Sunday, May 22, 2016
Derailment of Amtrak passenger train 188, Philadelphia, PA, May 12, 2015 NTSB/ DCA15MR010
Public meeting of May 17 "… Executive Summary…This report addresses the following safety issues:
- Crewmember situational awareness and management of multiple tasks.…
- Positive train control. In the accident area, positive train control had not yet been implemented at the time of the accident, but it has since been implemented. The NTSB found that the accident could have been avoided if positive train control or another control system had been in place to enforce the permanent speed restriction of 50 mph at the Franklin Junction curve.
- … Read more
Hmmm… Kudos to NTSB for finding "…the accident could have been avoided if positive train control or another control system had been in place to enforce..."
HOWEVER, given that PCT was mandated by Congress in 2008 with a deadline of December 15, 2015 and that 6 months before the deadline PTC had NOT been implemented on Amtrak’s highest volume segment (PHL-NYC) is so unacceptable that this deserved to have been their #1 bullet. NOT some poor train engineer that was simply trying to do a job made enormously more dangerous and stressful because Amtrak management failed to implement in a timely manner what had been mandated by its "sugar daddy"!! So the NTSB "threw" the engineer "under the bus" and essentially all of the news reports pointed to the engineer rather than Amtrak’s senior (mis)management (The Atlantic, NBC, Washington Post, WSJ, NYT etc. Why didn’t the NYT do a long story on why Amtrak management didn’t install PTC in a timely manner???)
My point here is larger in that this same issue exists in the rest of the transit industry where crash-avoidance technology exists today that can substantially reduce collisions and do so while printing money for the transit industry. Dr. Jerome Lutin and I have pointed out to deaf ears that automated collision avoidance systems exist today for buses whose costs are substantially less than the net present value of the liability that these buses can be expected to impose on society. This is about the cash that a hopelessly bankrupt transit industry has to pay out because it isn’t installing existing crash avoidance technology that is available today. On top of that cash are all of the societal benefits associated with eliminating collisions. There is no rush (not even a faint heart-beat) by the industry to do this. FTA is totally asleep, yet bus drivers continue to be placed in some of the most stressful and unsafe working conditions without the help that such technologies can deliver. I can’t be more blunt… The major cause of accidents in the transit industry is the fact that the management of the transit industry is not installing in its fleets existing and available automated collision avoidance systems. What is even more derelict is that new bus procurement don’t include such provisions either. When is the finger going to finally be pointed towards "Management" and the FTA instead of the poor bus driver or train engineer? NTSB is getting close by at least putting it 2nd, but if the public is to become aware, it will need to rise to the top bullet. Alain
Senator Mark Green speaks in national forum on autonomous cars, job creation
May 20, "Clarksville Republican Senator Mark Green joined technology and auto industry leaders at the University of Maryland’s National Transportation Center in its program, “Automated Vehicle Policy and Regulation: A State Perspective Workshop.”…" Read more Hmmm…Good one day conference with some excellent presentations as well as my wrap-up comments. Alain
NXP Demonstrates Complete Autonomous Vehicle Platform Using NXP Silicon at Each ADAS Node
Press Release, May 16 "Marking a significant milestone in the fast-approaching self-driving vehicles era, NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NASDAQ:NXPI) today demonstrated a comprehensive and highly manufacturable autonomous vehicles platform leveraging NXP’s new BlueBox engine, and deploying NXP silicon and software solutions at each ADAS node. The system demonstration incorporates the BlueBox central computing engine, together with radar, lidar, and vision sensing, as well as an onboard secure V2X system – all of which are powered by NXP silicon currently in volume production or sampling to customers now…" Read more Hmmm…Nice! , but how does it do with DeepDriving? Alain
Will robot cars drive traffic congestion off a cliff?
J. Lowy, May 15 "…Experts foresee robot cars chauffeuring children to school, dance class and baseball practice. The disabled and elderly will have new mobility. Commuters will be able to work, sleep, eat or watch movies on the way to the office. People may stay home more because they can send their cars to do things like pick up groceries they’ve ordered online.
