5th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, March 3, 2017

Buffett has an interesting theory about why self-driving cars will hurt the insurance industry

E. Gurdus, Feb 27, "The self-driving car business could become a major threat to insurance companies when the technology hits the market, billionaire investor Warren Buffett told CNBC’s "Squawk Box" on Monday.
If autonomous vehicles prove to be safer than regular cars, insurance costs will plummet, and by the time roads are filled with self-driving cars insurers like Geico will have taken a serious hit, Buffett said…

"If I had to take the over and under [bet] ten years from now on whether 10 percent of the cars on the road would be self-driving, I would take the under, but I could very easily be wrong," he said…." Read more  Hmmm…Really shouldn’t go against Buffet; however, he’s going to be smiling all the way to the bank.  I just don’t see how the premise implies Geico takes a serious hit.  I tell everyone that I don’t understand insurance.  I guess I just don’t understand insurance.  🙁 

I suspect that by cars he means cars + light trucks for which there are about 250M currently registered in the US with 38% being greater than 10 years old.  Assuming these basic numbers remain roughly constant: of the 155M vehicles sold in the next 10 years, 25M or 16% would need to be ‘Self-driving’.  Since we are starting from a zero base with zero production, we are going to need to be upwards of a 30% adoption rate in the 10th year in order to have populated 16% of the fleet through that year.  So, I agree with Warren wrt ‘Self-driving‘":  "I would take the under, but I could very easily be wrong"  Wrt ‘Safe-driving, I would take the over, because the early numbers are attainable, especially if Insurance comes on board.  Wrt ‘Diverless‘: No way unless they are manufactured by a non-traditional entity that is totally disruptive in years 8,  9 and 10.   Alain 

Infrastructure: No Specifics on Infrastructure, but Reforms Can Pave the Way

 M. Seargent, Mar 1, "Although Trump’s speech did not yield many hard details, it’s clear that enacting a “new program of national rebuilding” to fix the nation’s “crumbling” roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways continues to be a priority for him. (It must be noted that federal data show that the real state of highways and bridges is solid and is improving)…When it comes to fixing the nation’s infrastructure, he can keep his promise by seizing the opportunity and taking a better road to restoring American infrastructure…"  Read more  Hmmm…Awaiting the details, but the Heritage recommendations for US DoT in the next 10 years in the appendix of Blueprint for Reform (p 85, 130) aren’t encouraging.  The private sector is going to have to do it.  Alain

  Despite Trump’s Infrastructure Pledge, Governors Expect Little Federal Spending

S. Leavenworth, Feb 28, "President Donald Trump said again Monday that he was preparing to spend big on infrastructure. But even as he spoke, administration officials and congressional leaders were telling governors to expect little new federal investment in roads, bridges, transit systems, dam repairs and other water works.
Instead, the administration and congressional leaders plan to take a more incremental approach of spurring public-private partnerships _ such as toll roads _ by loosening environmental reviews, removing other red tape and possibly approving new tax credits. While some governors say private projects will provide little help in repairing their aging infrastructure, others say they will be forced to embrace the fiscal reality…. Read more  Hmmm…As with any national system, there is cross-subsidization throughout the network.  Some segments are blessed with enormous volumes, others, not so much.  Using tolls instead of gas taxes to achieve that balance seems to simply be asking for problems from the heaviest player: interstate commerce (trucking) and the tourism industries.  Seems as if there are better fights to fight.  The gas tax is simple and it exists.  Lowering it wont feel like a tax cut and tolling seems to impact everyone.  Alain

Waymo’s Uber Lawsuit May Be Start Of A Google Patent War

a. Ohnsman, Mar 1, "Google’s self-driving car project that began in 2009 is well known as the incubator that kickstarted a multi-billion dollar race to perfect this 21st automotive technology. Along the way, it also helped Google amass hundreds, perhaps thousands, of patents covering every aspect of software, hardware and on-road behavior for automated vehicles.  The blistering lawsuit filed against Uber and its Otto driverless truck unit by Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo alleging trade secret theft, based on alleged actions by a former Google engineer now at Uber, also makes clear that the company intends to aggressively protect that patent trove and big head start…

