http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.4-Ride-Share-022417
4th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, February 24, 2017

SJGoogle’s Waze Plans Expansion of Ride-Sharing Service

 J. Nicas, Feb 22, " Google is planning to dramatically expand a carpool service on its popular navigation app Waze, setting the tech giant on a collision course with the ride-sharing industry.

Google is targeting launches of its Waze carpool service in several U.S. cities and Latin America over the next several months after testing in Israel and the San Francisco Bay Area met expectations, Waze chief Noam Bardin said in an interview.

The growth of Waze’s carpool service puts Alphabet Inc.’s Google more directly in competition with Uber Technologies Inc., the startup that pioneered the ride-sharing industry, growing to a juggernaut with a $68 billion valuation. Google and Uber were once allies, but they are increasingly becoming rivals in areas such as mapping and self-driving cars.

“Can we get the average person on his way to work to pick someone up and drop them off once in a while? That’s the biggest challenge,” Mr. Bardin said…." Read more  Hmmm…That is the $64,000 question.  One thing is certain…  the App will need to be super simple on both ends (rider and ridee) and totally non-sketchy.  The key is to find other correlations besides going between the same places at about the same time that would make the ride-share non-sketchy.  Alain

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

M. Bergen, Feb 23, "It took Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies Inc. allegedly did it in nine months.
Waymo claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that was possible because a former employee stole the designs and technology and started a new company….Anthony Levandowski, a former manager at Waymo, in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary and confidential files, including the lidar circuit board designs, according to the complaint. He also allegedly created a domain name for his new company and confided in some of his Waymo colleagues of plans to “replicate” its technology for a competitor…." Read more   Hmmm…This is very serious.  So unfortunate.  🙁   Alain

Delivering the first autonomous vehicle on public roads without stewar

Press Release, Feb 20, "From 2018 2getthere’s autonomous ParkShuttle in the city of Capelle aan den IJssel will be transformed in the world’s first autonomous system operating on public roads without safety driver or steward. This world first, follows the first autonomous vehicle pilot (Schiphol Airport, 1997), the first urban autonomous vehicle application (Capelle aan den IJssel, 1999), the first mixed traffic demonstration with an autonomous vehicle (Delft, 2004) and the world’s first Personal Rapid Transit system (Masdar City, 2010).  Last November the Metropolitan region Rotterdam The Hague (MRDH) announced the extension of the current operating concession of Connexxion through 2018. The city of Capelle aan den IJssel and 2getthere at that time already expressed their ambition to renew the system and extend the route using existing public roads. This ambition is now becoming reality with help of an investment of 4,25 million Euro on behalf of the ‘Verkeersonderneming Rotterdam’, a public-private-partnership between the city of Rotterdam, MRDH, the ministry of Infrastructure and the Port of Rotterdam…."   Read more  Hmmmm…While it hasn’t happened yet, it is scheduled to happen and this schedule has substance and is not simply a publicity stunt.  Congratulations Robert!  Alain

  Tesla Offering Customized Auto Insurance to Customers in Asia

Feb 23, "…Adam Jonas asked: “On insurance, if your cars prove to be as much as 90 percent safer than other cars on a per-mile basis – as I think you’ve alluded as a reasonable target medium-term – and if insurance companies only offer your customers, say, a piddling 5 percent discount versus a comparably priced car, would you consider offering a service or product like P&C insurance directly to Tesla owners from your own platform and your own stores?” … Great question, Adam!

Jon McNeill, Tesla’s president of global sales and service, told an analyst that “the majority of Tesla cars are sold [in Asia] with an insurance product that is customized to Tesla.”   “It takes into account not only the Autopilot safety features, but also the maintenance cost of the car,” McNeill said. “So, it’s our vision in the future that we’ll be able to offer a single price for the car – maintenance, and insurance – in a really compelling offering for the consumer. And we’re currently doing that today.” Read more  Hmmmm…Perfect answer.  Is insurance awake??? Alain

Self-Driving Cars Might Need Standards, but Whose?

