http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.32-UberLondon-092917
32nd edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, September 29, 2017

 

For Uber in London, a New Route: Diplomacy J. Stewart, Sept 28, "As a global disrupter, Uber is no stranger to conflict, and its instinct has always been pugilistic. But on Monday, three days after Transport for London said it wouldn’t renew the ride-hailing service’s license to operate, Uber all but prostrated itself to show its humility.

In a full-page ad in The Evening Standard that began “Dear Londoners,” Uber’s new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, apologized “for the mistakes we’ve made,” and acknowledged that “we must also change.” He added, “You have my commitment we will work with London to make things right and keep this great global city moving safely.

In a letter to employees, Mr. Khosrowshahi said that “change comes from self-reflection” and that “the truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation.” He pledged to be a “better partner to every city we operate in.”

Welcome to the kinder, gentler Uber.” … Read more Hmmmm…Well said!  You would have thought that this would have happened as soon as its valuation hit 9 digits.  Better late than never.  (Although, did the full-page ad in the Standard buy its editorial?)  Alain

U.S. senators announce deal on self-driving car legislation

D. Shepardson, Sept 27, "U.S. senators announce deal on self-driving car legislation…Two sources briefed on the matter said the bill would not include larger commercial trucks…

A similar bill that unanimously passed the U.S. House earlier this month also excluded vehicles above 10,000 pounds…."  Read more Hmmmm…This is really unfortunate for the truck drivers who desperately need technology to improve their workplace (one of the most unsafe occupations!).  OSHA should be insisting that this safety-inspired legislation also encompass professional drivers.  What a shame.  The "Teamsters" have not only wasted their lobbying $$$ but worked to the detriment of their constituency.  Alain

Drivers urged to insist on autonomous emergency braking

Sept 28, " coalition of road safety and motor industry bodies are encouraging private and fleet car buyers to insist on Autonomous Emergency Braking when they buy their next new car saying it could save hundreds of lives on our roads…." Read more Hmmmm…Well that’s a ‘no-bain-er’.  The self-insurance (deductible, not-covered, …) that is saved, pays for it.  Insurance now needs to also jump on-board and share some of their wind-fall profits to really convince folks to buy.  Alain

Cadillac Driving Coast-to-Coast with ‘Super Cruise Hands-Free’ CT6

R. Price, Sept 27, "Cadillac’s demonstration of its “Super Cruise” driver assistance technology suite has begun a coast-to coast-run across 16 states.

This demonstration of the automaker’s “hands free” semi-autonomous tech which competes with Tesla’s Autopilot marks five years of development of the system. Participating in the run are 12 pre-production Super-Cruise equipped Cadillac CT6’ that left the Cadillac House in New York City yesterday on its way to California. In total, the convoy will cross 16 states, making the following stops: Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Dallas, Texas; Santa Fe, New Mexico and Phoenix, Arizona…." Read more Hmmmm…See video, Super Cruise Package is $5,000 on the Premium version and includes Driver Assist Package (Adaptive Cruise Control, Night Vision, Forward and Reverse Automatic Braking,) &  Active Chassis Package  (Active rear steering, Magnetic Ride Control™, 20" wheels and all-season tires).  (A Driver Awareness Package with very inferior features is $3,500 on the Luxury Model.)  I can’t wait to go to a dealership and have them try to explain to me the configurations and pricing.  Dealerships are going to need to get PhDs in ‘Cadillac CT6’ to understand the confusion.  How are Dealerships pre-ordering these cars??  No two will be the same. I guess that’s good??? What ever happened to Henry Ford’s "Black".   Alain

Toyota is trusting a startup for a crucial part of its newest self-driving cars

J. Bhuiyan, Sept 27, Luminar, which launched in April 2017 with $36 million in funding, announced it is working with Toyota’s research arm, Toyota Research Institute, on the company’s newest version of its autonomous platform.

Toyota unveiled the next generation of its self-driving platform today, which features more accurate object detection technology and mapping, among other advancements.

