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The coronavirus pandemic is offering opportunities for vehicle-makers, mobility service providers, tech companies and delivery services to provide products, services and inspiration during the current crisis.

Arcimoto to Rescue

The three-wheeler Arcimoto’s name is based on the concept of being an ‘arc’ to the future of mobility with an electric vehicle platform for the Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV), the Rapid Responder and the Deliverator. The company was planning on launching a pilot program for a new restaurant that pulled out at the last minute due to the coronavirus crisis.

“Fifteen minutes after the restaurant cancellation, a friend at Carry It Forward, phoned asking for an electric vehicle to deliver emergency supplies to the homeless who are heavily impacted by the coronavirus,” says Mark Frohnmayer, Arcimoto’s founder and President.

Carry It Forward delivers donated goods directly to homeless people in the Eugene-Springfield area in the state of Oregon.

Frohnmayer notes that the Deliverator can park in the space between two cars, manoeuvre easily through traffic and go up curb cuts, onto sidewalks and into areas that cars can’t reach.

“It is an unprecedented need in our community and I can’t think of a better way to test the Deliverator,” he adds. Carry It Forward drivers will be giving feedback to Arcimoto on how the delivery process is working.

Contactless Safe Deliveries

Along with long lines at grocery stores, Californians during the ‘Safer at Home’ policies who need cannabis have been experiencing long lines at cannabis dispensaries.

The state of California recently decided that cannabis is an ‘essential service’ and can remain open, says Elizabeth Ashford spokesperson for Eaze, a mobile cannabis delivery platform for licensed retailers. Eaze has an infectious disease safety protocol in place in which the drivers wear gloves, use hand sanitizer, wash their hands when they can and keep a safe distance.

“The only time that touch is needed is for a debit card to enter the PIN. We’re providing popsicle sticks or finger cots to enter the number,” says Ashford. The licensed retailers are following safety protocols and everything is delivered in child-proof packaging.

“It’s safer to stay at home than to go out,” says Ashford who notes that the main reasons for cannabis use are 80% medical including chronic pain, anxiety or stress.

U.S On-Demand Mobility Services

What if my Car Breaks Down?

Some people may be worried about keeping their car running in California or also keeping it serviced.

“We have the experience and uptick in demand,” says Joel Milne, CEO of RepairSmith, “We provide a safer service experience during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Service techs at RepairSmith are trained employees provided with equipment. The company is now offering RepairSmith’s ‘No-Contact Car Repair Service’ that includes techs wearing gloves as well as disinfection of high contact vehicle areas, tools, and credit card readers.

“Access to a safe vehicle can be a life and death matter,” says Milne.

RepairSmith is offering free repair services to those who lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 outbreak and frontline workers in the communities it serves, donating up to $500 for each repair and totaling up to $100,000 in free repairs.

“We are fortunate in that we can keep our business going and expect expansion,” says Milne, “I wanted to pass it on to the future so that we can get through the next two or three months especially to those people that need it most and we can help them.”

He says there may be people who are in the medical service fields and they need to get to work but don’t have the time to have their cars repaired. Cars are also important for those who are out of work because they need to get to job interviews or to seek medical help.

“Those of us who are fortunate can do what we can to support the community to get through this. In a time when we have to social distance and stay at home isolate, it is best to be as safe as possible,” says Milne.

Since the inception of the grant program, Milne says: “We’ve been swamped with applications.”

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“We consider it part of our mission to provide these services free of cost during this time of national crisis.”

GM is helping increase production of ventilators for Ventec Life Systems. In cooperation with StopTheSpread.org. Vauxhall and Airbus, it will use 3D printing to make ventilator parts for the NHS.

KR Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy, a fuel cell and microgrid provider, deployed the company’s manufacturing abilities to update ventilators which could have taken a month to update.

Susan Brennan, EVP and Chief Operations Officer at Bloom Energy, says: “We are in a time in which we all need to ask ourselves, ‘What can we do to help?’ The answer will be different for each one of us, but as a high-tech manufacturer with a highly capable workforce and the facilities and equipment to match, we know that we can assist in refurbishing and servicing existing ventilators – allowing the experts to produce new ventilators.

“By taking on the service and repair effort, we can work together to free up this constrained resource and protect our communities,” she adds.

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Ford, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota, Wells Fargo and Ally Financial are offering payment relief and repayment programs.

Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is manufacturing and donating more than 1 million protective face masks per month to Police, EMTs, firefighters and healthcare workers.

GM is giving 3GB of free Wi-Fi access for three months and OnStar Crisis Assist to compatible vehicle owners for a limited time.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed $25 million to support organizations on the front lines responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Gates Foundation has committed up to $100 million to help with the Covid-19 response around the world, as well as $5 million to support its home state of Washington.

Amazon announced an investment of $20 million to accelerate diagnostic research, innovation, and development to speed collective understanding and detection of COVID-19 and other innovative diagnostic solutions to mitigate future infectious disease outbreaks.

Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Whole Foods Market delivery customers have the option to select “unattended delivery” during checkout for orders that do not contain alcoholic beverages.

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The Tulip Special Care facility on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018 in Philadelphia. (Mark Stehle/AP Images for Ventec Life Systems)

Mapping Out the Future of COVID-19 and Mobility

Esri, best known for its maps and location intelligence, announced it is making software available to public and private sector organizations fighting the Covid-19 disease pandemic. Esri is giving away the ArcGIS Hub Coronavirus Response template at no cost through a complimentary six-month ArcGIS Online subscription with ArcGIS Hub.

“We consider it part of our mission to provide these services free of cost during this time of national crisis,” says Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and President.

Although there has been a decline in ride-share services with both Lyft and Uber suspending carpooling options the companies are helping out where they can. Uber offered its drivers the option of providing delivery services. UberEats is waiving delivery and activation fees in the UK and US to support restaurants during the coronavirus crisis.

“I’m proud that our team has been working around the clock to fill gaps in access to food, medical supplies, and medical transportation during these crazy times,” says Lauren Smith, Senior Policy Manager at Lyft.

Lyft is providing free rides to caregivers within NCOA’s network to deliver food and supplies to their homebound loved ones. The company is working with eight Medicaid agencies to provide non-emergency medical transportation for low-income individuals. 

Lyft co-founders John Zimmer and Logan Green reportedly are donating their salaries to help the company’s drivers through the end of June.

Helping to Keep Safe Distances in Mobility

There has been a huge increase in bike-share requests says Scott Shepard, Chief Business Officer at mobility platform provider Iomob. The company is working on expanding its Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) platform to provide social distance.

The platform uses intermodal routing algorithms and crowdsourcing to determine the mode, time of day and places for the safest routes, called COREMaaS (Covid-19-Resilient MaaS).

“Say someone needs an essential item from the grocery store. They can use the platform to find out the best time of day and mode of transportation whether it be public or an e-bike to get to the destination with social distance to be able to get to where they’re going,” says Shepard. He says that customers can also pay for the transportation be it car-share, ride-share, public transportation or e-Bikes.

“We will be continually working with governments and municipalities to deliver social distance mobility to the people who need it as soon as possible,” says Shepard

Mark Frohnmayer points out a ray of hope in dealing with the pandemic: “Seeing people pull together is a really bright spot in what is a difficult dark time.”

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