Friday, September 13, 2019
California Passes Landmark Bill to Remake Gig Economy
K. Conger, Sept 11, "California legislators approved a landmark bill on Tuesday that requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat contract workers as employees, a move that could reshape the gig economy and that adds fuel to a yearslong debate over whether the nature of work has become too insecure….
The bill may influence other states. A coalition of labor groups is pushing similar legislation in New York, and bills in Washington State and Oregon that were similar to California’s but failed to advance could see renewed momentum. New York City passed a minimum wage for ride-hailing drivers last year but did not try to classify them as employees.
In California, the legislation will affect at least one million workers who have been on the receiving end of a decades-long trend of outsourcing and franchising work, making employer-worker relationships more arm’s-length. Many people have been pushed into contractor status with no access to basic protections like a minimum wage and unemployment insurance. Ride-hailing drivers, food-delivery couriers, janitors, nail salon workers, construction workers and franchise owners could now all be reclassified as employees…" Read more Hmmmm…. This is really bad news for businesses that, in order to justify their current valuation, must grow/scale from a situation where they are not profitable. This increases their unit cost of labor. More damaging is that it explicitly makes them labor intensive. Their opportunity to have increasing scale reduce unit costs disappears. This is a real wake-up call to investors. Uber/Lyft’s only hope is "Driverless", which may not emerge soon enough to save them. Alain
Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 124
F. Fishkin, Sept 14 , "Will Uber and Lyft have to speed up driverless technology to survive? Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin on that…plus Argo AI, Tesla, Daimler and more on the Smart Driving Cars podcast. " Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!". Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay … Alain
U.S. DOT awards 3 states AV research funds
A. St. John, Sept 12, "Representatives from Ohio, Michigan and Virginia announced this week that each of the states received funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to advance research and testing of autonomous vehicle technology.
Ohio and Michigan said they received $7.5 million in grant funding from the department. Virginia representatives said the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute received $15 million.
The U.S. DOT said its Automated Driving Systems Demonstration Grants were set up with as much as $60 million available to test integration of automated driving systems. The department has not yet announced all grant recipients and did not immediately respond to requests for comment. …" Read more Hmmmm…. Congratulations to Virginia Tech, Michigan and Ohio. Given how critical Safety is to the emergence of this technology, testing is a good use for these funds. Hopefully the testing will be focused on achieving Driverless which has the opportunity to deliver the greatest societal benefits but faces the greatest technological challenges. Safe-driving testing can be funded out of the expected liability savings garnered by the insurance industry . Self-driving has sufficient consumer appeal that its testing can be funded by OEM marketing/sales initiatives (Elon Musk doesn’t need, nor wants, Federal R&D assistance to improve AutoPilot.). Driverless, focused on delivering affordable mobility-as-a-Service, especially to serve the mobility challenged/disadvantaged, is technologically the toughest and socially the most responsible. driverless deserves public sector support. Alain
Another Tesla driver apparently fell asleep—here’s what Tesla could do
T. Lee, Sept 103, "Yet another Tesla driver has apparently fallen asleep behind the wheel while his car cruised down the freeway. The latest video comes from the Boston area, where a local man caught a video of a Tesla driver and his passenger slumped over while their car barreled down Interstate 90….This has become a regular occurrence. Last month, a Los Angeles area television station featured video of a Tesla with a sleeping driver on Interstate 5. We reported on two other incidents in June and another one in the Netherlands in May. "Many of these videos appear to be dangerous pranks or hoaxes," Tesla said in an emailed statement. …
As we’ve noted before, drowsy driving incidents aren’t limited to Tesla vehicles. Hundreds—perhaps even thousands—of non-Tesla vehicles crash every year after their drivers fall asleep. The main thing that makes these Tesla cases remarkable is that—apparently thanks to Autopilot—the cars don’t immediately drift off the road and into a ditch. They’re able to continue on their way—sometimes for miles—while their drivers sleep….