These test cars — which Toyota is testing on both a closed driving course and on some public roads — will also be using Luminar’s lidar sensors, or radars that use lasers to detect the distance to an object. Read more Hmmmm…Interesting.  Alain

Toyota’s new self-driving car has two steering wheels to prevent robot joyriding

A. Hawkins, Sept 27, "Today, the Toyota Research Institute, the Silicon Valley-based arm of the biggest carmaker in the world, unveiled the latest version of its autonomous vehicle, featuring better sensors, improved detection, and two steering wheels to better transfer control from human to robot…." Read more Hmmmm…Interesting. See video  Alain

NVIDIA Invests in Chinese Self-Driving Car Startup, JingChi

Press release, Sept 25, "NVIDIA GPU Ventures has joined a group of investors led by Chinese venture capitalist firm, Qiming Venture, in investing $52 million in Chinese startup JingChi.

Founded last spring by Tony Han and Jing Wang, former leaders of the autonomous driving unit at Baidu, JingChi uses NVIDIA GPUs and NVIDIA DRIVE PX 2 to develop its autonomous cars.  Read more Hmmmm… Initiatives are bubbling everywhere.  Alain

Tesla switches from NVIDIA to Intel for its infotainment systems

J. Finga, "Ever since Tesla took the wraps off the Model S, its electric cars have had NVIDIA hardware powering the infotainment system and the giant touchscreen that controls it. However, it’s apparently breaking with tradition: Bloomberg sources hear that the automaker has switched to Intel. Reportedly, the Model 3 and new versions of other cars will be the first to make the leap. It’s not certain what prompted the move (Intel, NVIDIA and Tesla have all declined to comment), but it’s a huge coup if true.

For the most part, NVIDIA’s deal with Tesla has been more about prestige than raw numbers. As a luxury EV maker, Tesla wasn’t about to sell in huge volumes. That’s changing with the Model 3 — when Tesla has hundreds of thousands of pre-orders, the bottom line suddenly matters a great deal. Intel is hopping aboard right as Tesla’s unit sales will make a significant difference for component partners. Combine that with Intel’s other victories, such as its Waymo deal, and it’s quickly becoming a fierce competitor in the automotive world…." Read more Hmmmm… Is this part of a bounce back to MobilEye or is Tesla just getting stuff for free? Alain

Chinese internet search engine Baidu sets up $1.5bn self driving car fund

C. Cadell, Sept 21, "Chinese search engine Baidu announced a 10bn yuan ($1.1bn) self-driving car fund on Thursday as part of a wider plan to speed up its technical development and compete with US rivals. The “Apollo Fund” will invest in 100 autonomous driving projects over the next three years, Baidu said in a statement.  The fund’s launch coincides with the release of Apollo 1.5, the second generation of the company’s open-source autonomous vehicle software…  Read more Hmmmm… One way to get initial adoption of one’s software.  Alain

Chinese drop investment in maps firm HERE after U.S. resistance

E. Auchard, Sept 26, "A Chinese-led group has withdrawn its offer to buy a stake in German carmaker-backed mapping company HERE after it failed to win approval from a U.S. national security oversight board.   Chinese mapping company Navinfo (002405.SZ) said on Tuesday that the company and partners Chinese internet giant Tencent (0700.HK) and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC [GIC.UL] had dropped plans to take a 10 percent stake in the company. …
Navinfo said in a statement that it spent months after the deal was announced in January seeking approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS). But after meeting CFIUS resistance, the group had decided to pull its investment offer. It did not give details of why CFIUS opposed the investment…" Read more Hmmmm… Even without US resistance, it is tough to compete in China.  Ask Uber.  Alain

Say goodbye to these Uber self-driving cars. But don’t worry, there’s a fresh fleet coming.

C. Linder, "It’s been 371 days since Uber first launched a self-driving car in Pittsburgh and you can soon kiss the familiar gray robot cars goodbye.  Well, in favor of a new fleet set to hit the construction-prone, pot-holed streets sometime in the coming months….

