Saturday, July 27, 2019
Cruise postpones plan to launch driverless taxi service in 2019
A. Hawkins, July 24, "Cruise will miss its goal of launching a large-scale self-driving taxi service in 2019, the GM subsidiary’s CEO Dan Ammann said in an interview Tuesday. The company plans to dramatically increase the number of its autonomous test vehicles on the road in San Francisco, but will not be offering rides to regular people this year.
Previously, GM executives told investors that its autonomous ride-hailing service would be open to the public by the end of this year. Now it seems as if Cruise is moving away from deadlines and launch dates altogether. Ammann, GM’s former president who now leads its autonomous vehicle unit in San Francisco, wouldn’t even commit to launching the service next year, in 2020….
Cruise is still waiting for the federal government to accept or reject its request to deploy a fleet of fully driverless Chevy Bolt vehicles without steering wheels or pedals. The request was in limbo until this past March, when the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it would solicit public comments and conduct a review. That process concluded in May, and now Cruise is waiting for a final verdict. “We’re in dialogue with them,” Ammann said of NHTSA. “And nothing further to comment on at this point.”…
It will also host community events to answer questions from residents of San Francisco who, in some respects, are the company’s unwitting test subjects in its public self-driving experiments…." Read more Hmmmm…. Starting in the Blue Chip cities trying to serve those that already have lots of mobility options is turning out to be a fundamentally flawed approach.
Wouldn’t it be better to start providing mobility to those in areas that aren’t currently well served by existing mobility options… cars and transit. Find such places like Central Jersey, Chandler AZ, South Carolina, The Villages and Peoria be precursors to the MountainViews, Washington DCs, Miamis, SFs and LAs. Start there where the need exists and real benefits can be delivered. See also Timothy Lee’s take on this. Alain
Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 117 – Michael Sena
F. Fishkin, July 27, "GM’s Cruise taps brakes on plans for autonomous taxi service. So what’s next? Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser digs in along with co-host Fred Fishkin in the latest edition of Smart Driving Cars. Also: Daimler and Bosch partnering for autonomous parking, Navya, Uber, Lyft and State Farm says drivers defeating the benefits new safety tech. Tune in and subscribe!
" Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!". Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay … Alain
Learning to live together
G. Fernandez-Abascal, "The curb is a simple demarcation between two spaces: the roadway and the sidewalk. While their origin had little to do with transport, they became ubiquitous during the industrial revolution as a means to manage the movement of vehicles, people, and water. The curb today is a highly contested piece of urban real estate in many cities across the globe. It has accommodated and served as a space for pedestrian access to and from the sidewalk, emergency vehicle access, access to public transport, wayfinding for visually impaired people, goods delivery and pick-up, cycling infrastructure, passenger pick-up and drop-off, repair and maintenance, waste management and surface water runoff, commercial activities (kiosks, restaurants, food trucks, cafés, ambulant vendors), and leisure. These and other concurrent demands around the curb space involve a wide range of stakeholders and authorities whose activities are often disjointed and infrequently aligned with broader strategic objectives.
Seemingly mundane, the importance of the curb derives from its role in fixing vital space required for the negotiation of cohabitation between humans and non-human entities. This light piece of infrastructure has also become a crucial reference for driverless vehicles, as it allows them to safely navigate our cities. Driverless cars have the potential to either reduce or increase traffic, make affordable transport more or less accessible, and lead to denser cities or even more urban sprawl. …" Read more Hmmmm…. This is a very fundamental thought piece focused on how to begin to alter the design of our living spaces to better live together and how Driverless mobility (affordable, on-demand, 24/7, shared ride (elevator-like horizontal mobility)) may help us evolve such a future. Alain
Bosch and Daimler get approval for Level 4 automated parking in Germany
A. Krok, July 23, "Back in 2017, Bosch and Daimler teamed up to operate a pilot program for its driverless valet service. Clearly, it worked well enough, because that program has just been given clearance to operate as more than just a pilot.
Bosch and Daimler announced Tuesday that their automated parking system has been approved for operation. The green light came from Stuttgart’s regional administrative authority, in conjunction with the Baden-Württemberg transportation ministry. This means it’s the first Level 4 parking system to get approval for daily use. Level 4 is the first true hands-off level of automation, although it’s limited to specific situations and locations.
