http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.22-WSTIP-070917
22ndt edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Active Safety-Collision Warning Pilot in Washington State, IDEA Program Final Report

J. Lutin, May 19 "The Rosco/Mobileye Shield+ system is a collision avoidance warning system (CAWS) specifically designed for transit buses. This project involved field testing and evaluation of the CAWS in revenue service over a three-month period. The system provides alerts and warnings to the bus driver for the following conditions that could lead to a collision: 1) changing lanes without activating a turn signal (lane departure warning was disabled for this pilot), 2) exceeding posted speed limit, 3) monitoring headway with the vehicle leading the bus, 4) forward vehicle collision warning, and 5) pedestrian or cyclist collision warning in front of, or alongside the bus. Alerts and warnings are displayed to the driver by visual indicators located on the windshield and front pillars. Audible warnings are issued when collisions are imminent. …"   Read more  Hmmmm… Very interesting.  This is the first substantive report of realities of retrofiring existing transit buses with active safety collision-warning technology.  Anyone in the public transit industry should be paying attention to this report.  This is the very beginning of actually implementing safety-oriented automated technology in transit buses and it was motivated and led by insurance (Jerry Spears & Al Hatten @ WSTIP + Mike Scrudato @ Munich Re). Insurance finally stepping up and leading. Alain

  Smart Driving Cars PodCast #1: NTSB_TeslaDocket

F. Fishkin, Week of June 25. "NTSB Opens Docket on Tesla Crash…"  Listen here  Hmmmm… Fred, Thank you.  Alain

The r-evolution of driving: from Connected Vehicles to Coordinated Automated Road Transport (C-ART)

A.  Raposo, June 2017, "Part I: Framework for a safe & efficient Coordinated Automated Road Transport (C-ART) system.   …
This study suggests exploring C-ART as a new forward-looking approach for traffic flow and system management in the presence of highly automated and connected vehicles. A number of political and legislative aspects are currently being discussed in different international and European fora. These apply to existing legislative frameworks such as the 1968 Vienna Convention on international road traffic, Directive 2009/103/EC on motor insurance, or Directive 2007/46/EC on vehicle approval, among others, that may require modifications. This report analyses the current technological context, policy and legal framework for automated and connected vehicles. Besides, by examining future scenarios, it identifies areas that deserve special attention. This study presents a novel approach, based on a central coordination of fully automated and connected vehicles (i.e. C-ART), that policymakers and different stakeholders may want to consider as a scenario for an eventual full realisation of a safe and efficient mobility system. …Read more  Hmmmm… Part of the beauty and elegance of today’s dominant forms of mobility (the personal car, bicycles and walking ) are their ability to deliver personal freedom of mobility with very little connectivity and coordination.  Today’s transit alternatives, which are founded on coordination (and a wish for connectivity), suffer horribly because customers are forced to accept what the "coordinated centralized authority" has deemed to provide as a level of service…  the bus comes every hour and stops only at these places along this route, take it or leave it!  To enslave automated driving technology with connectivity and centralized coordination may well mean that the traveling public will forgo the safety and convenience benefits and stick to driving themselves.  Public policy should focus on letting the automation and connectivity focus on the independent individual vehicle and stop worrying about coordinating and orchestrating everybody according to the wishes of some centralized power.  It is going to be a very long time before there will be enough automated and connected vehicles out there for there to be any coordination opportunities, so putting that cart forward today is not at all helpful.  Focusing on making the automation work (being safer and more comfortable) for individual automated vehicles operating on existing roads with existing drivers is way enough of a challenge that has to be met else this r-evolution never gets off the ground.  Alain 

Volvo Cars to go all electric

Press release, July 5, "Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, has announced that every Volvo it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, marking the historic end of cars that only have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and placing electrification at the core of its future business.
 
