6th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Public fleets of automated vehicles and how  to manage them

B. Grush & J. Niles, "…There  are  two  common  scenarios  for  the future  of  automobility  as  vehicles  become increasingly automated. The first is that most North  American  households  will  retain  at least one personal automated vehicle (PAV), as  now.  The  alternative  view  is  that  almost no-one will bother to own a personal vehicle because it will be so cheap, easy and convenient to obtain a ride in a shared autonomous vehicle  (SAV)  such  as  a  publicly  accessible, robo-taxi or robo-shuttle.  While  the  latter  scenario  occurs  to  many urban-transportation thought-leaders as the  more  desirable  of  the  two, this  is  neither  guaranteed  to  occur,  nor  has  it  been determined how such an outcome might be governed in order to achieve a high level of optimization  with  respect  to  time,  energy and  fleet  size. Read more  Hmmm…A must read mostly because it raises more questions than it answers.  I agree with much and disagree with just as much.  It is simply not clear how the whole process will shake out, but the thought that there will be one well organized/optimized system is not likely just as today there is really no regional planning or real coordination among the 565 essentially independent municipalities in New Jersey.  Most might agree that if we all planned together and worked together New Jersey as a state would be a better place.  Yet, those 565 cats refuse to be herded. Alain  

Automated Driving News

M. Sena, Mar 11, "…IMAGINE A FEW DECADES into the future. You are being chauffeured in a driverless car to a doctor’s appointment.  You handed in your driver’s license a few years ago. The car enters a work zone where an accident has occurred. Cars are being directed into and through a shopping center parking lot. Before the car gets through the detour, the driving software experiences an overload and starts to shut down. What happens next?…" Read more  Hmmm…Much interesting reading. Alain

The self-driving car’s family tree

D. Baker, Mar 4, "…Here’s a partial family tree of the self-driving industry, showing how some of the key players have moved from one company or school to another. Give it a year, and the tree may well grow a few more branches…Read more  Hmmm…Interesting, but there are many more key players. Alain

Local Motors CEO On 3D-Printing Self-Driving Buses And Other Projects

P. High, Feb 21, "Jay Rogers is the founder and CEO of Local Motors, a company focused on low-volume manufacturing of open source motor vehicles designed using micro-factories. Local Motors produces its own vehicles, including the Strati, the world’s first 3-D printed electric car, and the Olli, an autonomous, electric powered bus…."  Read more  Hmmm…Very interesting.  Alain

How to Spend a Trillion Dollars on Infrastructure

R. Utt, Mar 9, "…Since the classic definition of socialism is the public ownership of the means of production, what many contend is an infrastructure crisis is more than likely a crisis of socialism, a policy choice that the many millions of people in the former Soviet bloc can warn us about. As will be discussed later, President Trump’s insistence that the trillion dollars he proposes to spend on infrastructure be in close cooperation with the private sector suggests that he intends to move the nation’s transportation and water infrastructure policies away from the socialist model. So perhaps we will soon be moving from deterioration and shortages to greater abundance and higher quality in the affected sectors… Read more  Hmmm…Very interesting and intelligent speculation.  Alain

Tesla increases Autopilot 2.0 speed limits with latest update

F. Lambert, Mar 8 "Tesla started pushing a new update to its fleet of vehicles equipped with the second generation Autopilot hardware suite tonight. The update increases the speed limits on the Autopilot’s two main features, but it’s still not to parity with the company’s first generation Autopilot.
Both Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) and Autosteer are seeing slight 5 mph bumps in speed limit restriction with this new update (
TACC speed limit is being increased from 80 to 85 mph (135 km/h)
Autosteer speed limit on highways is being increased from 50 to 55 mph (90 km/h)…" Read more  Hmmm…Very nice!  And  that’s fast enough for TACC.  Go faster and you’re on your own! (although we shouldn’t let you kill us because we are out there, too.)  Alain

Ride-sharing Apps: Low Fares Can’t Last

M. Keller, Mar 6, "It’s no secret that Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing apps offer fares less than taxis; exactly how much less depends on metro area, time of day, and ride length. Lower fares, the ease of using the app to summon a car, and cashless payments have built a large user base for the dominant players, Uber and Lyft. But with both companies losing hundreds of millions of dollars a quarter, how soon will investors demand a path to profitability? ( reports that sources suggest Uber lost three billion dollars last year!) …

But without investor subsidies, and drivers willing to make less than minimum wage, fares can only rise to those comparable with taxi companies, if not even higher…."  Read more  Hmmm…Unless they get to Driverless (Self-driving doesn’t help.  It, in fact, hurts), which isn’t going to happen for these guys in enough places, in enough volume, soon enough.  Sorry, they may have been too early.  Alain 

AImotive aims to convert regular cars into driverless ones inexpensively

O. Solon, Mar 5, "The AImotive office is in a small converted house at the end of a quiet residential street in sunny Mountain View, spitting distance from Google’s headquarters. Outside is a branded Toyota Prius covered in cameras, one of three autonomous cars the Hungarian company is testing in the sleepy neighborhood.  AImotive is trying to do the same using regular cameras combined with artificial intelligence. …“The whole traffic system is based on the visual system,” explained founder and CEO Laszlo Kishonti. “Drivers don’t have bat ears and sonars, you just look around and drive.”…Read more  Hmmm…Simple!  I like simple.  Alain

Will Autonomous Cars Be at Fault in Wrecks?

