44th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Riders in Waymo’s self-driving cars will now be insured

A. Hawkins, Dec 19, “…Trov, a five-year-old insurance tech startup based in Danville, Calif., said it would work with Waymo to insure passengers for lost and damaged property and trip-related medical expenses. In other words, if your driverless Waymo is involved in a fender bender — or, god forbid, something worse — your robot-induced whiplash treatment will be covered.
Importantly, passengers won’t have to pay for the coverage, nor will they know that Trov is the insurer. Moreover, Waymo is Trov’s first corporate client. The startup is underwritten by an affiliate of reinsurer Munich Re, whose venture-capital arm also led a $45 million fundraising round for the startup earlier this year. The reinsurer was willing to take a risk, given the lack of data on pricing and claims history surrounding self-driving cars…”  Read more Hmmmm…  This is significant!!! This is essentially re-Insurance of Waymo’s operation of an autonomousTaxi (aTaxi) service.  It would be interesting to know the details of the deal as to deductibles, coverage of “the other guy”, etc. to understand how much Waymo is confident in its extensive test results and thus largely self-insuring versus risk-aversion due diligence for its investors.

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 17

Episode 17 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast! Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser, who is faculty chair of autonomous vehicle engineering and tech journalist Fred Fishkin chat about the latest from Waymo, Velodyne, GM, Lyft and more.

  GM Sees Fortune In Shared Autonomous Vehicles

J. McElroy, Dec 15, “General Motors is in a full-court press to be the first automaker to deploy shared autonomous vehicles in volume. It believes it can make a fortune in this business. Shockingly, it says the revenue and profits from shared AVs quickly will surpass its core business of selling cars and trucks…Today’s on-demand ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft cost $2.00 to $3.00 per mile to operate. …That is what it is costing it is NOT what they charge, ie. price.   My family’s 40 mile Lyft ride this morning during rush hour from Newark airport to home was $63.39 including a nice tip and tolls.  You do the arithmetic.   That cost limits them to less than 1% of all the miles traveled in the U.S. market. …How much less is that market if the investors were not subsidizing each ride? … GM says if you can get that number down to only $1.00 per mile, it opens up ridesharing to 20% of all the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) …likely also true, but shouldn’t GM be talking about Person Miles Traveled?  Isn’t the person the customer and not the vehicle?  I’m so picky!. …

If you can reduce that cost to less than $1.00 per mile, it opens up the market to 75% of VMT …that is a heck of a jump just by going from = to < !?  How much less than…???  We know that the cost per VMT can’t get much less than 50 cent. (VMT life of a car is a little more than 4x its capitalization costs( by the time a $30k vehicle travels 120k miles it is essentially fully depreciated) ($0.25/VMT) + operations, insurance & maintenance ($0.15/VMT)  + fuel & RoadTax ($0.10/VMT)..So RideSharing becomes key; Cost to the consumer/MileTraveled = (Cost/VMT)/AverageVehicleOccupancy, so AVO=2 reduces the cost to consumers in half to ~$0.25/PMT and an AVO of 3+ reduces it to under $0.20/PMT, representing 300 times greater revenues than today. And GM sees a clear path to getting costs under $1.00 per mile by 2025. It all has to do with getting the human driver out of the car, reducing the cost of the vehicle, extending its useful life, and getting a vehicle utilization rate of 50% or greater  … I don’t know what they mean by vehicle utilization.  It certainly isn’t %hours of service throughout 24 hours.  

… Today, the lifetime revenue GM earns on average for every vehicle it sells is about $30,000. .. This has to be a low-ball number, or it is not recognizing what the dealer gets.  So is this new business a way of cutting out the dealers???  Whatever… Dealerships get disrupted… Most of that comes from the selling price of the vehicle. With ride-sharing AVs, it expects lifetime revenue of $200,000 per vehicle or better. .. They’ll need to make these vehicles really durable, which is counterproductive for their 100+ year-old business model focused on getting you to buy a new one every year.  @ 50 cent/VMT the vehicles need a 400k VMT life. The big question is what is Profit…… The payoff could be enormous. GM says it can achieve profit margins of 20% to 30% in the autonomous rides-sharing business, versus today’s corporate average of 8%.

…to achieve this profit margin means that their cost need to be $0.40 – $0.35/VMT ($160k – $140k for each vehicle’s 400k VMT).  If the cost of fuel, maintenance, insurance and operations is $0.10 +$0.15 = $0.25/VMT, this leaves $0.15/VMT – $0.10/VMT which can capitalize the production of a ~$50k vehicle.  So on an “order-of-magnitude” basis what is described in the article is doable!  Read more Hmmmm…  Read comments in-line above.  I agree, this is a real business with profit margins ~25%!  Alain

  Driverless car from GM’s Cruise and motorcycle collide in San Francisco

T. Lee, “An autonomous vehicle owned by Cruise, the autonomous car startup that was acquired by GM last year, struck a motorcyclist on San Francisco streets earlier this year. According to a filing with the California DMV, the motorcyclist was able to walk away from the crash but reported shoulder pain and was taken to the hospital to receive medical care. Cruise says that police at the scene determined the motorcyclist was at fault for the collision.

The Cruise vehicle was traveling in the middle lane of a three-lane, one-way street in San Francisco’s Lower Haight neighborhood. It spotted a gap in traffic in the left lane and began changing lanes—but then the gap started to close as the vehicle ahead slowed down. So the Cruise car shifted back into the center lane.  Normally, that would be an unremarkable chain of events on San Francisco’s busy streets. Unfortunately, Cruise says, “a motorcycle that had just lane-split between two vehicles in the center and right lanes moved into the center lane.” The motorcycle “glanced the side of the Cruise AV, wobbled, and fell over.”  Cruise says its car was traveling at 12 miles per hour, while the motorcycle was going 17 miles per hour…” Read more Hmmmm…  See next.  Alain

Report of Traffic Accident Involving an Autonomous Vehicle (OL 316)

“As of December 19, 2017, the DMV has received 52 Autonomous Vehicle Accident Reports…”  Read more Hmmmm…  In 2017, it is GM/Cruise 22, Waymo/Google 3.  Either Waymo/Google hasn’t tested as intensively in challenging California environments as GM/Cruise, or … (You fill in the …), or Waymo is way out in front.  Alain

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing raises over $4 billion as battle with Uber intensifies

H. Tan, Dec 21, ” China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has raised over $4 billion in its latest round of funding, the company said on Thursday, posing a challenge to its U.S. rival Uber in its efforts to branch out overseas.  The latest investment values Didi at over $50 billion, according to Reuters, and equips it with the cash needed to aggressively pursue expansion opportunities abroad.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Didi will launch in Mexico next year. The move would mark Didi’s first expansion of its services beyond China.  On Tuesday, Didi said it was it was looking to bring its ride-hailing service to Taiwan….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Alain

The War on Driving to Come

DC. Cooke, Dec 30, “t some point in the future, be it years, decades, or a century hence, the federal government will seek to ban driving.  This, I’m afraid, is an inevitability. It is inexorably heading our way. The dot sits now on the horizon. As is common, the measure will be sold in the name of public health. …

For a century, the automobile has been a bastion of liberty, freeing up almost everybody from the tyranny of other people’s schedules….My car, God bless it, has no logbook, and no timetable….

