. The government is also purchasing IDeSTIX windscreen labels for 775,000 cars, and IDeSTIX Headlamp Tags for 1.7 million motorcycles.”
And Turkey is also piloting the technology…
“Turkey has also piloted the technology with vehicles on a testing course of the country’s traffic police, while a trial in Russia tracked the movements of public buses throughout the city of Kazan. In addition, Tönnjes and Kirpestein are in discussions with the government of the Netherlands to conduct an open-road pilot, and is also in talks with vehicle authorities in that country regarding further pilots of the technology.”
…Which means it’s only a matter of time before it arrives in the US…
Tests by police drug recognition experts to detect drivers impaired by marijuana can lead to false arrests and are prone to bias, an investigation by The Fifth Estate has found. (CBC)
The federal government plans to invest $81 million to train police officers to smoke out drivers impaired by pot across Canada while using a test experts say is flawed and that is being challenged in a U.S court.
An investigation by The Fifth Estate shows the tests done by police drug recognition experts (DREs) can lead to false arrests, are prone to police bias and according to one scientific expert are no better at detecting drug-impaired drivers than “flipping a coin.”
“You can’t hijack science in the name of law enforcement,” says David Rosenbloom, a clinical professor in the Department of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
“We know that with high enough concentrations [of marijuana] in the blood that driving is impaired so it’s not that we don’t need tests of impairment, it’s just that we need valid tests of impairment, and at this point in time we don’t have them.”
Prof. David Rosenbloom of McMaster University says the science is just not there when it comes to proving drug impairment. (CBC)
The DRE test is a 12-step process that involves examining a suspect’s vital signs, eyes, balance and ability to concentrate and then rendering an opinion.
For Rosenbloom, the science of the test simply is not there.
“It’s equivalent of flipping a coin, it’s 50/50 as to whether we know the person was impaired or not.”
Taxpayers ‘should be outraged’
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union in Georgia recently launched what is believed to be the first civil challenge in the U.S. on behalf of four drivers wrongfully arrested by police officers trained as drug recognition experts.
The ACLU has a warning for Canada.
“I think that Canadian police departments need to think twice about pouring millions or billions of dollars into a failed system that has not worked in the United States,” says Sean Young, legal director for the ACLU in Georgia.
“And the taxpayers of Canada should be outraged that their precious dollars are being wasted on this program that just results in more innocent people being thrown into jail.”
Drug recognition experts have been operating in Canada since the 1990s. However, Canada is set to significantly increase their numbers as marijuana is legalized.
In preparation for the upcoming legalization of marijuana, the federal government is planning for training of an additional 750 drug recognition experts over the next five years. (CBC)
In preparation for legal weed coming in July, Public Safety Canada recently announced it’s going to invest up to $81 million in new law enforcement training, paying to train 750 more drug recognition experts over the next five years and more than 3,000 officers to administer a shortened version of the observational test known as the Standardized Field Sobriety Test.
Canada’s minister of public safety, Ralph Goodale, declined a request to be interviewed for The Fifth Estate investigation.
In a statement, Goodale said he believes there is enough evidence to support the use of DREs, pointing to a recent review by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction that found DREs are “valid and reliable.”
That same review, however, also cautions that when it comes to detecting impairment, DREs have a “modest degree of accuracy,” between 43 and 62 per cent.
A recent report from Statistics Canada shows our system for convicting high drivers fails almost half of the time. Suspected drug-impaired drivers walk free nearly 40 per cent of the time, or twice as often as alcohol-impaired drivers.
In his statement, Goodale acknowledges more research in this area is “critical,” but is also hopeful a new saliva test in the works will help police determined if someone has recently consumed drugs.
‘I knew I was innocent’
Two Ontario drivers came face to face with the flaws in Canada’s system last year when they were arrested for impaired driving by drugs after separate car accidents.
Corinne Fardy slammed into a parked construction vehicle while she was travelling on Highway 11 near Parry Sound.
The police report into her accident, obtained by The Fifth Estate, says they found her to be “unsteady on her feet,” she “had a white coated tongue” and that she was “fumbling” and had “poor dexterity.”
She was arrested, handcuffed and put in jail. In the end, a drug recognition expert conducted the test and concluded she was impaired by drugs and charged her with the criminal offence of driving while impaired by drugs.
‘I was in shock.’ – Corinne Fardy
“I was in shock. I knew I was innocent,” she told The Fifth Estate.
The unsteadiness, she says, was caused by injuries to her legs from her airbags going off. Her tongue is always coated white, she says, from medication she takes and she was in shock from the accident, which she says explains her shakiness.
After three months, the police dropped the charges, accepting that the symptoms observed by the DRE could have been caused by the accident.
