UPS Gets in on Autonomous Trucking Wave

UPS Gets in on Autonomous Trucking Wave

It looks like UPS is joining the party. Yep, the recent wave of noise coming from the autonomous vehicle world now includes the long-time delivery company. UPS recently revealed that the venture capital wing of the company UPS Ventures, is now investing in autonomous driving company TuSimple. They are getting self-driving tractor-trailers.

In fact, the testing of self-driving trucks began in early May on a route that went from Phoenix to Tucson. The tests included a driver and engineer in the vehicle during completion of the route. In a Thursday news release, the company suggested that its goal was to have a better comprehension for autonomous driving within its network and to get a feel for where the “vehicle’s onboard computer is in complete control at all times, eliminating manual intervention.”

TuSimple, a company started in 2015, strives to produce the first self-driving truck for the marketplace with technology for shipping businesses to run self-driving tractor-trailers.

Autonomous Trucking to Help During Peak Shipping Season

UPS pointed out that it does business with third-party trucking companies to deal with the overwhelming influx of cargo shipments during the peak holiday season. TuSimple theorizes it can trim the costs of that part of the business by 30%.

“UPS is committed to developing and deploying technologies that enable us to operate our global logistics network more efficiently,” UPS Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Scott Price said. “While fully autonomous, driverless vehicles still have development and regulatory work ahead, we are excited by the advances in braking and other technologies that companies like TuSimple are mastering.”

The budding prospect of autonomous vehicles was at the center of negotiations for a UPS- Teamsters labor contract for drivers and other folks work with small packages.

As it stands the deal they arrived at mandates the company review technological changes with the union six months prior to invoking any changes. This would include changes like the deployment of delivery drones, driverless vehicles and other cutting-edge developments.

What do you guys think this driverless revolution will do to trucking and how will it really affect companies like UPS?

Loosening Drive Time Rules is a Mistake

Loosening Drive Time Rules is a Mistake

There have been a number of devastating fatal car accidents this summer involving large carrier trucks. One that occurred near Glens Falls occurred just past a Welcome Center where the driver could’ve pulled over to nap or grab a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, the driver didn’t make this choice and it produced fatal consequences.

It’s not yet known if in this particular accident the driver defied the rules of truck driver drive time and was required to pull over. However, his own words suggest that, in fact, he may have exceeded the hours he can be on the road.

This is just one incident but it illustrates how huge a problem fatigued driving is in this country. In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board has called it a ‘pervasive problem.’ It emphasizes the point by noting that 13 percent of deadly crashes include drivers who’ve fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Just look at 2017 by itself. In that year, there were 4,700 crashes involving large trucks. Of those incidents, 60 included “asleep or fatigued” drivers. This statistic from the NTSB often goes underreported to the authorities.

Goal of De-Regulation

With all this conclusive evidence illustrating the depth of the problem, it’s no time for the federal government to loosen the rules on how much time truck drivers can spend on the road. Nevertheless, this is precisely the tact that the Trump Administration is taking. It’s all part of their desire to deregulate. Plus, the trucking industry has been lobbying vigorously for less restrictions pertaining to long distance trucking.

The Trump administration has already gotten ridden of roughly a dozen current or suggested truck safety rules. This fact was recently reported by PBS.

Essentially, the government is dismissing the safety board’s aim to trim fatigued driving incidents. They are currently considering changing the long-haul service rules that limit drivers to 11 hours of driving over a 14-hour period. This is after being off for 10 straight hours.

The trucking industry desperately wants the 14-hour period to be extended to 17 full hours, while also accounting for a three-hour break for bad weather, traffic delays, or issues with loading cargo. Furthermore, truckers want the compulsory half hour break removed.

By allowing any of these changes, truckers would be granted more time to drive without properly resting. Safety advocates say this would make them more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and then potentially kill somebody in an accident. More to the point, regulators believe there’s no telling if drivers will actually stop for three hours. Even worse, they believe removing the mandatory break would result in more fatigued drivers.

So, what do you guys think? This push by the Trump administration to loosen the rules is a bad idea?

Experts Argue Against Idea of Driver Shortage

Experts Argue Against Idea of Driver Shortage

It’s true. Truck drivers are largely responsible for delivering all the things you see around you on a daily basis. All the inanimate objects in your life at one time probably traveled on a truck. After all, truck drivers deliver education materials to schools, food to grocery stores, clothes to retail stores and on and on. Basically, trucks are the major link between people and businesses throughout the country.

“The value of trucking in our economy cannot be overstated,” said John McKenna, vice president of operations at the trucking company BSP Transportation, Inc. “Without truck drivers, manufacturers wouldn’t get parts, builders wouldn’t get materials and hospitals wouldn’t get medical supplies.”

