M. Gurman, Oct 17, "Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.
Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public.
New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person….
Regardless of Apple’s struggles, established carmakers have recognized the threat posed by new entrants and have embarked on a hiring and acquisition splurge to beef up their software capabilities. They are wary of allowing technology companies to own the lucrative software component of new cars…" Read more Hmmm… Very interesting!) Alain
U. Berliner, Oct 13, "…And just in case the driverless future arrives sooner than expected, Rush said he’s thinking about a plan B. Maybe something in computers, like information technology. Those jobs are safe, right?" Read more Hmmm… Yup! 🙂 Alain
A. Filipowicz, Oct 2016, "…One major technical challenge on the road to that goal is reliable and robust perception of the driving scene. Human drivers predominantly use their eyes to detect lanes, signs, pedestrians, and other cars. They also are able to estimate distances to these objects. Computers have yet to duplicate this capability. Part of the reason why computers cannot extract the same information as humans from a driving scene is a lack of data to train them. While there exists plenty of video footage of driving, videos with appropriate and accurate annotations – such as distances to lane markings in each frame – are rare. These annotations are difficult to obtain in the real world. However, I’m looking into the use of video games to obtain data needed to train computers to drive. Specifically, video games allow automated scene generation, image collection, and measurement of distances….Read more Hmmm… Yup! 🙂 Alain
M. Lewis, Oct 18, "…“One of the hardest questions to answer is, ‘How do these cars compare to human drivers?’ ” Chris Urmson, then the chief of Google’s self-driving car project, told transportation engineers in Washington this year. “And part of the reason why that’s hard is we don’t actually have a good understanding of how good human drivers really are.”
One problem is that the U.S. government keeps no comprehensive database of crashes. That complicates what otherwise might seem to be a simple task: figuring out which vehicles are more likely to crash, human-driven ones or those run by software and sensors….An annual national tally of crashes relies heavily on those reported to police. It understates the actual total of crashes with injuries by at least a quarter and “property damage only” crashes by anywhere from 60 to 84 percent, they concluded. And they consider those numbers conservative, given the mishmash of state reporting requirements and holes in the local data used by federal agencies.
I. Lunden, Oct 11, "When it comes to self-driving cars, the public tends to focus on developments for private vehicles for individuals, but there are also some significant advances underway in other categories such as shuttle busses.
In the latest piece of news, Navya, a startup out of France that makes driverless shuttles, has raised $34 million (€30 million) in funding to build out its team, technology and sales. The funding is coming from two strategic backers, public transportation provider Keolis and automotive parts group Valeo, along with Qatari investors Group8.
Navya is not disclosing its valuation but one report from Funderbeam estimates it at $222 million after this round. Navya prior to this round had raised $4.5 million (€4.1 million) from French investors Gravitation, CapDecisif, and Robolution Capital (an investment fund focused only on robotics investments)…." Read more Hmmm… Yup! 🙂 Alain
K. Stock, Oct 11, "It all comes down to safety,…The math is as straightforward as it is compelling. Consider a left turn on an American road: A vehicle turning across a lane of opposing traffic has little to do with the bike rider, but is one of the most dangerous things in motorcycling. When motorcyclists die on the road, this is how it happens one out of five times, according to crash statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This year, about 1,000 riders in the U.S. will lose their lives to the left turns of others. Cars traveling in the same direction as the motorcycle often don’t notice the bike overtaking on the left. Cars making a turn while coming from the opposite direction either fail to see the oncoming bike, or misjudge its speed…." Read more Hmmm… And likely what happened in the Tesla Florida crash. The truck misjudged the speed of the Tesla and…" Alain
T. Warren, Oct 17, "…In the next five years, Ford says it will transform from a company that sells fastback Mustangs to building fleets of autonomous vehicles and launching car-sharing ventures. And as design chief, Callum has the daunting task of determining what Ford’s future will look — a future in which the car could one day be smarter than the driver…. I love driving cars, but I can still see the benefits of the fully autonomous car. I think there will be drivable cars for a long time…" Read more Hmmm… Interesting. Alain
M. Lin, Oct. 19, "A self-driving car and a lorry collided yesterday morning, in what is believed to be the first accident in Singapore involving an autonomous vehicle. No one was injured when the car knocked into the lorry while changing lanes in Biopolis Drive at one-north at around 9.30am. The car belongs to nuTonomy, a start-up software company that is conducting trials of its self-driving vehicles in the one-north business district…" Read more Hmmm… More evidence on how phenomenally well Google has conducted its ‘trials’. Alain
