http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.2-DoA_DSRC-021017
2nd edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, February 10, 2017

  Regulatory Chill May Pivot Connected Vehicle Tech’s Course

M. Ross, Feb 8, "Technology and telecommunications groups opposed to a federal mandate that cars automatically communicate with each other are hoping the proposal is an early victim of President Donald Trump’s regulatory clampdown.
The Department of Transportation rushed to publish a draft rule in the final days of the Obama administration that would mandate all new cars and light trucks be equipped to transmit data to other vehicles to warn their drivers of potential collisions. The department and automobile manufacturers have been laying the groundwork for such a rule for more than a decade, with millions of dollars in testing indicating that the radio-based technology could immediately save lives.  No, that’s its fundamental flaw.  Even if you have it, it can’t do you any good unless the other guy has it.  Thus it can’t do anything immediately …The draft rule could save up to 1,365 lives each year by 2060.   Immediately??? I’ll surely be dead and gone. All that money spent to get such a finding.  
….The total annual costs to comply with the mandate 30 years after the rule’s launch range from $2.2 billion to $5 billion, according to 2016 NHTSA data. Consumers can expect to pay about an extra $300 per vehicle equipped with DSRC technology, the data show.   That’s a lot of ‘good money to be thrown after bad’.  Let’s spend Billions to justify our Millions in sunk costs?   Much worse than ‘doubling down’ …Meanwhile, artificial intelligence, camera technology, sensors and radar, which are already being used in autonomous vehicle development, improve vehicle safety and don’t require cars to be connected to each other, Paul Brubaker, president and CEO of the Alliance for Transportation Innovation,…"

Read more  Hmmm… Not ‘Regulatory Chill’ but simply Common Sense. C’mon Man! I’m on the AV side of this one. V2V is fine on top of AV, but staying on the DSRC bandwagon is silly when it will be completely obsolesced by 5G before it has sufficient penetration to be better than ‘a hope & a prayer’ in avoiding crashes.  V2V requires both vehicles to have the technology.  The chance that both cars can even talk to each other, let alone know what to do and do what is needed, to avoid a crash is the product of the adoption percentage of DSRC.  So, a mandate today, that pertains only to having DSRC in new cars, will be lucky to be in 30% of the cars by 2025.  Thus, the chance that DSRC is even relevant in an impending crash is 0.3 x 0.3 = 0.09.  Meaning that there is only about a 10%  (1 in 10) chance that DSRC is even relevant in averting a crash.  It simply takes a long time to replace the cars that are on the road today with new ones.  However, many of us replace our phones with the latest and greatest much more quickly, so that by 2025 it is not unreasonable that as many as 70% of drivers will have 5G phones.  The chance that these phones will have the opportunity to be a relevant V2V device in averting a crash is 0.7 x 0.7 = 0.49 .  Which road should we go down… DSRC mandate giving us at best a 1 in 10 chance of being relevant in 2025 ( and we still need AV to perform the avoidance of the crash) or wait and piggy back on our 5G device that gives us a 1 in 2 chance in 2025 at no additional cost because we will have purchased it for other reasons.  Alain

Five More Cities Join Bloomberg Philanthropies And The Aspen Institute’s Global Initiative On Autonomous Vehicles

Press Release, Jan 9,  "Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute announced today that five cities have joined its global initiative to help city leaders plan and prepare for the emergence of autonomous vehicles. The cities of Helsinki, Finland; London, England; São Paulo, Brazil; Tel Aviv, Israel and Washington, D.C., USA will join the inaugural participants of the Bloomberg Aspen Initiative on Cities and Autonomous Vehicles announced last fall. Over the course of the next year, the multi-city cohort will produce a set of principles and tools that cities around the world can use to chart their own paths forward with the new technology.
At the 2017 North American International Auto Show, philanthropist and three-term New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said today, "The autonomous vehicle revolution is here – and by examining the opportunities and challenges, mayors can lead the way in adopting policies that benefit citizens and communities. We’re excited to welcome five new international cities to our initiative, and we are glad to have the active participation of auto companies. Together, we can help shape the future of transportation."…Read more  Hmmm… Really Important!  Kudos to the Mayor and Walter.  Alain

China to build world’s largest autonomous driving testing zone

L. Fusheng, Jan 16, "The city of Zhangzhou, Fujian province, is planning to build the world’s largest experimental zone for autonomous driving.
The project, which was signed on Dec 15 in Beijing, will be constructed in a 56-square-km zone in the city’s economic and technological development area to enable testing of autonomous cars in a city-level lab road network with complete traffic signs.
It will also cover a 600,000-square-meter closed testing ground and a two-million-square-meter open experimental field….the China Merchants Group, Frontt Capital and the CRI Intelligent Auto Research Institute have decided to set up an initial fund of 10 billion yuan (US$1.5B) for the project.

