A vehicle that fully comprehends and navigates through its environment without human intervention might seem like science fiction. It’s not. We have been taking baby steps in that direction for many years. Most vehicles on the road today incorporate some autonomous technologies—from cruise control to anti-lock brakes to self-parking to lane centering or other similar driver-assist tools.
Regulatory activity is also picking up. In September 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released its Federal Automated Vehicles Policy. The policy is based largely on SAE J3016, which establishes five distinct levels of driving automation:
Level 1: Driver Assistance. The driver is fully in charge but may be assisted by technology in some functions.
Level 2: Partial Automation. Vehicle systems manage either steering or acceleration/deceleration under certain road and environmental conditions. However, the driver must be ready at all times to take control if necessary.
Level 3: Conditional Automation. Under certain conditions, the driving system can manage all critical driving functions, but the driver must be vigilant to retake control if necessary.
Level 4: High Automation. The vehicle can perform all critical functions without driver intervention for the entire trip under most—but not all—conditions.
Level 5: Full Automation. A steering wheel, brakes and even the driver are no longer necessary. The vehicle takes passengers from point A to point B by itself under any road and environmental conditions.
Each level presents new technological challenges. Level 3 presents another big issue: how to assess liability in the event of an accident. Who will determine whether and when the driver “should” have taken control? No one knows. To avoid the issue, Ford has announced its intention to skip Level 3 altogether and instead bring a Level 4 autonomous vehicle to the market by 2021.
The advantages of high and full automation (Levels 4 and 5) will be tremendous:
- Increased productivity. Passengers who don’t have to drive will be able to work, use social media or engage in other activities while traveling.
- Improved safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 97 percent of vehicle accidents are caused by human error (distracted driving, drinking while driving, recklessness, etc.). So, removing the human factor should increase—not decrease—safety.
- Lower insurance costs. If safety increases, it stands to reason that the cost to insure the vehicle should fall.
- Faster transit time. Widespread adoption of autonomous technology will make possible “platooning,” in which vehicles drive much, much closer to each other, while also accelerating and braking in unison. The result will be a dramatic reduction in the stopping and starting that turn short trips into long ones today.
- Greater fuel economy. The close proximity of vehicles also will reduce air resistance, which will increase fuel economy.
But will the public embrace autonomous vehicle technology? A Boston Consulting Group study predicts that 25 percent of the miles on U.S. highways will be driven in driverless Level 5 vehicles by 2030. On the other hand, drivers like to be in control. The technology may be available long before large segments of the population are ready to hand over control of their vehicles to computers.
Whenever autonomous vehicles arrive, what will fuel them? Many analysts expect most of the future autonomous fleet to be electric. However, that view is far from universal.
The winners of a recent university case competition at the 2017 Fuels Institute Annual Meeting forecast a fleet of autonomous vehicles fueled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). Research also continues on high-compression engine technologies using liquid fuel. To underscore that point, on June 5 (after nearly 10 years of effort), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was granted a patent for an internal combustion engine designed for higher level ethanol blends such as E30.
Those fuels—and others—could be adapted just as easily to the autonomous future.
FREE RP1200 WEBINAR SET FOR JULY 12
A free webinar at 10:00 a.m. CDT Wednesday, July 12, will help state regulators and PEI members better understand key provisions of the recently released PEI/RP1200-17: Recommended Practices for the Testing and Verification of Spill, Overfill, Leak Detection and Secondary Containment Equipment at UST Facilities. The four presenters are members of the PEI Overfill, Release Detection and Release Prevention Equipment Testing Committee: Edward S. Kubinsky Jr., Crompco LLC (chair); Michael Frank, Maryland Department of the Environment and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 3 UST Task Force; Scott Boorse, Wawa Inc.; and Kevin Henderson, Kevin Henderson Consulting. Register at https://bit.ly/2sksdrZ. Registrants will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the webinar.
EMISSION LIMITS TAKE EFFECT
On June 1, summertime limits on the evaporative emissions of the U.S. vehicle fuel supply went into effect. Until Sept. 15, when the limits expire, the sale of E15 for non-flex fuel vehicles is greatly restricted throughout the nation. The limits do not affect the sale of E10, which has been granted a waiver from the requirements. Interestingly, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a public hearing today on a bill that would extend the waiver to E15, and Growth Energy has launched a nationwide advertising campaign in support of the bill. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt also has indicated that the agency is considering some sort of regulatory relief for E15.
