28th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars
Monday, August 21, 2017
Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars
A. Madrigal, aUG 23, " a corner of Alphabet’s campus, there is a team working on a piece of software that may be the key to self-driving cars. No journalist has ever seen it in action until now. They call it Carcraft, after the popular game World of Warcraft….Hmmmm… Waymo’s naming should have been a play of GTA V such as "Maximus Furtum IV". Oh, but that’s our version of this. 🙂 Alain
…Scenarios like this form the base for the company’s powerful simulation apparatus. “The vast majority of work done—new feature work—is motivated by stuff seen in simulation,” Stout tells me. This is the tool that’s accelerated the development of autonomous vehicles at Waymo…
…Collectively, they now drive 8 million miles per day in the virtual world. In 2016, they logged 2.5 billion virtual miles…
…In that virtual space, they can unhitch from the limits of real life and create thousands of variations of any single scenario, and then run a digital car through all of them….
…Not surprisingly, the hardest thing to simulate is the behavior of the other people. It’s like the old parental saw: “I’m not worried about you driving. I’m worried about the other people on the road.”…
…They call it “fuzzing,” and in this case, there are 800 scenarios generated by this four-way stop. It creates a beautiful, lacy chart—and engineers can go in and see how different combinations of variables change the path that the car would decide to take….
…“That iteration cycle is tremendously important to us and all the work we’ve done on simulation allows us to shrink it dramatically,” Dolgov told me. “The cycle that would take us weeks in the early days of the program now is on the order of minutes.”…
…The power is that they mirror the real world in the ways that are significant to the self-driving car and allow it to get billions more miles than physical testing would allow. For the driving software running the simulation, it is not like making decisions out there in the real world. It is the same as making decisions out there in the real world…" Read more Hmmmm… Excellent!! However, the description focuses on the ‘testing’ side. What about the ‘training’ side? Not much divulged here. Alain
Vehicle Dynamics Study
S. Lack, Aug 8, "… The objective of the simulation study was not to precisely estimate the position time history of the truck, but to estimate ranges of vehicle motions that were consistent with the witness’ description and the physical data. Key aspects of the simulations are described below…
…The results of the simulations support that the witness statement is consistent with the other information gathered in the course of the investigation. The results of the study also support that the truck driver would have had a line of sight to the car for at least several seconds, giving him the opportunity to stop prior to entering the eastbound lanes. The study also indicates that the car driver had at least 3.4 seconds to react to the front of the tractor crossing into the eastbound travel lanes." Read more Hmmmm… Very interesting, Speed of the truck as it crossed the east-bound lanes and cut-off the Tesla is, of course, critical here. The upper limit is constrained by the acceleration and turning radius limitations of the truck. Unfortunately, the simulations didn’t consider the possibility that, since traffic was extremely light in the westbound lanes, the truck drive might have taken an "easier" wider turn from the left travel lane. All of the tested scenarios emerged from the WB left-turn lane. A wider turn would lead to higher truck speeds and shorter reaction time for the driver.
In any event, what are the excuses as why the passage of the tractor across the lane of travel in front of the Tesla didn’t set off the Tesla’s Emergency Braking System or the "Intelligent Cruise Control" aspects of AutoPilot? Using this simulation’s truck speeds, parts of that tractor were smack in the Tesla’s travel lane for a second or more with a closing speed of 70+ mph and ~ 200 feet from impact. Such situations don’t set off all kinds of alarms????? Alain
Tesla’s Push to Build a Self-Driving Car Sparked Dissent Among Its Engineers
I. Dugan, Aug 24, "Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk jolted the automotive world last year when he announced the company’s new vehicles would come with a hardware upgrade that would eventually allow them to drive themselves.
