38th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars
AP, Nov. 7, 2017 “Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google, is pulling the human backup driver from behind the steering wheel and will test vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat.
The company’s move — which started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Ariz. — is a major step toward vehicles driving themselves on public roads without human backup drivers. …” Read more Hmmmm… Not to be too critical, but Waymo is still just ‘Self-driving’ . While they moved the ‘engineer’ with the ability to ‘take over and drive the vehicle’ from behind the wheel to the back seat, this is just a step along the broad ‘Self-driving’ continuum which is a vehicle that, under certain circumstance, can drive itself, but does that only if there is a person ready and able to take over if the unexpected appears.
The big-leap/major-step will come when Waymo removes the ‘engineer’ entirely from the vehicle and it is human-less when it arrives to pick up a passenger and drives away human-less after the last passenger(s) disembark. That enormous leap-of-faith in the technology will mark Waymo’s inception of the Driverless Era. (or what Waymo prefers to call ‘Fully Self-driving’ era.)
Just to be clear, when that time comes, I’m sure that Waymo will have telemetry throughout that Driverless vehicle and there will be a room full of engineers in Waymo’s ‘Situation Room‘ ready to take over the driving should the need arise. However, until that time, Waymo is just like all the other wanabes, they are just ‘Self-driving’ without the ‘Fully’.
The reason why ‘remote emergency driving’ is ‘Driverless’ is because it scales. By that I mean that it takes the provision of horizontal mobility on our public streets from needing at least one human per vehicle to needing less than one human per vehicle. Initially the remote driver will monitor one car. Before you know it that person will be monitoring two, four, eight, … vehicles and truly Driverless with zero remote human oversee-ers will be approached asymptotically. But just like the old saw between the engineer and the mathematician: engineer and mathematician were sitting on a bench recalling their youth… Engineer said “Long ago, I was sitting on this very bench with my girl. We wanted to kiss but we were too far apart. So we agreed to move towards each other by halving the distance between us on each move. The mathematician blared ” You’re so stupid! If you did that, you never came together!” The engineer just smiled: “we got close enough!”. Alain
Episode 11 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. Fred and Alain are joined by leading expert and Internet pioneer Brad Templeton. Waymo makes some history, Thee tech needed to make it work..cameras…lidar or both? Navya bringing new robotic vehicles to Paris. And an accident…as a self driving shuttle is launched in Las Vegas.
The Atlantic, Nov 7, “A world where machines think for themselves is not science fiction: it is tomorrow’s reality. As robots get smarter, cars learn to drive themselves and virtual and augmented reality take us to new places, how will our lives change? Who are the designers of our future? How are the inventions of today meeting the demands of tomorrow? What is the DNA of innovation? And where does creativity begin? Join The Atlantic as we convene visionaries to highlight the innovations shaping and reshaping our world….”Read more Hmmmm… See Video: Hands off the Wheel: Going Driverless / The Innovation Game. Alain
R. Garcia Cano, Nov 9, “The robots won this one. A driverless shuttle bus was involved in a minor crash with a semi-truck less than two hours after it made its debut on Las Vegas streets Wednesday in front of cameras and celebrities. The human behind the wheel of the truck was at fault, police said.
“The shuttle did what it was supposed to do, in that it’s (sic) sensors registered the truck and the shuttle stopped to avoid the accident,” the city said in a statement. “Unfortunately the delivery truck did not stop and grazed the front fender of the shuttle. Had the truck had the same sensing equipment that the shuttle has the accident would have been avoided.”…The oval-shaped shuttle that can transport up to 12 people has an attendant and computer monitor...” Read more Hmmmm… Is the NTSB going to step in as it did in the Tesla/Brown Florida crash and blame the technology anyway even though the Tesla was cut off by the truck? Alain
B. Templeton, Nov 6, “Once robocars got public attention, a certain faction promoted the view that we should be giving much more attention to the idea of the “connected car.” The connected car was coming sooner, would have a big effect, and some said that it was silly to talk about robocars at all without first thinking of them as connected cars. Many even pushed for the vocabulary around robocars to always include connectivity, pushing names like “connected autonomous vehicle” as a primary term for the technology.
Robocars will be connected, but not nearly as much as people in the “connected car” world imagine. And the connection won’t be essential. Some cars will work with only a connection when they are parked, or with intermittent connectivity during the day. But most of all, they won’t connect out to the world. The robocar probably will connect only to servers at its HQ — the company that made it or which runs the fleet it’s in. It won’t talk directly to infrastructure and other cars, it may not even talk two-way with the rider’s phone.
Fortunately, the efforts to require vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity in cars are rumored to have suffered a setback in the USA.
I call this partially connected car the “disconnected car” because, while not fully disconnected, compared to the typical vision of a “connected car,” it is effectively disconnected. The primary reason for this is security. Read more Hmmmm… Brad, well said. Alain
J.Zhu, Nov 9, “Chinese electric vehicle startup Nio has raised more than $1 billion in its latest fundraising round, led by existing investor Tencent Holdings Ltd, valuing the firm at about $5 billion, …It marks a hectic news week for Tencent, Asia’s second-most valuable company with a market capitalization of around $475 billion.