Like the pilot program, the system will be put to use at the Mercedes-Benz Museum parking garage in Stuttgart. Bosch is in charge of supplying the infrastructure, while Mercedes-Benz provides the vehicles…." Read more Hmmmm…. I’m sort of thrilled. This is low hanging fruit for this technology. If it can’t do this, it can’t take me from the my watering hole to my front yard after I’ve had one too many (which may be just one). I hope that Daimler and Bosch will keep working to allow me to have one too many but much more importantly serve the mobility marginalized to get to a better job, a better school, go to the library, get their hair done, worship, play ball, watch a game, … If the market for this technology is driverless valet parking for those that can well afford traditional valet service, then it is good that the investment community is paying for the development of this technology and not the general public.
Also, calling this "Level 4" highlights the fundamental problem with SAE’s Levels. Sure, it is driverless in some highly constrained domain where no really useful mobility function is being served other than "park my car!". Is a Tesla with AutoPilot L4 because it can be summoned out of my garage?? When are Bosch and Daimler going to demonstrate their driverless ability using an as-is public roads in some conditions that servers even one person’s need/desire to travel. We might then be able to call that L4 on those roads in those conditions. Once that first person’s need has been served, we can then look for a 2nd, 3rd… on more streets in more conditions. Then we may have something to talk to the public about. Until then, all of this will remain a toy for 1% of the 1%ers. Alain
Navya abandons plans to enter fully-autonomous vehicle market
D. Symondsm July 25, "In a letter to stakeholders, French autonomous vehicle manufacture Navya has altered its plans to enter the fully-autonomous vehicle market and will instead focus on the production of Level 4 self-driving technologies for third-party developers. It will also continue its efforts in the development of self-driving trucks for the transportation of freight.
According to the statement, the company was now “aiming to be the leading player in supplying Level 4 autonomous driving systems that the company will incorporate in passenger and goods transportation vehicles. As a consequence, Navya is initiating a transition of its activities, moving from an integrated player to a player specializing in the supplying of software and sensor architecture to third-party vehicles.” It also said that it would “maintain shuttle production during this transition phase”….
Navya highlights the slow movement of legislation and development in the fully autonomous vehicle market and concedes the autonomous shuttle market will remain experimental for the next 24 months until the safety driver is removed…." Read more Hmmmm…. Waymo may end up being the only one left standing trying to provide affordable driverless mobility as a service through neighborhood public streets. Hopefully the "experimental" period will not be longer than 24 months because Uber and Lyft can’t wait that long to begin to scale. This and GM’s decision and the OEMs lining up to use Safety Standards to stall/kill Driverless Mobility as a Service are extremely bad news for Uber, Lyft and maybe even DiDi. It is also bad news for Velodyne because Self-driving definitely doesn’t need LiDAR and may not even be a nice-to-have. Unless those who would get the most bang out of Driverless (mobility marginalized, environmentalists promoting ride-sharing, community activists and over-valued ride-hailing companies) band together to welcome Driverless technology, its not going to happen on the people movement side. Even then, Waymo may be the only entity that has a big enough war chest to make it happen.
The "moving things"/commercial goods movement side may still have some vital signs in rural settings or the middle of the night. "Bezos" has a business case. Alain
Putting Their Heads and Their Data Together for Us
M. Sena, August 2019, "After almost four decades of discussions on standards, countless projects, thousands of conference papers and unreckonable amounts of money spent supporting all of these activities, we are finally approaching the time when useful data about the flow of motorized road transport will be shared among public and private enterprises in a way that will benefit everyone who is dependent in any way on processing the data, delivering it in the form of services and using it. It has taken this long because time was needed for the technologies, the companies, the regulat-ing authorities and the public to reach the level of maturity necessary for employing the data effectively. We’re not there yet, but we’re in the final spurt stage. If you are one of the racers on the track, dig down deep for the energy to finish. If you are not on the track, do all you can to cheer on and support those who are. …" Read more Hmmmm… Another excellent Dispatcher. Enjoy interesting comments on the Lunar Module and the moon walk, the EU data task force, attempts at forcing responsible use of scooters, notes on the passing of Lee Iacocca and a little Mussing. Alain
Elon Musk teases Tesla allowing YouTube & Netflix streaming in cars ‘soon’
F. Lambert, July 27, "Elon Musk says that Tesla will ‘soon’ allow owners to stream YouTube and Netflix inside its vehicles and he hypes the experience as “amazingly immersive” with a “cinematic feel.” While Tesla’s Model S and Model X are equipped with a 17-inch screen and the Model 3 has a 15-inch display, the video playback capacity is locked to only work for the rear camera feed and cannot play any other video content. That remains true whether the vehicle is being driven or even if it is parked.
