http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.15-Disney-050817
15th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Announcing:

 Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Buyers, Sellers, Facilitators
May 17, 18

(In less than three weeks)
 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Last Chance for Early Bird Registration

Visit Landing Page for registration and sponsorship opportunities. 

http://summit.SmartDrivingCar.com/  


Monday, May 8, 2017

Walt Disney World plans to deploy driverless shuttles in Florida

R. Mitchell, Apr 28, "Walt Disney World in Florida appears poised to launch the highest-profile commercial deployment of driverless passenger vehicles to date, testing a fleet of driverless shuttles that could cart passengers through parking lots and around its theme parks.

According to sources with direct knowledge of Disney’s plans, the company is in late-stage negotiation with at least two manufacturers of autonomous shuttles – Local Motors, based in Phoenix, and Navya, based in Paris. It’s unclear whether contracts would go to both or just one of the companies…." Read More Hmmmm…This is exciting and substantial especially if it will be justified purely on its ability to deliver mobility, not entertainment, and will be financially self-sufficient.  Since it will be operating on Disney property, Disney can pretty much do as Disney wishes without having to be burdened by regulation meant to alleviate anxiety about the new and unfamiliar.  This is really exciting! Alain 

How Self-Driving Cars Could End Uber

C. Mins, May 7, " If Uber Technologies Inc. ever collapses, historians may trace its undoing not to its troubles with labor relations, intellectual property, regulatory conflicts or sexual-harassment allegations, but to technological disruption.  This would be the same technological disruption the company itself pledged to use to upend the auto industry and the $2 trillion a year tied to it. …
 Owing to all these factors, Uber, Lyft and their imitators will eventually cease to exist as stand-alone companies, either going out of business or being acquired by car makers, says Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant research who specializes in mobility.  “It’s a lot easier for an auto manufacturer to replicate what Uber or Lyft or Gett has done than it is for an Uber or Lyft to get into either manufacturing or even just buying vehicles and having to maintain them,” he adds…."   Read More Hmmmm…True! but the article mixes up Self-driving & Driverless and there is an enormous difference.  Uber/Lyft MUST have Driverless.  Self-driving doesn’t cut it for them.  Car companies want Self-driving (the new ‘chrome & fins’ that perpetuates their basic personal ownership model and NOT Driverless that completely disrupts their basic business model.  It will take an enormous amount of work and fortitude to get all of the nitty-gritty details right in order to evolve Self-driving to Driverless.  And,  it will be so easy to simply throw up one’s hands and give up while throwing roadblocks at others that it is unlikely that any traditional auto company will evolve their Self-driving efforts to Driverless. Much more likely is an outside disrupter who doesn’t have a 100 year legacy to protect, doesn’t know how to sell Chrome & Fins, but can finance not only the R&D, but the manufacturing, the ownership, the maintenance and the operation of a capital intensive fleet.  It will take deep pockets for the R&D and manufacturing, but once made, these Driverless products become cash machines.  The evolution of this revolution will be very interesting to watch. Alain

  RethinkX: Self-Driving Electric Cars Will Dominate Roads by 2030

M. Anderson, May 4, "…The rapid, Facebook-like or smartphone-like adoption curve, the report says, will be driven largely by market forces. Self-driving electric car share plans, in which consumers “subscribe” to a self-driving service much like they subscribe to a cellphone plan today, will be cheaper and more convenient for many people than owning a vehicle. …" Read more  Hmmm…. What continues to bother me about these reports is the basic sloppy headline terminology which places context and concepts in the reader’s mind that is contrary to the substance that is contained in the actual work.  Case in point…

The headline is "self-driving" electric car… whereas the substance, being the report’s dramatic conclusion, hinges of "driverless" (Level 5 ).  This is important because there is an enormous technological/psychological hurdle that must be negotiated to get from "self-driving" to "driverless" which this writer does not appreciated and can’t be assumed to be anything but monumental.  As far as I know, only one state (California) has even begun to deal with empty vehicles sharing roads with with conventionally driven vehicles. 

