http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.9-ReleaseData-040317
9th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Monday, April 3, 2017

  Announcing: SmartDrivingCars Deployment/Commercialization/DeepDriving Summit;

May 17, 18
 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

Visit Landing Page for details.  http://summit.smartdrivingcar.com/   Alain

 

Uber Crash Shows Human Traits in Self-Driving Software

M. Bergen, Mar 29, "… Uber Crash Shows Human Traits in Self-Driving Software…In a statement to police, Patrick Murphy, an Uber employee in the car, said the Volvo SUV was traveling 38 miles per hour, a notch below the speed limit. He said the traffic signal turned yellow as the Uber vehicle entered the intersection. He then saw the Honda turning left, but "there was no time to react as there was a blind spot" created by traffic. The Honda hit Uber’s car, pushing it into a traffic pole and causing it to turn on its side. …Eyewitness accounts can often be unreliable, and other witnesses in the police report did not say that the Uber car was at fault — something the police agreed with. Still, Torres’s account raises the question of whether Uber’s self-driving sensors spotted the light turning yellow and, if so, whether it decided it could safely continue through the intersection….Self-driving cars have more often been criticized for driving too cautiously, slowing or stopping when human drivers would be more aggressive. Autonomous vehicles operated by Waymo have been rear-ended due to such issues and the company has been working to make its system more human…" Read more   Hmmmm... Read the whole article.  In a very concise way it hits the major issues, one of which is the very sensitive subject of offensive v defensive driving.  How should we tune driving behaviors?  As I pointed out last week, it would be very helpful if Uber released all of the data that was captured in the seconds leading up to this crash so that everyone can as Mark wrote:  "…Last year, after a Waymo car bumped into a bus, the company said it used the incident, and "thousands of variations on it," to refine its software.   "This is a classic example of the negotiation that’s a normal part of driving — we’re all trying to predict each other’s movements," it added…."  Alain

Police Report Untangles Uber Crash Mystery

J. Yoshida, Mar 30, "…Uber isn’t talking…."  Read more Hmmmm... Junko presents a more thorough discussion on this subject; however, to be helpful here, Uber should not only be talking, but should be releasing all of the data that it has so that some good can come out of all of this.  Clearly they are not ‘at fault’, so there is a floor on the down-side.  Only with the release of the data can society capture the most upside.  Otherwise we are stuck with the he-said/she-said.  Alain

Requesting Female Driver Now an Option With Boston’s ‘Safr’ App

A. Niezgoda, Mar 24, "When it comes to requesting a ride in Boston, there is no shortage of services out there, but a new Boston-based start-up aims to appeal to passengers who would feel more comfortable with a female driver…."  Read more Hmmmm... This is a REALLY good idea! Alain

How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons

N. Scheiber, Apr 2, "…And yet even as Uber talks up its determination to treat drivers more humanely, it is engaged in an extraordinary behind-the-scenes experiment in behavioral science to manipulate them in the service of its corporate growth — an effort whose dimensions became evident in interviews with several dozen current and former Uber officials, drivers and social scientists, as well as a review of behavioral research.

Uber’s innovations reflect the changing ways companies are managing workers amid the rise of the freelance-based “gig economy.” Its drivers are officially independent business owners rather than traditional employees with set schedules. This allows Uber to minimize labor costs, but means it cannot compel drivers to show up at a specific place and time. And this lack of control can wreak havoc on a service whose goal is to seamlessly transport passengers whenever and wherever they want.