J. Quain, Feb 23, "The PC revolution, the internet boom, the smartphone economy — all were propelled along by a common set of technological standards. So will a standard platform or operating system be necessary to get autonomous cars rolling, too?…Riding in Hyundai’s self-driving Ioniq, for example, is like taking a Sunday drive with your grandmother. The car is extremely adept at staying squarely in its lane without ping-ponging back and forth, but it is also cautious in the extreme, stopping nine feet short of crosswalks and stubbornly refusing to go forward if a pedestrian looks poised to step off the sidewalk. It is behavior that can ignite road rage in nearby human drivers.
By comparison, Delphi’s test car, which uses an Intel computing platform installed in an Audi Q5, is more aggressive. It can easily merge into highway traffic and negotiate complex intersections. However, it treats pedestrians with less deference, taking right-hand corners more quickly — even though pedestrians may be contemplating entering the crosswalk… Read more  Hmmmm…Basic Capitalism with little government intervention  🙂 Alain

Ford’s dozing engineers side with Google in full autonomy push

K. Naughton, Feb 20, "…“Level 3 may turn out to be a myth,” Waymo CEO John Krafcik said of autonomous cars that require human intervention. “Perhaps it’s just not worth doing.”  Ford and Waymo’s views show there’s a rift developing among the creators of autonomous cars over what role — if any — humans should play when cars begin driving themselves. Most automakers believe that, at least initially, people must supplant the robot to avoid crashes in complex situations. Others contend that asking an inattentive human to respond in seconds to a life-or-death situation is a recipe for disaster…"  Read more  Hmmmm…Since when have we all be trained  "to avoid crashes in complex situations" We aren’t SuperHeros.  The whole focus of the automation is to avoid getting into complex situations in the first place and to degrade/fail safely in the rare instances.   Alain

When driverless cars call for backup:  Suppliers develop redundant systems for safety 

D. Sedgewick, Feb 18, "So engineers are doing the next best thing: developing backup systems for the brakes, steering, sensors and computer chips that guide a self-driving vehicle.

The idea is to give vehicles secondary systems that will allow them to safely pull over in case of a catastrophic equipment failure. But to keep a lid on redundant costs, suppliers are developing components that can be programmed to handle more than one function.." Read more  Hmmmm…Right-on!  Alain

  GM is reportedly deploying a fleet of thousands of autonomous Bolt EV with Lyft as soon as next year

F. Lambert, Feb 19, "…“General Motors Co plans to deploy thousands of self-driving electric cars in test fleets in partnership with ride-sharing affiliate Lyft Inc, beginning in 2018, two sources familiar with the automaker’s plans said this week.”  GM invested $500 million in Lyft just over a year ago and has said in the past that self-driving vehicle deployment would start with the ride-sharing service…"   Read more  Hmmmm…It will be getting very interesting.  Alain

 Auto Insurance Voices Caution As Self-Driving Cars Near

Sentieo, Feb 21, "We analyzed over 9 million financial documents, covering more than 10,000 companies across the globe, for mentions of the self-driving car theme. We found that interest in self-driving cars has grown 8.5x in the past two years, but suspect that there is much more interest to come….

Swiss Re, a Swiss reinsurer, has regularly mentioned self-driving cars as a major risk since a 2013. It sees a substantial reduction in the growth of the car insurance market, and argues that diversification will be key to survival. From their 2015 annual report: “Autonomous cars […] are […] a highly disruptive technology. […]Swiss Re held various events since 2013 with] experts from car manufacturing and technology, safety and legal specialists. […] this will present many new challenges to the way we do business and how we view and manage risk, retail insurance and liability. […] 1. Autonomous cars will improve safety; 2. The sharing economy will drive autonomous car adoption; 3. They are more climate-friendly and can reduce energy reliance; 4. Consumers will begin to embrace the technology; 5. Regulation and the law will adapt, slowly; 6. Cyber risk will increase; and 7. Autonomous cars will affect liability and tort cases. Although it is uncertain how legal and regulatory issues will play out, it is clear that our role as re/insurers will change considerably. Many of these changes will also create new opportunities for businesses who quickly adapt and diversify their products and services so as to target new market segments.”…Read more  Hmmmm…I’m pleased that at least Swiss Re believes…"Many of these changes will also create new opportunities for businesses who quickly adapt…" 🙂  Alain