Google has never revealed how much it’s invested to master self-driving cars, ….Hmmm…In it less than 10 years; couldn’t have spent more than $100M in any year. So way less than $1B; probably less than $0.5B.  What a bargain for… A cursory review by Forbes shows that Google has been granted 260 U.S. patents that specifically refer to autonomous vehicles (including some for aerial drones) and 176 patents that reference designs and usage for LiDAR. Given many years of work by Google Maps and Alphabet’s machine learning and robotics teams at its X skunkworks facility, presumably its intellectual property goes far beyond patents that clearly relate to self-driving cars. …"Right now, what those DMV figures tell you is they are in a class by themselves," Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC…"Read more  Hmmm…We can’t be Wolkswagonish about IP or anything we do wrt SmartDrivingCars. Let’s all behave. It is still very early and there is enough value and benefit for everyone here. Alain

Watch This Tesla Autopilot 2.0 Fail Terribly in a Model S

M. Guy, Feb 28, "For well over a year, the Tesla Autopilot system has been the controversial standard-bearer of autonomous driving technology. Using a combination of RADAR and software that is all but bulletproof, its capabilities have won over skeptics and fanboys alike and kept Level 1 to 3 heavyweights like Mercedes and BMW on their toes.
Which is why YouTube videos like this one, in which the "Scott S." takes his Model S with HW2/AP2 and updated with the software build 17.5.36 out for a drive at night, in dry weather on a windy road. According to his description, he has autosteer and traffic-aware cruise control (TACC) engaged on his local loop road. And yet the car seems to be struggling to maintain the lane, despite a clearly marked double yellow and consistent curbing on the right side of the road.
Tesla still leads the field in ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems), and the cloud-based AI that Tesla is developing will eventually mitigate the dangers demonstrated so clearly in this video. Until then, Tesla folks: hands on the wheel please. Read more  Hmmm…Mike, wise advice.  Alain

SJSelf-Driving-Truck Startups Race to Take On Uber

T. Higins, Mar 2, "… While much of the autonomous-vehicle attention has centered on the race to embed the technology in everyday cars—…—is ripe for change.

The industry is struggling to find drivers, regulations governing working hours are squeezing profits, and some artificial-intelligence experts believe computer brains can more easily master highways than complicated city streets.   “It’s an industry that has clear need, where there is a substantial driver shortage, particularly of drivers that are experienced who are safe and talented,” said Alex Rodrigues, a 21-year-old robotics expert, last week. He was sitting in the back of a royal blue Peterbilt truck, retrofitted by his company, San Francisco-based Embark, with two laser sensors and cameras to test self-driving software on public roads in Nevada and on a closed course in California.

Embark and fellow startups Starsky Robotics and all emerged in the past week with details about their plans. Their engineers, bearing top artificial-intelligence pedigrees, are seeking a way to replace drivers in commercial fleets…Read more  Hmmm…Certainly to improve safety, substantially reduce liability expectations, extend hours of service and greatly improve the driver’s work environment. 🙂   But to remove the driver from the class-8 truck… Not going to happen in anybody’s investment cycle!  Alain

  INFLUENCE GAME: GM bill is self-driving and self-interested

J. Lowy, Feb 23, " WASHINGTON (AP) — With states seizing the initiative on shaping the future of self-driving cars, General Motors is trying to persuade lawmakers across the country to approve rules that would benefit the automaker while potentially keeping its competitors off the road.
The carmaker denies trying to freeze out other brands, but legislators in four states say GM lobbyists asked them to sponsor bills that the company’s competitors contend would do just that. The bills set a blueprint for the introduction of fully self-driving cars that are part of on-demand, ride-sharing fleets, but they must be owned by an automaker…."  Read more  Hmmm…One needs to be very careful here.  Self-driving is NOT Driverless.  It is also not Safe-driving.  Safety is achieved with Safe-driving (Automated Collision Avoidance) and doesn’t need Self-driving (ability to at times take hands off wheel and feet off pedals). Unfortunately Self-driving doesn’t sell (as Volvo knows all too well) and Warren Buffet doesn’t believe in it.  However, GM knows Self-driving will sell, especially to 1%ers (notice Cadillac ads during Oscars).  Driverless, which give consumers reason to not buy cars is GM’s worst nightmare . Alain

