http://smartdrivingcar.com/E_Chao-120716

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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

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

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

U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx Announces $300 Million for University Transportation Center Grants

Press release, Dec 6, "U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today $300.3 million in grants to 32 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing our nation.  The announcement includes awards of up to $72.5 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016.  Subsequent awards using Federal FY17 – FY20 funding will be made annually, subject to availability of funds and grantee compliance with grant terms and conditions…" Read more Hmmm… See map. Congratulations to all! Alain

Apple revives interest in self-driving car technology in letter to US regulators 

D. Millward, Dec 4, "Apple has told US regulators that it is still interested in developing self-driving car technology.  Steven Kenner, the computer giant’s director of product integrity, has written to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to confirm that it remains interested in autonomous vehicles.

The letter re-affirming its belief in the viability of the in the technology emerged less than three months after it emerged that it had axed dozens of staff from its secret vehicle division…" Read more Hmmm… Apple has no choice but to try to disrupt the > $10T/yr Mobility Market.  Alain

George Hotz is giving away the code behind his self-driving car project

S. Obrien, Nov 30, "Famed iPhone and PlayStation cracker George Hotz is resurrecting the DIY autonomous car project he canceled in October. But this time, there’s a twist: instead of selling a physical product, Hotz’s Comma.ai is releasing the company’s self-driving software, as well as the plans for the necessary hardware, which Hotz calls Comma Neo. All of this code will be available for free — in fact, it is already on Github.

Hotz framed the self-driving software, called Open Pilot, as an “open source alternative to [Tesla’s] Autopilot” during a press event that was held in a San Francisco house that serves as Comma.ai’s headquarters. He claimed that the Open Pilot and Comma Neo combination “provides almost all the same functionality as Autopilot 7,” which is the second-most-recent version of Tesla’s self-driving software…" Read more Hmmm… Very interesting, but there are details.  Read on. Alain

China’s Driverless Trucks Are Revving Their Engines

W. Knight, Nov 16, "…Intercity freight transportation will be a huge market in China, says Xiaodi Hou, CTO of TuSimple, a company based in San Diego and Beijing that’s developing an automated trucking platform in partnership with a large Chinese truck maker (Hou declined to name which). …The approach TuSimple is focused on is particularly cost-effective. It relies heavily on computer vision and algorithms that can understand a scene in detail, going beyond identifying vehicles to predicting what actions they may take. “Everything is done in computer vision with deep learning,” Hou says, referring to a popular kind of machine learning that involves feeding large amounts of training data into a big neural network…"  Read more Hmmm… No shortage of entrants. Alain

Self-Driving Goes Open-Source: PolySync Announces Open Source Car Control, Complete, Affordable Kit for Autonomous Vehicle Development

Nov 15, "…“Just getting on the road is one of the biggest hurdles in the development of self-driving cars,” says PolySync CEO Josh Hartung. “By lowering the barrier of entry we’re enabling developers to safely capture data and test models at a scale that just wasn’t possible a year ago. For the cost of a typical development vehicle today, engineers can be working on 10 OSCC-enabled vehicles tomorrow.”…

The system allows developers to connect the Arduino-based OSCC modules, along with their own hardware and software, to the vehicle’s internal control systems, including the Controller Area Network (CAN). This enables communication to the steering and throttle controls, using either the PolySync Core platform or other software. Braking is enabled with the addition of a commonly-available, repurposed automotive brake-by-wire module…." Read more Hmmm… Very interesting that Josh has open-sourced his car control software, even if it is limited to the Kia Soul.   Alain

The Impact of Vehicle Automation on Carbon Emissions

M. A-Kearns, Nov 18, "…We found that existing research does not draw clear and consistent conclusions about the impact of autonomous vehicles on the environment generally and climate specifically…." Read more Hmmm… While this is a very thorough recap of the literature, it falls into the trap of not clearly differentiating the fundamental different forms of automation.  It is bad enough that the SAE, and former NHTSA, ‘Levels’ are totally confusing.  Casually and interchangeably using self-driving, autonomous, automated, etc. makes it unreadable.   This report would be much improved if they had taken the literature and carefully categorized it into 3 distinct types:
    Safe-Driving Cars (trucks & buses too) that only have automated collision avoidance and automated lane keeping that are purely focused on not allowing the driver to crash the vehicle.  
    Self-Driving … focused on allowing the driver to relinquish the driving tasks in well defined circumstances/driving scenarios, and
    Driverless… which enables shared-ride mobility as a service. 
Placed in these categories, it is clear that Safe-Driving technology will have negligible effect on the environment, Self-driving will enable a substantial increase VMT (because the personal disutility of travel will be substantially reduced while having no opportunity to promote ride-sharing.  So VMT must increase and continue to increase as the Self-Driving systems improve.  Driverless enables centralized real-time management of fleets of autonomousTaxis that will offer mobility as a service at a very attractive prices (because there is no driver to pay.)  While person miles traveled will substantially increase because of the affordability  of the mobility and its availability to all, that increase may be more than offset by the the ride-sharing that is uniquely available with this technology.    Alain
 

Hyundai’s Self-Driving Concept Car Looks Surprisingly Normal

K. Korosec, Nov 16, "Hyundai unveiled its autonomous Ioniq concept vehicle Wednesday at the LA Auto Show. A car designed to look less like a self-driving car and more like the rest of its line-up.

