26th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, June 8,  2018

cid:<a”>Tesla Model X on Autopilot sped up seconds before deadly crash in Silicon Valley, report says

R. Mitchell, June 7, "Three seconds before a Tesla Model X on Autopilot slammed into a concrete barrier in March in Silicon Valley, killing the driver, the car sped up, the brakes were not applied, and there was no evasive action.

Those findings were disclosed Thursday in a preliminary report from the NTSB on the Highway 101 crash that took the life of Walter Huang, a 38-year-old software engineer at Apple. …

Alain Kornhauser, head of the autonomous car engineering program at Princeton University, said the NTSB and Tesla have plenty of questions left to answer….Read more  Hmmmm…..Just a couple of things:

1.  " …for the last 6 seconds prior to the crash, the vehicle did not detect the driver’s hands on the steering
wheel."  Was the driver’s hands on the wheel during the 7th second prior to the crash and did his hands over-ride the Tesla’s steering command in any way?  Did they initiate the "left steering movement".  If not, what initiated that steering movement"? What was the exact longitudinal and lateral positions of the car 8 seconds before the crash, 7 seconds before the crash, 6 seconds before the crash, …?

2.  During the 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th second before the crash how did the Tesla’s lateral positioning vary relative the the lateral position of the lead car?

3.  During the last 3 seconds prior to the crash, did any of the sensors detect an object ahead?  If yes, what closing speed (or "stationary world coordinate" speed) was assigned to that object?

4.  Does Tesla employ different lateral control logic if the Tesla is following a car ahead rather than simply "staying between two road lane markings?  To what extent does it continue to follow the car ahead if the car ahead begins to cross a lane marking?

5 .  Which lane did the lead car take at the fork( left or right)?  (NHTS should provide a Plan View of the crash location).

6.  Why did the CA Highway Department not replace/repair the attenuator in less than 11 days (or in the time between March 12 and March 23).   
7.  Why isn’t the area stripped (cross hatched) leading up to the barrier and inside the point lines.  No car should ever stop there, correct???   Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 43

F. Fishkin, June 8, "What is missing from the NTSB’s preliminary report on the March Tesla crash? Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser’s speaks out along with co-host Fred Fishkin in Episode 43 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast. Plus… Waymo to bring self driving vehicles to Europe? Self driving shuttles in Canada. And GM bringing Super Cruise to more vehicles. Listen and subscribe."

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

cid:<a”>Driverless testing in NJ? Phil Murphy aide wants to move in that direction

J. Cichowski, June 6, "…“Finally, somebody in power recognizes that New Jersey is a microcosm of the nation that has everything necessary for a grand experiment,” he said, citing the state’s limited mass-transit options and its balance of urban, suburban and rural roads and population demographics. "And the weather isn’t always great," he added, "but that makes it ideal for testing under all conditions."…" Read more  Hmmmm…. See video.  New Jersey may finally start trying to be a player. 🙂 "

 cid:<a”> Driverless Cars Still Handled by Humans—From Afar

T. Higgins, June 5, "Some Phoenix-area residents have been hailing rides in minivans with no drivers and no human safety operators inside. But that doesn’t mean they’re on their own if trouble arises.

From a command center, employees at Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo driverless-car unit monitor the test vehicles on computer screens, able to wirelessly peer in through the minivan’s cameras. If the robot brain maneuvering the vehicle gets confused by a situation—say, a car unexpectedly stalled in front of it or closed lanes of traffic—it will stop the vehicle and ask the command center to verify what it is seeing. If the human confirms the situation, the robot will calculate how it should navigate around the hazard.

Computers may be poised to take control of driving in the future, but humans will be backing them for some time yet. Tech giants Waymo and Uber Technologies Inc., auto makers General Motors Co. and Nissan Motor Co. and upstarts like Phantom Auto are all developing ways for people to remotely assist their autonomous vehicles during complicated driving situations…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Excellent article.  Alain

cid:<a”>Waymo shows off its self-driving car in first ad with Jimmy Kimmel [Video]

A. Li, May 30, "Widely regarded as the leader in autonomous vehicles, Waymo is slated to launch a public ride service later this year in Arizona. To build public awareness for the Uber/Lyft competitor and its technology, the Alphabet division appears to be embarking on an advertising campaign with the first ad going live today.

Tweeted by the official Jimmy Kimmel Live! account this afternoon, the over two-minute video features a hashtag labeling it as an advertisement. It is very much in the style of the late night comedian’s regular sketches and involves show personality Guillermo riding in a Chrysler Pacifica.

This being comedy, the long running “security guard” on the show was apparently not aware of the car’s self-driving nature, with the human “driver” leaving just before the vehicle autonomously took off. While video chatting with Kimmel, the ad tries to capture the normality of such cars and ride sharing services…."

