http://smartdrivingcar.com/5.18-GoldMine-052817
18th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

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

  Road Warrior: Driverless cars close enough to touch

J. Cichowski, May 25, "…In a recent two-day ”SmartCarsDriving Summit” at Princeton University, nearly all the participating North American and European engineers, administrators, lobbyists and innovators agreed robotic-driving technology is on the verge of taking over, but our nation – or any nation – isn’t prepared to accept it.

“Maybe by the year 2050,” predicted Bern Grush, a Canadian transportation engineering consultant who has studied nearly all the work done on this subject.  Why so long?  “It’s pricey and it hasn’t been integrated or informed in a way that would allow its capability today,” explained former Defense Department research director Paul Brubaker. “But it’s coming.”…" Read more Hmmmm… John, thank you for your active participation.  Alain

Insuring Autonomous Vehicles, an $81B opportunity between now and 2025

L. Karp, 2017, "…While insurers of autonomous vehicles will make fewer payouts for claims, this will not compensate them for lost policy revenues. Hmmmm… The fundamental conclusion (which is left unsupported)  Alain

…The revolution in autonomous vehicles presents opportunities for insurers in three key areas:

1. Cyber security
2. Product liability insurance for sensors and/or algorithms
3. Insuring against infrastructure problems
…The cyber security model was based on benchmarks of cyber security spending in the US information technology sector. Hmmmm… LOSS in the…???  Alain
…The product liability model was based on historical automotive software and hardware failure rates, using National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data. Hmmmm… LOSS in the…???  Alain
…The infrastructure model is based on the number of traffic lights in urban and rural areas of the US.
…personal vehicle ownership will continue to represent the majority of vehicle ownership.    Hmmmm… Figure 4.  Alain
…In our view, insurers who act now to explore the opportunities presented by the autonomous vehicle revolution will be best positioned to capture new revenues Hmmmm…I thought the objective was profit?
Read more Hmmmm… As a naive outsider of the Insurance Industry it continues to amaze me that it is exclusively focused on Revenue (Premiums).  I understand that Premiums are up-front, easy to measure, create the float and it is someone else who worries about running away from the claims, but in this case it is embarrassing.  The deep dark secret that seems to be ignored is that there is a NECESSARY condition overarching this technology r/evolution which is it MUST substantially reduce CRASHES. Not reduce their severity, nor reduce deaths.  It MUST substantially reduce their occurrences!  If not, then, no startup will survive the ensuing litigation.  No supplier will survive the litigation.  No traditional manufacturer will survive the litigation.  The only way to avoid the litigation is to avoid the Crashes.  Delivering that crash avoidance begins with Safe-driving cars (if we must, Level 1 done well; which has yet to happen).  Waymo’s worth goes from $70B to Zero if they start Crashing. Tesla stops selling AutoPilot if the Florida Crash is Tesla’s fault. This Fact-of-Life is a real opportunity for Insurance. Insurance will have less to run away from and what it has will be easier to run away from. This suggests that the ‘fundamental conclusion’ of this report is false.  Alain

Today’s Future Now – Flying Cars Have Finally Arrived

May 16, Watch Video Hmmmm… Enjoy! Alain

Will autonomous vehicles put the brakes on the collision parts business?

G. Silberg, May 2017, "…And while a decline in roadway crashes is undoubtedly good news for society, it’s bad news for automakersand repair service businesses, who will face a significant hit to their bottom lines as the market for their lucrative collision parts and services business shrinks dramatically—and sooner than they may think. …Although collision parts typically account for less than 3 percent of OEM sales, they provide a highly stable source of revenue, and more important, account for 10 to 20 percent of
operating profits. …As these ADAS-equipped vehicles and  self-driving cars increasingly take to the highway, the questions now are how much will they reduce driver error and lower the incidents of roadway crashes, and how the expected drop in vehicle crash rates will further disrupt automakers, particularly their collision parts business….