Mcity will offer technological suggestions to the project. Mcity is a test facility for evaluating the capabilities of connected and automated vehicles and systems built by the University of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Transportation. Read more  Hmmm… That is a non-trivial fund.  If true, and given what we’ve pledged to such activities, we’re going to get crushed! I sure hope U of M and MDoT are getting properly rewarded for their ‘technological suggestions’. (I’m sorry! I got carried away.  This is an ‘all for one and one for all’ cooperative global effort without trade barriers or ‘jobs’ implications.)  Alain

Waymo Is Crushing The Field In Driverless Cars

Chunk Mui, Feb 8, "Imagine if you could pick between Uber drivers based on their driving experience. Would you hire an experienced driver who has logged hundreds of thousands of road miles or one who has driven just a few hundred miles? I’ll bet you’d go with the experienced driver. Now apply the same question to driverless cars. How would you pick? The same logic applies: Go with experience.

As with human drivers, experience matters for driverless capabilities. That’s because the deep learning AI techniques used to train driverless cars depend on data—especially data that illuminates rare and dangerous “edge cases.” The more training data, the more confidence you can have in the results….In 2016, Waymo logged more than 635,000 miles while testing its autonomous vehicles on California’s public roads compared to just over 20,000 for all its competitors combined. …

As the W. Edwards Deming principle that is popular in Silicon Valley goes, “In God we trust, all others bring data.” The data shows that Waymo is not only 615,000 miles ahead of its competitors but that those competitors are still neophytes when it comes to proving their technology on real roads and interacting with unpredictable elements such as infrastructure, traffic and human drivers. …Waymo also leads the others in terms of fewer “disengagements,” which refers to when human test drivers have to retake control from the driverless software. Waymo’s test drivers had to disengage 124 times, or about once very 5,000 miles... enormously impressive!...it is clear from the California DMV reports that Waymo is way ahead on the driverless learning curve.   Read more  Hmmm… Chunka, as usual, excellent article!  Alain 

Safety group urges states not to rush on self-driving car regulations

J. Cichowski, Feb 7. "Though safety potential for self-driving cars is ‘tremendous,’ governors group asks states to first educate a skeptical public…." Read more  Hmmm… Yup.  🙂   Alain

Unsafe at Any Speed

J. Pelini, March 2017, "The case against human drivers.. .Driverless cars are looking better and better: They won’t text with each other, or get angry. They won’t play Grand Theft Auto in their off-hours. And they won’t cut you off just for the hell of it. Even if they’re BMWs…"Read more  Hmmm… Good article!  Alain 

When Will Nvidia See Revenue from Autonomous Cars?

P. Tanner, Feb 6,  "Nvidia (NVDA) is set to report strong revenue growth in the data center space as its Tesla GPUs (graphics processing units) make their way into servers and supercomputers. Another segment where Nvidia is hitting the road is in automotive.

Nvidia’s Automotive segment has been reporting sequential growth since fiscal 3Q16 as in-car electronics increase. The segment has reported sequential growth as high as 21.5% in fiscal 1Q17, and in fiscal 3Q17, Automotive revenues rose 7% quarter-over-quarter to $127 million, driven by strong demand for premium infotainment and digital cockpit features in mainstream cars…." Read more  Hmmm…OK Alain

Self-driving cars could actually increase congestion on Danish roads

Ray W, Feb 3, "…A new study from the Danish Road Directorate has suggested that the driverless vehicles will eventually be so popular that any space freed up would quickly be filled with – wait for it – more cars.  By the time all cars in Denmark are self-driving, traffic could actually increase by 14 percent across the country, and even more in metropolitan areas…. Read more  Hmmm…I couldn’t find the actual study. Please forward link… Anyway, it doesn’t take a study to expect that Self-driving cars will increase congestion.  They’ll substantially reduce the dis-utility of travel and as such will increase VMT (VehicleMilesTraveled) since there is essentially no mechanism for ridesharing with personal ownership of Self-driving cars.  Plus ‘the ability to ride closer’ has always been a myth (until market penetration is almost universal (which wont happen soon) and Putin is in control of all of these self-driving cars that we own and cherish).  Also, today we drive too close in congested conditions.

Driverless cars do give us an opportunity to address congestion because they’ll be fleet owned and managed, and they can accommodate shared-riding if we accept/tolerate/embrace it.  The PMT (PersonalMilesTraveled) can go up while VMT goes down.  Driverless gives us the opportunity to have our ‘cake’ and ‘eat it too’! Alain

Uber and Daimler Join Forces on Self-Driving Cars

T. Kalanick, Press release, Jan 31, "I’m excited to announce an agreement with Daimler, one of the world’s top auto manufacturers with more than a century of experience designing some of the world’s best and most iconic vehicles. In the coming years, Daimler has planned to introduce and operate their own self-driving cars on Uber’s ridesharing network.
We are incredibly excited by the potential for self-driving cars to further our mission of bringing reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere. They will also help to reduce traffic accidents, which today kill many people a year; free up the huge amount of space currently used to park the world’s billion-plus cars; and cut congestion, which is choking our cities…." Read more  Hmmm… Volvo, Daimler, ….  Still just Self-driving, but we know Uber must get to Driverless.  Nice progress. Alain

