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Uber resumes autonomous car testing following suspension for pedestrian fatality

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PITTSBURGH — The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has approved Uber’s request to resume testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads in the Pittsburgh area.The approval, effective Monday and lasting for one year, comes about nine months after one of Uber’s autonomous test vehicles hit and killed an Arizona pedestrian. Testing was suspended after March 18 crash in Tempe, Arizona.Uber can test throughout Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located. Its vehicles must have at least one human backup driver and two if the company plans to go over 25 miles per hour (40 kph), department spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said.

Uber spokeswoman Sarah Abboud confirmed the approval but declined to say when the testing would resume.

The ride-hailing company had previously said it wanted to resume testing in a Pittsburgh entertainment, shopping, office and residential area called the Strip District, where its automated vehicle operations are located. Speed limits on most roads in the district are no higher than 25 mph, and it has narrow roads, railroad tracks, potholes and numerous pedestrians that present challenges for self-driving vehicles. Uber also has said it would test only during daytime hours and not in inclement weather.

The company filed an application to restart testing back in November, as it issued a lengthy safety report pledging to put two human backup drivers in each vehicle and take a raft of other precautions to make the vehicles safe.

Company officials have acknowledged they have a long way to go to regain public trust after crash that killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, as she crossed a darkened Arizona road outside the lines of a crosswalk.

Police said Uber’s backup driver in the autonomous Volvo SUV in Arizona was streaming the television show “The Voice” on her phone and looking downward before the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said the autonomous driving system on the Volvo spotted Herzberg about six seconds before hitting her, but did not stop because the system used to automatically apply brakes in potentially dangerous situations had been disabled. A Volvo emergency braking system also had been turned off.

Among the other precautions, San Francisco-based Uber will keep the autonomous vehicle system engaged at all times and will activate Volvo’s automatic emergency braking system as a backup.

In addition, Uber is requiring more technical training and expertise of employees sitting behind the wheel of the vehicles, according to a 70-page safety report the company released last month.

Pennsylvania law doesn’t allow testing of autonomous vehicles without human backup drivers. Google’s Waymo has carried passengers without human drivers in the Phoenix area, but recently backed off of that and is only ferrying passengers with human backups. General Motors’ Cruise Automation expects to carry passengers without human backups next year.

Later Uber will pursue bringing its self-driving cars back to public roads in Arizona, California and Toronto, Ontario, its other test sites. Arizona suspended the company’s permission to test after the crash.

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Canada’s Lion Electric Co. introduces all-electric Class 8 urban truck

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The Lion Class 8 vehicle has a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge and boasts “zero emissions” as well as “no noise pollution.” (Photo: Lion)

MARIBEL, Quebec — Canada’s Lion Electric Co. March 11 presented its all-electric Class 8 urban truck, the Lion8, which will be delivered this fall.

The vehicle has a range of up to 250 miles on a single charge and boasts “zero emissions” as well as “no noise pollution.”

Lion also says the truck has an 80 percent energy cost reduction and a 60 percent reduction in operational costs.

Another cost-saving attribute, says the company, is “oil-free operation,” with few moving parts and brakes that last longer because of a regenerative braking system.

It’s also built to withstand Canadian winters and punishing road conditions.

According to Lion, the company has already taken orders for the truck from committed buyers.

Assisting in unveiling the new truck was Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a Kansas City Chiefs football player and Lion “ambassador.”

Lion is a manufacturer of zero emission vehicles, including all-electric school buses, paratransit minibuses and urban transportation and commercial trucks.

It’s first vehicle will be delivered to the Société des Alcools du Quebec later this year.

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Diesel Laptops launches virtual diesel technician program

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Clients that utilize this program have full, unlimited access to Diesel Laptops’ certified, in-house diesel technicians who are available via phone and live chat and can both remote access the client’s diagnostic tools, and video stream through the end user’s mobile device. (Courtesy: DIESEL LAPTOPS)

GILBERT, S.C. — Diesel Laptops, a distributor of commercial truck diesel diagnostic software, hardware and services, has launched a Virtual Diesel Technician Program.

