http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.1_DMVs-020417
1st edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Autonomous Vehicles Meet Human Drivers: Traffic Safety Issues for States

J. Hedlund, Feb 2017Fully autonomous vehicles – cars and trucks that can drive themselves, without a human
at the controls – are coming soon. In fact, they already are on the road. Yes! …Autonomous vehicles will change our lives in many ways. Yes! … But all vehicles on the road will not be autonomous for a very long time, perhaps never.  Until then, autonomous vehicles must share the road with vehicles driven by humans. Yes! How can this be done safely? States are responsible for safety on the roads – for licensing drivers, registering vehicles, and establishing and enforcing traffic laws. So states must take the lead in dealing with the many traffic safety issues that a mix of driver-operated and autonomous vehicles will bring. Yes! In particular, states should help educate the public about the benefits that autonomous vehicles will bring and the risks that they may present, educate drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles about their driving responsibilities, and educate all drivers about how to share the road safely with autonomous vehicles. Yes! This report should help states understand and address these issues. It’s written for state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs), and State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs)….Great!

The public’s views on new technology can change quickly. AVs today may well be similar to automobiles a century ago or smart phones only 10 years ago: a new technology with a few ardent supporters and many skeptics initially but which quickly became both acceptable and highly desirable. As Henry Ford is purported to have said regarding automobiles (probably incorrectly), “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Also, today’s teenagers are more accepting of AVs: in the Kelley Blue Book survey, 48% of respondents age 12-15 said they would be comfortable riding in an AV compared to 36% of all respondents….Yes!

Laws or regulations formed in haste may hinder rather than help AV testing and implementation. (p17) Yes! " Read more  Hmmm… This is a very well written and well referenced report that is well balanced and properly presents the challenges.  Some modest suggestions are: Abandon the SAE/NHTSA Levels and go with 3 types/classes/levels: Safe-Driving, Self-driving and Driverless.   Also, this is not the first technological change that DMVs have faced.  The advent of turn signals changed driver testing.  Self-driving is really not that much different.  DMVs could start by addressing cruise control in that they could promote & educate on the best use of cruise control.  By the way, I am not aware of a single sign along any highway encouraging/promoting/prohibiting the use of cruise control.  DMVs could start with that since it really is not much different that Self-driving.  Alain

Self-driving car prototypes need less human help, data show

 AP, Feb 1, "Self-driving car prototypes appear to be getting better at negotiating California streets and highways without a human backup driver intervening, according to data made public Wednesday by California transportation regulators. … Waymo, …, did far more testing than the other 10 companies combined — and had much greater success.  Its fleet drove itself more than 635,000 miles with 124 safety-related "disengagements," which must be reported when the technology fails or the backup driver takes control out of concern the car is malfunctioning.

The Google project’s disengagement rate was the equivalent of two incidents every 10,000 miles, a notable decrease over the prior year, when there were eight disengagements per 10,000 miles.

"This four-fold improvement reflects the significant work we’ve been doing to make our software and hardware more capable and mature," Dmitri Dolgov, Waymo’s head of self-driving technology wrote in a blog post .

Waymo’s chief critic acknowledged the improvement, but John Simpson of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog said the number of disengagements shows the cars still "simply aren’t ready to be released to roam our roads" without human backup drivers." Read more  Hmmm… No one has yet suggested that these are ‘Driverless Cars’ with no one in them.  This reliability  improvement demonstrates substantial progress towards ‘Self-driving cars’ in many/most places.  Clink on Link and then Click on Manufacturer to get details of the improvement by Manufacturer.  Congratulations to all!  Alain

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

A. Kornhauser, et al.  Feb 3, "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 is Draft Final Report Alain 

  Driverless cars better sooner than later:

F. Fishkin, Feb 3, "Techstination, your destination for gadgets and gear.   I’m Fred Fishkin.   Driverless cars…better sooner than later.    You’ve been hearing about autonomous vehicles…or driverless cars…for years now.    As the kids in the back seat like to say…are we there yet?    And the answer…" Listen  Hmmm… Nice 🙂  Alain

Autonomous Car Pricing Will Turn Your Town Into A Science Experiment

M. Turck, Jan 29, "In a future driven by shared autonomous vehicles, transportation becomes a utility. The name of the game is efficiency — you pay for what you use, and how you use it. No car ownership, no car insurance, no maintenance, no gas, no driveways or garages… you pay for a ride from A to B, and when you get out, you’ve washed your hands of the investment.
But all those things have a cost, so it must mean someone else is coughing up the dough, right?…" Read more  Hmmm… Some nice ideas; however, Google/Alphabet/Waymo may just offer it for free and have its advertisers pay to have the opportunity to secure your undivided attention to buy stuff during the ride.  Hmmmmmm$$$ Alain