I refuse to be so co-opted, or to be forced under the peering eyes of a machine, however “loving” or “graceful” its acolytes might believe it to be. Indeed, I do more than refuse: I propose a legal prophylactic against this nightmare, to be adopted now, before it can come to fruition. As soon as possible, it must be illegal for the state to take steps in this direction. We must amend the Constitution to ensure as much….” Read more Hmmmm…  From Ken Orski…” Charles C.W.Cooke’s alarmist prediction of a ban on personal driving (“The War on Driving to Come”) reminds me of an equally alarming prediction by George Orwell in his “1984”  of a dystopian society headed by “Big Brother” in which independent thinking was persecuted as “thoughtcrime.”   

Amusing and entertaining (as Orwell’s novel meant to be)? Yes
To be taken seriously, even in 50 year’s time? (as Cooke’ intent seems to be)? Only if you suffer from clinical paranoia

From Richard Mudge..”Interesting article.  While I find the specific forecast doubtful, I can imagine banning human vehicles in certain locations.  Some places already have streets with no vehicles other than buses or light rail.

The question about how soon autonomous vehicles will arrive depends a lot on definitions.  What is an AV?  What level of market penetration do we need in order to say they have arrived?   A quick scorecard shows considerable progress:

Alain Kornhauser defines three types of AV:  safe; self-driving; and driverless.  The safe technology (automatic braking; lane tracking; automated cruise control (ACC) etc.) is already in many (most) new cars.  It will take time for the fleet to turnover, but safety benefits should begin to appear as the vehicles are deployed – no need to wait for fully driverless vehicles.  ACC is rarely used and would benefit from training.
    Low-speed autonomous shuttles are in the field today, with some 10-12 firms in the market!  These vehicles have limitations (20-25 MPH max and operate on campuses and public roads with limited traffic) but they can operate as fully driverless vehicles (Level 4) within these constraints.  Deployment began in 2017 and 2018 will see a large number of operations, from Greenville South Carolina to Las Vegas etc.  Improvements in speed and ability to handle busier roads seems logical.  Folks may be surprised by the number of markets that could benefit from low-speed shuttles.
    Several OEMs have self-driving vehicles on the market now (Tesla, GM, Mercedes, Audi) with more to come in 2018 and 2019.  These are expensive and have limited abilities (only certain roads and certain weather conditions) but they  open the door to future improvements.  Deployment will be slow, until technology costs come down.
    In terms of driverless vehicles the near-term focus is on shared rides (some argue this will be the long-term focus as well):
        Waymo (Google) will offer several hundred driverless vans for shared rides in the Phoenix metro area (up to 100 miles from the city) starting this Spring.  True, this is a small number of vehicles and only one metro area, and one with good weather and wide streets, but these will be driverless (Level 4) vehicles with real customers.
        Uber has purchased 24,000 driverless cars from Volvo, with delivery from 2019 to 2021.  No word on where they will be deployed, but given the ability to carry multiple passengers they should have a noticeable impact on several metro areas. Alain has done a back of the envelope calculation of the number of passengers that even a small fleet could handle.
        Who will move next?  I assume Waymo has much more ambitious plans than a few hundred vehicles in Phoenix.  Lyft and GM make ambitious sounds.  More than 40 companies have registered in California to test AVs.
    None of these represent a driverless car that can “go anywhere in any weather,” but they do solve real problems. Even if we never reach that ultimate goal, the economic and social gains will be huge.

Rather than 5 to 50 years, I would say 1 to 20 years, with 20 years representing a time when anyone who wanted/needed it could find access to an autonomous vehicle (even if not fully driverless).  There may be exceptions in some rural areas.  There should be noticeable impacts in many locations and many markets before then.  There will still be room to improve the technology and reduce costs so Steve Shladover could still make his case for 2075.” Alain


A. Marshall, Dec. 28, “…Volvo’s retreat is just the latest example of a company cooling on optimistic self-driving car predictions. In 2012, Google CEO Sergey Brin said even normies would have access to autonomous vehicles in fewer than five years—nope. Those who shelled out an extra $3,000 for Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot are no doubt disappointed by its non-appearance, nearly six months after its due date. New Ford CEO Jim Hackett recently moderated expectations for the automaker’s self-driving service, which his predecessor said in 2016 would be deployed at scale by 2021. “We are going to be in the market with products in that time frame,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But the nature of the romanticism by everybody in the media about how this robot works is overextended right now.”…” Read more Hmmmm…  Again, the “Disillusionment” is associated with the lax use of terminology.  Of all the promises, Brin’s may be the closest of being achieved by “normies” in Arizona.  Alain

The Tesla Model 3 Makes The Future Feel Normal

A. Collins, Dec 31, “…while Tesla itself isn’t really loaning cars out to the media on a large scale yet, we had to know if the Model 3 could live up to all that hype.  So we asked the internet if any Model 3 owners would let us drive their car. Fourteen people responded, and I got with one who lived in the Los Angeles area near me and was willing to let me check out his.

What resulted is the one of the first independent, non-Tesla supervised or Tesla-sourced Model 3 tests you’ll read anywhere. And while we scored a few hours with the car, and a fuller long-term review and road trip test are hopefully coming soon, it doesn’t take long to figure out what this car’s all about. The Tesla Model 3 is cohesive in design and composed on the road—but it’s also the closest anyone has come to making a smartphone on wheels.

The Model 3 I drove was significantly better-equipped than a base model car with optional Premium Upgrades including nice interior materials, heated seats and tint on the glass roof ($5,000), 19-inch wheels ($1,500), Enhanced Autopilot ($5,000), the larger 310-mile range 75 kWh battery ($9,000), a Deep Blue Metallic paint ($1,000) and $1,000 in destination and document fees to ring up at $57,500 before state and federal incentives…

But as it stands right now, the Tesla Model 3 has already accomplished a fascinating feat of grafting a user-experience everyone seems to love (their phones) to a tool everyone seems to need (their cars), and it’s done a damn fine job of it in the process.”  Read more Hmmmm… An extensive “independent” review of the car.  Alain

Qualcomm scores permit to test self-driving vehicles in California

 P. Tracy, Dec 26, ” …gained permission from California to begin testing autonomous vehicles on public roads….“We certainly expect to be a key player in the autonomous space,” Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm’s vice president of product management for automotive, told CNBC.  The permit was granted to Qualcomm by the Department of Motor Vehicles on Dec. 12 for a single vehicle with three drivers…” Read more Hmmmm…  V2X makes sense for them as it moves beyond DSRC into 5G and beyond and especially if it is tightly integrated into the automated driving aspects.  Alain

Australia to spend millions to re-map the ENTIRE country to prevent GPS disasters after its found tectonic movement has shifted the entire continent nearly TWO METRES

N. White, Dec 18,  “Taxpayers will fork out millions to realign Australia’s mapping coordinates by less than two metres to align GPS maps with where the country actually is.  The continent is shifting 7cm northeast every year as the tectonic plate on which Australia sits drifts like a slow-moving ship…” Read more Hmmmm…  Just another reason why GPS and digital maps are OK for Navigation but directly observed relative position, relative velocity and scene cognition are not only necessary, but the easy way to achieve safe lane keeping and crash avoidance.  Alain

Autonomous Car Hype Is Way Ahead Of Reality

N. Winton, Dec 29, ““We’re so close, so close, yet so far away,” sang legendary rock duo Hall and Oates back in the 1990s on the subject of love.  Driverless cars were science fiction then, but now despite the massive investment and hyperbole, autonomous vehicles won’t be with us for a while yet.  The problem is that despite hugely impressive gains in autonomous technology, the last percentage points of progress towards 100% reliability are proving difficult to achieve….
 The first autonomous cars available to the public for general use are probably at least 15 years away, unless next week’s CES show in Las Vegas provides some unexpected dynamite.”  Read more Hmmmm…  Or there is an announcement from Waymo that they’ve actually started doing it in Arizona.  Alain

How Self-Driving Cars Will Change In-Auto Entertainment And Advertising

N. Neumann, Dec 26, “…Americans spend on average about 290 hours driving each year, with 87.5 percent of them over the age of 16. This presents a rich opportunity for advertisers to target large swaths of the population over many, many “new” hours. As self-driving cars turn drivers into passengers, they will suddenly be exposed to more screen time, providing a fresh opportunity for advertisers, and a new challenge that will surely be met in innovative ways…” Read more Hmmmm… Driving postpones consumption.  Entertainment in conventional cars focuses on postponed consumption.  Self-driving frees drivers to become active real-time consumers.  Entertainment in Self-driving cars can focus on contemporaneous consumption.  Note:  entertainment provides value to  the entertainment provider ONLY in so far as it is a delivery mechanism for advertising that motivates consumption.  Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

New York City’s electric bike delivery workers face crackdown

AP, Dec 25, “…  City officials are p romising a crackdown on e-bikes, which may be loved by environmentalists and the often poor, immigrant workforce that relies on them, but are loathed by many drivers and pedestrians who think they are a menace.    Under city law, the bikes are legal to own and sell, but riding them on the street can lead to a fine of up to $500. Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this fall that starting in 2018, businesses that have employees use the bikes are also subject to a fine of $100 for a first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense…”  Read more Hmmmm…  So much for good ideas.  Now what about Segways and their GlassHoles.  Alain

Superhuman AI for heads-up no-limit poker: Libratus beats top professionals

N. Brown, Dec. 2017, ” No-limit Texas hold’em is the most popular form of poker. Despite AI successes in perfect-information games, the private information and massive game tree have made no-limit poker difficult to tackle. We present Libratus, an AI that, in a 120,000-hand competition, defeated four top human specialist professionals in heads-up no-limit Texas hold’em, the leading benchmark and long-standing challenge problem in imperfect-information game solving. Our game-theoretic approach features application independent techniques: an algorithm for computing a blueprint for the overall strategy, an algorithm that fleshes out the details of the strategy for subgames that are reached during play, and a self-improver algorithm that fixes potential weaknesses that opponents have identified in the blueprint strategy….” Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Alain

How soon will computers replace The Economist’s writers?

Dec 19, “In the spirit of going fast and breaking things, The Economist has therefore trained an AI program on articles from the Science and Technology section, and invited it to come up with a piece of its own. The results, presented unedited below, show both the power and the limitations of pattern-recognition machine learning, which is more or less what AI boils down to….”  Read more Hmmmm…  The AI trained by The Economist has no chance of creating anything but a regurgitation of the past because it has no knowledge of anything new.  So if The Economist prides itself on rehashing or extrapolating the past, then its writers should look for new jobs, else; they can ask for and deserve a raise.  Alain

  On the More Technical Side

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

The hyperloop has a new world speed record: 240 mph

A. Hawkins, Dec 19, “For those of you holding out hope for one more high-speed test of the hyperloop before the end of the year, you’re in luck. On December 15th, Virgin Hyperloop One conducted the third demonstration of its not-to-scale system in the desert outside of Las Vegas, sending its magnetically levitating pod through a nearly airless tube at 240 mph (387 km/h).   It was a significant increase over the team’s previous record of 192 mph, but far less than the hyperloop’s theoretical maximum speed of 700 mph….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Smith & Wessons have had mussel velocities  > 1,142 mph for centuries and Albert Ely Beach built and operated a full scale system in the 1870s (almost 150 years ago!). Alain