Building a Road Map for the Self-Driving Car

N. Boudette, Mar 2, "…“If we want to have autonomous cars everywhere, we have to have digital maps everywhere,” said Amnon Shashua, chief technology officer at Mobileye, …"  Hmmm…Maybe not!?!?   "…The reason digital maps are so important is that even the most advanced sensors, like radar and cameras, are not enough to enable a car to navigate a chaotic and changing world safely enough…"  Read more  Hmmm…but maps can’t contain the chaotic and changing (other cars, bicycles, pedestrians…) because they’re chaotic and changing!  Sensors and their intelligence have to do the chaotic and changing. Since these sensors have to do the hard part: chaotic and changing,  they might as well also do the easy part: recognize the signs, and lane markings (which need to be on all the roads that we drive today because we don’t have the maps in our brains).  What am I missing??? Alain

Peugeot’s Instinct concept car is its vision of an autonomous near-future

A. Toor, Feb 27, "…"In the future, maybe you will have cars that can be only autonomous, and it will be forbidden to drive anymore,” says Matthias Hossann, head of concept car and advanced design at Peugeot. “But this transition will be very long, and what we wanted to illustrate here is part of this transition, because this will take time.”…Hossann said that unlike previous concept cars, the Instinct was designed from the inside-out. The idea is that drivers will be able to choose how much control they want to cede to the car — there are two self-driving modes and two active modes — and that the car, in turn, will be able to adjust its driving based on data collected from connected devices….Read more  Hmmm…The transition will be very long and in the mean time, we’ll be buying these things from the legacy manufacturers.  Alain

Automaker Geely calls on China to relax mapping rules to speed self-drive development

J. Spring, Mar 2, " Chinese automaker Geely [GEELY.UL] called on the government on Thursday to loosen strict controls on mapping, saying current rules in place for national security reasons risk inhibiting the development of self-driving vehicles…." Read more  Hmmm…Long overdue. Alain

Self-driving Nissan car takes to Europe’s streets for first time

C. Pitas, Feb.28, " Guided by cameras and radars, and negotiating traffic and roundabouts, a self-driving Nissan car took to the streets of London on Monday for the Japanese company’s first European tests of an autonomous vehicle.  Traveling at up to 50 miles (80 km) per hour and moving from local streets to a major multi-lane road, the modified Nissan LEAF electric car showcased the kind of technology many hope to be the future of travel.

It also recently announced changes to allow for a single insurance policy to cover motorists driving conventionally and in autonomous mode, as it tries to get regulations in place to encourage the uptake of driverless cars from 2020…" Read more  Hmmm…Doesn’t seem like such a big deal.  It is ‘only’ Self-driving and it is novel for the UK, so great.  But what is all of this about having insurance to pay for the losses that we cause?  Alain

Ford wants drones to join forces with self-driving vans for faster deliveries

A. Sulleyman, Feb 28, "Ford has revealed its ‘Autolivery’ concept for what it calls the ‘city of tomorrow’, and envisions a future in which packages are delivered to houses by self-driving vans and drones…. Read more  Hmmm…Driverless-vans Yes!  Drones & Self-driving-vans…not so much!  Alain

