This week - Government policy, procurement changes, India, patents and robot drivers

Home / News | posted on 21 07 2017 News Roundup looks at the UK Government Foresight project which will investigate technological developments in transport, changes to the way in which Highways England will procure goods and services, India's refusal to allow autonomous vehicles to be used due to fears over jobs, with issues over patents delay self-driving vehicles and a robot to drive your existing car.

Significant boost for AV's

New Foresight Project

The UK Government Office for Science has launched a new 'Foresight' project to investigate how technological developments and emerging disruptive business models will impact on the way in which people and goods move around the UK in the following decades. Commenting on the project, Sir Mark Walport, Government Chief Scientific Adviser, said "The Foresight Future of Mobility project will help policy makers to think about the future of transport by providing the latest scientific evidence and tools".

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Another box on wheels?

Highways England Procurement Changes

Highways England are looking to make changes to the way in which goods and services are procured. Four 'routes to market' are currently being evaluated, with the next tranche of the Smart Motorway Programme (SMP) being let through alliancing arrangements from early 2018; Major projects such as the Lower Thames Crossing will use bespoke arrangements to reflect the individual issues that surround them; The Asset Delivery Model (ASM) will continue to be used for maintenance and minor capital works; and the Regional Investment Programme (RIP) will be awarded in regional lots with less secondary bidding for individual schemes. "We recognise the need for procurement routes appropriate for each particular part of the market, for bespoke contracts for complex projects for instance and we want to move away from the costly and stop-start nature of repetitive bidding" Highways England chief executive Jim O'Sullivan says, "we've not worked out the detail yet, but we want to be rewarding suppliers on the basis of performance rather than just the value of their bids. There will still be some secondary bidding, but direct awards also, where companies do well".

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Musk Concern About Fleet Wide Hack

India says no to driverless cars

The Indian Government has indicated that it will not allow autonomous vehicle technologies to be used in the country, because of the threat these may pose to employment. Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government would "not allow any technology that takes away jobs". He said India needed to recruit about 22,000 more commercial drivers and would be opening 100 training facilities to address the need. Inderpreet Kaur, an analyst at research firm Ovum said "The ministry has cited job losses as a reason behind banning autonomous cars in India, a bigger challenge would be to have ready infrastructure for these self-driving cars".

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Worksite Wili

Will patent wars kill self-driving cars?

With projected revenues for autonomous vehicles said to be in the trillions of dollars per year, will lawsuits over patents stifle progress? "Once money is involved, as innovators transition into commercial enterprises, things get complicated" says Bryan Reimer, Research Scientist in the MIT's AgeLab and the Associate Director of The New England University Transportation Centre at MIT. Although a number of companies are working collaboratively together, the couple of dozen vehicle manufacturers and technology firms who are the major players in the field are likely to find issues with patents that potentially block the use of a variety of enabling technologies. This may have the result of limiting autonomous vehicle capability artificially.

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EU says LEDs are safe

Autonomous cars not necessary with driving robots

A team from Ben-Gurion University in Israel have developed a concept for a robot driver which can be installed in any vehicle in a matter of minutes. The robot, called the Intelligent Vehicle Operator (IVO), consists of a combination of vision sensors and mechanical systems to operate the controls. A team led by Hugo Guterman, thought up the idea while competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge. The competition called for developing semi-autonomous search and rescue robots that could drive to a disaster, then leave the car to search the rubble. "We were unable to put the robot inside the car because it was very complicated" Guterman said. Instead, they rethought the problem and developed a robot they could install on any car or truck. It will be interesting to see if the proposed $1,600 unit will be capable of operating in real traffic conditions on a variety of different vehicles.

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