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
Drive Me, the world’s most ambitious and advanced public autonomous driving experiment, starts today (Sept 9)
Press release Sept 9, "Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, has officially kicked off Drive Me, the world’s most ambitious and advanced public autonomous driving experiment. This morning it produced the very first autonomous car that will be used in the Drive Me project in Gothenburg.
The autonomous Volvo XC90 SUV was finalized in Volvo Cars’ special manufacturing facility in Torslanda this morning and is the first in a series of autonomous cars that will eventually be handed to real families in Gothenburg to be driven on public roads…. Read more Hmmm…My apologies for being late here (although, it will be really interesting when the 1st public "driver" rides the Gothenburg loop road. I wonder how well Tesla’s "AutoPilot" handles that road in Gothenburg today? (One video, see about 15 minutes in, not the best.) Alain
R. Washington, Sept 29, "“I think you would see the end of traffic stops,” says Joseph A. Schafer, the criminal justice department head at Southern Illinois University. “It radically changes police-public encounters.”…So what’s the big deal if police can no longer make traffic stops? It’s about half of what police do, says Schafer. He estimates such stops, along with traffic accidents (, account for nearly 50 percent of all police-public encounters….
Then there’s the more controversial pretext stop, where officers pull a motorist over for a minor violation in order to investigate a potentially more serious crime. To many African Americans, it’s racial profiling. For cops, it’s one of the most valuable tools of policing, says Bernard Levin, a retired professor of psychology at Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Va., and a co-author of “The Future of Policing.” While many activists would welcome an end to the offense of “driving while black,” Levin calls pretext stops the “major means of catching people when we don’t know who we’re going for.” Read more Hmmm…This is very troubling. Police spend half of their time dealing with improper behavior by humans that have lost proper perspective while trying to control a vehicle to get them someplace. What an unfortunate misuse of both police and human talent. Plus, the police-driver interaction is rarely pleasant and too often escalates to true ugliness. Such interactions rarely occur in elevators. More reasons that we evolve our automobiles to auto(mated)mobiles. (I prefer not to comment about the drone and terrorism part of the article.) Alain
M. Sena, Oct 4, Hmmm…Several very good segments: "What the Car Companies Are Doing" (p2), Who are your customers and what do they need? especially: "…In 1978, the number one job in the most number of the fifty states was secretary, with 21 states out of 50. It was followed by machine operator/electrical equipment assembler (10 states out of 50) and truck driver (9). In 1996, …" and "The Future of Automotive Navigation…What I missed in his talk and in all discussions of autonomous driving is the most important: How does the car know where to go?…" Read more Hmmm…We put the first US-wide GPS turn-by-turn navigation system (CoPilot|Door2Door) on the market in J&R Music & Computer World in August 1997 almost 20 years ago. (Also, Michael is from Scranton, PA 🙂 Alain
"…The updated Autopilot, at freeway speed, will visually and then audibly warn you to place your hands on the wheel, if it senses they are off. If you need to be reminded with three audible warnings within an hour, the Autopilot system disengages and remains that way until the car is next restarted. Hmmm…Disengaging??? Shouldn’t it slow down (and possibly move over to the shoulder) before disengaging???
The visual warning has been enhanced, too. Besides the pop-up alert on the screen, the entire perimeter of the instrument panel pulses a warning in white light.
When you are puttering along at a few miles per hour in heavy traffic, though, the warnings, by design, do not come on at all…." Read more Hmmm…I thought that it was only taxes and death that were "always", asking something to always be trusted is a real stretch? Alain
F. Lambert Sept. 25. "Back in June, we reported on a peculiar accident in Irvine, California, where a Tesla Model X suddenly accelerated in a parking and ended up crashing into a building. Fortunately, no one was injured during the event. What was particularly interesting about the accident is that the driver claimed the vehicle accelerated on its own. Tesla reviewed the logs and claimed that the accelerator pedal was pressed.
Now we learn of another extremely similar accident that happened in Florida last month, but with a Tesla Model S instead of a Model X and it was caught on camera this time…According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are approximately 16,000 crashes occurring each year in the US due to drivers mistaking the accelerator for the brake pedal. It’s far from being a rare event, but the drivers in those two accidents insist that the vehicles accelerated on their own…." Read more Hmmm…I guess that the courts will have to decide which to believe. Hopefully it will be easier than the Prius experience, video. Alain
J. Love & H. Sommerville, Sept 28, "With its recent acquisition of self-driving truck startup Otto, Uber Technologies Inc. is plotting its entry into the long-haul trucking business, aiming to establish itself as a freight hauler and a technology partner for the industry….