So… I agree with the meteoric rise in the adoption and eventual popularity of of "driverless electric vehicles" (yes, they will be electric because the corporate entity(ies) that provide that service will be more profitable if electric is used rather than anything else and they will not suffer from "range anxiety" which completely dampens any future savings or even "greenness" that an electric might offer individual car buyers.  (The whole car buying experience is dominated by "anxiety relief"…"getting-stuck" anxiety (why we buy one in the first place.  It is ours.; always at our beck and call)… "haul-stuff" anxiety (why we buy Ford F-150s maxi-cabs and SUVs.  We might want to go to the beach one summer day and we’ll need to bring beach chairs, yet most of the time there is just one person in car going to and from or from someplace)…"range" anxiety (I may have to go to grandma’s house 150 miles away yet rarely do.  A person’s 90th percentile of daily travel for all trips is way under 50 miles.) …

If we only do "self-driving" (can’t travel empty sharing roads with conventionally driven vehicles) then the future is completely different.  It is more of what we have now for which there is essentially zero car sharing, that is growing  glacially and unlikely electric because electric have little resale value and requires the car-share provider to install rechargers at EVERY car-share location.  If car-share electrics was such a great idea without the need for "driverless" they’d already be the "RethinkX 2030" because they’ve been around for 13 years. 

So it is all about "driverless", please! and only Google was doing "driverless", but one wonders what Waymo is really doing since they seem to have abandoned the bug, gone to minivans and John Krafcik has stated…"we’re in the business of making better drivers"  which can be achieved by Safe-driving cars and doesn’t even need self, let alone driverless, cars to achieve.  Oh well, maybe Apple will jump in and save the day???   Alain

  Report from Dispatch Central

M. Sena, May 2017, Vol 4, Issue 6, "…It is very interesting that these same lawmakers are now falling all over themselves to open their roads to robot-driven vehicles that will, in principle, obey the very laws that humans have difficulty accepting and dwindling police forces struggle to enforce. We do not need government task forces. The vehicle industry simply needs to be told to make their cars follow the rules of the road even when their drivers have other thoughts. It is not a matter of turning our vehicles over to robots, but making our vehicles safe to drive by humans."  Read more  Hmmm…. Lots to read and ponder here including… "…Herein lies the conundrum.  The more successful a city or region becomes, the more people it attracts until it cracks under the weight of its own growth. Government officials and citizens pray for new miracles, like driverless, electric cars, when the answer lies in front of their noses: put things in the right places." …Alain

Another Group of Google Veterans Starts a Self-Driving Technology Company

A. Webb, May 4, "A mile away from where Google builds the maps used by people around the world, a 25-person startup is trying to do something similar for robots.  DeepMap Inc., which was founded by mapping veterans of Alphabet Inc., is building systems enabling self-driving cars to steer through complex cityscapes. DeepMap plans to license its map-building software to automakers and technology companies looking to teach cars how to drive…."  Read More Hmmmm…Limitation of the detailed maps is that they don’t contain any information about the other moving objects that a SmartDrivingCar is trying to avoid hitting.  So I’m going to need something else.  In the end, why not just use that something else to also do the permanent objects too. Alain

Computer Vision for Autonomous Vehicles: Problems, Datasets and State-of-the-Art

J. Janai, " ..This paper attempts to narrow this gap by providing a state-of-the-art survey on this topic. Our survey includes both the historically most relevant literature as well as the current state-of-the-art on several specific topics, including recognition, reconstruction, motion estimation, tracking, scene understanding and end-to-end learning….Read More Hmmmm… Excellent State-of-the-Art survey.  Must reading.  Alain

Trump Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Seems Confused About Self-Driving Cars

W. Courtney, May 2,  "…"We have now self-driving cars," Chao told FOX Business’s Maria Bartiromo in an interview. "We have Level 2 self-driving cars. They can drive on the highway, follow the white lines on the highway, and there’s really no need for any person to be seated and controlling any of the instruments. And now we’re also seeing self-driving trains that are possible, self-driving planes.”
The secretary’s description of Level 2 autonomy, however, conflicts the traditional definition set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That standard is based on the Society of Automotive Engineers standards for vehicle automation, which defines Level 2 autonomy as "partial automation," in which a human driver must remain attentive to the driving environment. Read More Hmmmm…Of course she is confused, the whole level-thing is totally confused.  The whole article is confused. You already know my solution… Since she is confused she should change it so that it is clear.  Alain

Don’t Look Now, But Even Buses Are Going Autonomous

 A. Marshall, May 2, "…On Tuesday, the University of Nevada, Reno announced the start of a three-phase project to get a real, live autonomous bus on the road by as early as 2019. The first stage starts June 1 when a sensor-laden, passenger-carrying electric bus built by California company Proterra, starts trawling a 3-mile route along busy Virginia Street. To start, a human driver will do all the work as the bus collects the data needed to navigate this first stretch. In stage two, researchers will use that info to build self-driving systems. By the third phase, they hope to commercialize and license the tech, and conquer even the craziest city streets…."  Read More Hmmmm…  Another start.  Alain