In our projection, crash involvement rates could decline by over 60 percent by 2030 (that’s just 13 years from today) and over 80 percent by 2040…., we estimate that the average cost of repairs will increase (in real dollars) about 10 percent by 2030 and almost 20 percent by 2040.   Nevertheless, by combining the crash rate and cost per repair estimate, we could see a roughly 50 percent decline in the overall collision repair market by 2030 and around a 75 percent decline by 2040.  So, the decline in repair business will be somewhat offset by the cost per repair. However, it will not be nearly enough to overcome the dramatic decline crash-involvement rates.."  Read more Hmmmm… This is another in a series of really good KPMG reports. It could only be improved if they entitled it "Will Safe-driving vehicles…".  It will be the Safe-driving aspects of the technology that delivers this impact.  Self-driving and even Driverless will , at best, simply maintain the safe gains.  It is Safe-driving that delivers the maximum reduction in crashes.  it is essentially available now (AEB and the like really worked) which solidifies their 60 % reduction by 2030 and it does it with inexpensive parts.  Excellent charts and some excellent basic facts.  Very nice.  Alain

40 Proposed U. S. Tranportation & Water Infrastructure Projects of Major Economic Significance

T Horst, R Mudge, R. Ellis & K. Rubin, Fall 2016,  Read More Hmmmm… More on this from SDC reader and co-author R. Mudge: "A key finding is hidden in the text:

  •     Top 40 infrastructure projects had a new economic value of $1.2 trillion
  •     Reconstruct the Interstate had a value of $2-2.5 trillion – two time as large
  •     Autonomous vehicles have a value of $6-7 trillion.  This was derived from work by Adam Jonas and colleagues.  I suspect the number is low.   Three times as large as rebuilding the Interstate.

        Pages A-96 and A-97 are about autonomous vehicles.  Major messages:

  1.  Quite a few solid infrastructure investments out there – as measured by net economic benefits , not construction jobs.
  2.  Even so, not as many really large projects under discussion – a number of reasons for this, some political, some financial, and some due to the structure of the federal program.
  3.  Good infrastructure projects generate significant net economic value.  But, autonomous vehicles are head and shoulders above these in impact – even better than rebuilding the Interstate.
  4.  The public sector should change their programs to help speed deployment.  States (and countries) that do this first will gain economic value over the competition"

Read more Hmmmm… Thank you Dick!  Alain

The Future of European Transit: Driverless and Utilitarian

M. Scott, May 28,  "On the outskirts of Berlin, Michael Barillère-Scholz is testing a driverless vehicle that is neither sleek nor futuristic. The machine is boxy and painted white. Its top speed barely reaches 20 miles per hour.

The self-driving vehicle is a shuttle with room for 12 passengers. Mr. Barillère-Scholz, who leads the driverless research team at Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s largest train and bus operator, and his team have been testing the vehicle around a local office park. Later this year, the partly state-owned public transit company will also begin separate trials of a similar autonomous bus on public roads in southern Germany, connecting a local train station with stops along a predetermined route. “We want to show that autonomous cars don’t have to be limited to luxury consumer vehicles, they also have a role in public transport,” Mr. Barillère-Scholz said. “The market in Germany for this type of vehicle is huge.”…

In total, more than 20 pilot or existing public transport programs have taken place in Europe involving autonomous vehicles, according to a review by The New York Times. Most of these projects have received government funding, tapping into local research institutions and tech start-ups that are not household names…" Read more Hmmmm…Much of the Princeton SDC Summit was focused on doing similar things in US cities, including Princeton.  Why are Washington, FTA and NJ Transit so not into this???  So disappointing.   Alain

Tesla Rebuffed Uber Partnership on Self-Driving Cars in 2016

E. Newcomer, May 16, "Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick rang up Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk last year to propose a partnership on self-driving cars, according to an upcoming book.

The discussion came after Apple Inc. invested $1 billion in Didi Chuxing, then a fierce competitor of Uber in China. Kalanick pitched Musk on teaming up against Apple, according to Wild Ride, a book by Fortune magazine’s Adam Lashinsky scheduled for release next week…"  Read more Hmmmm… Interesting article and read the book. Alain

Lawyers, Not Ethicists, Will Solve the Robocar ‘Trolley Problem’

A. Marshall, May 28, "Giving machines the ability to decide who to kill is a staple of dystopian science fiction. And it explains why three out of four American drivers say they are afraid of self-driving cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration even suggested creating something of an “ethical” test for companies developing the technology.

But the good news is, that point might be moot. In a paper published in Northwestern University Law Review, Stanford University researcher Bryan Casey deems the trolley problem irrelevant. He argues that it’s already been solved—not by ethicists or engineers, but by the law. The companies building these cars will “less concerned with esoteric questions of right and wrong than with concrete questions of predictive legal liability,” he writes. Meaning, lawyers and lawmakers will sort things out…"  Read more Hmmmm… It wasn’t bad enough that Humanist has invented this non-problem as a means by which Humanists might have something to say at SmartDrivingCar cocktail parties. Now we’ve been given a reason to like lawyers for ridding us of this pestilence.  So depressing!  Alain

How Will Autonomous Cars Impact Housing?