… steering wheel torque isn’t a very effective way of determining whether the driver is actually paying attention to the road, as these asleep-at-the-wheel incidents make clear. We don’t know if the driver fell asleep with his hands resting on the wheel, or if the Tesla cars in these videos just hadn’t forced their drivers to pull over yet. It’s also possible that some of these videos were pranks, with drivers pretending to be asleep but actually holding the wheel from the bottom…. More aggressive notifications are also possible. In a comment to a previous article about sleeping drivers, reader LordOfThePigs describes the behavior of his or her late-model VW vehicle. If the driver ignores warnings for around 20 seconds, "the car jerks itself by quickly applying and releasing the brakes, the seatbelt is very abruptly tightened," the reader wrote…." Read more Hmmmm…. Given that the person who took the video, just sped away without honking frantically to awaken the driver or passenger after taking the video, suggests that this is a hoax; however, Tesla should, must and can implement and distribute better compliance to situational awareness required by users of AutoPilot. Alain
The Argo AI Approach to Deploying Self-Driving Technology: Street-by-Street, Block-by-Block
B. Salesky, Sept. 9, "… At Argo, we have a “street-by-street, block-by-block” mindset underlying our approach to developing and deploying technology. It’s not a race. Our goal remains to make self-driving vehicles that are safe, provide a compelling experience, and are accepted by society….— a service that will only operate within specific areas of a city. The system currently under development is not intended to be applied to vehicles that will be purchased and owned by individuals or to travel outside of their operational areas…" Read more Hmmmm…. Bryan: Amen!!!! Thank you and congratulations. I agree 100% with your approach to Driverless. It is the only one that is both practical and has a any chance of delivering mobility benefits to society and not just reports on book shelves, pdf files in the cloud, and losses to investors. Alain
Toronto’s driverless vehicle pilot project chooses Scarborough’s neighborhood for test site
B. Spurr, Sept 9, "The city has selected Scarborough’s West Rouge neighborhood to be the testing ground for a pilot project of autonomous vehicles.
Mayor John Tory announced new details of the driverless shuttle project, which city council first approved last year, on Monday afternoon at a conference of the National Association of City Transportation Officials in downtown Toronto.
… According to previous city and TTC reports, the goal of the pilot is to determine whether autonomous vehicles could help connect residents in low-density areas where demand doesn’t support conventional bus service to public transit… Although the vehicles used will be capable of operating without a driver, a Metrolinx or TTC staff member will be on board at all times to take control of necessary….
He revealed the city hopes to start operating an autonomous vehicle service to Scarborough’s Rouge Hill GO Transit station by September 2020. The exact route has not yet been determined, but it’s expected to be finalized after public consultations the mayor said will take place this fall…" Read more Hmmmm…. Nice that this demo is focused on providing high-quality mobility in a low-density neighborhood… but… Why is there a "route" and not an area-wide Mobility-as-a-Service throughout the neighborhood??? I can understand starting out with attendants but if this isn’t leading to a "attendant"-less operation this is a dead-end test. Alain
Electric vehicle sales are up sharply in California, mostly due to Tesla
R. Mitchell, Sept 11, "Sales of new electric vehicles in California shot up 63.7% in the first half of the year, to 51,750 units, largely on the strength of the Tesla Model 3.
But that doesn’t mean a golden age of electric vehicles has dawned. Pure electric cars still total only 5.5% of California car sales. Consumers, for the most part, are shrugging at EV offerings from car companies not named Tesla. And Tesla sales could be topping out.
“California is the largest green market in the country,” said Jessica Caldwell, market analyst at Edmunds. The state accounts for nearly half of the 105,472 pure EVs sold nationwide. “But EVs are still a tough market, even in California.”… " Read more Hmmmm….Not the Golden Age of EVs, but if it wasn’t for Tesla (and AutoPilot?) it would be the Dark Age of EVs. Alain
Where Does Auto-Follower Platooning Fit Within The Driverless Truck Ecosystem?