Fight Over Tesla’s Self-Driving Pro Shows Talent War Escalating

D. Hull, Jan 30, "There was chatter for months within the tight-knit network of Silicon Valley self-driving whizzes: Where was one of their industry’s most-prominent players going to land?  The world found out last week when Tesla Motors Inc. sued Sterling Anderson, the former director of its Autopilot program. The electric-car maker alleged Anderson started working months ago with Chris Urmson, the former head of Google’s self-driving car program.

The legal fight involving autonomous-driving hot shots is the latest to show how the war for talent in Silicon Valley is heating up, as tech and auto companies alike compete for skilled engineers….“All of the sudden, people realize that self-driving cars are becoming a reality,” said Sebastian Thrun, who founded Google’s self-driving car project and researches robotics and artificial intelligence as a professor at Stanford University. “Every CEO of an automaker has made autonomous cars a priority, and 2016 was the year when people of influence woke up to the potential of this.”  Read more  Hmmm… Yup!
Alain

Ohio backs next-gen car center

Feb 3, "The country’s biggest automotive testing facility outside Columbus will receive a $45 million grant to expand as the state furthers its efforts to become a national leader in advancing autonomous vehicle research and smart road technology, Gov. John Kasich and other officials announced recently at Ohio State University in Columbus.

The state, OSU and JobsOhio are providing the grant for the Transportation Research Center in East Liberty, a testing facility about 45 miles northwest of Columbus. The university is contributing $25 million, the state $12.5 million and JobsOhio $7.5 million…" Read more  Hmmm… Nice to see the Ohio governor, state university and jobs program coming together to support this emerging transformative industry.  Alain

Scania takes lead with full-scale autonomous truck platoon

Press Release, Jan 9 "Scania will design the world’s first full-scale autonomous truck platooning operations, based on its own advanced technology. The platoon will traffic public roads while transporting containers between port terminals in Singapore. The aim is to organise convoys of four trucks – with the following three trucks behind the lead truck autonomously driven, as well as to fully automate the processes for precise docking and undocking of cargo…"  Read more  Hmmm… See embedded video. Fine, but still at the "The aim to…" stage for what is a very small market niche with a challenged value opportunity.  I really wish that they would focus on perfecting and selling Automated Collision Avoidance (aka Safe-driving Trucks), that would deliver to each so equipped truck trip a substantial value proposition (a much lower liability risk/expectation). It’s only cash.   Alain

The Self-Driving Car’s Bicycle Problem

P. Fairley, Jan 31, "Robotic cars are great at monitoring other cars, and they’re getting better at noticing pedestrians, squirrels, and birds. The main challenge, though, is posed by the lightest, quietest, swerviest vehicles on the road.  “Bicycles are probably the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face,” says UC Berkeley research engineer Steven Shladover.

Nuno Vasconcelos, a visual computing expert at the University of California, San Diego, says bikes pose a complex detection problem because they are relatively small, fast and heterogenous. “A car is basically a big block of stuff. A bicycle has much less mass and also there can be more variation in appearance — there are more shapes and colors and people hang stuff on them.” Read more  Hmmm… Yes, bicycle recognition is very important, so is motorcycle recognition which because of higher speeds may well be tougher.   Alain

 


Just for Fun..

Mercedes AA-Class Electric Car 

Watch video  Hmmm… Cute.  Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Supplier’s Role Shows Breadth of VW’s Deceit

J. Ewing, Feb 1, "When Volkswagen executives decided in 2006 to use software to evade emissions rules, they needed help. No one inside Volkswagen knew how to write the software.  So the company turned to one of its most trusted partners: the German supplier, Robert Bosch. Working from Volkswagen specifications, Bosch developed code that instructed computers in diesel engines to fully deploy pollution controls only when the cars were being tested in laboratories, according to lawsuits in the United States and Germany….

In 2008, Bosch asked Volkswagen to guarantee that it would take responsibility if the fraud were discovered, according to court documents filed as part of the lawsuit by the German owner. Volkswagen refused.  Bosch maintains that a letter seeking the guarantee has been misinterpreted and actually refers to a gasoline engine, not the diesel engines at the heart of the scandal…." Read more  Hmmm… Nothing pretty about this and we MUST all make sure that nothing like this goes on with the code for SmartDrivingCars.  Alain


On the More Technical Side

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



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

 

Tesla S Falls Short of Luxury Rivals on Tougher Safety Test

C. Jensen, Feb 1, " Tesla has long promoted its cars as among the safest available. After its Model S electric sedan was reviewed by the federal government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013, Tesla said it had received the best safety rating of any car ever tested.