Again, this being an ad, it’s unclear whether the video was entirely staged and how genuine the reactions were. However, at the end of the day, the coolness factor of being in a self-driving vehicle was likely captured by the clip…"  Read more  Hmmmm…. See video. Unfortunately, this is obviously STAGED, which is very Unfortunate.  Not as bad as the Staged Otto Beer Drive, but almost.  (No offense against Budweiser and Adult Beverages, but a Staged Otto AV demo that is nowhere near Driverless (that is…be able to take you from your watering hole, where you crawl in, all the way to your door step, where you crawl out) should in no way be suggested by a system that is, at best, Self-driving,  and desperately needs your full undivided attention even for just some of that trip; else, innocent people are killed.  It was embarrassing listening to the Governor of Colorado praising that completely staged demonstration at the ITS America Conference in Detroit this past Tuesday.  If that’s one of Colorado’s worthy SmartDrivingCar achievements, then Colorado is at the back of the pack along  with New Jersey.)

Back to my point… Driverless is very serious business and has been subject to way too much hype, smoke and mirrors.  It desperately needs a strong dose of reality because in the end, its all about getting to B from A.  The journey is irrelevant as long as it is safe, reliable, affordable and gets you to B on time.  That’s how we’ll get to this system actually delivering the safety, quality-of-life and environmental benefits that are being envisaged. Staging delivers none of those benefits.  What we desperately need is just simple old-fashioned reality and, especially, complete honesty.   Staging & photoshoping are simply too easy. 

That said, it is very impressive that we have reached the beginning of the marketing and advertising stage unleashing actual customer consumption of this mobility r/evolution as opposed to being stuck in the "pitching to investors and flipping stage". 
Waymo is really beginning to "Just Do It"… have you noticed?  (a few slides I showed at the Detroit ITS Conference)  Alain

cid:<a”>Super Cruise expanding across Cadillac lineup, other GM brands

N. Naughton, June 6, "General Motors Co. is expanding the use of its high-tech Super Cruise system — which allows drivers to ride hands-free on the highway in a Cadillac CT6 — to the brand’s entire lineup starting in 2020 and later to other GM brands.

Super Cruise is "a feature that customers routinely come into dealerships asking about, shopping for, and specifically ordering," Mark Reuss, GM’s product development chief, said in a prepared speech Wednesday to the Intelligent Transportation Society of America conference in Detroit. "Making it available in every Cadillac on the showroom floor just makes sense."

…In a note, Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley raised his valuation of GM’s autonomous operations from $2 billion to $9.25 billion following the SoftBank investment. "For perspective," he wrote, "we now value GM Cruise at a net valuation to GM shareholders slightly higher than the value of Cadillac." 
Read more  Hmmmm…  Neither Mark’s nor Adam’s announcements are surprising.  Super Cruise is a really creative and is a responsible way to implement self-driving.  You can use it if you use it respectfully;, else, the toy is taken away until you decide to behave.  Brilliant!!   With respect to Adam, he must see the "miles market" to be so large that even the 2nd runner can do very well, thank you.  He really sees the future as he demonstrated at the 2nd Princeton SDC Summit. Link to video of his presentation, link to his slides and link to an earlier video from last year.  Alain

cid:<a”>   A 21st Century Transit Solution – Piloted in Houston Without Pilots

K. Pyle, June 6, "An autonomous first/last-mile circulator/shuttle combined with autonomous buses that connect disparate business districts could be the long-term solution to Houston’s traffic and congestion woes. Speaking at the SmartDrivingCar Summit, Sam Lott, Research Assistant Professor at Texas Southern University and Principal at Automated Mobility Services, LLC, describes a soon-to-be pilot that will launch on the campuses of Texas Southern University and the University of Houston that will provide, low-speed, autonomous mini-buses to ferry people across campus.

Eventually, these shuttles will connect directly with the METRO, high-capacity, transit system. What makes the Houston METRO system unique is that is essentially a freeway-within-a-freeway, protected from single occupancy car traffic and with separate ingress and egress points for the buses that ply this 21st century alternative to rail…" Read more  Hmmmm….Nice job Sam.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Some Innovative New Thinking and Some Big Impacts – #InnovationandImpact

K. Pyle, June 2, What was the bigger announcement? That the Valley Transit Authority is looking at how they transform the organization to become a mobility manager or that they are looking at autonomous buses in rights-of-way they own, instead of fixed rail solutions. These were just a few of the may insights from ProspectSV’s Innovation and Impact Symposium, held on May 31st, 2018 at San Jose’ City Hall…."  Read more   Mmmmm…. I agree.  Alain

cid:<a”>Who’s Winning the Self-Driving Car Race?

