14th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Sunday, March 25,  2018

cid:<a href=Waymo CEO on fatal autonomous Uber crash: Our car would have been able to handle it

F. Siddiqui, Mar 24, “Nearly a week after an autonomous Uber SUV claimed the first life in testing of self-driving vehicles, the chief executive of another tech company says he is confident its cars would have performed differently under the circumstances.

John Krafcik, chief executive of Waymo … said Waymo’s cars are intensively programmed to avoid such calamities.

“I can say with some confidence that in situations like that one with pedestrians — in this case a pedestrian with a bicycle — we have a lot of confidence that our technology would be robust and would be able to handle situations like that,” Krafcik said Saturday during a panel at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas.

Krafcik had been asked directly if a Waymo car would have reacted differently than the self-driving Uber.   “I want to be really respectful of Elaine [Herzberg], the woman who lost her life and her family,” he said. “I also want to recognize the fact that there are many different investigations going on now regarding what happened in Tempe on Sunday.”…

Asked the basis on which Krafcik made his claim, Waymo pointed to its hardware and testing regimen, which includes closed-course testing at night in which pedestrians sometimes unexpectedly enter the roadway, according to the company. The cars operate on public roads and pull data from those situations to create simulations of cities where Waymo operates, such as Phoenix and Austin. Under that setup, Waymo says, the company can repeat a single testing scenario thousands of times.

Waymo says its equipment has run through thousands of scenarios focused exclusively on avoiding collisions involving pedestrians. The vehicles are equipped with custom lidar, radar equipment and other sensors, according to Waymo….

On Saturday’s panel in Las Vegas, Krafcik said he respected the multiple investigations into the crash and would not speculate on what went wrong. The National Transportation Safety Board is among the agencies investigating the wreck.

“For those of us at Waymo, it was a very sad day,” Krafcik said. “Because that was an accident that was in a car that had technology representing the self-driving space. And for those of us at Waymo it is that mission of safety and avoiding accidents just like that one that really brings us all together as a company. It struck us in a really major way.”  Read more  Hmmmm… This is why in the “Self-driving” space, and especially the “Driverless” space, Waymo is way ahead of the peloton with what may be an insurmountable lead.  They’ve practiced well and done their homework.  Alain 

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 31

Waymo’s chief confident his self driving vehicles would have avoided same outcome as Uber’s in deadly crash. How deep are Uber’s troubles? In Episode 31 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and journalist Fred Fishkin are joined by Alex Roy, editor at large of The Drive.

Hmmmm…. Now you can just say “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!” .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay.  Alain

Real information every week.  Lively discussions with the people who are shaping the future of SmartDrivingCars.  Want to become a sustaining sponsor and help us grow the SmartDrivingCars newsletter and podcast? Contact Alain Kornhauser at!  Alain

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cid:<a href=Elaine Herzberg’s Death Isn’t Uber’s Tragedy. It’s Ours

A. Roy, Mar 21, “There are two kinds of tragedies: those from which nothing is learned, and those that lead to change. Now that a pedestrian has been killed by a self-driving car, let’s dispense with the fiction that safety is a primary motivation in their development. Before Elaine Herzberg’s body was cold, the self-driving lobby raced to massage the narrative: you can’t make an omelette without brea— 

You know the rest. Disgusting. These people should be ashamed.

You know who else should be ashamed? Those rushing to condemn self-driving cars. Why? Because nine other human beings were struck and killed by human-driven cars in Arizona just in the last week, and none of Uber’s critics said a word.

Elaine Herzberg’s death isn’t Uber’s tragedy, it’s ours.

Everyone wants agency but not responsibility, the benefits but not the costs, the glory but not the grit.

The omelette-breakers—comprised of virtually everyone in self-driving except Waymo—would have us believe money can shorten the timeline to safety. The Luddites would have us believe one death by experimental machine is worse than 40,000 by human hands.