R. Bishop,Aug 30, "This post, my first for Forbes.com, provides a perspective across the multi-dimensional factors and actors within the complex world of automated driving in road freight automation. Having been highly active in this space for a number of years, I’ll offer some observations as to how it all might play out. This “primer” will serve as a jumping-off point for shorter posts to come…
Pundits concluded the untimely demise of platooning early this year when Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks, announced at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show they were suspending work in Level 1 platooning due to their conclusion the business case was insufficient… A less-quoted portion of Daum’s remarks reveal that he left the door open for platooning at higher automation levels. The TruckNews article covering his January speech says he noted that the money spent testing platooning “hasn’t gone to waste” as they’ve learned a lot about the technology, plus that “platooning may make sense in the future, when a driver is no longer required in the following vehicles.”…
While Daimler mulls this over, the future has arrived. This spring a new platooning player, Locomation.ai, un-stealthed to announce they are developing auto-follow platooning. Only weeks later at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in Orlando, Peloton CEO Josh Switkes announced a Level 4 auto-follow development program which has been secretly underway for some time. He showed their high functioning prototypes which are being run through their paces at a private test track, building on their commercial Level 1 platooning system…
….In a nutshell, it’s looking quite good; in particular Peloton’s results with seven major fleets running in Texas show 7% or better fuel economy improvement…" Read more Hmmmm… Richard, very nice update! Thank you. Alain
Daimler and Torc Robotics Deploy Self-Driving Trucks on Public Virginia Roads
K. McQuilkin, Sept 10, "… Blacksburg self-driving tech firm Torc Robotics announced that it has begun testing autonomous trucks on Virginia highways in partnership with Daimler, one of the world’s largest automakers.
The Stuttgart, Germany-based company behind Mercedes-Benz is initially driving the trucks – using Torc software – on highways in southwest Virginia, near the Torc Robotics headquarters.
The pair has gone through months of testing and safety validation on a closed-loop track since Daimler acquired the startup in April…. " Read more Hmmmm…. Nice, but there is an attendant on board so this is Self-driving not Driverless,. Talk about "Level 4" is Futuristic Hype and Fake News, not today’s reality. Alain
Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism shows how cities can adapt and change to accommodate everyone
L. Alter, Sept 11, "Self-driving cars, a subset of what are known as Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), are coming down the road someday, and people are beginning to think about how they will fit in cities. Some suggest fences on every street and gates on every corner; others, like The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) have a different take. NACTO is just finishing up its convention in Toronto, where they released their vision for an autonomous vehicle policy, Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism, and they actually love AVs, particularly when they are buses and trains. Private autonomous cars, not so much. The timing of the report, however, is important because change is coming…." Read more Hmmmm…. I really wish that they would focus on Driverless (without attendants) vehicles providing shared-ride, on-demand Mobility-as-a-Service. (The streetscapes featuring light rail don the center aren’t appealing to me. That level of density deserves a subway.) Be sure to look at the report Blueprint for Autonomous Urbanism. Alain
Uber has troves of data on how people navigate cities. Urban planners have begged, pleaded, and gone to court for access. Will they ever get it?
G. Dobush, Sept 9, "Joe Castiglione compares his job to playing SimCity. As the deputy director for technology, data, and analysis at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, Castiglione spends his days manipulating models of the Bay Area and its 7 million residents.
From wide-sweeping ridership and traffic data to deep dives into personal travel choices via surveys, his models are able to estimate the number of people who will disembark at a specific train platform at a certain time of day and predict how that might change if a new housing development is built nearby, or if train-frequency is increased.
The models are exceedingly complex, because people are so complex…. Castiglione and his team process a lot of publicly available datasets for many modes of transportation: private cars, buses, trains, bicycles, going by foot. But one growing gap in the data is the footprint of ride-hailing services like Uber.