Now, after one million autonomous miles, over 30,000 passenger rides and building out a 200-car autonomous fleet between Tempe, Ariz., San Francisco, Calif. and Pittsburgh…"  Read more Hmmmm… See embedded video.  Real milestone and progress.  Many things are easy but some remain hard.  Alain

Uber driver, self-driving software not at fault in Pittsburgh crash, company determines

A. Aupperlee, Sept 20,  "…“We look to make sure, one, that our operators did the right thing in that circumstance, and two, that our software didn’t contribute in any way to the crash,” Zych said. “And in all the incidents that we’ve looked at so far, that has been the case.”…  Read more Hmmmm… If NTSB were to find this worthy of investigation, would they rule as they did wrt Joshua Brown?  I remain so unhappy about their findings.  Alain

Former VW Engine Chief Arrested, Signaling Widening Emissions Case

J. Ewing, Sept 28, "An investigation into Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal expanded significantly on Thursday after German authorities arrested a former high-ranking executive of the carmaker, two people with knowledge of the arrest said.  The executive, identified by German news outlets as Wolfgang Hatz, is a former chief of engine development at Volkswagen. He worked closely with Matthias Müller, now the company’s chief executive, when both were members of the management board of the carmaker’s Porsche unit. Mr. Hatz was being held in Munich without bail.

Mr. Hatz, well known in automotive circles because of his previous role as chief of research and development at Porsche, is the second person to be arrested in Germany in connection with the Volkswagen case and the first German citizen. His prominence signals that the investigation — which has proceeded slowly since the wrongdoing came to light two years ago — may be entering a more intense phase.

Being incarcerated puts Mr. Hatz under enormous pressure to testify against others because his chances of winning release are greater if he cooperates. The information he provides could lead to new revelations and seriously impede Volkswagen’s attempts to put the scandal, in which it admitted to manipulating diesel cars so they artificially reduced their emissions in lab tests, behind it. Read more Hmmmm…This may not be like the "Financial Crisis" where everyone walked away.  This was not the way to do business and this lesson needs to be learned, especially since software/AI is engulfing the car.  Alain

Trump backs off vow that private sector should help pay for infrastructure package

T. Newmyer. Sept 26, "…Now the administration wants to force states and localities to foot most of the bill. The previous strategy — a push that has taken a back seat to other Republican priorities in Washington — was aimed at luring private investors with promises of federal backing. Some of that thinking appears to be changing…"  Read more Hmmmm…This would be the final nail in the DSRC / ConnectedVehicle coffin. Alain

In Taiwan, Modest Test of Driverless Bus May Hint at Big Things to Come

C. Horton, Sept 28, "…The electric vehicle crawled along at a speed of no more than six miles per hour. And only 12 passengers could fit inside. But the bus also drove itself, raising hopes in Taipei that autonomous public transportation would be up and running here within a year….But successful testing on a closed course at low speeds can only reveal so much about how the buses would fare in traffic. Getting them on the road at busy times is the next step, and the program’s backers are eager to see that happen quickly… At $550,000 a unit, including import taxes, it is nearly twice the price of a larger bus with a driver…Read more Hmmmm…Slow is good, because we need to be very careful that we don’t screw up.  These are truly driverless and VERY different to what Uber and Waymo are doing where there is always a driver ready to take over.  (Shhhhhh….There is an ‘attendant’ on board the EZ10, also).  The price is very high, but it will come down.  Even McClarens are now priced for the masses.  Alain

  Pittsburgh’s self-driving car boom means $200,000 pay packages for robotics grads

A. Levy, Sept 16, "There’s a war for talent in Pittsburgh’s booming autonomous car market.  It started with Uber and now includes Argo AI, which is majority owned by Ford, and a start-up called Aurora Innovation. With so much hiring, it’s a good time to be at the city’s prized academic institution, Carnegie Mellon University.
Andrew Moore, the dean of Carnegie Mellon’s computer science school, said that computer vision graduates right out of college are commanding pay packages of $200,000, which he described as "unheard of for any role until recently."…  Read more Hmmmm… 🙂  It’s been a arduous evolution from Steelers to Pirates🙂 Alain

Say it five times fast: Roboburgh, robot belt, robotics row. But will these Burgh buzzwords stick?

C. Linder, Sept 26, "So the story goes, Mayor Bill Peduto began using #Roboburgh whenever he cited technology articles on Twitter. It seemed trendy and possibly even hip or, to some, dorky…." Read more Hmmmm… Dorky, but nice.  Alain

Udacity adds course on flying cars and ramps up self-driving program

C. Said, Sept 19, "…Udacity founder and CEO Sebastian Thrun has himself transitioned from autonomous cars to flight: He pioneered self-driving cars at Google over a decade ago, and now, in addition to his Udacity work, he runs Kitty Hawk, a company started by Google co-founder Larry Page to make flying cars…"   Read more Hmmmm… Nice.  Alain

Why Cities Are Concerned About Self-Driving Vehicle Legislation in Congress

“We don’t want to let a sense get out there that there are provisions or clauses in our legislation that are intended to restrict the abilities of states or localities to set speed limits, or set traffic lights, or stop signs, or directions for vehicles, or restrict their ability, basically, to manage streets and roadways,” said Frederick Hill, communications director for the Commerce Committee…."