Mobileye installs anti-crash tech on NYC cars

S. Solomon, Feb 19, "…From this month, 4,500 for-hire vehicles in New York City will feature Mobileye’s vision sensors and technologies to identify potential dangerous scenarios in real time, and alert drivers about impending collisions, giving them time to react, Mobileye said in a statement…" Read more  Hmmmm…Unfortunately these are just warning as opposed to doing.  Hopefully their false-positives won’t cause New Yorkers to turn them off.  Alain


Reader’s Comments..

with respect to my comment in the previous issue:

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…  Steffen Bartschat wrote: The 6th of the 8 NSC ‘callings’ on a  road to zero deaths  is indeed:

From Doug Gettman… "The NSC release does have some discussion of automated braking, blind spot warning, etc. electronic warning systems "…Standardize and accelerate into the fleet automotive safety technologies with life-saving potential, including blind-spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and adaptive headlights…"  Furthermore, NSC’s Position/Policy Statement on Automotive Safety Technology is strong; however, I firmly believe that it should be much stronger.  It should be #1 on their list and it should go beyond ‘Warnings" and "Taking partial control" to taking Full control, if necessary, "…to avoid or lessen the severity of crashes if a driver does not respond quickly enough." But why the timidity here???  Alain

From Amitai Bin-Nun… "you say about ADAS technologies that they have “a very attractive ROI”. Can you point me to any literature on this?…

 

Trucks are similar because the little liability data that I’ve been able to find is similar to that of buses, if not even higher.

 

For cars one needs to look at the cost of auto insurance about 80% goes to pay liabilities.  But insurance only pays about 50% of the cash cost of crashes ( of which about 75% is eaten by individuals through deductibles and uncoverables) and NHTSA has estimated that the societal costs of crashes is twice the cash costs.

Given that Tesla data shows that their ACA reduces crashes by 40% and that component of AutoPilot costs ~$1000.  And that you pay $1000 for auto insurance, then

Expected liability w/o ACA is $800

Reduction by 40% saves insurer $320/yr.  RoI is a little over 3 years for the insurer

The car owner saves $240/yr in self insurance dollars. (RoI) a little over 4 years 

But if you add the pain and suffering, (which is borne by the individual) that amounts to 40% of 2x$800 which is $640/ yr of pain and suffering. Or an RoI of less than 2 years.  

For the individual in total it is $960/yr so the RoI is basically 1year.

If you are a corporation that actual suffers the real & societal cost if one of its employees is involved in a crash then the RoI for a corporation (or any responsible entity that can’t run away from its liabilities) is really 1 year.  

And if they largely self-insure then the savings is $1,200/yr and the RoI is less than one year!!! 

 

Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention


On the More Technical Side

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



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

 


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

 


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


 

Recent Highlights of:

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, February 10, 2017

  Regulatory Chill May Pivot Connected Vehicle Tech’s Course

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

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

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Autonomous Vehicles Meet Human Drivers: Traffic Safety Issues for States

J. Hedlund, Feb 2017Fully autonomous vehicles – cars and trucks that can drive themselves, without a human
at the controls – are coming soon. In fact, they already are on the road. Yes! …Autonomous vehicles will change our lives in many ways. Yes! … But all vehicles on the road will not be autonomous for a very long time, perhaps never.  Until then, autonomous vehicles must share the road with vehicles driven by humans. Yes! How can this be done safely? States are responsible for safety on the roads – for licensing drivers, registering vehicles, and establishing and enforcing traffic laws. So states must take the lead in dealing with the many traffic safety issues that a mix of driver-operated and autonomous vehicles will bring. Yes! In particular, states should help educate the public about the benefits that autonomous vehicles will bring and the risks that they may present, educate drivers of semi-autonomous vehicles about their driving responsibilities, and educate all drivers about how to share the road safely with autonomous vehicles. Yes! This report should help states understand and address these issues. It’s written for state Departments of Transportation (DOTs), Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs), and State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs)….Great!

The public’s views on new technology can change quickly. AVs today may well be similar to automobiles a century ago or smart phones only 10 years ago: a new technology with a few ardent supporters and many skeptics initially but which quickly became both acceptable and highly desirable. As Henry Ford is purported to have said regarding automobiles (probably incorrectly), “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Also, today’s teenagers are more accepting of AVs: in the Kelley Blue Book survey, 48% of respondents age 12-15 said they would be comfortable riding in an AV compared to 36% of all respondents….Yes!