Snap Inc said on Wednesday that Tencent had taken a 12 percent stake in the messaging app. A day earlier, Tencent’s e-book unit China Literature Ltd saw its shares surge more than 80 percent in their debut….” Read more Hmmmm… OK but, will coal be used to create the electricity that runs these things. Hopefully these cars will be Driverless, purchased by Fleets (say Didi) and create very affordable, on-demand, shared-rides to all that owned cars in Beijng, plus everyone else. Only then can Beijing begin to work its way out of its pollution and congestion mess and make available to its citizens even better mobility and improved quality of life. Seems like the foundation of a great “5-year plan“! Alain
Tom Simonite, Nov 11, “Raquel Urtasun joined Uber to set up a new autonomous-vehicle research lab in May…. And she has long argued that that self-driving vehicles can’t reach the masses unless the industry weans itself off lidar. Most autonomous vehicles in testing—including Uber’s—pack one or more lidar sensors. But each lidar device costs from several thousand, to several tens of thousands of dollars. Urtasun has shown that in some cases vehicles can obtain similar 3-D data about the world from ordinary cameras, which are much cheaper..” Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Tom & Rachel. Very nice article and I agree with Rachel. Moreover, as long as we don’t misbehave and pay attention, we drive and navigate extremely well and safely with only vision while having only a vague idea about our current location. Alain
T&PBF1326R001F02 M. Goerter, March 27, 2017 :Introduction: New Trucks (motor vehicles of categories M2, M3, N2 and N3) should be equipped with advanced emergency braking system (AEBS) 1. This system must prevent the rear-ending by a lorry and/or the severity of a Incident greatly. The system should also be able to avoid a crash with stationary Passenger vehicles in good time. Similar systems are available on passenger vehicles. …” Read more Hmmmm… This is a very good report of the current state-of-performance of Automated Emergency Braking systems. Unfortunately, to date, the report is only available in Dutch. In my view, the performance of these remains far from ideal or even good. They are really Automated Crash Mitigation systems rather than Automated Crash Avoidance System. That is because they have been designed to mitigate and not really to avoid. The fact that they’re called “…Emergency…” Systems implies that they really don’t kick into action until a crash is imminent and it is too late to avoid it. The (justified) fear of false alarms, as well as the continued macho belief ‘the driver knows best’, dooms the design to be “well at least we did something” rather than “we didn’t let your failure to drive properly (driver misbehavior) get you into a situation in which a crash is unavoidable”. One has to approach these systems from that design philosophy, else the systems won’t work and crash frequency wont subside. Alain
Richard Bishop’s INTERNATIONAL TASK FORCE ON VEHICLE-HIGHWAY AUTOMATION (ITFVHA-2017) 21st ANNUAL MEETING.
R. Bishop, Oct 28, Hmmmm… As promised, all of the presentations are linked. Many are excellent! Alain
White paper, Nov 7, “For cities, the vision of the future with autonomous driving is good news. Self-driving, fully electric cars will make private transport in city centers cleaner, cheaper and safer. A key factor will be the highly efficient use of autonomous fleets, which enable significantly better utilization than is possible with current carsharing and other private mobility models. ..” Read more Hmmmm… Nice paper but it is missing the critical “6th condition”: Ride-sharing! Without ride-sharing, we’re going to create a real mess. Alain
Waymo, LLC, Oct. 31, “…The technology relates to reducing the likelihood of severe injuries or damage to objects such as pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, other vehicles, or simply inanimate objects caused by collisions with autonomous vehicles. While avoiding collisions with other objects is a primary goal for autonomous vehicles, in rare circumstances, there may be an imminent and unavoidable impact. While airbags are typically used to protect passengers within a vehicle, they may also be used to reduce a likelihood of injury to an object external to an autonomous vehicle during a collision with the vehicle. …
….The features described herein may significantly reduce the likelihood of object moving through a gap between two airbags. …” Read more Hmmmm… Interesting. The details are important. Alain
T. Davis, Oct 31, “….The radial and bilateral symmetry may provide for bi-directional driving operations of the autonomous vehicle as the vehicle may not have a designated front end or a back end. …” Read more Hmmmm… No prior art??? ”
Yes, the corner module is patented by Volvo Cars, inventor is myself.
The way the corner modules are designed on the KTH research chassis are not exactly as shown in the original patent, but fulfilling the patent intentions. The ACM (Autonomous Corner Module) in its original design can be seen in the patent, US 6386553 B2 (attached). KTH was allowed to utilize the patent for research studies, but of course the ACM design and intended functions can not be used for commercial purposes without the approval by Volvo Cars.
