48th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Thursday, November 8, 2018

cid:<a”>We Crash Four Cars Repeatedly to Test the Latest Automatic Braking Safety Systems

B. Tingwall, Nov  2018, "The kick-drum thump of a harmless 30-mph shunt into an inflatable faux car rouses the same visceral remorse as a real car crash. The stomach knots with nausea. Mortification burns deep in every muscle. Within seconds, the brain catalogs the near trauma under Things That Should Not Be Repeated, right next to beer pong played with Captain Morgan.

Against our instincts, we keep taking runs at the balloon car. We nudge, punch, and plow into the generic air-filled Volks­wagen again and again and again, not unlike American drivers, who, in 2016, drove into the back ends of other vehicles 2.4 million times. The rear-end collision is America’s favorite way to bend sheetmetal, accounting for nearly one-third of all crashes. …."   Read more  Hmmmm….  Bottom line…. AEB DOESN’T WORK!!!  Seems as if someone should go back and  start from the beginning.  The intent should NOT be to reduce …  it should be to "… essentially eliminate the millions of rear-end collisions that happen each year.   Cars should NOT be able to tailgate, period!!!  These are public highways and tailgaters should NOT be enabled to put others at risk.  Cars should NOT be able to cut-in and cars should NOT be able to drive at an excessive speed.  If cars are misused, the car maker, the OEM, should be liable for enabling the car to be misused, ( unless the owner has modified the car, then the modifier should be liable for treble damages).   OEMs have the knowledge and capability to place controls on their cars so that they are NOT misused. OEMs should be held accountable for not implementing those safeguards.   Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 66 – Bishop & Zimmerman

F. Fishkin, Nov 8,  "Daimler is partnering with Bosch to bring an autonomous ride hailing service to San Jose next year. In this edition, the Director of Engineering at Bosch joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin to outline how it will work. Plus Richard Bishop joins us fresh from an International Task Force on Vehicle Highway Automation in Denmark. And more!"  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”>  A Little Pushback to My Friend Alain Kornhauser on the Prospects for Truck Platooning

R. Bishop, Oct 10, "Many of my colleagues and LinkedIn contacts subscribe to Dr. Alain Kornhauser’s SmartDrivingCars email missives about the Automated Driving space, an information source that provides insightful commentary.  Keep it up, Alain!

Alain and I met during the early 1990’s when I was leading the automated driving program for USDOT; he’s been at it longer than me and I value his perspective. But every now and then I push back at Alain and have particularly done so with respect to some of his recent critical comments about truck platooning. In fact, we have a long history of friendly debate! Since I can’t comment directly via his portal, I’d like to clarify some things here.  

In short, Alain has written that crash avoidance is not emphasized in platooning systems coming to market, plus that the business case is lacking. Neither is the case; unfortunately, his opinions are based on incomplete information and improper assumptions….

In his post “6.30-MBwrong-071418” Alain criticizes truck platooning for focusing on truck fuel efficiency, calling instead for crash avoidance. Buts it’s not an either-or!

It is important to understand that all known platooning systems being demonstrated and commercialized with global truck OEMs involve some form of integration with state of the art Collision Avoidance/Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) systems: DTNA/Freightliner, Volvo Trucks, Peterbilt and Kenworth in the North America and in Europe: Scania, MAN, DAF, Iveco, Daimler and Volvo Group. These systems have been on the market for years from these OEMs. AEB is thus essential to the operations of platooning systems and to their safety case! 

Furthermore, platooning systems being readied for market require Air Disc Brakes (ADB) on all tractors axles, because ADB provides much more predictable braking performance than traditional drum brakes. This predictability is important for algorithms in defining a safe inter-vehicle gap.