Uber helps solve this fundamental problem by using psychological inducements and other techniques unearthed by social science to influence when, where and how long drivers work. It’s a quest for a perfectly efficient system: a balance between rider demand and driver supply at the lowest cost to passengers and the company…" Read more Hmmmm... This is really interesting.  Read it all.  However, with Driverless cars, this headache goes away.  Can you imagine how much Uber wants Driverless cars. (Although, Uber’s fundamental IP may well be in its ability to efficiently and effectively manage part-time workers in the gig economy.  That IP is worthless in a Driverless world.  So, Uber may need to be careful what it wishes for.)  Alain

AI in Autonomous Cars of Significant Importance, Tech Company ‘Nvidia’ Says

C. Said, Mar 28, "…“Whether a car, truck or shuttle, they’re all trying to accomplish the same task: replace a human behind the wheel,” said Danny Shapiro, Nvidia senior director of automotive. “There’s no way to write code to account for everything the car could encounter; the world is too random. The only way to enable the car to handle the near-infinite number of things that can happen is artificial intelligence. For that you really need a supercomputer in the car.”…

“Intel, Nvidia and Qualcomm are all trying to muscle their way into the lead in the (self-driving) industry,” said Paul Cuatrecasas, CEO of Aquaa Partners…“Nvidia has the advantage of speed with its expertise in GPU-accelerated computing,” he said. “But Intel has deep pockets, which it has recently demonstrated through its proposed acquisition of Mobileye. In rapidly changing markets with a lot of startup entrants, the firepower to buy up new emerging technology companies quickly may give them an edge.”

Shapiro naturally had a different view. “There’s definitely a difference between deep pockets and deep learning,” he said.

Nvidia is not exactly impoverished. For the fiscal year ended Jan. 29, it had $6.91 billion in revenue, up 38 percent from the prior year, while profits were $1.66 billion, up 171 percent. Intel’s fiscal 2016 revenues were $59.4 billion, up 7 percent, with profits of $10.3 billion, down 10 percent.  Nvidia’s robust growth helped make it the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 last year. Its shares skyrocketed 238 percent. The No. 2 performer, natural gas company Oneok, saw shares rise 135 percent."Read more Hmmmm... Danny, Best on that metric is a very nice accomplishment!  Alain

THE AUTONOMOUS ISSUE

Vol 11, No. 4, April 2017, Read more Hmmmm... Nice to have Thinking Highways focus an issue on Automated Vehicles.

David Pickeral has a nice  Opinion piece on Room for Improvement (p 4) "…  As I have said again and again in numerous contexts across both conventional and social media: We as a species do not need self-driving car technology that eliminates drivers nearly as immediately as we need ADAS technology that eliminates accidents…."

Mike McGurrin has a nice piece on The magic behind self-driving cars (p 8) "…  One of the strengths of machine learning techniques, including deep neural networks, is that they can generalize, applying the trained and tuned algorithm to handle cases that they have never seen before, just as humans do. This is invaluable in handling a task with the nearly infinite variations encountered in driving. In addition, they provide an estimate of their confidence in the result, which could, for example, be used to trigger a need to return control to a human driver. A significant short-coming of neural networks in particular is that while they can be incredibly accurate, they do not provide information on how they reach a decision . …"

Ben Grush and John Niles have a nice piece on Public fleets of automated vehicles and how  to manage them
 (p 16) " (which I commented on in a previous issue of SDC)

Richard Bishop has a nice piece on  2017: the year of the  robo-taxi? (p 61) "…If you wait for your robo-taxi to be able to handle everything, you’ll wait a long time. Instead, field a highly capable AV with the ability to always maintain safety….  my hunch is that 2017 will be the year when robo-taxi services will first be offered to the public. No engineers with hands hovering near the steering wheel, just an empty car picking up those daring enough to give it a shot. Will they be everywhere? No way. Robo-taxi deployments will start in small zones which the Transportation Network Companies have determined are ideal – possibly an entertainment district…"
Read more 
Hmmmm... The above are good.  The rest seems to be pushing the same old ‘Connected’ & ‘V2V’.  🙁  Alain

America’s newest bikesharing program lets you drop off bikes basically anywhere

C. Weller, Mar 25, "Earlier this month, Bay-Area-based startup Spin introduced the first large-scale deployment of a stationless bikesharing program in the US.  As of March 11, Austin, Texas now has hundreds of orange Spin bikes randomly scattered around the downtown area, each available for rent whenever and wherever Austinites need them.

Each bike pairs with a mobile app that electronically unlocks the bike for $1 per 30-minute trip….

