As my last blog entries go, I am fascinated by autonomous vehicles. This recent article “The Numbers don’t lie, self-driving cars are getting good” show that things are heating up. While a bit on wonky side, the article shows how many companies are in the field. Their focus on different metrics show the differences in how they conceive of the future self-driving car market. The testing in the field is real and at some point soon we will see larger roll-outs of the vehicles.
Just a quick blog to say that the regulatory environment for driverless cars is kicking into gear. California has just come up with some conservative rules that require there be an operator in the car. On the other hand the Federal government in taking a pro-active approach for national standards that seem to promise fully autonomous vehicles. Much of this depends on safety tests, but the underlying tension has to do with whether self-driving cars are an added feature to privately owned cars or will it signal a shift away from car ownership to a share model where you pay for usage. As my previous posts suggest, I am more intrigued by the latter since it promises the potential transformation of urban spaces. In any case, those that argue that driverless cars are coming sooner than you think, appear to be right.
I had thought San Francisco might be the first city with self-driving cars, but it looks like Audi is going to do a test with a small fleet of cars in Summerville, a suburb of Boston in 2018. Check out this article in Wired: Audi Will Unleash Self-Parking Cars in a Bid to Fix Urban Gridlock. They focus on making parking easier for the car owner. Go some place, get out of the car while the car finds someplace to park. Let your car know when you want to get picked up and it comes to fetch you. It does mention sharing the car, so you could make your car work for you while you don’t need it. I had thought that Zip Car or Car2Go might just develop a fleet of cars for this service. Why own a car when you … Read More »
A major recommendation of the Oregon Resilience Plan was the establishment of resilience ratings for building and communities. The idea was to let people and communities know how well a particular building, structure or community would perform in the Cascadia Earthquake. The goal was to help people make informed decisions about the acceptable level of risk. These rating systems are now being to appear. The United States Resiliency Council (USRC) is releasing its Building Resilience Rating System this fall. The rating system is completed and the USRC are now in the process of recruiting structural engineers to become certified to perform the rating system. Their rating system has three components: Safety, Cost of Repairs, and Time to Regain Function. Depending on performance, a building will get ratings from one star to five star. Similar to a LEED Rating, this information will be shown … Read More »
The Oregon Chapter the Association of Civil Engineers was just mentioned in an article on making resilience a priority for school districts. The article from ASCE News, focuses on the efforts of the Beaverton School District to adopt the findings of the Oregon Resilience Plan (ORP) for schools. The ORP’s goals were to ensure that schools can be reopened thirty days after a Cascadia earthquake, and recommended that they be used for community shelters following the earthquake.
Although it focuses on the three ASCE members involved in the effort, I was also worked on the project as a sub-consultant for SEFT, Inc., Kent Yu’s firm. Kent led the the Oregon Resilience Plan effort when he was chair of the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Committee (which I also worked on). Chris Poland helped create the Resilient City study done by SPUR for the City of San Fransisco, which the … Read More »
OPB has been doing an incredible integrated radio, TV, and online effort, called “Unprepared”, looking at the vulnerability of the region to a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and resulting tsunami. The finale will be an airing of the Oregon Field Guide Special Unprepared Documentary. The premier showing will be October 1, 2015 at 6:10 pm. For those wanting a sneak peak and to participate in a question and answer session, the local chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is putting on an event at Mercy Corps at 6:00 pm, Thursday, September 24th, at Mercy Corps.
The recent subduction zone earthquake in Chile was an 8.3 magnitude which puts it in the “Small Size” Cascadia earthquake category. Since the ruptures start from the south, the rupture would stretch up northern California to Oregon. While not as powerful as a full rupture that would continue … Read More »
The big story was the recent New Yorker article, “The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle” that caused quite a stir both here in the Northwest and the rest of the country by providing a very well written summary of what the Cascadia earthquake and resulting tsunami will do to the region. The smaller stories are the passage of a number resilience bills in the Oregon Legislative and other efforts. These made barely a ripple in the press but they are historic and show that resilience planning for the Cascadia earthquake is here to stay. The Legislature created a State Resilience Officer attached to the Governor’s Office who will have the responsibility of tracking the 50-year effort outlined in the Oregon Resilience Plan (ORP). They significantly increased funding for the Seismic Retrofit Grant Program (SRGP) to the tune of $176 million bond grants for schools and … Read More »
Oregon is nearing a milestone in preparing for a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, but it could be delayed for lack of funding (see this report from OPB). The Legislature, back in 2011, asked Oregon’s Seismic Commission (OSSPAC) to create a resilience plan, which it did with the help of 169 volunteers from across the State. The Oregon Resilience Plan (ORP) took the bold step of saying that Oregon can become resilient within 50 years, which the Legislature took seriously and established the Oregon Resilience Task Force to hone down the over hundred recommendations to a manageable first step. The Task Force made its recommendations and the Legislature passed bills based on these recommendation. However, these bills need funding and they rest in Ways and Means Committee, which will decide their fate.
It is hard to overstate the impact of the Oregon Resilience Plan. It … Read More »
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about the Future of Cars and Cities where I talked about the potential impact of driverless cars. Development is speeding up, especially with the rise of Uber. A recent article by Zack Kanter called How Uber’s Autonomous Cars Will Destroy 10 million jobs and Reshape the Economy by 2025 shows how far this might go. He quotes Elon Musk of Tesla Motors that driverless cars will be available to the public by 2020. Rather than being sold to individuals, the more likely market are companies like Uber and ZipCar. He sees the transformation of not only the auto industry but public transport as well.
The potential of loss of established jobs is sobering, even if it balanced by the increase in jobs in other areas as the money that once went into cars goes … Read More »
On the anniversary of the last Cascadia earthquake and tsunami 315 years ago, OPB has done an excellent series of stories called “Unprepared: Will We Be Ready for the Megaquake?” As the articles points out, a large Cascadia earthquake and tsunami can occur anytime, and it reviews how prepared we are and compares it to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. They also have a nice little app called “What’s My Risk“. You can put in your address to see where critical buildings are located nearby and what their risk of collapse are. At the bottom of the page, you can find out if your local school has been retrofitted. The information was available online, but the app shows it in an interactive and friendly way, making this information more transparent. This is an exciting development.
It … Read More »