D. Sabin, Mar 6, "…But car companies are still working out what is going to happen when autonomous cars are on the road, from what data the cars record to whether the company is responsible for accidents. Strategies vary from waiting for national legislation to just declaring to take responsibility, but no one has figured out exactly how this is going to work. And as autonomous cars start driving into everyday life, there is a lot on the line for customers and companies alike….“Anecdotally, a lot of the accidents happening now are people who were distracted,” Barry says. “So all of these negative driver behaviors are going to fall by the wayside.”   He expects that companies that make self-driving cars will ultimately be responsible for crashes. “It’s an issue that auto-insurers are looking at and it’s going to be a product liability claim on the part of auto self-driving manufacturers,…" Read more  Hmmm…There will be so many fewer ‘wrecks’, most of which will be the fault of conventionally insured texting drivers.  It will also be more difficult for insurers to run away from manufacturers because they’ll have the data (as they’ve had with anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control).   Manufacturers will realize that it is best for them to assume the little that they risk and pocket the difference.  🙂  Alain

Renault, UTC and CNRS join forces to create SIVALab, a shared research facility for autonomous vehicles

Press release, Mar 3, "…This scientific and technological partnership is founded on the relationship of trust that has been growing for more than 10 years between the research units of Renault and Heudiasyc. SIVALab (a French acronym for Integrated Systems for Autonomous Vehicles Lab) is being created to provide a structure geared to long-term scientific developments and major programmes. The shared laboratory, whose governance and resources are being provided jointly by Renault and Heudiasyc, will deploy a four-year research programme on perception and localization systems supplying honest, reliable navigation data for communicating autonomous vehicles. Read more  Hmmm…Excellent!  Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention


On the More Technical Side

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

Self-Driving Cars Can’t Cure Traffic, but Economics Can

 C. Dougherty, Mar 8, "It’s easy to get giddy about self-driving cars. Older people and preteens will become more independent and mobile. The scourge of drunken driving will disappear. People will be able to safely play video games while on the freeway to work….“Hmmm…Please!!! Self-driving cars REQUIRE the driver to remain alert!.  Please do NOT ever suggest that they will address the adult beverage issue!  Yes, Self-driving will reduce the disutility of personal mobility and won’t change its 1-to-1 relationship with vehicle mobility .  Thus VMT will increase substantially and so will congestion unless we artificially reduce the dis-utility through pricing.  That’s been known forever (or since Wm. Vickrey was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1966).  The real opportunity is Driverless because it breaks the 1-to-1 relationship between PMT (Personal …) and VMT (Vehicle …), especially when one needs it most, during peak times in peak directions.  through active vehicle management one will be able to enable travelers to readily share vehicles thus allowing us to travel more, yet congest less. (and since it is driverless, it would allow those who so desire the opportunity to partake in moderation adult beverages.)     This idea of congestion pricing is not completely dismissed the way it once was,” said Clifford Winston, an economist at the Brookings Institution.  Read more  Hmmm…Cliff, true, but encouraging ride-sharing when it is available may be an even better way.  Alain

  Americans Feel Unsafe Sharing the Road with Fully Self-Driving Cars

E. Stepp, Mar 7, " A new report from AAA reveals that the majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles. .." Read more  Hmmm…These must be the same people that were surveyed prior to November 7.  Have any of them ever seen a ‘fully self-driving’ vehicle, whatever that is.  I’m sure these folks also fear aliens.  Whatever!!  Alain

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

The Road to the Future

J. Stoikes, Mar 6, "New research suggests that children born today will never drive a car. The auto industry’s embrace of self-driving technology has been accelerating fast and those technological advances mean that by the time today’s toddlers come of age, they’ll likely never even have to get behind the wheel of a car…
What that means is that we are going to have to figure out how to begin developing a smarter highway.
So far, the infrastructure behind these autonomous vehicles is lacking, having been built into just a few miles of highway in a handful of states…"  Read more  Hmmm…Sorry… This is all about Smart Vehicles.  The Road to the Future is simply fewer potholes, distinctive lane marking and easily readable signs with what we have now. Just maintain well, what we have now.  We don’t need new fancy-schmansy.  C’mon Construction! Alain

Civil engineers say fixing infrastructure will take $4.6 trillion

T. Frank, Mar 9, "President Trump’s pledge to unleash $1 trillion in infrastructure spending is generating a flurry of lobbying from an alphabet-soup list of trade groups whose members are jockeying to reap potentially huge benefits.
In the latest and most sweeping publicity effort, the nation’s association of civil engineers said Thursday that the nation’s roads, dams, airports and water and electrical systems need $4.6 trillion of work — more than the entire federal government spends in a year… The overall infrastructure grade was a D+….Among the discrepancies CNN found:
–The engineers society says roads and bridges need $2 trillion in improvements. The Federal Highway Administration says they need $836 billion….Read more  Hmmm…C’mon ASCE don’t be so self-serving.  It is embarrassing.  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Commercialization Summit
May 16 & 17, 2017
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date

Recent Highlights of:

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 

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, 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?  Alain

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, 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


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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