J. Bhuiyan, Dec 12, "On Wednesday, Uber rolled out a handful of its self-driving cars in San Francisco to be used by the public. Also on Wednesday, one of those cars ran a red light….Uber, unlike other companies operating self-driving cars on public roads in California, also hasn’t applied for a permit from the DMV, as is typically required. But Uber’s cars aren’t technically self-driving just yet…" Read more Hmmm… See video: Uber testing legal boundaries and Uber running red light and SF, Your Self-driving Uber is arriving Alain
J. Bhuiyah, Dec 14, "…In a letter addressed to Anthony Levandowski, the co-founder of Otto and now head of Uber’s self-driving unit, the California DMV demanded that the ride-hail company stop operating its fleet of self-driving cars…" Read more Hmmm… This is all so confusing. The letter from DMV describes the ‘testing’ of ‘autonomous technology’, but Uber isn’t ‘testing’, it is operating and it doesn’t describe its cars as ‘autonomous’ anything, but, ‘self-driving’ (which is the correct designation). To me, what Uber is operating is basically the same thing as what Tesla is selling in California. Moreover, Uber’s Self-driving is less ‘autonomous’ in its operation than the operation of ‘electronic stability control (ESC)’ that has been mandated in every car built since 2012 that operate on California roads. (ESC has sensors and control logic that coordinate the operation of the brakes and throttle at the discretion of the sensors and over-ride the intended control actions of the driver. Now that’s real ‘autonomy’ …taking the driver out of the loop at the discretion of some control logic. Anti -lock brakes are similarly ‘autonomous’) Should everyone in California get a letter from DMV? Just think, New Jersey is trying to enact CA-like legislation. 🙁 Alain
Dec 5. Read more Hmmm… Good article if you have a subscription. Yes, there is an enormous amount of confusion some/much of which is caused by the automakers because the systems don’t work well enough. The Mercedes crash that is discussed is a result of the Automated Collision Avoidance system NOT working AND there is a fundamental flaw in the Mercedes intelligent cruise control (Dystronic Plus) (as well as the intelligent cruise control of other manufacturers): EVEN A SLIGHT TAPPING OF THE BRAKES TURNS OFF DYSTRONIC PLUS. Why Daimler designers felt that tapping the brakes means that I, the driver, want to turn-off the system, designed to keep me from running into the back of a vehicle that I am following, is beyond me. Yes, I don’t want to speed up anymore, but I still don’t want to run into the back of the car ahead of me, so don’t abandon me by completely turning off the system. Just turn turn off the throttle part!
I understand that old, dumb, cruise control turned-off if I tapped the brakes, but that was because the only thing that it controlled was the throttle. Yes, I wanted the throttle turned off (and I knew that the brakes were always completely up to me)! But intelligent-cruise controls both the brakes and the throttle. So unless I want to turn the whole system off, which I know I can do by reversing the flick of the lever that I used to turn it on, the braking logic/function must continue to be active. I am shocked that Mercedes hasn’t fixed this flaw on my car or any car. Nor have they upgraded (over-the-air or during maintenance) any of the software on my car and, of course, NHTSA is busy with V2V to weigh-in on this easily fixable design flaw. Too bad there isn’t a non-electric Tesla with AutoPilot on the market. Alain
K. Swisher, Dec 10, "…The company, several sources told Recode, will focus on developing self-driving software, as well as data and hardware. This “full package” of autonomous technologies could then be sold to car makers that want to create and then alter their own offerings, in a manner not unlike how Google launched its Android efforts with both mobile software and hardware…" Read more Hmmm… Congratulations, go for it, Chris. Alain
J. Bhuiyahm Dec 12, "Almost two years after Uber ransacked Carnegie Mellon’s robotics lab, a few of the top engineers have left the company…" Read more Hmmm… Given the intense demand for competent people, they really haven’t lost that many. Alain
A. Krok, Dec 12, "…Delphi is set to announce two cities — one in Europe, and one in the US — that will serve as pilot programs for its upcoming autonomous ride-sharing service…" Read more Hmmm… Why not! They want these vehicles to use Delphi components, but doubtful they survive as an operator. Do they really want to compete with their customers?? Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
G. Lewis-Kraus, Dec 14, "How Google used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, one of its more popular services — and how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself. Read more Hmmm… Simply an excellent article. Most well worth reading. Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
D. Muoio, Dec 11, "…Naturally, when we will see a fully driverless car hinges just as much on the regulatory environment as advancements in self-driving tech…" Read more Hmmm… Once again, a totally inappropriate mixing of Self-driving and Driverless. While these 20 companies are working on Self-driving, only Google and Uber (and maybe Baidu) are working on, or have a business model that is not the antithesis of, Driverless. Alain
A. Maclean, Dec 8, "…Speaking to Australian media at the global launch of the latest 5-Series in Portugal this week, the project manager for driver assistance systems on the seventh-generation mid-sized sedan, Oliver Poguntke, conceded the German brand "must" take full responsibility for the safety and welfare of occupants in its future autonomous vehicle.
