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Benefits of Updating Buses with Innovative Technology

The school bus system belongs to a segment of the transportation sector that is large, outdated, and underfunded. Experts revealed they have twice the number of buses serving commuters on a daily basis. It is so outdated, that almost all the buses run on diesel, and came into service before 2007, before the implementation of stricter emissions standards.

Outdated Buses

Cameras are also useful in monitoring the behavior of the passengers. The camera records everything that happens on the bus, including bullying and other problems. This leaves the driver better able to focus on driving.

The school bus system offers a big potential for change due to its use of outdated vehicles. However, it lacks the financial resources to acquire new vehicles and new technology. The irony is that the losses due to the use of outdated vehicles could fund new buses with newer technologies.

For instance, in using propane instead of diesel, a fleet could save up to 50% in fuel costs and eliminate tons of greenhouse gases annually. Using electric buses, a school district can save up to $6,000 per seat, equivalent to $230,000 over its lifetime. Another advantage of switching from diesel fuel is the lessened health risk of school children. Studies show that the exposure to lower air pollution leads to less absenteeism.

GPS-Enabled Tracking

One other technology that helps with security is a Global Positioning System (GPS) navigator, a GPS app, or a built-in version. Both the school and students’ parents can track a GPS-enabled vehicle. GPS, coupled with a badge using radio-frequency identification (RFID) for kids’ bags, allows the driver to know when all the children are on the bus. Parents can also know when their kids are in school or back at home. A more efficient roadmap to fetch and return school children is possible with the data gathered from vehicle GPS and children’s RFID.

Safety, security, and savings are the main benefits of an updated system. While private enterprises are moving with driverless vehicles and automated systems, buses are still stuck in a technology rut. The technology is there, but there is no incentive to innovate or use new tech. One way of thinking is not to spend money if the buses can still do their jobs, which are to bring the kids to school and then take them back to their respective homes.

Monitoring Cameras and Other Tech

Monitoring cameras have a big potential for school bus use, and can create a bold impact on security and safety concerns. When a bus stops, cameras capture the vehicular traffic in the area. In case of accidents, the video is reviewed to analyze and understand what happened. The camera can also capture the plate number of a vehicle speeding near a school bus.

Cameras are also useful in monitoring the behavior of the passengers. The camera records everything that happens on the bus, including bullying and other problems. This leaves the driver better able to focus on driving.

Tech can also help school buses during inclement weather. Snow is a big concern in areas with harsh winters. Chain tires on buses should be automatically employed when there’s heavy snow. At the same time, tracking apps can help locate and monitor a bus’s location. Any parent or school official can see on their smartphone the location of the vehicle.

For most schools, the problem is funding. Dealing with a system that is already underfunded for most programs, finding money to buy new buses is a challenge. There are plenty of government regulations about what a school bus looks like and its tasks. However, these regulations do not guide the school districts on how to use technology to help.

Daily Commute to Worsen Before Improving

It is hard to predict the future. However, when you look at what you have, and what’s on the pipeline, you can hope for the best. For the future of mobility, some things will not change while others will. For example, people walk or ride a bicycle to work as a healthy alternative to driving. As such, bike lanes, sidewalks and walking areas, and other carless means of moving around become more common – a bold idea that has its share of pros and cons.

Worsening Traffic Because of  Volume

Future commutes need to address larger populations and travels over longer distances, using new environment-friendly technologies.

Before things get better, commuting and traveling to and from schools and office will get harder. Analysts believe that the rides will be longer and there will be more people on the vehicles. Even though advanced technology already exists, such bold ideas still need to take some time before they are used on a mass scale. Commuters tend to accept changes when these modes of transportation work. Authorities will have to decide where and when implementation begins before commuters reap the benefits.

Buses, for example, convert from pure gas or diesel use to electric or hybrid technology. With more people commuting, it is expected the number of electric buses will increase too. Some cities already have driverless shuttles and short point-to-point routes; others opt for electric or hybrid cars they can carpool in.

The Car Society

California has been criticized as a car culture and the freeways remain part of the infrastructure. Regardless, it’s expected to be even more packed with vehicles, each carrying more passengers, but cars will be moving faster. Electric cars will also be mostly driverless and automated, and commuting this way becomes safer. The city will also be part of an automated transit service which passengers call on demand. Due to automation, cars will no longer swerve from one lane to another, and drivers will no longer rail and shout against each other.

There are more innovations in progress, including the Hyperloop, which will have top speeds of 700 miles per hour (mph). There is also the Volocopter, an automated pilotless drone capable of transporting up to two persons.

Ideas at Work

All these innovations are either in advanced stages or still under development. So far, the biggest hurdles for officially implementing these bold innovations are the regulations already in place to address environmental impact and noise pollution.

When considering transportation, there are other factors. First, there is the ever-growing population. In the Bay Area alone, it is predicted there is an increase of 2 million residents by 2040, inching the population closer to 10 million. This may push prices higher and drive commuters further away to Tracy, Modesto, and beyond. Working in Silicon Valley while living in these areas means enduring longer commutes.

This kind of problem may replicate itself in other major cities. Effective solutions are a unique mix of technologies catering to each city’s needs. For example, ride sharing or carpooling becomes more common, while other commuters might subscribe to a service where they ride a driverless taxi from a pickup point to the high speed rail terminal. These are alternatives that minimize or eliminate the use of personal cars due to the limited parking spaces at the terminal.

Future commutes need to address larger populations and travels over longer distances, using new environment-friendly technologies. With automated vehicles, commuters are free to read, catch up on their email, or make phone calls. It frees up the time for people to be more productive, and at the same time, they are less stressed from the daily commute.