Sigvard Zetterström Hmmmm…Alain
Bad interpretation of percentages may lead to terrible misunderstanding : use case of self-driving car
G. Yahiaoui, Oct 28, ” We all heard about the so-called proposition : “94% of severe road accidents with fatalities or severe personal injuries are due to human failure”. ..Read more Hmmmm…. Misleading is NOT the 94% but the certainty (100%) implied by the “are due to” . Crashes, like most things don’t have just one “due to”. So everyone knows the statement is a hype whatever the ascribed numeric value. The other comments are good. Alain
F. Fishkin, Nov 2, Episode10 “Host Fred Fishkin along with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser are joined by internationally recognized expert Michael Sena from Sweden. The latest from Washington D. C., the ITS World Congress in Montreal and headlines from Nvidia, Waymo, GM, Elon Musk and Sony!
F. Fishkin, Oct 25, Episode 9 “Host Fred Fishkin with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and guest Fred Payne, council member from Greenville County, South Carolina. Greenville’s autonomous taxis are rolling. Bank of America analysts see big investment opportunities in vehicle technology. The latest from London, China and New York. And on demand pilotless planes?
F. Fishkin, Oct 19, Episode 8 “…the latest jump in vehicle deaths in the U.S. Tech is distracting more drivers, but the right tech can turn things around. And there’s more from Waymo, Tesla, Apple, GM and the plans to test self driving cars in Manhattan.”
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
G. Fernandez-Abascal, Sept. 19, “Driver Less Vision examines the tension and reality of AI and humans merging and diverging as they negotiate Seoul’s unique urban landscape—challenging us to consider how we can design cities for the future of autonomous vehicles. Driver Less Vision aims to generate empathy between humans and non-humans, to construct the trust required for negotiations that will settle how we will live together. By overlapping human and machine’s perceptions, the installation helps to identify the areas of the city that will need to be redesigned in the immediate future.” See Video Hmmmm… Another perspective! Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time
B. Lutz, Nov 5, “…The auto industry is on an accelerating change curve. For hundreds of years, the horse was the prime mover of humans and for the past 120 years it has been the automobile. Now we are approaching the end of the line for the automobile because travel will be in standardized modules… not necessarily, there isn’t a standardized rental car…
…On the freeway, it will merge seamlessly into a stream of other modules traveling at 120, 150 mph…. that won’t happen until there is a dedicated roadway for them and no one is going to pick up the tab to build that any time soon…
… A minority of individuals may elect to have personalized modules sitting at home so they can leave their vacation stuff and the kids’ soccer gear in them. They’ll still want that convenience…that is a really expensive storage locker, which is too small of a market for anyone top be interested in serving, making them even more expensive…
…Of course, there will be a transition period. Everyone will have five years to get their car off the road or sell it for scrap or trade it on a module… or we can have another ‘cash for clunkers’ …
…The importance of styling will be minimized… does that mean that mobility will be ‘sold’ rather than ‘fantasies”..
…Automotive sport — using the cars for fun — will survive, just not on public highways… does public highways should never have been used for sport and shame on the car industry for advertising fantasies that encourage bad driving behavior and the use of public highways for self-gratification and at the peril of others.
…So for a while, the autonomous thing will be captured by the automobile companies. But then it’s going to flip, and the value will be captured by the big fleets…. Agreed, Self-driving will be a boom for car companies, they’ll make a ton of money. It will be so enticing and rewarding that they’ll never pivot to Driverless and ‘The Fleets’ will Kodak and Blockbuster them. Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Nov 16 & 17
New Your City
Future of Mobility
Recent Highlights of:
J. Lowy, AP, Nov 1, “he Trump administration has quietly set aside plans to require new cars to be able to wirelessly talk to each other, auto industry officials said, jeopardizing one of the most promising technologies for preventing traffic deaths….
…The administration has decided not to pursue a final V2V mandate, said two auto industry officials who have spoken with White House and Transportation Department officials and two others whose organizations have spoken to the administration. The industry officials spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize their relations with the administration….” Read more Hmmmm… This basically completes Washington’s “540 degree turn” on Safety for cars. A complete spin from V2V and CV and on to AV. 🙂
One could sense this coming when it took until his 6th slide for Carl Andersen from US DoT to even mention the word ‘Connected’. Four years ago at the 2nd AV conference in Palo Alto, the US DoT folks from would only talk about Connected Vehicles even though it was an AV conference. More recently the pivot was underway when Washington coined CAVs (Connected & Automated Vehicles; I complained that this gave only lip service to AVs since an alphabetic ordering was passed over. Connected was obviously favored.) Secretary Foxx continued the pivot into a spin with his Federal AV Policy statement in September 2016. More spin a month ago with Automated Driving Systems v2.0 and now this to put the nail in the coffin. Jerome Lutin and I have begun to sit Shiva and Paul Brubaker has started covering the mirrors for DSRC.
