27th edition of the 11th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter
Editorial: Cruise and Waymo have passed the “Turing (Kornhauser) Test” for Proof-of-Technology
A. Kornhauser, July 14,”Happy Bastille Day! ” What a day for me to write my first editorial. Fane 24 begins its Bastille Day: A brief history of France’s July 14 national holiday… “Bastille Day” is known in France simply as “le Quatorze Juillet”, a reference to the date on which it is held. July 14 became an official national holiday in 1880 to commemorate key turning points in French history. … Today, July 14, 2023, commemorates for me the turning point in autonomousTaxi (aka aTaxi, roboTaxi) history to commemorate aTaxi’s passage of the “Turing (Kornhauser) proof-of-technology” test, as written in Wikipedia… “The Turing test, originally called the imitation game by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. …” …
Kornhauser’s “Proof-of-Technology” version of the Turing Test, as it might appear in Wikipedia, would be “… a machine’s ability to give a ride equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Kornhauser proposed that a human evaluator would judge rides given in an Operational Design Domain between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like rides given in that Operational Design Domain. …”
After spending three days in San Francisco listening to and engaging in discussions describing the testing of driverless cars by Cruise and Waymo, and getting rides given by humans and by machines designed to give human-like rides, I’ve come to the conclusion that, if I kept my eyes closed, I could not tell if a human or a machine was giving me the ride. Rides were indistinguishable. Furthermore, since their simulations and data-supported real-world testing experience have more than satisfied the safety equivalence condition by exceeding it, I can declare that both Cruise and Waymo have passed the “Turing (Kornhauser) Proof-of-Technology Test”
That is an enormous accomplishment. I for one/many/most/essentiallyAll New Jerseyians can’t wait for Cruise and/or Waymo to assemble sufficient machines, adjust them to address some of the quirks of a Trenton/Mercer County ODD, a Perth Amboy/Middlesex County ODD, a Patterson/Pasaic County ODD, a Newark/Essex County ODD… and offer human-like rides to us. I’m certain Cruise and/or Waymo will find us grateful, thankful, appreciative of the improved quality-of-life that they’ll be able to profitably deliver to so many of us in New Jersey. By coming to New Jersey, they’ll go beyond the “Turing (Kornhauser) Proof-of-Technology” test to pass the “Kornhauser Proof-of-Market” Test. Alain
F. Fishkin, July 14, “Following a trip to the TRB Symposium in San Francisco and robo-taxi rides with Cruise and Waymo, Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser declares they have passed the Turing (Kornhauser) Test of Proof of Technology. Now, he says, it is time for Proof of Market. How? Episode 325 of Smart Driving Cars with co-host Fred Fishkin.
The Waymo Team, July 11, “Speeding is one of the leading causes of death on the road. In 2020, speeding was a contributing factor in 11,258 deaths and 308,013 injuries, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities and 13% of injuries in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Safety initiatives such as Vision Zero have been instrumental in helping cities design streets, set speed limits, and implement policies to reduce speeding and lessen the likelihood and forcefulness of crashes. The Waymo Driver can help achieve that important goal.
We recently analyzed the aggregated speeds of cars on the streets of San Francisco and Phoenix, and our study revealed that speeding is, unfortunately, a very common behavior. During the 10-day study period, we observed vehicles speeding up to almost half (47%) of the time, including instances of extreme speeding with cars going more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit. This shows a disturbingly high percentage of people ignoring the posted speed limit and putting themselves and others at risk. We are sharing our findings to help shed light on how pervasive this safety issue is and Waymo’s role in supporting safer streets.
Unlike humans, the Waymo Driver is designed to follow applicable speed limits. Our Driver can also detect the speed of other vehicles on the road. Doing so helps the Waymo Driver predict the likely next maneuvers of the vehicles around it and respond accordingly. This has important safety benefits: for example, if the Waymo Driver detects a car accelerating instead of slowing down for a red light, it will prepare to yield to it.
Speeding is one of the leading causes of death on the road. In 2020, speeding was a contributing factor in 11,258 deaths and 308,013 injuries, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities and 13% of injuries in the U.S., according to the NHTSA. Safety initiatives such as Vision Zero have been instrumental in helping cities design streets, set speed limits, and implement policies to reduce speeding and lessen the likelihood and forcefulness of crashes. The Waymo Driver can help achieve that important goal.
