http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.33-Villages-100617
33rd edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, October 6 , 2017

FHWA Awards $4 Million Grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for Automated Taxi Shuttles

Press Release, Oct 4, "Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials today awarded a $4 million Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for its automated taxis.

“Technology is the future of U.S. transportation,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all.”

County officials will use the funds to deploy an integrated system of “taxi-shuttles,” known locally as “A-Taxis,” on public roads. These are driverless taxis providing shuttle service to and from employment centers–expected to improve access to transportation for disadvantaged and mobility-impaired residents…" Read more Hmmmm… Wow!! FHWA is actually going to fund aTaxis!!!  Congratulations, Fred Payne!  This is a non-trivial achievement.  Alain

  Changing driving laws to support automated vehicles: Discussion Paper

National Transport Commission, Oct 2017, "This discussion paper seeks feedback on how driving laws should provide for the public deployment of automated vehicles, new legal obligations that may be required, and the establishment of legal obligations for automated driving system entities. …" Read more Hmmmm… Very thoughtful Discussion Paper on a very important topic.  Many driving laws were written in a way so as to get people to behave appropriately.  Getting an algorithm to behave appropriately is, in many cases, very different.  For example, explicit speed limits will be adhered to a upper limits rather than lower bounds.  For people, there is a real expectation that they’ll "game’ or "cheat".  Similarly, a human may need to come to a complete stop at an intersection to be certain that there is no one else coming; whereas an algorithm with sensors may know no one is coming even before reaching the intersection.  There is no need for it to come to a complete stop.  It already knows that the coast is clear; etc.  We all need to join in on this discussion. Alain

National Transport Commission argue drivers of automated vehicles should be exempt for DUI laws

M. Dunn, Oct 6, "IMAGINE you have just finished a heavy session down at the local bar, you hop into your self-driving car and let it take you home.  You’re pulled up for a random breath test and even though you have consumed more drinks than a rooftop session with Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson, you are free to continue on your journey…But should owner’s of self-driving cars be excluded from traditional DUI laws for drugs and alcohol?…Read more Hmmmm…User’s of Self-driving cars should NOT be excluded from traditional DUI laws because Self-driving cars require a capable driver to be ‘at the ready’ to drive the Self-driving car should the need arise.  HOWEVER, User’s of Driverless cars SHOULD be excluded from traditional DUI laws because Driverless cars don’t foresee their operation by the rider/user, just as a bus rider isn’t expected to take over and drive the bus. If, after a binge, you take a bus home, you are not subject to traditional DUI laws.  Why should you be if you take an autonmousTaxi (aka Driverless car) home?!?! Alain

Work: What It Will Be and How We Will Get to It in the Future

M. Sena, Oct., ’17, "DRIVE—OR TAKE A TRAIN—out beyond the bubble that encapsulates any city, beyond the inner suburbs, beltway office parks and shopping malls. What do you see? Correct, farms and forests, mostly farms. Second question: Do you know personally a full-time farmer? If yes, maybe you have a great uncle who stayed on the family farm while your father or mother went off to college or found jobs in factories. Or maybe you grew up on a farm or in a farming community and have lots of friends who still make their livings plowing the land. When we lived in a farming village south of Gothenburg, there was one full-time farmer who owned lots of big equipment, and it was he who worked all of the farmland in the village. My point is that in spite of the fact there are farms everywhere we look outside our cities, there just aren’t that many farmers left to know. The number of individuals working in the farming industry in the EU has dropped between 2007 and 2013 by fully 19.8%. In the U.K. alone, the number of agricultural workers fell from 925,000 in 1925 to 190,000 in 2005…
…Truck, delivery and tractor driver was the number one job in 29 U.S. states in 2014. We are still eating, so farms have not disappeared.  Farm workers have been replaced by machines. We are still communicating by the written word and running businesses, so the work that secretaries once did has not vanished. It is being done by every worker with their own computer (i.e. by you and me). And everything that machine operators and factory works did forty years ago is still being done, but it is being done in places other than the U.S. or Europe (mostly Asia) or by other means (e.g. by robots, who aren’t included in jobs statistics)." Read more Hmmmm… Another very interesting issue with much food for thought and much with which to debate.  Cybersecurity being one. Alain

Senate Commerce Approves AV START Act, Other bills and nominations

Press Release, Oct 4, "The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, by voice vote, approved S. 1885, The American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies (AV START) Act, which advances efforts to improve roadway safety through the deployment of self-driving vehicles…." Read more Hmmmm… A positive step forward even though it doesn’t encompass trucks.  The Teamsters & organized labor should jump on board because this technology overwhelmingly improves the longevity AND quality of the lives of their membership, Professional Drivers.  See also engadget Alain

Amazon Is Testing Its Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx and UPS

S. Soper, Oct 5, "Amazon.com Inc. is experimenting with a new delivery service intended to make more products available for free two-day delivery and relieve overcrowding in its warehouses, according to two people familiar with the plan, which will push the online retailer deeper into functions handled by longtime partners United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp…UPS shares fell as much as 2.1 percent to $116.52, and were trading down 1.3 percent at 10:32 a.m. in New York. FedEx dipped as much as 1.6 percent to $217.77 before recovering somewhat to $220.09…." Read more Hmmmm… Can Driverless Amazon TT Delivery Trucks operating on otherwise unused roads in the wee hours of the morning be far behind?  An absolute No-Brainer!  Alain

These minor accidents were registered in California last month.

A. Padeanu, Oct. 6, "…GM told regulators that Chevy Bolt vehicles fitted with autonomous driving tech were involved in six minor crashes in September. Some were caused by human drivers in other cars, while in one of them an intoxicated cyclist was going the wrong way and crashed into a driverless Bolt. According to GM Cruise spokeswoman, Rebecca Mark, all 13 incidents that took place so far this year in California were actually caused by human drivers.

In one of the crashes, a Bolt waiting at the red light was rear-ended by a Ford Ranger whose driver was talking on his phone without paying attention to what was going on in front of him. What matters the most here is that no one was injured while the damages resulted from the collisions were light…. Read more Hmmmm… With everything equal, one would expect that half of the crashes in any fleet would have a member of that fleet being ‘at fault’.  Apparently, everything is NOT equal with this fleet.  One element that is NOT equal is that this fleet has collision avoidance technology.    Of course, it also has what is likely better-than-average human oversight. Advocates for Auto & Highway Safety: What do you think caused a bias from 50/50 to 0/100 ???  Alain

Uber’s Board Approves Changes to Reshape Company’s Power Balance

K.Benner, Oct 3, "Uber’s board of directors voted on Tuesday for governance changes that will reshape the balance of power at the ride-hailing service, paving the way for a stock sale to the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and for the company to go public by 2019…."  Read more Hmmmm… OK  Alain

Cadillac’s Super Cruise is the biggest challenger to Tesla’s Autopilot — and we took it on a road trip

M. DeBord, Oct 5, "Tesla’s semi-self-driving technology, Autopilot, got there first, but General Motors isn’t letting the upstart California carmaker steal all of Detroit’s thunder. GM has begun rolling out its own semi-autonomous system, Super Cruise, through its Cadillac luxury brand.  Unlike Autopilot, which can be used pretty much everywhere, Super Cruise was carefully designed to function in well-defined, separated highways that have been mapped. Autopilot also used a suite of cameras and sensors to operate, while Super Cruise relies on laser radar (Lidar), a more expensive but arguably more advanced technology, although it can’t operate as well in fog, rain, or snow as Autopilot.

Different philosophies, closely linked to GM’s and Tesla’s corporate cultures, have also guided the development and introduction of Autopilot and Super Cruise. Autopilot has benefitted from the Silicon Valley attitude that real-world beta testing is the best way to refine a technology, and so the tech has been out in the wild for years, gathering data and experience to improve itself.  Super Cruise’s introduction has been consistent with Detroit’s more conservative approach: test, test, and test some more. To a degree, Autopilot was designed to encounter challenges and learn from them, while Super Cruise is trying to avoid challenges that could lead to accidents. …" Read more Hmmmm… And look at slides.  Alain

For Electric Car Owners, ‘Range Anxiety’ Gives Way to ‘Charging Time Trauma’

E. Taub, Oct 5, "An oft-cited reason people don’t buy electric cars is “range anxiety” — if batteries struggle to take you as far as gas and charging stations are limited in number, the thinking goes, who would want one?  But there is another obstacle: charging time trauma. Compared with a five-minute pit stop at your local gas station, charging an electric vehicle is a glacially slow experience. Modern electric cars still often need an entire night to recharge at home, and even at a commercial fast charging station, a fill-up can take an hour or more. …" Read more Hmmmm… Nothing is easy     (no really a concern for fleets of electric aTaxis because peaking demand leaves long periods of less than full utilization which will enable intelligent fleet management algorithms to find recharging opportunities.  Alain


PodCasts

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 6

F. Fishkin, Sept 30, " This edition: moves in Washington, coming innovation from Cadillac, Tesla moving to Intel, Uber out of London, Ford working with Lyft and James Dyson!" Listen Hmmmm… Nice.  Alain

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

SOVIET FIRES SATELLITE INTO SPACE: IT IS CIRCLING THE GLOBE AT 18,000 M.P.H.; SPHERE TRACKED IN 4 CROSSINGS OVER U.S.

W. Jordan, Oct. 5, 1957, "The Soviet Union announced this morning that it successfully launched a man-made earth satellite into space yesterday.  The Russians calculated the satellite’s orbit at a maximum of 560 miles above the earth and its speed at 18,000 miles an hour.

The official Soviet news agency Tass said the artificial moon, with a diameter of twenty- two inches and a weight of 184 pounds, was circling the earth once every hour and thirty- five minutes. This means more than fifteen times a day…." Read more  Hmmmm… 60 years ago this achievement had a profound influence on my opportunities, my future.  It transformed the teaching of science and inspired Advanced Placement courses in the average public school.  It opened my eyes.  I’m forever grateful.   Watch the next video.  The most practical approach that I’ve seen.  Maybe. after almost 50 years, we may have a realistic approach.  Alain

Elon Musk’s FULL Speech at the 2017 International Astronautical Congress

Sept 29, "This week at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk provided an update to his 2016 presentation regarding the long-term technical challenges that need to be solved to support the creation of a permanent, self-sustaining human presence on Mars." Watch Video  Hmmmm… Most interesting. Start watching 1:30 in. Update of his 2016 presentation @ IAC.  Alain

Space Council Chooses the Moon as Trump Administration Priority

K. Chang, Oct 5, "Standing before the space shuttle Discovery in a voluminous hangar outside of Washington, Vice President Mike Pence announced on Thursday a renewed focus on putting Americans in space and making a return to the moon….Read more  Hmmmm… 60 y

…She and Dennis A. Muilenburg, chief executive of Boeing, both said there was a need for consistent financing and steady commitment to achieve long-term objectives in space.   Officials from newer space companies, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeffrey P. Bezos’s Blue Origin, called for public-private partnerships rather than traditional government-run programs and called for streamlining the bureaucratic process of licensing launches…

…In a Wall Street Journal opinion article published on Wednesday where Mr. Pence addressed similar themes, he made zero mention of NASA…." Read more  Hmmmm… Which do you pick…Boeing & Lockheed or Musk & Bezos???  I guess you know where I stand.  Alain



On the More Technical Side

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



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

Where Driverless Cars Brake for Golf Carts

D. Wakabayashi, Oct 4, "…In the Villages, there are 15 miles of roads where autonomous vehicles can learn how to navigate other cars, pedestrians, golf carts, animals, roundabouts and many other obstacles.

The speed limit, just 25 miles an hour, helps reduce the risk if something goes wrong. And because it is private property, the company does not have to share ride information with regulators and it can try new ideas without as much red tape…
The driverless car would be far less risky than the drivers that we currently have,” said Bill Devincenzi, a former board president of the Villages whose term expired in June….
But what seemed like a done deal hit a roadblock this year. The agreement to offer self-driving car rides in the retirement community almost fell apart when negotiations hit an impasse over insurance. California requires autonomous vehicles to have $5 million of coverage, but the Villages insisted on 50 percent more coverage because it is a private community with more liability risk.  “We’d call the Geicos and Progressives of the world and asked them, ‘Do you do self-driving car insurance?’” said Oliver Cameron, Voyage’s 29-year-old chief executive. “The answer was no.”…Voyage delved into “exotic insurance” policies…The insurer, Munich Re…" Read more Hmmmm…This is some progress; HOWEVER, as is obvious by The Video and not mentioned in the article, there is an attendant on board!  So this NOT as good as Uber/Pittsburgh, Waymo/Phoenix, etc.  Thus, Half-baked!, unfortunately.  Alain 

Central Florida gets $12M grant to test self-driving cars, new tech

V. Brezina, Oct. 5, "Central Florida will get to test intelligent transportation system technologies aimed at enhancing pedestrian safety and easing congestion thanks to a nearly $12 million federal grant.  The Federal Highway Administration awarded $11.9 million to a team of experts from the Florida Department of Transportation, the University of Central Florida and MetroPlan Orlando to test several smart city transportation technologies locally and make recommendations, according to MetroPlan’s news release….

The grant includes four major technological systems: PedSafe:…, GreenWay:…, SmartCommunity:…, SunStore:…" Read more Hmmmm… Seems very light on Self-driving and non-existent on Driverless and heavy on Connected.  Alain

Automation in Everyday Life

A. Smith, Oct 4, "Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have the potential to automate a wide range of human activities and to dramatically reshape the way that Americans live and work in the coming decades. A Pew Research Center survey of 4,135 U.S. adults conducted May 1-15, 2017, finds that many Americans anticipate significant impacts from various automation technologies in the course of their lifetimes – from the widespread adoption of autonomous vehicles to the replacement of entire job categories with robot workers. Although they expect certain positive outcomes from these developments, their attitudes more frequently reflect worry and concern over the implications of these technologies for society as a whole. …

Americans are roughly twice as likely to express worry (72%) than enthusiasm (33%) about a future in which robots and computers are capable of doing many jobs that are currently done by humans.   Yet, surely all use elevators (which are automated, people movers at airports, fly in planes that are essentially automated, use phones without MaBell operators, and use Exel (which has probably replaced more MBA jobs than any automatic system)   Majorities of Americans are reluctant to use emerging automation technologies themselves and express concerns about removing the human element from important decisions  (From horses to horsepower: A rocky transition)…

The scenarios included: the development of autonomous vehicles that can operate without the aid of a human driver; …For instance, roughly seven-in-ten Americans who would not want to ride in a driverless vehicle mention a lack of trust, a fear of losing control and/or general safety concerns when asked why they would not want to use this technology….Americans who themselves would ride in a driverless vehicle express greater levels of enthusiasm and lower levels of worry about the ultimate impact of this technology compared with those who are more reticent, and they are more likely to say they would feel safe sharing the road with both autonomous cars and freight vehicles. Read more Hmmmm… We are still at the very beginning of this technology and few, if anyone, have a clue about it.  Pew should have known this result even before they conducted the survey.  AVs are unknown (and a real one has yet to be developed) and everyone fears the unknown.  Pew needed to do a survey??? Alain

Airbus on track to fly its electric aerial taxi in 2018

D. Ehterington, Oct 5, "Airbus is looking to put its flying taxi in the air next year, confirmed CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel this week. The schedule is on track after CityAirbus conducted successful ground tests of the electric power system it’s using to propel the vehicle through the air.  Airbus is looking to put its flying taxi in the air next year, confirmed CityAirbus chief engineer Marius Bebesel this week. The schedule is on track after CityAirbus conducted successful ground tests of the electric power system it’s using to propel the vehicle through the air…"  Read more Hmmmm…Do we really need these things cluttering the air above Manhattan ferrying the 0.5%ers between Wall Street / MidTown and Teterboro / Hamptons???

Mercedes-Benz Launches Campaign to Support Warner Bros. Pictures’ Upcoming Epic Action Adventure JUSTICE LEAGUE

Press Release, Oct 5, "This autumn, JUSTICE LEAGUE, one of the most anticipated superhero movies of all time, will hit U.S. theatres beginning November 17, 2017 from Warner Bros. Pictures – and Mercedes-Benz vehicles will join the League alongside Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash as they race to save the planet from an alien assault of catastrophic proportions…..With JUSTICE LEAGUE, we found the perfect partner to highlight our current vehicles as well as communicate the fascination of our brand.  Read more Hmmmm…Same Old, Same Old… And I thought that they were really committed to SmartDrivingCars.   Alain

 


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

  PRESS CALL AND MATERIALS ON SENATE AV BILL (S. 1885)

B. Bronrott, Oct.3, "Today, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) joined a coalition of leading safety and consumer advocates, and survivors and families of victims of dangerous and deadly vehicle defects to call for commonsense safety improvements to the American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act (AV START Act, S. 1885). Without changes, the AV START Act would allow hundreds of thousands of self-driving cars to get exemptions from critical federal motor vehicle safety standards and would keep consumers in the dark about the limitations and performance of autonomous vehicles (AVs)…"  Read more Hmmmm…Some reasonable points, especially about ‘Definitions‘, but overall misses the point that the only ‘Critical motor vehicle safety standards’ that would be exempted are ones that are mostly irrelevant to vehicles that crash way less often.  The problem today is that conventional vehicles kill ‘40,000’ every year and the whole purpose of the technology, in particular "Safe-Driving" (Level 1/2) technology, is that it will substantially reduce the probability of crashes for vehicles so equipped.  Therefore, these advocates should be all in favor of this legislation.  Moreover, stating that the NTSB "identified deadly failures … in the 2016 fatal crash" without stating that the truck cut off the Tesla leaving it no opportunity to avoid the crash, is being totally misleading and destroys any semblance of credibility.  How could any "Advocate for safety" be doing anything but putting out ‘welcome signs’ for this technology?  This technology focuses on avoiding the crash, in the first place; not being in denial that crashes even happen and the application of ‘band aides’ after a crashes happen, which has been NHTSA’s primary focus.   C’mon Man!  Get onboard. Alain


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:

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

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, "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.” Alaint 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

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

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

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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