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Queensland wraps up connected vehicle road safety pilot

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by Aimee Chanthadavong from https://www.zdnet.com

The Queensland government said during the nine-month pilot drivers were alerted about on-road hazards, including red lights, pedestrians, and cyclists.

A pilot involved with testing technology that alerted drivers about upcoming on-road hazards, including red lights, pedestrians, and bike riders in Queensland’s Ipswich has now wrapped up after nine months.

As part of the Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot (ICVP), 350 participants had their cars retrofitted with cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) technology, including an antenna mounted on a roof-rack, in-vehicle communications box placed under the driver’s seat, and a display on the dashboard that signalled safety warnings to the driver.

The equipment enabled each vehicle’s position, speed, and other data, to be shared, while it also received data from traffic signals and traffic management systems related to traffic lights, speed limits, road works, and road hazards.

The pilot covered 300 square kilometres within the Ipswich local government area, and included 30 traffic signals fitted with roadside communication devices. These devices, plus those that were installed in participant vehicles, had access to cloud-based data sharing systems throughout the pilot area.

The ICVP was delivered by Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads, in partnership with Motor Accident Insurance Commission of Queensland, Telstra, Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland, iMOVE Australia, Ipswich City Council, and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

“The connected technology tested allows vehicles to talk with other vehicles, roadside infrastructure, and transport management systems,” Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said.

“Messages received are combined with the vehicle’s data and used to generate driver warnings such as red lights, road works, road hazards, congestion, and pedestrians.”

The pilot was launched under the Queensland government’s broader Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI) that aims to reduce serious road injuries and death tolls to zero.

Other initiatives being delivered under CAVI include a pilot that involves testing a small number of vehicles with cooperative and automated technologies, and a project looking at how new technology applications can benefit vulnerable road user safety including pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and bicycle riders.

The state government expects the QUT to deliver a final pilot safety evaluation report about the trial in early 2022.

The Queensland government had signalled plans to conduct trials using intelligent vehicles back in 2016.

Other trials are being carried out across the country to improve overall road safety include one that was announced earlier this week by the Transport for NSW. It said was using AI to develop predictive algorithms to help national, state, local governments manage their road safety performance.

Up until now, assessing the standards of roads have relied on collecting video survey footage and manual recording methods. But the initiative aims to develop a faster and more automated method to extract raw road data.

Meanwhile, a six-month trial that used lidar sensors at a busy intersection in Victoria showed the technology has the potential to warn road users in real time about upcoming hazards.

The AU$2 million trial, carried out by the Victorian government, involved the installation of lidar sensors at an intersection in Yarraville, which monitored the movement of road users including pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and trucks to identity potential hazards. The sensors were able to detect potential hazards within 0.2 seconds, the state government said.

The trial also investigated ways how lidar sensors could be provide hazard warnings to connected vehicles.

Torrot’s New Enduro Motorcycles for Kids

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by Otilia Drăgan from https://www.autoevolution.com

Torrot’s New Enduro Motorcycles for Kids, Double the Fun While Keeping Them Safe

The world of enduro can be just as exciting for kids as it is for adults, as long as parents can make sure that everything is safe and under control. Already known for making motorbikes for children, Torrot has recently launched a second-generation range, perfect for introducing the little ones to this great sport.

Spanish-based Torrot is not a newcomer on the market. In fact, it’s got quite a history since its foundation in 1948, which led to eventually developing electric bikes, in the last few years. The company’s KIDS range was meant to help children begin practicing for enduro and off-road trials. Kids could start to learn by riding on on-road tracks, with the help of one of the 3 models in the series, Trial One, Motocross One and Supermotard One.

Torrot has recently upgraded all the models in the series, for even better performance, but with the same excellent safety and control features. All 3 electric motorbikes come with new LiMnCo batteries that are lighter, which makes them easier to remove and recharge. And, in terms of components, they are made with a chrome-molybdenum chassis, a hydraulic aluminum front fork from EBR and MITAS tires.

The Trial Two, Motocross Two and Supermotard Two have a maximum speed of 24.8 mph (40 kph), and the best part is that the Torrot electric engine comes with a programmable controller. The power can be programmed from 600W up to 1500W, which is perfect for progressive learning and also makes the riding experience much safer.

Parents can do more than just adjust the power, thanks to the company’s ingenious “Parental Control” system. By simply using the Torrot KIDS App on their phone, parents can remotely make sure that their little riders are safe. They can configure power levels, speed and throttle response, limiting them when it’s necessary and they can even disconnect the motorbike completely.

Trial Two is currently available for orders, with a $3,180 (€ 2,599) price tag, and the other 2 models can be pre-ordered, for the slightly higher price of $3,300 (€2,699).