In his first public appearance in Europe speaking at the at DLD conference in Munich, Uber’s new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who “comes across very well and is being very open and honest” in a welcome change to the company’s C-Suite, says he is still working on cleaning up its culture, but growth has not been slowed by the ongoing efforts.
Dara said that he thinks disruption always leads to breaking of norms, but that Uber ‘took it too far’ in past, and admits that profitability is still biggest concern… apart from culture, of course.
Khosrowshahi said the way Uber entered into Germany was “wrong”, and explains that he plans to expand to more German cities in 2018, but will do so slowly.
The punchline, however, was the following: he now sees manufacturers producing flying cars for U.S. within 10 years even as he concedes that there is a lot left to do before fully autonomous cars are ubiquitous.
Still, not even the new CEO could stop himself from making a political comment at the conference, wearing a “we are all dreamers” t-shirt at #DLD18. “US is a nation of immigrants, we have to let #dreamers continue their lives”
On January 8th at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, the latest in a varied line of prototype “flying cars” was unveiled. The new entry, dubbed the “Volocopter” actually flew across the stage, showing that the technology does work.
Volocopter is a joint venture with Intel to develop a system that flies passengers on short hop flights, like a taxi service. Presently the battery life in these machines is about 27 minutes, but they hope to get a reliable one-hour endurance out of the production models when they arrive. The copter is not really a flying car so much as it is an 18-rotor drone that a human can ride in. With the advent of multi-rotor technologies, this variant on the drone design offers vertical take off and landing, the ability to hover, and fly-by wire control that is very precise.
This was the German startup’s first demonstration in the USA, though as the reader can see from the above video, this device has been in testing in Dubai for quite some time, and in fact, Dubai has an order of these they are awaiting.
This is only one of several companies working on this technology. Terrafugia is developing the TF-X as a hybrid powered flying car with four passengers, VTOL capability, computer-controlled navigation and high cruise speeds, in real flight, of 200 mph (325km/hr) and a 500-mile (800km) range. The cruise mode is powered by a conventional gasoline engine which also recharges the electric VTOL systems.
Aeromobil is a Slovakian contender for this market. It’s eponymous vehicle is also a true flying car, and it looks very much like an airplane, powered by a turbocharged boxer engine in the air, and a hybrid electrical system on the ground.
Google founder Larry Page endowed US$100 million to this next venture company, Zee.Aero. Yes, that is how the name looks. We do not have a rendering of this car, much less a flying model, but we do have a diagram that is quite interesting, as the car appears to combine both drone-like and fixed wing technologies. This is actually a likely standard since a traditional fixed wing requires the driver to take the vehicle to an airport before taking off. This also mandates that the driver of the vehicle actually be a pilot. By comparison, the drone-styled vehicles are often computer-controlled, following an autopilot’s directives to go from point to point. But here is Zee Aero for consideration:
The last flying car in our survey is not the last of the field. There are many more, by Moller Industries, Airbus and other enterprises large and small. But this one is unique. While a fixed-wing design, this vehicle nevertheless has VTOL capability and it is considered a jet-powered vehicle. Meet the Lilium:
This cool machine uses electrically powered ducted fans to create jet propulsion for take off and landing vertically, and then the jet’s directions are changed to accelerate the vehicle into real flight. The expectation is to get a car that can fly at about 185 miles per hour (300km), and take off and land everywhere.
This industry is a race, and it remains to be seen who will cross the finish line with a production vehicle first. However, as we see, there are already prototypes taking to the air, so it shouldn’t be too long now!
General Motors will soon unveil the self-driving Chevrolet Bolt, a car not equipped with pedals or a steering wheel, leaving control entirely to the vehicle’s AI. US regulations, however, may not be keeping pace.
General Motors’ new driverless car will be showcased in a test batch in San Francisco ride-sharing fleets, and will be the first production-ready car without the tools necessary for human control by 2019.
As GM made the announcement on Friday, shares in the company rose as high as 1.1 percent at 9:36am in New York, coming in at $44.68, GM’s highest intraday trading level since November 29, Bloomberg Technology reports.
The new driverless cars will travel on a fixed route controlled by the Bolt’s mapping system. GM is currently applying for permission from the federal government to run the test cars without a driver.
“What’s really special about this is if you look back 20 years from now, it’s the first car without a steering wheel and pedals,” said Kyle Vogt, chief executive officer of Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based unit that is developing the software for GM’s self-driving cars, Bloomberg reports.
Vogt added that the new Chevy has redundant systems built in to back up the driving systems. The car will slow down, pull over at the roadside and stop if a problem occurs while it is in use.