  Transit startup Bridj shuts down, cites collapse of ‘major car company’ deal

D. Harris, Apr 30, "Bridj, a data-driven, venture-backed bus startup based in Boston, said Sunday it’s winding down operations after a deal with a "major car company" fell through….The company, which operated in Boston, Kansas City, Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas and describes itself as a "pop-up" urban transportation system, officially shut down last Friday…."  Read More Hmmmm…  Not all Cruise and Otto.  Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention 

China signals new era as first homegrown jetliner takes off

J. Meyers, May 5, "China’s first home-built large passenger jet glided into Shanghai skies on Friday, a breakthrough in its soaring ambitions to launch a new era in aviation and upend the dominance of American-produced airplanes…."  Read More Hmmmm…This is NOT good news for the US balance of trade.  We can’t lose Boeing and the Driverless vehicle industries.  Alain


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/

Artur Filipowicz’17, Virtual Environments as Driving Schools for Deep Learning Vision-Based Sensors in Self-Driving Cars, April 2017

Nayan Bhat’17, DeepFollowing: Vision-Based Distance Estimation on Synthetically-Generated Driving Video using 3D Convolution, April 2017

Antigone Hope Valen’17, The ATaxi Revolution: Autonomous Vehicle Implementation and Ride-Sharing Optimization in the United States and China, April 2017

Keith Gladstone’17, The Search for the Sustainable Fleet: Driverless Taxi System Simulations , April 2017

Rebeca De La Espriella’17,  Developing the Regulatory Environment for Autonomous Vehicles: Historical Lessons for the Socio-technical Transition, April 2017

Thomas P. Byrne ’17,  Commercial Auto Insurance Risk Management Strategies, April 2017


Kara Kockelman, An Assessment of Autonomous Vehicles Traffic:Impacts and Infrastructure Needs , April 2017

Kara Kockelman,Appendices, Ensuring the Benefits of a Connected and Auto ,  April2017



Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time

Even Before Self-Driving Cars Hit The Road, Auto Insurance Faces Big Challenges

F. Khayatt, May 2, "…Another pivotal necessity for insurers as they enter this new world will be developing the ability to analyze and act on real-time data. Since there will be little to no history to inform risk models, insurers will have to become vacuum cleaners for relevant stats and develop rapid-fire analytics to decipher them. Their goal is to put a value on what it means to have half of the cars on the road with lane departure warnings systems and another third with automatic braking systems and how that information impacts their pricing calculation. This is even further complicated by that fact that systems are being produced by different manufacturers, with some more effective than others. …" Read More Hmmmm…This is just wrong.  They know how to analyze real-time data. That’s what the actuarials do.  What they’ll need to do is be able to anticipate the liability exposure of the software and systems from pre-release test data.  That should be doable because these things take the most unreliable/unforeseeable element the driver.  The other element that is missing is that insurance is an incremental business built on each insured individual.  The benefit of Automated Collision Avoidance systems is that their ability to avoid collisions is also incrementally built on each vehicle so equipped.  Thus, even if only one vehicle is equipped, that vehicle will see the "50%" reduction in its liability exposure.  So for an insurance company, they need only look at their own book of customers.  Alain

How to Investigate Liability in Cases Involving Self-Driving Cars

M. Thompson, May 3, "…If drivers do not meet their end of the bargain, the well-known statistic that 90% of crashes are caused by human error will continue to hold true even in cases involving self-driving cars." Read More Hmmmm... Even if drivers meet their end of the bargain essentially 90% of crashes will involve human error…  the 90% of those for which the non-self-drive are at fault (e.g. the truck in the Florida crash) plus the 0% of the 90% fewer crashes that the self-driving cars avoided.  Now 82% of the crashes are ’causer’ by human error.  Alain


C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

AV Policy Series

May 15, 2017
American Institute of Architects,
1735 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.


Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 17 & 18, 2017
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date


Recent Highlights of:

 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Senseless Government Rules Could Cripple the Robo-Car Revolution

R. Hagemann, May 1, "…Now, there’s little doubt that autonomous vehicles are the next frontier of transportation. …however, there are a number of roadblocks to surmount: infrastructure issues, restrictive state licensing policies, driver education, cybersecurity and privacy vulnerabilities, and more. For innovators, regulators, and policymakers, solving these problems will involve a long to-do list, but a pointless regulatory scuffle over technology standards should not be on it.
So why is the federal agency responsible for our road safety looking to introduce a totally avoidable roadblock to automotive innovation by mandating a severely flawed technological standard for vehicle communications?…". Read More Hmmmm... I love it…" a pointless regulatory scuffle" and "a severely flawed technological standard".  Only DSRC. could engender such criticism….  "…Imagine if the government had demanded that Henry Ford equip every one of his Model Ts with telegraph machines that could only communicate with other Model Ts. A 19th century communications technology mandated for use in a 20th century innovation would have been a crushing blow to innovation and competition in the emerging automobile industry. That’s precisely what is happening with the DSRC mandate, and the same potential for future innovation is at risk with its implementation…". Alain

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waymo to Offer Phoenix Area Access to Self-Driving Cars

D. Streitfeld, Apr, 25, "…On Tuesday, the company was to announce the next phase of testing: putting ordinary people inside its Chrysler minivans and Lexuses….Only those who live in Chandler, Mesa, Tempe and Gilbert — roughly the southeastern Phoenix area — will be eligible for the program. And the cars, for that matter, will not take them anywhere else — no weekend jaunts to the Grand Canyon. Read More Hmmmm... Here we go!  Very conservative, but the path ahead is clear.  In 2013 they said that they were going to do this in 2017!   This is the beginning of real commercialization. Congratulations!  This is a major milestone.  Alain

Tuesday, April 17, 2017

Don’t Worry, Driverless Cars Are Learning From Grand Theft Auto

D. Hall, Apr 17, "In the race to the autonomous revolution, developers have realized there aren’t enough hours in a day to clock the real-world miles needed to teach cars how to drive themselves. Which is why Grand Theft Auto V is in the mix.
The blockbuster video game is one of the simulation platforms researchers and engineers increasingly rely on to test and train the machines being primed to take control of the family sedan. Companies from Ford Motor Co. to Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo may boast about putting no-hands models on the market in three years, but there’s a lot still to learn about drilling algorithms in how to respond when, say, a mattress falls off a truck on the freeway….The idea isn’t that the highways and byways of the fictional city of Los Santos would ever be a substitute for bona fide asphalt. But the game “is the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from,” said Alain Kornhauser…"  Read More Hmmmm... Well…we have a slightly different view of history wrt to GTA5.  The ‘Alain view’ is that Chenyi Chen*16 independently started investigating the use of virtual environments as a source of Image – Affordances data sets to use as the training sets in a ‘Direct Perception’ approach to creating a self-driving algorithm.  Images of the road ahead are converted into the instantaneous geometry that is implied by those image.  An optimal controller then determines the the steering, brake and throttle values to best drive the car.  The critical element in that process are the Image – Affordances data sets which need to be pristine.  Chenyi demonstrated in his PhD dissertation , summarized in the ICCV2015 paper,  that by using the pristine Image – Affordances data sets from an open-source game TORCS one could have a virtual car drive a virtual race course without crashing.  More importantly, when tested on images from real driving situations, the computed affordances were close to correct.

This encouraged us to look for more appropriate virtual environments. For many reasons, including: "wouldn’t it be amazing if ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’ actually generated some positive ‘redeeming social value’ by contributing to the development of algorithms that actually made cars safer; saving grief, injuries and lives".  Consequently, in the Fall of 2015, Artur Filipowicz’17 began to investigate using GTA5 to train Convolutional Neural Networks to perform some of the Direct Perception aspects of automated driving.  With Jeremiah Liu, he continued his efforts in this direction last summer which were presented at TRB in January.  Yesterday, he and Nyan Bhat’17 turned in their Senior Theses focused on this topic.