The combination of AEB and ADB on platooning-equipped trucks will make them among the safest trucks on the road.  These systems are active at all times, so these trucks will experience these safety benefits whether platooning or not. Congrats Alain — there will be more crash avoidance systems on the road as truck platooning is deployed!…

A colleague who used to be with FedEx Freight was telling me recently that, at his terminal, every morning they would dispatch 8 trucks at the same time all going to the same destination on the same route. Then they would come back by the end of the driver’s shift. He said this type of practice was typical at all their terminals across the country…."  Read more  Hmmmm….  All points well made and taken.  I would still like to advocate that an early, if not first, deployment of Platooning be done with the 3,000 or so buses that every weekday use the XBL between the NJ Turnpike and the PANYNJ Bus terminal in Mid-town Manhattan.  I, with Lou Pignataro, first proposed this in 1995 and it still remains what I consider to be the most beneficial deployment of Platooning, not only because of the energy savings, but more importantly that it can increase the practical capacity of the XBL by 50% enabling almost 20,000 more seated passenger per hour to have access to NYC from NJ.  For what couldn’t cost more than $50M in NYC Dollars one could achieve an increase in trans-Hudson capacity equivalent to a >$10B rail tunnel.  Alain

cid:<a”>  21st Annual Meeting of International Task Force on Vehicle-Highway Automation

Copenhagen, Oct 29, "Agenda of excellent one-day meeting"  Read more  Hmmmm…  Another excellent session organized by Richard Bishop.  Presentations available on-line. Each is very worth reviewing.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Urban Planning Guru Says Driverless Cars Won’t Fix Congestion Image

J. Markoff, Oct 27, "Peter Calthorpe thinks Silicon Valley has it all wrong. He rejects the ideas of tech industry visionaries who say personal autonomous vehicles will soon be the solution to urban problems like traffic congestion….

He is not opposed to autonomous vehicles. Mr. Calthorpe’s quarrel is with the idea that the widespread adoption of personally owned self-driving cars will solve transportation problems. In fact, he worries it will lead to more urban congestion and suburban sprawl….’  Read more  Hmmmm….  I agree 100%, except it is: "Self-driving Cars" Won’t Fix … (in fact make things worse).  HOWEVER, "Driverless Cars" will solve suburban and even large city congestion.  It will be a very long time, maybe never, that a Driverless cars will be sold to a consumer. They are "professional mobility machines" that need to be put to work by mobility providers that can readily deliver the required professional oversight and maintenance.  Consumers are totally unprepared to provide or accept this responsibility.  "Common Carriage Obligations" imparted by the public sector on the fleet operators will ensure that the congestion, energy, environmental and affordability aspects be achieved.   Alain

cid:<a”>  Uber’s Valuation Is Insane

S. Galloway, Oct 29, "The middle class is an accident. From the end of WWII to the introduction of Google, we’ve found cold comfort in the delusion that wages, dictated by supply and demand, could sustain the greatest source of good in history, the American middle class. They don’t, and they won’t. Piketty is right — wealth begets more wealth, and the top tiers of income earners are pulling away. …

There are 274M cars in operation in the US. Assuming they have an average value of $20K, we have cars forming a $5.39T asset base. This capital infrastructure registers 5% utilization. Uber figured out software that lets any one of us with a smartphone tap into a previously fallow $5.12T asset. It’s as if your smartphone could bring the U.S. Navy into your employ. I’d like to waterski behind the Nimitz Class Carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) in the Côte d’Azur in a speedo and tassels. What app is that?

Uber received proposals from investment banks that pegged the ride-hailing firm’s IPO valuation at $120B. So, that posits Uber’s value is greater than the value of the U.S. airline industry or the U.S. auto industry (excluding Tesla). I love Uber and think the firm is genius. But that valuation is insane….

Uber has 16K employees and 3M driver partners. “Driver partner” means some great things. It means you don’t have to show up to an office. And it means you can work whenever you want — this is key. When I speak to Uber drivers, I always ask, “Do you like working for Uber?” The overwhelming majority say yes and reference the flexibility. I’ve been especially struck by how many need the flexibility, as they’re taking care of someone who’s sick. …"    Read more  Hmmmm…. Very interesting.  My problem is that I don’t  believe that the gig economy scales.  Can anyone, with even the best app and best AI managers,  keep 10M independent driver partners happy? Doubtful!!   30M copies of some AI algorithm that  drives safely…No Problem!!!!        Alain

cid:<a”>  Why millions of lasers on a chip could be the future of lidar

T. Lee, Nov 8, "…What if, instead, you could put a lot of lasers onto a single chip? This not only brings down the cost per laser, it also eliminates the need for laborious laser alignment during final assembly, since lasers come pre-aligned….