Laws or regulations formed in haste may hinder rather than help AV testing and implementation. (p17) Yes! " Read more  Hmmm… This is a very well written and well referenced report that is well balanced and properly presents the challenges.  Some modest suggestions are: Abandon the SAE/NHTSA Levels and go with 3 types/classes/levels: Safe-Driving, Self-driving and Driverless.   Also, this is not the first technological change that DMVs have faced.  The advent of turn signals changed driver testing.  Self-driving is really not that much different.  DMVs could start by addressing cruise control in that they could promote & educate on the best use of cruise control.  By the way, I am not aware of a single sign along any highway encouraging/promoting/prohibiting the use of cruise control.  DMVs could start with that since it really is not much different that Self-driving.  Alain

Friday, January 27, 2017

Serving the Nation’s Personal Mobility Needs with the Casual Sharing of autonomousTaxis & Today’s Urban Rail, Amtrak and Air Transport Systems

A. Kornhauser, Jan 14, "Orf467F16 Final Project Symposium quantifying implications of such a Nation-wide mobility system on Average Vehicle Occupancy (AVO), energy, environment and congestion, including estimates of fleet size, needed empty vehicle repositioning, and ridership implications on existing rail transit systems (west, east, NYC) and Amtrak of a system that would efficiently and effectively perform their ‘1st mile’/’last-mile’ mobility needs. Read more  Hmmm… Now linked are 1st Drafts of the chapters and the powerPoint summaries of these elements.  Final Report should be available by early February.  The major finding is, nationwide there exists sufficient casual ridesharing potential that a well–managed  Nationwide Fleet of about 30M aTaxis (in conjunction with the existing air, Amtrak and Urban fixed-rail systems)  could serve the vehicular mobility needs of the whole nation with VMT 40% less than today’s automobiles while providing a Level-of-Service (LoS) largely equivalent and in many ways superior than is delivered by the personal automobile today.  Also interesting are the findings as to the substantial increased patronage opportunities available to Amtrak and each of the fixed rail transit systems around the country because the aTaxis solve the ‘1st and last mile’ problem.  While all of this is extremely good news, the challenging news is that since all of these fixed rail systems currently lose money on each passenger served, the additional patronage would likely mean that they’ll lose even more money in the future. 🙁  Alain 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fiscal Year 2016 SRD Program Grant Selections

Public Announcement, Jan 22: "Pierce Transit will receive $1,664,894 to deploy buses equipped with collision avoidance warning systems or automatic braking features. The objective of this project is to deploy and demonstrate collision avoidance technology in partnership with the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), a collaborative organization of 25 Washington public transit agencies that combine their resources to provide and purchase insurance coverage, manage claims and litigation, and receive risk management and training. Pierce Transit will work with WSTIP to accurately determine the business case for investing in these technologies." Read moreHmmm… Finally!! More than 3 years since Lou Sanders of APTA, Jerome Lutin and I first proposed to FTA to do such a thing for the benefit of the entire bus transit industry (which FTA deemed as non-worthy) the FTA has finally turned around and jumped on-board.  The unfortunate news: we lost 3 years.  The fortunate news: the process of substantially reducing bus crashes is finally underway thanks to the hard work in the interim by Jerome Lutin and Jerry Spears (formerly of WSTIP).  This and the good news below from Tesla may finally enlighten the insurance industry to play a leadership role in the market adoption of SafeDrivingCars/Buses/Trucks.  Congratulations Jerome & Jerry!  Alain

