NEVS unveils autonomous electric shuttle for urban use

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NEVS Sango autonomous electric shuttle, image credit: NEVS

Way last century, Sweden had two global auto manufacturers — Volvo and Saab. Volvo built staid cars that were as solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Saab was the quirky cousin that insisted on mounting its ignition switch in the center console rather than on the dashboard. It also offered styling that was trés avant. If you wanted safety in your Swedish car, you bought a Volvo. If you wanted a little dash of excitement, you bought a Saab.

Both companies got caught up in a game of “mine’s bigger than yours” that played out between Ford and General Motors at the end of the last century. Ford started things off by buying Jaguar and Land Rover as it put together what it called its Premium Auto Group. Then it bought Volvo in 1999. Not to be outdone, General Motors then purchased Saab. Less than 10 years later, both once proud Swedish manufacturers were toast and teetering on the edge of bankruptcy as the Great White Fathers in Detroit bled both companies dry.

Volvo was rescued by Geely but Saab slowly sank between the waves. Its car manufacturing assets were purchased out of bankruptcy by a new corporation somewhat grandly known as National Electric Vehicle Sweden, which set about converting the last generation Saab 9-3 to electric power. In 2015, the company signed a strategic collaboration agreement with Panda New Energy Company of China to deliver 150,000 9-3 electric vehicles by the end of 2020.

Evergrande Group of China acquired 51% of the shares in NEVS in January 2019. Evergrande has since then increased its holdings to 68%. National Energy Holding, owned by Kai Johan Jiang, owns the remaining shares. The company is still peddling the converted 9-3 battery electric car to a largely uninterested audience.

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Seoul aims to commercialize urban air mobility in 2025

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Hyundai Motor Group via The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

SEOUL — South Korea aims to commercialize urban air mobility (UAM) services in the domestic market in 2025 as it strives to tackle worsening traffic congestion in major cities, the transport ministry said Thursday.

The government plans to begin offering UAM services initially with one to two routes, or terminals, in the Seoul metropolitan area in 2025 and then to increase the number of terminals to 10 by 2030, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement.

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Exclusive: Segway, the most hyped invention since the Macintosh, ends production

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Steve Jobs said it would be bigger than the PC. Some dubbed it the most hyped product since the Apple Macintosh. An era of secrecy bubbled up in the year 2000 about an invention that would change the world as people knew it. People speculated it was a hydrogen-powered hovercraft, or a device that would break the rules of gravity itself.

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Dutch study shows hyperloop may be substitute to short-haul flights

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An artist’s impression of a proposal by Dutch company Hardt Hyperloop to build a hyperloop system linking Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to major European cities is seen in this handout image obtained by Reuters on June 10, 2020.

LONDON (Reuters) – Passenger-packed pods speeding through vacuum tubes linking Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to European cities could prove a viable low-carbon alternative to short-haul flights, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Although hyperloop technology, which uses magnetic levitation to allow near-silent travel at airline speeds, has not yet proven feasible in large-scale operations, the airport said it was seriously exploring it as a potential form of sustainable transport.

“We are genuinely interested in where hyperloop could go,” said Hassan Charaf, head of innovation at Royal Schiphol Group, which owns and operates the airport, one of Europe’s busiest.

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How close is urban air mobility to becoming a reality?

 

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eVTOL vehicle

So far, Uber is sticking publicly to its stated goal of beginning limited aerial ridesharing service in its pilot cities by 2023. And at least one of its vehicle partners, Joby Aviation, remains committed to certifying and operating its electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) air taxi by 2023.

The U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program, which is intended to help accelerate the certification of commercial eVTOL vehicles by providing access to testing resources and a government early-adopter market, is likewise targeting the fielding of a “small handful” of vehicles in 2023.

Uber planned to conduct flight tests on an experimental vehicle over a U.S. city later in 2020 but has not provided an update on whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted these plans. These flights, of a piloted vehicle without passengers, are intended to demonstrate the low noise of eVTOL vehicles, which is critical to achieving the public acceptance needed to begin commercial service.

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Two-wheeler rental startups expect to ride high as public transport comes to a halt

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Self-drive scooter businesses like Bounce, Vogo, and Yulu expect to see an uptick in adoption, with public transportation utilization capped at less than 50% due to social distancing norms.

Self-drive scooter businesses like Bounce, Vogo, and Yulu expect to see an uptick in adoption, with public transportation utilization capped at less than 50% due to social distancing norms and disposable incomes taking a hit owing to salary cuts and lower earnings, these firms tell ET.

The nationwide lockdown has forced state governments to significantly cut public transportation services, restricting commute options for healthcare workers, civic authorities, and delivery executives.