"As the name suggests, surface-emitting lasers emit light perpendicular to the surface of the wafer. That means there’s no need to cut the wafer in any particular spot for the laser to be functional. And that, in turn, makes building dense arrays of VCSELs much easier.  "The VCSEL die in our laser truly is the size of a grain of rice," Pacala told Ars. "It’s producing all of the light that our sensors use to see out to hundreds of meters."

And Pacala says this 64-laser chip is just the beginning.

"It’s just like digital cameras getting higher and higher megapixel counts," he told us. "Your camera did not change in size or cost, but [designers] were able to pack more pixels in the same space. The exact same thing is happening with us. We’re going to be able to double, quadruple, 10x the resolution, without any change…."  Read more  Hmmmm….  Very interesting! Alain

cid:<a”>  Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning

M. Mitchell, Nov. 5, “…As someone who has worked in A.I. for decades, I’ve witnessed the failure of similar predictions of imminent human-level A.I., and I’m certain these latest forecasts will fall short as well. The challenge of creating humanlike intelligence in machines remains greatly underestimated. Today’s A.I. systems sorely lack the essence of human intelligence: understanding the situations we experience, being able to grasp their meaning. The mathematician and philosopher Gian-Carlo Rota famously asked, “I wonder whether or when A.I. will ever crash the barrier of meaning.” To me, this is still the most important question….

The bareheaded man needed a hat” is transcribed by my phone’s speech-recognition program as “The bear headed man needed a hat.” Google Translate renders “I put the pig in the pen” into French as “Je mets le cochon dans le stylo” (mistranslating “pen” in the sense of a writing instrument).

Programs that “read” documents and answer questions about them can easily be fooled into giving wrong answers when short, irrelevant snippets of text are appended to the document. Similarly, programs that recognize faces and objects, lauded as a major triumph of deep learning, can fail dramatically when their input is modified even in modest ways by certain types of lighting, image filtering and other alterations that do not affect humans’ recognition abilities in the slightest.

As the A.I. researcher Pedro Domingos noted in his book “The Master Algorithm,” “People worry that computers will get too smart and take over the world, but the real problem is that they’re too stupid and they’ve already taken over the world.”…"    Read more  Hmmmm…  I agree so very much, plus… the wrong questions are being asked.  The objective of AI should not be seeking perfection.  Seeking perfection causes a deep but very narrow perspective in "instantaneous" time.  Seeking robustness motivates a broad but not so deep perspective incurring imperfections most of which can be resolved on a hierarchical basis over time. I think that is how we work. Context is always important.  If I walk into my office and an elephant is actually in the room,. Initially I’m going to be confused about the elephant and likely many other things in my office. That confusion sets off a reasoning system at a "higher" level that attempts to resolve the situation over time. 

Intelligence is the process of resolving problems.  It is not just instantaneous recall or just some interpolation of instantiations. Neither should the artificial version, thereof.  Alain 

cid:<a”>   The very human challenge of safe driving

J. Krafcik, Nov 5, "At Waymo, our safety culture is core to everything we do. …

Recently, one of our vehicles was involved in a manual collision that injured a motorcyclist. While driving on El Camino Real in Mountain View, our test driver took control of the vehicle after seeing a passenger car to the left abruptly move towards our vehicle’s lane. Our driver responded by quickly moving the vehicle into the right lane. Unfortunately, our driver did not see that a motorcyclist had just moved from behind our vehicle into the right lane to pass us. As a result, our vehicle’s rear right bumper came into contact with the motorcycle. …

Our review of this incident confirmed that our technology would have avoided the collision by taking a safer course of action. …."   Read more  Hmmmm….  "Once again, humans are the problem.  … the Waymo AV, had just entered Lane 3 to overtake the Waymo AV on its right. …I’m sure Keith Code warns motorcyclist about passing on the right.  Read also Waymo blames self-driving collision on pesky human  Alain " 

cid:<a”>  Mercedes Benz & Bosch to Launch a Self-driving Taxi Service in San Jose

E. Walz, Nov 8, "A select group of riders in San Jose, California, will soon be able to hail a ride in a self-driving Mercedes Benz. The city was chosen as the pilot city for a new autonomous ride-hailing service. San Jose is the third largest city in California.  Daimler AG and automotive supplier Bosch are launching an autonomous taxi service that will shuttle passengers between West San Jose and the city’s downtown core, the two companies announced Thursday morning. Residents will have the opportunity to summon a self-driving car from a designated pick-up location, which will drive them automatically to their destination.