ODI (Office of Defects Investigation) Findings on Tesla AEB & AutoPilot

(Above link should work) Jan 19, "… Summary: …     NHTSA’s examination did not identify any defects in the design or performance of the AEB or Autopilot  systems of the subject vehicles nor any incidents in which the systems did not perform as designed.  AEB systems used in the  automotive industry through MY 2016 are rear-end collision avoidance technologies that are not designed to reliably  perform in all crash modes, including crossing path collisions.  The Autopilot system is an Advanced Driver Assistance  System (ADAS) that requires the continual and full attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment and be prepared to take action to avoid crashes.  Tesla’s design included a hands-on the steering wheel system for monitoring driver engagement…
…  ODI analyzed data from crashes of Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles involving airbag deployments that occurred while operating in, or within 15 seconds of transitioning from, Autopilot mode. Some crashes involved impacts from other vehicles striking the Tesla from various directions with little to no warning to the Tesla driver.  Other crashes involved scenarios known to be outside of the state-of-technology for current-generation Level 1 or 2 systems, such as cut-ins, cut-outs and crossing path collisions…. 
…The Florida fatal crash appears to have involved a period of extended distraction (at least 7 seconds)…"
.Hmmm… nothing else is written about this nor is a basis given for  the ‘at least 7 seconds’.  Possibly the most important information revealed in this summary is Figure 11, p11: "…  Figure 11 shows the rates calculated by ODI for airbag deployment crashes in the subject Tesla vehicles before and after Autosteer installation.  The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation…
…A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted.  Accordingly, this
investigation is closed. "  Read more  Hmmm… WOW!!! . Every word of this Finding is worth reading.  It basically exonerates Tesla, states that AEBs (Automated Emergency Braking) systems don’t really work and aren’t designed to work in some scenarios (straight crossing path (SCP) and left turn across path (LTAP), see p 2,3).  …which suggests, to me, that DoT/NHTSA should be placing substantial efforts on making these systems really work in more scenarios.  And… there is the solid data that ‘AutoSteer" reduced Tesla crashes by almost 40%!!! WOW!! Will Insurance now finally get on-board and lead?  Alai

Friday, January 13, 2017

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Announces New Federal Committee on Automation

News, Jan 10, "…U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I’m proud to announce this new automation committee, and look forward to seeing its members advance life-saving innovations while boosting our economy and making our transportation network more fair, reliable, and efficient.”… Read more Hmmm… Excellent!!! Congratulations Chris, Bryant, Missy and everyone else.  Alain

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Volume 4, Issue 3

M. Sena, Jan. 5, "In This Issue:
Report from Dispatch Central 1 "…While the 12 million people in the EU who earn their livings directly from the automotive industry are delighted by the news that car sales figures for Novem-ber were up significantly, and it looks like 2016 will be another banner year, there are people in governments doing everything in their power to make both building and owning motorized vehicles economically unviable…" Read more  Hmmm…Very interesting!

Autonomous Driving News Apple’s Letter to NHTSA 1 "…The Vehicle Safety Act requires companies to certify vehicles to the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) before first sale. But this law applies to new motor vehicles intended for sale to the public, and by implication, by companies that make and sell cars, not companies like Apple that may or may not intend to sell cars. Further, FAST Act2 specifically allows car makers, but not non-car makers, to test on public roads without requiring ex-emptions from FMVSS…Read more " Hmmm… Very interesting!

What Car Companies Are Doing 2 "…So Uber must have made Volvo a pretty sweet offer when it gets rid of all the drivers with their own cars and has its own fleet of driverless cars…Read more" Hmmm…Very interesting!

Reurbanization or Spreading the Sprawl 3 "…Where do you want to go? My chart below has two opposing scenarios. In the top scenario, we keep doing what we have been doing. In the bottom sce-nario, we try to match policies with desired results. You choose…Read more" Hmmm…Very interesting!
Automotive Navigation-The Future of Traffic Info 4  "…ROUTE GUIDANCE WITHOUT
traffic information is useless..Read more" Hmmm…Stop right there.  We’ve known that!  The connected world will not get here until most of road vehicles are part of what will be but a few competing fleets.  It is those  fleet owners/managers that will find it compelling to deploy connectedness throughout their own fleets. Any meaningful sharing of data between competing fleets is not in any future that I foresee. It may even violate anti-trust laws (Unless Putin takes over the world).   Alain
Musings of a Dispatcher – Civilis cogitationes 6 "…I did not see a lot of people cycling to their jobs when I was in Västerås in the early autumn of this year.  Like most places in Europe
and the U.S., when cars became affordable for people with even modest incomes—starting in the 50s in the U.S. and in the 60s in Europe—it was a delight for workers to get out of the rain and snow and into their own car. It’s the same today in emerging markets, especially China,.." Read more  Hmmm…Our only hope is "Driverless"!  Alain