Fully autonomous trucks remain years away – some trucking industry experts estimate two decades…"
Hmmm…I disagree with the article that trucks are “two decades” away – I would think that hub-to-hub overnight moves along interstates would be the first to go; timed-out drivers drop their cross-country loads and the interstate-long haul overnight runs are autonomously completed. Destination/delivery would still be completed by manned vehicles, especially since unloading and freight identification are still frequently done manually by the driver in most LTL applications.
Today many dedicated logistic systems employ something quite similar to this model; where tandem trailers get hauled from a distant distribution center, and the ‘pup’ trailers split off and deliveries made locally by two drivers, with the two empties hooked together and moved back to the DC by the single driver. The role of the long haul driver (from fixed point A to fixed point B along the interstate), could pretty easily be managed by machine/secure remote operation with today’s technology.Steven C. Walbrun <firstname.lastname@example.org> I Agree. Alain
"…Uber aims to ultimately transform the competitive and fragmented $700 billion-a-year trucking industry, which is notorious for low margins. The company is challenging a host of established players, ranging from publicly traded companies, such as third-party logistics firms C.H. Robinson and XPO Logistics, to countless mom-and-pop trucking businesses….
"But even absent autonomous technology, Otto says it could help decrease the cost of trucking goods by more quickly finding freight, mapping more efficient routes and reducing fuel consumption…." Read more Hmmm…Isn’t that what ALK/Trimble have been doing well for years??? Alain
M. Hill, Sept 13, "…“This is not a way for people who are under the influence to get home and one shouldn’t even be suggesting that it is."…" Read more See video. Hmmm…Don’t even think about it! Alain
D. Etherington, Sept 13, "Sebastian Thrun’s online education startup Udacity recently created a self-driving car engineering nanodegree, and on stage at Disrupt today Thrun revealed that the company intends to build its own self-driving car as part of the program, and that it also intends to open source the technology that results, so that “anyone” can try to build their own self-driving vehicle, according to Thrun…." Read more Hmmm…Sebastian, welcome back with a very interesting approach. See also Udacity announces its partners for its autonomous driving nanodegree Alain
D. Etherington, Sept 13, "…The Comma One is a $999 add-on shipping before the end of the year, with a $24 monthly subscription for its software, which Hotz says will be able to drive your car from Mountain View to San Francisco without requiring a driver to touch the wheel, the brake or the gas.
This isn’t a kit that makes your car into a fully self-driving vehicle, Hotz is quick to note, but it is a system that can provide powers equivalent to Tesla’s Autopilot, without requiring that you buy a whole new car. “It’s Mountain View to San Francisco without touching the wheel,” Hotz said. At launch, Comma One will support a small group of specific vehicles, but over time the startup hopes to add compatibility with more models. Read more Hmmm…Maybe ??? Certainly desirable, but is it deliverable? Alain
K. Trinko, Sept 25, "…Because somehow, even as we hold fast to societal norms and are silent around strangers in elevators and in airplane seats and head for the quiet car on the train, ridesharing cars have become places where strangers actually talk to each other, where people who may not otherwise have met in our self-segregated society interact….
It’s easy to write off people with different ideological views as idiots, bigots, etc. — until you’re talking to them face to face.
We need to find ways to facilitate more of those conversations. It’s true they may continue when there are multiple riders who are strangers in a driverless car, although my own experience has been that the Uber pool is a much quieter experience than regular Uber." Read more Hmmm… Driverless cars will be, almost exclusively, fleet-owned and managed and, thus, shared, just like elevators. Hopefully, their design/ambiance will engender conversation. It is the self-driving cars that will largely privately owned and thereby rarely shared. Alain
A. Hawkins, Sept 28, "Americans like the idea of self-driving cars, but are less willing to cede control of the steering wheel to a computer program, according to a new poll released today. An overwhelming majority, 80 percent, said humans should always have the option to drive themselves, while 64 percent expressed a need to be in control of their own vehicle.