The announcement represents one of the most significant moves by any car maker to embrace electrification and highlights how over a century after the invention of the internal combustion engine electrification is paving the way for a new chapter in automotive history…." Read more  Hmmmm… This is another big move by Volvo.  Almost 2 years ago, the announcement was that Volvo would accept liability for all at-fault crashes of their cars operating in Self-driving mode.  Now this.  I hope that Electric Motors sell better than Safety.  (If "Safety" sold cars, everyone would have owned a Volvo for the past "40" years.)  Alain

Users, Vehicles, Infrastructure

July 10-13, San Francisco.  "… Infrastructure…" Read more  Hmmmm… Attend, but I thought the objective was to do this using existing infrastructure (and not needing anything except maybe good paint!?!?  Anyway, Breakout 19: SHARK TANK-Change is coming: Who Will Survive Wed July 12, Golden Gate 4, 1:30 -> 5:30.  Should be fun.  Alai

  Tesla’s First Mass-Market Car, the Model 3, Hits Production This Week

N. Boudette, July 3 "Tesla’s long-awaited mass-market electric car will begin rolling off the assembly line this week. But even as it moves ahead, the automaker is encountering challenges to its ambitious plans for growth.

On Monday, it acknowledged that it had experienced a “severe shortfall” in production of 100-kilowatt battery packs that use new technologies and are made on new assembly lines.  As a result, Tesla’s output of 25,708 cars in the second quarter barely exceeded its first-quarter production, though it was a 40 percent increase from a year ago.  Until June, the supply of battery packs was about 40 percent below demand, Tesla said, though supplies improved last month.  Read more  Hmmmm… Interesting to watch because of implications on "affordable Self-driving"  Alain

Waymo Scales Back Claims Against Uber in Driverless Car Dispute

D. Wakabayashi, July 7, "Waymo, the autonomous vehicle business that operates under Google’s parent company, dropped several patent claims against Uber on Friday, scaling back some of its major allegations in a bitter lawsuit over driverless technology.

In a federal court filing, Waymo said it was dropping three of its four claims over Uber violating its patents related to light detection and ranging sensor technology, or lidar. Lidar is a vital component in driverless car technology, helping the vehicle detect its surroundings to navigate roads…" Read more  Hmmmm… Remains interesting.  Alain

You Paid For It: Building a smart city

M. Taylor, July 6, "It’s been one year since the city of Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart Cities Challenge. A victory that put some $50 million dollars in federal grants into the hands of city leaders. Since then leaders have been putting that money to work in an effort to make Columbus the nation’s first Smart City.

In 12 months city leaders have leveraged that first $50 million into more than $500 million in investments from private and public sector partnerships. Between grants and local matching, Smart Columbus is well on its way to start turning Columbus into the testing ground for technology-intelligent transportation systems that would soon mean big things for central Ohio from autonomous vehicles to electric cars… " Read more  Hmmmm… OK, so far so good.  Alain

Anarchy on India’s Roads Has Driverless Car in a Jam

S. Rai, June 29, "…  India’s push into the driverless race is being driven by conglomerates such as the Tata Group and Mahindra Group along with a slew of startups and engineering schools, which are taking on global giants in an industry that Intel projects will spur $7 trillion of spending by 2050. The country, forecast to soon be the world’s third-largest auto market, is loath to be left behind even as its chaotic roads and regulations create unique hurdles…“Indian roads present a true deep learning challenge,” said Roshy John, a 17-year veteran in the field of robotics who heads that business at Asia’s largest IT services provider Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. .." Read more  Hmmmm… Of course they do and focusing on having automation handle these most challenging situations is trying to walk before one can crawl… likely not to be very pretty.  Let’s focus on learning to crawl really well before we really try to walk.  Again, this is an evolution and addressing Kolkata’s mobility challenges may not be near the top of the list of today’s AV challenges (and forget about connectivity).  Alain 


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention


On the More Technical Side

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



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

Alphabet Inks Deal for Avis to Manage Self-Driving Car Fleet

M. Bergen,  June 26,  "Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Alphabet Inc., has reached an agreement for Avis Budget Group Inc. to manage its fleet of autonomous vehicles. It’s the first such deal in a field that’s still fledgling but exploding with partnerships. Avis shares surged.

The rental car firm will service and store Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans in Phoenix, where the parent of Google is testing a ride-hailing service with volunteer members of the public. Waymo will own the vehicles and pay Avis for its service, an arrangement that is set for multiple years but not exclusive. The companies would not share financial terms…" Read more  Hmmmm… Unfortunately this is another sign that Waymo is really settling for "Self-driving" rather than staying committed to "Driverless"  Seems like such an arrangement is focused on making Self-driving cars available to drivers, rather than offering mobility to those that need to get someplace.  Very disappointing.  Alain

