California drives forward with autonomous delivery

California has opened the traps for wide-scale testing and commercial application of autonomous vehicles for delivery companies across the state.

The application process for testing the vehicles will be almost exactly the same as that for autonomous passenger delivery vehicles, though if the companies involved want to charge a delivery fee to customers, an additional commercial licence will also have to be sought. The licences will cover self-driving systems in passenger cars, midsized pickup trucks and cargo vans, and may not have to feature a back-up safety driver.

“The adoption of these regulations means Californians soon could receive deliveries from an autonomous vehicle provided the company fulfils the requirements,” California DMV Director Steve Gordon said. “As always, public safety is our primary focus.”

The conditions for licences which include a safety driver are largely as you would expect, though the DMV has taken a somewhat surprising step by creating a separate list of requirements for vehicles where there is no back-up option.

  • Permission from the local authorities
  • Provide a link between the vehicle and a remote operator
  • Provide a link between the vehicle and law enforcement agencies
  • Demonstrate the vehicle can meet Level 4 or Level 5 under the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) autonomous technology descriptions

There are of course other conditions, including cybersecurity certifications. Interestingly enough, the cybersecurity element is a bit hazy. Whereas other conditions have been linked to specific bodies or agencies for certification, the security element needs to ‘meet industry standards’, a very nuanced term.

As it stands, there are currently 65 companies in California who have permits to test autonomous vehicles. These companies include all the automotive giants which you would expect, as well as the software firms powering the ‘brain’ of the vehicle, though we suspect this list will start to grow very quickly.

The larger logistics and delivery companies will of course want to be involved here, while we suspect there will also be entrepreneurs who will want to create their own fleet to serve smaller companies who exclusively focus on the primary business. Bob’s Burger down the road will never own its own fleet of autonomous delivery vehicles, but it could offer a slice of profits to make use of a supplier’s vehicles.

Environment Agency warns of further flood risk as rivers continue to rise

The Environment Agency is warning that river levels are continuing to rise despite the improving weather outlook.

The Agency said rivers are continuing to respond to recent rainfall meaning that there is a continued risk of flooding in parts of southern and central England over the next few days.

The EA currently has 50 flood warnings in place where flooding is expected and immediate action is required, together with a further 128 flood alerts where flooding is possible warning people to be prepared.

There is an increased risk of localised river flooding in the south east of England, along lower parts of the River Severn and in East Riding of Yorkshire. The Agency said lland, roads and some properties are expected to flood and there will also be travel disruption.

High groundwater levels in parts of southern England and in north Lincolnshire means there is a risk of groundwater flooding. Local groundwater flooding is expected in parts of Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, West and East Sussex and Brighton for at least the next five days.

The Agency is also warning that local coastal/tidal flooding is possible but not expected for parts of the English Channel coast on Thursday.

According to the UK Met Office, the country has already reached 90% of the normal rainfall level for December, while monthly rainfall records in South Yorkshire, Nottingham and Lincolnshire have already been broken.

Edinburgh bypass interchange has plans for major upgrades

Transport Scotland has opened consultation on plans to enlarge the Sheriffhall roundabout on the Edinburgh City Bypass and add a new flyover along with paths and subways.

The upgrade will include nearly two miles of segregated routs for pedestrians and cyclists and five subways linking up to all local roads served by the new Sheriffhall roundabout.

Draft orders for the A720 Sheriffhall roundabout were published earlier this month. Local communities and road users are now being given a chance to see the plans at public exhibitions this week.

Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity Michael Matheson said: “Sheriffhall roundabout is the only at-grade junction on the A720 Edinburgh City Bypass and is a well-known bottleneck, often the scene of significant queuing particularly at morning and evening peak times.”

He added that the scheme design will see a new flyover arrangement for traffic travelling on the City Bypass, separating local traffic from the strategic traffic on the bypass and allowing the traffic on the bypass to flow freely.

“As part of our commitment to improve active travel facilities across the country, our plans for the scheme also include nearly two miles of active travel routes with five dedicated subways under the new roundabout providing links to nearby NMU (non-motorised user) routes,” he said. “This means that cyclists and pedestrians will no longer have to compete with road traffic when negotiating the busy junction but instead will have their own safer dedicated alternative for accessing the nearby NMU routes and local roads served by the roundabout, transforming the way they cross the city bypass.”

Councillor Adam McVey, convener of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal Joint Committee, said: “We are determined to promote sustainable transport and to see facilities for public transport, cyclists and pedestrians significantly improved. This investment is a huge opportunity and I would encourage everyone with an interest in the scheme to come along to this week’s exhibitions to see them in detail and share their views.”

Flood risk: Environment Agency warns communities to stay vigilant

With heavy rain expected over the next few days, the Environment Agency is warning communities in England to check their flood risk and sign up to flood warnings.

