Tesla's expanding business, including the Gigafactory being built in Reno, NV, is encouraging growth in the locales and associated businesses. Some of Tesla's suppliers are talking of relocation, wanting to be close to the action stirred up by the electric automaker's expansion. It makes good business sense to be in the same neighborhood as Tesla. "We can react quickly, and our engineers are constantly working with Tesla," says Futuris General Manager Sam Coughlin. Brookings Institute fellow Jennifer Vey says, "The land around Tesla is being redeveloped and reimagined. It's a mash-up of an anchor campus, startups, housing and transit, in a physically compact area where companies can cluster and connect." Read more at San Jose Mercury News.
EVs are doing even more to reduce energy use clean up the air, according to new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists. According to findings, 60 percent of Americans now live in areas where EVs do more to reduce emissions than hybrids, up from 45 percent in 2012. Average electricity use is now 0.325 kWh per mile, down five percent from 2011. EV performance - in terms of mileage and emissions - is improving compared to traditional fuel vehicles, based on the sources of electricity in various regions. Read more from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Zipcar's carsharing network has launched in Paris. Zipcar is expanding across Europe, and has already established itself in Austria, Spain and the UK. According to Zipcar France's General Manager Etienne Hermite, "In a highly populated city, Zipcar's model has been proven to remove up to 15 personally owned vehicles from the road for each Zipcar in service, reducing parking demand, congestion and emissions." Zipcar European President Massimo Marsili hopes that most Parisians will eventually be just a short walk from a Zipcar. The company also announced partnerships with Opel and Peugeot at its Paris launch. Read more in the press release, below.
The RoadRunner navigation system earned a best-paper award at Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress. Developed by researchers at MIT, RoadRunner directs drivers around congested roadways in a way similar to Singapore's toll system for congested areas. RoadRunner caps capacity for any certain zone, assigning tokens to cars in the area. When that capacity is met, cars are routed around the zone. Cars leaving the zone put a token up for grabs for another vehicle trying to navigate through the same area. The developers offer various ways the system could be deployed with or without including tolls. Read more in the press release below.
World's largest car sharing network ramps up European expansion with Paris launch
Paris, September 16, 2014: Zipcar, the world's leading car sharing network, today expands its global footprint to France, launching in Paris today. Founded in 2000 in North America, Zipcar's entry into France widens its global network, giving its more than 870,000 members access to even more vehicles around the world. Today's launch is a key step in Zipcar's expansion across Europe, which already includes the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria.
With a global fleet of over 10,000 vehicles in hundreds of towns, cities, airports and universities across the world, Zipcar is leading the way to help transform urban living by providing a convenient, sustainable and economical alternative to car ownership. Zipcar's global technology platform is the backbone to its expansion by providing members in now six countries with a simple user experience to reserve vehicles by the hour or by the day, in locations close to where they live and work.
Speaking at Zipcar's launch in Paris today, European President, Massimo Marsili, said: "Today represents a huge opportunity for Zipcar to operate in a city that is already embracing alternative mobility offerings. Like many cities around the world, Paris benefits from an excellent and widely used public transport network and an informed and educated public that is looking for a smarter way to live and consume goods, particularly when it comes to transport.
"With an ever growing population that is putting pressure on its transport infrastructure, Zipcar is committed to providing Parisians with a flexible and cost effective alternative transport solution. We are excited to be launching our first wave of locations today, and aspire to a future where Parisians live no more than a 5-10 minute walk from a Zipcar."
Zipcar prides itself on offering members a variety of vehicles, including many fuel-efficient models, by the hour or by the day, in locations close to where people live and work. Providing the right vehicle at the right time is key to Zipcar's mission to reduce the need for car ownership in the city and Zipcar is pleased to announce its new partnerships with Opel and Peugeot at today's launch.
Etienne Hermite, General Manager, Zipcar France, said: "In a highly populated city, Zipcar's model has been proven to remove up to 15 personally owned vehicles from the road for each Zipcar in service, reducing parking demand, congestion and emissions. Parisians are already deeply concerned with the issues of mobility and we look forward to working closely with our members, local government and Mairie de Paris as we look to expand further across Paris and France."
Zipcar, the world's leading car sharing network, has operations in urban areas and college campuses throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Austria and France. Zipcar offers more than 30 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to residents and businesses looking for smart, simple and convenient solutions to their urban and campus transportation needs. Zipcar is a subsidiary of Avis Budget Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: CAR), a leading global provider of vehicle rental services. More information is available at www.zipcar.com or www.zipcar.fr.