Bloomberg,  May 31, "…The Clear Leaders
Waymo has run self-driving cars over 5 million road miles in 25 cities and done billions of miles in computer simulation, which it uses to update its self-driving software on a weekly basis. The Google-launched company has a fleet of Chrysler Pacifica minivans that can navigate city streets in San Francisco and reach full speed on highways….Read more, Mmmmm…   I agree.  Alain

cid:<a”>Scientists at a company part-owned by Bill Gates say they’ve found a cheap way to convert CO2 into gasoline

C. Aiello, June 7, "…Published in the scientific journal Joule on Thursday, the research demonstrates a new technique that pulls carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and converts it into liquid gasoline, diesel or jet fuel.  Canadian clean energy company Carbon Engineering, in partnership with researchers from Harvard, used little more than limestone, hydrogen and air for the process, which can remove one metric ton of CO2 for as little as $94, the scientists say. It cleans up the environment, and produces eco-friendly liquid fuel at the same time.   Read more, .   Mmmmm…   Potentially really interesting  Alain

"Until now, research suggested it would cost $600 per ton to remove CO2 from the atmosphere using DAC technology, making it too expensive to be a feasible solution to removing legacy carbon at scale," David Keith, Harvard Professor and founder of Carbon Energy said in a statement. "We now have the data and engineering to prove that DAC can achieve costs below $100 per ton."…." Read more  Hmmmm…. Most interest    Alain

cid:<a”>  Big Automotive Data Analytics (BADA):  Business Models: Future Scenarios Report

M. Sena, Feb 22.  "The land transport infrastructure of the future will be much more heterogeneous than today, comprising an ecosystem of different types and combinations of transport alternatives and transport-related services. In this ecosystem, it will be decisive to have the ability to understand the interactions of all components of the infrastructure and the vehicles using it, and to manage the massive amounts of data that are being generated. Collecting and processing this data require new techniques that are referred to as Big Data Analytics. For purposes of our work, we have chosen to use the following definition of Big Data: Big data is high volume, high velocity, high variety and high veracity (reliability) information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision…."  Read more  Hmmmm…. Slides Michael, excellent.   Jacques Amselem of Allianz suggested these two sources as relevant in describing how different the atmosphere is in Europe v USA wrt Privacy and the potential use of mobile data:   REGULATIONS … of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data,  and  Consumer Privacy Protection Principles PRIVACY PRINCIPLES FOR VEHICLE TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES November 12, 2014   Alain

cid:<a”>Alphabet’s Waymo hopes to bring self-driving car service to Europe

Reuters, June 7, " lphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo wants to bring its robo-taxi service to Europe after it launches in the United States later this year.
Waymo’s Chief Executive John Krafcik said the company could enter European markets in collaboration with a partner, but did not give any timeframe.

“There is an opportunity for us at Waymo to experiment here in Europe, with different products and maybe even with different go-to-market strategies,” Krafcik said at the Automotive News Europe Congress in Turin late on Wednesday. “It’s possible we will take a very different approach here than we would in the U.S.”…" Read more Hmmmm…. Waymo wants to "be in it to win it"! Alain

cid:<a”>Researchers have released the largest self-driving-car data set yet

June 7, "The BDD100K data set, made up of 100,000 videos recorded onboard autonomous cars, is now available for download from the University of California, Berkeley.

Some background: Similar data has previously been released—Baidu, for example, dropped a bunch of self-driving-car data in March—but Berkley’s set is 800 times larger.

The data: All of the approximately 40-second-long clips are taken from roads in the US. They contain an array of labeled objects, including 1,021,857 cars, 343,777 signs, 129,262 people, and 179 trains. Lane markings and driveable areas are color-coded in the video, and approximate driving paths are indicated…"  Read more Hmmmm….Valuable!  Alain

cid:<a”>You’ll be able to ride self-driving electric shuttles in Alberta’s largest cities this fall

 T. Lo, June 6, "…This is the first time in Canada that this kind of pilot program has been made accessible to the general public, according to Andrew Sedor, a transportation planner with the City of Calgary, as the projects were announced in Edmonton Wednesday.  Dubbed the "ELA," the EasyMile EZ10 will seat 12 and will travel at low speeds — roughly 12 km/h — and on separate roadways where there are no other vehicles, bicycles or pedestrians.

In Calgary, the free shuttle will run between the Telus Spark Science Centre and the Calgary Zoo along a service lane…"  Read more Hmmmm….Very nice.  Alain 


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

imap:<a href=//”>

3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Save the Date; Reserve your Sponsorship
Photos from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Program & Links to slides from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

  On the More Technical Side

Capsule Networks (CapsNets) – Tutorial