Safety Advocates Urge Congress to Go Slow on Driverless Cars

R. Beene, June 27, "Automakers should be required to certify the safety of driverless vehicles before they can be tested on roads, and Congress should allow fewer vehicles to be tested on the roads than proposed under Republican-drafted legislation being considered by a House Energy and Commerce panel, according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Democrat Frank Pallone, of New Jersey, said lawmakers should not be moving bills out of committee without input from the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is currently vacant awaiting a Trump administration nominee. Lawmakers did not hear from NHTSA at a hearing Tuesday.  "This is a big moment for us," Pallone said. "We need to be sure that we get this right and that safety is the first priority. … Read more  Hmmmm… Real "Safety Advocates" should be clamoring for more, not less and should be really concerned about un-safe non-automated drivers. Alain

THE SIDEWAYS ELEVATOR OF THE FUTURE IS HERE, AND IT’S WILD

E. Stinson, July 9, "PEOPLE LAUGHED WHEN ThyssenKrupp, a company synonymous with elevators, announced it was developing one that goes every which way. Who’d ever heard of such a thing? Everyone knows elevators go just two directions: Up and down. Some took to calling it the Wonkavator, after Willy Wonka’s wacky lift that goes sideways, slantways, and longways.   "There were some doubts," company CEO Patrick Bass says with just a bit of understatement.

Put aside your doubts. After three years of work, the company is testing the Multi in a German tower and finalizing the safety certification…"  Read more  Hmmmm… When I use the elevator analogy for autonomousTaxis, I don’t mean this.  Whatever!?! Alain


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


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


July 10 -14, 2017
Hilton San Francisco Union Square

Breakout 19: SHARK TANK – Change is Coming: Who Will Survive?
Wednesday, July 12, 1:30 PM – 5:30 PM



 
20th Anon Risk Pooling Symposium 2017
July 23 -> 26
Albuquerque, NM
Step off the Gas – Slam on the Brakes:  Automated Vehicle Technology Pros and Cons


2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 16 & 17, 2018
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date


Recent Highlights of:

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NTSB Opens Docket on Tesla Crash

Press release, June 19, "As part of its ongoing investigation into the fatal 2016 highway crash involving a Tesla Model S and a tractor-semitrailer truck near Williston, Florida, the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday opened the accident docket, releasing more than 500 pages of information.

System performance data downloaded from the Tesla revealed that the driver was operating the car using automated vehicle control systems: Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping systems.

The docket includes reports that cover various aspects of the investigation, including highway design, vehicle performance, human performance, and motor carrier factors. The crash reconstruction report, also included in the docket, provides a description of the crash sequence. The docket also includes interview transcripts and summaries, photographs, and other investigative material.  The docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators; it does not provide analysis, findings, recommendations, or probable cause determinations. No conclusions about how or why the crash occurred should be drawn from the docket. Analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the crash will be issued by the Board at a later date.

The docket material is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xNvaE" Read more  Hmmmm… A few comments…
1.  Since lateral control (swerving) couldn’t have avoided this crash (the truck is almost 70 ft long (6 lanes wide) stretching broadside across the highway) , it doesn’t matter if Josh Brown ever had his hands on the steering wheel. That’s totally irrelevant. 
2.  Why didn’t autobrake kick in when the tractor part of the tractor-trailer passed in front of the Tesla?
3.  How fast was the truck going when it cut off the Tesla.  I couldn’t find the answer in 500 pages.   
4.  With sight distances of greater than 1,000 feet, why didn’t the truck driver see the Tesla?  Was it the drugs?
5.  This intersection invites "left-turn run-throughs" (no stop or yield and a 53 foot median and turn lane need to be crossed before one slips through a gap in two traffic lanes.  So you certainly roll into it, (plenty of room to stop if you see something coming) and if you don’t see anything, you hit it.  If you’re in the Tesla, you think you’ve been clearly seem, you expect the truck to stop, it doesn’t, you can’t believe it, BAM!  All in probably a second or so.
6.  The head injury description (Table 1 p2 of 3) certainly suggests that Joshua Brown was seated upright facing forward at impact.  The bilateral lacerations on the lower arm from the elbow to the wrist may indicate that he saw it coming in the last second and raised his arms in an attempt to protect his head.   The evidence reported doesn’t seem to suggest he saw this early enough to bend toward the passenger seat and try to pass underneath. 
7.  About 40 feet of tractor and trailer passed directly in front of the Tesla prior to impact.   Depending on how fast the truck was traveling, that takes some time.  Has NTSB run Virtual Reality simulations of various truck turn trajectories and analyzed what the truck driver and the Tesla driver could/should have seen?  Seems like a relatively simple thing to do.  We know what the Tesla was doing prior to the crash (going 74 mph straight down the road.) and we know where it hit the truck.  How fast the truck was traveling doesn’t seem to be known.
8. Why wasn’t there any video captured from the Tesla.  Didn’t that version of the MobilEye system store the video; I guess not, 🙁 
Anyway, lots to read in the 500 pages, but there is also a lot missing.  I’m not linking the many articles reporting on this because I disagree with many of their interpretations of the facts reported by NTSB.   Please reach your own conclusions.   Alain

