4th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, January 25, 2019

cid:<a”>Amazon tests autonomous vehicle for deliveries

R. Redman, Jan 23, " Inc. has begun field-testing a compact, self-driving delivery vehicle dubbed Amazon Scout. The e-tailing giant said Wednesday that six of the autonomous, all-electric vehicles — about the size of a small cooler and emblazoned with the Prime logo — are now making package deliveries in a neighborhood in Washington’s Snohomish County.

In the pilot, Amazon Scout will deliver packages Monday through Friday during daylight hours. The six-wheeled, self-guided vehicles roll along their delivery route at a walking pace but initially will be accompanied by an employee, according to Amazon. The company said it developed the device at its research-and-development lab in Seattle to ensure the vehicles can safely navigate around pedestrians, pets and other objects in their path…." Read more Hmmmm….  See video Makes so much more sense than drones.  Very beginning.  So potentially valuable to Amazon.  Of course they are in it to win it. Alain  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 86

F. Fishkin,  Jan. 25, "Here come Amazon’s autonomous delivery vehicles! Amazon, Waymo, GM, Apple, Aurrigo, Argo, Boeing, Uber and even MacLaren are up for discussion in Episode 86 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin."   Hmmmm…. Now you can just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay.  Alain

3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Save the Date; Reserve your Sponsorship  Starship Technologies’ robots begin delivering food to college kids

K. Wiggers, Jan. 22, "Starship Technologies, the Estonia-based robotics startup created in 2014 by Skype cofounders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis, is already ferrying food from kitchens to customers through partnerships with Domino’s in Germany, London food-delivery firm Just Eat, and DoorDash in the U.S. But starting today, that group is expanding to include the 40,000 students, faculty, and staff at George Mason University’s Fairfax campus….

As with Starship’s previous delivery pilots like that involving food service company Compass on Intuit’s Mountain View premises, its mobile app for iOS and Android facilitates the ordering process. Users choose which food or beverages they’d like, drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent, and unlock the robot’s storage compartment once they receive an alert indicating it’s arrived…."  Read more Hmmmm….  See video Same as Amazon’s, ???  IP battle looming???   All 6-wheeled vehicles (Cajun Bot) look alike???  Alain

cid:<a”>  Apple just dismissed more than 200 employees from Project Titan, its autonomous vehicle group

L. Kolodny, Jan 24, "Apple dismissed just over 200 employees this week from Project Titan, its stealthy autonomous vehicle group, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.

An Apple spokesperson acknowledged the layoffs and said the company still sees opportunity in the space:

"We have an incredibly talented team working on autonomous systems and associated technologies at Apple. As the team focuses their work on several key areas for 2019, some groups are being moved to projects in other parts of the company, where they will support machine learning and other initiatives, across all of Apple," the spokesperson said.

"We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever."…"   Read more Hmmmm…  A better way to put it… this is the easiest machine learning project that may actually deliver a substantial improvement in the quality of life of the  billions of people that today have to drive themselves and/or chauffeur others without receiving any compensation. Also, given how much there is to do and how hard it is to find people competent enough to help, it s surprising that anyone in this business would be getting rid of anyone.  Why did Apple hire these individuals in the first place??? Is there something else going on @ Apple???  Sounds like they’ve realized that Driverless Car/Truck customers are Businesses/Fleets and not consumers.  Apple is a B2C entity and not B2B nor a Supplier.  Apple must have thrown in the towel.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Waymo to build self-driving cars in Michigan

T Craig, Jan 25, "Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving vehicle unit is to build a plant in southeast Michigan dedicated to transforming vehicles into autonomous cars, the company has announced.  The new facility will be dedicated to mass production of level 4 autonomous vehicles, which can pilot themselves without a human driver under certain conditions, and will be the first such factory in the world, according to Waymo.

The vehicles will be used for Waymo’s ride-hailing services business, and the company is planning to work with auto supplier Magna International to install the Waymo self-driving system in vehicles manufactured by others…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Makes sense as long as the vehicles that they are going to be customizing are manufactured in Detroit.  Alain

cid:<a”>  The Argo AI Diaries Part 1: How I Crashed My Ford In The Garage Of A Self-Driving Car Company

A. Roy, Jan 22, "…I — the founder of the Human Driving Association, infamous critic of BS around autonomous cars and "New Mobility", blistering foe of those who confuse Tesla Autopilot with self-driving …Driverless….       , and merciless enemy of "Innovation Experts", "Radical Disruptors" and anyone with "Speaker" in their LinkedIn profile — was about to announce my new role as Director of Special Operations at Argo AI, a deliberately vague position at one of the world’s leading self-driving car companies, and the only one with the courage to bring my Brobdingnagian devil’s advocacy in-house.