McKenna is one of the voices in the trucking world who are predicting there’ll be a huge shortage of drivers down the road. This refrain has been echoed by many leading industry experts. They imagine a world where the lack of drivers could bring the economy to an abrupt halt.

Interestingly, a new chorus is starting to sound about this issue, and it comes from labor economists. These experts are saying it’s not going to happen, they’ll be no shortage.

“As a whole, the market for truck drivers appears to work as well as any other blue collar labor market,” according to some data published in the Monthly Labor Review of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in March.

Despite the difference of opinion on this matter, both sides of the argument agree the demand for truckers is increasing. Currently, the industry is trying to figure out what its human-based workforce is going to look like, titans of the tech industry, including Uber, Tesla, Volvo and even General Motors are racing toward the creation of autonomous trucks.

In fact, just last year, Steve Viscelli, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, predicted automation could replace around 249,000 jobs. That’s definitely no small amount. Also, the driverless trucks would replace the best long-distance driving jobs. Essentially, that would leave low-paying gigs for truckers.

The reason autonomous trucks are better suited for long-distance driving is because it involves less intricate city driving.

Driver Shortage Not Accurate

Despite industry experts saying there’s a shortage of drivers, or bound to be, this new group is saying drivers will enter the trucking industry at the same rate as ever as long as the pay is good. They are basically calling truck leaders alarmists. Nevertheless, both agree the demand for drivers is increasing because of the Amazon effect in society.

For McKenna, however, the most important factor in all of this discussion about driver shortage, is making a point to convince young people that truck driving is a worthwhile career.

What do you all think? Is this driver shortage talk a lot of nonsense?

Uber to Get Boost with Independent Contractor Ruling

Uber to Get Boost with Independent Contractor Ruling

Good news for the ride-sharing community. On Tuesday Uber got a gigantic boost after its IPO valuation launched below expectations. In what is being called an “advice memorandum” from the Office of the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) addressed to one of its regional directors, the agency decided that Uber’s control over UberX and Uber Black drivers “by minimally impacting economic and entrepreneurial opportunity” suggests the proper designation for drivers is independent contractor.

The NLRB arrived at this decision by studying its determination on “SuperShuttle.” Here they ruled that drivers are also not employees under the National Labor Relations Act.

The agency stated, “Indeed, UberX drivers had more entrepreneurial opportunity than the drivers in {the SuperShuttle case}, who could control their earnings by selecting specific trips based on profitability, because UberX drivers could base decisions about where and when to log in on time-limited earnings opportunities like ‘surge’ fares and their total freedom to work for competitors.”

Ultimately, this ruling was based on the study of cases between 2015 and 2016 from drivers in three markets: St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; and Brooklyn, New York.

Positive Developments for Gig Economy

Interestingly enough, this suggestion is the second such one to happen lately regarding the gig-economy. Another one occurred on April 29 by the US Department of Labor.

Achieving a worker classification designation is crucial to Uber. In fact, the company made a point to note the cost of lawsuits as a reason for its lower than expected IPO valuation. If this current ruling would have favored a worker designation, this would have proved costly to the company. Consequently, for the ride-sharing world this was positive news.

What do you guys think?

Automakers Clash with Used Car Dealers for Control of African Market

Automakers Clash with Used Car Dealers for Control of African Market

Visit any city in sub-Saharan Africa and you’ll notice the busy streets are bustling with second-hand cars.

Currently, the African auto market is dominated by used cars imported from Japan and the Middle East. These vehicles are the most affordable path to vehicle ownership in many African countries and have commanded the market for years. However, the world’s leading auto manufacturers would like that to change.

A BUMPY ROAD

The popularity of second-hand vehicles is a major roadblock for car companies looking to crack the promising African market by establishing local production.

Consequently, auto giants like Toyota, Nissan, BMW, and others have come together to form the AAAM (African Association of Automotive Manufacturers). Together, their goal is to persuade governments to reduce the used car imports that have made the African market so impenetrable.

TIDES TURN

Four years after its formation, the AAAM has begun to see changes. The head of Volkswagen in Africa says that the potential for new cars has gone up from 420,000 to 4 million in just two years.

However, their efforts depend on how willing African governments are to limit second-hand imports. Additionally, a factor is how price-competitive new vehicle makers are with their tariffs.

Even though Africa is home to 1 billion inhabitants, it only accounts for one percent of the world’s new vehicle sales, most of those going to South Africa. In particular, The AAAM is eyeing Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya as potential manufacturing centers.