There also is an on-the-ground task force that Spin has hired to enforce some of the policies. If people steal the bikes or misuse them, Spin will assemble a team that can investigate the problem. Ko says reports about China’s stationless bikesharing program going totally awry are mostly sensational; save for a few bad apples, he doesn’t expect the heaps of discarded bikes China has seen in a few rare cases…"  Read more Hmmmm... I hate to sound pessimistic, but these better have active GPS systems on them so that their current location can be monitored, else these bikes will be scattered across Austin’s outskirts in very short order.  Allowing the user to ‘leave the bike anywhere’ is certainly an enormous value proposition to the user.  Unfortunately, it is an enormous empty-vehicle-management headache to the operator.  With aTaxis, this isn’t a problem because they can re-position themselves.  In fact if my stolen S550 had been ‘Driverless’, it could have re-positioned itself from New Orleans when the police arrested the thieves as they were about to load the car nto a container headed for South America.  (Of course, if it was Driverless, I wouldn’t have owned it, nor could the original thieves have been able to drive it way from my driveway.)  Alain

Google’s Waymo Is Testing Self-Driving Minivans in the Snow

K. Korosec, Mar 27, "…Making snow angels in Tahoe! We’re testing our self-driving Pacificas in cold weather & collecting snow data to train our software…

Waymo took the wraps off its autonomous minivans in December. The following month ahead of the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit, Krafcik provided a deeper look into the company’s business model, the technology inside the vehicle, and its timeline for testing on public roads…."   Read more Hmmmm... Nice!  Alain

National survey from Erie Insurance finds majority think self-driving cars will eliminate distracted driving

Press release, mAR 27 " A recent national survey commissioned by Erie Insurance, and conducted online by Harris Poll among nearly 3,000 licensed U.S. drivers, finds almost six in 10 (59 percent) think that self-driving cars will eliminate the problem of distracted driving. Two-thirds of men think this, compared with just over half of women (66 percent to 52 percent, respectively).

But while it might be nice to completely kick back and let the car do the driving, experts say the time for that is likely a long way off…."The term ‘self-driving car’ suggests I can hop in my car, enter a destination and have it take me from point A to point B. …"…" Read more Hmmmm... That’s why you should call them ‘Driverless’ and leave ‘Self-driving’ to be used only for those cars for which the car drives itself for only part of the trip.  For that part of the trip, it allows you to be totally distracted, without suffering the consequences of being distracted.  ‘Safe-driving’ cars, cars that have Automated Collision and Lane Departure Avoidance systems that actually work, also mitigate the negative implications of distracted driving.   Alain

Tesla defends its right to release individual driver data to disprove claims

C. Fortuna, Apr 3, "During a week in which the House of Representatives voted to repeal Obama era Internet privacy protections, Tesla has come under fire from owners who dispute the all-electric carmaker’s right to disclose individual driver data to the media while also failing to share that data with the drivers themselves….

…What’s being contested here then? Several things, actually. Tesla feels it has an explicit corporate need to stand behind its driving-assist Autopilot technology through public disclosures of individual driving data when a crash occurs. Individual Tesla drivers, on the other hand, express a desire to maintain the right to information privacy regarding their driving performance. And, while Tesla has disseminated individual driver information to the media following Tesla crashes involving its Autopilot system, it continues to deny data sharing with individual customers. Moreover, the company does not follow the commonly accepted research practice of gaining permissions from study participants prior to including them in a data set…." Read more Hmmmm... This is a real issue.  It is very important that data leading up to and including crashes be made public.  Since driving is supposedly a ‘privileged’ not a ‘right’, society’s greater good may win.  Also, the individual is not of interest, so all personal information can be redacted.  This is a real issue.  Alain