We recently analyzed the aggregated speeds of cars on the streets of San Francisco and Phoenix, and our study revealed that speeding is, unfortunately, a very common behavior. During the 10-day study period, we observed vehicles speeding up to almost half (47%) of the time, including instances of extreme speeding with cars going more than 25 mph over the posted speed limit. This shows a disturbingly high percentage of people ignoring the posted speed limit and putting themselves and others at risk. We are sharing our findings to help shed light on how pervasive this safety issue is and Waymo’s role in supporting safer streets….” Read more Hmmmm… A stark, substantive, data-supported revelation about what most of us already know so well from just driving around. It is what every highway patrol officer monitoring traffic speed knows from looking at the display of speed and radar guns. Thank you for divulging summaries of the data that enables the safe operation of the Waymo driver while clearly revealing the misbehavior of some human drivers. Inrix and others have been harvesting speed data from various sources for almost 20 years. They know this. As does US DoT who implicitly has chosen to tolerate it.
In order for me, or any of us, to drive safely, I/we must sense the environment around us. We measure the speed of the cars that we pass, drive along or pass us as well as assess qualitatively the driving behaviors of each. The Waymo and Cruise drivers also sense the environment around each of their cars. The “only” difference is they do it quantitatively, precisely and places those values in memory for future recall. Consequently, they know and can precisely recall the behavior patterns of drivers around as well as themselves. They know when they misbehave and know the extent to which others misbehave, vandalize, cause mischief and/or provide assistance. I applaud Waymo for the posting of his data sourced information. Alain
B. Templeton, July 14, “The annual TRB ARTS self-driving conference is the oldest conference in the field, and it took place in San Francisco this week. The hot topic was surely the brewing battle between the city of San Francisco and the two companies doing robotaxi pilots in that city, Waymo and Cruise. While there was no direct debate between the parties, the conference was opened by Jeffrey Tumlin, head of the San Francisco MUNI transit agency which included a fair bit of complaint about problems with the robotaxis. The reaction from Cruise and Waymo speakers was less confrontational, but nonetheless included some smoke from the battle.
At the same time, Cruise this week ran full page ads in major newspapers describing the bad safety record of human drivers and stating that Cruise vehicles were doing much better. Waymo has said this in the past, and earlier in the week released a study they did of just how much it is that people speed. While everybody knows that speeding is very common, Waymo vehicles are always watching the roads in detail and were able to quantify that typically half of all cars are speeding, some doing as much as double the limit. Waymo and Cruise cars do not speed — though there is considerable debate over whether they should at least try to match the typical speed of traffic, even if that means speeding. At present, companies are wary of programming their vehicles to speed the way people do, even if that means better road citizenship.
San Francisco is frustrated by various incidents where robotaxis had stalled on the streets, sometimes blocking transit vehicles, or had bad interactions with emergency crews, delaying them on their way or getting confused at emergency scenes. Initial reports of these incidents were extremely rare, but the city claims the numbers have increased a lot recently, and they demand that the companies provide data on just how often things are happening.
The real frustration, though is that the city does not have authority to regulate the roads — that belongs to the state, including the DMV and the public utilities commission. General feeling is that allowing each city to set its own rules of the road and regulation of services on the road would result in an unworkably complex regulatory regime. As such, the city has been limited to writing letters to the California PUC, asking them to scale back robotaxi operations, and to deny the requests of Waymo and Cruise to expand their pilot service.….” Read more Hmmmm… Thank you, Brad, for putting out one of the few internet reports that I could find that made any mention of what I found to be an extremely good conference focused on automated driving. In my view, it was the best of the 12-year run, and I’ve attended in person or on Zoom all of them. Thank you, Jane Lappin, for doing much of the heavy lifting needed to make each happen and especially this one. Thanks also goes out the Steve Shladover, who has been very instrumental in all, and, of course, to Brad, who has been a most active participant in most, if not all. Alain
S. McElligott, July 13, “The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to make a move that may hasten the deployment of driverless cars onto our roads but wants more data from the automakers in return….
“We believe AV STEP is a way to open up a wealth of data and allow for deployment of noncompliant vehicles,” Carlson was quoted in the Automotive News piece. “Where we can benefit from, learn from and enhance our research into automated-vehicle safety and performance,” she reportedly added while speaking at the Automated Road Transportation Symposium on July 12. “This is a new and exciting opportunity for all of us,” she said….