 

But a more rigorous safety review has reached a different conclusion: that the Tesla S is not on a par with several of its luxury rivals.  On Wednesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a group known for its strict testing, announced that the Tesla S did not receive either of its safety awards. That was, in part, because in one of five crash tests the dummy’s head hit the steering wheel….

The insurance institute did not test the Model S’s forward collision prevention and automatic braking system because it bought the car before Tesla added new hardware and software in October…"  Read more Hmmm… Seems to suggest that IIHS desperately needs to change its safety ratings.  Yes, Crash Mitigation is important, BUT Crash Avoidance is MORE important and should AT MINIMUM be taken into consideration.  If Crash Avoidance Systems (aka ‘Safe-Driving Cars’) that work greatly decreases the probability of the IIHS crash test and thereby rendering it essentially irrelevant, shouldn’t IIHS be testing the veracity of the Crash Avoidance System???  Isn’t the ‘Tougher Safety Hurdle’ the one that avoids the crash in the first place?? NHTSA’s and IIHS (and Euro NCAP) Safety Ratings are desperately in need of a substantial overhaul.  As they currently exist they do NOT do not perform as good of a public service as they could.  Alain


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

Reliance on autonomous systems the cause of fatal Tesla crash with tractor-trailer

J. Jaillet, Feb 2, "Department of Transportation regarding the high-profile 2016 crash involving a Tesla Model S and a tractor-trailer reached the conclusion — again — that the inattention of the Tesla’s driver was to blame for the crash. NHTSA says the car’s operator, who died in the collision, was leaning too heavily on the car’s driver assist systems, which failed to brake when a tractor-trailer crossed the road in front of the car…"  Read more  Hmmm… What????  Is this more Fake News??  How does tractor-trailer crossing/’cutting off’ a car on a highway all of a sudden NOT be the ‘blame’ for a crash???  Oh yes, this CCJ and the era of alternative facts. C’mon Man!   🙁  Alain

I was ‘Onioned’ in the last edition of SDC … This was a fake reporting:    Trump team compiles infrastructure priority list

L. Horsley, Jan 24, "President Donald Trump’s team has compiled a list of about 50 infrastructure projects nationwide, totaling at least $137.5 billion, as the new White House tries to determine its investment priorities,… Among the projects could be a new terminal for the Kansas City airport, upgrades to Interstate 95 in North Carolina (Hmmm… NC again, maybe some of Foxx’s down home projects will make it to the new administration) and a proposal to replace the nation’s radar-based air traffic control system with one called NextGen, based on satellites….a list of about 50 infrastructure projects nationwide, totaling at least $137.5 billion. Read more Hmmm… which produce 193,350 ‘Direct’ job years and 241,700 ‘Indirect’ job years.  Doing the arithmetic, that’s $711K per direct job-year ( or $316K per combined job-year.).  Those are expensive job-years!  What is built had better be something that doesn’t require a Washington (or other public-sector)  subsidy to keep it operating once it is built; else it would be better just create 3 times as many (1.375M) $100K welfare jobs-year and not be forever begging for operating subsidies. 

Well what’s on the list…# 13 Texas Central RR, #23 Maryland Purple Line, #24 M-1 Rail, Detroit, #24 MBTA Green Line Extension… all projects that, at best, have no hope of being able to operate without perpetual public subsidies.  Moreover,  each is likely to have been made totally obsolete by driverless MaaS systems before they serve their first customer.  Seems like some of these infrastructure projects will be filling rather than draining the swamp.  So sad!  Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


Recent Highlights of:

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 ODI

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 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fiscal Year 2016 SRD Program Grant Selections