We’re concerned about the lack of engagement with local communities and even with state DOTs,” Corey said. “It seems like a lot of the work that has been done has been largely driven by industry.”  "This is a technology," he added, "that is going to fundamentally change how people move around cities." Read more Hmmmm…True.  Alain


PodCasts

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 5

F. Fishkin, Sept 11,   "In this episode of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast, host Fred Fishkin chats with Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser and University of Texas Professor Kara Kockelman about the news from GM and Cruise Automation, progress in technology and in Washington D. C. and how much people are willing to pay for cars that can drive themselves…." Listen Hmmmm… Nice. Thank you Kara.  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

Daimler’s self-driving truck platoons to roll onto US highways

N. Lavars, Sept 27, "As autonomous vehicles of all shapes and sizes continue to gain momentum, truck platooning is something we’re starting to hear more and more about. The basic idea is that, fitted with self-driving technology, trucks wirelessly tethered with one another can roll down the highway in a tighter formation than would be possible with humans at the wheel…. Hmmmm…Just what we need.  Trucks in ‘tighter formation’  …Its move onto US soil follows testing at a private facility in Oregon, and comes with the blessing of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)…"  Read more Hmmmm…Talk about putting cart-before-horse.  There isn’t one mile of highway in Oregon where having trucks in ‘tighter formation’ would deliver any value.  Check out the road cams in OR for yourself. Why not roll out a really good intelligent cruise control and emergency braking system on all new Daimlers (aka Freightliner) so that they don’t rear-end or jack-knife anyone.  Once that tail isn’t wagging that dog, then come back to this.  Alain

Autonomous Passenger Drone swoops onto the flying taxi scene

N. Lavars, Sept 27, "The field of flying taxis is one that is starting to fill up. Joining the likes of the Ehang 184 and Volocopter is the newly announced Passenger Drone… "Range is 30 to 35 mins with speed of 30 to 35 knots (34 to 40 mph)," Read more Hmmmm…Talk about "range anxiety"  20 miles between recharges.  I guess we need to start somewhere??? See video.  Alain

Mercedes’ parent company will pour $1 billion in a US factory that will create its Tesla rival

A. Cremer, Seot 21, "Germany’s Daimler said it will invest $1 billion to expand its U.S.-based Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama to start building electric sport-utility vehicles there from about 2020…."  Read more Hmmmm…Great!  Just what we need.  Another SUV.  Alain

Dyson planning electric car by 2020

J. Chadwick, Sept 27, " The company responsible for the bagless vacuum cleaner will use its expertise in solid-state battery technology and electric motors for its own electric vehicle….Dyson is working on an electric car to be launched in 2020, according to the company’s founder James Dyson.  The company currently has a dedicated team made up of 400 Dyson engineers and automotive experts, and is continuing to recruit for the £2 billion project, the founder said…

Details on the vehicle’s concept were scant, but Dyson did say that it would be unlike anything else on the market, as "there’s no point in doing one that looks like everyone else’s"." Read more Hmmmm…I thought I was reading The Onion.  Doesn’t Detroit say that it is hard to make a car???  Since Elon is doing it…Welcome to the Club!   Alain

Ford, Lyft will partner to deploy self-driving cars

J. White, Sept 27, "Ford Motor Co (F.N) said on Wednesday it will collaborate with Lyft to deploy Ford self-driving vehicles on the ride-services company’s network in large numbers by 2021…" Read more Hmmmm…That’s how many ‘SmartDrivingCars lifetimes’ from now???  And doesn’t GM own 9% of Lyft?