"I think you must [have full liability]. If you change the responsibility from the driver to fully automatic with the car then the mass producer must take liability for this… I think this is a necessary step," he said.
"To change the responsibility, we must also have the laws [that allow autonomous driving]. There is a lot of discussions in the world, and some countries are different to others. We need to have consistency with this."…" Read more Hmmm… Overstated headline?? The quotes are "must" and unfortunately not "takes". Volvo has "taken". No argument that BMW ‘should’ but will it? Alain
U.S. DOT advances deployment of Connected Vehicle Technology to prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes
Press release, Dec 13, "Citing an enormous potential to reduce crashes on U.S. roadways, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a proposed rule today that would advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles “talk” to each other…." Read more Hmmm… "…once fully developed (aka ‘Half-baked’)…" Sure let’s hype and mandate stuff that is half-baked. And NHTSA complains about Elon Musk overselling AutoPilot ???? Actually… C’mon NHTSA!! Alain
E. Beras, Dec 12, "…Advocates for self-driving cars love to tout the benefits the cars would bring, such as fewer accidents and less congestion. Another alleged value of being a passenger rather than a driver is more productivity—you could work rather than concentrate on driving. But most people might not spend their newfound free time in self-driving cars whittling down their to-do lists…" Read more Hmmm… Only ‘Sunday Supplements’ …’tout’ those benefits. Everyone else knows that Self-driving cars will simply improve the driver’s quality-of-life, which, for most, correlates negatively with ‘productivity’ because they won’t be getting paid, nor recognized by their employer if they use their newly found freedom to be more productive. How many people on the subways, trains and buses today are being more ‘productive’? Very few! So why should those driving cars be any different once they are relieved from the burden of driving? Doesn’t take in-depth University research to make that observation.
What Self-driving cars will do is substantially increase VMT (per mile disutility is reduced) and congestion and pollution and energy consumption and everything else that is correlated with increased VMT. (Again, Safe-driving cars deserve the credit for Safety and it is not clear that Self-driving cars will be safer than Safe-driving cars. ) Alain jljl
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
g. Gates, Dec 14, "Autonomous cars have arrived — Uber has fleets in Pittsburgh and San Francisco, Google’s parent company is spinning off its driverless car project in a sign it is closer to coming to market, and the federal government has begun to issue guidelines on how the cars should work…Read more Hmmm… Maybe a reasonable grade-school depiction, but it is so bad on so many levels. It is a real shame that they interchangeably use the words self-driving, autonomous, driverless and want to describe aspects of what are Safe-driving cars as Self-driving features. Safe… and Self… are really VERY different. Plus they don’t include what Daimler, Subaru, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Baidu, … are doing.
Not even a good Sunday Supplement. C’mon NYT! You were poor with your pre-election coverage, you are poor here. Also, if you are going to use a graphic to demonstrate the Florida crash, PLEASE use one that depicts the geometry correctly. A 53 foot median separates the two turn lanes, which, I believe, is a critical element of this crash. Plus, a sentence having the phases ‘some experts speculated’ and ‘might have avoided’ don’t deserve being in a ‘Sunday Supplement’ let alone a quality publication. C’mon NYT ! Alain
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Recent Highlights of:
A. Hawkins, Dec 13, "Today, Google announced that it would be spinning off its six-year-old self-driving project into a standalone business called Waymo, which stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” according to John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company.
It was previously reported that Google would be dropping its plan to build its own vehicle without steering wheels and pedals, instead focusing on creating the self-driving technology that can be installed in third-party vehicles. Krafcik didn’t provide much clarity there, but did state definitively that the new company was still fully committed to fully autonomous vehicle technology.