2017 Infrastructure Report Card

ASCE, Dec 2017, ” OVERVIEW: America’s roads are often crowded, frequently in poor condition, chronically underfunded, and are becoming more dangerous. More than two out of every five miles of America’s urban interstates are congested and traffic delays cost the country $160 billion in wasted time and fuel in 2014. One out of every five miles of highway pavement is in poor condition and our roads have a significant and increasing backlog of rehabilitation needs. After years of decline, traffic fatalities increased by 7% from 2014 to 2015, with 35,092 people dying on America’s roads..”  Read more Hmmmm…  One needs to be careful here because of the vested interest of the source.  “2 out of every 5 miles are congested”… is probably only true if by “congested” it means that it experienced congestion at least some time duration during some days and the “2 out of 5” is likely lane miles, not route miles.  Sorry to be so picky.  Surprisingly, there is no suggestion that ride-sharing might help alleviate congestion  (that wouldn’t be one of ASCE’s self-interests).  Also, the safety numbers should be updated to 2016 at least. Alain


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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Lectern Session 225
Automated Driving Speed Dating
Monday 8:00 AM- 9:45 AM

46th Annual Princeton University Transportation Program Reunion Banquet
 TUESDAY, January 9, 2018

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

Recent PodCasts

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 16

Episode 16 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast.  The Amtrak crash: who is to blame? Uber’s European problem. Yann LeCun at the Institute for Advanced Study. All this along with the latest on Apple, Volvo and Tesla in Episode 16 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin.  Listen

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 15

Episode 15 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast.  Hosts Fred Fishkin and Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser are joined by leading expert Michael Sena from Sweden in a wide open and most entertaining chat ranging from the impact of Ralph Nader to the insurance industry’s role, to the latest from Ford, Lyft, Uber and China’s Didi.

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 14

Episode 13 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. This edition In this edition Fred and Alain are joined by Bernard Soriano, the Deputy Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. On the agenda: Waymo’s CEO says real driverless testing is coming soon.; Waymo’s autonomous fleet now has traveled four million miles; Lyft gets the green light from California to test self driving on public roads

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 11

Episode 11 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. Fred and Alain are joined by leading expert and Internet pioneer Brad Templeton. Waymo makes some history, Thee tech needed to make it work..cameras…lidar or both? Navya bringing new robotic vehicles to Paris. And an accident…as a self driving shuttle is launched in Las Vegas.

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 9

F. Fishkin, Oct  25, Episode 9 “Host Fred Fishkin with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and guest Fred Payne, council member from Greenville County, South Carolina. Greenville’s autonomous taxis are rolling. Bank of America analysts see big investment opportunities in vehicle technology. The latest from London, China and New York. And on demand pilotless planes?

Highlights of 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Overspeed cause of Amtrak Cascades fatal derailment

S. Chirls, Dec. 20, “Three people were killed and more than 70 were injured as an Amtrak Cascades train derailed early Dec. 18 while traversing a curve leading into an overpass at Interstate 5 southwest of Tacoma, Wash., sending a locomotive and passenger cars crashing onto the highway below. The National Transportation Safety Board has identified the cause of the wreck as an overspeed condition, citing a lapse in situational awareness as a potential contributing factor…

Preliminary information indicated that the emergency brakes deployed automatically … pretty worthless automated emergency brakes, Siemens.  They must be of the same design that the SAE designed for cars… applied for crash mitigation purposes, not crash avoidance.  And how good was the mitigation this time?!  So bad!!… and were not manually activated by the engineer, NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said, citing data from the locomotive’s event recorder.  Positive Train Control had been installed on the right-of-way, but wasn’t operational, said Geoff Patrick, spokesman for Sound Transit, which owns the right-of-way. The target date for having  PTC up and running for the segment of the track where the derailment occurred is the second quarter of 2018. Locomotives and cab-control cars also need to be equipped with PTC… Read more Hmmmm… So once again the NTSB will throw the engineer “under the bus” rather than senior management that didn’t implement PTC in a timely manner. The same thing is happening in the SafeDriving car world where the mentality remains at SAE, NHTSA and the OEMs that the driver is in control, the automated systems are warnings and the mentality is crash mitigation instead of crash avoidance as I’ve commented previously. Maybe this is another wake-up call although there have been many and everyone just hits the snooze button.  And then there is the NYTimes with their typical “email server” and “flu symptoms”  reporting….

Friday, December 8, 2017

Insurance Companies Are Now Offering Discounts if You Let Your Tesla Drive Itself

B. Jones, Dec. 6, “Self-driving cars are expected to make our roads safer. Now, UK insurance company Direct Line is offering a discount to customers who use Tesla Autopilot to facilitate research into its effects…..” Read more Hmmmm… Guess what.. I bet the discount is substantially less than the expected reduction in LOSS!  Win-Win!! Why is this not happening in the US?  Alain

Saturday, December 2, 2017

  Personal Sedan Sales in Jeopardy as U.S. Auto Market Transitions to “Islands” of Autonomous Mobility: KPMG Research

Nov 27, ” KPMG predicts that self-driving cars and mobility services will provide options that will reduce consumer desire to own cars, particularly sedans. Pushing a button for mobility services competes with the utility of sedans, and both give consumers the freedom to buy the car they really want to own or utilize mobility by the trip. In fact, KPMG projects that sales of personally-owned sedans in the U.S. will drop precipitously – from 5.4 million units sold today to just 2.1 million units by 2030….” Read more Hmmmm…  See video, See full report next, Excellent but they don’t sufficiently differentiate between Self-driving and Driverless (and don’t even bother with Safe-driving which is unfortunate.  But excellent anyway because they approach it from the individual trip demand.  Alain

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Volvo to supply Uber with up to 24,000 self-driving SUVs for taxi fleet

S. Masunaga & R. Mitchell, Nov. 20, ” fleet of self-driving Volvo vehicles operated by Uber Technologies Inc. could be ready for the road as early as 2019, marking the ride-hailing firm’s biggest push yet to roll out autonomous cars.  Volvo said Monday that it would sell Uber tens of thousands of luxury sport utility vehicles between 2019 and 2021 outfitted with the Swedish automaker’s safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies. Uber will then add its own self-driving technology to the autonomous taxi fleet…”  Read more Hmmmm…  This is a significant announcement and recognizes that it is going to take another year-plus for the Uber/Volvo existing ‘Self-driving‘ technology stack (which now requires an Uber attendant in the car)  to become ‘Driverless’ (can operate safely without an Uber attendant in each car).   If these cars don’t become Driverless, their cost per ride will be so prohibitively high that their use will not be sustainable. 