Neither side cared about Elaine Herzberg until Monday morning.

It didn’t take long before we learned Elaine Herzberg was homeless, not as context, but as de facto justification for her death. We all know code when we see it. Instead of hoodie, we get plastic bags. What kind of person walks a bicycle covered in plastic bags in the middle of the night in Tempe, Arizona? In a city designed for cars, in a state designed for cars, in a country whose culture is defined by cars?

Based on the public relations campaign being waged even as we speak, Elaine Herzberg was collateral damage, not only because she was homeless, but because she was car-less. She was jaywalking, from a median where she shouldn’t have been, where the city of Tempe had laid a beautiful paved walkway with a sign saying No Crossing in a city where crosswalks are hundreds of feet apart. Designed for cars, by car people, in a state without an adequate support system, in a country unwilling to address mental health. …

In the meantime, if Uber doesn’t publicly release 100 percent of the data from this event, they should not be trusted. … If they want us to place our faith in them, they need to earn it.   Which is exactly what we should expect of humans.”    Read more  Hmmmm… Please read more. Alain

cid:<a href=Disgraceful Dashcam Video Proves Uber Is the Theranos of Self-Driving

A. Roy, Mar 22, “…Two weeks ago, The Drive published “The Human Driving Manifesto,” in which I claimed there was absolutely no evidence self-driving cars were safer than humans—at least not yet—and that we have a moral obligation to improve human driving safety even regardless.  Little did I know how prescient that would turn out to be.

Yesterday I wrote “Elaine Herzberg’s Death Isn’t Uber’s Tragedy. It’s Ours,” in which I called out the hypocrisy of a country that tolerates 100 deaths by human drivers a day, but won’t tolerate one by machine. I was referring, of course, to the tragic death of Elaine Herzberg, who was struck and killed by a self-driving Uber test vehicle this past Sunday in Tempe, Arizona, just one of ten pedestrians killed in that state last week.

I was trying to give Uber the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong.

…Based on the video, Uber’s self-driving car—in which a “safety” driver was present—is actually less safe than the average human driver in a stock Volvo fresh off the showroom floor.

The worst part? The crash can’t be blamed on one or even two people. It’s clearly the fault of countless people whose names we don’t yet know, all of whom should go down in the history of self-driving as supporting actors in the most expensive and disastrous show of the self-driving season. In the theater of shame that has been Uber, that’s saying a lot….

Some days I really feel for new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who seems to be a good guy who perhaps deserves better than the deepening pit left him by Kalanick. On the other hand, Wikipedia says he’s paid $96.5M a year, so one would think Uber can afford a sufficient number of experts, ethicists, and engineers to run a professional self-driving car program. One would also think Dara would know what questions to ask of his own team, and whom to hire….

Dara, cut your losses, cancel your program and license Aurora’s tech. Or Waymo’s. Then Uber needs to write a HUGE check to a good cause. Start with Elaine Herzberg’s family. How about the homeless of San Francisco you must see every day? Or the homeless of Tempe? Maybe take a trip there in between the upcoming trial and the congressional hearings you’ve got coming….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Again, please read more.  Alain

cid:<a href=The driverless car revolution must proceed with caution

D. Norman, Mar 24, “Imperfect automation, continually getting better? Or distracted drivers, continually getting worse? Choose…. Automobile manufacturers are rushing to add more and more automation to their existing cars, promising to have fully automated vehicles within a few years. They need to slow down.

Why should we have fully automated cars? Because they have many benefits: Less deaths, injuries, and accidents with no more drunk or distracted driving; more efficient commuting, and increased mobility for those who cannot or do not wish to drive….

Today tests are performed with “safety drivers,” people inside the vehicle ready to take over if something goes wrong. This is a false hope. Almost 50 years of research shows that people are not good at monitoring for long hours, and then suddenly leap into action when difficulties arise….