J. Stewart, Oct 19, "…After being upgraded with a suite of cameras and sensors, Musk says this means his cars will have level 5 autonomy—the highest level, which requires zero interaction from the driver…But not for free. As with Tesla’s current “Autopilot convenience features,” turning on that functionality comes at a cost—$8000, up from $3000—even though the hardware upgrades will come standard…" Read more Hmmm… See Tesla Blog posting. I really like Tesla, but there is simply too much Donald in Elon. 1st, it isn’t… now, every new…, but some time in the future, maybe ”by end of next year" and we’ll see about ‘every’. Plus, even then it is NOT Level 5!!! The Tesla will need to be monitored by a human overseer (aka driver) except for the trivial part of parking the car. It won’t be able to go from SF to NYC without anyone in the car. So once again, it is a lot of over-hype and more ‘AutoPiloting’ all over again. The system is good. It provides value, but did Tesla get the Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system to work so that if a truck cuts off the Tesla on the transcontinental drive it won’t kill the passenger. I also like that Elon has decided to price along the demand curve. Even without being Level 5 and if the AEB also works, then it is worth the $8,000 uptick. Alain
Tesla team, Oct 19, Read more Hmmm…Focus on the word "Hardware". It takes more than hardware. Alain
A. Davies, Oct 18, "..And now, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt asked Tesla to ditch the term “Autopilot,” arguing it can lead consumers to think the car is far more capable than it is…" Read more Hmmm… can’t call it CoPilot either because Tesla doesn’t own that trade name. Alain
Oct 18. "…Of course, the eventual reality will be somewhere in between heaven and hell, probably here on earth. The question is, can civil society influence the extent to which the outcome is more heavenly, rather than more hellish? Would we want to? …" Read more Hmmm… Interesting! Alain
London School of Economics, Oct 2016, Executive Summary, "…We aim to measure and understand the level of “openness”’ people have towards AVs and, conversely, the situations in which people hope to avoid engaging with these vehicles. We argue that a successful introduction of AVs will ultimately depend on understanding and addressing the complex attitudes that define the public’s view of this new technology….Read more Hmmm… I haven’t been able to find the full report. May be interesting. Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
Oct 1, "…MaaS Global (short for Mobility as a Service) is the startup behind the most ambitious of Finland’s schemes. At a tap of a smartphone screen its app, Whim, will show the best way to get from A to B by combining public transport and a variety of options from participating private firms. Whim is currently being tested; it is due to go live in Helsinki this autumn and in two other Finnish cities late in the year.." Read more Hmmm…There are ‘hundreds’ of these Apps where a different one is the best in its own particular area. Unfortunately, ‘Google’ isn’t good enough ‘everywhere’ and it may not even be the best anywhere (except maybe Silicon Valley). What is really needed is a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" App that links to the best App in each area. Alain
Hmmm… twenty (20) traffic accidents have been reported to date, latest Sept 23, 2016, and all but one, the infamous 2mph ‘crash’ between a Google car and a bus, the fault was clearly on the other vehicle. 🙂 Alain
F. Pasquale, Oct 18, "… "Read more Hmmm… I didn’t even want to insert an excerpt (although it is a good article) . If these cars work, they’ll avoid encountering even one of the ugly alternatives, let alone both simultaneously. These are extremely rare events and I agree with the pragmatic misquote. We really have much more important and societally valuable things to do that to procrastinate over the ‘Trolley Problem’. Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
Reuters, Oct 18, "…It is unclear when the trial will start. Earlier this week, Singapore said it would seek information from the industry and research institutes on the potential use of self-driving vehicles for street cleaning and refuse collection…" Read more Hmmm… Its futuristic video that is slightly interesting. Alain
ITS International, Oct 19, "…Matt Kendall, telecoms analyst at The EIU, said: "In many respects, connected cars are already an embedded part of the current motoring environment, with many vehicles on our roads utilising connectedness in the form of GPS, infotainment and on-board vehicle diagnostics. However, the end game for the use of connectedness is the self-driving car, which is able to use connectivity to manoeuvre around, and interact with, its environment…." Read more Hmmm…Great! ‘Connected’ has made gains in TravelTainment, but is waiting for the end-game to contribute to ‘Self-driving’ where it has nothing but obstacles. Alain
Older stuff that I had missed:
Myra Blanco, January, 2016 "… This study assessed driving risk for the US nationally and for the Google Self-driving car project. Driving Safety on Public roads was examined in three ways. .." Read more Hmmm…Excellent! Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Half of Australians want driverless cars on the road – so they can get drunk at the pub and be driven home
R. Morgan, Oct 13, "Drivers would embrace the introduction of self-driving cars on our roads especially to take control when we are tired, bored or getting home from the pub. A new study of 5,000 Australians over the age of 18 found that the majority of drivers are happy for an autonomous car to take over the wheel when we are tired or when they have consumed alcohol or drugs…"Read more Hmmm… C’mon Australia, ‘Self-driving’ cars are NOT ‘Driverless’ cars which is what you need when you’ve had too much to drink. ‘Self-driving’ can only take you part of the way home, so unless you are happy that the ‘Self-driving’ car picks you up after you’ve staggered to the ‘on-ramp’ and then dumps you in the gutter at the ‘off-ramp’, you are either going to have to stay ‘on the wagon’ or wait until there are ‘Driverless’ cars. This is SERIOUS. There is widespread misunderstanding of the capabilities and limitations of these