GM, along with Alphabet Inc and startup Zoox Inc, have already demonstrated vehicles that can drive with so-called Level 4 autonomy, meaning cars that can drive without human intervention, but only in certain geographic areas, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers.
Even though these companies have tested Level 4 vehicles, most of the time they had a driver at the wheel to make sure there isn’t an accident if the system doesn’t work properly.
Gill Pratt, CEO of Toyota Motor Corp’s Toyota Research Institute, said removing the driver, as GM wants to, will really test the technology.
“If you’re testing Level 4 technology with a driver, you’re not really testing it at Level 4,” Pratt said in an interview at the CES technology show in Las Vegas this week, Bloomberg Technology reports.
GM said it has filed a petition with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) to test the cars, however, current auto-safety standards in the US require vehicles have controls for drivers, such as foot pedals and a steering wheel.
If NHTSA approves GM’s petition for their machine-only cars, the company will still need to get permission from different states to legally run them.
As of right now, only seven states allow the technology in the Bolt to be tested without a safety driver, GM’s chief counsel and policy director for transportation as a service, Paul Hemmersbaugh, said, Bloomberg reports.
Yet, in five of six states where cannabis is legal, the tests are used to determine whether or not drivers should be considered impaired. Those tests employ a blood level-based judgment similar to that used for determining alcohol impairment. But AAA found such tests for THC are wholly unreliable — sending potentially unimpaired drivers to jail and putting impaired drivers back behind the wheel.
“There is understandably a strong desire by both lawmakers and the public to create legal limits for marijuana impairment in the same manner we do alcohol,” said AAA president and CEO, Marshall Doney, as reported by the Associated Press. “In the case of marijuana this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research.”
After discovering the tests had no value, the safety foundation recommended Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington simply ditch their THC impairment testing laws — and that other states considering similar laws abandon the proposed legislation.
As the study notes, determining actual impairment from THC consumption is quite different than for alcohol. Tolerance for the chemical would mean though a regular cannabis user might have high blood levels of THC, they are perfectly safe behind the wheel — while a relatively low THC blood level could be found in someone unfit to drive.
Instead of what amounts to arbitrary blood testing, AAA recommends specialized law enforcement officers who would better observe behavior as a determination of impairment, which would then be backed up by THC blood testing.
As the AP noted, nine states — even some with legalized medicinal cannabis — currently have zero-tolerance policies in place for THC-impaired driving. Those states’ laws include not only blood testing for THC, but also for its metabolites which can persist in blood long after intake.
Clearly, ineffectual and illegitimate laws that senselessly send people to jail need to be abandoned with a quickness — and the AAA safety foundation’s findings on THC blood impairment testing would be a fantastic place to start.
According to The Verge, Wing’s drones will be delivering third-party products in Australia to individual homes. Australia is a more fertile testing ground for drone delivery technology because of its lax regulatory environment. For example, last year, Wing had to deliver to Virginia Tech students in a large open field. Strict FAA regulations, along with leadership changes, have also made it difficult for Wing to secure more partnerships in the US.
The Australian tests are taking place in a rural community near Canberra, the national capital, where residents “face a 40-minute round trip in the car for almost anything, whether it’s a carton of milk, veggies for dinner, or a cup of coffee,” James Burgess, one of Project Wing’s managers said in a company blog post. But the drone delivery isn’t all that simple either.
“With each delivery, we encounter a new yard space with its own layout of trees, sheds, fences, and power lines,” Burgess wrote. The issues range from programming the devices to maneuver safely around obstacles like parked cars or outdoor furniture to following customers’ wishes to set down perishable food items close to their kitchens. “The information we gather from both of these test partners will help us build a system so that merchants of all kinds can focus on what they’re good at — like making food or helping people feel healthier — rather than being distracted by complex delivery logistics,” Burgess said.
Announcing the change, justice minister Dominic Raab said: “Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”
A new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is also to be created.
‘This is something serious’
A woman who lost her partner to a driver distracted by his mobile phone believes a life sentence may be the deterrent needed to make drivers take more care.
Meg Williamson’s Australian boyfriend Gavin Roberts, 28, died after his BMW was hit by a Vauxhall Corsa driven by Lewis Stratford on the A34 in Oxfordshire in June 2016.
Stratford, who was speeding and having an argument with his girlfriend over the phone, admitted death by dangerous driving and was jailed for three years and eight months in March.
Ms Williamson told BBC Radio 5 live that if a harsher sentence had been in place at the time “it might have prevented Lewis from doing what he did”.
She said: “It’s about re-educating people now. I think it might just take that one person to get the life imprisonment if some fatality occurs then people will start to realize this is something serious.”
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone