http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.36-USDoT_StrategicPlan-102717
36th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, October 27 , 2017

 

Strategic Plan for FY 2018 -2022

Draft for Public Comment, October 19, 2017, “This Strategic Plan establishes the strategic goals and objectives for the DOT for FY2018 through FY2022. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRA) aligns strategic planning with the beginning of each new term of an Administration, requiring every Federal agency to produce a new Strategic Plan by the first Monday in February following the year in which the term of the President commences. The Strategic Plan, therefore, presents the long-term objectives an agency hopes to accomplish at the beginning of each new term of an Administration by describing general and long-term goals the agency aims to achieve, what actions the agency will take to realize those goals, and how the agency will deal with challenges and risks that may hinder achieving results….” Read more Hmmmm… Nice…seems to be void of all references to Connected Vehicles (CV), V2V and V2I that were in the previous FY 2014-2018 strategic plan (Gone is any reference like  footnote 13, p.24: “Transforming Transportation through Connectivity: ITS Strategic Research Plan, 2010-2014- Program Update, 2012 (even the link is 404)
 
This may finally be a realization by US DoT that the Connected Vehicle (CV) program was a fatally flawed concept, especially in light of having viable Automated Vehicles.  CV was a grandiose plan to have the public sector (Washington, States & Municipalities) pay to deploy electronic Gizmos everywhere and have all of our vehicular mobility be centrally controlled (think 1984).  It was part of the America’s National ITS Architecture  which ITS America has been promoting for years in support of its Gizmo manufacturing members.  Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in Architecture is that the benefits (Safety) would not begin to really kick-in until the Architecture was largely deployed throughout the highway infrastructure and installed in most vehicles.  It is essentially all-or-nothing, and “all” need to be so ubiquitous, consequentially so expensive, that the public sector was was the only potential financier.

However, along came the private sector and said…”maybe we can address this Safety thing by automating the vehicle so that it is much less likely to Crash while it shares the existing infrastructure without asking for any improvements (except maybe better paint and readable signs; both of which are really needed anyway for all existing users) “.

Sure, safe automation is hard and expensive, but nowhere near as expensive, especially in its early commitments,  as the CV approach.   And if successful, at least one vehicle and its occupants are safer.  PLUS, the cost of the automated vehicle technology is likely get cheaper (it scales) as we replicate for the 2nd, 4th, 8th, 16th… vehicles and likely to become very affordable very quickly (Moore’s Law) AND the cost of replicating the software is essentially zero and … So, with what amounts to a little bit of money we can get started with one vehicle and it is likely to scale very nicely to  initiate viral adoption.  Wow!  (Deja vu all over again Steve Jobs’ garage).

So.. it is very nice that US DoT has finally recognized through its strategic planning process that it is time to pivot from its fundamentally flawed CV concept to the SmartDrivingCar/Automated Vehicle (SDC/AV) concept, even though historically US DoT has been all about the infrastructure (roads) and not-so-much about vehicles (cars).

Moreover, this frees US DoT from an enormous future financial obligation.  Congratulations for making the pivot.  We are all anxious to help you succeed.  Alain

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 9

F. Fishkin, Oct  25, Episode 8 “Host Fred Fishkin with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and guest Fred Payne, council member from Greenville County, South Carolina. Greenville’s autonomous taxis are rolling. Bank of America analysts see big investment opportunities in vehicle technology. The latest from London, China and New York. And on demand pilotless planes? 

Driverless Cars Made Me Nervous. Then I Tried One.

D. Leonhardt, Oct 22, “On my fourth day in a semi-driverless car, I finally felt comfortable enough to let it stop itself. Before then, I’d allowed the car — a Volvo S90 sedan — to steer around gentle turns, with my hands still on the wheel, and to adjust speed in traffic. By Day 4, I was ready to make a leap into the future.

… Almost 80 percent of Americans fear traveling in a self-driving car, a recent poll found.   or equally off base.. the Pew Research Center report

…I began my short time with the Volvo too nervous to use some features. By the end, I was confident that the car made me safer. Now that I’m back to driving a nearly decade-old Toyota, I miss the things that initially made me anxious.  Read more Hmmmm… Nice, but this all so confusing!  We’ve got to get the terminology correct.  No one knows what anyone is talking about.  Driverless cars (or Fully Self-driving cars as Waymo calls them) may still make him nervous, yet Self-driving cars (or Semi-Driverless cars as he also calls them) no longer make him nervous. 

What Waymo is developing (Fully Self-driving) is to the Volvo (Sem-Driverless) as Fully Drowsy is to Semi Asleep (I know.. that’s so-bad, but I’m so blue-in-the-face I can’t think. Please suggest a better analogy.  🙂
 Alain

Is your city getting ready for AVs? This is a guide to who’s doing what, where, and how

Oct 2017, “This Atlas is the world’s first inventory of how cities around the globe are preparing for the transition to a world with AVs. As cities seek to learn from one another, they can look to this map for up-to-date information on what’s underway worldwide….” Read more Hmmmm… Impressive, but, no Morgantown, no Greensboro, no Masdar, no Mountain View, no Phoenix, no Heathrowe, no Rivium, no…  ???

Rise of automated vehicles spells doom for taxis, buses in next 15 years: Report

Oct 27, “If you thought Uber was a disruptor, wait until automated vehicles (AVs) backed by smartphone apps for “mobility on demand” begin to eat into taxi and public bus services in the early 2020s, then begin to disrupt car ownership in the late 2020s….According to research by the Goldman Sachs Group, less than 10 per cent of travel in North America is taken in non-personally owned vehicles. However, report author Bern Grush – a systems engineer and futurist – says that by 2030, that percentage may climb to 25 per cent or higher as more people turn to robo-taxis, micro-transit and ride sharing. Why? Because automation will make these systems more reliable and far cheaper than today’s taxi and bus services — and even personal ownership, for an increasing number of travellers.’

…Grush encourages governments to prepare for this future by determining now how to influence the role AVs — especially fleets of shared AVs — will have in cities and towns.  The key to harnessing this technology is for governments and the private sector to work together to implement a regulatory system that will enhance mobility for all, Grush says. And that’s where his concept, the Harmonization Management System (HMS), comes into play. This system would provide the digital tools to incorporate a subsidy and pricing system, and optimize the distribution and social performance of commercial fleets..”  Read more Hmmmm… See also video Read the Report  The goal in managing the fleet(s) is to come up with the Pricing/Level-of-Service(LoS)/Marketing  that results in a propensity of Ride-Sharing. Using Average Vehicle Occupancy (AVO) (defined as: sum(real person trip miles) / sum(vehicle miles) as the measure, the desire is for each day’s AVO to be as large as possible. A reasonable goal/expectation of say doubling what it is today.  Even though today’s Ontario AVO for all vehicle trips is not much higher than 1.0 and likely well under 2.0 a doubling of the AVO would have a major impact.  Energy, pollution, GHG, noise, … would be cut in half.  Moreover, in order to achieve a daily 2.0 AVO, the peak-hour, peak-direction (where the real opportunity to share rides exists) AVOs would likely be triple or more of what they are now (else you don’t get to doubling for the entire day).  That means that 2 or more out of three vehicles in today’s congested road segments would disappear.  Viola…end of congestion!!!  However, this occurs only if Ride-Sharing is embraced and attained 🙂; which may not be easy 🙁.  Alain 

Amazon’s Latest Way Into Your Life Is Through the Front Door

N. Wingfield, Oct 25, “For many online shoppers, packages often linger for distressingly long hours outside their homes, where they can be stolen or soaked by rain. Now, if customers give it permission, Amazon’s couriers will unlock the front doors and drop packages inside when no one is home.  What could possibly go wrong?

The head spins with the opportunities for mischief in letting a stranger into an empty home. There are risks for couriers too — whether it’s an attacking dog or an escaping cat. To allay these concerns, Amazon is asking customers to trust it —…
… Still, he predicted that the strangeness of allowing companies like Latch and Amazon to unlock front doors will go away as customers get more accustomed to the services, in the same way they got more comfortable stepping into a stranger’s car they had summoned with Uber or Lyft.”   Read more Hmmmm… maybe ride-sharing with strangers in Driverless cars isn’t so strange and will be tolerated in return to a very affordable high-quality level-of-service.  Alain

Why the #MeToo movement is a public transportation issue

M. Powers, Oct 20, “A man pressing his body too close on a crowded train. A stranger sitting across the center aisle of a bus, whispering obscenities. A group of men standing at a bus stop, freely sharing their thoughts about a woman waiting a few feet away.

As women around the United States and across the world share their experiences with sexual harassment and assault as part of the “#MeToo” hashtag campaign, a theme is emerging. Many of these experiences take place on public transit.

…Despite the prevalence of public awareness campaigns, Loukaitou-Sideris said transit agencies and transportation planners don’t take the problem of harassment seriously enough….”  Read more Hmmmm… Shame on them.  All of this is UNACCEPTABLE and MUST stop.  Men have to start behaving, else forget about any hope to have ride-sharing aTaxis.  What is the #MeToo in elevators?  Alain

Delphi Reaches Agreement to Acquire nuTonomy

Press release, Oct. 24, “Delphi Automotive PLC (NYSE: DLPH) announced today that it has signed an agreement to acquire nuTonomy, Inc. for an upfront purchase price of $400 million and earn-outs totaling approximately $50 million.  The transaction brings together the leading start-up and Tier 1 in autonomous driving (AD) and further accelerates Delphi’s commercialization of AD and Automated Mobility on-Demand (AMoD) solutions for automakers and new mobility customers worldwide….”  Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Karl and Emilo! Alain

Chipmaker Nvidia’s CEO sees fully autonomous cars within 4 years

Staff, Oct 26, ” Nvidia Corp chief executive Jensen Huang said on Thursday artificial intelligence would enable fully automated cars within 4 years, but sought to tamp down expectations for a surge in demand for its chips from cryptocurrency miners….”…How long it takes for the vast majority of cars on the road to become that, it really just depends,” Huang told media…“Revenue for us in crypto is over $100 million a quarter. For us, it’s a small percentage… It’s obviously not a target market,” Huang said….” Read more Hmmmm… All good news here (crypto is BS and Driverless is real), but I can’t resist thinking that Driverless is getting to be like “Limitless renewable energy from nuclear fusion has been “30 years away” for several decades,…“.  4 years ago Google said the same thing. (But the year has 2 more months to go! 🙂 ) Alain

GM is already preparing to launch its fourth generation of self-driving cars

M. DeBord, Oct. 24, “… s CEO Mary Barra explained on a conference call with analysts after earnings were announced, “GM and Cruise Automation recently deployed our latest generation self-driving electric test vehicle.”  She added. “We believe it will meet the redundancy and safety requirements necessary to operate without a driver. It is our third generation of AV technology in just 14 months.”

The third-generation isn’t going to be around that long, however. In response to a question from Morgan Stanley analysts Adam Jonas, Barra said that “we’re working on our fourth generation, that’s where our focus is right now.”…”  Read more Hmmmm… We now have ‘Generations’ of “Levels’ of automation”.  Is anyone not confused?  Does Wall Street really love confusion (or is it lipstick on a pig) ?  Alain

Why Blas is wrong to fight self-driving cars

N. Gelinas, Oct 22, “…New York has kept deaths down — and the mayor does deserve credit for his Vision Zero plan. But we’re nowhere near zero: as of Aug. 30, 140 people died this year, compared to 159 by August last year.
…Yes, it would be nice if Cuomo and de Blasio got along in fixing New York’s streets. And lots could go wrong with driverless cars. There’s the potential for (more) congestion if it makes taking a cab even cheaper.

For now, though, don’t be too afraid of the future; be more afraid of the roads today. ”  Read more Hmmmm… Well said!  ( and this is the Post  ) Alain

Jet-makers are preparing for a world with on-demand, pilotless air taxis

A. Gregg, Oct 19, “Years after Detroit’s auto companies joined the race to develop self-driving cars, the world’s biggest plane-makers now say they see a coming revolution in autonomous, on-demand flight.  Chicago-based aerospace manufacturer Boeing has been stepping up its investment in the technologies that enable autonomous flight in recent months…” Read more Hmmmm… A while ago I postulated the situation in which Pilotless airplanes might use all of the many small airports dispersed throughout the US to provide affordable on-demand air services between these many diverse places.  This could be an enormously enhanced mobility opportunity. 

Think about it:  Current air services are actually worse that the worse public transit services.  Service is offered between what is really a very few major airports that each have a “last 50, or even 100 mile access challenge”; has frequencies of ” a couple of times a day” except for a hand-full of markets; require you to show up at least an hour before the “bus” comes; sardines you into a narrow chair,  and then makes you transfer to another “crowded bus” in “Charlotte”, the transfer time measured in hours.  NO public transit service is that bad!   

The reason it is that bad is because you need lots of people on each plane to each pitch in to pay for the pilots (why are there 2???), and the flight attendants (why are there so many???) (and, i know, the cost of the fuel because drag goes up as V-cubed and amortizing the cap-cost is a challenge.  But the labor charge is still substantial). 

Now consider small planes, traveling on-demand between small airports no more than 10 miles or so access challenged with no pilot nor flight attendants, needing just a few ride-sharing passengers who have somewhat common travel plans.  Revolutionary!?  Alain

Sony’s New Autonomous Car Camera Sees Road Signs at 160 Meters

Oct 23, “The new $90 IMX324 has an effective resolution of only 7.42 megapixels, which sounds small compared to your smartphone camera. But with about three times the vertical resolution of most car camera sensors, it packs a punch. It can see road signs from 160 meters away, has low-light sensitivity that allows it to see pedestrians in dark situations, and offers a trick that captures dark sections at high sensitivity but bright sections at high resolution in order to max out image recognition. The image above shows how much sharper the new tech than its predecessor from the same distance…”  Read more Hmmmm… May be able to do just fine with cameras alone.  We do just fine with just our eyes (as long as we don’t behave like jerks and pay attention.) Alain

Russian autonomous vehicle has been presented at Frankfurt Motor Show 2017

Sept 16, “The developer of Volgabus project: Bakulin Motors Group has presented the first Russian autonomous vehicle Matryoshka at Frankfurt Motor Show. The unmanned Matryoshka system allows the realisation of radically new models of transport services, such as transportation of passengers at the expense of the host, autonomous taxis, car sharing etc…” Read more Hmmmm… Has Russia narrowed “the AV Gap”? 🙂 Alain


Recent PodCasts

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 8

F. Fishkin, Oct 19, Episode 8 “…the latest jump in vehicle deaths in the U.S. Tech is distracting more drivers, but the right tech can turn things around. And there’s more from Waymo, Tesla, Apple, GM and the plans to test self driving cars in Manhattan.”

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 7

F. Fishkin, Oct 12, Episode 7. “…. California to allow completely driverless vehicle testing, advances in Greenville County, South Carolina and Australia. Is public ready? Many Tesla owners are, while Intel hires LeBron and Waymo partners with MADD to push the technology forward.”


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

TESLA’S SECRET SECOND FLOOR

G. Reichow, Oct 18,  “While working at Tesla, I always enjoyed talking to people after they finished a factory tour. As much as they raved about the amazing automation, gigantic presses, and hundreds of robots, the reality was they only saw half of the actual manufacturing that was taking place in the building. Unknown to most visitors, the factory’s “secret” second floor built many of Tesla’s battery, power electronics, and drive-train systems. It was home to some of the most advanced manufacturing and automation systems in the company. Some of the robots moved at such high speeds that their arms needed to be built from carbon fiber instead of steel.

Though it was obvious why we were building the systems at the heart of our product, such as the battery and motors, many people had difficulty understanding why we manufactured high-voltage cables, displays, fuses, and other smaller systems. Had we spent too much time inhaling the “we know better” fumes of Silicon Valley? Why take on the madness of not only starting a new car company but also making it more vertically integrated than any car company since the heyday of the Ford Rouge plant in the late 1920s?

…For too long now, a fear of building new hardware companies has gripped enterprises and entrepreneurs. To solve many important problems, you need to touch the physical world. Disease, energy, infrastructure, mobility, and other complex challenges require multidisciplinary solutions that include hardware. We need bold founders to tackle these important problems. The time has come for us to build things again—and recapture the knowledge and competitive advantage it creates for our businesses and communities.  Read more Hmmmm… Food for thought.  Alain

Tech Giants Are Paying Huge Salaries for Scarce A.I. Talent

C. Metz, Oct 22, “…Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.   Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them….”  Read more Hmmmm… What must a professor be worth??  Not so much :-

Where Internet Orders Mean Real Jobs, and New Life for Communities

N. Kitroeff, Oct 22, “… As shopping has shifted from conventional stores to online marketplaces, many retail workers have been left in the cold, but Ms. Gaugler is coming out ahead. Sellers like Zulily, Amazon and Walmart are competing to get goods to the buyer’s doorstep as quickly as possible, giving rise to a constellation of vast warehouses that have fueled a boom for workers without college degrees and breathed new life into pockets of the country that had fallen economically behind….”  Read more Hmmmm… Change does create opportunities for all.  Alain