R. Dietz, May 25, "…While the first impact would tend to increase population density, particularly in central cities and large urban areas, driverless cars also could increase the number of areas suitable for single-family community development. More efficient roadways would reduce travel times and grow the size of markets in which buyers could “ride until they qualify.” If commuters are free to work, socialize, or otherwise spend their time not driving, the mental cost of commuting would be lower. A less-taxing commute would mean that people could live farther away, in homes and neighborhoods perhaps more to their liking. This effect could spark a renewed round of exurban development…." Read more Hmmmm… “ride until they qualify.” I love it!  Not a bad article.  It, and other points,  pretty much hit the nail on the head. Alain

  What Self-Driving Cars See 

R. Quain, May 25, "…The advantage of lidar is that it can generate precise three-dimensional images of everything from cars to trees to cyclists in a variety of environments and under a variety of lighting conditions. While autonomous car designs use numerous sensors, including ultrasonic, radar and video camera components, lidar has unique abilities. Unlike cameras, for example, lidar cannot be fooled by shadows or blinded by bright sunlight…The biggest hurdle to widespread lidar adoption is an economic one, and that is where the battle is being waged. Read more Hmmmm… An OK discussion but the issue is "an economic one".  Lidar’s competition is a lens (which may be a pin hole).  Biology found lenses to be the elegant solutions when backed up with some processing power. Moreover, the whole infrastructure that we have installed for the past 100 years is based on lenses. And it works pretty well as long as we behave and pay attention.  Lidar doesn’t improve behavior or concentration and it also needs processing power. Alain

Australian guidelines for automated vehicle trials invite nationwide testing of new-era technology

Press release, May 24,  " Australian governments are taking steps to move to a new era of mobility, with today’s launch of national guidelines for trials of automated vehicles.  Guidelines for trials of automated vehicles in Australia is a joint publication of the National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads. The guidelines support state and territory road agencies in providing exemptions or permits for trials, and give greater certainty to industry on conditions for trials…." Read more Hmmmm… Read the just released Guidelines. However, there must be some supporting materials because there really isn’t much substance here.   Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention 

This Is A Mercedes Benz Factory

Submitted by SDC reader T. Krohn, May 23 "FYI, these days one of Germany’s main exports is the design and building and installation of robotic equipment around the world.  For example Tesla cars are manufactured in this manner.  And until they have perfected the reverse-engineering of the robots, China currently is the largest customer of this German technology.   Add this to AV technology and changes galore are-a-comin’!!  See video Hmmmm… Yup! Alain


On the More Technical Side

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



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

  Autonomous Vehicle Implementation Predictions:  Implications for Transport planning

T. Litman, May 1, "This report explores the impacts that autonomous (also called self-driving, driverless or robotic)vehicles are likely to have on travel demands and transportation planning.  It discusses autonomous vehicle benefits and costs, predicts their likely development and implementation based on experience with previous vehicle technologies, and  explores how they will affect planning decisions such as optimal road, parking and public transit supply. The analysis indicates that some benefits, such as independent
mobility for affluent non-drivers,may begin in the 2020sor 2030s, but most impacts, including reduced traffic and parking
congestion (and therefore road and parking facility supply requirements), independent mobility for low-income people (and there
fore reduced need to subsidize transit), increased safety, energy conservation and pollution reductions, will only be significant when autonomous vehicles become common and affordable, probably in the 2040s to 2060s, and some benefits may require prohibiting
human-driven vehicles on certain roadways, which could take longer. …" Read more Hmmmm… A thorough analysis that suffers from the beginning by not properly recognizing the enormous difference between Self-driving and Driverless.  It treats them interchangeably as autonomous vehicles even though they are VERY different. It also starts out with a condescending Computers v Automobiles.  It has obvious inconsistencies in its very first Figure 1: Is it cost per passenger mile or cost per vehicle mile or are these prices, not costs; are aTaxi only slightly cheaper than Ride-hailing (are we dealing with costs or prices?) yet autonomous bus is only slightly cheaper than personal auto (must not have much ride sharing). Figure 2 is useless because it completely misses the  consumer-owned Self-driving and fleet -owned driverless aspects.  Plus how do they both end up with 100%.  (100% what??).  Figure 3 is somewhat OK, but implies that factors have equal weights.  Table 8… we are going to "need to plan for mixed traffic beginning in 2040" when a major share of all vehicles are autonomous? How did we transition without that need plan??  What am I missing here?  The barn door has been open and now we’re worried about what happened to the animals???  I won’t even comment of Figure 4.  WHATEVER.  The report is very weak and relies on questionable references.  But please read and you judge.   Alain


