Today’s Pickup: autonomous Uber vehicle kills pedestrian

An autonomous Uber Volvo XC-90 in San Francisco. ( Photo: Wikimedia Commons )

Good day,

We learned yesterday that either late Sunday night or early Monday morning, an autonomous Uber Volvo XC-90 hit and killed a woman jaywalking in Tempe, Arizona. The car was in self-driving mode, and although a human driver was present and ready to take over in the event of an incident, the driver said there was no time to react. The Volvo was traveling at 38 mph in a 35 mph zone. 

This is the first known time a pedestrian has become a casualty of an autonomous vehicle. While cars have become exponentially safer over the course of the 20th century in terms of fatalities per 100M vehicle miles, in just a few short years, autonomous vehicles are already 40-50% safer. We expect state and federal agencies to beef up the regulations around autonomous vehicles as the public looks to authorities for reassurance and AV companies seek cover from bad publicity.

Did you know?

According to the latest survey data from CarrierLists, the percentage of ELD compliance among longer haul van, reefer, and flatbed fleets is holding steady in the mid to high 90s, while shorter haul and smaller fleets continue to hover in the mid 80s.


“When we negotiate a rate with you, that will stay as long as it works for both of us. Hopefully, we get a year out of it, sometimes 18 months, and in today’s market, maybe it’s 8 days.”

-Jeffrey Meyer, group transportation manager for Nestle Purina PetCare

In other news:

CSX has resolved service issues, CEO tells investors

“I have nothing today to apologize for,” said CEO James Foote. (Jacksonville Daily Record)

XPO Logistics to launch Drive XPO mobile technology in Europe

The app, designed for carriers, supports real-time visibility across transport modes and integrates carrier operations with daily productivity tools. (Nasdaq)

Air cargo market ponders another good year, but are things slowing down?

“Business confidence is a good leading indicator of GDP growth,” said Brian Pearce, chief economist for IATA. “The big double-figure growth rates are probably behind us.” (The LoadStar)

Covenant Transportation (CVTI) stock broke a 52-week high yesterday

Shares hit a peak of $33.36 and closed at $31.97, after opening at $31.89, for a move of 0.53%. Covenant now has a market cap of $586.04 million. (

China COSCO is building methanol plants in Louisiana

The Chinese shipping company has inked a deal with IGP Methanol to build methanol plants in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, with an eye on using methanol as bunker fuel for its ships. (Platts)

Final Thoughts:

The US Congress released its 2018 Joint Economic Report, and for the first time included a chapter on cryptocurrencies. The report was remarkable for its praise of the new digital asset class: “Blockchain technology offers a decentralized, secure, and efficient way to store almost any form of data across multiple platforms,” said the report. “From applications ranging from management of the electrical grid and utilities to how companies manage global supply chains, the potential for blockchain is truly revolutionary.”

The Congressional report also mentioned a limitation of cryptocurrencies—the contradiction between speculators hoping Bitcoin (for example) will continue to rise in value and people who want to use it as a medium of exchange. “Extreme volatility in the dollar price of cryptocurrencies also impairs their use as money because people price goods and services in dollars and thus their purchasing power fluctuates wildly,” the report pointed out.

Hammer down everyone!

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John Paul Hampstead, Associate Editor

John Paul writes about current events and economics, especially politics, finance, and commodities, and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. In previous lives John Paul studied Shakespeare in London and Buddhism in India, but now he focuses on transportation and logistics in the heart of Freight Alley--Chattanooga. He spends his free time with his wife and daughter herding cats, collecting books, and walking alongside the Tennessee River.