This substantial change in Washington has profound implications because so many in State & Local government were following the Washington lead and will now need to pivot. Europe, Japan and others in transport planning around the world were also following Washington in the promotion of CVs. Much of the “Smart Cities” and ITS objectives are/were all about Connectivity and the implied control and orchestration of societies to achieve some optimized utopia. Always seemed too “1984” for my taste. Seeking some perfect “Best” when one can’t even reach a consensus on what “Best” is really the enemy of “good enough” . Give everyone a little room and let them individually work towards what they consider is best from their perspective. In my politics, this is my view of “Smart Cities” and SmartDrivingCars.
This change has also made obsolescent, if not completely obsolete, some recent reports such as much of the NCHRP 20-102 research which was initially motivated by CV and reports such as the recently released Future Cities: Navigating the New Era of Mobility.
The fundamental problem with V2V is that it doesn’t work unless there are other cars with which to communicate. That doesn’t happen until the adoption level is substantial. Assume that if the V2V communications works (is fast enough and the right data is communicated perfectly) it has no chance of improving safety unless BOTH vehicles that are about to crash have the technology. The chance that exists, ie the probability that BOTH cars have the technology, is the square of the adoption level. At the beginning it is zero times zero which is zero. But even at a 10 % penetration level, which would take an exhaustive mandate at least two year to achieve, it would only reach a 1% chance of being relevant. When half of the cars have it (and ‘it’ works in all of the cars that have it, whatever ‘it’ is) the chances are only 1 in 4 that it is relevant, It takes a 70% adoption (and working) level, which would take at least 10 years to achieve, before it become better than a coin flip. That’s a long time before those that bought the hardware can have a reasonable expectation of capturing some benefits. Alain
Draft for Public Comment, October 19, 2017, “This Strategic Plan establishes the strategic goals and objectives for the DOT for FY2018 through FY2022. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRA) aligns strategic planning with the beginning of each new term of an Administration, requiring every Federal agency to produce a new Strategic Plan by the first Monday in February following the year in which the term of the President commences. The Strategic Plan, therefore, presents the long-term objectives an agency hopes to accomplish at the beginning of each new term of an Administration by describing general and long-term goals the agency aims to achieve, what actions the agency will take to realize those goals, and how the agency will deal with challenges and risks that may hinder achieving results….” Read more Hmmmm… Nice…seems to be void of all references to Connected Vehicles (CV), V2V and V2I that were in the previous FY 2014-2018 strategic plan (Gone is any reference like footnote 13, p.24: “Transforming Transportation through Connectivity: ITS Strategic Research Plan, 2010-2014- Program Update, 2012 “ (even the link is 404)
This may finally be a realization by US DoT that the Connected Vehicle (CV) program was a fatally flawed concept, especially in light of having viable Automated Vehicles. CV was a grandiose plan to have the public sector (Washington, States & Municipalities) pay to deploy electronic Gizmos everywhere and have all of our vehicular mobility be centrally controlled (think 1984). It was part of the America’s National ITS Architecture which ITS America has been promoting for years in support of its Gizmo manufacturing members. Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in Architecture is that the benefits (Safety) would not begin to really kick-in until the Architecture was largely deployed throughout the highway infrastructure and installed in most vehicles. It is essentially all-or-nothing, and “all” need to be so ubiquitous, consequentially so expensive, that the public sector was was the only potential financier.
However, along came the private sector and said…”maybe we can address this Safety thing by automating the vehicle so that it is much less likely to Crash while it shares the existing infrastructure without asking for any improvements (except maybe better paint and readable signs; both of which are really needed anyway for all existing users) “.
Sure, safe automation is hard and expensive, but nowhere near as expensive, especially in its early commitments, as the CV approach. And if successful, at least one vehicle and its occupants are safer. PLUS, the cost of the automated vehicle technology is likely get cheaper (it scales) as we replicate for the 2nd, 4th, 8th, 16th… vehicles and likely to become very affordable very quickly (Moore’s Law) AND the cost of replicating the software is essentially zero and … So, with what amounts to a little bit of money we can get started with one vehicle and it is likely to scale very nicely to initiate viral adoption. Wow! (Deja vu all over again… Steve Jobs’ garage).
So.. it is very nice that US DoT has finally recognized through its strategic planning process that it is time to pivot from its fundamentally flawed CV concept to the SmartDrivingCar/Automated Vehicle (SDC/AV) concept, even though historically US DoT has been all about the infrastructure (roads) and not-so-much about vehicles (cars).
Moreover, this frees US DoT from an enormous future financial obligation. Congratulations for making the pivot. We are all anxious to help you succeed. Alain
Washington DC, Oct 20, “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is committed to the safe deployment of automated vehicles. NHTSA hosted a public workshop today to get feedback on the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments discussed in the Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety guidance released last month. …The workshop , overall, was a productive, open forum, where manufacturers, suppliers, safety advocates, and other entities shared the types of information that could be made available, and opportunities for making that information public. There were over 100 attendees present, and many more who participated via a LIVE Webcast. A full transcript will be available in the coming weeks. ” Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Nat, I agree that it was productive. The comments the by Global Automakers, AAMVA, MEMA Waymo and AAM were positive and helpful.