Monday, June 19, 2017

Amazon Deal for Whole Foods Starts a Supermarket War

R. Abrams, June 16, "Shares of Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco, the largest grocery retailers, all tumbled on Friday. And no wonder..  Grocery stores have spent the last several years fighting against online and overseas entrants. But now, with its $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon has effectively started a supermarket war.  Armed with giant warehouses, shopper data, the latest technology and nearly endless funds — and now with Whole Foods’ hundreds of physical stores — Amazon is poised to reshape an $800 billion grocery market that is already undergoing many changes…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Since Jeff Bezos doesn’t need to have you impulse buy on your walk through the store while you get a quart of milk, he simply has to get you click on organic milk and he’ll present you with everything you absolutely can’t checkout without.  All he then needs is to get all those impulse buys (and the quart of organic milk) to your home from the hundreds of physical stores.  That’s where low speed driverless local delivery vans come in (operating initially in the early morning hours when the streets connecting those stores to our houses are completely empty and simply drop off everything you’ll need for the day ahead in your "Amazon Box" that’s replaced your 20th Century mailbox).  So in the end it will be Jeff Bezos’86 battling Eric Schmit’76 for deploying the first fleets of driverless vehicles sharing our neighborhood streets. If they should decide to join forces and have these vehicles providing mobility whenever anyone wants to travel and moving groceries and other goods the rest of the time, watch-out!!! Then everybody wins!! (except Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco)  See also..Amazon and Whole Foods and Self-Driving Cars    Alain

Monday, June 12, 2017

G.M. Wants to Drive the Future of Cars That Drive Themselves

B. Vlasic, June 4, "… How would it react, for example, when it reached an intersection as a light turned yellow?  Driving in a situation like that, “you have to make a decision,” she recalled in a recent interview. “Generally if you decide to go, you decide to speed up. Or you stop.” If the technology works, she said, it will make the right decision: “The car knows.”

In beginning (sic) to assemble fully automated Bolts in January, G.M. was a step ahead of Google and Uber, which are converting mass-market minivans and sedans into driverless models. It went beyond what Tesla has achieved with autonomous controls on its own models. And it reflected the feverish competition underway…" Read more  Hmmmm… C’mon Bill, GM might be a step ahead of Google (who is not in this anymore) , but it is nowhere near Waymo.  And what is a "fully automated" Bolt?  It is certainly NOT "fully" anything.   Seems like the same-old GM but now with new ‘Corinthian Leather’ to sell to consumers through their network of dealers.  That leather will boost sales in the short run, and decrease the carnage on our roadways , which is great while keeping everyone in their same-old comfort zone of owning their own.   Unfortunately, the Bolt’s  "Corinthian Leather" turns to Flea & Moth Infested Burlap during parts of every trip, thus requiring a human driver to be ready to come to the rescue.  Consequently, the Bolt does NOT deliver the elevator-like mobility that some/many envision when someone says "cars that drive themselves" without explicitly adding in bold "only some of the time.  It won’t be able to provide mobility to the young, those under the influence, those that don’t have a driver’s license,… The Bolt is of no real help to Lyft or Uber or Didi or …but many people will buy Bolts!   Alain

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rethinking Mobility: The ‘pay-as-you-go’ ca: Ride hailing, just the start

 S. Burgstaller, May 23,"The c.$7 tn global mobility market is speeding into the era of the “pay-as-you-go” car. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Didi are pioneering a ‘cloud’ mobility system, which is using data to change
how the wealthiest cities move. In Rethinking Mobility, we model how the ride-hailing opportunity can grow to $285 bn by 2030, and is the precursor to a broader technological and social transformation.  We examine how the market might live up to the high valuations of its pioneers, why car sales may prove surprisingly resilient despite the change, and where automakers have a chance to transform their profitability as operators of fleets of autonomous cars…." Read more Hmmmm… Nice to see GoldMine Sachs finally weigh in.  The report is chock full of information and there is a lot here to absorb. 