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waymo’s 100 autonomous Chrysler minivans are here

J. Golson, Dec 19, "Chrysler has completed the 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans that will join the Waymo (née Google) fleet in early 2017. The vans, which are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software built in, are part of a partnership between Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Waymo that was announced earlier this year.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said last week that his company is not interested in “making better cars.” Instead, it wants to make “better drivers.”…"

Read more Hmmm…Nice that these vehicles are targeted to a ride-sharing market (more seating capacity and easier in&out than the Prius/Lexus/Bug.) 

However,  the quote by John Krafcik is VERY troubling.  To make "better drivers" all one needs is Automated Collision Avoidance systems (or what I’ve termed ‘Safe-driving cars’).  That is indeed a laudable goal; however, that goal can be reached with a lot less hardware and software than what is in these modified Pacificas (which have a conventional steering wheel, brake & throttle pedals and driver’s seat).  But Safe-driving cars aren’t helpful to the Steve Mahan’s of this world (or to the young, or the Ubers or enable the Modified Pacifica’s to offer inexpensive high-quality shared-ride on-demand mobility to all.   Most unfortunately, what all of the extra gizmos on the modified Pacificas enable is for the driver to be better able to consume Google Ads for part of his/her time trapped in this vehicle.  So a more honest quote might have been: it wants to make "better drivers who can better consume Google Ads."  No wonder Chris bailed!  🙁  Alain

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Google is spinning off its self-driving car program into a new company called Waymo

A. Hawkins, Dec 13, "Today, Google announced that it would be spinning off its six-year-old self-driving project into a standalone business called Waymo, which stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” according to John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company.
It was previously reported that Google would be dropping its plan to build its own vehicle without steering wheels and pedals, instead focusing on creating the self-driving technology that can be installed in third-party vehicles. Krafcik didn’t provide much clarity there, but did state definitively that the new company was still fully committed to fully autonomous vehicle technology.

“We are all in, 100 percent, on Level Four and Level Five fully driverless solutions,” he said.

Krafcik didn’t comment on a report in Bloomberg that Google would be starting its own ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler using the Italian car maker’s Pacifica minivans as its fleet of self-driving taxis. Google and FCA announced their collaboration earlier this year. Krafcik did confirm that the self-driving Pacificas were still in the build phase, but would hopefully be on the road for testing very soon.

It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build it’s own fleet of driverless cars, without steering wheels and pedals. That said, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”…Read more  Hmmm… Boy that is a lot of hedging.  If they are in the business of making better drivers, then all they need to do is to make Automated Collision Avoidance systems that actually work… avoid collisions (aka Safe-driving Cars).  That would make all drivers better drivers, but it wouldn’t do anything for non-drivers… the young, old, poor, blind, those under the influence, …  Has Google abandoned all of those folks and reverted to the ‘dark-side’?  Alain

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

 Why the driverless car industry is happy (so far) with Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary

R. Mitchell, Dec 6, "Silicon Valley voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, but companies working on driverless cars seem overjoyed with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.   Chao will wield great power over how driverless cars and other automated vehicles will be regulated — or not….Industry insiders say they don’t want Chao to ignore driverless car policy….

Instead, they hope to avoid a patchwork of differing and conflicting rules across the 50 states.   “This should be centralized,” said Alain L. Kornhauser, director of the transportation program at Princeton University and an autonomous vehicle expert, “but that doesn’t mean the states don’t play a part. It would be better if we had a common understanding….” Read more Hmmm… Yup! Alain

Sunday, November 20, 2016

  DSRC’s ‘Dead End,’ Says Qualcomm Exec

J, Yoshida, Nov 15, "…Qualcomm’s pending takeover of NXP Semiconductors isn’t making the path to V2X any clearer.