Moreover, people are essentially torn between the promise of safety and the need for control: 49 percent said they prefer a safer roadway even if it means they would have less control over their vehicle, while 51 percent said wanted to stay in the driver seat, safer streets be damned….Read more Hmmm…Interesting. Look at the report/slides. Alain
C. Mims, Sept. 25, "…To many industry insiders, these claims are largely hype. They’re not false, but they abuse the terms “autonomous vehicle” and “self-driving,” which evoke images of hopping into a car, entering a destination and disappearing into sleep, food or our phones…." Read more Hmmm… So, Chris, please begin by properly educating your readers: A small number of cars are available today for purchase that can Self-drive down a significant number of lane miles under some traffic conditions in good weather in many parts of the world. The number of cars having this self-drive capability is expected to increase rapidly, as are the number of lane miles experiencing most traffic conditions and will extend to slightly inclement weather. It will be a very long time before Self-driving will be accomplish on some roads in some weather conditions (we shouldn’t go places under those conditions.)… Except for a very few well prepared locations under good weather conditions at very low speeds, we have yet to even go the first foot driverless (no one in the car ). It is NOT in the near-term horizon ( next 5 years) that we will be in driverless where we are today in self-driving.
The speed at which we advance Self-driving is largely dependent on how our ability to "perfect" Automated Collision Avoidance and Automated Lane Centering systems (ADAS/ALCS).
Also, If and when be begin to advance Driverless is largely dependent on how our ability to "perfect" Self-driving. Alain
Other Views on NHTSA/DoT AV Guidelines
B. Feigenbaum, Sept 26, "Last week the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its guidance document on Automated Vehicles (AVs). While the guidelines are far from perfect, they are about as good as they get from a government agency.
One strength of the guidelines is that they allow manufacturers to develop and test automated vehicles in a multitude of ways…
The document’s second strength was ditching NHTSA’s self-created levels of autonomy in favor of those of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ (SAE). Hmmm… Disagree here. They should have reduced it to just three (3): 1. Automated Collision Avoidance (on all the time; ready to take over and do the right thing ("beyond anti-lock brakes and stability control") which NHTSA& SAE completely disregard), 2. Self-driving (always has a capable human driver in the car) and 3, Driverless (can run around without anyone inside). These are substantially different, non-overlapping and would avoid confusion
There are several other positives….On the other hand, there are some troubling provisions…." Read more
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
D. Anderson, Sept 25, "Arnold Palmer, the champion golfer whose full-bore style of play, thrilling tournament victories and magnetic personality inspired an American golf boom, attracted a following known as Arnie’s Army and made him one of the most popular athletes in the world, died on Sunday, according to a spokesman for his business enterprises. Palmer was 87. …"Read more Hmmm…He inspired me to play the game. 🙂 Alain
M. Richtel, Sept 24, "The court filings paint a grisly picture: As Ashley Kubiak sped down a Texas highway in her Dodge Ram truck, she checked her iPhone for messages. Distracted, she crashed into a sport utility vehicle, killing its driver and a passenger and leaving a child paralyzed…. Read more Hmmm…We know why they don’t, too many $$$$. Alain
Paulina Lustgarten & Scott Le Vine. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017). Read more
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
M. Sivak & B. Schoettle, Sept 2016, "Currently, in the U.S., the average occupant of a light-duty vehicle spends about an hour a day traveling—time that could potentially be put to more productive use. Indeed, increased productivity is one of the expected benefits of self-driving vehicles. (Hmmm… not really.)
The data presented in this white paper indicate that for about 62% of Americans, self-driving vehicles currently are not likely to result in an improvement in productivity. This is the case because 23% indicated they would not ride in such vehicles, and 36% would be so apprehensive in such vehicles that they would only watch the road. Furthermore, out of the remaining 41%, around 8% would frequently experience some level of motion sickness—for an additional 3% of occupants…. Read more Hmmm… If one is really trying understand the productivity (or other behavioral) implications of a good self-driving system simply study the productivity (and other behaviors) of people who "ride shotgun". Those are actual behaviors by real people simply riding in a car for which they have whatever confidence in the abilities of the human driver; not some gobbledygook hypothetical. No??? Alain.
Older stuff that I had missed:
Press release, Aug 1, 2016, "Verizon Communications Inc. today announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Verizon will acquire Fleetmatics, a leading global provider of fleet and mobile workforce management solutions, for $60.00 per share in cash – representing a value of approximately $2.4 billion.