technologies! There is an enormous difference between Self-driving’ and ‘Driverless’. While we have cars that can ‘Self-drive’ (See Tesla, above) on some roads some of the time, we have zero ‘Driverless’ cars that operate anywhere near any watering hole or near anyplace where anybody lives, anywhere in the world, at any time. And the prospects are not bright that we will have any, any time soon. If these ‘studies’ are to be taken seriously, they need to do a much better job of portraying their hypotheticals. The fault here lies in the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) which properly defines a ‘Driverless’ vehicle as one that replaces ‘all dynamic driving tasks’ but unfortunately has as it’s ‘poster child’ a man sitting behind the wheel praying that the car will negotiate the turn ahead, and ready to save the day, should it begin to fail. This is an image of a ‘Self-driving’ vehicle NOT a ‘Driverless’ vehicle. ADVI should stop confusing the public by either changing its name or changing the images that it uses to portray its mission. Alain
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Recent Highlights of:
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
H. Grabar, Sept 29, "One possibility is that easy mobility—driverless cars, on-demand deliveries, and the like—will dull the pains of suburban life. The long commute, the wasted driving time, the difficulty of running out for a carton of milk—the inconvenience and expense of the subdivision will be melted away by hot new technology. Milk by drone, what a concept!
Another is that easy mobility produces greater advantages in the city. Carless living is better than ever. NIMBY battles don’t happen because parking and congestion aren’t problems. Wasted auto infrastructure, like lots and curbside parking and garages, is converted towards better uses like housing and restaurants. Maybe a central highway, once evidence of a city’s essential unpleasantness, becomes a park…. Read more Hmmm…VERY interesting. My view: There is essentially zero consumer demand for Driverless car ownership. Without a substantial mobility alternative, suburbanites will buy and love Self-driving cars. Driverless is a useless upgrade.
However, fleets of Driverless vehicles can provide a compelling alternative. They have a much better opportunity to thrive (be a profitable fleet business) if Driverless makes sharing rides "consumer acceptable/desirable". This may be achieved through price, amenities, ease-of-use, marketing, ???. Moderate density generates demand that can be readily served with moderate ridesharing that is substantially better than individual car ownership or car-sharing. This kind of elevator-like mobility is better in terms of service, price, overhead, environment, … and it substantially enhances the fundamental attractiveness of medium density urban lifestyle. Thus, ride-share Driverless favors moderate urban while Self-driving favors status quo. Alain
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
B. Simpson, Aug 25, "Isn’t this supposed to be a quiet time for business? …Not in transportation technology.
For instance, Ford announced it was working to launch fully autonomous automobiles by 2021. BMW, Intel and Mobileye joined to say they will have vehicles in production for the same target date. Ridesharing titan Uber says it will launch this month driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, though some employees will be in the car to ensure safety.
Forget the 10 years down the road baloney. We’ll be Level 4 Autonomous in three to five years.
Yet for all the excitement there’s been some downer news…. Lyft was seeking a buyer, despite the $500 million that GM pumped into it …Earlier this year Lyft pledged… to keep its U.S. losses under $50 million a month….Uber told its investors it lost $520 million in the first quarter, and more than $750 million in the second. This after losing about $2 billion in 2015….It’s valuable to keep in mind the shaky foundations of Uber and Lyft because the two have been touted as an important foundation for the growth of autonomous vehicles. Read more Hmmm…Do read more! It may well be that those that can’t make a dime wont even have the opportunity to buy the driverless vehicles that would allow them to "make a dime". The real value of the driverless vehicles may well be in their ability to generate operating cash without needing any of the $10B+ expertise/intellectual property amassed by Uber/Lyft in managing self-employed part-timers that aren’t needed. If that is the case, then the makers of those vehicles will manage them for their own account rather than selling them at cost-plus (or the price of those vehicles will be such that only their maker is making any money). Alain
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 more Hmmm…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
J. Markoff, Aug 5, " A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project. Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University research scientist, joined Google in 2009 to help create the then-secret effort. … Read more Hmmm…Very unfortunate. What a great job he has done. All the best. Alain
M. Ramsey, July 26, " A key supplier of semiautonomous car technology ended a supply agreement with Tesla Motors Inc. following a high-profile traffic fatality in May involving one of the Silicon Valley company’s electric vehicles. Read moreHmmm….And why in all of this isn’t there a discussion of Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) technology/suppliers?? There must be no consumer/regulatory appeal to AEB? Alain
Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):
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
Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities
U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles
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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