Currently the Agency has 47 flood warnings in place across the country where flooding is expected and immediate action is required, and a further 195 flood alerts where flooding is possible.

Heavy showers could bring disruption to communities in parts of southern and central England as rain falls on already wet ground, increasing the risk of flooding.

Environment Agency teams are out on the ground operating flood defences and clearing drainage channels to provide additional protection to communities that could be at risk.

Sheena Engineer, Flood Duty Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“We are monitoring rainfall and river levels closely and are already operating flood defences across southern and central England to help reduce the risk of flooding. Our teams have already put up temporary flood defences in a number of locations such as Bradford on Avon and are ready to deploy them in a number of communities including Guildford, Leatherhead, and Dorchester should they be needed.”

“We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car.”

The advice to stay safe during wet weather comes as the Environment Agency and the AA published research yesterday showing that three quarters of drivers (74%) would risk driving through flood water, despite it being the leading cause of death during a flood.

This autumn have seen rainfall records broken for South Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire – the previous records were set in 2000. England as a whole has had its fifth wettest autumn since records began with 348mm.

O2 signs on for 4G trials on London Underground

It seems like we have been promised the internet on the London Underground for years, and it might well become a reality in the next couple of months.

O2  has signed an agreement to pilot 4G in the London Underground tubes in March 2020. The Jubilee line between Canning Town and Westminster stations will be the first to experience 4G below the streets.

“The pilot will allow us to continue working hand in hand with TfL, and other network operators, to bring connectivity to commuters across London,” said Derek McManus, COO at O2. “This unique collaboration builds on the recent announcement of the Shared Rural Network, showing how the telecommunications industry is spearheading a more connected, mobile Britain.”

“It’s great that O2 have signed up to bring their 4G network to Jubilee line customers,” said Shashi Verma, CTO at Transport for London (TfL). “The London Underground network is an incredibly challenging environment in which to deliver technological improvements, but we remain on course for customers to start benefiting from our pilot from March 2020.”

Like the rollout of 5G, it would be unfair to promise too much in the early days. This is only a trial for the moment, and due to the complexities of laying communications infrastructure in underground tunnels which have trains running through them almost 19 hours a day, deployment across the entire network is likely to take a very long time.

The trial will begin in March 2020, with plans to award commercial contracts in the summer.

What is worth noting, is that while the O2 statements make it appear although it is an exclusive agreement, it is far from.

Three has confirmed it is also in agreement with TfL to participate in the trial, while TfL also confirmed that Vodafone signed-on in October. Sources have also suggested to that EE will be signing a similar agreement in the near-term future. TfL is working to create a five-way agreement with all the UK MNOs to deliver 4G services to all customers on the London Underground, irrelevant as to which company they pay for connectivity.


£40m Notts access road leaves calls for trees to be replaced

Calls have been made to replace every tree felled for the construction of the £40 million Gedling Access Road.

The leader and deputy leader of Gedling Borough Council say hundreds of trees are being brought down to build the 3.8km single carriageway stretch which will link the A612 Trent Valley Road and Nottingham Road to Mapperley Plains.

They are calling on Nottinghamshire County Council, which is leading on the project to build the new road, to replace every tree which is ripped up during the building process.

Construction work on the road is due to start in January.

Councillors John Clarke and Michael Payne said they have planted new trees in Gedling Country Park, owned by Gedling Borough Council, next to where the Gedling Access Road will be built.

They said Gedling Borough Council has made a pledge to plant hundreds of trees and has called on the county council to replace the trees felled along the route of the Gedling Access Road and make the same commitment in order to mitigate the removal of the natural habitat.

The trees planted at the Gedling Country Park are part of Gedling Borough Council’s pledge to plant 500 native trees across the borough.

The initiative was launched in November, during National Tree Week, and the council has already planted 400 whip trees and 100 hundred bean trees at Gedling Country Park, Burton Road Park, Arnot Hill Park, Willow Park and King George V Park. Hundreds more trees will be planted across Gedling over the next four years.

Council leader John Clarke said: “Nottinghamshire County Council are responsible for building the Gedling Access Road and they are felling trees to make way for it. We’re calling on them to immediately join us and do everything they can do mitigate the impact of the new road by replacing every single tree that have felled.

“The road is needed and is an important part of the infrastructure to provide much needed new homes and less traffic in Gedling Village, however, everything must be done to limit the destruction of natural habitat and wildlife which is why we are planting these trees.”

Deputy leader, Councillor Michael Payne, said: “Our Labour administration made a commitment to plant 500 trees across the borough and we’ve done that in just a single month, we are now going to plant hundreds more trees over the next four years. In November, we declared a Climate Emergency in Gedling and this is part of a robust plan that will set out our goal to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“This is the responsibility of every local authority and we are keen to see the Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, Councillor Kay Cutts, taking this issue seriously and immediately committing to replacing every single tree felled for the construction of the Gedling Access Road.”