Indeed, GTA5 is a rich virtual environment that begins to efficiently and effective address the data needs of Deep Learning approaches to safe driving.    Alain

Monday, March 20, 2017

Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile, according to documents

J. Bhuiyan, Mar 16, "Some of Uber’s self-driving cars aren’t driving as smoothly as the company hoped they would. Documents circulated throughout the company’s self-driving group, which Recode obtained, gives us a first look at the progress of the ride-hail company’s robot cars in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California.
The top line: Uber’s robot cars are steadily increasing the number of miles driven autonomously. But the figures on rider experience — defined as a combination of how many times drivers have to take over and how smoothly the car drives — are still showing little progress….
For example: During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars on the road only drove an average of close to 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over for one reason or another…
The good news is the number of miles between these “critical” interventions has recently improved. Last week, the company’s cars drove an average of approximately 200 miles between those types of incidents that required a driver to take over…" Read more Hmmm… Waymo is so incredibly far ahead.  Even with these statistics, it depends on when and where the miles were drive.  It is relatively unchallenging in some places at some times, especially if you’ve experienced it many times before. Its all about being able to handle the unexpected to achieve Driverless. Uber accrues no substantive value until it reaches Driverless.  Self-driving’s only value is as a way/process to achieve Driverless.  Alain

Friday, March 10, 2017

Robot cars — with no human driver — could hit California roads next year

R. Mitchell, Mar 10, "California is back on the map as a state that’s serious about welcoming driverless cars.Truly driverless cars — vehicles with no human behind the wheel, and perhaps no steering wheel at all — are headed toward California streets and highways starting in 2018…
The regulations lay out “a clear path for future deployment of autonomous vehicles” in California, said Bernard Soriano, deputy director at the Department of Motor Vehicles…." Read more Hmmm… Congratulations Bernard!  This is fantastic news on the road to providing high-quality mobility for all.  It squarely addresses the fundamental need to efficiently re-position vehicles so that they can get to even those who can’t drive.  This is a real turning point for automated vehicles from self-driving toys for the 1% to affordable, environmentally friendly mobility for everyone.  Alain

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

M. Bergen, Feb 23, "It took Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies Inc. allegedly did it in nine months.
Waymo claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that was possible because a former employee stole the designs and technology and started a new company….Anthony Levandowski, a former manager at Waymo, in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary and confidential files, including the lidar circuit board designs, according to the complaint. He also allegedly created a domain name for his new company and confided in some of his Waymo colleagues of plans to “replicate” its technology for a competitor…." Read more   Hmmm…This is very serious.  So unfortunate.  🙁   Alain

Friday, February 17, 2017

Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2016 Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years

Press release, Feb. 15, "NSC offers insight into what drivers are doing and calls for immediate implementation of proven, life-saving measures…

With the upward trend showing no sign of subsiding, NSC is calling for immediate implementation of life-saving measures that would set the nation on a road to zero deaths:…" Read more  Hmmm…"Automated Collision Avoidance" or anything having to do with ‘Safe-driving Cars‘ is not mentioned anywhere in the Press Release.  One of us is missing something very fundamental here!!  So depressing!!  🙁   Alain

Friday, January 27, 2017

Serving the Nation’s Personal Mobility Needs with the Casual Sharing of autonomousTaxis & Today’s Urban Rail, Amtrak and Air Transport Systems

A. Kornhauser, Jan 14, "Orf467F16 Final Project Symposium quantifying implications of such a Nation-wide mobility system on Average Vehicle Occupancy (AVO), energy, environment and congestion, including estimates of fleet size, needed empty vehicle repositioning, and ridership implications on existing rail transit systems (west, east, NYC) and Amtrak of a system that would efficiently and effectively perform their ‘1st mile’/’last-mile’ mobility needs. Read more  Hmmm… Now linked are 1st Drafts of the chapters and the powerPoint summaries of these elements.  Final Report should be available by early February.  The major finding is, nationwide there exists sufficient casual ridesharing potential that a well–managed  Nationwide Fleet of about 30M aTaxis (in conjunction with the existing air, Amtrak and Urban fixed-rail systems)  could serve the vehicular mobility needs of the whole nation with VMT 40% less than today’s automobiles while providing a Level-of-Service (LoS) largely equivalent and in many ways superior than is delivered by the personal automobile today.  Also interesting are the findings as to the substantial increased patronage opportunities available to Amtrak and each of the fixed rail transit systems around the country because the aTaxis solve the ‘1st and last mile’ problem.  While all of this is extremely good news, the challenging news is that since all of these fixed rail systems currently lose money on each passenger served, the additional patronage would likely mean that they’ll lose even more money in the future. 🙁  Alain 