Researchers believe the number of miles driven will skyrocket…" Read more Hmmm…Excuse me!… Not all researchers…Yes, we agree that since the dis-utility of travel will diminish substantially, person-miles traveled will go up substantially, HOWEVER, it is not at all clear that the current auto ownership model will survive (read the next article). If we evolve to MoD (Mobility-on-Demand), then the sharing-the-cost financial advantages of ride-sharing as well as its environmental, energy and congestion-relief consequences are likely to be sufficiently compelling that "miles driven" will actually go down. (And go down substantially in peak-hour, peak-direction so as to eradicate congestion.) High-rise apartment dwellers don’t own their own private elevators (except maybe "The Donald"). They casually ride-share whenever the on-demand warrants. Alain
Will Robo-Ubers Kill Car Ownership?
D. Pogue, June 1 "…Yes, self-driving cars are revolutionary. But on-demand driverless cars? The changes would be so massive and fast and global, there’s almost nothing about daily transportation that wouldn’t change—mostly for the better. Inexpensive robotic rides would mean there would be no particular reason to own a car. You wouldn’t have to buy one, maintain it, gas it up…" Read more Hmmm…Nice light article stating the obvious. Alain
Want to Buy a Self-Driving Car? Big-Rig Trucks May Come First
J Markoff, May 17, "… led by 15 former Google employees, including eight engineers. Among its staff members are major figures from Google’s self-driving car and maps projects, and it is aiming at the long-haul freeway driving that is the bread and butter of the commercial trucking industry.
The engineers think that automating trucks rather than passenger vehicles could be more palatable financially and to regulators….Since the Google car and map veterans, Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron, founded Otto in January, the company has expanded to 41 employees and has been test-driving three Volvo trucks, logging in more than 10,000 miles…" Read more Hmmm…Interesting, but does Otto really have more than Peloton or even Soterea except a better market focus and substantially better PR? Is this another Cruise? Alain
You can now sign up to test ride a driverless car in London
May 16 "…London has opened the doors to the UK’s first public trial of autonomous vehicles. That means if you are in the UK, you can register with GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) and take a ride around London’s Greenwich area in a self-driving electric car…" Read more Hmmm…PRT without an exclusive overhead guideway. How interesting!. Alain
3D animation of autonomous car interior.
Chesky, See Animation Hmmm…cute, but who knows how they’ll look??. Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
Maverick "car guy" Bob Lutz still pulls no punches
J. Berr, May 16 "… The veteran auto executive recently discussed the state of the auto industry with CBS MoneyWatch (transcript has been edited for clarity and space)…My argument with Tesla is the business. It’s a cult stock, and I’ve been saying for months that the business model doesn’t work. They’re losing a ton of money. They’re running out of cash. Their sales are sideways to down… " Read more Hmmm…Ouch!, Interesting perspectives derived from extensive experience. Worth reading. Alain
On the More Technical Side
Recompiled Old News & Smiles:
Google reports self-driving car mistakes: 272 failures and 13 near misses
M. Harris, Jan 12, 2016 "…Between September 2014 and November 2015, Google’s autonomous vehicles in California experienced 272 failures and would have crashed at least 13 times if their human test drivers had not intervened, according to a document filed by Google with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)….