He also jolted his own engineering ranks. …" Read more Hmmmm… The fact that NHTSA reported that Tesla’s so equipped crashed 40% less than those not equipped is a strong data point that the dissenters were wrong. Alain
More States Explore Truck-Platooning Technology and Regulations
S. Descant, Aug 23, "…This form of extreme tailgating is known as “truck-platooning,” and is being researched as a way to gain fuel savings due to reduced aerodynamic drag. However, platooning can only work if it’s done safely, and that will require the development and testing of technology that allows the vehicles to be tethered wirelessly and “talking” to each other with regards to acceleration, braking, lane-changes and other aspects of highway driving.
Meanwhile, on the regulatory side, states are working to enable the testing of platooning technology, often setting up multi-state test agreements such as the I-10 Connected Freight Corridor Coalition, made up of transportation officials from California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas…." Read more Hmmmm… Plus… ‘Self-driving’ lorries to be tested on UK roads Testing is fine, but are the fuel savings (which are really minuscule over the drive cycle of any real truck) worth the public display of one truck tailgating another? Why not forgo the ‘automated tailgating’/ ‘platooning’ and simply equip trucks with good existing intelligent cruise control, automated lane centering and automated collision avoidance technology to lock-in the safety benefits and look elsewhere to capture itty-bitty fuel savings. For example, better aerodynamic design throughout a truck’s drive cycle (and not just in the rare and short stretches when two trucks could platoon. Alain
Infrastructure, Automation, and Mobility
M. Sheldrick, Aug 22, "It was initially believed that new infrastructure would be necessary for automation and mobility, but the last ten or twelve years have proven otherwise – so far, the focus has been on the vehicles…." Read more Hmmmm… Interesting. Alain
Nvidia Invests In TuSimple’s Autonomous Technology
D. Jones, Aug 23, "… Beijing-based TuSimple was founded in 2015 to provide technology for autonomous long-distance truck delivery, with a foundation in artificial intelligence, computer vision, mapping, and algorithms. Currently, it has two research and development centers, one each in Beijing and San Diego, with over 100 employees…." Read more Hmmmm…OK Alain
Tesla’s Self-Driving Car Scandal
M. Hibben, Aug 25, "The official Tesla line is that Tesla will demonstrate full self-driving in a cross-country trip later this year with no human intervention over the length of the trip. The probability of success here is virtually nil….
…Has the market priced in failure to meet the Model 3 production goals and full self-driving capability? It doesn’t appear that it has, based on the 65% rise in the stock year to date. As much as I admire Musk, Tesla, and its products, I’m now convinced that Tesla is about to hit a brick wall, at least in terms of market valuation…. Read more Hmmmm… Not good news but since it has always been Tesla’s intention to have a driver in the driver’s seat, FULL self-driving is totally unnecessary. Who cares if the driver actually does something once in a long while as the country is crossed. What’s paramount, is that the Tesla doesn’t crash while doing its publicity stunt(s). Alain
Apple Scales Back Its Ambitions for a Self-Driving Car
D. Wakabayashi, Aug 22, "As new employees were brought into Apple’s secret effort to create a self-driving car a few years ago, managers told them that they were working on the company’s next big thing: A product that would take on Detroit and disrupt the automobile industry.
These days, Apple’s automotive ambitions are more modest…A notable symbol of that retrenchment is a self-driving shuttle service that ferries employees from one Apple building to another. The shuttle, which has never been reported before, will likely be a commercial vehicle from an automaker and Apple will use it to test the autonomous driving technology that it develops. Five people familiar with Apple’s car project, code-named “Titan,” discussed with The New York Times the missteps that led the tech giant to move — at least for now — from creating a self-driving Apple car to creating technology for a car that someone else builds.