The companies are using using Daimler’s signature luxury vehicle—the Mercedes-Benz S-Class— for the pilot program, which is expected to begin in the second half of 2019…"  Read more  Hmmmm…. Very nice that these two firms that have done so much of the engineering of automated driving are getting together to use these mobility providing machines to actually provide mobility-as-a-service to many.  I hope that even though they are using a "signature luxury vehicle" to deliver the mobility, rather than let’s say a Sprinter,  doesn’t mean that their focus is on providing yet another option: Chauffeurless Chauffeur Services,  to San Jose 1%ers who already have more mobility that they can shake a stick at.  Hopefully they will seek to find and serve the most mobility disadvantaged in San Jose and deliver to them the quality of life enhancements that come from having the availability of the same 24/7 on-demand mobility enjoyed today by S-class owners living in San Jose.  Alain

cid:<a”>Antonio Brown Cited For Driving More Than 100 MPH Thursday Morning

D. Bryan, Nov 8, "
The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Carolina Panthers Thursday night at Heinz Field and already there’s a little bit of drama for the team ahead of that contest taking place thanks to wide receiver Antonio Brown.

According to KDKA-TV, Brown was cited for driving in excess of 100 mph on McKnight Road in Pittsburgh Thursday morning. According to the police report filed, Brown was heading south when he was pulled over between Babcock Boulevard and the Parkway and in an area where the posted speed limit is 45 mph…"  Read more  Hmmmm…. Not only was Antonio putting his own life in danger but, more importantly, that of innocent road users.   That is totally irresponsible of Antonio; however, Porsche is not an innocent bystander.  The way Porsche advertises its cars is largely about speed which is fine at Watkins Glen International but NOT on McKnight Road.  Moreover, Porsche has the technology that allows the car to know if it is on "McKnight Road" and not "Watkins Glenn" and can lock/unlock speed governors so as to not enable the "Antonio Browns" of this world to use Porsche’s technology to misbehave.  Unfortunately, Porsche hasn’t chosen to install such technology in their cars.  They’ve chosen to enable their cars to speed irresponsibly, created the ambiance that speed enhances manhood and absolve themselves of any responsibility for irresponsible usage.  Shouldn’t the police issue a summons to Porsche for enticing, enabling and not limiting irresponsible use of their consumer product?  Alain

cid:<a”>  Why Big Tech pays poor Kenyans to teach self-driving cars

D. Lee, Nov 3, "But it isn’t magic. It’s Brenda, a 26-year-old single mother who lives Kibera, Africa’s largest slum, and perhaps the toughest neighbourhood on earth, where hundreds of thousands of people live in a space not too much bigger than London’s Hyde Park.

Each day, Brenda leaves her home here to catch a bus to the east side of Nairobi where she, along with more than 1,000 colleagues in the same building, work hard on a side of artificial intelligence we hear little about – and see even less.

Brenda loads up an image, and then uses the mouse to trace around just about everything. People, cars, road signs, lane markings – even the sky, specifying whether it’s cloudy or bright. Ingesting millions of these images into an artificial intelligence system means a self-driving car, to use one example, can begin to "recognise" those objects in the real world. The more data, the supposedly smarter the machine.

She and her colleagues sit close – often too close – to their monitors, zooming in on the images to make sure not a single pixel is tagged incorrectly. Their work will be checked by a superior, who will send it back if it’s not up to scratch. For the fastest, most accurate trainers, the honour of having your name up on one of the many TV screens around the office. And the most popular perk of all: shopping vouchers…."  Read more  Hmmmm…. It is excellent that Brenda has a job and we all appreciate her most conscientious work ethic.  It is a good thing that we have Virtual Reality because we could never find enough "Brendas" to create all of the nuanced training sets to satisfy today’s AI for its insatiable need for pristine training sets.  Alain


A. Marshall, Nov 11, "IT WAS SNEAKILY a big week for driverless cars. Waymo, the Googley guys and gals who are supposed to be winning the self-driving race, officially received the very first California DMV permit to test their vehicles in the state—without a human behind the wheel. The company suggests it will welcome members of the Golden State public into its driverless … at some point. Meanwhile, Tesla is embroiled in another lawsuit over whether its Autopilot feature is being marketed the right way—that is, as not a driverless feature. (Pay attention to the road at all times, folks!) Meanwhile, it launched Navigate on Autopilot, a new capability that relies on using Tesla drivers as beta testers…"  Read more  Hmmmm….  Pretty much a summary of the few things that we’ve covered.  Alain 

cid:<a”>  House Election Results:

