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Today’s Pickup: proposed bill could put more electric scooters on Massachusetts streets

  (Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Good day,

A bill proposed by Massachusetts state Rep. Michael Moran could help electric scooter startups breathe easy. The bill would exempt electric scooters from a law that requires vehicles to be fitted with brake lights and turn signals. The law in question dates back a decade, requiring motorized scooters to have brake lights and turn signals, the absence of which would incur a fine. Most of the current crop of e-scooters do not meet the standard and thus cannot venture into Massachusetts. The new bill would help these companies circumvent this issue.

Apart from removing this hurdle, the new bill advocates for the e-bike companies to carry insurance, and pay taxes amounting to $0.20 per ride – with the collections being split between the state and the city where the ride is done. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) of Massachusetts is all in favor of introducing e-scooters to the state, convening twice per month to discuss a potential scooter-share pilot program. Regardless of this, it remains to be seen if Moran’s bill would gather enough support to be passed at the Senate.

Did you know?

Last year, Tesla sold 145,846 Model 3s, the company’s mid-size, four-door sedan that started production in 2017. That easily outpaced the 111,641 units sold by the Model 3’s closest luxury vehicle competitor, the Lexus RX.

Quotable:

“I think what we do is we hear them (the U.S.). They are major consumers versus the major producing nations, we hear what they say but we will always do the right thing from our perspective which is always trying to maintain the balance (in supply and demand).”

– Suhail Al Mazrouei, the outgoing OPEC president on OPEC listening to what the U.S. has to say regarding oil prices

In other news:

Uber and Lyft IPO timing is left in limbo by shutdown

Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. have yet to receive feedback from the U.S. securities regulator on their confidential submissions for initial public offerings. (Bloomberg)

Fiat Chrysler to pay over $650 million to settle diesel emissions case

Federal officials allege that the 104,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Ram pickups, made between 2014 and 2016, were equipped with diesel engines programmed to run pollution controls during lab tests that would turn off under certain conditions on the road. (The Washington Post)

Wattpark is Airbnb for electric vehicle charging stations

Wattpark envisions a future where people purchase reasonably affordable EV charging ports and install them at home, a business or anywhere they have access to a legal power source. (Engadget)

Oil drops 1 percent on US-China trade talks, American supply surge

The U.S.-China trade talks have produced mixed signals, while OPEC looks to cut supply to rein in emerging glut. (CNBC)

HERE is challenging Uber by uniting the world’s cab drivers

The main idea of HERE’s SoMo is to give all the transportation businesses that have been pummeled by Uber and Lyft a common platform, in the hopes that if a rider knows this app can help them pretty much anywhere they go, it’ll be worth downloading. (Wired)

Final thoughts:

The Consumer Electronics Show this year is lit up with a myriad of futuristic transport-related innovations that would likely turn out to be the mainstay technology of tomorrow. JD.com, the Chinese ecommerce behemoth has launched two smart delivery stations that would reinforce the company’s autonomous delivery capabilities, made possible through drones and robots. These robotic vehicles can plan routes, avoid obstacles, and recognize traffic signals. The icing on the cake is that these robots can recognize shoppers using its facial recognition software, ensuring precision delivery.

Automation has been a recurring theme in CES2019. FreightWaves reporter Linda Baker covered the press meet where Daimler Trucks pledged to invest $570 million in making SAE Level 4 automation commercially viable within a decade. Daimler has also launched the first SAE Level 2 automated truck in North America, with enhancements made to Freightliner’s new Cascadia.

Bell Flight, a quadcopter company has teamed up with Uber to unveil a scale model of an air taxi at CES2019. The vertical take-off and landing quadcopter can seat five people and would have a 150-mile range, while reaching speeds of 150 miles per hour. Though Bell Flight is yet to build a prototype, it is hopeful of kickstarting services by 2020.

Hammer down everyone!

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Vishnu Rajamanickam, Staff Writer

Vishnu writes editorial commentary on cutting-edge technology within the freight industry, profiles startups, and brings in perspective from industry frontrunners and thought leaders in the freight space. In his spare time, he writes neo-noir poetry, blogs about travel & living, and loves to debate about international politics. He hopes to settle down in a village and grow his own food at some point in time. But for now, he is happy to live with his wife in the middle of a German metropolitan.
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