Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World

Electric and / or Self-Driving cars vs Conventional ones?

The oil and gas giant British Petroleum (BP) predicted in a report that was published last week that although electric cars are increasingly being put on the roads and renewable energy growing at exceptional rates, fossil oil extraction, production, etc. which needless to remind is BP’s main business line, would not only remain in demand but see this latter rise to unprecedented levels.  The reason for this unabated level in demand would be according to this report the greater numbers of the Third World countries (cum Emerging) populations reaching levels of prosperity allowing car ownership.  The question beside that of the validity of fossil oil demand predicted not to decrease in the future, is which direction the automotive manufacturing industry would take in the future.  Would it be Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World would these be on the roads?  And most importantly, which type of energy would be used in which type of vehicle ?

We republish the following Brookings article on driveless cars as these obviously will be marketed mainly in the so-called First World.

Driverless cars are coming: Here are 8 useful facts about them

By Fred Dews / Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

“Driverless cars are a transformative technology that could have important implications for society, national security, the economy, and the environment,” Darrell West and Hillary Schaub wrote in a 2015 piece that outlined a number of challenges, benefits, and policy recommendations related to autonomous vehicles. West, vice president and director of Governance Studies, and Schaub, a program coordinator, addressed specific issues for the continued development of this technology, including: cybersecurity and liability, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic fatalities, and addressing international safety and testability. “The discussion surrounding driverless cars involves a great deal of uncertainty,” West and Schaub observed. “There are huge ethical decisions that must be made regarding these new technologies. It is the responsibility of policymakers to help decide these issues.”

Here are analyses and data about driverless cars drawn from recent Brookings research.

Computers can be considered legal drivers of vehicles

Noting that in early 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined that under federal law computers could be considered legal drivers of vehicles, Darrell West and Jack Karsten of the Center for Technology Innovation write that, “With the combined efforts of the technology industry, automakers, and federal regulators, driverless cars could achieve widespread use sooner than many drivers and policymakers might expect.”

With technology companies and automakers continuing to make advances on driverless cars, and with increased federal research, companies like Toyota are saying they aim to deliver driverless vehicles around 2020. Given this pace of development, West and Karsten argue that “creating a national strategy for driverless cars is a crucial task for federal transportation officials.”

Pittsburgh is a leader in driverless car technology research and testing

Bruce Katz, the Brookings centennial scholar, writes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto being the first person to hail and ride a driverless taxi. The former steel manufacturing center has become, Katz notes, “the research lab and test bed for this revolutionary technology” due to an “ecosystem” that includes the robotics research unit at Carnegie Mellon University, plus start-ups and large firms, and Uber’s Advanced Technology Center. “But what has made Pittsburgh especially effective,” Katz says, “is public, private and civic leadership that is willing and eager to make the city itself a laboratory for technological invention and testing.”

The U.S. military has an interest in self-driving vehicles

Automated vehicles are not just for civilian passengers. As Nonresident Senior Fellow Kenneth Anderson explains in a Lawfare blog post, “the U.S. military has a keen interest in self-driving vehicles that can be deployed in combat for many possible functions, such as logistics and re-supply.” Anderson discusses some of the unique technological, reliability testing, and regulatory issues the Department of Defense faces as it develops this technology for warfare.

Autonomous vehicles are expected to comprise 25 percent of the global market between 2035 and 2040

In a wide-ranging 2016 paper, Darrell West explores the different types of autonomous vehicles, their impact, and cross-national issues involved with their development. He looks in detail at the technology, budgetary, regulatory, legal, and policy frameworks for autonomous vehicles in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. “In each nation,” West argues, “government officials and business leaders have to resolve these matters because within a foreseeable period, the technology will have advanced to the point where intelligent vehicles will spread into key niches such as ride-sharing, taxis, delivery truck, industrial applications, and transport for senior citizens and the disabled.”

“People and businesses will have driverless options for taking them safely to their destinations,” he says, “and it is important for leaders to provide reasonable guidance on how to commercialize advanced technologies in transportation.”

