Even After Oil Prices Rebound, Many Drilling Jobs May Be Lost to Automation

New York Times: Texas Oil Fields Rebound From Price Lull, but Jobs Are Left Behind

In the land where oil jobs were once a guaranteed road to security for blue-collar workers, Eustasio Velazquez’s career has been upended by technology.

For 10 years, he laid cables for service companies doing seismic testing in the search for the next big gusher. Then, powerful computer hardware and software replaced cables with wireless data collection, and he lost his job. He found new work connecting pipes on rigs, but lost that job, too, when plunging oil prices in 2015 forced the driller he worked for to replace rig hands with cheaper, more reliable automated tools.

“I don’t see a future,” Mr. Velazquez, 44, said on a recent afternoon as he stooped over his shopping cart at a local grocery store. “Pretty soon every rig will have one worker and a robot.”

NPR: In America's Heartland, A Power Company Leads Charge For Electric Cars

In the world of electric cars, there's a chicken-and-egg problem: More people might buy electric vehicles, or EVs, if they were confident there would always be a charger nearby. And businesses might install more chargers if there were more EVs on the road.

Now, utilities are stepping forward to solve this problem, and not just in California or the Northeast. A $20 million project launched two years ago by investor-owned Kansas City Power & Light, whose service area straddles the Kansas-Missouri border, has turned a Midwestern metropolitan area into one of the fastest-growing electric vehicle markets in the country.

Bloomberg: Ford's Dozing Engineers Side With Google in Full Autonomy Push

As Ford Motor Co. has been developing self-driving cars, the U.S. automaker has started noticing a problem during test drives: Engineers monitoring the robot rides are dozing off.

Company researchers have tried to roust the engineers with bells, buzzers, warning lights, vibrating seats and shaking steering wheels. They’ve even put a second engineer in the vehicle to keep tabs on his human counterpart. No matter — the smooth ride was just too lulling and engineers struggled to maintain “situational awareness,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s product development chief.

“These are trained engineers who are there to observe what’s happening,” Nair said in an interview. “But it’s human nature that you start trusting the vehicle more and more and that you feel you don’t need to be paying attention.”

The Hindu: China Building Floating Nuclear Reactors

With an eye on the South China Sea and offshore oil and gas exploration, China is stepping up construction of floating nuclear reactors.

A top Chinese official has told the Science and Technology Daily that China will prioritise the development of a floating nuclear power platform in the coming five years, in an effort to provide stable power to offshore projects and promote exploration of oil and gas in the ocean, the People’s Daily online reported.

Newsweek: GM to Test Thousands of Self-Driving Cars for Lyft in 2018

General Motors Co plans to deploy thousands of self-driving electric cars in test fleets in partnership with ride-sharing affiliate Lyft Inc, beginning in 2018, two sources familiar with the automaker’s plans said this week.

It is expected to be the largest such test of fully autonomous vehicles by any major automaker before 2020, when several companies have said they plan to begin building and deploying such vehicles in higher volumes. Alphabet Inc's Waymo subsidiary, in comparison, is currently testing about 60 self-driving prototypes in four states.

Most of the specially equipped versions of the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle will be used by San Francisco-based Lyft, which will test them in its ride-sharing fleet in several states, one of the sources said. GM has no immediate plans to sell the Bolt AV to individual customers, according to the source.

from GTM Solar https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/even-after-oil-prices-rebound-many-drilling-jobs-may-be-lost-to-automation

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