24,000 is a reasonable number with which to start   These vehicles would become Uber’s work horses.  They’ll operate ~20 hours a day and could serve ~5 short trips per hour when concentrated in Uber’s highest demand areas.  With some ride sharing they could serve 100 person trips per day,  allowing them to serve nearly half of Uber’s current 5.5 million trips a day.  Unfortunately, this is the short-trip half. The half remaining is dominated by long trips.  Vehicles serve these at only about 1.5 trips per hour.  Vehicle (driver)  productivity is consequently limited to about 30 trips per day.  That means that each day Uber will still need two shifts of 100,000 gig workers each to show up and deliver the mobility services needed to serve their 3 million daily longer trips.  To really scale, Uber will need to order many more of these Volvos and and get them to operate Driverlessly in much larger geographic areas so that they can serve some of these long trips.

In the US there are about 1 Billion vehicular trips per day. Many are short, some are long, very few are very long.  It is doubtful that a Driverless car could serve more than 2.5 person trips per hour or 50 blended-length trips per day.  Thus, to serve 10% of the Billion trips per day would require a fleet of about 2 million Driverless cars.  In 2016, 17.5 Million cars & light trucks were sold in the US.  By devoting about 10% of the car & light duty truck manufacturing capacity to the production of Driverless vehicles, enough Driverless cars are produced in a year to serve 10% of all US vehicular trips.  So the manufacturing capacity exists to enable an Uber or Lyft or Didi or Waymo or … to in a few years serve many/most trips in the US. 

This suggests to me that Waymo must have already established a deal/arrangement with a manufacturer to begin very soon to produce thousands of cars that can accept Waymo’s Driverless stack of hardware and software and aggressively begin to serve pockets of those 1Billion daily person trips.  Alain

Friday, November 17, 2017


NYTM Editor, Nov 7, “IT IS A truth as visible from space, in the tendrils of our brightly lit megaroadways, as it is under a microscope, in the diesel particles that tar our lungs: America is a car country. This truth has been true for more than a hundred years now. Soon after the turn of the 20th century, the automobile became pervasive in urban centers, establishing a new, briskly perilous pace for city life; by the 1930s, as annual vehicle sales surpassed four million, urban streetcar systems had begun to go defunct, scrapped in favor of gas-burning buses; by the mid-1950s, new cars increasingly rolled off the line into a suburban way of life that the car itself had made possible. Suburbs had already swallowed a quarter of the population when, at the behest of President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956, Congress inaugurated the most ambitious infrastructure project in the nation’s history: a 47,000-mile Interstate highway system. Its construction would crisscross the nation and spread even more suburbia as it went, bringing a profusion of new features to the American landscape — not just countless cloverleafs and imposingly stacked overpasses but drive-ins, drive-throughs, cul-de-sacs, acres upon acres of blacktop parking.

As the car transformed the American lifestyle, so did it colonize the American imagination. Perhaps the most fascinating artifact of automotive retrofuturism dates to 1958, two years into the Interstate building boom, when Disney produced an hourlong TV program called “Magic Highway, U.S.A.” After a half-hour or so celebrating the car’s ascent, the program pivoted to envisioning its future. At a time when Eisenhower’s Interstate project — inspired, famously, by his awe at traveling Hitler’s autobahn during the Nazi overthrow — was seizing private property through eminent domain around the country, Disney imagined atomic-powered tunnel borers and imperial road-building machines as tall and wide as skyscrapers, cutting through landscapes and leaving fully constructed roadways in their wake. Dreaming further forward, the program extrapolated from the new real-world highways to envision literal high-ways of clear tubes raised far above the urban environment, magnificent air-conditioned arteries that someday would “link together all nations and help create a better understanding among the peoples of the world.”…”  Read more Hmmmm… Wow!  The whole magazine about SmartDrivingCars.  Wow!  Must reading.  Caution: The only way this utopia doesn’t turn into a disaster is if, when pertinent, we Share Rides!  It is not pertinent when the trip density is so low that there isn’t anybody around going in the same direction at about the same time. Then it is appropriate and no problem to go alone. 

However, when there are other people going our way at about the same time, then we should go together instead of adding to congestion by going alone.   When several people are waiting for an elevator going up,  they tend to all get in together and go up.  The alternative would need to be for the whole building to be made of nothing but elevator shafts (same as paving our way out of congestion).. Then each could ride alone without waiting.  Without more elevator shafts, then each could wait and incur intolerable delay by insisting on riding alone as, happens today on our streets and highways at rush hour.  A fleet of centrally managed driverless vehicles create “horizontal automated elevators” that can facilitate sufficient ride-sharing  to deliver utopian mobility to all without incurring vehicular congestion.  This enables moderately dense living environments to be very attractive.  Alain

Friday, November 10, 2017

Waymo will now put self-driving vans on public roads with nobody at the wheel

AP, Nov. 7, 2017 “Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google, is pulling the human backup driver from behind the steering wheel and will test vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat.

The company’s move — which started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Ariz. — is a major step toward vehicles driving themselves on public roads without human backup drivers. …” Read more Hmmmm…  Not to be too critical, but Waymo is still just ‘Self-driving’ .  While they moved the ‘engineer’ with the ability to ‘take over and drive the vehicle’ from behind the wheel to the back seat, this is just a step along the broad ‘Self-driving’ continuum which is a vehicle that, under certain circumstance, can drive itself, but does that only if there is a person ready and able to take over if the unexpected appears. 

The big-leap/major-step will come when Waymo removes the ‘engineer’ entirely from the vehicle and it is human-less when it arrives to pick up a passenger and drives away human-less after the last passenger(s) disembark.  That enormous leap-of-faith in the technology will mark Waymo’s inception of the Driverless Era. (or what Waymo prefers to call ‘Fully Self-driving’ era.) 

Just to be clear, when that time comes, I’m sure that Waymo will have telemetry throughout that Driverless vehicle and there will be a room full of engineers in Waymo’s ‘Situation Room‘ ready to take over the driving should the need arise.  However,  until that time, Waymo is just like all the other wanabes, they are just ‘Self-driving’ without the ‘Fully’.