These countries, eager to create jobs, have offered automakers tax holidays and duty-free imports of parts used in local manufacturing.  Though the frameworks are yet to be finalized, companies are already investing millions of dollars in plants.

MARKET CHALLENGES

Currently, the influx of used cars coming from Japan is the biggest obstacle to the developing market. Japan has strict vehicle regulations that force cars out of circulation after only a few years. These vehicles are then exported to Africa and sold for cheap.

In an attempt to curb the issue, Kenya plans to diminish imports of cars more than three years old by 2021. This regulation is expected to double prices of mid-range vehicles. Consequently, opponents say it will significantly hinder the middle class from owning cars. Additionally, used cars are a large source of tax revenue in many African countries, and governments will have to adapt to this loss.

OPPOSING THOUGHTS

Is the move to establish local production a positive or a negative for the economy of Africa? Opponents cite the effort to dominate the African market as yet another example of foreign interests interfering with the welfare of the local economy. Others, however, claim it will help create new jobs and significantly boost the African auto market. What do you think? Comment below to let us know what you think!

The Tesla Pickup Truck is Right Around the Corner

The Tesla Pickup Truck is Right Around the Corner

There’s a new Tesla model coming to town… and it’s got everyone excited. In fact, CEO of the EV automaker, Elon Musk, claimed he is very excited for this new Tesla model. And it is not the Model Y crossover that recently came out. The new project? A Tesla pickup truck.

And while it does not yet have a name, this new pickup truck should come out sometime within this year. Apparently, back in December of 2017, Musk announced that the release of the pickup truck come after the Model Y – and we’ve reached that time.

And although it is unclear when, there are some ideas as to what the truck looks like and what it might be able to do. In fact, some rendered images are available to look at. Some believe that the new pickup resembles a Ram 1500. And, Tesla equipped the new pickup with a fold-down front liftgate. In addition, just like the other Tesla models, people expect the new pickup truck to have a “frunk.”

On Twitter, Musk released a teaser image of the truck, as well. This indicates that the truck should be released shortly. Or, at least, the design for the truck has been finished and finalized. As a result, in his Twitter post, Musk referred to the truck as the “Tesla cyberpunk truck.”

And this isn’t the only electric truck on the way to the mainstream. More are on the way, including the Rivian R1T and the Bollinger B2. Both of those trucks are on the way to production soon. In fact, even Chevrolet and Ford claim that they have electric trucks brewing in their respective companies.

What do you think of the new Tesla pickup truck? Will the other companies come up with something worthy of competition?

Biking Dangers in Boston: Killed Cyclist Honored in “Ghost Bike” Ceremony

Biking Dangers in Boston: Killed Cyclist Honored in “Ghost Bike” Ceremony

On Sunday, people throughout the Boston community joined together to remember a Cambridge woman killed in a bicycle accident. Her name? Paula Sharaga, a sixty-nine-year-old woman. A cement truck hit and killed her while she was riding her bike in the Fenway area. This awful incident occurred earlier this month. Bicycle safety is an issue in any major city, but especially in Boston. The city is cluttered with many narrow and poorly designed roads, including very limited bike lanes. Many cyclists have to ride dangerously close to vehicles on the roads.

Therefore, to honor Sharaga, the community put together a “Ghost Bike” ceremony. This honored her life as well as raised awareness about bike safety. Essentially, people in the community joined together in a bike ride in honor of Sharaga.

Now, family and friends remember Sharaga as an avid bicycle rider. They saw her also as an active member of the community, and a children’s librarian. In addition, she brought joy to the lives of many throughout her life.

The accident occurred in the area of Brookline Avenue and Park Drive. A sixty-seven-year old man from Salem drove the Boston Sand & Gravel that struck Sharaga. When emergency crews arrived, they transported her to the hospital. Later, she died at the hospital.

How can we increase bicycle safety in the city?

Many commuters believe that the city needs to do more to protect cyclists on the roads in order to prevent these tragedies. While drivers should take more caution in watching out for cyclists, perhaps with more bike lanes and other changes, the roads would be safer. Apparently, the intersection where the cement truck hit Sharaga was not designed well, especially for cyclists.

What do you think the city should do to prevent these tragic accidents and increase bicycle safety? How can automobile drivers and bicyclists better share the roads?

Truck Driving in High Winds

Truck Driving in High Winds

With Boston winter weather comes difficult Boston roads. This is especially a problem for truck drivers. While snow, ice, and rain can be tricky for all drivers, truck driving in high winds can be very difficult and dangerous. High winds are sometimes underestimated.

