January 23, 2024
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TWU Leads at National Labor Tech Summit at CES
TWU leaders descended on the CES tech show and co-sponsored the 5th Annual Labor Innovation & Technology Summit, together with the AFL-CIO, its Technology Institute and several unions.
The Summit showcased the labor movement’s strategies to counter the anti-worker and job-killing vision of the Big Tech and Wall Street billionaires who think they will decide the future of work for the rest of us.
TWU International President John Samuelsen was featured in day 2 in a session on “Building Worker Power” in this age of tech.
“Organized labor is the only real bulwark that working men and women have as this torrent of new technology races towards us,” Samuelsen said. “It’s absolutely critical that unions come together to share information and strategize on how to protect our members’ ability to earn a living and take care of their families. No one else is going to do it, certainly not disingenuous profit mongers seeking to make obscene profits by developing ways for companies to reduce or completely eliminate headcount. It’s up to the labor movement.”
TWU General Vice President Curtis Tate joined a panel conversation on the TWU’s groundbreaking research partnership with Carnegie Mellon University which is changing the national conversation about the feasibility of automated buses in public transit. In a project involving Carnegie Mellon, the TWU and unions, researchers are collecting data from Bus Operators on their day-to-day experiences. The goal is to quantify their actions beyond driving, such as calling 911 about a crime in progress, comforting a pregnant woman going into labor, spotting lost child wandering the street and making sure he is safe until authorities arrive.
“We can’t keep saying we are not against technology, we need an operator in the seat, if we cannot show why, if we can’t show how,” Tate said. “Through Carnegie Melon, we are able to document some of the things that demonstrate why you must have a bus operator in the seat. You cannot replace the human element.”
2027 Launch of eVOTL AirTaxi Service Planned in Miami
Urban air mobility continues to advance as UrbanX announced plans to launch airtaxi service in TWU transit and air market Miami in 2027 using electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Embraer spinoff Eve Air Mobility. The deal to launch this new service comes with a letter of intent to deploy up to 200 aircraft.
UrbanX says it will “collaborate with the public sector” with plans to serve governments including their air ambulance and medical service flying. The UrbanX deal includes maintenance, parts and services support from Embraer. To boost its fortunes in the eVTOL airtaxi market, Brazil’s development bank is providing almost $100 million in export credits to Eve. The ring leaders of this initiative plan to build what are called “vertiports” adjacent to Miami International Airport.
“It’s not a matter of if this will happen, it’s a matter of when this will happen, and unavoidably, it’s going to happen in the next couple years,” said UrbanX CEO Lucy Morillo. Airtaxi flights will eventually expand to other parts of South Florida, Orlando, Tampa, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico.
Paris Metro Moves Forward with Fully Automated Trains
Driverless Alstom-built trains are now in operation as Paris Metro begins the phased launch of Grand Paris Express, a 120-mile network adding four lines and 68 new stations, in the race to the 2024 Olympics.
[PULLOUT QUOTE: Unlike other Métro lines, it will use driverless trains to create a fully automatic rapid transport network, meaning there will be no need to hire and train new drivers, plus there will be greater resilience against disruptions from strikes. CNN Travel, December 6, 2023
The new fully automated service was showcased in a short test run on November 28, 2023, will mostly connect Paris suburbs and finish building the expanded network by 2030. See video here.
Aurora Innovation Boasts Plans to Run Up to 20 Aurora Trucks Without a Driver
Aurora Innovation plans to operate up to 20 autonomous trucks without drivers this year at a time when the safety risks of driverless vehicles are attracting new actions by federal transportation safety regulators. Initially the driverless trucks will operate between Houston and Dallas with plans to expand service to Fort Worth-El Paso.
“We’re going to continue to do exactly what we’re doing today,” Aurora Chief Financial Officer David Maday said, referring to the company’s current autonomous trucking pilot program with drivers still onboard. “We’re just going to do it without a human operator.”
Aurora’s driverless truck technology is drawing interest from major transportation companies including FedEx, Hirschbach Motor Lines, Schneider National, Werner Enterprises, and Uber Freight.
WHAT WE’RE READING
GM Slashes Spending on Cruise Robotaxi | TechCrunch
2 Million Tesla Cars with Highly Criticized “AutoPilot” Recalled | CBS News
40% of Jobs at Risk to AI? | The Hill