Alongside the evolution of the clean energy sector—a rapid rise expected to overtake fossil fuels over the coming century— the transportation industry is at the center of a great deal of attention and active investment which has instilled an innovative and collaborative air of activity which continues to spur exciting new developments. This past week alone has seen the formation of new partnerships, both surprising and long-sought-for, as well as a new research project which promises to feed the sector’s evolution.

Joining the likes of Uber, Ford, and GM in the evolving self-driving, or autonomous, car field, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland announced on May 18th the initiation of its first autonomous cars in the center’s first real-world test of self-driving technology. Equipped with the latest self-driving technology, the center’s cars will be the first autonomous vehicles in operation on Finnish streets and will begin by communicating among themselves, developing their ability to operate in real-time traffic by broadening their individual perceptions. The next phase of this project will commence later this year with a connection to the public traffic ecosystem, whereupon the VTT will explore the full potential of smart traffic in addressing how individual cars can communicate with the entire traffic system.

While VTT advances Finland’s role in the global transportation market, the race for leadership of the global market took another interesting turn with the announcement of a new partnership between two notable players. Google’s self-driving technology spin-off Waymo and ride-hailing service Lyft announced on Monday May 15th, the formation of a partnership which would see the Waymo bring its advanced self-driving technology to the popular service’s vehicles, which then provide Waymo with crucial data on their operation. This partnership comes as Waymo is engaged in a contentious legal standoff with Uber regarding claims of technology-theft and Lyft continues to challenge the publicity-scandal plagued Uber for leadership of the ride-hailing market.

Finally, this week saw an interesting development in the ride-hailing king’s efforts to smooth over its contentious relationship with public authorities and residents as Uber announced on May 16th a new pilot project which sees it offer publicly subsidized rides to the residents of a city in Canada. The local government of Innisfil, a city of 36,000 in Ontario, Canada, sought a new solution for providing its residents with much needed transportation services once it deemed public transportation too costly an option. Allotting 100,000 Canadian dollars to fund a pilot during which Uber will offer the city’s residents flat-rate rides as well as discounts. This incentive is reportedly the first of its kind, with Uber serving as the sole form of publicly funded transportation, but these types of partnerships are at the core of the company’s strategy as it aims to integrate its services into public transportation services to complement cities public transport systems as modes of transportation continue to evolve towards true Mobility as a Service.

VTT’s announcement of its autonomous vehicle project.  

Read Wired’s reporting on the Waymo-Lyft partnership

Read details about the legal standoff between Waymo and Uber.  

the LA Times reports on Lyft’s challenge to Uber’s dominance.

See how Uber is exploring new avenues with public transportation authorities. 

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Reframing City Districts (ReCiDi)

A research project conducted by the Universities of Turku and Tampere which aims to form a new conceptual framework which will help shape the collective identity and common vision necessary to realize the future low-carbon and sustainability targets.

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