Ex-Vagos Motorcycle Club leader: ‘Romeo saved my life that night’

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by Rio Lacanlale from https://www.reviewjournal.com

Vagos Motorcycle Club leader Robert Wiggins lay on the casino floor staring down the barrel of a gun as two rival Hells Angels members stomped on his body. Wiggins thought he was going to die.

So did Ernesto “Romeo” Gonzalez.

Moments later, Gonzalez opened fire, killing Jeffrey Pettigrew, the man aiming a gun at Wiggins.

“Romeo saved my life that night. There hasn’t been a day that goes by I haven’t thought about him,” Wiggins, now 66, recalled in a phone interview Tuesday, one day after Gonzalez and seven other Vagos members were acquitted of all charges in a federal racketeering trial centered around that shooting.

That September 2011 night changed everything, Wiggins told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and eventually, he left the club.

The rival motorcycle clubs crossed paths that night inside the Nugget hotel-casino in Sparks during Street Vibrations, an annual motorcycle festival. Around 11:30 p.m., a brawl broke out on the casino floor after Pettigrew picked a fight with Vagos members.

Video captured by casino security cameras shown during the lengthy Las Vegas trial showed Pettigrew drawing his weapon first and shooting alongside Cesar Villagrana, another Hells Angels member. Two people already had been shot by the time Pettigrew and Villagrana zeroed in on Wiggins, who had lost his balance and fallen during the chaos of the fight.

“If Romeo was a police officer, there would have been a parade for him,” Wiggins said.

Instead, seven years later, Gonzalez would be among nearly two dozen reputed Vagos members indicted in connection with a laundry list of violent crimes characterized as a broad criminal conspiracy dating to 2005 and spanning more than a decade.

At the time of his death, Pettigrew was president of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose, California.

“Pettigrew really needed to be stopped that night,” Wiggins said this week. “He shot two people, and he was on the prowl, looking to kill somebody else.”

Wiggins last saw the man he credits with saving his life in December, when he testified on his behalf during the trial.

“It was something I had to do for him,” he said.

Wiggins, who lives in Southern California, said he’s lost touch with Gonzalez over the years but hopes the two will reconnect in the future. Gonzalez declined to comment following his acquittal, and efforts to reach him for this story were unsuccessful.

“My heart really goes out to Romeo,” Wiggins said. “I’m just happy these guys are able to go home, put it past them, and get back to life. That’s what really important here.”

Vagos Motorcycle Club trial to resume later in this month

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Defendants Bradley Campos, left, Diego Garcia and Cesar Morales depart the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse following opening statements in a federal racketeering trial for eight Vagos Motorcycle Club members on Aug. 12, 2019, in Las Vegas.

by Rio Lacanlale from https://www.reviewjournal.com

A lengthy federal racketeering trial against eight Vagos Motorcycle Club members will take a weeklong break after four days of closing arguments, which initially were expected to wrap up this week.

Arguments will continue Feb. 18 due to a conflict in U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro’s schedule. The Las Vegas trial began in July.

Between Monday and Thursday, jurors heard from federal prosecutor Daniel Schiess and five of the eight men’s defense attorneys.

On trial are Vagos members Pastor Fausto Palafox, Albert Lopez, Albert Benjamin Perez, James Patrick Gillespie, Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, Bradley Michael Campos, Cesar Vaquera Morales and Diego Chavez Garcia.

The men previously pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise, murder, and using a firearm to commit murder during and in retaliation to a crime. Each faces up to life in prison if convicted.

The charges stem from a 2017 indictment accusing Vagos members of a slew of crimes dating to 2005 and spanning more than a decade, including the 2011 fatal shooting of a Jeffrey Pettigrew, a rival Hells Angels gang member in Sparks.

Under the racketeering charge, in addition to the 2011 killing, the defendants are accused of robbery, extortion, kidnapping and possession of narcotics with the intent to sell.

Arguments this week from both sides reiterated two different versions of the 2011 shooting previously told to the jury.

Schiess spent nearly three days carefully laying out the most significant evidence presented during the trial, arguing that the killing was both an authorized hit by Palafox, the international president of Vagos at the time, and part of a broader criminal conspiracy.

But according to the defense, Gonzalez, accused of being the shooter, was “acting in the defense of others” when he fired the fatal shots. Michael Kennedy, his attorney, said Pettigrew and another Hells Angels member were “actively shooting” inside a casino after picking a fight with Vagos members.

The defense also has argued that the government’s case was largely built on lies from Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick, an ousted member who received immunity for his testimony against his former allies. In September, the government’s star witness admitted to repeatedly lying on the witness stand after testifying for three days that Vagos members had plotted the killing.

“They have asked you to convict Ernesto Gonzalez and these other men on first-degree murder and racketeering conspiracy on the word of a man whose reliability they questioned,” Kennedy said.