On the More Technical Side

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



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


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

Autonomous car companies report getting rear-ended in most crashes, blame driver error

A. Martyn, Oct 20, “Drivers have a tendency to rear end self-driving cars on the road, according to early data from tests underway in California…. A total of 19 crashes involving self-driving cars  have been reported to the state DMV in 2017,… Dr. Phil Koopman, a software engineer and Carnegie Mellon professor who works as a consultant for self-driving car companies, says it’s not that simple. He speculates that people may be prone to rear-ending autonomous cars because the “robots” powering the cars don’t quite mimic the behavior of human drivers. …   Read more Hmmmm… The more likely explanation is that the rear-enders are really par for the course and the spread is because: the AV technology (and competent & diligent “test engineers”) has (have) precluded a similar number of rear-enders that would have been the fault of the AVs.  What is really important is that the score on crashed so far in 2017 is: 0 (fault of AVs) and 19 (fault of non AVs) whose best “dog ate my homework” excuse is printed above.  C’Mon Man! SmartDrivingCars are actually be delivering fewer crashes.  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:

Sunday, October 22 , 2017

Automotive Industry: The Big Bang – the Second Coming … could it even be the next Amazon?

J. Murphy, Oct 18, “Auto industry’s identity crisis: a need for speed, ease, cost.  Given all the hype surrounding the automotive industry and incremental technological developments (electrification, autonomy, and connectivity), that we believe are important interim steps, we believe some have lost sight of the industry’s fundamental purpose: safely transporting people (goods) from A to B in the fastest manner possible. The next Big Bang(s), in our view, will be the convergence of all of the ongoing and new technological developments that will materially increase the value of a vehicle/driving experience to the consumer (and by extension value to companies and shareholders), including: 1) Increased efficiency of travel; 2) Autonomous ride/drive on demand (marginal economic positive); and 3) Increased speed of travel (material economic stimulus).
… the revenue/profit for OEMs or technology companies in this evolution may be far-dated…. we believe more companies will attempt in the nearterm, even before commercialization, to ring-fence and monetize “future auto” businesses, separate traditional businesses, or even sell technology/assets.
…We believe the best-positioned companies are those with vertically integrated business models, offering vehicle connectivity, autonomous driving capabilities (likely on electrified vehicle platforms), and a user interfaces for ride-sharing/hailing applications, which will then enable them to operate vehicle fleets and generate a recurring stream of revenue/profits. However, the most critical aspect and barrier to entry appears to be the manufacturing expertise to build production-ready models for deployment. For this reason, there is actually a competitive moat around the OEMs that we think provides them with an advantage in this evolutionary process.
…In this report, we identify a number of sectors within (suppliers, distribution, etc.) and outside of the auto industry (real estate, energy, other transportation, etc.) that may be disrupted in the Big Bang. However, in our view, distribution networks may be most susceptible to a potential shock if fully autonomous, connected, high speed mobility on demand was offered at a low cost, which may represent one of the few cases in which a company like Amazon may be a disrupted entity (barring its own evolution).  Read more Hmmmm… Fascinating!!  In-depth analysis of the fundamental economic forces at play in this mobility r-evolution.  A lot to digest here!  Alain

Automated Driving Systems Public Workshop Readout

Washington DC, Oct 20, “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is committed to the safe deployment of automated vehicles. NHTSA hosted a public workshop today to get feedback on the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments discussed in the Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety guidance released last month.    …The workshop , overall, was a productive, open forum, where manufacturers, suppliers, safety advocates, and other entities shared the types of information that could be made available, and opportunities for making that information public. There were over 100 attendees present, and many more who participated via a LIVE Webcast. A full transcript will be available in the coming weeks.  ” Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Nat, I agree that it was productive.  The comments the by Global Automakers, AAMVA, MEMA Waymo and AAM were positive and helpful. 