IBM Patents Cognitive System to Manage Self-Driving Vehicles

Press release, Mar 30, "IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that its scientists have been granted a patent around a machine learning system that can dynamically shift control of an autonomous vehicle between a human driver and a vehicle control processor in the event of a potential emergency, providing a safety measure that can contribute to accident prevention…U.S. Patent #9,566,986: Controlling driving modes of self-driving vehicles for this invention."…" Read more Hmmmm... What was the examiner thinking??? Isn’t there prior art all over the place.  Anti-lock brakes (apply the brakes properly) and Electronic Stability Control (don’t lose your rear end) have been doing this for years.  Is this part of IBM’s ‘give the lawyers something to do initiative’?  I guess I don’t understand IBM’s ingenuity here. Alain

  Melbourne’s hook turns confound state-of-the-art Benz technology

Mar 25, "…Autonomous motoring expert Jochen Haab (pictured) has already pinpointed one element of the local driving environment that’s unique to Australia and problematical for autonomous car engineers – Melbourne’s confronting hook turns…"  Read more Hmmmm... We have those in Jersey, They are called ‘Jug Handles’.  What’s worse are ‘Michigan Lefts’.  In the end, these are much easier to deal with than being cut off.  Alain

The Autonomobile and the City

M. Sorkin, Apr 1, "The implications are profound, and not just for the employment prospects of the immigrants and “shared economy” operatives who drive the vehicles. Something radical looms, both for the fundamental nature of our mobility and for the form of the cities in which we circulate. Just as earlier technological innovations, like streetcar lines, railways, and horseless carriages, had transformative effects on urban morphology and life (exponential growth, suburbanization, corridorization, and other dramatic physical and social changes), so the advent of the autonomous vehicle—autonomobiles—will transform our cities decisively…

Such revolutionary technology can have fundamental impacts on the form of both current and coming cities. To keep it friendly, however, will demand fighting the growing dominance of the “smart city” mind-set and its uncritical accumulations of “big data” to improve efficiency and control, without much deep thinking about noncorporate forms of desire.
" Read more Hmmmm... ‘Autono-mobiles’, that’s a worse name than ‘autonomousTaxis (aTaxis).  Implications on urban form are so nebulous, that I offer up almost every article find. I like the ‘smart city’ comment, but there seems so little to chew on. The 1967 image is not it.  I must have missed something.  Alain  

NVIDIA scoops up Tesla Vice President of Autopilot David Nistér

Kyle, Apr 1, "NIVIDIA has hired former Tesla Vice President David Nistér who was a key player on the Autopilot team since April 2015. Nistér’s departure from Tesla follows a string of staff changes taking place on the Autopilot division, most recently seeing the arrival of 11-year Apple veteran Chris Lattner who joined Tesla early this year as the company’s newest VP of Autopilot. Lattner’s arrival came amid shake ups within the department after Tesla sued a former Director of Autopilot for allegedly stealing proprietary information from the Elon Musk-led electric car company…." Read more Hmmmm... Wild, Wild, West.  Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention 

Jerks and the Start-Ups They Ruin

D. Lyons, Apr 1, "The tech industry has a problem with “bro culture.” People have been complaining about it for years. Yet nobody has done much to fix it.  That may finally change, if the people in charge of Silicon Valley — venture capitalists, who control the money — start to realize that the real problem with tech bros is not just that they’re boorish jerks. It’s that they’re boorish jerks who don’t know how to run companies…

…This poisonous state of affairs will get fixed only when investors start getting hurt. A crash at Uber, the most high profile tech start-up in the world, could provide the jolt that finally brings the tech industry back to its senses."   Read more Hmmmm... Such behaviors, along with VW-type cheating, are simply unacceptable.  Alain

A Startup’s Plan To Cut Air Freight Costs In Half With 777-Size Drones


D. Terdiman, Mar 27, "The idea is simple: Shipping by air is fast, but expensive. Boat is much cheaper, but very slow. So why not send all those boxes and packages on an un-piloted, amphibious Boeing 777-sized drone that can fly point to point and eventually drop off as much as 200,000 pounds of cargo at a seaside port? It would carry that cargo at about half the cost of normal air freight thanks to a more efficient use of fuel and the lack of an expensive crew.These potential consequences are self-driving cars as social outcasts and anti-social behavior of owners. …" Read more Hmmmm... April Fools???  Alain