…More recently, the team has grown again, adding personnel with expertise in autonomous systems, rather than car production…." Read more Hmmmm… Not the best of news, but lots of folks can build cars. So far the focus has been on replacing the driver. Few, if any, are starting with a clean sheet of paper and creating capsules that provides the most attractive ubiquitous on-demand mobility while coexisting/utilizing/sharing today’s conventional road/car/truck infrastructure. Alain
Germany draws up rules of the road for driverless cars
Staff, Aug 23, "Protecting people rather than property or animals will be the priority under pioneering new German legal guidelines for the operation of driverless cars, the transport ministry said on Wednesday….Under new ethical guidelines – drawn up by a government-appointed committee comprising experts in ethics, law and technology – the software that controls such cars must be programmed to avoid injury or death of people at all cost.
The software may not decide on its course of action based on the age, sex or physical condition of any people involved.
Germany earlier this year passed legislation under which a driver must be sitting behind the wheel at all times ready to take back control if prompted to do so by the autonomous vehicle, clearing the way for the development and testing of self-driving cars." Read more Hmmmm…Great that Germany is going to have ethical ‘SelfDriving Cars’ but has legislated itself out of the Driverless Car business. Way to protect the legacy car companies! wrt ‘Ethical’.. Any pecking order among: Driver, passenger, occupants of other cars/trucks/bikes, pedestrians??? Alain
An inside look at Ford’s $1 billion bet on Argo AI
K. Korosec, Aug 16, "… There are two schools of thought on how to solve these problems. Startups like Drive.ai and tech giant Nvidia argue that deep neural networks — a sophisticated form of artificial intelligence algorithms that allow a computer to learn by using a series of connected networks to identify patterns in data — can be applied to everything the self-driving car does from recognizing objects to making decisions.
Proponents of deep learning say these algorithms most closely mimic how the human brain learns. But Salesky contends deep learning requires more research and computing power for it to be used in autonomous vehicles in the near term.
The other approach — and the one Argo is taking — is to train these deep nets to solve very specific problems and then surround that with machine learning algorithms that tie into the broader system…" Read more Hmmmm…Interesting, but the article below introduces doubt. Alain
The Employment Impact of Autonomous Vehicles
D. Beede, Aug 11, "…In 2015, 15.5 million U.S. workers were employed in occupations that could be affected (to varying degrees) by the introduction of automated vehicles. This represents about one in nine workers….This research attempts to identify the occupations and industries that may be most directly affected by autonomous vehicles and to use available data to examine the current characteristics of these jobs and the workers who do them. Most previous research about workers potentially affected by AVs has focused narrowly on occupations that are classified simply as motor vehicle operators. Below, we extend this analysis to include the many other occupations for which driving is an important, though not the primary, job activity… Read more Hmmmm…Very nice report! Also look at one summary in: Driverless cars will make a lot of jobs better, not destroy them Alain
Next up in self-driving transportation: modular pods
I. Salian, Aug 7, "…Next Future Transportation says it’s developing a modular transportation system, consisting of individual pod vehicles that connect and disconnect with one another to get people from place to place. Think of railcars that link up to form a train, but smaller and with rubber wheels for roads….the company will be starting a pilot project in Dubai in February, Spera said. That will be self-driving, because it’s in a controlled environment,…" Read more Hmmmm…Sounds like PRT (Personal Rapid Transit) to me. Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
Amazon’s Play to Rattle Whole Foods Rivals: Cheaper Kale and Avocado
N. Wingfield, Aug 24, " The era of Whole Paycheck, the derisive nickname for Whole Foods, may be drawing to a close. Amazon, which takes control of the upscale grocer on Monday, intends to slash prices the same day.
The significance of the move goes well beyond the price of organic avocados, baby kale and rotisserie chickens, all of which will cost less on Monday than on Sunday. Rather, it is an outsize way for Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, to announce his plan to shake up the grocery industry and take on competitors like Walmart and Kroger…." Read more Hmmmm… Just think of how disruptive Jeff is going to be when he enters the DriverlessTruck market. Can’t wait!! 🙂 Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time
When Will You Be Ready to Get in a Driverless Car?