NXP remains a staunch advocate for DSRC-based V2X (as demonstrated via truck platooning on Munich roads last week during Electronica). Qualcomm, a leading voice and force behind the progress of the cellular standards, is sticking to its cellular radio technology-based V2X evolution…We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in… " Read more Hmmm…V2X is important, but primarily as a complement to vehicle-centered automated collision avoidance and not as a centralized orchestration of individual vehicles.  Finally seeing this as: "We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in…"  may bring some reality to V2X.  Alain

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

B. Grush, Oct. 2016, "Two contradictory stories about our transportation infrastructure are currently in circulation. One is that Ontario’s aging, inadequate and congested infrastructure is perennially unable to catch up with a growing and sprawling GTHA. The other is that vehicle automation will soon dramatically multiply current road capacity by enabling narrower lanes, shorter headways and coordinated streams of connected vehicles to pass through intersections without traffic signals to impede flow.
Since the premature forecast of peak car in 2008 and now the hype surrounding the automated vehicle, we are often told that we have enough road capacity; that shared robotic taxis will optimize our trips, reduce congestion, and largely eliminate the need for parking. This advice implies we need wait only a few short years to experience relief from our current infrastructure problems given by decades of under-investment in transportation infrastructure.

This is wishful thinking. Vehicle automation will give rise to two different emerging markets: semi-automated vehicles for household consumption and fully automated vehicles for public service such as robo-taxi and robo-transit. These two vehicle types will develop in parallel to serve different social markets. They will compete for both riders and infrastructure. The purpose of this report is to look at why and how government agencies and public interest groups can and should influence the preferred types and deployment of automated vehicles and the implication of related factors for planning…" Read more Hmmm…Bravo!  The Key Findings & Recommendations are excellent.  This is an excellent report (but it largely misses goods movement.)  Especially 5.1 (read ‘semi-autonomous’ as ‘Self-driving’ and ‘full-automation’ as ‘Driverless’.  My view:  Driverless may well be at the heals of Self-driving because it is a business play rather than a consumer play.  Driverless will be ordered by the hundreds or thousands rather than individually.)  and, of course Ch 10: Ownership (the business model) is more important than technology. Alain

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Alarming 10% Rise in Traffic Deaths in the First Half of 2016

D. Victor, Oct. 5,  "Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady climb….

The numbers were released on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of 2016 than in the first half of 2015, an increase of 3.3 percent….Officials have not identified a specific cause for the most recent increase… " Read moreHmmm…worst kept secret…Texting!!!  It is an epidemic and the way to address it begins with Automated Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS)…what is on the shelf today (if it only really worked), and a necessary foundation for Self-driving (which improves Quality-of-Life for some but increases VMT) and Driverless (which improves Quality-of-Life for all and decreases VMT).   Alain

Friday, September 23, 2016

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety.  (p5)

…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)

…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)

…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6)  Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY.  We all have recognized safety as a necessary   condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful.  (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition.  Alain

"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain

"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…"  Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain

"…2. Model State Policy (p7)   The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done.  Alain

"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…"   Hmmm… Excellent. Alain

"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…"  Hmmm… Yes. Alain

"…Note on “Levels of Automation”  There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. )  Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless.  While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly.  That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless".  Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today).  So autonomousTaxis are impossible.

Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking  (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected.   These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles).  I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work.  In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time.  This is not acceptable.  These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now.  It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.

"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7)  However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8)   . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)

In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected",  focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves.  Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety.   Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility. 

What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit.  NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines.  FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight.  Alain

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years.    At a news conference on Tuesday at the company’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said the company planned to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021….
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. …." Read morHmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service).  In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud".  The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud".  Think about it!  Alain

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Chenyi Chen PhD Dissertation , "…the key part of the thesis, a direct perception approach is proposed to drive a car in a highway environment. In this approach, an input image is mapped to a small number of key perception indicators that directly relate to the affordance of a road/traffic state for driving….."  Read more  Hmmm..FPO 10:00am, May 16 , 120 Sherrerd Hall, Establishing a foundation for image-based autonomous driving using DeepLearning Neural Networks trained in virtual environments. Very promising. Alain

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities

March 23 Hmmm… Watch the video of the Committee Meeting.  The testimony is Excellent and very compelling! Also see Self-Driving Minnesota Alain

Thursday, March 17, 2016

U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1.  Hmmm … Watch Video  especially at the 13:12 mark.  Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above!  Also see his TipRanks.  Alain


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