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


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


Nov 8-10
Las Vegas, NV

Smart City, Smart Transit, Smart Energy


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


Recent Highlights of:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Driver Errors, Overreliance on Automation, Lack of Safeguards, Led to Fatal Tesla Crash

Press Relaes, Sept 12, "The National Transportation Safety Board determined Tuesday that a truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way ( a fact )and a car driver’s inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation (  a deduction among several others that can easily be made, including:  the failure to yield was so egregious that there was nothing that he could do about it except lift his arms to protect his head and he wasn’t inattentive.  What the truck was doing was so absurd, it wasn’t believable. ) are the probable cause of the fatal May 7, 2016, crash near Williston, Florida…" Read carefully as well as links below.  Hmmmm… Wow!  Seems as if NTSB has decided to use this crash as a platform to weigh-in on automation.  A fact and a questionable deduction are given equal weight in reaching ‘probable’ cause.  Interesting  Probability Theory going on here.  "… Findings in the NTSB’s report include:

  • The Tesla’s automated vehicle control system was not designed to, and could not, identify the truck crossing the Tesla’s path or recognize the impending crash. Therefore, the system did not slow the car, the forward collision warning system did not provide an alert, and the automatic emergency braking did not activate. "   This is an enormously damaging finding that should motivate the NTSB to investigate ALL of the forward collision warning and emergency braking systems that are on the market today.  Are any of them designed and do any of them work in cutoff situations? 
  • …, highway design … were not factors in the crash.   The turn lanes at this intersection have no traffic control devices, or signs (yield or stop) to discourage the running of the turn. This isn’t a design issue? Doesn’t seem as if the NTSB considered that maybe, because there was no traffic or ???, the truck driver ran the turn wide, crossing Brown’s lane at maybe even 590 ft/sec.

…The NTSB issued a total of seven safety recommendations based upon its findings, with one recommendation issued to the US Department of Transportation, three to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two to the manufacturers of vehicles equipped with Level 2 vehicle automation systems, and one each to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers. …
…Reiterated Recommendations
As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterates the following safety recommendations:
To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Develop minimum performance standards for connected vehicle technology for all
highway vehicles. (H-13-30)
Once minimum performance standards for connected vehicle technology are developed,
require this technology to be installed on all newly manufactured highway vehicles. (H-
13-31)  
What???  C’Mon Man!!!  Hasn’t the NTSB gotten the memo?  This has NOTHING to do with "Connected Vehicles" .
…"The abstract of the NTSB’s final report, that includes the findings, probable cause and safety recommendations is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xRMFc. The final report will be publicly released in the next several days.  The docket for this investigation is available at https://go.usa.gov/xNvaE. …. Alain

Friday, September 8, 2017

CONGRESS UNITES (GASP) TO SPREAD SELF-DRIVING CARS ACROSS AMERICA

A. Marshal, Sept 7, "ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives did something that’s woefully uncommon these days: It passed a bill with bipartisan support. The bill, called the SELF DRIVE (Safely Ensuring Lives, Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution) Act (H.R. 3388), lays out a basic federal framework for autonomous vehicle regulation, signaling that federal lawmakers are finally ready to think seriously about self-driving cars and what they mean for the future of the country…. Lawmakers, for their part, hope the legislation strikes a balance between allowing tech and car companies to test whatever, wherever, and giving them enough leeway to try stuff out, collect some data, and determine the best way to operate vehicles without a driver….
First, the legislation works out a way for the federal government’s rules to trump state laws and rules. It officially gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration power to regulate vehicle design, construction, and performance—the way it does with, well, normal cars. States still have authority over vehicle registration and licensing, but they’ll have a harder time making demands about what goes on inside the car….
Second, the legislation requires autonomous vehicle manufacturers be deliberate about the way they share their passengers’ data….
Finally, the legislation makes it a lot easier for self-driving cars to hit the road….
What’s Next?  Well, this is just the first half of this process. Now the Senate has to pass its own bill. Then both houses will work together to come up with compromise legislation that the president can sign…."  Read more Hmmmm… While not a high bar, this is likely to be the best thing Congress has done so far this year.  Putting the burden on NHTSA when it has so much to do with conventional cars may be just too much.  Since all of this, especially Driverless, is so radically new, it probably deserves a new ‘Administration’, a new entity, that has a clean sheet of paper with which to work this technology, much as trucks and airlines have with their own ‘Administration’.  Alain

Friday, September 1, 2017

Automated Vehicles: Are We Moving Too Fast or Too Slow?