J. West, Aug 24, "…This limited, qualitative study was conducted with consumers who had no previous exposure to driverless cars other than those they had seen in their city. They were invited to take a ride in a driverless test car in exchange for their feedback about the experience. Five trust interactions were prototyped and evaluated: requesting a vehicle, starting a trip, making changes to the trip, handling errors and emergencies, and pulling over and exiting. We interviewed them before and after their ride and also recorded their reactions during the experience…" Read more Hmmmm… Can you imagine if this sort of thing was done prior to the introduction or use of automated elevators or even automated people movers? Look… if the driverless vehicles don’t crash, then it will take people about a nano second to jump in and get used to them; just as we’ve done with elevators, buses, trains and even planes and scary rides at amusement parks. If they do crash, then, as they say in Brooklyn: Fugget’About’It! (or) See also.. Intel studies how to make people accept self-driving cars Alain
Ford CEO Hackett Sets Aside 2021 Autonomous Vehicle Deadline
D. Meyer, Aug 18, "Ford is reviewing its plans for rolling out autonomous vehicles, chief executive Jim Hackett has said.
Hackett’s predecessor, Mark Fields, was very bullish on the shift to self-driving cars. Under his leadership, the company said in January that it was planning to release a fully autonomous vehicle, with no steering wheel or pedals, by 2021.
But then in May, Ford replaced Fields with Hackett, the man who was already heading up the company’s self-driving car unit. The firm is now undertaking a 100-day review of its operations, and Hackett already has changes in mind…..Ford seems to be falling in line with its rivals, which have always taken a more cautious, staged approach to their self-driving car rollout plans.
"It will be a progressive thing, just like computing. If you think about a vehicle that can drive anywhere, anytime, in any circumstance, cold, rain—that’s longer than 2021. And every manufacturer will tell you that," Hackett said. Read more Hmmmm… Well, of course… conventional cars can’t go ‘anywhere, anytime’. The important ‘element’ is: He indicated that autonomous vehicles may not replace human-driven cars outright, and shared fleets won’t necessarily supersede private car ownership either. So Ford is squarely in the Safe-driving & Self-driving business of conventionally-owned cars (that can’t deliver the ‘shared-ride mobility for all’ afforded by Driverless cars). So they are ‘Circling the wagons‘. Alain
There is a ton of people who still don’t want to ride in self-driving cars, says survey
R. Ferris, Aug 24, "…The Gartner Consumer Trends in Automotive people surveyed about 1,500 people in the United States and Germany from April through May, and found that 55 percent of the people they spoke to would not ride in a fully autonomous car…." Read more Hmmmm… Since a fully autonomous car still doesn’t exist it is unbelievable that Gartner or anyone would waste their time asking anyone such a hypothetical. It’s amazing that they didn’t get 100% of the people to not want to experience something that still doesn’t exist and has some imaginable hazard associated with it. Crazy! Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Las Vegas, NV
Smart City, Smart Transit, Smart Energy
2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 16 & 17, 2018
Save the Date
Recent Highlights of:
Monday, August 21, 2017
Driverless-Car Outlook Shifts as Intel Takes Over Mobileye
E. Boudette, Aug 8, "…Mobileye will remain based in Israel, and its co-founder Amnon Shashua will head all of Intel’s autonomous-vehicle efforts. The other founder, Ziv Aviram, is retiring from Mobileye to focus on another company he started, OrCam, which makes artificial-vision devices that allow the visually impaired to understand text and identify objects…" Read more Hmmmm… Will Intel really not screw this up? Alain
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
M. Sena, Vol 4, issue 9, "UNCERTAINTY IS TROUBLING for businesses, individuals and governments…. In one way or another, all businesses, including and especially transport, are completely reliant on four macro factors:.. I’d add one more: where are children learn and play …. A United Nations study projects world population to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, up from 7.5 billion today, driven by growth in developing countries…India will have traded places with China as the world’s most populous country in around seven years…So the large bulk of those additional one billion inhabitants of the planet by 2030 will be looking for places to live in Mumbai, not in Madrid. The takeaway from this is that the so-called ‘developed’ countries, with a few notable exceptions, are either losing population due to not producing enough children or seeing their populations staying basically stable. In 2030, Tokyo will still be the most populated city with an estimated population of 37.2 million.