However, Tesla has been talking about starting to enable streaming inside its vehicles when they are parked….." Read more Hmmmm…. This is very dangerous. The first thing that is going to appear on-line are instructions on how to circumvent the "parked" constraint. If that happens, then NHTSA must order a recall of all Teslas that enables this functionality. Tesla hasn’t figured out "autonomous driving". It requires the driver to remain vigilant. Moreover, YouTube and NetFlix should not allow themselves to become part of this irresponsibility by Elon; else, they need to be dragged into court as accomplices in any crash that occurs while YouTube or NetFlix are streaming inside the a Tesla. That eventuality should encourage Alphabet & NetFlicks lawyers to issue some "cease and desist" letters to Elon. Alain
Pittsburgh Reveals the Downside of Self-Driving Cars
A. Schmitt, July 18, "…Pittsburgh has been a key testing ground for the technology. With the support of Mayor Bill Peduto, Steel City is currently allowing five companies to test driverless vehicles on public roads. The public has been exposed to risks associated with being guinea pigs in an AV lab, yet not a single public meeting has been held to address public concerns, says PPT. “The hype from the industry is really dominating the discussion,” said Laura Weins, director of the group. “We have literally no regulatory framework on this. They just do whatever they want and use our public right of ways.”
Pittsburgh does ask the companies to abide by a voluntary agree, but there is no enforcement mechanism…." Read more Hmmmm…. Given all the good hard work that has been done on the technological/gizmo side, it is a shame that everything has been so sloppy and so minuscule on the sociological/customer-focused side. What a shame. The whole business is a Silicon Valley train wreck. Safety is delivered by Safe-driving cars. Self-driving cars deliver comfort & convenience that allow auto companies to sell more cars to consumers. It is Driverless cars that have the opportunity to provide affordable high-quality mobility to the mobility disadvantaged and, if operated appropriately, can deliver that high quality of service while while sharing rides and being environmentally responsible. Unfortunately, Safe-driving cars aren’t embraced by an industry that refuses to admit that their cars have been unsafe and exalts the prowess of every driver, sees the comfort and convenience of Self-driving as a money machine and subtly sabotages Driverless mobility machines as threat to their legacy business model. At some point, mass transit wakes up and discovers that Driverless cars can allow them to grow 10x and become profitable. Until that happens, Driverless technology will remain on the book shelf. So sad!! Alain
Unlocking Access to Self-Driving Research: The Lyft Level 5 Dataset and Competition
L. Vincent, July 23, "At Lyft, we believe self-driving technology presents a rare opportunity to improve the quality of life in our communities. Avoidable collisions, single-occupant commuters, and vehicle emissions are choking our cities, while infrastructure strains under rapid urban growth.
Our path forward to solve these challenges is clear: build the world’s best transportation and offer a viable alternative to car ownership. And that translates to an efficient ecosystem of connected transit, bikes, scooters, and shared rides from drivers as well as self-driving cars. Solving the autonomous vehicle challenge is not just an option — it’s a necessity." …I contend that Lyft can’t survive without Driverless… "…
That is why today, I’m excited to announce that Lyft is releasing a subset of our autonomous driving data, the Level 5 Dataset, and we will be sponsoring a research competition. The Level 5 Dataset is the largest publicly released dataset of its kind. It includes over 55,000 human-labeled 3D annotated frames, a drivable surface map, and an underlying HD spatial semantic map to contextualize the data…
To do so, we will be launching a competition for individuals to train algorithms on the dataset…." Read more Hmmmm…. Interesting. Nice that they’ve released some of their labeled data. Others, including Intel/MobilEye, Waymo and GM/Cruise should also release some of their data, especially the data involving "corner cases" … crashes, near crashes and mistakes. Alain
Despite High Hopes, Self-Driving Cars Are ‘Way in the Future’
N. Boudette, July 17, "…A year ago, Detroit and Silicon Valley had visions of putting thousands of self-driving taxis on the road in 2019, ushering in an age of driverless cars.
Most of those cars have yet to arrive — and it is likely to be years before they do. Several carmakers and technology companies have concluded that making autonomous vehicles is going to be harder, slower and costlier than they thought. “We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, said at the Detroit Economic Club in April….