“We are all in, 100 percent, on Level Four and Level Five fully driverless solutions,” he said.
Krafcik didn’t comment on a report in Bloomberg that Google would be starting its own ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler using the Italian car maker’s Pacifica minivans as its fleet of self-driving taxis. Google and FCA announced their collaboration earlier this year. Krafcik did confirm that the self-driving Pacificas were still in the build phase, but would hopefully be on the road for testing very soon.
It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build it’s own fleet of driverless cars, without steering wheels and pedals. That said, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”…Read more Hmmm… Boy that is a lot of hedging. If they are in the business of making better drivers, then all they need to do is to make Automated Collision Avoidance systems that actually work… avoid collisions (aka Safe-driving Cars). That would make all drivers better drivers, but it wouldn’t do anything for non-drivers… the young, old, poor, blind, those under the influence, … Has Google abandoned all of those folks and reverted to the ‘dark-side’? Alain
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
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
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
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
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
D. Victor, Oct. 5, "Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady climb….
The numbers were released on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of 2016 than in the first half of 2015, an increase of 3.3 percent….Officials have not identified a specific cause for the most recent increase… " Read moreHmmm…worst kept secret…Texting!!! It is an epidemic and the way to address it begins with Automated Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS)…what is on the shelf today (if it only really worked), and a necessary foundation for Self-driving (which improves Quality-of-Life for some but increases VMT) and Driverless (which improves Quality-of-Life for all and decreases VMT). Alain
H. Grabar, Sept 29, "One possibility is that easy mobility—driverless cars, on-demand deliveries, and the like—will dull the pains of suburban life. The long commute, the wasted driving time, the difficulty of running out for a carton of milk—the inconvenience and expense of the subdivision will be melted away by hot new technology. Milk by drone, what a concept!
Another is that easy mobility produces greater advantages in the city. Carless living is better than ever. NIMBY battles don’t happen because parking and congestion aren’t problems. Wasted auto infrastructure, like lots and curbside parking and garages, is converted towards better uses like housing and restaurants. Maybe a central highway, once evidence of a city’s essential unpleasantness, becomes a park…. Read more Hmmm…VERY interesting. My view: There is essentially zero consumer demand for Driverless car ownership. Without a substantial mobility alternative, suburbanites will buy and love Self-driving cars. Driverless is a useless upgrade.
However, fleets of Driverless vehicles can provide a compelling alternative. They have a much better opportunity to thrive (be a profitable fleet business) if Driverless makes sharing rides "consumer acceptable/desirable". This may be achieved through price, amenities, ease-of-use, marketing, ???. Moderate density generates demand that can be readily served with moderate ridesharing that is substantially better than individual car ownership or car-sharing. This kind of elevator-like mobility is better in terms of service, price, overhead, environment, … and it substantially enhances the fundamental attractiveness of medium density urban lifestyle. Thus, ride-share Driverless favors moderate urban while Self-driving favors status quo. Alain
September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety. (p5)
…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)
…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)
…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6) Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY. We all have recognized safety as a necessary condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful. (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition. Alain
"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain
"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…" Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain
"…2. Model State Policy (p7) The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done. Alain
"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…" Hmmm… Excellent. Alain
"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…" Hmmm… Yes. Alain
"…Note on “Levels of Automation” There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. ) Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless. While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly. That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless". Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today). So autonomousTaxis are impossible.
Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected. These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles). I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work. In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time. This is not acceptable. These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now. It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.
"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7) However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8) . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)
In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected", focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves. Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety. Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility.
What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit. NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines. FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight. Alain
N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years. At a news conference on Tuesday at the company’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said the company planned to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021….
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. …." Read more Hmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service). In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud". The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud". Think about it! Alain
Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):
Chenyi Chen PhD Dissertation , "…the key part of the thesis, a direct perception approach is proposed to drive a car in a highway environment. In this approach, an input image is mapped to a small number of key perception indicators that directly relate to the affordance of a road/traffic state for driving….." Read more Hmmm..FPO 10:00am, May 16 , 120 Sherrerd Hall, Establishing a foundation for image-based autonomous driving using DeepLearning Neural Networks trained in virtual environments. Very promising. Alain
Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities
U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles
Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1. Hmmm … Watch Video especially at the 13:12 mark. Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above! Also see his TipRanks. Alain
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