Delhi will be in second place with 36.1 million, up from 3.5 million in 1970! (How has it coped?) Shanghai will be in third place and New York/Newark will have dropped off the top ten list. But what will it be like to live in these cities? The Economist Intelligence Unit ranks cities as the most and least liveable. … It ranked Melbourne, Australia as number one, … Melbourne’s density is 460 persons per km2 compared to 6,158/km2 for Tokyo and 2,059/km2 for Shanghai…. None of the most liveable cities is among the top ten places where venture capitalists have been placing their money bets during the past year….These four city regions are ranked below 30th place on the EIU Liveability Index. In other words, they may be successful, but not that liveable… (in US) 50% live in rural or less urban areas occupying more than 90% of the land area. Is there any wonder why over 50% of the vehicles sold in the U.S. are not passenger cars but SUVs and pick-up trucks?…If everyone who lived in the dense urban areas stopped buying cars, there would still be over 50% of the population who would continue to be car purchasers.
Can we conclude from this that the exodus from city regions to the suburbs of both jobs and families has now stopped and central cities once again will be where people live and work? No, not unless people will be willing to give up everything they have come to value in terms of living standards and will accept being packed into sardine can-sized apartments stacked a mile high…. Living in a central city in the most desirable neighborhoods will continue to be the privilege of the wealthy and very wealthy…They also have homes and dachas in the Hamptons, Vinyard and Vermont, else they couldn’t stand it. … When younger people build families and need more space, preferably with a yard, and that space is too expensive in the city, they find it further out…Visions of young professionals dashing around in robotic cars gobbling up mobility as a service are, to put it kindly, a bit fanciful. Read more Hmmmm…I love it!! So many good one-liners. Alain
Monday, July 24, 2017
Introducing Level 5 and Our Self-Driving Team
L. Vincent, Lyft, "For a long time, we at Lyft have shared our plan to help end car ownership in order to usher in a transportation revolution that improves our communities and quality of life. To do so we need to build an ecosystem that offers a variety of ride types, including both rides with drivers as well as rides from self-driving vehicles…
This news builds on the announcement we made earlier this year, when we created the world’s first open self-driving platform. Lyft’s self-driving vehicles will operate on that network, alongside vehicles introduced by Lyft partners. In the years ahead, we will continue to bring the world’s leading automotive and technology companies onto this single platform to serve a nationwide passenger network. And together, we will continue to drive toward a single, shared objective: to build the world’s best transportation ecosystem.
To be clear, we aren’t thinking of our self-driving division as a side project. It’s core to our business. That’s why 10% of our engineers are already focused on developing self-driving technology — and we’ll continue to grow that team in the months ahead. Their efforts will be housed in a brand-new development facility in Palo Alto, which we are calling the Level 5 Engineering Center…
We believe Lyft is in the best position to demonstrate what a great overall user experience can be. Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that makes it possible to roll out self-driving cars at scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way.