The big impact will be if we ever get to Driverless without which you don’t replace even one Uber driver.  
Without Driverless, the issue centers on the 8x penetration of hailing rides.  At 8x  only car rental and little else is effected.  At 80x it effects car ownership but there will not be enough gig workers to support it.  So it doesn’t scale without Driverless.

With Driverless, then it is all about ridesharing as with elevators.  If it is as easy as elevators, then car ownership  diminishes greatly.

The report doesn’t respect the enormous difference between Driverless and Non-driversless (Self-driving and Safe-Driving; Levels 0 -> 4).  It seems to  assumes Driverless, yet it does not deal with the likelihood that Driverless will be achieved and fails to realize/identify the enormous forces that may come to bear that will attempt to derail Driverless at all costs.  The strongest of which may well be the "GMs" of this world.  GMs are all about Self-driving which REQUIRES a driver ( thus consumer ownership) and perpetuates their 100 year old business model.  Driverless scales ‘cloud mobility’ beyond the ‘8x’ limits of a gig economy and enables horizontal ‘cloud mobility’ to become as ubiquitous as the elevator is in vertical mobility.  Yes, there are still stair cases, and private ‘cloud-mobility" elevators for the 0.01%, but the masses will just grin&share the on-demand ‘cloud-mobility’ elevators without a 2nd thought.  Driverless assuaged vertical mobility anxiety. Driverless is the critical technological element that will assuage horizontal mobility anxiety and enable widespread horizontal ‘cloud mobility’.

Communities may find, as tall buildings have found, that they really work best (even at all) if they accommodate shared ‘cloud’ mobility and provide it for ‘free’ simply because it is so effective in capturing the enhanced land values that are unlocked by such mobility.  We’ve always been able to walk up and down a couple of flights of stair, but once we were easily able to go (via on-demand ‘cloud’ mobility available 24x7x365) more than four or so, then the sky became the limit. Are similar horizontal land values waiting to be unlocked if they simply pick up the tab for that on-demand horizontal ‘cloud’ mobility?  If so, then the GMs of this world are in a heap of trouble.  Alain

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

May 18, Enormously successful inaugural Summit starting with the Adam Jonas video and finishing with Fred Fishkin’s live interview with Wm. C Ford III.  In between, serious engagement among over 150 leaders from Communities at the bleeding edge of deployment, Insurance struggling with how to properly promote the adoption of technology that may well force them to re-invent themselves and AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various technologies that are rapidly advancing so that we can actually deliver the safety, environmental, mobility and quality of life opportunities envisioned by these “Ultimate Shared-Riding Machines”.

Save the Date for the 2nd Annual… May 16 & 17, 2018, Princeton NJ  Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Fishkin Interview of Summit Summary and Interview of Yann LeCun Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Hmmmm… Enormous thank you to all who participated.  Well done!  Alain

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Exploring the Bear Case: Distracted Driving + ADAS = $7 Trillion of Used Values at Risk

A. Jonas, Feb 1 "A sharp rise in traffic death & rapid growth of semiautonomous tech as standard equipment can accelerate the obsolescence of used cars, with potentially negative implications for secondhand values, auto credit & SAAR. We see elevated auto credit risk & avoid used car exposure….
…One could reasonably argue that if a technology can save 10k or 20k lives and hundreds of thousands of injuries per year in the US it should be (1) affordable and (2) not be optional equipment. Contrary to this, we found the majority of models currently available either do not offer active safety features or offer them only as optional equipment at prohibitively high costs. Our key takeaways are summarized below:…" Read More Hmmmm… First, sorry that I just saw this excellent report.  On top of the enormous substance, this report doesn’t mention that some/many of these systems don’t work as well as they should.  Some don’t brake if the the object ahead is stationary, others get confused with white back-lighting, others only apply the brake after the driver starts applying the brake and others only apply the brakes up to a 50% level.  Here we are trying to let drivers take hands of wheels and feet off pedals, yet we don’t have Safe-driving Cars that actually work (…experiencing essentially no false positives or false negatives) .  Alain

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

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

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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