The …opening remarks by NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King: “… At DOT and NHTSA, of course, our central focus is always on safety. NHTSA’s mission remains to help Americans drive, ride and walk safely…” Given that Safety is central, It is unfortunate that Automated Driving systems 2.0 skips over ‘Safe-driving‘ (ADAS or Level1/2 or whatever) and jumps right into Self-driving (Level 3/4/5 or whatever) to address Safety. Essentially all of the Automated Vehicle Safety achievements (crash avoidance, lane departure avoidance, etc..) will be achieved by Safe-driving vehicles that always over-ride our failures and do the right thing even if they don’t let us take our hands off the wheel or feet off the pedals. These systems are beginning to be made available today and it is not an understatement to say that they don’t work as well as they should/could and there is essentially total confusion in the marketplace/showroom about the capabilities/consumer-expectations about these systems. NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings program doesn’t even consider any of these systems. Since ‘Safe-driving‘ has the greatest and nearest term potential impact on Safety, why is it NOT part of this AV program? These systems are being tested; shouldn’t NHTSA be calling for a Self-assessment of these systems. Safe-driving systems are beginning to be here now and I contend the public is totally confused.
“…Public trust is essential to the advancement of automated technology….” I wholeheartedly agree!! That trust needs to be earned and its first exposure is mixed. Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control are automated systems that have earned public trust event though they automatically detect erroneous driver behavior and automatically over-ride those actions in order to do the best that they can to keep the driver safe. But what about these Safe-driving (Level 1/2, …) systems. These are automated systems focused on Safety, yet NHTSA hasn’t even bothered to include any of these systems in its 5-Star Safety Ratings program. The public is totally confused about what is being offered and there seems to be no public trust evernthough these systems are the very foundations of Self-driving and Driverless systems. It is necessary that Safety and public trust be established first in Safe-driving systems. This forms the basis on which to expand that public trust to the downstream systems that deliver other societal benefits, comfort & convenience for Self-driving and affordable mobility for all for Driverless, while providing very little, if any incremental Safety benefits over Safe-driving technology. So… NHTSA’s 1st order of business should be to ensure that Safe-driving technology actually works and is valued by car buyers.
A substantial part of the problem here is that the terminology that is being used is totally confusing. NHTSA’s decision to give up on its original 4-Level nomenclature was good, they just chose to adopt an even worse one, SAE’s. It focuses entirely on the details of the technology, rather than on the value that is to be derived from the technology. The Levels invoke no fundamental cognitive relationships; nothing that would inspire…”tell me more”. Thus, engineers might eventually pay attention long enough to absorb the more than 7+/-2 chunks of cognitive information needed to understand the differences in the “Levels”. Unfortunately, corporate buyers, journalists, planning, policy and/or legislative officials and the general public/consumers remain totally confused.
I’ve suggested three categories: Safe-driving…, Self-driving… and Driverless… Not necessarily perfect, because the leader of Driverless chose long ago (~8 years) to call itself Self-driving. Unfortunately, the term Self-driving with human supervision, reinforces the auto industry’s 100-year old business model of selling personal comfort and convenience to consumers. The auto industry doesn’t bother emphasizing the partial nature of its Self-driving. Waymo has chosen to add the prefix “Fully” in an effort to differentiate itself as really Driverless that is fundamentally attractive to a different business model focused on Fleets delivering mobility services to a public that doesn’t own cars. But few are aware of the enormous difference implied by the the existence of the prefix.
In its efforts to engender public trust, NHTSA needs to rethink what it calls these things. An opportunity exists in the re-framing of its Star Ratings, Or maybe, this crash-avoidance technology is so different from the crash-mitigation technology that is NHTSA’s sweet-spot, that a new agency or a new division of NHTSA should be created to provide the crash-avoidance safety oversight. Alain
Rulemaking Actions, Oct 1The following 3 PDFs are important:
1. Autonomous Vehicles Notice of Modification (PDF) Act
3. Autonomous Vehicles 15 Day Express Terms (PDF) Act Hmmmm..This is all about Driverless! Thank you California, and especially Dr. Bernard Soriano, for leading this noble effort and for continuing to distinguish this technology from Self-driving and all of the various other names seemingly meant to confuse. Alain
Press Release, Oct 4, “Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials today awarded a $4 million Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for its automated taxis.
“Technology is the future of U.S. transportation,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all.”