This is true for a few reasons. First, Lyft has significant scale, which enables us to rapidly train our self-driving system. Every day, there are over one million rides completed on our network in over 350 cities. This translates into tens of millions of miles on a daily basis…
Lyft will always operate a hybrid network, with rides from both human-driven and self-driving cars. When a passenger requests a ride that a self-driving car can complete, we may send one to complete the trip. If that person needs to go somewhere self-driving cars are unable to navigate, or their needs call for a different level of service, they will have a driver. But in either event, we’ll make sure everyone can get where they need to go. …" Read more Hmmmm…Luc, congratulations! At least you’re calling it "Level 5…" so that there is little doubt that you are focusing on "Driverless" and that what seems to be the auto industry’s view of "Self-driving" doesn’t cut it, which is why one gets the confused reporting in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I agree that Lyft (and everyone else) will always need a hybrid fleet, serving rides using both "Driverless Cars" for trips that can so be served and human-driven "Safe-driving Cars" for those trips that haven’t been certified as capable of being served safely with "Driverless Cars". The fundamental economic advantage of "Driverless Cars" (substantially lower labor cost per person trip served) fuels this investment initiative. Moreover, its operational simplification enables it to scale such that once it becomes technologically achievable Lyft’s share of the rides market will explode. With "Driverless Cars" Lyft will achieve, in the words of Joseph Schumpeter, “… [I]n capitalist reality…, it is not [price] competition which counts but the competition from the new commodity, the new technology…- competition which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives.” Alain
Sunday, July 09, 2017
The Maturation of the Autonomous Vehicle Space
K. Pyle, July 14, "Reflecting upon the comments and insight from this week’s Automated Vehicle Symposium 2017, the automated vehicle space feels like the Video on Demand space did a couple of decades ago. The technology wizards are making great progress and its obvious the industry is maturing because there are multiple companies addressing both mainstream challenges, as well as corner cases. Still, like video on demand, technology will probably not be the biggest hurdle to autonomous vehicle adoption, but ease-of-use and trust in the technology will probably represent the biggest challenges…." Read more Hmmmm… A thoughtful reflection on the Symposium. Thank you Ken. Alain
Active Safety-Collision Warning Pilot in Washington State, IDEA Program Final Report
J. Lutin, May 19 "The Rosco/Mobileye Shield+ system is a collision avoidance warning system (CAWS) specifically designed for transit buses. This project involved field testing and evaluation of the CAWS in revenue service over a three-month period. The system provides alerts and warnings to the bus driver for the following conditions that could lead to a collision: 1) changing lanes without activating a turn signal (lane departure warning was disabled for this pilot), 2) exceeding posted speed limit, 3) monitoring headway with the vehicle leading the bus, 4) forward vehicle collision warning, and 5) pedestrian or cyclist collision warning in front of, or alongside the bus. Alerts and warnings are displayed to the driver by visual indicators located on the windshield and front pillars. Audible warnings are issued when collisions are imminent. …" Read more Hmmmm… Very interesting. This is the first substantive report of realities of retrofiring existing transit buses with active safety collision-warning technology. Anyone in the public transit industry should be paying attention to this report. This is the very beginning of actually implementing safety-oriented automated technology in transit buses and it was motivated and led by insurance (Jerry Spears & Al Hatten @ WSTIP + Mike Scrudato @ Munich Re). Insurance finally stepping up and leading. Alain
Sunday, June 25, 2017
NTSB Opens Docket on Tesla Crash
Press release, June 19, "As part of its ongoing investigation into the fatal 2016 highway crash involving a Tesla Model S and a tractor-semitrailer truck near Williston, Florida, the National Transportation Safety Board on Monday opened the accident docket, releasing more than 500 pages of information.
System performance data downloaded from the Tesla revealed that the driver was operating the car using automated vehicle control systems: Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping systems.
The docket includes reports that cover various aspects of the investigation, including highway design, vehicle performance, human performance, and motor carrier factors. The crash reconstruction report, also included in the docket, provides a description of the crash sequence. The docket also includes interview transcripts and summaries, photographs, and other investigative material. The docket contains only factual information collected by NTSB investigators; it does not provide analysis, findings, recommendations, or probable cause determinations. No conclusions about how or why the crash occurred should be drawn from the docket. Analysis, findings, recommendations, and probable cause determinations related to the crash will be issued by the Board at a later date.
The docket material is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xNvaE" Read 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.
2. Why didn’t autobrake kick in when the tractor part of the tractor-trailer passed in front of the Tesla?
3. 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.