If regional agencies had that data, they could add public transit routes or adjust service times to offer more incentives to get people out of cars and onto trains and buses….
What Castiglione craves is an anonymized dataset of all Uber rides with the origin and destination ZIP codes, dates, and times…." Read more Hmmmm…. I also crave Uber’s & Lyft’s trip data (O, oTime, D, dTime) (Have those for NYC 🙂). I crave Tesla’s even more. Alain
Tesla Autopilot safety feature helps save cop running a red light
F. Lambert, Sept 13, " A Model 3 owner credits Tesla’s Automatic Emergency Braking System, an active safety feature powered by Autopilot, for helping to save a police officer on a motorcycle running a red light. The incident was caught on TeslaCam, Tesla’s integrated dashcam feature.
…Yesterday, a Model 3 owner started to accelerate after the stoplight turned green when a police officer on a motorcycle ran the red light, seemingly to chase after someone.
The Tesla owner claims that the police officer had his lights on but his siren was off, and since he was coming from the side, he didn’t see him…." Read more Hmmmm… See video. Alain
Tesla starts its massive self-driving computer retrofit, but don’t hold your breath
F. Lambert, Sept 12, " Tesla is starting to retrofit Autopilot 2.0/2.5 computers in older Model S and Model X vehicles with its new self-driving computer in what stands to be a massive retrofit program….
They claimed a factor of 21 improvement in frame per second processing versus the previous generation Tesla Autopilot hardware, which was powered by Nvidia hardware.According to the company, its new computer can process 2,300 frames per second and perform 144 trillions of operation per second.
Tesla said that the new computer was in all new Model S and Model X vehicles since March (starting around March 20th) and in all new Model 3 vehicles since April (starting around April 12th).
But Tesla has also been promising to offer a retrofit to the new computer for Tesla owners with vehicles equipped with Autopilot 2.0 and 2.5 computers who have purchased Tesla’s Full Self-Driving package…." Read more Hmmmm… This is really great customer service. First, Free over-the-air updates, and now, upgrade of computing hardware without having to buy a new car. In the 5 years that I’ve owned my Mercedes with Distronic Plus w/Lane Centering, all I’ve heard from Daimler is "Buy a new car for > $100,000. (and, by the way, save $700. in gas over the next 5 years) if you want any performance upgrades in the Lane Centering" (The intelligent Cruise Control works very well; Lane centering, not so much. AEB, I hit a deer a couple of weeks ago. Neither I, nor the AEB, had much of a chance to sense and react.) Alain
Autonomous Solutions Tested at Airport in Unique Collaboration
Semcom, Sept 13, "The AVAP (Autonomous Vehicles for AirPorts) research project is a unique collaboration project that aims to demonstrate how vehicle automation can safely help to reduce costs and make airport operation more efficient. In the long run, this will allow additional smaller airports to remain open and reduce delays for passengers.
“Our part of the project involves developing an autonomous tractor designed to keep runway edge lights clear of snow. This may not seem like much, but the runway gets closed down if 15 per cent of the lights are non-operational, and this causes significant delays and costs. But more seriously, this presents major safety risks as well,” says Anne Piegsa, technical project manager at Semcon…." Read more Hmmmm…. Another nice application. Alain
Delta, Georgia Tech, Curiosity Lab partner to test driverless cars
A. Gailley, Sept 6, "…In partnership with Georgia Tech and Curiosity Lab, Delta (NYSE: DAL) announced Friday it will help fund a research project that tests autonomous vehicles on a 1.5-mile track in Peachtree Corners, Georgia…" Read more Hmmmm… Unfortunately testing that is limited to a test track isn’t really testing Driverless …. The "Operational Domain" of any test track is so limited that successful testing in such an environment is only the very early beginning of testing that has any chance of leading to actual Driverless operation that would provide affordable mobility to society. Mother mature delivers the challenges to Driverless and it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get her to divulge the critical challenges in a test-track environment. Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 19 through May 21, 2020
On the More Technical Side