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January 22, 2018 News of the Day: New York Could be First U.S. City to Levy a ‘Congestion Charge' for Vehicles, Researchers Patent Eyeglasses to Prevent Motion Sickness in Autonomous Vehicles

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【Summary】January 22, 2018 News of the Day

Eric Walz    Jan 22, 2018 12:25 PM PT
January 22, 2018 News of the Day: New York Could be First U.S. City to Levy a ‘Congestion Charge' for Vehicles, Researchers Patent Eyeglasses to Prevent Motion Sickness in Autonomous Vehicles

New York Could be First U.S. City to Levy a Congestion Charge for Vehicles

NEW YORK — With over 8.5 million residents, New York City has some of the worst traffic congestion in the United States — as well as the world. The average speed of midtown Manhattan traffic is just 4.7 miles per hour, costing the local economy $20 billion per year. Combined with New York's aging mass transit system, getting around the city is frustrating and time-consuming. However, this might give New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to implement a congestion charge in parts of Manhattan a shot at passing.

In October 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo brought together a mix of community representatives, government officials, and business leaders from across the region to serve on the Fix NYC Advisory Panel. The Panel was tasked with developing recommendations to address the severe traffic congestion problems in Manhattan's CBD (central business district) and identify sources of revenue to fix New York's ailing subway system. The results for the study have just been released.

The proposal is to charge drivers that drive into Manhattan south of 60th Street $11.52, while trucks would pay $25.34. Taxis, Uber and Lyft drivers would pay between $2 and $5 per ride, and residents inside the congestion zone would also pay for driving inside the zone.

The only way to avoid the charge inside the zone would be to enter Manhattan from the borough of Queens using the Queensboro Bridge, or from the Brooklyn Bridge farther south. Drivers can also stay on FDR Drive which runs along the east of Manhattan until exiting the zone.

According to the Fix NYC report, taxis and ridesharing vehicles could be first to face the charge as soon as next year, with cars and trucks following in 2020. However, the report suggests that NYC first fix its public transport system before levying the fee. Last year, Governor Cuomo declared New York's aging subway system a state of emergency.

If the state legislature approves of the charge, NYC would join other major world cities including London, Milan, Singapore, and Stockholm that assess congestion fees. Money from the toll would provide stable revenue, as much as $1.5 billion per year, for the Metropolitan Transit Authority to upgrade and maintain public transport infrastructure.

Audi Issues Recall After Another Diesel Cheating System is Discovered

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BERLIN — Germany's transport ministry confirmed a media report on Monday that the KBA automotive watchdog detected emission-control software installed in Audi's latest diesel models and ordered a recall of the vehicles.

About 127,000 vehicles from Audi, a unit of Volkswagen AG, designed to meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards are affected worldwide, including 77,600 vehicles which are registered in Germany, a spokeswoman for the German transport ministry said.

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that road transport authority KBA had told Audi to respond by Feburary 2nd on how it plans to update vehicle software controlling emissions, making sure the cars are unable to illegally manipulate emission controls.

Audi said in a statement on Sunday that the models had been included in a voluntary recall of 850,000 diesel vehicles with V6 and V8 TDI engines announced in July.

Researchers Patent Eyeglasses to Prevent Motion Sickness in Autonomous Vehicles

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ANN ARBOR, Mich., — University of Michigan researchers have patented a system that could use glasses or a headset to prevent a disconnect between your sense of motion and what you see.

The approach would use a set of sequentially activated light pipes that would imitate the movement of the autonomous vehicle in your peripheral view, giving your body a frame of reference while freeing you to check your phone without getting sick.

The technology could be embedded into the car itself, but the nature of the design makes it portable. Uber's recent patent application for a similar concept relied on sensory input that demanded non-wearable gear and was more about signalling intentions and offering distractions than mimicking the car itself.

The researchers are not sure if the auto industry will implement the technology, as it's just a patent, but they are planning to contact automakers and OEM suppliers to turn this into a shipping product.

The University noted that roughly half of adults get queasy just by reading a book as a passenger in a moving vehicle and even more people could feel sick in driverless cars. If the technology is going to get mainstream adoption, especially in designs that have people facing backward, inventions like this might be vital.

Mercedes to Stop Offering Diesel Engine Option in U.S. Market

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Mercedes Benz has a new diesel engine that meets the strict new European carbon dioxide standards that take effect in 2020. However, the company has no plans to offer any diesel-powered passenger car in the U.S, according to one of the German automakers top executives.

Ola Kallenius, the head of research and development for the Mercedes-Benz Car Group, said the new diesel engine the automaker has designed is one of the most advanced internal combustion engines ever developed by the automaker. He added that Mercedes has concluded that there simply is not enough consumer interest in diesel to warrant bringing it to the U.S. market.

"It does much better on emissions for Europe," Kallenius said during an interview at the North American International Auto Show last week.

Mercedes-Benz is planning to offer a diesel engine in the new G-Wagen that it unveiled ahead of the North American International Auto Show. However, the diesel version of the G-Wagen will not be sold in the U.S., Kallenius said.

Throughout the years, Mercedes-Benz has offered various models in the U.S. with an optional diesel engine but it stopped selling diesel-powered vehicles in the U.S. after Volkswagen was caught up in the "dieselgate" scandal that began with VW cheating on emission tests.

But Kallenius noted diesel-powered vehicles have never accounted for much business for Mercedes-Benz anyway. The sales of the diesel-powered vehicles was limited, accounting for just 3% of the brand's sales even in their best year, he noted. "The diesel doesn't fit into our portfolio in the U.S.," he added.

Mercedes-Benz, however, will continue to offer a diesel engine in its popular Sprinter vans, Kallenius said. Sales of the Mercedes-Benz vans have continued to grow as demand has grown in the transport sector. It appears that e-Commerce with its need for package delivery has helped spur sales," Kallenius said.

Kallenius also said that Mercedes-Benz is capable of building a business case for the 37 different body styles in its product portfolio even as the sport utility vehicles and crossover account for a larger portion of the brands sales.

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