County officials will use the funds to deploy an integrated system of “taxi-shuttles,” known locally as “A-Taxis,” on public roads. These are driverless taxis providing shuttle service to and from employment centers–expected to improve access to transportation for disadvantaged and mobility-impaired residents…” Read more Hmmmm… Wow!! FHWA is actually going to fund aTaxis!!! Congratulations, Fred Payne! This is a non-trivial achievement. Alain
Press Relaes, Sept 12, “The National Transportation Safety Board determined Tuesday that a truck driver’s failure to yield the right of way ( a fact )and a car driver’s inattention due to overreliance on vehicle automation ( a deduction among several others that can easily be made, including: the failure to yield was so egregious that there was nothing that he could do about it except lift his arms to protect his head and he wasn’t inattentive. What the truck was doing was so absurd, it wasn’t believable. ) are the probable cause of the fatal May 7, 2016, crash near Williston, Florida…” Read carefully as well as links below. Hmmmm… Wow! Seems as if NTSB has decided to use this crash as a platform to weigh-in on automation. A fact and a questionable deduction are given equal weight in reaching ‘probable’ cause. Interesting Probability Theory going on here. “… Findings in the NTSB’s report include:
- The Tesla’s automated vehicle control system was not designed to, and could not, identify the truck crossing the Tesla’s path or recognize the impending crash. Therefore, the system did not slow the car, the forward collision warning system did not provide an alert, and the automatic emergency braking did not activate. ” This is an enormously damaging finding that should motivate the NTSB to investigate ALL of the forward collision warning and emergency braking systems that are on the market today. Are any of them designed and do any of them work in cutoff situations?
- …, highway design … were not factors in the crash. The turn lanes at this intersection have no traffic control devices, or signs (yield or stop) to discourage the running of the turn. This isn’t a design issue? Doesn’t seem as if the NTSB considered that maybe, because there was no traffic or ???, the truck driver ran the turn wide, crossing Brown’s lane at maybe even 590 ft/sec.
…The NTSB issued a total of seven safety recommendations based upon its findings, with one recommendation issued to the US Department of Transportation, three to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, two to the manufacturers of vehicles equipped with Level 2 vehicle automation systems, and one each to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Global Automakers. …
As a result of its investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board reiterates the following safety recommendations:
To the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Develop minimum performance standards for connected vehicle technology for all
highway vehicles. (H-13-30)
Once minimum performance standards for connected vehicle technology are developed,
require this technology to be installed on all newly manufactured highway vehicles. (H-
13-31) What??? C’Mon Man!!! Hasn’t the NTSB gotten the memo? This has NOTHING to do with “Connected Vehicles” .
…”The abstract of the NTSB’s final report, that includes the findings, probable cause and safety recommendations is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xRMFc. The final report will be publicly released in the next several days. The docket for this investigation is available at https://go.usa.gov/xNvaE. …. Alain
A. Marshal, Sept 7, “ON WEDNESDAY, THE House of Representatives did something that’s woefully uncommon these days: It passed a bill with bipartisan support. The bill, called the SELF DRIVE (Safely Ensuring Lives, Future Deployment and Research In Vehicle Evolution) Act (H.R. 3388), lays out a basic federal framework for autonomous vehicle regulation, signaling that federal lawmakers are finally ready to think seriously about self-driving cars and what they mean for the future of the country…. Lawmakers, for their part, hope the legislation strikes a balance between allowing tech and car companies to test whatever, wherever, and giving them enough leeway to try stuff out, collect some data, and determine the best way to operate vehicles without a driver….
First, the legislation works out a way for the federal government’s rules to trump state laws and rules. It officially gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration power to regulate vehicle design, construction, and performance—the way it does with, well, normal cars. States still have authority over vehicle registration and licensing, but they’ll have a harder time making demands about what goes on inside the car….
Second, the legislation requires autonomous vehicle manufacturers be deliberate about the way they share their passengers’ data….
Finally, the legislation makes it a lot easier for self-driving cars to hit the road….
What’s Next? Well, this is just the first half of this process. Now the Senate has to pass its own bill. Then both houses will work together to come up with compromise legislation that the president can sign….” Read more Hmmmm… While not a high bar, this is likely to be the best thing Congress has done so far this year. Putting the burden on NHTSA when it has so much to do with conventional cars may be just too much. Since all of this, especially Driverless, is so radically new, it probably deserves a new ‘Administration’, a new entity, that has a clean sheet of paper with which to work this technology, much as trucks and airlines have with their own ‘Administration’. Alain
A. Madrigal, aUG 23, ” a corner of Alphabet’s campus, there is a team working on a piece of software that may be the key to self-driving cars. No journalist has ever seen it in action until now. They call it Carcraft, after the popular game World of Warcraft….Hmmmm… Waymo’s naming should have been a play of GTA V such as “Maximus Furtum IV”. Oh, but that’s our version of this. 🙂 Alain
…Scenarios like this form the base for the company’s powerful simulation apparatus. “The vast majority of work done—new feature work—is motivated by stuff seen in simulation,” Stout tells me. This is the tool that’s accelerated the development of autonomous vehicles at Waymo…
…Collectively, they now drive 8 million miles per day in the virtual world. In 2016, they logged 2.5 billion virtual miles…
…In that virtual space, they can unhitch from the limits of real life and create thousands of variations of any single scenario, and then run a digital car through all of them….