M. Sena, Sept, ’17, "ARE WE MOVING too fast to get ‘No Humans Needed’ automated vehicles onto our roads, or are we dragging our feet? The Move Faster lobby says every day that passes without robots driving all our cars, close to a million people die needlessly in traffic accidents.  Here are the numbers, and they are grim:…

The Move Slower camp says that we don’t really know for sure that robots are better drivers than humans, we are not yet certain what changes will be required to the transport infrastructure to accommodate a mix of human and robot-driven vehicles and, perhaps most importantly, turning over our cars, trucks and buses to robots may be just another nail in the human race’s coffin….

… I am arguing in favor of caution…." Read more Hmmmm… First, as I have pointed out many times, the safety objective can be fully obtained with Safe-driving (automated collision avoidance and lane keeping) and doesn’t need Self-driving (automated with a ready and able driver just waiting to "save the day" and take control and drive conventionally)  or Driverless (no one is there to take control and/or there are no controls available to drive conventionally).  The mobility objective (leveling the mobility ‘playing field’ (affordable on-demand ubiquitous mobility) for everyone (including goods) requires Driverless (is not addressed by Safe- or Self-driving vehicles).  With respect to safety, there can be no support for anything more than politically-correct caution because there is no evidence to date that any of the automated collision avoidance systems and automated lane centering systems cause any crashes.  So it should be ‘ full steam ahead’!

With respect to our desire to address the mobility objective, which requires Driverless, extreme caution is where we are (we are still at ‘absolute zero’) and the enormity of the undertaking is so large that extreme caution is all that is possible.   To my knowledge, we have had only one ride (by Waymo) that was ‘Driverless in mixed traffic on an unaltered/unprepared public street’. (and that ride was likely (and appropriately) monitored remotely by an army of Waymo engineers ready to take over if anything bad or challenging was about to happen. So while we have logged ‘the first VMT (vehicle mile traveled)’,  we aren’t yet to even two decimal places of VMT (100th VMT).  Caution is what we have been doing and is the only thing that we can do.  But we must get on with it else we make zero dent in the mobility objective.  (Self-driving is all about enhancing the comfort and convenience of the conventional private automobile and enhancing the existing legacy auto industry.  While it claims, it doesn’t deserve, the safety kudos and it exacerbates rather than soothe the mobility gap between the haves and have-nots.).   See also the other articles in this issue of The Dispatcher.   Alain

Friday, August 25, 2017

Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars

A. Madrigal, aUG 23, " a corner of Alphabet’s campus, there is a team working on a piece of software that may be the key to self-driving cars. No journalist has ever seen it in action until now. They call it Carcraft, after the popular game World of Warcraft….Hmmmm…  Waymo’s naming should have been a play of GTA V such as "Maximus Furtum IV". Oh, but that’s our version of this.   🙂 Alain
 
…Scenarios like this form the base for the company’s powerful simulation apparatus. “The vast majority of work done—new feature work—is motivated by stuff seen in simulation,” Stout tells me. This is the tool that’s accelerated the development of autonomous vehicles at Waymo…
…Collectively, they now drive 8 million miles per day in the virtual world. In 2016, they logged 2.5 billion virtual miles…
…In that virtual space, they can unhitch from the limits of real life and create thousands of variations of any single scenario, and then run a digital car through all of them….
…Not surprisingly, the hardest thing to simulate is the behavior of the other people. It’s like the old parental saw: “I’m not worried about you driving. I’m worried about the other people on the road.”…
…They call it “fuzzing,” and in this case, there are 800 scenarios generated by this four-way stop. It creates a beautiful, lacy chart—and engineers can go in and see how different combinations of variables change the path that the car would decide to take….
…“That iteration cycle is tremendously important to us and all the work we’ve done on simulation allows us to shrink it dramatically,” Dolgov told me. “The cycle that would take us weeks in the early days of the program now is on the order of minutes.”…
…The power is that they mirror the real world in the ways that are significant to the self-driving car and allow it to get billions more miles than physical testing would allow. For the driving software running the simulation, it is not like making decisions out there in the real world. It is the same as making decisions out there in the real world…"  Read more Hmmmm… Excellent!! However, the description focuses on the ‘testing’ side.  What about the ‘training’ side?  Not much divulged here.   Alain