Public Announcement, Jan 22: "Pierce Transit will receive $1,664,894 to deploy buses equipped with collision avoidance warning systems or automatic braking features. The objective of this project is to deploy and demonstrate collision avoidance technology in partnership with the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), a collaborative organization of 25 Washington public transit agencies that combine their resources to provide and purchase insurance coverage, manage claims and litigation, and receive risk management and training. Pierce Transit will work with WSTIP to accurately determine the business case for investing in these technologies." Read moreHmmm… Finally!! More than 3 years since Lou Sanders of APTA, Jerome Lutin and I first proposed to FTA to do such a thing for the benefit of the entire bus transit industry (which FTA deemed as non-worthy) the FTA has finally turned around and jumped on-board.  The unfortunate news: we lost 3 years.  The fortunate news: the process of substantially reducing bus crashes is finally underway thanks to the hard work in the interim by Jerome Lutin and Jerry Spears (formerly of WSTIP).  This and the good news below from Tesla may finally enlighten the insurance industry to play a leadership role in the market adoption of SafeDrivingCars/Buses/Trucks.  Congratulations Jerome & Jerry!  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

Friday, January 13, 2017

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Announces New Federal Committee on Automation

News, Jan 10, "…U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I’m proud to announce this new automation committee, and look forward to seeing its members advance life-saving innovations while boosting our economy and making our transportation network more fair, reliable, and efficient.”… Read more Hmmm… Excellent!!! Congratulations Chris, Bryant, Missy and everyone else.  Alain

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Volume 4, Issue 3

M. Sena, Jan. 5, "In This Issue:
Report from Dispatch Central 1 "…While the 12 million people in the EU who earn their livings directly from the automotive industry are delighted by the news that car sales figures for Novem-ber were up significantly, and it looks like 2016 will be another banner year, there are people in governments doing everything in their power to make both building and owning motorized vehicles economically unviable…" Read more  Hmmm…Very interesting!

Autonomous Driving News Apple’s Letter to NHTSA 1 "…The Vehicle Safety Act requires companies to certify vehicles to the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) before first sale. But this law applies to new motor vehicles intended for sale to the public, and by implication, by companies that make and sell cars, not companies like Apple that may or may not intend to sell cars. Further, FAST Act2 specifically allows car makers, but not non-car makers, to test on public roads without requiring ex-emptions from FMVSS…Read more " Hmmm… Very interesting!

What Car Companies Are Doing 2 "…So Uber must have made Volvo a pretty sweet offer when it gets rid of all the drivers with their own cars and has its own fleet of driverless cars…Read more" Hmmm…Very interesting!

Reurbanization or Spreading the Sprawl 3 "…Where do you want to go? My chart below has two opposing scenarios. In the top scenario, we keep doing what we have been doing. In the bottom sce-nario, we try to match policies with desired results. You choose…Read more" Hmmm…Very interesting!
Automotive Navigation-The Future of Traffic Info 4  "…ROUTE GUIDANCE WITHOUT
traffic information is useless..Read more" Hmmm…Stop right there.  We’ve known that!  The connected world will not get here until most of road vehicles are part of what will be but a few competing fleets.  It is those  fleet owners/managers that will find it compelling to deploy connectedness throughout their own fleets. Any meaningful sharing of data between competing fleets is not in any future that I foresee. It may even violate anti-trust laws (Unless Putin takes over the world).   Alain
Musings of a Dispatcher – Civilis cogitationes 6 "…I did not see a lot of people cycling to their jobs when I was in Västerås in the early autumn of this year.  Like most places in Europe
and the U.S., when cars became affordable for people with even modest incomes—starting in the 50s in the U.S. and in the 60s in Europe—it was a delight for workers to get out of the rain and snow and into their own car. It’s the same today in emerging markets, especially China,.." Read more  Hmmm…Our only hope is "Driverless"!  Alain

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waymo’s 100 autonomous Chrysler minivans are here

J. Golson, Dec 19, "Chrysler has completed the 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans that will join the Waymo (née Google) fleet in early 2017. The vans, which are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software built in, are part of a partnership between Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Waymo that was announced earlier this year.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said last week that his company is not interested in “making better cars.” Instead, it wants to make “better drivers.”…"

Read more Hmmm…Nice that these vehicles are targeted to a ride-sharing market (more seating capacity and easier in&out than the Prius/Lexus/Bug.) 