…Not surprisingly, the hardest thing to simulate is the behavior of the other people. It’s like the old parental saw: “I’m not worried about you driving. I’m worried about the other people on the road.”…
…They call it “fuzzing,” and in this case, there are 800 scenarios generated by this four-way stop. It creates a beautiful, lacy chart—and engineers can go in and see how different combinations of variables change the path that the car would decide to take….
…“That iteration cycle is tremendously important to us and all the work we’ve done on simulation allows us to shrink it dramatically,” Dolgov told me. “The cycle that would take us weeks in the early days of the program now is on the order of minutes.”…
…The power is that they mirror the real world in the ways that are significant to the self-driving car and allow it to get billions more miles than physical testing would allow. For the driving software running the simulation, it is not like making decisions out there in the real world. It is the same as making decisions out there in the real world…” Read more Hmmmm… Excellent!! However, the description focuses on the ‘testing’ side. What about the ‘training’ side? Not much divulged here. Alain
M Burns, Aug 3, “Cadillac is about to start selling vehicles with an autonomous driving mode …Once the light bar on top of the steering wheel turns green, the driver can let go…
“Wait for the green light and let go,” the Cadillac engineer instructed. That’s it. The car was driving itself. I, the person behind the steering wheel, was no longer the driver. Cadillac’s Super Cruise system was driving. The 2018 Cadillac CT6 sped along US-23 under the direction of Super Cruise. Traffic was light and the weather was perfect. The system held the Cadillac sedan in lane and responded appropriately to traffic. I spent an hour on the expressway and touched the steering wheel and pedals only a few times. Super Cruise made the drive boring. I think that’s the point….
When active, Super Cruise controls the steering and speed, but again, only on an expressway. This is done through on board sensors and using GPS and mapping data. GM employed GeoDigital, a startup in GM Venture’s portfolio, to map 160,000 miles of expressways in the U.S. and Canada. The car company then used Super Cruise-equipped vehicles to test each mile.
Cadillac’s system also lacks several autonomous features found on Autopilot including the ability to pull the car out of a garage and change lanes by using the turn signals. Hmmmm… fluff features with little value.
Super Cruise’s IR sensors tracks eye location and head movements. As long as the driver looks at the road every seven to 20 seconds, the system works as expected. Hmmmm… Fantastic!
General Motors will have to rely on independently owned dealerships to correctly position this product and train buyers on its capabilities. Hmmmm… Yup!
For better or worse, Super Cruise is built into the CT6 like a standard system and not something a driver must use every time they’re on an expressway. This should help timid buyers. Super Cruise feels like a feature ready for the masses. The system is deeply integrated into the vehicle and using it is akin to using cruise control or turning on the lights. There’s a button for Super Cruise on the steering wheel. Press the button when the system is available and it works. It’s that easy to turn a driver into a passenger. Read more Hmmmm… Over the air updates? See also Motor Trend’s view: “… a stand-alone option (as yet unpriced) on CT6 models with the premium luxury trim package and as standard equipment on top Platinum models (the price of which went up $500 for 2018, if that’s any indication)….” Finally, I guess that I’ll have to go test drive one. Alain
The docket material is available at: https://go.usa.gov/xNvaE” Read more Hmmmm… A few comments…
1. Since lateral control (swerving) couldn’t have avoided this crash (the truck is almost 70 ft long (6 lanes wide) stretching broadside across the highway) , it doesn’t matter if Josh Brown ever had his hands on the steering wheel. That’s totally irrelevant.
2. Why didn’t autobrake kick in when the tractor part of the tractor-trailer passed in front of the Tesla?
3. How fast was the truck going when it cut off the Tesla. I couldn’t find the answer in 500 pages.
4. With sight distances of greater than 1,000 feet, why didn’t the truck driver see the Tesla? Was it the drugs?
5. This intersection invites “left-turn run-throughs” (no stop or yield and a 53 foot median and turn lane need to be crossed before one slips through a gap in two traffic lanes. So you certainly roll into it, (plenty of room to stop if you see something coming) and if you don’t see anything, you hit it. If you’re in the Tesla, you think you’ve been clearly seem, you expect the truck to stop, it doesn’t, you can’t believe it, BAM! All in probably a second or so.
6. The head injury description (Table 1 p2 of 3) certainly suggests that Joshua Brown was seated upright facing forward at impact. The bilateral lacerations on the lower arm from the elbow to the wrist may indicate that he saw it coming in the last second and raised his arms in an attempt to protect his head. The evidence reported doesn’t seem to suggest he saw this early enough to bend toward the passenger seat and try to pass underneath.
7. About 40 feet of tractor and trailer passed directly in front of the Tesla prior to impact. Depending on how fast the truck was traveling, that takes some time. Has NTSB run Virtual Reality simulations of various truck turn trajectories and analyzed what the truck driver and the Tesla driver could/should have seen? Seems like a relatively simple thing to do. We know what the Tesla was doing prior to the crash (going 74 mph straight down the road.) and we know where it hit the truck. How fast the truck was traveling doesn’t seem to be known.