The opening remarks by NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King: “… At DOT and NHTSA, of course, our central focus is always on safety. NHTSA’s mission remains to help Americans drive, ride and walk safely…” Given that Safety is central, It is unfortunate that Automated Driving systems 2.0 skips over ‘Safe-driving‘ (ADAS or Level1/2 or whatever) and jumps right into Self-driving (Level 3/4/5 or whatever) to address Safety.  Essentially all of the Automated Vehicle Safety achievements (crash avoidance, lane departure avoidance, etc..) will be achieved by Safe-driving vehicles that always over-ride our failures and do the right thing even if they don’t let us take our hands off the wheel or feet off the pedals.  These systems are beginning to be made available today and it is not an understatement to say that they don’t work as well as they should/could and there is essentially total confusion in the marketplace/showroom about the capabilities/consumer-expectations about these systems.  NHTSA’s  5-Star Safety Ratings program doesn’t even consider any of these systems.  Since ‘Safe-driving‘ has the greatest and nearest term potential impact on Safety, why is it NOT part of this AV program?  These systems are being tested; shouldn’t NHTSA be calling for a Self-assessment of these systems.  Safe-driving systems are beginning to be here now and I contend the public is totally confused. 

“…Public trust is essential to the advancement of automated technology….”  I wholeheartedly agree!! That trust needs to be earned and its first exposure is mixed. Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control are automated systems that have earned public trust event though they automatically detect erroneous driver behavior and automatically over-ride those actions in order to do the best that they can to keep the driver safe.  But what about these Safe-driving (Level 1/2, …) systems.  These are automated systems focused on Safety, yet NHTSA hasn’t even bothered to include any of these systems in its 5-Star Safety Ratings programThe public is totally confused about what is being offered and there seems to be no public trust evernthough these systems are the very foundations of Self-driving and Driverless systems.  It is necessary that Safety and public trust be established first in Safe-driving systems.  This forms the basis on which to expand that public trust to the  downstream systems that deliver other societal benefits, comfort & convenience for Self-driving and affordable mobility for all for Driverless, while providing very little, if any incremental Safety benefits over Safe-driving technology.  So… NHTSA’s 1st order of business should be to ensure that Safe-driving technology actually works and is valued by car buyers.

A substantial part of the problem here is that the terminology that is being used is totally confusing.  NHTSA’s decision to give up on its original 4-Level nomenclature was good, they just chose to adopt an even worse one, SAE’s.  It focuses entirely on the details of the technology, rather than on the value that is to be derived from the technology.  The Levels invoke no fundamental cognitive relationships; nothing that would inspire…”tell me more”. Thus, engineers might eventually pay attention long enough to absorb the more than 7+/-2 chunks of cognitive information needed to understand the differences in the “Levels”.   Unfortunately, corporate buyers, journalists, planning, policy and/or legislative officials and the general public/consumers remain totally confused. 

I’ve suggested three categories: Safe-driving…, Self-driving… and Driverless…  Not necessarily perfect, because the leader of Driverless chose long ago (~8 years) to call itself Self-driving.  Unfortunately, the term Self-driving with human supervision, reinforces the auto industry’s 100-year old business model of selling personal comfort and convenience to consumers.  The auto industry doesn’t bother emphasizing the partial nature of its Self-driving.  Waymo has chosen to add the  prefix “Fully” in an effort to differentiate itself as really Driverless that is  fundamentally attractive to a different business model focused on Fleets delivering mobility services to a public that doesn’t own cars. But few are aware of the enormous difference implied by the the existence of the prefix.   

In its efforts to engender public trust, NHTSA needs to rethink what it calls these things.  An opportunity exists in the re-framing of its Star Ratings, Or maybe,  this crash-avoidance technology is so different from the crash-mitigation technology that is NHTSA’s sweet-spot, that a new agency or a new division of NHTSA should be created to provide the crash-avoidance safety oversight.  Alain

 

Sunday, October 15 , 2017

Proposed Driverless Testing and Deployment Regulations – Released October 11, 2017

 Rulemaking Actions, Oct 1The following 3 PDFs are important:
1. Autonomous Vehicles Notice of Modification (PDF)  Act

2. Autonomous Vehicles Statement of Reasons (PDF)  Act

3. Autonomous Vehicles 15 Day Express Terms (PDF)   Act  Hmmmm..This is all about Driverless!  Thank you California, and especially Dr. Bernard Soriano, for leading this noble effort and for continuing to distinguish this technology from Self-driving and all of the various other names seemingly meant to confuse.  Alain

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

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

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

Robot cars — with no human driver — could hit California roads next year

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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