Shared two-wheelers are more efficient and provide low-cost rider-friendly alternative to public transport. “With the movement of people being staggered out, self-drive shared scooters can help drive down the prices through economies of scale and pass on the benefits to the end consumer, in this case—commuters,” said Vivekananda Hallekere, CEO of Bounce.

These businesses, however, say that state governments and businesses need to jointly build newer ways of shared and public transport to cater to safer mobility solutions. “We need to ensure adequate preparedness of cities to cater to these new requirements in the most efficient manner possible,” Anand Ayyadurai, CEO at Vogo, said.

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Einride is hiring its first autonomous truck operators

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Einride is hiring autonomous pod operators in both the U.S. and Sweden with the new jobs set to begin later this year.

Einride, a Swedish technology company that designs, develops and sells driverless electrified trucks and logistical solutions, has announced it will be hiring the first autonomous and remote truck operator in the freight mobility space.

The company said new operators will be hired in Sweden in March and in the U.S. in the third quarter.

Einride said the first drivers are slated to hit the street in Sweden for commercial purposes later this year, with the first American drivers getting to work in the fourth quarter.

In the coming years, as SAE Level 4 self-driving technology is implemented on scale, trucking will change fundamentally, Einride noted. Looking towards the future, the company said it has made the decision to hire a former truck driver as its first dedicated autonomous truck operator, opening a new category of jobs.

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Hydrogen-powered drone developed in Hungary

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Hydrogen-powered drone in Hungary.

What is being touted as the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft that could be made suitable for carrying passengers has been unveiled at Jakabszallas airport in central Hungary. The Hungarian-American development was presented in the attendance of Minister of Innovation and Technology László Palkovics, who told a news conference that the government regards the aerospace industry as a key sector.

Whereas automotive is the Hungarian economy’s flagship industry, investments in recent years are putting aerospace in a stronger position, he added. He noted that the government has the hydrogen economy as a separate chapter in its recently unveiled energy and climate strategy, alongside AI, industry 4.0 and 5G.

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Inside the high-stakes race to build the world’s first flying taxi

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The Lilium prototype in a hangar in Wessling, Germany.Credit…Felix Schmitt for The New York Times

Lilium, a German start-up, illustrates the potential and the risks of creating a new generation of electric aircraft for urban transportation.

MUNICH — Inside an airplane hangar about 20 miles from central Munich, Daniel Wiegand lifted the door of a prototype that he said would become one of the world’s first flying taxis. He’s coy about how much it cost to build — “several million,” he says — but promises that within five years a fleet of them could provide a 10-minute trip from Manhattan to Kennedy International Airport for $70.

A lot is riding on his plane. Mr. Wiegand, 34, is the chief executive and a founder of Lilium, one of the most promising and secretive start-ups in the global race to build an all-electric aircraft that will — regulators and public opinion willing — move passengers above cities.

“This is the perfect means of transportation, something that can take off and land everywhere,” Mr. Wiegand (pronounced VEE-gand) said. “It’s very fast, very efficient and low noise.”

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The death of cars was greatly exaggerated

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The founders of Uber and Lyft, among others, declared that people would no longer need to own cars. Instead, car ownership is rising.

Throw your driver’s license out the window. Better yet, don’t get one at all.

For nearly a decade, that’s been the message from buzzy transportation companies. In 2011, car-sharing company Zipcar touted a study claiming millennials believe car ownership is difficult. The same year, Zimride, founded by the guys who would later cofound Lyft, was touted as a startup challenging the “old model of individual ownership.” Former Uber head Travis Kalanick boasted that his driver’s license had expired and that his 1999 BMW M3 convertible—his only car—had a broken alternator.

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We pit the Uber Copter vs. public transit in a race to JFK — here’s who won

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One is a bumpy, deafening and slightly nauseating way to get to John F. Kennedy Airport — the other is public transportation.

The Post put Uber’s new helicopter shuttle to JFK to the test, racing the car-sharing company and its chopper from Midtown to the hub against old-fashioned New York City Transit — which proved three minutes swifter at a sliver of the price.

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Chinese passenger drone maker EHang is said to file for U.S. IPO

 

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An EHang Inc. E-184 drone.

 Technology startup is working on producing passenger drones.

EHang may raise as much as $200 million in public offering.

EHang, one of China’s largest drone makers, has made a confidential application for an initial public offering with Nasdaq Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

EHang plans to float 10% to 15% of its shares, with the company’s valuation not yet set due to volatile market conditions, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. EHang may raise as much as $200 million in the IPO, one of the people said.

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