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

Consumer Interest in Automation: Preliminary Observations Exploring a Year’s Change

H. Abraham, May 2017, "n 2016, the MIT AgeLab and New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) conducted a survey exploring consumers’ perceptions and willingness to accept varying levels of automation, as well as how they learned to use technology in their current vehicles (Abraham, et al., 2017). The survey found while approximately one third of the younger adult sample (under 45 years)were somewhat open to full automation, older drivers were more likely to only endorse being comfortable with systems that assist the driver and that do not require them to give up control…. “How much would you consider paying for a car that completely drives itself?”…"  Read more Hmmmm… This seems like one of those surveys prior to the November election.  Of course no one is going to purchase a car that completely drives itself.  One doesn’t purchase elevators that completely drive themselves.  As with the November elections, the sample is biased (folks having some correlation with MIT) and the world models of the surveyed doesn’t necessarily match the world models of the surveyors that asked the hypothetical questions.  Thus Figure 6 should be labeled "…a car that completely drives itself.", since that was the question that was asked. C’mon MIT! Alain

Tesla’s bumpy relationship with Consumer Reports exposes a bigger challenge

K. Korosec, May 24, "…Three weeks ago, the Tesla Model S lost its top spot in the ultra luxury vehicle category after Consumer Reports lowered its score because newer versions of the sedan didn’t have a functioning automatic emergency braking system — a safety feature Tesla said would come standard in its cars. Model X was also docked two points on the Consumer Reports 100-point scale.

Now, Tesla is climbing back up Consumer Reports’ vehicle ratings after the electric automaker updated its software to add automatic emergency braking to its new Model S sedans and Model X sport utility vehicles.

CR restored only one of the two points it docked Tesla because the updated braking system doesn’t work at highway speeds. Older iterations of the S and X have AEB systems that work up to 90 mph, according to Consumer Reports. Once the vehicles have AEB operational at higher speeds, CR says testers will reconsider the scores. The Model S now has a score of 86, and sits just one point behind the No. 1 Lexus LS. …"  Read more Hmmmm… CR should reward Tesla because it can readily update its vehicles.  I’ve owned my 2014 MB for 3 years and I’ve gotten zero software updates. The lane keeping control system is terrible.  Who knows if the AEB even works (Luckily it has never engaged.) Why should updates and corrections require a NHTSA recall.  C’mon MB! C’mon CR! Alain 


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

AV Policy Series

June 2, 2017
American Institute of Architects,
1735 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.


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


Recent Highlights of:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

May 18, Enormously successful inaugural Summit starting with the Adam Jonas video and finishing with Fred Fishkin’s live interview with Wm. C Ford III.  In between, serious engagement among over 150 leaders from Communities at the bleeding edge of deployment, Insurance struggling with how to properly promote the adoption of technology that may well force them to re-invent themselves and AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various technologies that are rapidly advancing so that we can actually deliver the safety, environmental, mobility and quality of life opportunities envisioned by these “Ultimate Shared-Riding Machines”.

Save the Date for the 2nd Annual… May 16 & 17, 2018, Princeton NJ  Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Fishkin Interview of Summit Summary and Interview of Yann LeCun Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Hmmmm… Enormous thank you to all who participated.  Well done!  Alain

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Exploring the Bear Case: Distracted Driving + ADAS = $7 Trillion of Used Values at Risk

A. Jonas, Feb 1 "A sharp rise in traffic death & rapid growth of semiautonomous tech as standard equipment can accelerate the obsolescence of used cars, with potentially negative implications for secondhand values, auto credit & SAAR. We see elevated auto credit risk & avoid used car exposure….
…One could reasonably argue that if a technology can save 10k or 20k lives and hundreds of thousands of injuries per year in the US it should be (1) affordable and (2) not be optional equipment. Contrary to this, we found the majority of models currently available either do not offer active safety features or offer them only as optional equipment at prohibitively high costs. Our key takeaways are summarized below:…" Read More Hmmmm… First, sorry that I just saw this excellent report.  On top of the enormous substance, this report doesn’t mention that some/many of these systems don’t work as well as they should.  Some don’t brake if the the object ahead is stationary, others get confused with white back-lighting, others only apply the brake after the driver starts applying the brake and others only apply the brakes up to a 50% level.  Here we are trying to let drivers take hands of wheels and feet off pedals, yet we don’t have Safe-driving Cars that actually work (…experiencing essentially no false positives or false negatives) .  Alain