Hyperloop Magic: Freight Might Come First

Besides autonomous vehicles and drone taxis, the hyperloop technology  is one of the most awaited transportation developments of this era. This bold innovation is touted the most reliable and efficient mode of transportation the human race has produced so far. The system cleared multiple test runs in recent months, achieving greater horsepower than its series of May 2017 tests.

The most recent simulations had a 28-foot long test pod, traveling the 500-meter (1640-foot) track and hitting speeds of 192 miles per hour (mph). This is an impressive development, but the transportation innovation might be ferrying freight and cargo first, instead of actual passengers.

Hyperloop Technology: Passengers or Freight First?

…if Hyperloop is able to overcome all regulations, security issues, insurance hassles to even get started. Once they do, and the freight service works, it will have to win over the people by proving that they are safe, fast, and reliable modes of transportation.

Hyperloop is a bold idea that took decades to perfect and implement. First hatched during the 70s, the original plan was to create a tunnel with very thin pressure or a near vacuum, and a train-like vehicle will be dropped inside it. Due to this thin pressure, the vehicle is theoretically able to reach supersonic speeds easily. A test tube track for the Hyperloop One was created in Las Vegas, Nevada. The test results in May this year had the Hyperloop reaching acceleration levels of about 2G at 70 mph. By July, a Hyperloop One pod was able to hit speeds of 192 mph.

Tech mogul Elon Musk’s brainchild the Hyperloop is a brand new means of transportation. As such, it is understandable for authorities to have safety concerns. Passengers would be subjected to extreme speeds and velocities, and there haven’t been any tests yet on how these would affect ordinary people. Air Force pilots and astronauts, who are exposed to similar travel conditions, undergo rigorous training and wear specialized suits to protect them for the effects of speed and gravity.

 

Recently, there were talks about using the Hyperloop to transport freight and cargo first before actual human passengers. Former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx had said in interviews that he believes “freight will move first on the Hyperloop as there might need to be various safety rules and regulations in place before passengers can actually begin to travel via the Hyperloop.”

Besides ferrying passengers at ultra-fast speeds, the Hyperloop is also expected to revolutionize the air freight and surface expedited freight markets, since it is able to transport freight volumes as can be accommodated by trains but at speeds of air freight travel. The road transport industry, however, stands to gain from the Hyperloop freight service since they need first and last line delivery systems for shipments passing through the Hyperloop.

Disrupting the Freight Delivery Industry

Even if the Hyperloop is only implemented in the cargo and freight industry, it will still make a bold impact in how cargo is moved and delivered. It will bring about positive effects in businesses because decision timelines, supply chain costs and the amount of time a product leaves the manufacturer and reaches the consumer’s hands is extremely improved.

The implications are positive all around and could significantly lower costs of various goods and commodities. That is, if Hyperloop is able to overcome all regulations, security issues, insurance hassles to even get started. Once they do, and the freight service works, it will have to win over the people by proving that they are safe, fast, and reliable modes of transportation.

FDA Announces 9 Pre-Certified Companies for Digital Health Pilot Program

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) instituted a program to pre-certify tech companies which have a proven track record in digital health tech developments. Called the Digital Health Innovation Action Plan, this bold idea was introduced in July, and the program started evaluating companies in August for the PreCert for the program.

Pre-Certification Pilot Program Results

The Digital Health Innovation Action Plan aims to streamline the process for approving software-based medical software and devices. Part of the plan would also help modernize the process used to approve drugs and other more complex medical equipment.

A streamlined FDA procedure can shorten the time to accredit a drug. Drug trials typically take several years, but this may be quicker in the future if the same methods to shorten the acceptance of devices become a standard.

There were more than 100 digital health tech companies that applied in August for the pre-certification program. After extensive evaluation, the list was cut down to nine companies. One of the criteria for inclusion in the pilot program is that the company has to have a proven track record in designing and developing quality health care devices.

Included in the pilot program were Johnson & Johnson, Roche Holding AG, Apple Inc., Samsung, Verily Life Sciences (a division of Alphabet Inc.), Fitbit, and startup companies Pear Therapeutics, Phosphorus, and Tidepool.

Verily, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has been developing a slew of health tech applications including the Debug Project, where they release male mosquitoes which have been infected with the Wolbachia bacteria. The male mosquitoes look and act normal; however, when they mate, the female mosquitoes lay eggs which don’t hatch.

Apple has also been busy in the digital health tech space. They are currently developing a wearable which can be used to monitor the blood glucose level without pricking the skin. In addition, they also did a study where an Apple Watch app could detect a serious heart problem with a highly significant level of confidence.

Keeping Up with Tech

In recent years, digital health has grown by leaps and bounds, and the FDA has not been able to keep up. One example is a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing kit by 23andMe which was only recently approved – it was previously flagged by the FDA. The FDA has acknowledged that there is a problem they need to address. Aside from the programs above, they also determined that devices like fitness tracker wearables are no longer be subject to regulation.

A streamlined FDA procedure can shorten the time to accredit a drug. Drug trials typically take several years, but this may be quicker in the future if the same methods to shorten the acceptance of devices become a standard. FDA pre-certification of companies would help with set quality guidelines, key performance indicators, and demonstration of a culture of excellence within the company. Not only are companies expected to pass the initial screening based on their history in research and development, but they are also expected to maintain these high standards for years to come. This emphasis on quality and maintaining high standards for products help ensure that the research will meet FDA standards, and that the agency in return would no longer need to double check on them because of the continuing quality assurance already present within the companies.