7. 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
S. Burgstaller, May 23,"The c.$7 tn global mobility market is speeding into the era of the “pay-as-you-go” car. Ride-hailing services such as Uber and Didi are pioneering a ‘cloud’ mobility system, which is using data to change
how the wealthiest cities move. In Rethinking Mobility, we model how the ride-hailing opportunity can grow to $285 bn by 2030, and is the precursor to a broader technological and social transformation. We examine how the market might live up to the high valuations of its pioneers, why car sales may prove surprisingly resilient despite the change, and where automakers have a chance to transform their profitability as operators of fleets of autonomous cars…." Read more Hmmmm… Nice to see GoldMine Sachs finally weigh in. The report is chock full of information and there is a lot here to absorb.
The big impact will be if we ever get to Driverless without which you don’t replace even one Uber driver.
Without Driverless, the issue centers on the 8x penetration of hailing rides. At 8x only car rental and little else is effected. At 80x it effects car ownership but there will not be enough gig workers to support it. So it doesn’t scale without Driverless.
With Driverless, then it is all about ridesharing as with elevators. If it is as easy as elevators, then car ownership diminishes greatly.
The report doesn’t respect the enormous difference between Driverless and Non-driversless (Self-driving and Safe-Driving; Levels 0 -> 4). It seems to assumes Driverless, yet it does not deal with the likelihood that Driverless will be achieved and fails to realize/identify the enormous forces that may come to bear that will attempt to derail Driverless at all costs. The strongest of which may well be the "GMs" of this world. GMs are all about Self-driving which REQUIRES a driver ( thus consumer ownership) and perpetuates their 100 year old business model. Driverless scales ‘cloud mobility’ beyond the ‘8x’ limits of a gig economy and enables horizontal ‘cloud mobility’ to become as ubiquitous as the elevator is in vertical mobility. Yes, there are still stair cases, and private ‘cloud-mobility" elevators for the 0.01%, but the masses will just grin&share the on-demand ‘cloud-mobility’ elevators without a 2nd thought. Driverless assuaged vertical mobility anxiety. Driverless is the critical technological element that will assuage horizontal mobility anxiety and enable widespread horizontal ‘cloud mobility’.
Communities may find, as tall buildings have found, that they really work best (even at all) if they accommodate shared ‘cloud’ mobility and provide it for ‘free’ simply because it is so effective in capturing the enhanced land values that are unlocked by such mobility. We’ve always been able to walk up and down a couple of flights of stair, but once we were easily able to go (via on-demand ‘cloud’ mobility available 24x7x365) more than four or so, then the sky became the limit. Are similar horizontal land values waiting to be unlocked if they simply pick up the tab for that on-demand horizontal ‘cloud’ mobility? If so, then the GMs of this world are in a heap of trouble. Alain
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 LeCun. Read 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
A. Jonas, Feb 1 "A sharp rise in traffic death & rapid growth of semiautonomous tech as standard equipment can accelerate the obsolescence of used cars, with potentially negative implications for secondhand values, auto credit & SAAR. We see elevated auto credit risk & avoid used car exposure….