However, Google admits that its drivers actually took over from their vehicles “many thousands of times” during the period. The company is reporting only 69 incidents because Google thinks California’s regulations require it only to report disengagements where drivers were justified in taking over, and not those where the car would have coped on its own…" Read more Hmmm…Good article about the realities of testing. See also Autonomous Vehicles in California. Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
Group Seeks to Pave Way for Nationwide Adoption of Driverless Cars
M. Ramsey, May 18, " "…A group of business and former military leaders wants to limit states’ ability to regulate driverless cars, calling for sweeping federal legislation to avoid a patchwork of rules they believe could hinder adoption of the technologically advanced vehicles…Other recommendations from the group include allowing auto makers to sell an unlimited number of electric cars that come with a $7,500 tax credit, so long as the vehicle’s price doesn’t eclipse $55,000. The tax credit would be reduced starting in 2021 and no longer be offered by 2023. Currently, the same tax credit disappears once a company sells 200,000 electric vehicles…" Read more Hmmm…Is this an electric car initiatives. It is likely that the fleet model of autonomousTaxis would be electric powered, but autonomousPersonalCars face the same barriers as today’s conventional personal cars. And why should the public subsidize autonomousTaxis when they have their own solid business case? Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Connected & Automated Vehicle Conference
What States Need to Know
June 21 &22, 2016
Maritime Institute (near BWI), Lincoln Heights, MD
Recent Highlights of:
Sunday, May 15, 2016
Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving
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
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Beverly Hills to Develop Autonomous Vehicles
M. Walker April 15, "The Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution to develop driverless vehicles that will provide public transportation throughout the city.
The program is part of Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch’s plan for a municipally owned fleet of autonomous vehicles that would function as an on-demand car shuttle service to and from any address in the city. .." Read more Hmmm…Communities all around the nation should follow what BH, Austin and a few other communities are doing. There is an opportunity to begin on-demand shared-ride "21st Century Public Transit" mobility using volunteer drivers to initiate and thoroughly demonstrate this low-cost mobility in preparation for a massive roll-out that can take place once driverless cars can extend/replace the volunteer drivers. Staff report on the matter; another article; landing page for the program. Alain
Saturday, April 23, 2016
N.J. superintendent killed while jogging was struck by student late for trip
K. Shea, April 19, "…The Robbinsville High School student who was driving the car that struck and killed the district’s superintendent Tuesday morning was late for a school trip when the crash occurred, according to two sources involved in the investigation.…" Read more Hmmm…Most tragic in so many dimensions!!! HOWEVER, it was NOT the student that STRUCK the Superintendent, it was the CAR. AND the CAR needs to start being held responsible for ALLOWING such tragedies to ruin so many lives. It is very likely that this tragedy could have been averted had the car been equipped with an automated collision avoidance system and/or lane-keeping system. Given the availability of these "tragedy avoidance systems", we should all be asking why this CAR wasn’t equipped with such a system and why all cars aren’t so equipped. Certainly innocent runners and dogs need to be asking such questions. So too, that young lady’s car insurance company; it must be muttering: "shouda bought her that upgrade". What about the car companies themselves who are largely just sitting on the technology or the dealerships that don’t feel compelled to espouse the benefits of such technology while pushing more "horsepower" and "Corinthian Leather" (and worse yet: "AooleCarXYZ" that distracts drivers). We all know that Washington is broken. Them staying out of the way is probably best (although aggressively applying better human-visible paint/laneMarkings and human-readable signs would go a long way to helping both attentive drivers and automated lane-keeping systems). Everyone else has fundamental self-interest at stake and each needs to stop pointing the finger to the frail human driver. We have the technology and the the self-interest to make mobility substantially safer. Let’s really get on with it. It’s time! Alain
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Automated Vehicle Operational Guidance Public Meeting
April 8,"At this meeting, NHTSA sought input on planned operational guidelines for the safe deployment of automated vehicles (AV). Of high importance to the agency is information on the roadway scenarios and operational environments that highly automated vehicles will need to address, and the associated design and evaluation processes and methods needed to ensure that AV systems are able to detect and appropriately react to these scenarios" Read more Hmmm…Watch testimony , especially: testimony of Dr. Jerome Lutin. Alain
Friday, March 25, 2016
Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities
March 23 Hmmm… Watch the video of the Committee Meeting. The testimony is Excellent and very compelling! Also see Self-Driving Minnesota Alain
Thursday, March 17, 2016
U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles
Press Release, Mar 17, NHTSA & IIHS "announced today a historic commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. auto market to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature on virtually all new cars no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins Sept 1, 2022. Automakers making the commitment are Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process…The commitment takes into account the evolution of AEB technology. It requires a level of functionality that is in line with research and crash data demonstrating that such systems are substantially reducing crashes, but does not stand in the way of improved capabilities that are just beginning to emerge. The performance measures are based on real world data showing that vehicles with this level of capability are avoiding crashes.. Watch NHTSA video on AEB Download AEB video from IIHSRead more Hmmmm…Fantastic! Automakers leading with regulatory process staying out of the way. Alain
Saturday, March 12, 2016
GM Buying Self-Driving Tech Startup for More Than $1 Billion
D. Patrick Mar 11,"General Motors GM 1.43% this morning announced that it will acquire Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based developer of autonomous vehicle technology. No financial terms were disclosed, but Fortune has learned from a source close to the situation that the deal is valued at “north of $1 billion,” in a combination of cash and stock.