Monday, May 8, 2017

Walt Disney World plans to deploy driverless shuttles in Florida

R. Mitchell, Apr 28, "Walt Disney World in Florida appears poised to launch the highest-profile commercial deployment of driverless passenger vehicles to date, testing a fleet of driverless shuttles that could cart passengers through parking lots and around its theme parks.

According to sources with direct knowledge of Disney’s plans, the company is in late-stage negotiation with at least two manufacturers of autonomous shuttles – Local Motors, based in Phoenix, and Navya, based in Paris. It’s unclear whether contracts would go to both or just one of the companies…." Read More Hmmmm…This is exciting and substantial especially if it will be justified purely on its ability to deliver mobility, not entertainment, and will be financially self-sufficient.  Since it will be operating on Disney property, Disney can pretty much do as Disney wishes without having to be burdened by regulation meant to alleviate anxiety about the new and unfamiliar.  This is really exciting! Alain

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waymo to Offer Phoenix Area Access to Self-Driving Cars

D. Streitfeld, Apr, 25, "…On Tuesday, the company was to announce the next phase of testing: putting ordinary people inside its Chrysler minivans and Lexuses….Only those who live in Chandler, Mesa, Tempe and Gilbert — roughly the southeastern Phoenix area — will be eligible for the program. And the cars, for that matter, will not take them anywhere else — no weekend jaunts to the Grand Canyon. Read More Hmmmm... Here we go!  Very conservative, but the path ahead is clear.  In 2013 they said that they were going to do this in 2017!   This is the beginning of real commercialization. Congratulations!  This is a major milestone.  Alain

Tuesday, April 17, 2017

Don’t Worry, Driverless Cars Are Learning From Grand Theft Auto

D. Hall, Apr 17, "In the race to the autonomous revolution, developers have realized there aren’t enough hours in a day to clock the real-world miles needed to teach cars how to drive themselves. Which is why Grand Theft Auto V is in the mix.
The blockbuster video game is one of the simulation platforms researchers and engineers increasingly rely on to test and train the machines being primed to take control of the family sedan. Companies from Ford Motor Co. to Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo may boast about putting no-hands models on the market in three years, but there’s a lot still to learn about drilling algorithms in how to respond when, say, a mattress falls off a truck on the freeway….The idea isn’t that the highways and byways of the fictional city of Los Santos would ever be a substitute for bona fide asphalt. But the game “is the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from,” said Alain Kornhauser…"  Read More Hmmmm... Well…we have a slightly different view of history wrt to GTA5.  The ‘Alain view’ is that Chenyi Chen*16 independently started investigating the use of virtual environments as a source of Image – Affordances data sets to use as the training sets in a ‘Direct Perception’ approach to creating a self-driving algorithm.  Images of the road ahead are converted into the instantaneous geometry that is implied by those image.  An optimal controller then determines the the steering, brake and throttle values to best drive the car.  The critical element in that process are the Image – Affordances data sets which need to be pristine.  Chenyi demonstrated in his PhD dissertation , summarized in the ICCV2015 paper,  that by using the pristine Image – Affordances data sets from an open-source game TORCS one could have a virtual car drive a virtual race course without crashing.  More importantly, when tested on images from real driving situations, the computed affordances were close to correct.

This encouraged us to look for more appropriate virtual environments. For many reasons, including: "wouldn’t it be amazing if ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’ actually generated some positive ‘redeeming social value’ by contributing to the development of algorithms that actually made cars safer; saving grief, injuries and lives".  Consequently, in the Fall of 2015, Artur Filipowicz’17 began to investigate using GTA5 to train Convolutional Neural Networks to perform some of the Direct Perception aspects of automated driving.  With Jeremiah Liu, he continued his efforts in this direction last summer which were presented at TRB in January.  Yesterday, he and Nyan Bhat’17 turned in their Senior Theses focused on this topic.

Indeed, GTA5 is a rich virtual environment that begins to efficiently and effective address the data needs of Deep Learning approaches to safe driving.    Alain

Monday, March 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

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 

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

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

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

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

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


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