Autonomous Vehicles Blog

Driving the Future

This is the second post in a five-part weekly series reviewing the legal landscape for transit employers considering automation.  Please click here to see the prior post in this series. When a transit authority considers automation, a duty to bargain with labor over the decision to automate and a duty to bargain over the effects of the decision may arise.  The source of the duty may be one of three types of labor laws that…
This is the first post in a five-part weekly series reviewing the legal landscape for transit employers considering automation.  The series will address relevant statutes, the effects of existing collective bargaining agreements, the subjects over which an employer may be required to bargain, and steps an employer can take now to better position itself to automate. Autonomous vehicle technology has reached a place where certain technologies are market-ready or readily adaptable to transit operations, and…
In the world of automation, companies must take care to not forget about worker safety.  Planning for worker safety while planning for automation helps the transition for both.  In planning for worker safety, there are a few key areas to keep in mind. Education and training for employees working around robots or other automated equipment is an important first step.  Employees must understand their new roles as it pertains to automated equipment.  Employees should be…
Traditional automakers and large tech companies continue to acquire AV-tech startups as competition for key personnel, proprietary technology, and AV data increases. As the AV industry continues to consolidate, traditional auto makers and tech companies will need to continue to conduct thorough due diligence during the acquisition phase. Moreover, they will need to have policies and procedures in place to protect trade secrets and confidential information, while ensuring that any potential acquisition target has properly…
Federal Funding Opportunity for Transit Buses Provides Reminder to Keep Labor Concerns in Mind The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) recently announced an opportunity to apply for up to $85 million in competitive grant funds through FTA’s Low or No Emission (Low-No) Bus Program.  The program provides funding for the purchase or lease of Low-No buses that use advanced technologies.  Eligible projects also include construction of facilities and related equipment to…
According to a recent study, people with darker skin are more likely to be hit by autonomous vehicles than people with lighter skin. Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology concluded that object detection systems of the type used in autonomous vehicles had uniformly poorer performance when detecting pedestrians with darker skin types.  The study used the Fitzpatrick skin type scale, which was introduced to measure a number of physical attributes (such as hair…
Tall as the highest grocery shelf, slender, slow-moving; a creature of few words but with large eyes—that’s “Marty,” the latest worker at hundreds of grocery stores across the country. Marty is a robot that can be found trolling grocery aisles, looking for spills, on alert of tripping hazards, and scanning shelves to check on product. Ahold Delhaize will be putting up to 500 Martys to work in Giant Food Stores, Martin’s and Stop & Shop…
When President Trump signed an executive order on Monday to boost the role of artificial intelligence in the United States, the AV industry took yet another incremental—but not necessarily insignificant—step forward. While nowhere in the 10-page American AI Initiative are autonomous vehicles mentioned, nor even the word transportation included, those in the industry took notice. What does the executive order mean for the AV industry? Overview It’s important to first understand what the American AI…
Increased Investment in AV Industry Causing Rigorous Due Diligence of Employment-Related Issues With traditional automakers and tech-companies continuing to develop AVs, venture capitalists are increasing their attention and investment activity in our industry. Likewise, traditional automakers and large tech companies have acquired AV-tech startups as competition for key personnel, technology, and first-mover advantage increases. In the third quarter of 2018, venture capitalists invested $1.9 billion in auto tech companies according to a MoneyTree report from…
Before your Christmas leftovers were even close to being eaten up, Amazon had already released a press release touting record-breaking sales figures for the holiday season—and autonomous vehicles played a critical role in the retail giant smashing its own holiday record. The December 26 release doesn’t mention AVs or robotics in any way (except a brief mention about a record number of iRobot Roomba vacuums being sold to consumers), but rest assured, the company relied…