The reason why ‘remote emergency driving’ is ‘Driverless’ is because it scales.  By that I mean that it takes the provision of horizontal mobility on our public streets from needing at least one human per vehicle to needing less than one human per vehicle.  Initially the remote driver will monitor one car.  Before you know it that person will be monitoring two, four, eight, … vehicles and truly Driverless with zero remote human oversee-ers will be approached asymptotically.  But just like the old saw between the engineer and the mathematician: engineer and mathematician were sitting on a bench recalling their youth… Engineer said “Long ago, I was sitting on this very bench with my girl.  We wanted to kiss but we were too far apart.  So we agreed to move towards each other by halving the distance between us on each move.  The mathematician blared ” You’re so stupid!  If you did that, you never came together!”  The engineer just smiled: “we got close enough!”.  Alain

Saturday, November 4, 2017

APNewsBreak: Gov’t won’t pursue talking car mandate

J. Lowy, AP, Nov 1, “he Trump administration has quietly set aside plans to require new cars to be able to wirelessly talk to each other, auto industry officials said, jeopardizing one of the most promising technologies for preventing traffic deaths….

…The administration has decided not to pursue a final V2V mandate, said two auto industry officials who have spoken with White House and Transportation Department officials and two others whose organizations have spoken to the administration. The industry officials spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize their relations with the administration….”  Read more Hmmmm…  This basically completes Washington’s “540 degree turn” on Safety for cars.  A complete spin from V2V and CV and on to AV.  

One could sense this coming when it took until his 6th slide for Carl Andersen from US DoT to even mention the word ‘Connected’.  Four years ago at the 2nd AV conference in Palo Alto, the US DoT folks from  would only talk about Connected Vehicles even though it was an AV conference.  More recently the pivot was underway when Washington coined CAVs (Connected & Automated  Vehicles; I complained that this gave only lip service to AVs since an alphabetic ordering was passed over. Connected was  obviously favored.)  Secretary Foxx continued the pivot into a spin with his Federal AV Policy statement in September 2016.  More spin a month ago with Automated Driving Systems v2.0 and now this to put the nail in the coffin. Jerome Lutin and I have begun to sit Shiva and Paul Brubaker has started covering the mirrors for DSRC.

This substantial change in Washington has profound implications because so many in State & Local government were following the Washington lead and will now need to pivot.  Europe, Japan and others in transport planning around the world were also following Washington in the promotion of CVs.  Much of the “Smart Cities” and ITS objectives are/were all about Connectivity and the implied control and orchestration of societies to achieve some optimized utopia.  Always seemed too “1984” for my taste.  Seeking some perfect “Best” when one can’t even reach a consensus on what “Best” is really the enemy of “good enough” .  Give everyone a little room and let them individually work towards what they consider is best from their perspective.  In my politics, this is my view of “Smart Cities” and SmartDrivingCars.

This change has also made obsolescent, if not completely obsolete, some recent reports such as much of the NCHRP 20-102 research which was initially motivated by CV and reports such as the recently released Future Cities: Navigating the New Era of Mobility.

The fundamental problem with V2V is that it doesn’t work unless there are other cars with which to communicate.  That doesn’t happen until the adoption level is substantial.  Assume that if the V2V communications works (is fast enough and the right data is communicated perfectly) it has no chance of improving safety unless BOTH vehicles that are about to crash have the technology.  The chance that exists, ie the probability that BOTH cars have the technology, is the square of the adoption level.  At the beginning it is zero times zero which is zero.  But even at a 10 % penetration level, which would take an exhaustive mandate at least two year to achieve, it would only reach a 1% chance of being relevant.  When half of the cars have it (and ‘it’ works in all of the cars that  have it, whatever ‘it’ is) the chances are only 1 in 4 that it is relevant,  It takes a 70% adoption (and working) level, which would take at least 10 years to achieve, before it become better than a coin flip.  That’s a long time before those that bought the hardware can have a reasonable expectation of capturing some benefits.  Alain

Friday, October 27 , 2017

Strategic Plan for FY 2018 -2022

Draft for Public Comment, October 19, 2017, “This Strategic Plan establishes the strategic goals and objectives for the DOT for FY2018 through FY2022. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRA) aligns strategic planning with the beginning of each new term of an Administration, requiring every Federal agency to produce a new Strategic Plan by the first Monday in February following the year in which the term of the President commences. The Strategic Plan, therefore, presents the long-term objectives an agency hopes to accomplish at the beginning of each new term of an Administration by describing general and long-term goals the agency aims to achieve, what actions the agency will take to realize those goals, and how the agency will deal with challenges and risks that may hinder achieving results….” Read more Hmmmm… Nice…seems to be void of all references to Connected Vehicles (CV), V2V and V2I that were in the previous FY 2014-2018 strategic plan (Gone is any reference like  footnote 13, p.24: “Transforming Transportation through Connectivity: ITS Strategic Research Plan, 2010-2014- Program Update, 2012 (even the link is 404)

This may finally be a realization by US DoT that the Connected Vehicle (CV) program was a fatally flawed concept, especially in light of having viable Automated Vehicles.  CV was a grandiose plan to have the public sector (Washington, States & Municipalities) pay to deploy electronic Gizmos everywhere and have all of our vehicular mobility be centrally controlled (think 1984).  It was part of the America’s National ITS Architecture  which ITS America has been promoting for years in support of its Gizmo manufacturing members.  Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in Architecture is that the benefits (Safety) would not begin to really kick-in until the Architecture was largely deployed throughout the highway infrastructure and installed in most vehicles.  It is essentially all-or-nothing, and “all” need to be so ubiquitous, consequentially so expensive, that the public sector was was the only potential financier.

However, along came the private sector and said…”maybe we can address this Safety thing by automating the vehicle so that it is much less likely to Crash while it shares the existing infrastructure without asking for any improvements (except maybe better paint and readable signs; both of which are really needed anyway for all existing users) “.

Sure, safe automation is hard and expensive, but nowhere near as expensive, especially in its early commitments,  as the CV approach.   And if successful, at least one vehicle and its occupants are safer.  PLUS, the cost of the automated vehicle technology is likely get cheaper (it scales) as we replicate for the 2nd, 4th, 8th, 16th… vehicles and likely to become very affordable very quickly (Moore’s Law) AND the cost of replicating the software is essentially zero and … So, with what amounts to a little bit of money we can get started with one vehicle and it is likely to scale very nicely to  initiate viral adoption.  Wow!  (Deja vu all over againSteve Jobs’ garage).

So.. it is very nice that US DoT has finally recognized through its strategic planning process that it is time to pivot from its fundamentally flawed CV concept to the SmartDrivingCar/Automated Vehicle (SDC/AV) concept, even though historically US DoT has been all about the infrastructure (roads) and not-so-much about vehicles (cars).