To achieve that, the automaker has hidden the light-sensitive radar system in its front bumper—a sensor that typically is affixed on the roof. Hyundai said by hiding the LIDAR, the concept “looks like any other car on the road and not a high school science project.” Read more Hmmm… There is enormous latent demand for self-driving (aka ‘the ultimate texting machine’) Alain

Uber Bets on Artificial Intelligence With Acquisition and New Lab

M Issac, Dec 5, "Uber envisions a future in which a fleet of vehicles can make the most complex maneuvers while carting passengers around without the help of a driver. To achieve that, cars will need to get a whole lot smarter.  Enter Gary Marcus and Zoubin Ghahramani. The two men are being appointed as co-directors of Uber’s new in-house research arm on artificial intelligence, which the ride-hailing company unveiled on Monday. The research arm’s aim is to apply A.I. in areas like self-driving vehicles, along with solving other technological challenges through machine learning.

The two are joining Uber through an acquisition of their start-up, Geometric Intelligence. Unlike most A.I. start-ups that generally follow one method of study of artificial intelligence, Geometric Intelligence takes a multidisciplinary approach to the field…Read more Hmmm… A conventional way to hire talent…  Buy the company. And how does this fit with Otto’s talent?  Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention


On the More Technical Side

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

K. Kockelman, et al. Implications of Connected and Automated Vehicles on the Safety and Operations of Roadway Networks: A Final Report Oct 2016

K. Kockelman, et al. Best Practices Guidebook for Preparing Texas for Connected & Automated Vehicles U. of Texas, Center for Transportation Research 0-6849-P1, Oct 2016



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

Autonomous droid makes first fast-food delivery

S. Roberts, Dec 1, "Just Eat claims to have made the world’s first ever online food delivery using a self-driving robot. As part of the takeaway food firm’s pilot with Starship Technologies, a robot delivery droid was dispatched to autonomously deliver a customer’s order in London…" Read more Hmmm… Seems staged.  If it wasn’t, then it is NOT Half-Baked and my apologies.  . Alain

Automatic intelligent parking: Audi at NIPS in Barcelona

Blog Post,  Dec 5. "…From December 5 to 10, 2016, in Barcelona, the premium automaker is showing with the aid of a scale model how a car develops intelligent parking strategies. The car manufacturer is also providing specialists and potential applicants with information on jobs in innovative fields… Self-learning systems are a key technology for piloted driving cars." Read more Hmmm… Wait a minute.  There is nothing "self-learning’ about what they are doing and it is certainly not ‘key’ to anything (unless someone develops a ‘pain loop’ for Deep Learning).  Realizing that you need to ‘change directions’ or turn the steering wheel ‘8.342 degrees’ is not learning anything. If you are not going to train (& test ) in full-scale reality, training (and even testing) in a virtual environment is more effective. Alain


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


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

5th Connected & Autonomous Vehicle Symposium

December 8-9, 2016

Brooklyn, NY


Recent Highlights of:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

  DSRC’s ‘Dead End,’ Says Qualcomm Exec

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

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

Sunday, November 6, 2016

   Our Driverless Future

S. Helpen, Nov 24, " Review of  Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead   by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurma, MIT Press, 312 pp..." Read the review and the book. Hmmm… This book is really about ‘Driverless’ and differentiates it well from ‘Self-driving’, kudos for that.  So while it has no equations, it precisely address the issues.  I enjoyed Ch 6, First there were Electronic Highways, especially pages 116,7 and, of course,  Chapter 7, Build Smart Cars, not Smart Highways.  especially pages 137,8 and the subchapter The value of dumb highways.  Chapter 10 Deep Learning: The Final Piece of the Puzzle is a very nice background while much is being advanced ‘as we speak’.   The book appropriately ends with a chapter about hype, Ch 12 The Ripple Effects which references the Zero Principle, addresses local goods movement and lists the potential losers in this technological revolution.  The book ends by supporting the argument that this technological transition is more about the rapid evolution of algorithms than hardware.  Bravo!  Alain

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

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

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How Apple Scaled Back Its Titanic Plan to Take on Detroit

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 moreHmmm… Very interesting!)  Alain

Friday, October 7, 2016

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

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

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

Friday, October 1, 2016

Do Driverless Cars Favor Urban or Suburban Life?

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 

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

Latest to Quit Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit: Top Roboticist

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

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

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

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


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