The industry’s unbridled confidence was quickly dented when a self-driving car being tested by Uber hit and killed a woman walking a bicycle across a street last year in Tempe, Ariz. A safety driver was at the wheel of the vehicle, but was watching a TV show on her phone just before the crash, according to the Tempe Police Department.
Since that fatality, “almost everybody has reset their expectations,” Mr. Abuelsamid said. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death involving a self-driving vehicle. Elsewhere in the United States, three Tesla drivers have died in crashes that occurred while the company’s Autopilot driver-assistance system was engaged and both it and the drivers failed to detect and react to hazards….
“We are able to do the driving task,” Tekedra Mawakana, Waymo’s chief external officer, said in an interview. “But the reason we don’t have a service in 50 states is that we are still validating a host of elements related to offering a service. Offering a service is very different than building a technology.”…" Read more Hmmmm…. Not only "…Offering a service…" but having that service be purchased and used by real customers and be respected and not trashed by competitors "…is very different than building a technology…" !!! Alain
Tesla loses $408 million as technology chief J.B. Straubel departs
R. Mitchell, July 24, "Tesla Inc. continues to lose money as it sells more cars. On Wednesday, the electric car company announced a second-quarter net loss of $408 million. Tesla bulls say that’s a welcome improvement compared with losses of more than $702 million in the previous quarter and $742 million in the second quarter of 2018. To Tesla bears, it shows the company can’t earn annual profits under its current structure and business strategy. Tesla’s share price dropped 11% in after-hours trading.
Even more stunning than the loss, however, was the announcement that Chief Technology Officer J.B. Straubel is leaving Tesla….
Tesla’s stock, always volatile, has been been on a roller coaster all year. It closed at a year-to-date high of $335.35 in January. After sales dived in the first quarter because of logistics problems in Europe, according to Tesla, shares plunged as low as $178.97, and since have rallied. They closed Wednesday at $264.88, up 1.8%…." Read more Hmmmm…. None of this is easy even when you are the best of the bunch. Alain
Are We Driving Dumber In Smarter Cars?
July 16, "Drivers with advanced safety tech in their vehicles are taking more risks. Americans who drive vehicles equipped with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) or Lane Keeping Assist (LKA), both advanced driver assist features, admit to using their smart phones while driving at significantly higher rates than those without the latest tech, according to a new State Farm survey.
While these features have promising safety benefits, they are designed to work in conjunction with engaged driving behaviors.
Forty-two percent of drivers with Lane Keeping Assist tech stated they “frequently” or “sometimes” … big difference between "Frequently" and "Sometnmes"… use video chat while driving compared to 20 percent who engaged in the risky behavior without the advanced technology…." Read more Hmmmm…. Video Chat while driving… talk about something that should be outlawed even if you are standing/sitting still. See also: As cars get safer, drivers take more risks Alain
Xpeng Motors Launches G3 2020 Edition
Press release, July 10, "Xpeng Motors today launched the Xpeng G3 2020 Edition, the new enhanced high-performance version of its G3 SUV, boasting a world-beating extended NEDC driving range of 520 km and energy density of 180 wh/kg. The launch further adds to Xpeng’s existing product portfolio of the G3 SUV and the P7 coupe, expanding its product offering for China, the world’s largest EV market….
The Xpeng G3 2020 Edition carries a newly upgraded version of XPILOT 2.5 with new features including TJA (Traffic Congestion Assist) and ICA (Intelligent Cruise Assist), enabling it to perform LCC (Lane Centering Control) function under both city drive and highway conditions. These new features increase the G3’s convenience, comfort and safety, by ensuring that the car remains centered in traffic lanes in both congested urban conditions and high-speed long-distance cruising, despite driver fatigue or uneven road surfaces. In addition, the new ALC (Automatic Lane Change) function allows the G3 2020 Edition to assess traffic and road conditions in real time, and automatically changes lanes just by triggering the turn indicator, facilitating more accurate overtaking and lane changing despite blind spots. These safety features are further supported by AI-powered driver fatigue and distraction warning, as well as driver heartbeat and health status monitoring. … " Read more Hmmmm…. Impressive Chinese Tesla clone. Alain
Scooter-sharing Hype in Europe, a Déjà vu?
A. Kremer, July 25, "…However,, the launch of more than 12 electric scooter-sharing companies and the introduction of 20k scooters into the Parisian cityscape has been far from perfect , leading mayor Anne Hidalgo to refer to it as a trend “not far from anarchy”.