"Fleetmatics is a market leader in North America — and increasingly internationally — and they’ve developed a wide-range of compelling SaaS-based products and solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses," said Andrés Irlando, CEO of Verizon Telematics.
"The powerful combination of products and services, software platforms, robust customer bases, domain expertise and experience, and talented and passionate teams among Fleetmatics, the recently-acquired Telogis, and Verizon Telematics will position the combined companies to become a leading provider of fleet and mobile workforce management solutions globally," Irlando added…" Read more Hmmm…Wow! Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
S. Wilson, Sept 30, "Waiting to get into a restaurant has to be one of the worst feelings in the world….But no more. Nissan has managed to do the impossible and achieve something we never thought we’d live to see: ….How do they do it? With self-queuing, self-moving chairs…" Read more Hmmm…Nissan, you’ve got nothing better to do??? C’mon Man!! Alain
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Recent Highlights of:
September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety. (p5)
…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)
…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)
…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6) Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY. We all have recognized safety as a necessary condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful. (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition. Alain
"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain
"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…" Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain
"…2. Model State Policy (p7) The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done. Alain
"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…" Hmmm… Excellent. Alain
"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…" Hmmm… Yes. Alain
"…Note on “Levels of Automation” There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. ) Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless. While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly. That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless". Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today). So autonomousTaxis are impossible.
Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected. These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles). I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work. In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time. This is not acceptable. These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now. It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.
"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7) However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8) . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)
In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected", focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves. Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety. Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility.
What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit. NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines. FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight. Alain
B. Simpson, Aug 25, "Isn’t this supposed to be a quiet time for business? …Not in transportation technology.
For instance, Ford announced it was working to launch fully autonomous automobiles by 2021. BMW, Intel and Mobileye joined to say they will have vehicles in production for the same target date. Ridesharing titan Uber says it will launch this month driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, though some employees will be in the car to ensure safety.
Forget the 10 years down the road baloney. We’ll be Level 4 Autonomous in three to five years.
Yet for all the excitement there’s been some downer news…. Lyft was seeking a buyer, despite the $500 million that GM pumped into it …Earlier this year Lyft pledged… to keep its U.S. losses under $50 million a month….Uber told its investors it lost $520 million in the first quarter, and more than $750 million in the second. This after losing about $2 billion in 2015….It’s valuable to keep in mind the shaky foundations of Uber and Lyft because the two have been touted as an important foundation for the growth of autonomous vehicles. Read more Hmmm…Do read more! It may well be that those that can’t make a dime wont even have the opportunity to buy the driverless vehicles that would allow them to "make a dime". The real value of the driverless vehicles may well be in their ability to generate operating cash without needing any of the $10B+ expertise/intellectual property amassed by Uber/Lyft in managing self-employed part-timers that aren’t needed. If that is the case, then the makers of those vehicles will manage them for their own account rather than selling them at cost-plus (or the price of those vehicles will be such that only their maker is making any money). Alain
N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years. At a news conference on Tuesday at the company’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said the company planned to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021….
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. …." Read more Hmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service). In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud". The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud". Think about it! Alain
J. Markoff, Aug 5, " A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project. Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University research scientist, joined Google in 2009 to help create the then-secret effort. … Read more Hmmm…Very unfortunate. What a great job he has done. All the best. Alain
M. Ramsey, July 26, " A key supplier of semiautonomous car technology ended a supply agreement with Tesla Motors Inc. following a high-profile traffic fatality in May involving one of the Silicon Valley company’s electric vehicles. Read moreHmmm….And why in all of this isn’t there a discussion of Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) technology/suppliers?? There must be no consumer/regulatory appeal to AEB? Alain
Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):
Chenyi Chen PhD Dissertation , "…the key part of the thesis, a direct perception approach is proposed to drive a car in a highway environment. In this approach, an input image is mapped to a small number of key perception indicators that directly relate to the affordance of a road/traffic state for driving….." Read more Hmmm..FPO 10:00am, May 16 , 120 Sherrerd Hall, Establishing a foundation for image-based autonomous driving using DeepLearning Neural Networks trained in virtual environments. Very promising. Alain
Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities
U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles
Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1. Hmmm … Watch Video especially at the 13:12 mark. Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above! Also see his TipRanks. Alain
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