Moreover, this frees US DoT from an enormous future financial obligation.  Congratulations for making the pivot.  We are all anxious to help you succeed.  Alain

Sunday, October 22 , 2017

Automotive Industry: The Big Bang – the Second Coming … could it even be the next Amazon?

Automated Driving Systems Public Workshop Readout

Washington DC, Oct 20, “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is committed to the safe deployment of automated vehicles. NHTSA hosted a public workshop today to get feedback on the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments discussed in the Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety guidance released last month.    …The workshop , overall, was a productive, open forum, where manufacturers, suppliers, safety advocates, and other entities shared the types of information that could be made available, and opportunities for making that information public. There were over 100 attendees present, and many more who participated via a LIVE Webcast. A full transcript will be available in the coming weeks.  ” Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Nat, I agree that it was productive.  The comments the by Global Automakers, AAMVA, MEMA Waymo and AAM were positive and helpful. 

The opening remarks by NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King: “… At DOT and NHTSA, of course, our central focus is always on safety. NHTSA’s mission remains to help Americans drive, ride and walk safely…” Given that Safety is central, It is unfortunate that Automated Driving systems 2.0 skips over ‘Safe-driving‘ (ADAS or Level1/2 or whatever) and jumps right into Self-driving (Level 3/4/5 or whatever) to address Safety.  Essentially all of the Automated Vehicle Safety achievements (crash avoidance, lane departure avoidance, etc..) will be achieved by Safe-driving vehicles that always over-ride our failures and do the right thing even if they don’t let us take our hands off the wheel or feet off the pedals.  These systems are beginning to be made available today and it is not an understatement to say that they don’t work as well as they should/could and there is essentially total confusion in the marketplace/showroom about the capabilities/consumer-expectations about these systems.  NHTSA’s  5-Star Safety Ratings program doesn’t even consider any of these systems.  Since Safe-driving has the greatest and nearest term potential impact on Safety, why is it NOT part of this AV program?  These systems are being tested; shouldn’t NHTSA be calling for a Self-assessment of these systems.  Safe-driving systems are beginning to be here now and I contend the public is totally confused. 

“…Public trust is essential to the advancement of automated technology….”  I wholeheartedly agree!! That trust needs to be earned and its first exposure is mixed. Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control are automated systems that have earned public trust event though they automatically detect erroneous driver behavior and automatically over-ride those actions in order to do the best that they can to keep the driver safe.  But what about these Safe-driving (Level 1/2, …) systems.  These are automated systems focused on Safety, yet NHTSA hasn’t even bothered to include any of these systems in its 5-Star Safety Ratings program The public is totally confused about what is being offered and there seems to be no public trust evernthough these systems are the very foundations of Self-driving and Driverless systems.  It is necessary that Safety and public trust be established first in Safe-driving systems.  This forms the basis on which to expand that public trust to the  downstream systems that deliver other societal benefits, comfort & convenience for Self-driving and affordable mobility for all for Driverless, while providing very little, if any incremental Safety benefits over Safe-driving technology.  So… NHTSA’s 1st order of business should be to ensure that Safe-driving technology actually works and is valued by car buyers.

A substantial part of the problem here is that the terminology that is being used is totally confusing.  NHTSA’s decision to give up on its original 4-Level nomenclature was good, they just chose to adopt an even worse one, SAE’s.  It focuses entirely on the details of the technology, rather than on the value that is to be derived from the technology.  The Levels invoke no fundamental cognitive relationships; nothing that would inspire…”tell me more”. Thus, engineers might eventually pay attention long enough to absorb the more than 7+/-2 chunks of cognitive information needed to understand the differences in the “Levels”.   Unfortunately, corporate buyers, journalists, planning, policy and/or legislative officials and the general public/consumers remain totally confused. 

I’ve suggested three categories: Safe-driving…, Self-driving… and Driverless…  Not necessarily perfect, because the leader of Driverless chose long ago (~8 years) to call itself Self-driving.  Unfortunately, the term Self-driving with human supervision, reinforces the auto industry’s 100-year old business model of selling personal comfort and convenience to consumers.  The auto industry doesn’t bother emphasizing the partial nature of its Self-driving.  Waymo has chosen to add the  prefix “Fully” in an effort to differentiate itself as really Driverless that is  fundamentally attractive to a different business model focused on Fleets delivering mobility services to a public that doesn’t own cars. But few are aware of the enormous difference implied by the the existence of the prefix.   

In its efforts to engender public trust, NHTSA needs to rethink what it calls these things.  An opportunity exists in the re-framing of its Star Ratings, Or maybe,  this crash-avoidance technology is so different from the crash-mitigation technology that is NHTSA’s sweet-spot, that a new agency or a new division of NHTSA should be created to provide the crash-avoidance safety oversight.  Alain

Sunday, October 15 , 2017

Proposed Driverless Testing and Deployment Regulations – Released October 11, 2017

 Rulemaking Actions, Oct 1The following 3 PDFs are important:
1. Autonomous Vehicles Notice of Modification (PDF)  Act

2. Autonomous Vehicles Statement of Reasons (PDF)  Act

3. Autonomous Vehicles 15 Day Express Terms (PDF)   Act  Hmmmm..This is all about Driverless!  Thank you California, and especially Dr. Bernard Soriano, for leading this noble effort and for continuing to distinguish this technology from Self-driving and all of the various other names seemingly meant to confuse.  Alain

Friday, October 6 , 2017

FHWA Awards $4 Million Grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for Automated Taxi Shuttles

Press Release, Oct 4, “Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials today awarded a $4 million Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for its automated taxis.

“Technology is the future of U.S. transportation,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all.”