On the More Technical Side

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



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

SMMT: Connected & autonomous vehicles will improve quality of life for six in 10 people with limited mobility, finds new study

News Release, Mar 30, "Connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) will transform the lives of six out of every 10 people in the UK, according to new research published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)…" Read more Hmmmm… I bet the same could be said about AVs without the C.  C only offers entertainment to these folks (who already have the content on their smartPhones.)   Alain


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


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Deployment/Commercialization/DeepDriving Summit
May 17 & 18, 2017
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date


Recent Highlights of:

Monday, March 27, 2017

Uber self-driving test car involved in crash in Arizona

N. Lomas, mar 25, "More bad news for Uber: one of the ride-hailing giant’s self-driving Volvo SUVs has been involved in a crash in Arizona — apparently leaving the vehicle flipped onto its side, and with damage to at least two other human-driven cars in the vicinity.
The aftermath of the accident is pictured in photos and a video posted to Twitter by a user of @FrescoNews, a service for selling content to news outlets. According to the company’s tweets, the collision happened in Tempe, Arizona, and no injuries have yet been reported….Local newspaper reports suggest another car failed to yield to Uber’s SUV…" Read more Hmmm… Important: Looks as if this is the same situation as with the Florida Tesla Crash.  The Uber car was cutoff and it’s the other guy’s fault.  Hopefully Uber will release (or the police has impounded and will release though FoI) the pre-crash data streams from the Uber GPS, video, radar and Lidar systems so that it can be determined if Uber’s Automated Collision Avoidance (ACA) system did all it could be expected to do to avert this Crash. 

One assumes that the Self-driving systems, offensively, are sufficiently good that they won’t fail-to-yield or inappropriately change lanes or run into things in the lane ahead, or…(Note: Uber’s running of a red light in SF is a very serious flaw!  Had a crash occurred, then the software/Uber would have been at fault.  That event must be essentially never occur; and it occurred within the first few days. Not good!).   But one also needs these cars to be good defensively with its Automated Collision Avoidance (ACA/’Smart-Driving Car’) capability.  We should ask: Has Uber been too cavalier about the defensive ACA / Safe-driving Car aspects and rushed into the Self-driving Car realm (which does them no real good because they require Driverless which may not necessarily evolve out of Self-driving).  What Driverless does need is elegant, robust and fault tolerant ACA /Safe-driving capabilities. 

Also…  In all of the driving Google/Waymo has done, they’ve only been at fault once, a 2mph crash with a bus, and have been hit several time where the other car was at fault.  Undoubtedly, the Google/Waymo cars have been ‘cutoff’ many time, but their ACA system averted a crash.  Quite possibly, in some of these cases, a human driver may not have fared as well.  It would be interesting to know how many because this would be a measure of the extent to which Google/Waymo cars have made everyone else around them safer human drivers.      Alain

Monday, March 20, 2017

Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile, according to documents

J. Bhuiyan, Mar 16, "Some of Uber’s self-driving cars aren’t driving as smoothly as the company hoped they would. Documents circulated throughout the company’s self-driving group, which Recode obtained, gives us a first look at the progress of the ride-hail company’s robot cars in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California.
The top line: Uber’s robot cars are steadily increasing the number of miles driven autonomously. But the figures on rider experience — defined as a combination of how many times drivers have to take over and how smoothly the car drives — are still showing little progress….
For example: During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars on the road only drove an average of close to 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over for one reason or another…
The good news is the number of miles between these “critical” interventions has recently improved. Last week, the company’s cars drove an average of approximately 200 miles between those types of incidents that required a driver to take over…" Read more Hmmm… Waymo is so incredibly far ahead.  Even with these statistics, it depends on when and where the miles were drive.  It is relatively unchallenging in some places at some times, especially if you’ve experienced it many times before. Its all about being able to handle the unexpected to achieve Driverless. Uber accrues no substantive value until it reaches Driverless.  Self-driving’s only value is as a way/process to achieve Driverless.  Alain

Friday, March 10, 2017

Intel to Buy Mobileye, Maker of Sensors for Self-Driving Cars, for $15.3 Billion

M. Scott, Mar 13, "Intel agreed on Monday to buy Mobileye, an Israeli technology company that specializes in making sensors and cameras for autonomous cars, for $15.3 billion, as the global microchip giant tries to expand its reach in the fast-growing sector….As part of the deal, Intel said it would buy Mobileye’s outstanding shares at $63.54 a share, a 34 percent premium to Mobileye’s closing price on Friday….

