EPA Opens Applications For Its $5 Billion Clean School Bus Program

The EPA is formally accepting applications for its Clean School Bus Program, a $5 billion program to replace dirty diesel school buses with more environmentally friendly options. Ars Technica reports: Specifically, the EPA is aiming to replace older (model year 2010 or older) diesel-powered school buses, which must be scrapped in order for a clean bus to be bought to replace them. Oh, and the old bus has to be fully functionalâ”this isn’t intended as a way to make the government pay for broken junk to be replaced with shiny new buses. But the agency says it will also accept applications from schools looking for zero-emission buses that are prepared to scrap older non-diesel school buses, as well as newer internal combustion buses (which should either be sold, scrapped, or donated).

The EPA isn’t requiring the replacement buses to all be electric, however. While the program will pay for battery-electric buses — such as the Thomas C2 Jouley that was delivered to a school in Alexandria County in Virginia on Friday to mark the start of the program — it will also pay for buses powered by propane or compressed natural gas as long as they’re also model year 2021 or newer and will serve the school district for at least five years, among other requirements.

The EPA will consider applications to replace up to 25 buses at once and has set aside $250 million for zero-emission buses in 2022 and $250 million for clean school buses, with another $4.5 billion remaining for 2023-2028. Rebates range from $375,000 for a zero-emissions Class 7 or Class 8 bus down to $25,000 for smaller propane buses (classes 3-6). The application process is open until August 19, and successful applicants should be notified in October that it’s time to order some new buses.

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San Francisco Police Are Using Driverless Cars As Mobile Surveillance Cameras

BeerFartMoron shares a report from Motherboard: For the last five years, driverless car companies have been testing their vehicles on public roads. These vehicles constantly roam neighborhoods while laden with a variety of sensors including video cameras capturing everything going on around them in order to operate safely and analyze instances where they don’t. While the companies themselves, such as Alphabet’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise, tout the potential transportation benefits their services may one day offer, they don’t publicize another use case, one that is far less hypothetical: Mobile surveillance cameras for police departments.

“Autonomous vehicles are recording their surroundings continuously and have the potential to help with investigative leads,” says a San Francisco Police department training document obtained by Motherboard via a public records request. “Investigations has already done this several times.”

Privacy advocates say the revelation that police are actively using AV footage is cause for alarm. “This is very concerning,” Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior staff attorney Adam Schwartz told Motherboard. He said cars in general are troves of personal consumer data, but autonomous vehicles will have even more of that data from capturing the details of the world around them. “So when we see any police department identify AVs as a new source of evidence, that’s very concerning.”

As companies continue to make public roadways their testing grounds for these vehicles, everyone should understand them for what they are — rolling surveillance devices that expand existing widespread spying technologies,” said Chris Gilliard, Visiting Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center. “Law enforcement agencies already have access to automated license plate readers, geofence warrants, Ring Doorbell footage, as well as the ability to purchase location data. This practice will extend the reach of an already pervasive web of surveillance.”

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Michigan Announces America’s First Public In-Road Charging Test for Electric Vehicles

The governor of Michigan has announced America’s first “public wireless in-road charging system,” which would allow electric vehicles (EV) to charge — both while in motion and when stationary.

The GreenBiz site takes a look at this “inductive vehicle charging pilot program.”
There’s perhaps no place more fitting for this pilot than Detroit. The city that led the nation’s first wave of automobile technology is helping lead its second, as the Michigan Department of Transportation has awarded a $1.9 million contract to Electreon to install one mile of in-road EV charging in Motor City.

“Wireless is the future for this technology,” said Stefan Tongur, vice president of business development for Electreon in the U.S. The wireless charging company is already building out the tech across Europe, where it has pilots in Germany, Italy and Sweden. The Michigan project is expected to be operational in 2023.

“We’ve always, for the past century, stopped to fuel the car, and we’re thinking the same with EVs,” Tongur said. But that creates many challenges when it comes to large-scale batteries and fleets especially, Tongur noted… So Electreon and others envision a network of strategic corridors with wireless, in-road charging that could gradually power vehicles along a route, rather than all at once at the destination. Fleet operators could either pay a subscription to use the chargers or integrate the costs into highway tolling, depending on the situation, Tongur said.

He described Electreon’s business model as “charging as a service.”

Alex Gruzen, CEO of wireless charging company WiTricity, tells the site this technology ultimately could accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. “The company’s own research indicates that wireless charging can increase a consumer’s intent to purchase an EV by 68%, according to Gruzen, which could help move EVs beyond the early adopter stage.”

Or, as Gruzen puts it, “What we want to do is show that the EV ownership experience can be better than any experience you’ve ever had with a car before.”

Thanks to Slashdot reader doyouwantahotpocket for submitting the story.

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