Is history repeating itself? A lot has been written about the bike-sharing craze in China between around 2016 and 2018. In some ways, many of the actions taken by users, companies, investors and even regulators seem to mimic things we have observed in China before (note that scooter-sharing companies are blocked from operating in many Chinese cities)….
I want to connect the dots between what is happening in the scooter-sharing space in Europe (and US) right now and how this relates to the bike-sharing craze in China. While this article is a reflection of my opinions, it also presents a possible future scenario of what will happen next in the scooter-sharing industry….
Getting from a to b, a basic need: The great thing about ventures in the transportation industry is that companies do not have to educate consumers first about a need they do not have yet. On the contrary, just like e-commerce, transportation (“getting from a to b”) is a basic need almost everyone has in some way or another on a daily basis. As a result, in theory, the main task for ventures in this space is educating consumers about satisfying their needs in a different way…." Read more Hmmmm…. A very interesting read. Alain
Wave of Concentration in the Autonomous Driving Space
M. Amblard, July 24, "Billions are being invested in autonomous vehicle (AV) tech each year. However, the general consensus is that the revenue growth curve expected from AVs is not as steep as anticipated a year ago, at least for the next 3-5 years. In addition, the global automotive market started to slow down in 2018, affecting mainly the lucrative Chinese market, and the probability for a global recession in the next 12-18 months is increasing. This uncertain situation is forcing all players to lower their breakeven point while continuing investing in autonomous mobility, as no one can afford to lose track of the long term.
As a result, the rate of partnerships and — to a much lesser extent — acquisitions has picked up significantly in the past 12 months. Some of these deals are not only massive in value and far reaching, but they also bring about unexpected collaborations. They are aimed at sharing the financial burden and the associated technological and business risks…." Read more Hmmmm…. A good compilation. Alain
Tesla says number one reason owners visit service is to learn how to use Autopilot
F. Lambert, July 25, "Tesla doubled the size of its fleet over the last 12 months and it’s putting a lot of pressure on its service capacity…." Read more Hmmmm…. Very interesting and very encouraging that Tesla owners take AutoPilot very seriously. Alain
What It Is Really Like Being Inside A Self-Driving Car On Our Public Roadways
L. Elliot, July 25, "I got into a discussion recently about the mysteries of self-driving cars.
It happened while I was on a cross-country flight, prompted by the person seated next to me asking me what it is like to be inside a self-driving driverless car, especially once the autonomous car is underway and rolling along on a public roadway. The question arose after she had noticed that I was doing some work regarding autonomous cars and we traded stories of what we each do for a living.
There definitely appears to be growing interest about what happens within a car that is a self-driving car…." Read more Hmmmm…. Interesting read. Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time
SAFETY FIRST FOR AUTOMATED DRIVING
M. Wood, July 2019, "This publication summarizes widely known safety by design and verification and validation (V&V) methods of SAE L3 and L4 automated driving. This summary is required for maximizing the evidence of a positive risk balance of automated driving solutions compared to the average human driving performance. There is already a vast array of publications focusing on only specific subtopics of automated driving. In contrast, this publication is a comprehensive approach to safety relevant topics of automated driving and is based on the input of OEMs, tiered suppliers and key technology providers. The approach of this publication is to systematically break down safety principles into safety by design capabilities, elements and architectures and then to summarize the V&V methods in order to demonstrate the positive risk balance. This publication is intended to contribute to current activities working towards the industry-wide standardization of automated driving. …" Read more Hmmmm…. I included this report in last week’s SDC e-letter. I repeat it here in "Half-baked" because it covers both "L3" and "L4". I think that it is relevant to only to systems that have a driver in the vehicle ("L3") and NOT those that don’t ("L4"). This report is sponsored and written by entities that develop products for drivers ("L0,1,2,&3"), not products for providing mobility without human drivers "L4". The "L4" community should prepare its own "Safety First for Driverless Mobility on Public Roadways".
Moreover, if the "L3" community was really interested in safety, it would not only look at using the driver to help out the automated system when it fails to be safe, but also use the automated system to override the driver when he (and it is usually "he") exceeds safe speeds, safe following distances, passes on the right and other erratic misbehaviors. Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
September 4-6, 2019
Pocono Manor, PA
4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 19 through May 21, 2020
On the More Technical Side