A Fascinating Glimpse at How We’ll All Carpool in 2027

L. Stinson, Feb 28, "…A new project from acclaimed design firm Ideo presents one of the most compelling visions to date of an autonomous, ride-sharing future. It places the car at the center of a new marketplace, one where owners of an autonomous vehicle can toggle between ride sharing, car sharing, and private use. Drivers can choose to ride solo or offset the cost of their car by picking up passengers or renting it to others. The passengers, too, can reduce the price of their trips by agreeing to run errands for the owner.
Ideo’s concept envisions what happens when private vehicles become a public resource. “We’re encouraging car manufacturers to start thinking about this notion of designed interiors that facilitate really seamless sharing,” says Danny Stillion, a partner at Ideo, who leads the Future of Automobility project…" Read more  Hmmm…Maybe??? However, they won’t be owned by consumers, so why design them for their ownership???  Alain

Estonia Allowing a Number of Self-Driving Cars on the Streets Starting Today

Press release, Mar 2, "…the testing of self-driving cars is allowed on the streets and roads of Estonia. There is an additional condition that the car must also have a driver who can take control of the car if needed.

Kadri Simson, Minster of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure said that self-driving  cars are an exciting transport solution for the future which humans and regulations should get adapted to gradually. "One of Estonia’s keys to success over the years has been the emergence  and implementation of innovative solutions. Self-driving cars as means of everyday transport need to advance, while ensuring the safety of all road users," added Simson.  According to Pirko Konsa, the head of the group of experts on self-driving vehicles created under the Government Office last autumn, Estonia as a small and flexible country has the opportunity to be first in applying new solutions, and the local entrepreneurs could become the first to export this know-how to international markets…." Read more  Hmmm…Estonia, welcome to the club!  🙂 Alain

Reader’s Comments..

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

New Jersey Area Rising Around Transit Hub Lacks One Thing: Its Hub

N. Corasaniti, Mar 2, "All the ingredients for a bustling downtown transit hub here are coming together: new townhouses, restaurants and big-box stores sit just off the busiest rail corridor in the country, as trains whiz by every 10 minutes or so. Bulldozers, backhoes and scattered mounds of dirt offer evidence of more to come. A large banner over a nearby highway with an illustration of a train declares: “Shop. Dine. Ride. Live.”
There is just one piece missing from this rosy picture: any evidence of a train station.
On the longest stretch of passenger rails in New Jersey without a stop, the proposed station would address a glaring need, providing public transit to a bustling area and easing congestion on chronically gridlocked highways. An elevated rail track that is part of the project could funnel more commuter trains to New York City…." Read more  Hmmm…Maybe??? Even with a train stop, it will need a ‘last-mile’ distributor which would be perfect for existing low-speed driverless shuttles such as Easy Mile, Navya , AutoKAB, 2GetThere, Local Motors, … Alain

On the More Technical Side

Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time

 Driverless cars are coming to Charlotte — but light rail transit will still play a big role

A. Dunn, Feb 28, "We first reported on this story last week. …But one key element is left out of the plan: How the transportation industry is evolving.  A transportation expert told the Observer that “fixed-route transportation won’t make any sense in 10 or 15 years.” If he’s right, the three new light rail lines would be a $6 billion waste of money.
We actually had this very conversation in the Agenda office early last week. Driverless cars will one day be ubiquitous, and sooner than you would expect. Uber doesn’t have a $68 billion valuation for nothing.  Does a massive, expensive light rail plan still make sense in that kind of environment?  …
Yes, we’ll still need transit in a driverless future.  I see light rail continuing to play a vital role in moving around Charlotte well into the future….The CEO of Charlotte Area Transit System sounds like he agrees…."  Read more  Hmmm…Paul, did you make it out of town alive? And they expect to do this without Foxx @ DoT and the possible scraping of the FTA?  Alain

Chevy is the first major car company with unlimited LTE data

S. Dent, Mar 2, "Chevrolet’s latest OnStar LTE plan would be every smartphone user’s dream, if it wasn’t confined to cars. Starting March 3rd, Chevy owners can get unlimited 4G data, including an OnStar WiFi hotspot, for $20 a month, prepaid…"Read more  Hmmm…What is the over/under on how many car crashes this ‘advancement’ will cause?  🙁  Alain