This program is a first in the commercial truck and off highway industry and is a real solution to the current diesel technician shortage that exists, according to according to Tyler Robertson, CEO of Diesel Laptops.

Clients that utilize this program have full, unlimited access to Diesel Laptops’ certified, in-house diesel technicians who are available via phone and live chat and can both remote access the client’s diagnostic tools, and video stream through the end user’s mobile device.

The program also grants clients access to the wide array of repair information that Diesel Laptops has created.

This repair information includes VIN decoders, labor time guides, repair information on over 70,000 diagnostic fault codes, wiring diagrams, component locators, torque specifications, parts cross referencing, step-by-step repair information, and much more Robertson said.

These applications are provided through traditional desktop applications, along with websites and mobile applications.

“We all know that it is difficult to find qualified technicians,” Robertson said. “We also know it’s difficult for most shops to acquire the resources they need to properly diagnose and repair commercial trucks. The Virtual Diesel Technician Program gives repair shops access to both live, real world diesel technicians and repair information.”

Diesel Laptops is staffed with certified diesel technicians from a variety of industries, and currently handles more than 50,000 customer repair, software, and diagnostic questions every year, Robertson said.

“These are all documented and organized in the company’s database, allowing Diesel Laptops to build the world’s largest database of solutions for known symptoms and diagnostic codes,” he said.

To learn more about the Virtual Diesel Technician Program, including watching an explainer video, visit www.DieselLaptops.com

Diesel Laptops, founded in 2014, provides specialized diesel diagnostic equipment for the commercial truck, construction, automobile, agriculture, marine, and off-highway markets. Diesel Laptops is the industry leader in diesel diagnostic tools.

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Schneider rolls out tablets to improve driver experience, efficiency

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Since Schneider assigns the driver and not the truck, every Schneider driver has everything needed — from apps to news to delivery information and bonus pay statements — at their fingertips. (Courtesy: SCHNEIDER)

GREEN BAY, Wis.  — Schneider isn’t just one of the largest trucking carriers in North America.

It is a leader in utilizing new technology to improve driver experiences.

Since it became the first company to incorporate two-way satellite communication systems in cabs in 1988, Schneider has been an early adopter of many technology developments.

Most recently, the company began rolling out Samsung Galaxy tablet devices to its drivers to make their lives easier both in and out of the truck, according to Mark Rourke, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Schneider.

Since the tablet is assigned to the driver and not the truck, every Schneider driver has everything he or she needs — from apps to news to delivery information and bonus pay statements — at their fingertips.

“I like that I don’t have to write everything down — like pick up numbers and customer info. It’s all right there for me, so I don’t have to go to a truck stop to do that paperwork,” said Schneider driver Shawn Calloway. “I’ll admit, I was hesitant at first, but it’s been a great portable tool that lets me streamline my work so I can get back on the road.”

Tablets also lay the foundation for future capabilities such as electronic signatures and transfer of documents, Rourke said, adding that as the technology evolves, Schneider is committed to the enhancement of the driver experience and will quickly accommodate additions and changes to the suite of new system tools.

“We have upgraded the in-cab communication system and provided new capabilities outside of the truck for drivers,” Rourke said. “We’ve listened and heard from drivers on how tablets are difference makers in making their lives easier. Putting technology in the palm of a driver’s hand is one of many ways we’re enhancing their experience.”

Testing of tablet-based solutions began in early 2015 with a pilot group of Schneider drivers who trialed the tablets alongside the current in-cab system. The resulting feedback noted their improved experience and elimination of the irritants of the previous processes, namely paperwork.

“It’s like an electronic Swiss army knife,” Rourke said. “All the tools and apps like MyPilot, Weigh My Truck, and Schneider’s Compass are in one easy-to-use place for drivers.”

Drivers are also using the tablets to:

  • Track work
  • Get customer information
  • Complete training without a facility stop
  • Look up bonus info
  • Weather and road conditions
  • Turn-by-turn GPS directions
  • Read news, messages, videos and more

Those interested in learning more about Schneider’s easy-to-use tablets and finding jobs with a company focused on improving the driver experience can visit schneiderjobs.com.

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