Talks between the two companies originally related to a strategic investment by GM in Cruise, which was planning to raise a new round of venture capital funding. But that quickly morphed into an acquisition discussion with the entire agreement getting hashed out in less than six weeks. Read more Hmmmm…That sets the bar. Reminiscent of AOL paying $1.1B for MapQuest resulting in NavTeq getting $8.1B from Nokia followed by Here getting $3B from MB et al. Deja vu all over again! Very interesting 🙂 Alain
Thursday, March 3, 2016
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: How we found (and lost) the dream of Personal Rapid Transit
A. Robertson, Feb 10 , Feb. "…Half a century after its heyday, the Alden StaRRcar clearly wasn’t made for its world. It looks like a white flatiron with wheels or a sleek, plastic bullet, dwarfed by the regal sedans of 1960s Detroit. It belongs in one of Buckminster Fuller’s domed cities, a vehicle for traveling under the geodesics of a bubble-topped Manhattan. Its future wasn’t one of highways, but of narrow cement tracks looping gracefully between city and suburb, connecting increasingly alienated parts of the American landscape…
Once considered a key to solving urban blight, the StaRRcar was part of a public transit revolution that never was — but one that would help launch one of the weirdest and most politicized public infrastructure experiments of the 20th century. It’s an old idea that today, in an age of self-driving cars, seems by turns impractically retro and remarkably prescient…
PRT’s invention is attributed to a transportation expert named Donn Fichter, but the central idea was conceived, remixed, and adapted by many in the 1950s and 1960s. While the details varied, the prototypical PRT system was a network of narrow guideways populated by small passenger pods. When commuters arrived, they would hit a button to select a destination, calling one of the pods like a taxi. Then, instead of running on a set line, the pod would use guideways like a freeway system, routing around stations in order to take passengers directly to their final stop.
The system was designed to be everything that existing public transportation wasn’t. Pods would carry only as many people as an average car, guaranteeing a nearly private ride. Riders wouldn’t need to follow a timetable or wait for other people to enter and exit the system. Because the pods would only be dispatched on demand, cities could run service to many low-traffic areas without worrying about waste. There were no drivers to train or pay, and the pods could run quietly on electrical power instead of with fossil fuels…
Multiple plans for personal rapid transit fell through, whether because of budget problems, logistical issues, or political power struggles….
And as in the ‘60s, we’re talking about whether self-driving vehicles could spell the end of private cars…." Read more Hmmmm…A must read. Pretty much as I remember it. I lived much of it, including designing 10,000 station, 10,000 mile PRT networks that could serve all of New Jersey’s needs for personal mobility. The good news was that the area-wide systems would provide great mobility for all. The bad news: No viable way to start. The best starting places could each be readily served by conventional systems with no technology risk. Without a place to start, PRT never got a chance to flourish in the vast areas that are un-servable by conventional technology. Moreover, PRT needed the diversion of public sector capital funds that weres already in the back pocket of those pedaling the conventional technologies. Consequently, the personal auto has reigned on.