However,  the quote by John Krafcik is VERY troubling.  To make "better drivers" all one needs is Automated Collision Avoidance systems (or what I’ve termed ‘Safe-driving cars’).  That is indeed a laudable goal; however, that goal can be reached with a lot less hardware and software than what is in these modified Pacificas (which have a conventional steering wheel, brake & throttle pedals and driver’s seat).  But Safe-driving cars aren’t helpful to the Steve Mahan’s of this world (or to the young, or the Ubers or enable the Modified Pacifica’s to offer inexpensive high-quality shared-ride on-demand mobility to all.   Most unfortunately, what all of the extra gizmos on the modified Pacificas enable is for the driver to be better able to consume Google Ads for part of his/her time trapped in this vehicle.  So a more honest quote might have been: it wants to make "better drivers who can better consume Google Ads."  No wonder Chris bailed!  🙁  Alain

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Google is spinning off its self-driving car program into a new company called Waymo

A. Hawkins, Dec 13, "Today, Google announced that it would be spinning off its six-year-old self-driving project into a standalone business called Waymo, which stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” according to John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company.
It was previously reported that Google would be dropping its plan to build its own vehicle without steering wheels and pedals, instead focusing on creating the self-driving technology that can be installed in third-party vehicles. Krafcik didn’t provide much clarity there, but did state definitively that the new company was still fully committed to fully autonomous vehicle technology.

“We are all in, 100 percent, on Level Four and Level Five fully driverless solutions,” he said.

Krafcik didn’t comment on a report in Bloomberg that Google would be starting its own ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler using the Italian car maker’s Pacifica minivans as its fleet of self-driving taxis. Google and FCA announced their collaboration earlier this year. Krafcik did confirm that the self-driving Pacificas were still in the build phase, but would hopefully be on the road for testing very soon.

It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build it’s own fleet of driverless cars, without steering wheels and pedals. That said, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”…Read more  Hmmm… Boy that is a lot of hedging.  If they are in the business of making better drivers, then all they need to do is to make Automated Collision Avoidance systems that actually work… avoid collisions (aka Safe-driving Cars).  That would make all drivers better drivers, but it wouldn’t do anything for non-drivers… the young, old, poor, blind, those under the influence, …  Has Google abandoned all of those folks and reverted to the ‘dark-side’?  Alain

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

 Why the driverless car industry is happy (so far) with Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary

R. Mitchell, Dec 6, "Silicon Valley voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, but companies working on driverless cars seem overjoyed with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.   Chao will wield great power over how driverless cars and other automated vehicles will be regulated — or not….Industry insiders say they don’t want Chao to ignore driverless car policy….

Instead, they hope to avoid a patchwork of differing and conflicting rules across the 50 states.   “This should be centralized,” said Alain L. Kornhauser, director of the transportation program at Princeton University and an autonomous vehicle expert, “but that doesn’t mean the states don’t play a part. It would be better if we had a common understanding….” Read more Hmmm… Yup! Alain

Sunday, November 20, 2016

  DSRC’s ‘Dead End,’ Says Qualcomm Exec

J, Yoshida, Nov 15, "…Qualcomm’s pending takeover of NXP Semiconductors isn’t making the path to V2X any clearer.

NXP remains a staunch advocate for DSRC-based V2X (as demonstrated via truck platooning on Munich roads last week during Electronica). Qualcomm, a leading voice and force behind the progress of the cellular standards, is sticking to its cellular radio technology-based V2X evolution…We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in… " Read more Hmmm…V2X is important, but primarily as a complement to vehicle-centered automated collision avoidance and not as a centralized orchestration of individual vehicles.  Finally seeing this as: "We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in…"  may bring some reality to V2X.  Alain

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, October 7, 2016

An Alarming 10% Rise in Traffic Deaths in the First Half of 2016

D. Victor, Oct. 5,  "Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady climb….

The numbers were released on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of 2016 than in the first half of 2015, an increase of 3.3 percent….Officials have not identified a specific cause for the most recent increase… " Read moreHmmm…worst kept secret…Texting!!!  It is an epidemic and the way to address it begins with Automated Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS)…what is on the shelf today (if it only really worked), and a necessary foundation for Self-driving (which improves Quality-of-Life for some but increases VMT) and Driverless (which improves Quality-of-Life for all and decreases VMT).   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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years.    At a news conference on Tuesday at the company’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said the company planned to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021….
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. …." Read morHmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service).  In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud".  The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud".  Think about it!  Alain

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

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

Chenyi Chen PhD Dissertation , "…the key part of the thesis, a direct perception approach is proposed to drive a car in a highway environment. In this approach, an input image is mapped to a small number of key perception indicators that directly relate to the affordance of a road/traffic state for driving….."  Read more  Hmmm..FPO 10:00am, May 16 , 120 Sherrerd Hall, Establishing a foundation for image-based autonomous driving using DeepLearning Neural Networks trained in virtual environments. Very promising. Alain

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities

March 23 Hmmm… Watch the video of the Committee Meeting.  The testimony is Excellent and very compelling! Also see Self-Driving Minnesota Alain

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

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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