ODI (Office of Defects Investigation) Findings on Tesla AEB & AutoPilot

(Above link should work) Jan 19, "… Summary: …     NHTSA’s examination did not identify any defects in the design or performance of the AEB or Autopilot  systems of the subject vehicles nor any incidents in which the systems did not perform as designed.  AEB systems used in the  automotive industry through MY 2016 are rear-end collision avoidance technologies that are not designed to reliably  perform in all crash modes, including crossing path collisions.  The Autopilot system is an Advanced Driver Assistance  System (ADAS) that requires the continual and full attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment and be prepared to take action to avoid crashes.  Tesla’s design included a hands-on the steering wheel system for monitoring driver engagement…
…  ODI analyzed data from crashes of Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles involving airbag deployments that occurred while operating in, or within 15 seconds of transitioning from, Autopilot mode. Some crashes involved impacts from other vehicles striking the Tesla from various directions with little to no warning to the Tesla driver.  Other crashes involved scenarios known to be outside of the state-of-technology for current-generation Level 1 or 2 systems, such as cut-ins, cut-outs and crossing path collisions…. 
…The Florida fatal crash appears to have involved a period of extended distraction (at least 7 seconds)…"
.Hmmm… nothing else is written about this nor is a basis given for  the ‘at least 7 seconds’.  Possibly the most important information revealed in this summary is Figure 11, p11: "…  Figure 11 shows the rates calculated by ODI for airbag deployment crashes in the subject Tesla vehicles before and after Autosteer installation.  The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation…
…A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted.  Accordingly, this
investigation is closed. "  Read more  Hmmm… WOW!!! . Every word of this Finding is worth reading.  It basically exonerates Tesla, states that AEBs (Automated Emergency Braking) systems don’t really work and aren’t designed to work in some scenarios (straight crossing path (SCP) and left turn across path (LTAP), see p 2,3).  …which suggests, to me, that DoT/NHTSA should be placing substantial efforts on making these systems really work in more scenarios.  And… there is the solid data that ‘AutoSteer" reduced Tesla crashes by almost 40%!!! WOW!! Will Insurance now finally get on-board and lead?  Alai

 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

B. Grush, Oct. 2016, "Two contradictory stories about our transportation infrastructure are currently in circulation. One is that Ontario’s aging, inadequate and congested infrastructure is perennially unable to catch up with a growing and sprawling GTHA. The other is that vehicle automation will soon dramatically multiply current road capacity by enabling narrower lanes, shorter headways and coordinated streams of connected vehicles to pass through intersections without traffic signals to impede flow.
Since the premature forecast of peak car in 2008 and now the hype surrounding the automated vehicle, we are often told that we have enough road capacity; that shared robotic taxis will optimize our trips, reduce congestion, and largely eliminate the need for parking. This advice implies we need wait only a few short years to experience relief from our current infrastructure problems given by decades of under-investment in transportation infrastructure.

This is wishful thinking. Vehicle automation will give rise to two different emerging markets: semi-automated vehicles for household consumption and fully automated vehicles for public service such as robo-taxi and robo-transit. These two vehicle types will develop in parallel to serve different social markets. They will compete for both riders and infrastructure. The purpose of this report is to look at why and how government agencies and public interest groups can and should influence the preferred types and deployment of automated vehicles and the implication of related factors for planning…" Read more Hmmm…Bravo!  The Key Findings & Recommendations are excellent.  This is an excellent report (but it largely misses goods movement.)  Especially 5.1 (read ‘semi-autonomous’ as ‘Self-driving’ and ‘full-automation’ as ‘Driverless’.  My view:  Driverless may well be at the heals of Self-driving because it is a business play rather than a consumer play.  Driverless will be ordered by the hundreds or thousands rather than individually.)  and, of course Ch 10: Ownership (the business model) is more important than technology. Alain

Friday, September 23, 2016

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety.  (p5)

…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)

…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)

…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6)  Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY.  We all have recognized safety as a necessary   condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful.  (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition.  Alain

"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain

"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…"  Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain

"…2. Model State Policy (p7)   The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done.  Alain

"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…"   Hmmm… Excellent. Alain

"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…"  Hmmm… Yes. Alain

"…Note on “Levels of Automation”  There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. )  Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless.  While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly.  That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless".  Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today).  So autonomousTaxis are impossible.

Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking  (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected.   These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles).  I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work.  In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time.  This is not acceptable.  These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now.  It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.

"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7)  However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8)   . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)

In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected",  focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves.  Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety.   Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility. 

What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit.  NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines.  FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight.  Alain

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Thursday, March 17, 2016

U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1.  Hmmm … Watch Video  especially at the 13:12 mark.  Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above!  Also see his TipRanks.  Alain


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