C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)

Tesla Autopilot crash caught on dashcam shows how not to use the system

F. Lambert, mar 2, "Earlier this week, a Tesla Model S hit a barrier on the highway near Dallas, Texas. The driver, who fortunately wasn’t injured, first blamed Tesla’s Autopilot for the crash.
We now have footage of the accident and it actually shows a situation that the Autopilot probably shouldn’t be expected to be able to handle, at least not yet. Ultimately, it serves as a reminder not to trust the system without paying attention. …

Fast forward to 3 days later. Another Redditor on the Tesla Motors subreddit found footage of the accident taken from the dashcam of a vehicle following the Tesla during the event.   The footage shows that the Tesla needed to merge or change lane in order to avoid the barrier – something the Autopilot should never be left to do without the driver intervening…

What is also clear from the footage is that the design of the road here is quite awful since even the driver in the vehicle with the dashcam almost hit the barrier and there presumably wasn’t any driver assist at play in this case…." Hmmm…How is it that with all of the $$$$ that are being spent to do the construction, there aren’t the funds to buy and apply paint to clearly mark lanes.  C’mon DoT!!
"What potentially didn’t work is the ‘Forward Collision Warning’ feature since the driver claims that there was no warning. Some would assume that Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) should have kicked in, but it’s actually not designed to engage if there’s an alternative and in this case, the vehicle wasn’t supposed to brake in order to avoid the barrier – it could have been even more dangerous considering a vehicle was close behind and there was traffic to the right of the vehicle.
Tesla explains what the feature does:
“AEB does not engage when an alternative collision avoidance strategy (e.g., driver steering) remains viable. Instead, when a collision threat is detected, forward collision warning alerts the driver to encourage them to take appropriate evasive action.”…" Read more  Hmmm…Fred, great article!  Until Tesla and the others get the Safe-driving, aka Automated Collision Avoidance, right, they can’t do any Self-driving.  C’Mon Man!! Alain

The Impact of Autonomous Cars on Claims

D. Johnson, Mar 2, "…“These new cars offer a lot of pluses, potential safety advantages, but the software needed to drive them is not immune to fatigue, but it’s immune from intoxication and distracted driving,” Quinley said…." Hmmm…What ??? No one has claimed that self-driving cars are immune to intoxication.  Please!  Don’t be confused with Driverless.  “…If enhanced safety flows from having driverless cars, it’s going to impact employment staffing and career paths for adjusters,” said Quinley. “The whole insurance industry infrastructure that exists now, that’s devoted to managing and handling, and processing automobile claims I envision is going to shrink if driverless cars deliver on the promise of reduced accidents and better safety.” Read more  Hmmm…Not my fault!! What a business!  Disruption of this industry can’t come too soon. Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Commercialization Summit
May 17 & 18, 2017
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date

Recent Highlights of:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

M. Bergen, Feb 23, "It took Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies Inc. allegedly did it in nine months.
Waymo claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that was possible because a former employee stole the designs and technology and started a new company….Anthony Levandowski, a former manager at Waymo, in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary and confidential files, including the lidar circuit board designs, according to the complaint. He also allegedly created a domain name for his new company and confided in some of his Waymo colleagues of plans to “replicate” its technology for a competitor…." Read more   Hmmm…This is very serious.  So unfortunate.  🙁   Alain

