Tunnel Vision

Tunnel Vision

The future of personal transportation is getting more exciting each day: driverless cars, flying cars, and now electric cars speeding autonomously through a network of tunnels.

Elon Musk is betting that the solution to urban traffic congestion is a ride through a series of tunnels with elevator stations.

Musk’s Boring Company undertook this ambitious project on a test basis. Now it has to perfect the concept and sell it to large cities.


Video Spotlight: The following videos are part of the CBS News article:

  • Tunnel vision
  • Test drive Elon Musk’s new tunnel
  • Elon Musk: Tunnels are “exceptionally safe”
  • How Elon Musk’s tunnel works
  • Elon Musk on why he’s boring tunnels

This post is based on the CBS News article, Elon Musk and Gayle King Test Drive the Tunnel He Hopes Will Solve L.A. Traffic, by CBS News, December 19, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Herdik Herlambang.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the transportation system envisioned by Elon Musk work?

Guidance: Electric, autonomous cars are placed on electric skates or, preferably, are equipped with alignment wheels. These wheels, which can be retracted for driving on regular roads, extend sideways to brace the car against the tunnel.

From the Continue reading

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Shortage of Truck Drivers Creates Bottleneck

Shortage of Truck Drivers Creates Bottleneck

January 20, 2019

A Kuebix transportation survey noted that 44% of the 554 anonymous respondents indicated that a driver shortage in 2019 was the largest threat to supply chains.

The American Trucking Association estimates that there will be a shortage of over 100,000 drivers by 2022, due to baby boomer retirements.  The emphasis will fall on better capacity management of available trucks.

This post is based on the American Journal of Transportation article, Driver shortage/capacity crunch voted biggest challenge for supply chains 2019, by AJOT, January 17, 2019. Image source: Nucleartist/Shuterstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. What tools are available to manage constrained trucking capacity in the coming years?

Guidance: Students should identify technology applications such as routing systems, relationship building with existing carriers, development of other delivery systems such as drones, last-mile carriers, and potential facility location changes.  This is a good way to review all the aspects of truck transportation and introduce routing technologies.

2. Do you think driverless trucks are going to be viable in the near future? What would be known limitations of using a driverless truck?

Guidance: Ask students to do a quick internet search on driverless vehicles to facilitate a brief discussion of the Continue reading

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GM: Tough Maneuvering in a Fast-Moving Market

GM: Tough Maneuvering in a Fast-Moving Market

GM’s announcement to close five plants has sparked a lot of criticism. How can a company bolstered by a taxpayer-funded bailout and generous tax cuts lay off 14,000 people? Is it betrayal or foresight?

CEO Mary T. Barra has justified the job cuts, citing slowing sales and changing markets. GM’s actions are easy to criticize, but compassionate solutions are difficult to come by.


Video Spotlight: GM’s planned layoffs


This post is based on the New York Times article, GM to Idle Plants and Cut Thousands of Jobs as Sales Slow, by N.E. Boudette, November 26, 2018; and the Time.com video on GM’s planned layoffs, by A. Abrams, November 29, 2018. Image source: Glow Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. Identify the specific elements in a SWOT analysis that may have triggered Ms. Barra’s decision to close several plants.

Guidance:

Threats

  • economy (higher interest rates, tariffs)
  • legal environment (push for higher minimum wages gaining momentum in several states)
  • competition (competitors’ investments in self-driving and electric cars)
  • markets (shifts in vehicle sales)

Opportunities

  • economy (low unemployment rates potentially easing employees’ reintegration into the workforce; financial boost with new of capital)
  • new technologies to facilitate the development of self-driving and electric cars Continue reading
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