Monday, August 21, 2017

Driverless-Car Outlook Shifts as Intel Takes Over Mobileye

E. Boudette, Aug 8, "…Mobileye will remain based in Israel, and its co-founder Amnon Shashua will head all of Intel’s autonomous-vehicle efforts. The other founder, Ziv Aviram, is retiring from Mobileye to focus on another company he started, OrCam, which makes artificial-vision devices that allow the visually impaired to understand text and identify objects…" Read more Hmmmm…  Will Intel really not screw this up?   Alain

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cadillac’s Super Cruise ‘autopilot’ is ready for the expressway

M Burns, Aug 3, "Cadillac is about to start selling vehicles with an autonomous driving mode …Once the light bar on top of the steering wheel turns green, the driver can let go…

“Wait for the green light and let go,” the Cadillac engineer instructed. That’s it. The car was driving itself. I, the person behind the steering wheel, was no longer the driver. Cadillac’s Super Cruise system was driving.  The 2018 Cadillac CT6 sped along US-23 under the direction of Super Cruise. Traffic was light and the weather was perfect. The system held the Cadillac sedan in lane and responded appropriately to traffic. I spent an hour on the expressway and touched the steering wheel and pedals only a few times.  Super Cruise made the drive boring. I think that’s the point….

When active, Super Cruise controls the steering and speed, but again, only on an expressway. This is done through on board sensors and using GPS and mapping data. GM employed GeoDigital, a startup in GM Venture’s portfolio, to map 160,000 miles of expressways in the U.S. and Canada. The car company then used Super Cruise-equipped vehicles to test each mile.

Cadillac’s system also lacks several autonomous features found on Autopilot including the ability to pull the car out of a garage and change lanes by using the turn signals. Hmmmm…  fluff features with little value.

Super Cruise’s IR sensors tracks eye location and head movements. As long as the driver looks at the road every seven to 20 seconds, the system works as expected.  Hmmmm… Fantastic!

General Motors will have to rely on independently owned dealerships to correctly position this product and train buyers on its capabilities. Hmmmm… Yup!

For better or worse, Super Cruise is built into the CT6 like a standard system and not something a driver must use every time they’re on an expressway. This should help timid buyers.  Super Cruise feels like a feature ready for the masses. The system is deeply integrated into the vehicle and using it is akin to using cruise control or turning on the lights. There’s a button for Super Cruise on the steering wheel. Press the button when the system is available and it works. It’s that easy to turn a driver into a passenger. Read more Hmmmm…  Over the air updates?  See also Motor Trend’s view: "… a stand-alone option (as yet unpriced) on CT6 models with the premium luxury trim package and as standard equipment on top Platinum models (the price of which went up $500 for 2018, if that’s any indication)…."  Finally, I guess that I’ll have to go test drive one.  Alain

Monday, July 31, 2017

What the World and Transport May Be Like in 2030

M. Sena, Vol 4, issue 9, "UNCERTAINTY IS TROUBLING for businesses, individuals and governments….  In one way or another, all businesses, including and especially transport, are completely reliant on four macro factors:.. I’d add one more: where are children learn and play …. A United Nations study projects world population to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, up from 7.5 billion today, driven by growth in developing countries…India will have traded places with China as the world’s most populous country in around seven years…So the large bulk of those additional one billion inhabitants of the planet by 2030 will be looking for places to live in Mumbai, not in Madrid. The takeaway from this is that the so-called ‘developed’ countries, with a few notable exceptions, are either losing population due to not producing enough children or seeing their populations staying basically stable.  In 2030, Tokyo will still be the most populated city with an estimated population of 37.2 million.
Delhi will be in second place with 36.1 million, up from 3.5 million in 1970! (How has it coped?) Shanghai will be in third place and New York/Newark will have dropped off the top ten list. But what will it be like to live in these cities? The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks cities as the most and least liveable. … It ranked Melbourne, Australia as number one, … Melbourne’s density is 460 persons per km2 compared to 6,158/km2 for Tokyo and 2,059/km2 for Shanghai…. None of the most liveable cities is among the top ten places where venture capitalists have been placing their money bets during the past year….These four city regions are ranked below 30th place on the EIU Liveability Index. In other words, they may be successful, but not that liveable… (in US) 50% live in rural or less urban areas occupying more than 90% of the land area. Is there any wonder why over 50% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. are not passenger cars but SUVs and pick-up trucks?…If everyone who lived in the dense urban areas stopped buying cars, there would still be over 50% of the population who would continue to be car purchasers.