“We believe AV STEP is a way to open up a wealth of data and allow for deployment of noncompliant vehicles,” Carlson was quoted in the Automotive News piece. “Where we can benefit from, learn from and enhance our research into automated-vehicle safety and performance,” she reportedly added while speaking at the Automated Road Transportation Symposium on July 12. “This is a new and exciting opportunity for all of us,” she said…. ” Read more Hmmmm… Carlson’s comments were among the most encouraging statements made at the conference. As I heard it, the forthcoming program, fully legitimized by NHTSA’s existing legislation, will allow the deployment of large numbers of “non-compliant” vehicles in tests that mandate the deployment of large numbers of vehicles. “Proof-of-market” tests only begin to have the opportunity to make any sense if they involve large numbers of vehicles. EVs didn’t begin to be thought of as anything more than a toy for the rich until Tesla or anybody else sold way more than 5.000 EVs. Similarly, the market for safe, affordable, sustainable, demand-responsive mobility can’t begin to be proven until a large number of vehicles are efficiently operated and capture a large number of loyal customers. Affordability requires scale. Driverless technology requires scale to be affordable. If the technology doesn’t yield affordability then it is no better than Uber/Lyft/Taxi and has no hope of passing a Kornhauser “Proof-of-Market” test. Those that can’t afford Uber/Lyft/Taxi and aren’t served by conventional public transit will continue to either walk, b a ride or not go.
Carlson’s vision opens up the opportunity to conduct substantive “Proof-of-Market” tests that seeks to demonstrate that non-compliant driverless vehicles such as GM’s Origin can indeed attract the substantial number of customers that need the safe, affordable, equitable, sustainable high-quality rides that can only emerge from a large scale deployment. Alain
G. Mercer, July 13, “Caveat: “All claims about Tesla are true, both pro and con.” An auto executive told me that once, and it is a very astute observation. Every word of praise for Tesla has an offsetting critique lined up against it, and vice versa. Tesla bulls and bears are thus well-armed with points both for and against, and talk right past each other. To (try to) avoid this happening with this post, please set aside your various biases about the company and just focus on the topic at hand: the Tesla product line. If you want to rant about Elon’s procreation strategy, or who really invented the frunk, there’s always Twitter.1
Most Car People will actually agree on one thing about Tesla: its Supercharger strategy is pure genius, and its execution of that strategy so far has been superb. (I am not so sure how the opening of the Supercharger Walled Garden to the sweaty hordes of EV newbies from GM and elsewhere will work out. Stay tuned.) But in my opinion Tesla’s other amazing achievement is mostly overlooked, and that is the radical simplicity of its product line. To cut to the chase, if Tesla can continue to make this product strategy work, it may redefine the way car companies have competed for the last century or so…..” Read more Hmmmm… This is a brilliant article by someone who well understands the car business. Read all of it. Alain
S. Doll, July 14, “Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles continues to expand the scope of its autonomous driving technology simultaneously on two separate continents using its ID.Buzz electric vans. In Germany where the robotaxi testing initially started, Volkswagen will begin transporting actual passengers for the first time, including government officials….” Read more Hmmmm… Nice, but “… will begin… “; so it hasn’t started and since the article doesn’t say it will be without attendant/driver, it won’t be without attendant/driver. Alain
S. Doll, July 14, “A video of what is alleged to be a new Tesla people-mover for the Boring Company has leaked. It could be the real deal.
A Tesla electric van, minibus, or people-mover has been in the works for a long time. In the “Tesla Master Plan Part 2,” CEO Elon Musk talked about two new segments Tesla is looking to electrify:…” Read more Hmmmm… Very interesting. Alain
A. Roberts, July 12, “A new phase of the Boring Company’s Vegas Loop, connecting the Wynn Las Vegas resort with the Las Vegas Convention Center, is nearly complete
Wynn Resorts announced the completion of a 2,325-foot tunnel in a news release on Wednesday. Work is ongoing on the Wynn passenger station, which will be located near the Encore valet entrance…..” Read more Hmmmm… Nice! Progress continues to be made. Alain
Staff, June 29, ” The car-share company Halo.Car says it has launched its first driverless delivery of electric vehicles in downtown Las Vegas.
Safety drivers have been removed from remote-piloted vehicles in a world-first commercial launch, Halo.Car said in a press release. Customers can book an electric vehicle to their requested location and have it delivered without a driver in the car. A second vehicle will follow to monitor the driverless vehicle to provide support or stop it if necessary.
This comes after four years of testing where safety drivers were inside the vehicles during remote piloting, according to the company.“…” Read more Hmmmm… OK Congratulations. Alain
Rob Mauer, July 13, ” ➤ Tesla reportedly presents ambitious plans in India
➤ PPI comes in lower than expected
➤ Cybertruck charging teaser
➤ Report on Model Y registration growth
➤ Tesla tops all brands in Autotrader desirability report
➤ xAI Twitter space scheduled
➤ Musk keynote
➤ Twitter business model change
Read more Hmmmm… Nice! Alain
August. 9 & 10