This Week in On Mobility – May 31, 2019
This week, USPS begins experimenting with self-driving trucks for long distance routes, Didi Chuxing secures charging discount for its drivers, and Uber starts banning riders.
USPS Begins Testing Long Distance Autonomous Truck Pilot Program
The United States Postal Service (USPS) officially began a self-driving truck pilot last week with the help of on demand logistics company TuSimple.
While fully autonomous vehicles are not yet a reality, companies like Phantom Auto and TuSimple are coming up with innovative ways to solve current issues, including a shortage of trained drivers to move freight and manage commercial vehicles.
“Autonomous technology can start addressing the driver shortage now and stabilize future workforce needs,” said Robert Brown, Head of Government Relations and Public Affairs for TuSimple.
“Since shippers and fleets don’t have enough drivers to move their goods, they aren’t buying trucks to meet their real demand. Autonomous trucks allow shippers and fleets to increase capacity,” Brown continued.
Market analysts believe the global autonomous truck market will reach $26 billion in 2027. A PwC study predicts these technologies will reduce annual operating costs for a traditional long-haul truck by 28% in 2025.
Long-haul trucking is the perfect area to begin testing autonomous logistics technologies. Not only will this help with the current driver shortage, but the data collected from this two-week pilot program will give TuSimple insight to create even better autonomous vehicle technologies. The company plans to have its first fully autonomous commercial truck available within five years.
Didi Chuxing Secures Electric Car Charging Discount for Millions of Drivers
Didi Chuxing drivers can now get a discount on charging their electric cars through China’s largest power company, State Grid.
Since Didi Chuxing is China’s largest ride-hailing app, the deal will substantially increase revenue for the country’s largest operator of electric charging stations. There are approximately 50,000 charging stations operated by State Grid, and the company plans to increase that number to over 10,000 by the end of the year.
The deal comes as Toyota ponders investing $548 million into Didi Chuxing. By adding increased benefits to drivers, more drivers are likely to sign up, making Didi a more attractive investment for Toyota.
Uber to Start Banning Low-Rated Riders
The recent driver strikes made Uber realize that drivers are not a commodity. In an effort to create warm and fuzzies between Uber and the company’s drivers, a new education campaign will focus on ratings improvement. Low-rated Uber riders are subject to losing access to the app if they do not improve their scores.
Low-rated Uber drivers have always been subject to losing their job, but riders have never had any consequences for low ratings.
The education campaign will provide in-app messages that inform Uber riders how to improve their rating. According to Uber, riders will have multiple opportunities to up their rating before being banned from using the app.
Even though a government agency recently ruled that Uber drivers are indeed contractors and not employees, this is a big improvement in driver relations. By promoting an environment of mutual respect between driver and rider, Uber will continue to improve as a company and may even turn a profit sooner than analysts predict.
Ride Report Receives Seed Funding to Help Governments Track Mobility Rides
As the mobility and micro mobility sectors continue to partner with US government agencies, the need for tracking data on locations and rides increases.
Government agencies need access to both real-time and historical data in order to make decisions about a variety of safety and legislative concerns, as well as ensure operators are in compliance with program requirements.
Startup Ride Report responded to this need by developing software to provide real-time data and reports from MDS-compliant operators like Bird and Lime. The company has tracked over 130 million miles of data so far, and recently raised $3.4 million in seed funding.
According to the Ride Report website, its Premium service allows cities to “conduct regular data-based audits, fee reconciliation, performance-based vehicle caps, and program evaluation reports.”
Two Schools Partner in Advanced Mobility Curriculum
A joint study between the Detroit Mobility Lab and the Boston Consulting Group estimate there will be 100,000 new mobility employees needed in the next decade.
Michigan Mobility Institute and Wayne State University have partnered to create the world’s first advanced mobility training program.
As traditional automobiles have slowly started converting to smart vehicles, the auto industry has evolved as well. Data scientists, computer engineers, and highly trained workers are needed to power the cars of tomorrow.
The “Master of Mobility” program will begin to address this skills gap when it opens its doors in 2021.