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, February 10, 2017

  Regulatory Chill May Pivot Connected Vehicle Tech’s Course

M. Ross, Feb 8, "Technology and telecommunications groups opposed to a federal mandate that cars automatically communicate with each other are hoping the proposal is an early victim of President Donald Trump’s regulatory clampdown.
The Department of Transportation rushed to publish a draft rule in the final days of the Obama administration that would mandate all new cars and light trucks be equipped to transmit data to other vehicles to warn their drivers of potential collisions. The department and automobile manufacturers have been laying the groundwork for such a rule for more than a decade, with millions of dollars in testing indicating that the radio-based technology could immediately save lives.  No, that’s its fundamental flaw.  Even if you have it, it can’t do you any good unless the other guy has it.  Thus it can’t do anything immediately …The draft rule could save up to 1,365 lives each year by 2060.   Immediately??? I’ll surely be dead and gone. All that money spent to get such a finding.  
….The total annual costs to comply with the mandate 30 years after the rule’s launch range from $2.2 billion to $5 billion, according to 2016 NHTSA data. Consumers can expect to pay about an extra $300 per vehicle equipped with DSRC technology, the data show.   That’s a lot of ‘good money to be thrown after bad’.  Let’s spend Billions to justify our Millions in sunk costs?   Much worse than ‘doubling down’ …Meanwhile, artificial intelligence, camera technology, sensors and radar, which are already being used in autonomous vehicle development, improve vehicle safety and don’t require cars to be connected to each other, Paul Brubaker, president and CEO of the Alliance for Transportation Innovation,…"

Read more  Hmmm… Not ‘Regulatory Chill’ but simply Common Sense. C’mon Man! I’m on the AV side of this one. V2V is fine on top of AV, but staying on the DSRC bandwagon is silly when it will be completely obsolesced by 5G before it has sufficient penetration to be better than ‘a hope & a prayer’ in avoiding crashes.  V2V requires both vehicles to have the technology.  The chance that both cars can even talk to each other, let alone know what to do and do what is needed, to avoid a crash is the product of the adoption percentage of DSRC.  So, a mandate today, that pertains only to having DSRC in new cars, will be lucky to be in 30% of the cars by 2025.  Thus, the chance that DSRC is even relevant in an impending crash is 0.3 x 0.3 = 0.09.  Meaning that there is only about a 10%  (1 in 10) chance that DSRC is even relevant in averting a crash.  It simply takes a long time to replace the cars that are on the road today with new ones.  However, many of us replace our phones with the latest and greatest much more quickly, so that by 2025 it is not unreasonable that as many as 70% of drivers will have 5G phones.  The chance that these phones will have the opportunity to be a relevant V2V device in averting a crash is 0.7 x 0.7 = 0.49 .  Which road should we go down… DSRC mandate giving us at best a 1 in 10 chance of being relevant in 2025 ( and we still need AV to perform the avoidance of the crash) or wait and piggy back on our 5G device that gives us a 1 in 2 chance in 2025 at no additional cost because we will have purchased it for other reasons.  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 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fiscal Year 2016 SRD Program Grant Selections

Public Announcement, Jan 22: "Pierce Transit will receive $1,664,894 to deploy buses equipped with collision avoidance warning systems or automatic braking features. The objective of this project is to deploy and demonstrate collision avoidance technology in partnership with the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP), a collaborative organization of 25 Washington public transit agencies that combine their resources to provide and purchase insurance coverage, manage claims and litigation, and receive risk management and training. Pierce Transit will work with WSTIP to accurately determine the business case for investing in these technologies." Read moreHmmm… Finally!! More than 3 years since Lou Sanders of APTA, Jerome Lutin and I first proposed to FTA to do such a thing for the benefit of the entire bus transit industry (which FTA deemed as non-worthy) the FTA has finally turned around and jumped on-board.  The unfortunate news: we lost 3 years.  The fortunate news: the process of substantially reducing bus crashes is finally underway thanks to the hard work in the interim by Jerome Lutin and Jerry Spears (formerly of WSTIP).  This and the good news below from Tesla may finally enlighten the insurance industry to play a leadership role in the market adoption of SafeDrivingCars/Buses/Trucks.  Congratulations Jerome & Jerry!  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, January 13, 2017

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Announces New Federal Committee on Automation

News, Jan 10, "…U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “I’m proud to announce this new automation committee, and look forward to seeing its members advance life-saving innovations while boosting our economy and making our transportation network more fair, reliable, and efficient.”… Read more Hmmm… Excellent!!! Congratulations Chris, Bryant, Missy and everyone else.  Alain