Fragmented regulatory framework the biggest challenge to driverless cars in America

In a briefing paper included in the Election 2016 and America’s Future series, and now part of the “Brookings Big Ideas for America” book meant to inform the new Trump administration, West explains that the “biggest American challenge” for autonomous vehicles “is overcoming the fragmentation of 50 state governments and having uniform guidelines across geographic boundaries. Public officials should address questions such as who regulates, how they regulate, legal liability, privacy, and data collection.”

In the briefing paper, West reviews the benefits and needed policy actions—including better national technical standards, addressing legal liability, and improving data protection and security. “Governments can accelerate or slow the movement towards self-driving vehicles by the manner in which they regulate,” West writes. “Addressing relevant issues and making sure regulatory rules are clear should be high priorities in all the countries considering autonomous vehicles.”

Existing products liability law is adaptable to new issues in autonomous vehicles

John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies, examines the liability issues associated with autonomous vehicles as new technologies continue to advance us into an era of widespread commercial use of vehicle automation. In 2012, Villasenor notes, motor vehicle accidents caused over 33,000 deaths in the United States alone. Just as existing vehicle automation technologies have provided safety improvements, additional automation promises to improve safety even more. In this context, Villasenor argues that “broad new liability statutes aimed at protecting the manufacturers of autonomous vehicle technology are unnecessary.”

In this paper, Villasenor offers a set of guiding principles for legislation. “In short,” he writes, “the liability concerns raised by vehicle automation are legitimate and important. But they can be addressed without delaying consumer access to the many benefits that autonomous vehicles will provide.” He concludes that the U.S. “has a robust products liability law framework that, while certainly not perfect, will be well equipped to address and adapt to the autonomous vehicle liability questions that arise in the coming years.”

The adoption of driverless cars can save thousands of lives each year

Drawing upon research that shows that as unemployment rises, more dangerous drivers drive less and safer ones drive more—thus decreasing traffic deaths—Senior Fellow Cliff Winston and Vikram Maheshri of the University of Houston argue that policymakers “could allow the most dangerous drivers … to continue to have access to an automobile provided it is driverless or at the very least has more autonomy than current vehicles.” Doing so, they say, “will not only save lives but also would “expedite the transition to driverless cars and help educate the public and build trust in the new technology.”

Automated vehicles will save government billions of dollars

As Kena Fedorschak of Arizona State University and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Kevin Desouza observe, state and local governments derive billions of dollars in revenue from speeding tickets, DUIs, towing fees, and other driver-related laws. They argue that while the safety improvements offered by autonomous vehicles will remove these sources of revenue, the technology will save taxpapyers an estimated $10 billion per year by eliminating “inefficiencies” in the transportation system such as congestion, road damage, and deaths.

“Even if the public sector refuses to innovate, government entities will save big bucks from the impending driverless car revolution,” Fedorschak and Desouza conclude. “Billions will be saved as a result of increased safety and the reduction of transportation inefficiencies. The future is bright for autonomous vehicles.”

The Future is Not in Fossil Fuels

 

An article published on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 by Common Dreams and written by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer is reproduced here for its interest to all concerned in the MENA region countries about the Peak-Oil theory being concretised under our eyes and that renewable energy would eventually replace all fossil oil based energy production.  The author asserts rightly that the Future is Not in Fossil Fuels  and that “Solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.” (The above Photo is by David Goehring/flickr/cc)

 

Global Economic Realities Confirm, the ‘Future is Not in Fossil Fuels’

While oil and gas companies falter, ‘renewable energy has reached a tipping point,’ says World Economic Forum expert.

 

Underscoring the need for a global shift to a low-carbon economy, a new report finds a record number of U.K. fossil fuel companies went bust in 2016 due to falling oil and gas prices.

The Independent reported the analysis from accounting firm Moore Stephens which found “16 oil and gas companies went insolvent last year, compared to none at all in 2012.” And the trend was not unique to the U.K.—a year-end bankruptcy report from Texas-based Haynes and Boone LLP showed there have been 232 bankruptcy filings in the U.S. and Canadian energy sector since the beginning of 2015.

“As the warnings from climate science get stronger, now is the time to realize…that the future is not in fossil fuels,” Dr. Doug Parr of Greenpeace U.K. told The Independent. “It’s also time for government to recognize that we should not leave the workers stranded, but provide opportunities in the new industries of the 21st century.”