Intel’s deal for Mobileye seems to be a recognition that chip-making rivals like Nvidia and Qualcomm have moved slightly ahead in the race to provide the computing power needed for autonomous cars… Intel said it would continue investing in the autonomous-driving industry, a sector that it said would be worth about $70 billion by 2030…"  Read more Hmmm… The hits keep coming!  Friday..the California Regs welcoming Driverless; Monday… this.  Tomorrow… nVIDIA????   Alain

 

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

R. Mitchell, Mar 10, "California is back on the map as a state that’s serious about welcoming driverless cars.Truly driverless cars — vehicles with no human behind the wheel, and perhaps no steering wheel at all — are headed toward California streets and highways starting in 2018…
The regulations lay out “a clear path for future deployment of autonomous vehicles” in California, said Bernard Soriano, deputy director at the Department of Motor Vehicles…." Read moreHmmm… Congratulations Bernard!  This is fantastic news on the road to providing high-quality mobility for all.  It squarely addresses the fundamental need to efficiently re-position vehicles so that they can get to even those who can’t drive.  This is a real turning point for automated vehicles from self-driving toys for the 1% to affordable, environmentally friendly mobility for everyone.  Alain

Friday, March 3, 2017

Buffett has an interesting theory about why self-driving cars will hurt the insurance industry

E. Gurdus, Feb 27, "The self-driving car business could become a major threat to insurance companies when the technology hits the market, billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC’s "Squawk Box" on Monday.
If autonomous vehicles prove to be safer than regular cars, insurance costs will plummet, and by the time roads are filled with self-driving cars insurers like Geico will have taken a serious hit, Buffett said…

"If I had to take the over and under [bet] ten years from now on whether 10 percent of the cars on the road would be self-driving, I would take the under, but I could very easily be wrong," he said…." Read more  Hmmm…Really shouldn’t go against Buffet; however, he’s going to be smiling all the way to the bank.  I just don’t see how the premise implies Geico takes a serious hit.  I tell everyone that I don’t understand insurance.  I guess I just don’t understand insurance.  🙁 

I suspect that by cars he means cars + light trucks for which there are about 250M currently registered in the US with 38% being greater than 10 years old.  Assuming these basic numbers remain roughly constant: of the 155M vehicles sold in the next 10 years, 25M or 16% would need to be ‘Self-driving’.  Since we are starting from a zero base with zero production, we are going to need to be upwards of a 30% adoption rate in the 10th year in order to have populated 16% of the fleet through that year.  So, I agree with Warren wrt ‘Self-driving‘":  "I would take the under, but I could very easily be wrong"  Wrt ‘Safe-driving, I would take the over, because the early numbers are attainable, especially if Insurance comes on board.  Wrt ‘Diverless‘: No way unless they are manufactured by a non-traditional entity that is totally disruptive in years 8,  9 and 10.   Alain 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

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

Friday, February 17, 2017

Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2016 Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years

Press release, Feb. 15, "NSC offers insight into what drivers are doing and calls for immediate implementation of proven, life-saving measures…

With the upward trend showing no sign of subsiding, NSC is calling for immediate implementation of life-saving measures that would set the nation on a road to zero deaths:…" Read more  Hmmm…"Automated Collision Avoidance" or anything having to do with ‘Safe-driving Cars‘ is not mentioned anywhere in the Press Release.  One of us is missing something very fundamental here!!  So depressing!!  🙁   Alain

Friday, January 27, 2017

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

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

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

 

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, 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

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

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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