There was only one problem. I needed a real car to use in Pittsburgh, at least for a few weeks. I just had a baby. I needed to lug stuff around. Argo’s headquarters is in Pittsburgh, 373 miles from my home in NYC. That’s 5 hours in a car I own, or 6 hours in one I don’t…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Enjoy!   Roy, Congrats on your new baby!!! Alain

cid:<a”>  Self Driving Car Quits   Self Driving Car Named Carl   Self Driving Car

 Hmmmm… More enjoyment!  Alain

cid:<a”>  Building a driverless future, An executive interview with GM’s Mandi Damman

D. Kelley, Jan. 4,  "… We sat down with Mandi Damman, GM’s chief engineer of autonomous vehicles, to discuss the journey to autonomous mobility. She shares her perspectives on challenges facing all automakers, GM’s innovations in autonomous vehicles, …

DELOITTE: Is the journey toward fully autonomous technology a stair-step approach where people are slowly adapting to individual safety features like automatic braking or adaptive cruise control, or do you see a more immediate, revolutionary shift at some point?

MD: We see two different, coexisting paths. Saturn, deja vu all over again ..  On one hand is the revolutionary shift we’re working on to develop the technology, software, and business model required for a fully autonomous rideshare service. On the other is more of an evolutionary change built on increasingly capable driver-assist technologies. … my emphasis  …

DELOITTE: Other than the technology built into the car, what are some of the other elements required to make fully autonomous vehicles a reality?

MD: Ensuring that we have adequate fleet management—including frequent safety checks—and data infrastructure in place will be essential. From there, it’s on us to have the back-office connections to make sure the computing, perception, and overall vehicle technology is working as intended…"  Read more Hmmmm… So good so far, but there may be one more element: "community relations that create and sustain a welcoming environment " that allows this technology to safely share our neighborhood streets  in order to successfully serve, the ride-sharing "communities".  This is fundamentally different from GM’s sweet spot of  selling fantasies in glistening showrooms supported by Mad Men.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Car Designers Show Off Futuristic Interiors for Tomorrow’s Self-Driving Vehicles

J. Bloom, Jan 25, "You step outside to the curb and summon a ride with an app on your phone — but in the self-driving future envisioned by Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, that’s where the familiar part ends…"  Read more Hmmmm… See video (top of article).  ?????  What will these interiors look like when the designers realize that Driverless cars are mobility machines that aren’t just for the 1%ers or SVDBs but mostly for plain folks trying to get somewhere. ???? Maybe they should be focused on enhancing the destination, since that’s why the ride-sharers are in the vehicle in first place??? Alain

cid:<a”>Driverless Cars Tap the Brakes After Years of Hype

T. Higgins, Jan 17, "At a command center near the airport here, executives from automotive supplier Aptiv APTV 1.64% PLC showed why deploying robot cars will be far more complicated than many envisioned just a few years ago.

With people in town for the annual CES tech show, Aptiv revealed its new operations with more than 300 people, rows of computer monitors and a 30-foot video screen. It’s all to track and keep a fleet of 75 autonomous cars operating. Thirty of those vehicles make up the 20-hours-a-day operation for passengers on Lyft Inc.’s app, taking riders across a 17-square-mile area around the Strip. Those cars already have made about 30,000 Lyft trips.

“What was underappreciated by the industry is how long and how difficult it would be to industrialize the technology,” said Karl Iagnemma, president of Aptiv’s autonomous mobility. “Industrywide that recognition has dawned.”

The hype that has consumed the nascent driverless-car industry over the past few years has moved into a new period of cautious optimism following the fatal crash of an Uber Technologies Inc. test autonomous vehicle last year and separate crashes involving Tesla Inc.’s driver-assistance system….

Kyle Vogt, Cruise’s chief technology officer, reiterated in an interview in Las Vegas last week that the company is on track to deploy the service without a human behind the wheel this year. But he also called for more reasoned discussions about the technology. He joined competitors at CES to mark the creation of an industry group dubbed PAVE, or Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, that aims to educate the public about the technology.

