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US, Japanese Insurers Invest $111 Million in Ann Arbor-Based AV Company May Mobility
US and Japanese insurers are pumping over $100 million into May Mobility, an autonomous vehicle startup company based in TWU city Ann Arbor whose executives say, according to Reuters news accounts, they aim to “take human drivers out of vehicles in commercial operation by .”
The same news account reports that insurance industry support for AV technology “could be crucial as self-driving vehicle company work to convince regulators that robot vehicles can be safer than human driven ones.”
“Yet again, multi-billion dollar companies are investing enormous sums to make the case that driverless vehicles are safer than those operated by humans,” said TWU President John Samuelsen. “TWU is waging a national technology campaign to ensure AV developers and manufacturers do not fool the public and our safety regulators into believing that removing the human operator will produce safer transportation. Bus transit service is demanding and requires real-time responses by skilled operators – no level of automation will eliminate that role in the volatile and highly unpredictable operating environment of transit systems.”
Nice: Robot Breaks 7-Year Old’s Finger in Chess Match
Note: not sure if this link is the right video to play but including it.
Watch video here.
American Airlines Bets Big on Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft
A UK company had sold American Airlines on electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft which could dramatically alter aviation and impact future jobs. American has agreed to buy up to 350 of these aircraft, which can fly four passengers at distances of more than 100 miles.
“These types of new innovations are exactly why we can’t stand still as new technologies change transportation and the future of transportation jobs,” said TWU President John Samuelsen. “We are committed to making sure that as our employers experiment with and deploy new technologies our members are not left behind and are prepared and trained for the jobs of the future. We can’t ignore these trends – we do so at our own peril.”
Battery-electric bus fires demonstrate why worker training is crucial
As transit agencies across the country transition to greener forms of transportation, a case study from Connecticut demonstrates just how important it is for transit workers and emergency responders to be adequately trained in new technologies.
When a brand-new battery electric bus caught fire earlier this month, firefighters let the vehicle burn for 12 hours, explaining that dousing water on the fire would only exacerbate the problem, and could lead to toxins polluting the community’s waterways.
This problem isn’t just stateside. Earlier this year, the transit system in Paris temporarily suspended its entire fleet of battery-electric buses after two of them caught fire. In one of the incidents, the bus’s operator helped guide passengers to safety, reinforcing the need for highly trained human operators to be onboard public transit vehicles.
“TWU members want greener, safer transportation options in our communities, but we must recognize that battery-electric buses are vastly different from standard diesel buses,” said TWU Transit Division Director Willie Brown. “Ensuring mechanics and related workers, operators, and emergency responders are trained in how these vehicles function is just as crucial to the successful transition to a greener economy as the buses themselves.”
Via Sells On-Demand Microtransit School Transportation Service in Chandler, AZ
Via’s hard push into transit and school bus transportation received a boost in AZ as the company is operating a “free” on-demand service – Chandler Flex – that could be a model for reducing school bus services where TWU members work.
The service is Uber-like as riders, who are mostly middle school and high school students, can use an app to order a ride and walk to a street corner, cleverly referred to as a “virtual bus stop.”
While this may be a niche service for Chandler, the larger question is how these types of services impact service and safety and whether they are used to outsource good jobs to private mobility companies with low labor standards.
“We know that the wrong transit and school bus system partnerships with private companies like Via can result in weakened rights and diminished wages for the workers,” said TWU Vice President Curtis Tate who oversees the union’s technology campaign. “That is why TWU is focused on securing strong collective bargaining agreements that ensure our members do the work, whether it’s traditional bus service or tech-enabled microtransit innovations.”
What we’re reading
Cars without steering wheels? GM, Ford seek U.S. OK to deploy self-driving vehicles without steering wheels | Reuters
Not real tough to hack high-tech cars https://www.wired.com/story/china-cars-surveillance-national-security/
Will we be yelling at robot baseball umps soon? MLB may introduce robot umps by 2024 (usatoday.com)
Elon Musk proves he is a compulsive liar Musk said no self-driving Tesla had ever crashed. Regulators had counted 8 – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)