Today is different. With PRT, even the first vehicle needed a couple of stations and interconnecting guideway (and all of the discussion and heartache was about the location and cost of those initial stations and guideway). With autonomous taxis sharing existing roads, one can begin with a single vehicle capable of serving many existing places without needing to pay-for/justify any infrastructure. That is today’s fundamental opportunity, in contrast to PRT’s monumental infrastructure burden even for one vehicle. That’s why aTaxis are destined to finally deliver PRT’s utopian mobility to all and substantially transform our cities and suburbs. Alain
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years
Press Release Feb 16 "With continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy resulting in an estimated 3.5% increase in motor-vehicle mileage, the number of motor-vehicle deaths in 2015 totaled 38,300, up 8% from 2014.
The 2015 estimate is provisional and may be revised when more data are available. The total for 2015 was up 8% from the 2013 figure. The annual total for 2014 was 35,398, a less than 0.5% increase from 2013. The 2013 figure was 3% lower than 2012. The estimated annual population death rate is 11.87 deaths per 100,000 population, an increase of 7% from the 2014 rate. The estimated annual mileage death rate is 1.22 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase of 5% from the 2014 rate. Read more Hmmmm…This is REALLY BAD news. Come on insurance. This is costing you money! Accident rates going up means that your actuarials are behind, your regulated pricing lags and you are losing money. To get ahead of your actuarials, you MUST incentivize the adoption of automated collision avoidance systems. You’ll then do very well, thank you AND help society. Alain
Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Budget of the U.S. Government, FY 2017
Feb. 9, "…(3) Accelerate the integration of autonomous vehicles, low-carbon technologies, and intelligent transportation systems into our infrastructure….
- Providing almost $400 million on average per year in funding over the next 10 years for the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Investments would help develop connected infrastructure and smart sensors that can communicate with autonomous vehicles, support R&D to ensure these vehicles are safe and road ready, and expand at-scale deployment projects to provide “proving grounds” for autonomous self-driving and connected vehicles in urban and highway settings.
Read more Hmmmm…major victory…not only: "…for autonomous self-driving…", bit also stated before: "… and connected…". Alain
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Obama’s $4 Billion Plan for Self-Driving Cars Will Make Google Very Happy
M. Bergen, Jan 14 "The Obama Administration has seen the self-driving future, and it’s jumping aboard. At the Detroit auto show on Thursday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will unveil a plan to develop a national blueprint for autonomous driving technology within the next six months. He will also announce that President Obama is planning to insert $4 billion into the 2017 budget for a 10-year plan to support and “accelerate” vehicle automation projects.
“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” Secretary Foxx said in a statement. …But here’s the part of Foxx’s talk that really matters for Google: These national rules will allow fully driverless cars..." Read More Hmmm… A few months ago it was $42M for Connected Vehicles. Today it is 100x for automated vehicles! Finally Secretary Foxx.."YES! YES! JESUS H. TAP-DANCING CHRIST… I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT" (Blue Brothers) Yea!!!!! 🙂 Alain
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars
J. Hyde & S. Carty, Dec. 21 "Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, …According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California….
Google already has several links to Ford; the head of the self-driving car project, John Krafcik, worked for 14 years at Ford, including a stint as head of truck engineering, and several other ex-Ford employees work in the unit as well. Former Ford chief executive Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year.
And Ford executives have been clear for years that the company was ready to embrace a future where cars were sold as on-demand services. Ford CEO Mark Fields has repeatedly said Ford was thinking of itself “as a mobility company,” and what that would mean for its business" Read more Hmmm…Not surprising and not exclusive. 🙂 Alain
Sunday, December 19, 2015
Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars
Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1. Hmmm … Watch Video especially at the 13:12 mark. Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above! Also see his TipRanks. Alain
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This list is maintained by Alain Kornhauser and hosted by the Princeton University LISTSERV.