…One could reasonably argue that if a technology can save 10k or 20k lives and hundreds of thousands of injuries per year in the US it should be (1) affordable and (2) not be optional equipment. Contrary to this, we found the majority of models currently available either do not offer active safety features or offer them only as optional equipment at prohibitively high costs. Our key takeaways are summarized below:…" Read More Hmmmm… First, sorry that I just saw this excellent report. On top of the enormous substance, this report doesn’t mention that some/many of these systems don’t work as well as they should. Some don’t brake if the the object ahead is stationary, others get confused with white back-lighting, others only apply the brake after the driver starts applying the brake and others only apply the brakes up to a 50% level. Here we are trying to let drivers take hands of wheels and feet off pedals, yet we don’t have Safe-driving Cars that actually work (…experiencing essentially no false positives or false negatives) . Alain
Monday, May 8, 2017
Walt Disney World plans to deploy driverless shuttles in Florida
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Waymo to Offer Phoenix Area Access to Self-Driving Cars
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
Monday, March 20, 2017
Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile, according to documents
Friday, March 10, 2017
Robot cars — with no human driver — could hit California roads next year
R. Mitchell, Mar 10, "California is back on the map as a state that’s serious about welcoming driverless cars.Truly driverless cars — vehicles with no human behind the wheel, and perhaps no steering wheel at all — are headed toward California streets and highways starting in 2018…
The regulations lay out “a clear path for future deployment of autonomous vehicles” in California, said Bernard Soriano, deputy director at the Department of Motor Vehicles…." Read more Hmmm… Congratulations Bernard! This is fantastic news on the road to providing high-quality mobility for all. It squarely addresses the fundamental need to efficiently re-position vehicles so that they can get to even those who can’t drive. This is a real turning point for automated vehicles from self-driving toys for the 1% to affordable, environmentally friendly mobility for everyone. Alain
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
ODI (Office of Defects Investigation) Findings on Tesla AEB & AutoPilot
(Above link should work) Jan 19, "… Summary: … NHTSA’s examination did not identify any defects in the design or performance of the AEB or Autopilot systems of the subject vehicles nor any incidents in which the systems did not perform as designed. AEB systems used in the automotive industry through MY 2016 are rear-end collision avoidance technologies that are not designed to reliably perform in all crash modes, including crossing path collisions. The Autopilot system is an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) that requires the continual and full attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment and be prepared to take action to avoid crashes. Tesla’s design included a hands-on the steering wheel system for monitoring driver engagement…
… ODI analyzed data from crashes of Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles involving airbag deployments that occurred while operating in, or within 15 seconds of transitioning from, Autopilot mode. Some crashes involved impacts from other vehicles striking the Tesla from various directions with little to no warning to the Tesla driver. Other crashes involved scenarios known to be outside of the state-of-technology for current-generation Level 1 or 2 systems, such as cut-ins, cut-outs and crossing path collisions….
…The Florida fatal crash appears to have involved a period of extended distraction (at least 7 seconds)…" .Hmmm… nothing else is written about this nor is a basis given for the ‘at least 7 seconds’. Possibly the most important information revealed in this summary is Figure 11, p11: "… Figure 11 shows the rates calculated by ODI for airbag deployment crashes in the subject Tesla vehicles before and after Autosteer installation. The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation…
…A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted. Accordingly, this investigation is closed. " Read more Hmmm… WOW!!! . Every word of this Finding is worth reading. It basically exonerates Tesla, states that AEBs (Automated Emergency Braking) systems don’t really work and aren’t designed to work in some scenarios (straight crossing path (SCP) and left turn across path (LTAP), see p 2,3). …which suggests, to me, that DoT/NHTSA should be placing substantial efforts on making these systems really work in more scenarios. And… there is the solid data that ‘AutoSteer" reduced Tesla crashes by almost 40%!!! WOW!! Will Insurance now finally get on-board and lead? Alai
Friday, September 23, 2016
Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety
September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety. (p5)
…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)
…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)
…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6) Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY. We all have recognized safety as a necessary condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful. (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition. Alain
"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain
"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…" Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain
"…2. Model State Policy (p7) The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done. Alain
"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…" Hmmm… Excellent. Alain
"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…" Hmmm… Yes. Alain
"…Note on “Levels of Automation” There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. ) Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless. While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly. That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless". Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today). So autonomousTaxis are impossible.
Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected. These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles). I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work. In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time. This is not acceptable. These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now. It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.
"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7) However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8) . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)
In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected", focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves. Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety. Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility.
What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit. NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines. FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight. Alain
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
This list is maintained by Alain Kornhauser and hosted by the Princeton University LISTSERV.
This list is maintained by Alain Kornhauser and hosted by the Princeton University LISTSERV.