County officials will use the funds to deploy an integrated system of “taxi-shuttles,” known locally as “A-Taxis,” on public roads. These are driverless taxis providing shuttle service to and from employment centers–expected to improve access to transportation for disadvantaged and mobility-impaired residents…” Read more Hmmmm… Wow!! FHWA is actually going to fund aTaxis!!!  Congratulations, Fred Payne!  This is a non-trivial achievement.  Alain technology, much as trucks and airlines have with their own ‘Administration’.  Alain

Friday, September 1, 2017

Automated Vehicles: Are We Moving Too Fast or Too Slow?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars

Monday, August 21, 2017

Driverless-Car Outlook Shifts as Intel Takes Over Mobileye

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cadillac’s Super Cruise ‘autopilot’ is ready for the expressway

M Burns, Aug 3, “Cadillac is about to start selling vehicles with an autonomous driving mode …Once the light bar on top of the steering wheel turns green, the driver can let go…

“Wait for the green light and let go,” the Cadillac engineer instructed. That’s it. The car was driving itself. I, the person behind the steering wheel, was no longer the driver. Cadillac’s Super Cruise system was driving.  The 2018 Cadillac CT6 sped along US-23 under the direction of Super Cruise. Traffic was light and the weather was perfect. The system held the Cadillac sedan in lane and responded appropriately to traffic. I spent an hour on the expressway and touched the steering wheel and pedals only a few times.  Super Cruise made the drive boring. I think that’s the point….

When active, Super Cruise controls the steering and speed, but again, only on an expressway. This is done through on board sensors and using GPS and mapping data. GM employed GeoDigital, a startup in GM Venture’s portfolio, to map 160,000 miles of expressways in the U.S. and Canada. The car company then used Super Cruise-equipped vehicles to test each mile.

Cadillac’s system also lacks several autonomous features found on Autopilot including the ability to pull the car out of a garage and change lanes by using the turn signals. Hmmmm…  fluff features with little value.

Super Cruise’s IR sensors tracks eye location and head movements. As long as the driver looks at the road every seven to 20 seconds, the system works as expected.  Hmmmm… Fantastic!

General Motors will have to rely on independently owned dealerships to correctly position this product and train buyers on its capabilities. Hmmmm… Yup!

For better or worse, Super Cruise is built into the CT6 like a standard system and not something a driver must use every time they’re on an expressway. This should help timid buyers.  Super Cruise feels like a feature ready for the masses. The system is deeply integrated into the vehicle and using it is akin to using cruise control or turning on the lights. There’s a button for Super Cruise on the steering wheel. Press the button when the system is available and it works. It’s that easy to turn a driver into a passenger. Read more Hmmmm…  Over the air updates?  See also Motor Trend’s view: “… a stand-alone option (as yet unpriced) on CT6 models with the premium luxury trim package and as standard equipment on top Platinum models (the price of which went up $500 for 2018, if that’s any indication)….”  Finally, I guess that I’ll have to go test drive one.  Alain

Monday, July 31, 2017

What the World and Transport May Be Like in 2030

Monday, July 24, 2017

Introducing Level 5 and Our Self-Driving Team

Sunday, June 25, 2017

NTSB Opens Docket on Tesla Crash

The docket material is available at: more  Hmmmm… A few comments…
1.  Since lateral control (swerving) couldn’t have avoided this crash (the truck is almost 70 ft long (6 lanes wide) stretching broadside across the highway) , it doesn’t matter if Josh Brown ever had his hands on the steering wheel. That’s totally irrelevant. 
Why didn’t autobrake kick in when the tractor part of the tractor-trailer passed in front of the Tesla?
How fast was the truck going when it cut off the Tesla.  I couldn’t find the answer in 500 pages.   
4.  With sight distances of greater than 1,000 feet, why didn’t the truck driver see the Tesla?  Was it the drugs?
5.  This intersection invites “left-turn run-throughs” (no stop or yield and a 53 foot median and turn lane need to be crossed before one slips through a gap in two traffic lanes.  So you certainly roll into it, (plenty of room to stop if you see something coming) and if you don’t see anything, you hit it.  If you’re in the Tesla, you think you’ve been clearly seem, you expect the truck to stop, it doesn’t, you can’t believe it, BAM!  All in probably a second or so.
6.  The head injury description (Table 1 p2 of 3) certainly suggests that Joshua Brown was seated upright facing forward at impact.  The bilateral lacerations on the lower arm from the elbow to the wrist may indicate that he saw it coming in the last second and raised his arms in an attempt to protect his head.   The evidence reported doesn’t seem to suggest he saw this early enough to bend toward the passenger seat and try to pass underneath. 
About 40 feet of tractor and trailer passed directly in front of the Tesla prior to impact.   Depending on how fast the truck was traveling, that takes some time.  Has NTSB run Virtual Reality simulations of various truck turn trajectories and analyzed what the truck driver and the Tesla driver could/should have seen?  Seems like a relatively simple thing to do.  We know what the Tesla was doing prior to the crash (going 74 mph straight down the road.) and we know where it hit the truck.  How fast the truck was traveling doesn’t seem to be known.
8. Why wasn’t there any video captured from the Tesla.  Didn’t that version of the MobilEye system store the video; I guess not, 🙁 
Anyway, lots to read in the 500 pages, but there is also a lot missing.  I’m not linking the many articles reporting on this because I disagree with many of their interpretations of the facts reported by NTSB.  
Please reach your own conclusions.   Alain

Monday, June 19, 2017

Amazon Deal for Whole Foods Starts a Supermarket War

R. Abrams, June 16, “Shares of Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco, the largest grocery retailers, all tumbled on Friday. And no wonder..  Grocery stores have spent the last several years fighting against online and overseas entrants. But now, with its $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon has effectively started a supermarket war.  Armed with giant warehouses, shopper data, the latest technology and nearly endless funds — and now with Whole Foods’ hundreds of physical stores — Amazon is poised to reshape an $800 billion grocery market that is already undergoing many changes….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Since Jeff Bezos doesn’t need to have you impulse buy on your walk through the store while you get a quart of milk, he simply has to get you click on organic milk and he’ll present you with everything you absolutely can’t checkout without.  All he then needs is to get all those impulse buys (and the quart of organic milk) to your home from the hundreds of physical stores.  That’s where low speed driverless local delivery vans come in (operating initially in the early morning hours when the streets connecting those stores to our houses are completely empty and simply drop off everything you’ll need for the day ahead in your “Amazon Box” that’s replaced your 20th Century mailbox).  So in the end it will be Jeff Bezos’86 battling Eric Schmit’76 for deploying the first fleets of driverless vehicles sharing our neighborhood streets. If they should decide to join forces and have these vehicles providing mobility whenever anyone wants to travel and moving groceries and other goods the rest of the time, watch-out!!! Then everybody wins!! (except Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco)  See also..Amazon and Whole Foods and Self-Driving Cars    Alain

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Rethinking Mobility: The ‘pay-as-you-go’ ca: Ride hailing, just the start

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 LeCunRead 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

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

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

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

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 

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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