The potential for autonomous vehicles to produce tremendous saving of lives and injuries while increasing our quality of life provides strong support for the eventual introduction of fully automated vehicles. Nonetheless, just as new medicines and medical devices enhance lives, but their introduction is done cautiously, with carefully controlled tests, we must do the same with our autonomous vehicles. I look forward to the day when my self driving car will free me from the tedium and danger of driving. But that day is not yet here.” Read more  Hmmmm… Again, please read more.  Alain

cid:<a href=China Wants Its Own Brains Behind 30 Million Self-Driving Cars

Bloomberg News, Mar 25, “China’s aspiration to deploy 30 million autonomous vehicles within a decade is seeding a fledgling chip industry, with startups like Horizon Robotics Inc. emerging to build the brains behind those wheels.

The Beijing-based company is taking aim at Nvidia Corp. and Mobileye NV just as the autonomous-driving business takes off and uncertainty looms over international trade. Annual revenue from the chips used in driverless vehicles globally should more than double to $5 billion by 2021, according to Gartner Inc….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Yup!  Alain 

imap:// Future Networked Car – 8 March 2018

M. Sena, April 2018,  “THE ITU/UNECE SYMPOSIUM ON “THE FUTURE NETWORKED CAR” was held in Geneva, Switzerland at the Palexpo on 8 March 2018. It is an annual conference that has been held for the past thirteen years, and it is always on the opening day of the Geneva International Motor Show. …  I was very impressed with the format for the
Symposium and the quality of the panelists. There are no company pitches. … To sum it up, the SYMPOSIUM did focus on 5G and cybersecurity, but not so much on data protection and artificial intelligence. The third area that received a lot of attention was the rationale behind MVNOs. There was very strong support voiced for Cellular-V2X as the better option for both short- and long-range communication….”
Read more  Hmmmm… Michael did preface his readers by:
“Dear Readers,….
Just as I was finishing up this issue, the news arrived about the Uber taxi in humanless drive mode running into and killing a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. It is going to take a few weeks or more for all of the facts in this case to be made known to the public, so it makes little sense to speculate on who or what is responsible. As I state in the column I have written that mentions the incident, I have said before and say again that we should not be beta testing with humans.  Forbid all cars that are not controlled by an on-board human driver from using public thoroughfares. I know this is not what some or many of my readers believe, but it is my view. …”   Alain



Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

cid:<a href=The Bike-Share Oversupply in China: Huge Piles of Abandoned and Broken Bicycles

A. Taylor, Mar 22, “Last year, bike sharing took off in China, with dozens of bike-share companies quickly flooding city streets with millions of brightly colored rental bicycles. However, the rapid growth vastly outpaced immediate demand and overwhelmed Chinese cities, where infrastructure and regulations were not prepared to handle a sudden flood of millions of shared bicycles. Riders would park bikes anywhere, or just abandon them, resulting in bicycles piling up and blocking already-crowded streets and pathways. As cities impounded derelict bikes by the thousands, they moved quickly to cap growth and regulate the industry. Vast piles of impounded, abandoned, and broken bicycles have become a familiar sight in many big cities. As some of the companies who jumped in too big and too early have begun to fold, their huge surplus of bicycles can be found collecting dust in vast vacant lots….” Read more  Hmmmm… Be sure to look at the images.  While many of the piles of bikes are due to over supply.  Others are due to the imbalance of supply and demand.  Without “empty bike/vehicle repositioning” these images become the reality.  A really valable aspect of “Driverless” is that it enables efficient empty vehicle repositioning without incurring a cost for labor.  While some empty vehicle miles are incurred, those costs are more than outweighed by the reduction in fleet size and parking requirements.  Alain  



Calendar of Upcoming Events:
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March 26-29, 2018
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Self Racing Cars
March 24-25, 2018

Thunderhill Raceway

Willows, CA



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2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 16 & 17, 2018
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
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  On the More Technical Side

Capsule Networks (CapsNets) – Tutorial