But, any driver who has experienced it knows the difficulty firsthand. The drive becomes risky for both you and other drivers on the road. So, before heading out into the windy streets, take a look at some of these tips for driving trucks in high winds.

Check Forecast and Wind Speeds

Before starting your drive, it is important to check the forecast. Are there any high winds predicted for the area of your drive? What are the speeds of the winds? Winds up to 60 miles per hour can actually overturn a trailer. So, it is better to know what weather conditions you’ll be facing beforehand in order to better prepare. Wind speeds from 40 miles per hour and up are dangerous for your truck, but can be manageable if less than 60, depending on the weight of the load you have.

And, before heading out into the windy drive, you should also double check your truck. Make sure everything is secure when you inspect your truck before leaving. This will help avoid any damages or shifting due to the wind and shakiness of the trailer.

Your Safety is Top Priority

Another tip to consider is using an alternative route to get to your destination. While you might have to drive longer to avoid truck driving in high winds, it can be worth it for safety and security. If another route is not helpful enough, simply stop driving.

If the wind conditions are hitting your trailer so badly that you can’t drive anymore, the best option is to pull over in a safe area and park. The best places to park are usually behind bigger buildings that block the wind, or park facing the wind. Your safety should be your top priority!

So, don’t let the winds blow you off course. Keep these tips in mind when truck driving in high winds, and stay safe on the roads for the remainder of this winter season!

Free Fun in Boston NYE Weekend

Free Fun in Boston NYE Weekend

Bostonians… New Years Eve weekend is just around the corner. While Christmas has come and gone, there is still fun and celebrations to be had throughout the city. And, with it, there are plenty of events, shows, and activities to participate in. While you may have spent your last spare dollars over the Christmas holiday, you don’t have to worry. You can still head out for a bit of free fun this Boston NYE weekend!

Lights

If you haven’t been there already, you can still check out the Christmas tree at Marketplace Center at Faneuil Hall. They are still putting on the Blink! Light and Sound Show ever half hour. The show features some favorite holiday songs in sync with the blinking lights. This will continue until the first of January.

For more art and lights you can head over to Somerville and check out their new art installation: nightLIGHTS. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone teamed up with the Somerville Arts Council to bring bright artwork to public spaces. The art was created by Chinese artist Wen Yu and Lam Partners, the light design consulting firm. You can view their pieces outside the East Somerville Library as well as in Davis Square Plaza and Union Square Plaza.

Music

While you are in Somerville, you can also stroll through their Winter Farmers Market from 9:30 am to 2pm on Saturday. They will have food from local vendors and even some live music. The jazz-pop duo, Fashionflower plans to perform.

For more free musical fun, there is the Boston Baroque Free Community Concert on Sunday, starting at 2 pm. The Boston Baroque is North America’s first Baroque orchestra. Viewers will love this free Bach and Vivaldi concerti. The Grammy-nominated orchestra is sure to put on a fantastic performance of “Brandenburg Concerto No 4 in G Major.” Simply register your tickets online beforehand to secure a spot at the show!

So, keep these events in mind when you are planning your Boston NYE weekend. Even if your budget is tight, you can still enjoy the fun of the holiday season!  

Tyler Thornburg Comes to an Agreement with the Red Sox

Tyler Thornburg Comes to an Agreement with the Red Sox

Lately, there have been many disputes about how Tyler Thornburg’s break from the Red Sox should be handled. On Friday, November 30, 2018, the Red Sox announced they have come to an arrangement of a one-year deal, despite Thornburg’s relief from the team.

Fans, unsure about the deal, are uneasy with his abandonment of the team in September. In summary, Tyler Thornburg was unable to play for the 2017 season due to an intensive surgery. This surgery was to treat thoracic outlet syndrome, but the pitcher was supposed to return to the mound in 2018. Although he did return to the team, he left after playing in 25 games. The player claimed it was to better focus his efforts on the upcoming 2019 year, especially since he performed with a 5.63 ERA.

Taking advantage of his full off-season, the player hopes to redeem himself to his former glory. As one of the best pitchers for the Milwaukee Brewers, he went 8-5 with a 2.15 ERA and was able to strike out more than 12 batters for every 9 innings. Hopeful towards a successful year, Thornburg’s deal is estimated to be about $1.75 million for the year.

The team itself also plans to create 29 new contracts for the upcoming year. These twenty-nine unsigned players are a new addition to their big-league roster. Also, ten Red Sox players have already signed deals for the next season. Presently, they have a single opening on their forty-man roster.

It’s times like this that the team looks to the fans for their support. Winning the World Series in 2018, the Red Sox hope to continue their winning streak and form a great team for the upcoming season.

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