“I think 2019 will hopefully see the first signs of this technology being real,” he said. “I hope those initial launches manage to reset expectations.”"  Read more Hmmmm… No problem.  It is good that substance is dominating hype and the focus is shifting to business fundamentals rather than pigs with lipstick. Alain

cid:<a”>  Pod trials in Milton Keynes

Press Release, Oct ’18, "urrigo’s self-driving pods have been undergoing trials on pavements in Milton Keynes: As part of the UK Autodrive project, Milton Keynes Council has been working with Aurrigo to test out a new first/last mile transport solution for local people, shoppers and visitors to Milton Keynes…." Read more Hmmmm… Watch video.  Very interesting.  Alain

cid:<a”>McLaren imagines a futur e with AI co-piloted race cars

S. Dent, Jan. 24, "Formula One racing will be more like a video game in 30 years, according a fanciful vision of the future unleashed by supercar maker McLaren. According to its "MCLExtreme" research project (don’t try to pronounce that), future formula race cars will do everything short of flying. The cars, electric naturally, will run on Hot Wheels type tracks at up to 500 km/h (310 mph), pulling up to 5 Gs while taking 90 degree bends at 250 mph.

The electric racers would be powered via induction coils on the track directly into receiver coils on the wheels, built of a "self-repairing composite," natch. There would still be batteries on board, that could charge to 10-50 percent capacity in as little as 10 seconds. Instead of a pit stop, you might do a few laps in a charging lane that adds more or less power based on your speed, putting some strategy into play…." Read more Hmmmm… Interesting, Watch video (beginning is boring, Start 3 minutes in) Alain 

cid:<a”>  Automakers may have completely overestimated how many people want electric cars

M. Coren, Jan 25, "… While the transition to electric vehicles is virtually certain, the timing is anyone’s guess. Plug-in electric cars still represent just under 2% of the US market, and 2.2% worldwide. Despite exponential growth, with a record 2 million or so EVs sold worldwide last year, only one in 250 cars on the road is electric. Only Norway, which has lavished subsidies and perks on EVs, has seen the EV share of new car sales rise to around 30%….

The consulting firm Deloitte studied the dilemma this presents for the auto industry. How fast can carmakers invest in new electric technology while generating profits to make the transition? The firm expects 21 million battery electric vehicles to roll off assembly lines over the next decade as EV prices fall below comparable gasoline and diesel models by 2024.   But the rush to expand EV manufacturing capacity is predicted to produce a glut of EVs, undermining automakers’ bottom lines. “Our projections suggest that supply will vastly outweigh consumer demand by approximately 14 million units over the next decade,…"  Read more Hmmmm…  Range anxiety and Filler-up anxiety remain major hurdles for EVs even if the price falls below gasoline.  Hopefully  folks won’t realize that these cars are actually using electricity that keeps open coal power plants.  EVs are the marginal users of electricity.  Coal plants are the marginal producer.  (No one is spamming me to convert my gas water heater, dryer and heating systems to electricity; else, more coal.  Hopefully the rapid rise in the use of electric aTaxi systems will coincide with the complete transition of electric power generation away from coal.   A lot of work needs to be done on both fronts.)  Alain

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

cid:<a”>Boeing’s flying car lifts off in race to revolutionize urban travel

E. Johnson, Jan 23, "Boeing Co <BA.N> said on Wednesday its flying car prototype hovered briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight, a small but significant step as the world’s largest planemaker bids to revolutionize urban transportation and parcel delivery services.

Boeing is competing with arch-rival Airbus SE <AIR.PA> and numerous other firms to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

The investments, fueled by leaps in autonomous technology as much as frustration with road congestion, could change the face of the aerospace industry within the next decade…"   Read more Hmmmm…  Worse than Half-baked but not quite C’mon Man!  Maybe to replace your chopper (Real advantage is No Driveshaft to tail rotor).  Else, use Skype. Alain

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

cid:<a”>  Why Uber wants to build scooters and bikes that can drive themselves

T. Lee, Jan. 21, "Uber is looking to hire people to help it develop autonomous scooter and bike technology, according to Wired-editor-turned-robotics-entrepreneur Chris Anderson. The goal would be to allow bikes and scooters to "drive themselves to charging or better locations." People interested in joining the project can fill out this form…."  Read more Hmmmm… I understand what Uber wants… anything that boosts its IPO, but C’mon man!!  It is bad enough that ScooterHoles run down pedestrian.  Can you imagine an army of them racing by you, all by themselves, to the nearest charging station??? C’mon man!  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

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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

September 4-6, 2019
Pocono Manor, PA

  On the More Technical Side