NY Times Staff, Nov 8, "…"  Read more  Hmmmm….  I put this here not for the content but as an excellent example on how to inter-active graphically present a large amount of complex data.  Mouse-over and dig in and especially toggle between "Map" & "Cartogram".  Alain

cid:<a”>  Three takeaways from the 10-Q report that Tesla just filed

R. Mitchell, Nov 2, "On Friday, Tesla released its official 10-Q financial report for the recently completed third quarter, adding detail to the profitable, cash-flow-positive preliminary report it issued Oct. 24.

Here are three big takeaways:

  • Government credits boosted earnings far more than first reported …
  • Some unidentified entity owes Tesla a lot of money…
  • The SEC has subpoenaed Tesla over Model 3 production… Read more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Layoffs, furloughs, auctions and shutdown at Faraday Future’s EV factory

F. Lambert, Nov 8, "Things are growing grimmer for Faraday Future as the company has had to shut down its electric vehicle factory in California.

Some employees have been laid off, others placed on furlough while the startup is trying to secure funding to save the company.
As we reported last month, it seemed like the startup was finally out of the woods after a large Chinese holding company promised a massive $2 billion investment in Faraday Future, but after a fallout with the investors, the company recently had to lay off employees and cut salaries.  FF is running out of cash again and it is looking for new investors.

But in the meantime, things are getting even more difficult for the company… "  Read more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla (TSLA) surpasses BMW’s valuation as one soars and the other slips

F. Lambert, Nov 8, "Tesla’s stock (TSLA) is surging since announcing record profits and the company is now worth more than BMW as the stock of the latter is slipping following disappointing financial results.
The California-based electric automaker’s market cap is now worth over $59 billion while BMW’s slipped below 49 billion euros ($55 billion) yesterday after it announced lower than anticipated profit for the last quarter.

While it’s hard to directly compare Tesla to other automakers because the company is more than an automaker due to its growing energy division, most of its revenue currently comes from its automotive business.

As a premium automaker, BMW is probably one of the best comparisons for Tesla.  But even though Tesla’s production increased significantly this year, the two automakers deal in completely different kinds of volume.  The BMW Group delivers over 2 million vehicles per year between all its brands while Tesla is currently producing vehicles at a rate of about 360,000 unit per year…"  Read more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Alain

cid:<a”>General Motors unveils electric bicycles that will arrive in 2019

N. Bomey, "It might sound counterintuitive for a car company to make a product that serves as an alternative to cars.  But that’s exactly what General Motors is doing.

GM has designed two electric bicycles and plans to sell them beginning in 2019.   The company joins ride-hailing app companies Uber and Lyft as well as rival automaker Ford in trying to capitalize on the surging market for bikes as a form of urban transportation…. "  Read more  Hmmmm…  eBike is NOT an alternative to a car and neither is a "Schwinn"  bike.  It is an alternative to walking, and not a very good one at that.  Just another toy to be left at the wayside along with your skateboard and Segway. Hopefully urban/suburban design will embrace walking and won’t let these things, including bikes, take over the sidewalks.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Ford gets into the scooter business, joins Bird and Lime

P. Howard, No 8, "he wildly popular Bird and Lime electric scooters will see a little competition in Detroit and other cities from Spin, a startup purchased by Ford Motor Co. for more than $40 million.  This is all about Ford’s comprehensive strategy to provide options for customers to buy, lease, taxi and — now — scooter a final mile or two to a destination.

Ford, which refers to the Spin scooters as “micro-mobility” because they provide travel for an average distance of less than 3 miles, is targeting college campuses and urban areas…"  Read more  Hmmmm…  Why not.  $40M to play is peanuts.  Alain

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

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Image removed by sender.

The End of Driving Workshop
Planning for Autonomous Vehicles Now

Dec 6, 2018
Mississauga, ON, Canada

imap:<a href=//”>

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

Catalog of Videos of Presentations @ 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
Photos from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

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

  On the More Technical Side