EPA DELAYS OZONE ATTAINMENT EVALUATION
On June 6, the EPA announced a one-year delay of the deadline to determine which areas of the country comply with federal ground-level ozone standards. States now have until October 2018 to develop their plans and demonstrate compliance to the EPA. In 2015, the EPA lowered the allowable amount of ozone from 75 to 70 parts per billion. Some analysts speculate that attaining compliance in certain regions will require more expensive, reformulated vehicle fuels because auto emissions are a prime contributor to ground-level ozone.
ABRASHOFF TO KICK OFF 2017 PEI CONVENTION
Mike Abrashoff, former commander of the USS Benfold and author of “It’s Your Ship,” will deliver the PEI Kick-Off keynote Wednesday, Oct. 18, at the PEI Convention at the NACS Show (Oct. 17-20 at McCormick Place in Chicago).
At 36, Abrashoff took command of the USS Benfold, the ship with the highest turnover rate in the U.S. Navy. Abrashoff’s innovative leadership road map transformed the morale of its crew and, in only 12 months, drove the Benfold to a No. 1 performance ranking among all ships in the U.S. fleet. In Chicago, Abrashoff will share how similar strategies can help business leaders “right their ships.”
Tickets to Abrashoff’s keynote and the Kick-Off Breakfast are $30 and may be purchased online while registering for the PEI Convention at www.pei.org/show or by calling Sondra Sutton at 918-236-3967. Early bird registration rates are $295 for PEI members and $495 for nonmembers. After July 11, full attendee registration will be $445 for PEI members and $645 for nonmembers.
STATE REGULATORY NEWS
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced that Jarrod Zweifel has been named senior manager for the Remediation Section in the Office of Land Resources. Zweifel, who has served in the agency’s tank programs for 11 years, is a member of the Association for State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Task Force.
Effective Jan. 1, 2018, Missouri will shift responsibility for leaking underground tanks. Under the new rule, the “current legal owner” of a site will be responsible for any corrective action required to address a release of petroleum from underground storage tanks (USTs) formerly operated on the site. Currently, the party owning the tank when the release occurred is the responsible party. Missouri’s Petroleum Storage Tank Insurance Fund (PSTIF) estimates that the shift will affect 90 to 100 known sites on which no cleanup is underway.
Cortland Pump & Equipment: Sales manager James “Buddy” Hotchkiss died May 12 as a result of a tragic motorcycle accident. Hotchkiss, a nearly 25-year industry veteran, was “the face of Cortland” to many of the company’s vendors. Survivors include his wife Laura; sons, Cole and Jesse; sisters, Connie and Bonnie; brother, David; and many other extended family members and friends.
The Fiberglass Tank & Pipe Institute (FT&PI): Sully Curran, who represented FT&PI as executive director for the past 24 years, has retired. The new executive director is Bob Renkes, who recently retired from PEI.
Lincoln Lubrication Systems: Steve Kornet retired from the company in May. Kornet had worked in the industry for 42 years and was a former member of the PEI Board of Directors.
“Businesses take a median of 38 days to detect cybercrime, but can decrease the impact of a breach with faster incident response.”—DarkReading.com, June 2, 2017
“Business economists continue to expect modest growth in the U.S. economy, with real GDP up 2.2 percent and 2.4 percent in 2017 and 2018, respectively.”—Monday Economic Report, June 12, 2017
“Kwik Star has recently added E15 to 17 of its Iowa locations, securing its position as the 2nd largest retailer of E15 in Iowa. Iowa now has 121 E15 fueling locations.”—Ethanol Producer Magazine, May 30, 2017
“Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $15.8 million for 30 new projects aimed at discovery and development of novel, low-cost materials necessary for hydrogen production and storage and for fuel cells onboard light-duty vehicles.”—Energy.gov, June 8, 2017
Florida distributor. McMurray Industrial Supply, P. O. Box 720546, Miami, FL 33172, has applied for distributor division membership. Oscar Navarro is general manager for the firm, which was established in 1996. The company offers refinery, aviation and petroleum products and consulting and represents DixonValve, Goodyear, GPI, GreenMfg, LqdCntrols, OPW-ES, OPW-FC, PTCoupling and Seraphin. Sponsored for PEI membership by Andrew J. Adams, AdamsTank, Clearwater, Florida. www.safefueling.com
ADMITTED TO PEI
AVENISENSE, Le Bourget de Lac, France (aff)
Miles Fuels, LLC, Cottleville, Missouri (S&C)
MEMBERSHIP TRANSFER APPROVED
Unified Contracting Services Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, from the Service and Construction division to the Distributor division.