The council has said it is working closely with bodies including Gedling Borough Council to deliver the project.

This includes plans to plant 40 percent more trees than were being felled.

12 million Brits will hit the roads, rails and skies in the coming days to spend the festive season with families

An estimated 12million Britons will hit the roads, rails and skies in the coming days so they can spend the festive season with their families.

But a new study has found that those in the UK will pay more for their Christmas travel than those in Europe.

Researchers say that Britons are paying an average of £1.67 per mile compared to £1.19 per mile on the continent.

This is despite Europeans travelling an average of 314 miles to get home for Christmas compared to 276 miles for those in the UK.

The research, carried out by Mastercard, also shows that the average Briton will spend £165.10 travelling for Christmas and will have started saving for their festive homecoming two months before the big day.

Parents are the most popular people to travel to see, while one in six say they would go the distance to see their pet.

Despite the high costs of travel, the majority of people surveyed (83 per cent) say they don’t consider their presence a present, with the average person spending an extra £165.25 on gifts to take home for the family.

The research also shows that while most will make it home, almost 10million Britons (15 per cent), are not be able to travel to see their family with 18 per cent unable to do so due to financial constraints.

Of those 15 per cent, a fifth will use technology such as Skype and FaceTime to see their family on Christmas Day.

Conflicting schedules are also a big factor in Christmas absences with 18 per cent saying they have to work over the Christmas period and 17 per cent staying put to spend Christmas with their partner’s family.

But being reunited with family isn’t the only reason Brits are choosing to travel this Christmas.

Thirteen per cent are opting to go abroad over the festive period.

Twenty per cent of these say it’s less stressful than having Christmas at home, 14 per cent want to avoid family arguments and 31 per cent say all they want for Christmas is some winter sun.

Janne Karppinen, Mastercard’s head of retail for the UK, said: ‘We live at a time where people travel more and build careers and lives in new cities and countries around the world, but Christmas is still a time for getting home to be with family.

‘Christmas has always been a major spending occasion, but with more and more people living away from their hometowns it has become one of the biggest travel occasions of the year too.’

Official opening of Robroyston railway station

ScotRail is officially opening the new Robroyston station today (Dec 16), as the rail operator also launches its new timetable.

The new £14m station marks the 60th railway station in Glasgow, and will have a plaque unveiling today by Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity.

The station means that residents in Robroyston and Millerston will be given a connection to Scotland’s largest cities, boosting the local economy and unlocking potential for a newly proposed housing development of 1,600 new homes.

Two services per hour will be available to Glasgow with a journey time of 12 minutes, and a further two services to Edinburgh, taking 63 minutes.

ScotRail has made sure that the station reflects its commitment to reducing carbon emissions, with a free park-and-ride facility to reduce the volume of cars on the road and congestion around Glasgow City centre.

263 free parking spaces also come as part of the station facilities, making commuting an easy option for Robroyston and Millerston residents.

The location of the station also lends itself to commuters and travellers as it sits just minutes away from junction two of the M80.

In keeping with making Scotland’s Railway accessible for everyone, both platforms will be step free.

A fleet of brand-new class 385 electric trains will serve the new station, providing a greener and more efficient rail network.

Joint-working and funding from ScotRail, Network Rail, Transport Scotland, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Glasgow City Council has made the construction of the new station possible.

Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said:

“The opening of the brand new Robroyston station is another milestone as we build the best railway Scotland’s ever had.

“Robroyston station is central to attracting more investment in the local area and creating new low-carbon travel opportunities. It proves the power of the railway as a key driver of the economy.

“I’m proud of the team effort involved in delivering this project on time and on budget.”

The main contractor for this project was AmcoGiffen.

Alan Boyle, AmcoGiffen regional managing director (Scotland), said:

“AmcoGiffen are proud to successfully deliver on-time the new station facilities at Robroyston. Working in partnership with Abellio ScotRail, Glasgow City Council and SPT, it is a real privilege to provide the benefits of improved transport links and step-free access for passengers and the local communities.”

Carrington West are thrilled to announce we have won “Best Company To Work For (Up To 150 Employees)” in the prestigious Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) Awards 2019.

The IRP awards celebrate professional excellence and the inspirational work carried out by the recruitment industry’s brightest stars. In all, ninety-three outstanding individuals and businesses were shortlisted across eighteen different categories such as newcomer of the year and best company to work for. Congratulations to two of our award nominated consultants – Krishan Adams & Ilya Donets MSc GIS for all of their continuous hard work over the years. Also congratulations to our award nominated Back Office Team – Elise Sherwin, Abby Bissett, Lucy Rimmer – Assoc CIPD, Ella Razzell, Lauren Rose, Chloe Revy and Grace Wearn for all of their hard work behind the scenes for the business. Lastly, we’d like to thank all of our staff, clients and candidates for all of your continued support over the years and forthcoming. We are all truly humbled. Thank you – All at Carrington West.