Can we conclude from this that the exodus from city regions to the suburbs of both jobs and families has now stopped and central cities once again will be where people live and work? No, not unless people will be willing to give up everything they have come to value in terms of living standards and will accept being packed into sardine can-sized apartments stacked a mile high…. Living in a central city in the most desirable neighborhoods will continue to be the privilege of the wealthy and very wealthy…They also have homes and dachas in the Hamptons, Vinyard and Vermont, else they couldn’t stand it. … When younger people build families and need more space, preferably with a yard, and that space is too expensive in the city, they find it further out…Visions of young professionals dashing around in robotic cars gobbling up mobility as a service are, to put it kindly, a bit fanciful. Read more  Hmmmm…I love it!!  So many good one-liners.   Alain

Monday, July 24, 2017

Introducing Level 5 and Our Self-Driving Team

 L. Vincent, Lyft, "For a long time, we at Lyft have shared our plan to help end car ownership in order to usher in a transportation revolution that improves our communities and quality of life. To do so we need to build an ecosystem that offers a variety of ride types, including both rides with drivers as well as rides from self-driving vehicles…

This news builds on the announcement we made earlier this year, when we created the world’s first open self-driving platform. Lyft’s self-driving vehicles will operate on that network, alongside vehicles introduced by Lyft partners. In the years ahead, we will continue to bring the world’s leading automotive and technology companies onto this single platform to serve a nationwide passenger network. And together, we will continue to drive toward a single, shared objective: to build the world’s best transportation ecosystem.
To be clear, we aren’t thinking of our self-driving division as a side project. It’s core to our business. That’s why 10% of our engineers are already focused on developing self-driving technology — and we’ll continue to grow that team in the months ahead. Their efforts will be housed in a brand-new development facility in Palo Alto, which we are calling the Level 5 Engineering Center…

We believe Lyft is in the best position to demonstrate what a great overall user experience can be. Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that makes it possible to roll out self-driving cars at scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way.
This is true for a few reasons. First, Lyft has significant scale, which enables us to rapidly train our self-driving system. Every day, there are over one million rides completed on our network in over 350 cities. This translates into tens of millions of miles on a daily basis…

Lyft will always operate a hybrid network, with rides from both human-driven and self-driving cars. When a passenger requests a ride that a self-driving car can complete, we may send one to complete the trip. If that person needs to go somewhere self-driving cars are unable to navigate, or their needs call for a different level of service, they will have a driver. But in either event, we’ll make sure everyone can get where they need to go. …" Read more  Hmmmm…Luc, congratulations!  At least you’re calling it "Level 5…" so that there is little doubt that you are focusing on "Driverless" and that what seems to be the auto industry’s view of "Self-driving" doesn’t cut it, which is why one gets the confused reporting in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.  I agree that Lyft (and everyone else) will always need a hybrid fleet, serving rides using both "Driverless Cars" for trips that can so be served and human-driven  "Safe-driving Cars" for those trips that haven’t been certified as capable of being served safely with "Driverless Cars".   The fundamental economic advantage of "Driverless Cars" (substantially lower labor cost per person trip served) fuels this investment initiative.  Moreover, its operational simplification enables it to scale such that once it becomes technologically achievable Lyft’s share of the rides market will explode.  With "Driverless Cars" Lyft will achieve, in the words of Joseph Schumpeter“… [I]n capitalist reality…, it is not [price] competition which counts but the competition from the new commodity, the new technology…- competition which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives.” Alain

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The Maturation of the Autonomous Vehicle Space

K. Pyle, July 14, "Reflecting upon the comments and insight from this week’s Automated Vehicle Symposium 2017, the automated vehicle space feels like the Video on Demand space did a couple of decades ago. The technology wizards are making great progress and its obvious the industry is maturing because there are multiple companies addressing both mainstream challenges, as well as corner cases. Still, like video on demand, technology will probably not be the biggest hurdle to autonomous vehicle adoption, but ease-of-use and trust in the technology will probably represent the biggest challenges…."  Read more  Hmmmm… A thoughtful reflection on the Symposium.  Thank you Ken.  Alain

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

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

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waymo to Offer Phoenix Area Access to Self-Driving Cars

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

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

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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