Driver in fatal Tesla crash had blood alcohol nearly 3 times legal limit

B. Raven, Feb 8, "The driver in a double-fatal crash of a Tesla had a blood-alcohol content measurement of 0.21 percent at the time her car crashed and burned in Indianapolis in November 2016…."However, had Autopilot been engaged it would have limited the vehicle’s speed to less than 35 mph on this street, which is inconsistent with witness statements and the damage sustained." Read more  Hmmm… Maybe AutoPilot should be on all the time and until Teslas become Driverless, have a sensor to not start at all if the driver is over the limit.  We seem not to be able to not be stupid. Alain 

Watch Cruise’s self-driving Bolt EV navigate smoothly to SF’s Dolores Park

D. Etherington, Feb 8, "The video includes a handy on-screen indicator showing when it’s in autonomous mode, which appears to be throughout the entire course of the sped up footage. Kyle Vogt, Cruise CEO, provided the following statement about the conditions of the drive in an emailed statement:

    This video was captured from one of our autonomous vehicles during a series of back to back test rides. No advance planning was done, and this was captured in a single take. The operator selected a random destination using the Cruise mobile app, pushed a button, and the vehicle started moving. Rides like this occur hundreds of times per day across our test fleets.

The point Vogt is making is that this Cruise demo video shows real-world capabilities, in unpredictable circumstances. Of course, GM still gets to choose what videos it release, but that’s still impressive …"  Read more  Hmmm… Agreed.  It is impressive. Congratulations.  Alain 

  Google Maps engineer who pioneered Street View is now working for Lyft

A. Hawkings, Feb 9, "Luc Vincent, senior director of engineering at Google, has been hired by Lyft to lead the ride-hail company’s maps and marketplace division. He is the latest Google Maps engineer to migrate to the world of ride-sharing, where many companies are staffing up their mapping divisions in the interest of making the art of connecting rider and driver as precise as possible.  While at the search giant, Vincent helped pioneer Google Maps’ wildly popular Street View, which provides panoramic views of many of the world’s roads. At Lyft, Vincent said he will be helping the ride-hail company “rethink” transportation. That includes improving dispatch, pick-ups and drop-offs, and helping drivers get to where they need to go more precisely. …Vincent is a major score for Lyft, considering many of Google’s engineering experts have gone to work for Uber. A few weeks ago, Amit Singhal, the former Google engineer who helped perfect the search engine’s ranking algorithm, went to work for Uber as senior vice president of engineering. He joined Manik Gupta, the former head of Google Maps product division, and Brian McClendon, who once ran Google’s entire mapping division. It comes at the same time that Uber is pumping $500 million into building a map of the entire world, a crucial step toward using autonomous vehicles. Read more  Hmmm… Very interesting.  Alain


Reader’s Comments..

with respect to my comment in the previous issue:

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$$$ Alain…  Steffen Bartschat wrote: “With advertising revenue for Facebook and Google estimated to be in the range of $100 per user per year in the US, I don’t see how an advertising revenue model can work to support building, operating, and maintaining an unlimited private transportation service, even if the value of those captive eyeballs increases by an order of magnitude.”  Hmmm… Steffen, excellent point!  I stand corrected. Advertising$$$ aren’t that great.  Thank you!  Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Inside the Bugatti factory: an exclusive look at the making of the $2.6 million Chiron

T Warren, Feb 9, "It takes a team of 20 people six months to assemble…"Read more  Hmmm… Just for fun  🙂   Alain


On the More Technical Side

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



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

Udacity open sources its self-driving car simulator for anyone to use

D. Etherington, Feb 8, "Self-driving cars require self-driving car software, and Udacity’s helping to feed that need with its nanodegree program in the field. Now, the online education company is also making available its self-driving car simulator via open source license, allowing anyone with a working knowledge of Unity to gab the assets, load its preexisting scenes and create their own tracks for virtual testing…" Read more  Hmmm… So UNFORTUNATE!!  Totally the wrong focus/tool for SmartDrivingCars.  The simulator is that of a test track, on which, I assume, self-driving cars can learn to go fast.  So NOT the objective of a simulator or a test track!  The focus needs to be SAFETY in traveling between places people actually want to go to and from at rational speeds.  Only in Fantasy Land is this simulator of any value.  It is even worth less than GTA5.  At least GTA5 allows one to construct relevant driving scenes involving people, bicycles, intersections, traffic control devices and signs, approaching traffic, weather effects, etc.  I thought Udacity wanted to be taken seriously in this space.  Please don’t waste your time on this distraction.  Alain


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

 


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


Recent Highlights of:

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

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 

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

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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