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Google is spinning off its self-driving car program into a new company called Waymo

A. Hawkins, Dec 13, "Today, Google announced that it would be spinning off its six-year-old self-driving project into a standalone business called Waymo, which stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” according to John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company.
It was previously reported that Google would be dropping its plan to build its own vehicle without steering wheels and pedals, instead focusing on creating the self-driving technology that can be installed in third-party vehicles. Krafcik didn’t provide much clarity there, but did state definitively that the new company was still fully committed to fully autonomous vehicle technology.

“We are all in, 100 percent, on Level Four and Level Five fully driverless solutions,” he said.

Krafcik didn’t comment on a report in Bloomberg that Google would be starting its own ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler using the Italian car maker’s Pacifica minivans as its fleet of self-driving taxis. Google and FCA announced their collaboration earlier this year. Krafcik did confirm that the self-driving Pacificas were still in the build phase, but would hopefully be on the road for testing very soon.

It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build it’s own fleet of driverless cars, without steering wheels and pedals. That said, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”…Read more  Hmmm… Boy that is a lot of hedging.  If they are in the business of making better drivers, then all they need to do is to make Automated Collision Avoidance systems that actually work… avoid collisions (aka Safe-driving Cars).  That would make all drivers better drivers, but it wouldn’t do anything for non-drivers… the young, old, poor, blind, those under the influence, …  Has Google abandoned all of those folks and reverted to the ‘dark-side’?  Alain

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

 Why the driverless car industry is happy (so far) with Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary

R. Mitchell, Dec 6, "Silicon Valley voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, but companies working on driverless cars seem overjoyed with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.   Chao will wield great power over how driverless cars and other automated vehicles will be regulated — or not….Industry insiders say they don’t want Chao to ignore driverless car policy….

Instead, they hope to avoid a patchwork of differing and conflicting rules across the 50 states.   “This should be centralized,” said Alain L. Kornhauser, director of the transportation program at Princeton University and an autonomous vehicle expert, “but that doesn’t mean the states don’t play a part. It would be better if we had a common understanding….” Read more Hmmm… Yup! Alain

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

B. Grush, Oct. 2016, "Two contradictory stories about our transportation infrastructure are currently in circulation. One is that Ontario’s aging, inadequate and congested infrastructure is perennially unable to catch up with a growing and sprawling GTHA. The other is that vehicle automation will soon dramatically multiply current road capacity by enabling narrower lanes, shorter headways and coordinated streams of connected vehicles to pass through intersections without traffic signals to impede flow.
Since the premature forecast of peak car in 2008 and now the hype surrounding the automated vehicle, we are often told that we have enough road capacity; that shared robotic taxis will optimize our trips, reduce congestion, and largely eliminate the need for parking. This advice implies we need wait only a few short years to experience relief from our current infrastructure problems given by decades of under-investment in transportation infrastructure.

This is wishful thinking. Vehicle automation will give rise to two different emerging markets: semi-automated vehicles for household consumption and fully automated vehicles for public service such as robo-taxi and robo-transit. These two vehicle types will develop in parallel to serve different social markets. They will compete for both riders and infrastructure. The purpose of this report is to look at why and how government agencies and public interest groups can and should influence the preferred types and deployment of automated vehicles and the implication of related factors for planning…" Read more Hmmm…Bravo!  The Key Findings & Recommendations are excellent.  This is an excellent report (but it largely misses goods movement.)  Especially 5.1 (read ‘semi-autonomous’ as ‘Self-driving’ and ‘full-automation’ as ‘Driverless’.  My view:  Driverless may well be at the heals of Self-driving because it is a business play rather than a consumer play.  Driverless will be ordered by the hundreds or thousands rather than individually.)  and, of course Ch 10: Ownership (the business model) is more important than technology. Alain

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

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

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

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

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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