8. Why wasn’t there any video captured from the Tesla. Didn’t that version of the MobilEye system store the video; I guess not, 🙁
Anyway, lots to read in the 500 pages, but there is also a lot missing. I’m not linking the many articles reporting on this because I disagree with many of their interpretations of the facts reported by NTSB. Please reach your own conclusions. Alain
R. Abrams, June 16, “Shares of Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco, the largest grocery retailers, all tumbled on Friday. And no wonder.. Grocery stores have spent the last several years fighting against online and overseas entrants. But now, with its $13.4 billion purchase of Whole Foods, Amazon has effectively started a supermarket war. Armed with giant warehouses, shopper data, the latest technology and nearly endless funds — and now with Whole Foods’ hundreds of physical stores — Amazon is poised to reshape an $800 billion grocery market that is already undergoing many changes….” Read more Hmmmm… Since Jeff Bezos doesn’t need to have you impulse buy on your walk through the store while you get a quart of milk, he simply has to get you click on organic milk and he’ll present you with everything you absolutely can’t checkout without. All he then needs is to get all those impulse buys (and the quart of organic milk) to your home from the hundreds of physical stores. That’s where low speed driverless local delivery vans come in (operating initially in the early morning hours when the streets connecting those stores to our houses are completely empty and simply drop off everything you’ll need for the day ahead in your “Amazon Box” that’s replaced your 20th Century mailbox). So in the end it will be Jeff Bezos’86 battling Eric Schmit’76 for deploying the first fleets of driverless vehicles sharing our neighborhood streets. If they should decide to join forces and have these vehicles providing mobility whenever anyone wants to travel and moving groceries and other goods the rest of the time, watch-out!!! Then everybody wins!! (except Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco) See also..Amazon and Whole Foods and Self-Driving Cars Alain
May 18, Enormously successful inaugural Summit starting with the Adam Jonas video and finishing with Fred Fishkin’s live interview with Wm. C Ford III. In between, serious engagement among over 150 leaders from Communities at the bleeding edge of deployment, Insurance struggling with how to properly promote the adoption of technology that may well force them to re-invent themselves and AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various technologies that are rapidly advancing so that we can actually deliver the safety, environmental, mobility and quality of life opportunities envisioned by these “Ultimate Shared-Riding Machines”.
Save the Date for the 2nd Annual… May 16 & 17, 2018, Princeton NJ Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Fishkin Interview of Summit Summary and Interview of Yann LeCun. Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Hmmmm… Enormous thank you to all who participated. Well done! Alain
D. Hall, Apr 17, “In the race to the autonomous revolution, developers have realized there aren’t enough hours in a day to clock the real-world miles needed to teach cars how to drive themselves. Which is why Grand Theft Auto V is in the mix.
The blockbuster video game is one of the simulation platforms researchers and engineers increasingly rely on to test and train the machines being primed to take control of the family sedan. Companies from Ford Motor Co. to Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo may boast about putting no-hands models on the market in three years, but there’s a lot still to learn about drilling algorithms in how to respond when, say, a mattress falls off a truck on the freeway….The idea isn’t that the highways and byways of the fictional city of Los Santos would ever be a substitute for bona fide asphalt. But the game “is the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from,” said Alain Kornhauser…” Read More Hmmmm... Well…we have a slightly different view of history wrt to GTA5. The ‘Alain view’ is that Chenyi Chen*16 independently started investigating the use of virtual environments as a source of Image – Affordances data sets to use as the training sets in a ‘Direct Perception’ approach to creating a self-driving algorithm. Images of the road ahead are converted into the instantaneous geometry that is implied by those image. An optimal controller then determines the the steering, brake and throttle values to best drive the car. The critical element in that process are the Image – Affordances data sets which need to be pristine. Chenyi demonstrated in his PhD dissertation , summarized in the ICCV2015 paper, that by using the pristine Image – Affordances data sets from an open-source game TORCS one could have a virtual car drive a virtual race course without crashing. More importantly, when tested on images from real driving situations, the computed affordances were close to correct.
This encouraged us to look for more appropriate virtual environments. For many reasons, including: “wouldn’t it be amazing if ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’ actually generated some positive ‘redeeming social value’ by contributing to the development of algorithms that actually made cars safer; saving grief, injuries and lives”. Consequently, in the Fall of 2015, Artur Filipowicz’17 began to investigate using GTA5 to train Convolutional Neural Networks to perform some of the Direct Perception aspects of automated driving. With Jeremiah Liu, he continued his efforts in this direction last summer which were presented at TRB in January. Yesterday, he and Nyan Bhat’17 turned in their Senior Theses focused on this topic.
Indeed, GTA5 is a rich virtual environment that begins to efficiently and effective address the data needs of Deep Learning approaches to safe driving. Alain
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
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
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
Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):
U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles
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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