Reducing traffic congestion with wireless system
System that would wirelessly route drivers around congested roadways wins best-paper award.
(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- At the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress last week, MIT researchers received one of the best-paper awards for a new system, dubbed RoadRunner, that uses GPS-style turn-by-turn directions to route drivers around congested roadways.
In simulations using data supplied by Singapore's Land Transit Authority, the researchers compared their system to one currently in use in Singapore, which charges drivers with dashboard-mounted transponders a toll for entering congested areas.
The Singapore system gauges drivers' locations with radio transmitters mounted on dozens of gantries scattered around the city, like the gantries used in many U.S. wireless toll systems. RoadRunner, by contrast, uses only handheld devices clipped to cars' dashboards. Nonetheless, in the simulations, it yielded an 8 percent increase in average car speed during periods of peak congestion.
Moreover, for purposes of comparison, the MIT researchers restricted themselves to road-access patterns dictated by Singapore's existing toll system. Modifying those patterns - encouraging or discouraging the use of different stretches of road - could, in principle, lead to even greater efficiency gains.
"With our system, you can draw a polygon on the map and say, 'I want this entire region to be controlled,'" says Jason Gao, a graduate student in electrical engineering and computer science who developed the new system together with his advisor, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Li-Shiuan Peh. "You could do one thing for a month and test it out and then change it without having to dig up roads or rebuild gantries."
Gao and Peh also tested their system on 10 cars in Cambridge, Mass. Of course, 10 cars is not enough to dramatically affect local traffic patterns. But it was enough to evaluate the efficiency of the communications system and of the vehicle-routing algorithm. It also provided reliable data about the system's performance for use in simulations.
Urban toll systems like the one in Singapore designate certain regions - with gantries at every entry point - as prone to congestion. Drivers are charged a fee for entering any such region, so they have an incentive to avoid it. The fee fluctuates over the course of the day, according to historical traffic data.
RoadRunner, by contrast, assigns each such region a maximum number of cars. Any car entering the region must acquire a virtual authorization that Gao and Peh call a "token." If no tokens are free, RoadRunner routes the car around the region using turn-by-turn voice prompts.
The version of RoadRunner used in the Cambridge tests was largely decentralized: A car leaving a region would wirelessly announce that its token was available, and a car seeking to enter the region would request it. The system used a wireless standard called 802.11p, a variation on Wi-Fi that uses a narrower slice of the electromagnetic spectrum but is licensed for higher-power transmissions, so that it has a much larger broadcast range.
It could be that the time savings promised by RoadRunner would be enough to induce commuters to use it. But it would also be possible to modify the system so that any car entering a congestion-prone region without a token would be assessed a small fine.
Reporting a car for tokenless entry would require uploading data to a central server, but it wouldn't require specifying the car's location at a resolution finer than that of the region. So Gao believes that, even though RoadRunner relies on GPS data, it wouldn't compromise drivers' privacy any more than existing urban toll systems do. In fact, he argues, it would compromise privacy less, since cars that followed the system's routing instructions would never have their locations reported.
An app for that
In their experiments, Gao and Peh used cellphones to control commercial 802.11p radios, which are about the size of a typical electronic-toll dashboard transponder. But in the future, it may be possible to embed the radios directly into cellphones.
At the International Symposium on Low Power Electronics and Design in August, Gao, Peh, and lead author Pilsoon Choi, a postdoc in Peh's group, together with researchers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, presented a paper demonstrating that an 802.11p radio built from gallium nitride and controlled by silicon electronics would consume half the power that existing radios do.
Moreover, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) has developed a technique for integrating gallium nitride into existing silicon-chip manufacturing processes and is currently building a chip-fabrication facility to implement it.
"In Singapore, the government already requires every single registered vehicle to have a dash-mounted transponder," Gao says. "That's already there, so you might as well take advantage of it. In other places, where you don't have that in place, it would be easier to deploy it if you said, 'You can download this app and just leave your cellphone on your dashboard.'"
"A distributed decision process is an alternative to centralized models that has to be explored and, as far as I know, has been rarely if not ever addressed," says Jean Bergounioux, secretary general of ATEC ITS France, a French industrial research consortium dedicated to novel transportation systems. "RoadRunner offers the possibility of decentralizing as many decisions as possible at the lower level, without excluding that global decisions be made at the upper level."
"It's worth getting into field trial as soon as possible to test and evaluate the feasibility of its industrial development and deployment," Bergounioux adds.