Those opportunities are likely to come in the renewable energy sector, as the World Economic Forum (WEF) announced (PDF) in December that solar and wind power are now the same price or cheaper than new fossil fuel capacity in more than 30 countries.

“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, who leads infrastructure and development investing at the WEF, said in a statement at the time. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”

Quartz reported last month:

In 2016, utilities added 9.5 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaic capacity to the U.S. grid, making solar the top fuel source for the first time in a calendar year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimates. The U.S. added about 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, about double the pace last year, reports the Solar Energy Industry Association.

The solar story is even more impressive after accounting for new distributed solar on homes and business (rather than just those built for utilities), which pushed the total installed capacity to 11.2 GW.

And as Paul Buchheit noted in an op-ed published Tuesday at Common Dreams, “solar is also creating jobs at an unprecedented rate, more than in the oil and gas sectors combined, and 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.”

But it remains unclear how these trends will develop under an incoming Donald Trump administration.

As Moody’s Investor Services reported Tuesday, under Trump’s fossil-friendly cabinet, “U.S. energy policy likely will prioritize domestic oil and coal production, in addition to reducing federal regulatory burdens.”

In turn, according to Moody’s:

Increasing confidence in the oil and gas industry’s prospects will spur acquisition activity among North American exploration and production (E&P) firms, Moody’s says. Debt and equity markets are again offering financing for producers seeking to re-position and enhance their asset portfolios after a lull. [Merger and acquisition activity] will also pick up in the midstream sector. At the same time, integrated oil and gas firms will continue to improve their cash flow metrics and leverage profiles by cutting operating costs, further reducing capital spending and divesting assets.

Even so, the oilfield services and drilling (OFS) sector is in for another tough year, with continued weak customer demand, overcapacity, and a high debt burden.

Bottom line, wrote Buchheit, is that with the rapid expansion of solar power, Trump has “the opportunity to make something happen that will happen anyway, but he can take all the credit, with the added bonus of beating out his adversary China.”
“Unfortunately, Trump may not have the intelligence to recognize that he should act,” Buchheit wrote. “And the forces behind fossil fuel make progress unlikely. But there is plenty of American ego and arrogance and exceptionalism out there. We need some of that ego now, just like 60 years ago, when the Soviet accomplishments in space drove us toward a singular world-changing goal. Then it was the moon. Now it’s the sun.”

White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria

 

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara as expressed in Indian Express of December 23, 2016.  It could be interpreted as White Christmas in the Saharan Algeria.

Climate change: For the first time in 37 years, snow in the Sahara

On December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

In 1984, charitable supergroup Band Aid sang, ‘And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’.

Had it been this year, they’d have got it wrong — on December 19, a freak snow shower coated the dusty red dunes of Aïn Séfra, Algeria’s ‘Gateway to the Desert’.

Also Read | Parts of Saudi Arabia covered in snow, temperatures plunge

The snow — the result of a combination of atmospheric factors — stayed for about a day before melting.

 

The Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+) on the USGS/NASA Landsat 7 satellite acquired a natural-colour image of snow in an area near the Morocco-Algeria border, south of Bouarfa and southwest of Aïn Séfra. The rare snowfall generated excitement after local photographer Karim Bouchetata posted several stunning pictures of rolling dunes covered in white on his Facebook page. “Everyone was stunned to see snow falling in the desert, it is such a rare occurrence,” Bouchetata told The Independent. “It looked amazing as the snow settled on the sand.”

WHY

The Washington Post reported that a weather map analysis from the day of the snowfall shows that temperatures in the area, at the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, were about 10 to 15 degrees colder than normal when the event occurred. Also, a very strong patch of low pressure had been created at a high altitude, which rapidly sucked up air and cooled it, creating conditions for the extremely rare snowfall.

Ain Sefra –  Algeria

EARLIER

Aïn Séfra, which is situated between the Atlas Mountains and the northern fringes of the Sahara, saw a half-hour snowstorm earlier in February 1979. This region receives only a few centimetres of precipitation every year. In July 2011, the world’s driest desert, the Atacama in Chile, received 80 cm of snow. This week’s event could be another sign of climate change.

Source: NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the US Geological Survey. Caption by Mike Carlowicz. Other information: NASA & ENS

 

Merry Xmas and Best Wishes to Each and Everyone.