J. Markoff, Aug 5, " A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project.
Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University research scientist, joined Google in 2009 to help create the then-secret effort. …Mr. Urmson has been unhappy with the direction of the car project under Mr. Krafcik’s leadership and quarreled privately several months ago with Larry Page over where it was headed, according to two former Google employees….
Mr. Urmson said he had not decided what he will do next. “If I can find another project that turns into an obsession and becomes something more, I will consider myself twice lucky,” he wrote. Read more Hmmm…Very unfortunate. What a great job he has done. All the best. Alain
Press Release, July 28, "HERE, the location cloud company, today announced that it has appointed Ralf Herrtwich to lead the company’s fast-growing Automotive Business Group.
In his role, Herrtwich will focus on bringing the power of HERE’s Open Location Platform into vehicles as well as accelerating the deployment of location technologies to support autonomous driving.
He will start at HERE in the position of Senior Vice President and member of the HERE leadership team on October 1. Read more Hmmm…Very unfortunate for Daimler. What a great job he has done. All the best at HERE. Alain
A. Ohnsman, July 20, "researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say widespread adoption of some of the building-block technologies needed for fully autonomous vehicles, short of the artificial intelligence, steering controls and advanced sensors they also use, can meaningfully and affordably reduce collisions and road fatalities.In particular, three partially automated crash avoidance features – blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and forward collision-warning systems – can be particularly effective in reducing nearly a quarter of U.S. vehicle collisions annually, say the authors of the just-issued study. Read more Hmmm…Very interesting. Also see read full paper by Harper & Hendrickson. This is what is gained by just the warning systems. What additional savings can be gained with Automated versions and when will their costs go down such that they will actually be cheaper than the insurance LOSS that they avoid? Alain
Washington Post, B. Fung, Aug. 2, "What policies should govern a self-driving car when it’s faced with an imminent crash — and should it prioritize the lives of the passengers sitting inside, or the many other people outside who may be affected by it?
It’s a complex question, one that people tend to answer differently depending on the circumstance. But some engineers are trying to approach it by showcasing several ways a driverless car could handle an object in the road.
In a new video, Stanford University researchers show that by tweaking their driverless car’s algorithm, they can get it to respond to an obstacle using three distinct tactics…." Read more Hmmm…Yup, especially, see video. Alain
D. Etherington Aug. 8 "Comma.ai, the startup that George Hotz (aka Geohotz) founded to show that making driverless vehicles could done relatively cheaply using off-the-shelf components and existing vehicles, has open-sourced a dataset of 7.25 hours of highway driving….Hotz emphasized that what comma.ai wants to do by open-sourcing data sets like this one is to enable the hobbyist community to accomplish more without having to do fairly basic, but time-consuming and resource-intensive work of collecting basic driving data for use in training machine learning systems. He points to DeepDrive, a self-driving car system which uses neural nets to drive virtual cars in Grand Theft Auto V as a prime example of the kinds of people they’re looking to help…" Read more Hmmm…Very interesting. Alain
"The Oxford Robotcar dataset contains over 100 repetitions of a consistent route through Oxford, UK, captured over a period of over a year. The dataset captures many different combinations of weather, traffic and pedestrians, along with longer term changes such as construction and roadworks." Read more Hmmm…Very valuable. Alain
E. Makuch, Aug 8, "Pokemon Go has been available for a month now–and what a month it was. Now, a new report estimates that the free game has raked in more than $200 million from its microtransactions over its first 32 days…" Read more Hmmm…But how many car crashes has it cost society? Now even more driver distractions. Alain
USA Today, July 14, "A driver was injured Tuesday night in Auburn after crashing while playing Pokémon Go
Auburn Police responded to an accident around 10:45 p.m. ET to find a vehicle that had gone off the road and struck a tree. The driver admitted to actively playing the Pokémon Go game while driving, which caused him to be distracted…" Read more Hmmmm…. Just stupid. Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
F. Manjoo, Aug 1, "Travis Kalanick, the co-founder and chief executive of the ride-hailing giant Uber, often defended his eagerness to risk billions on winning the Chinese market with a simple question: If you have a chance to become Amazon and Alibaba at the same time, why not try?
The implication was simple. Over the last couple of decades, Amazon, Facebook, Google and other American technology giants have each followed a similar script for world domination. Like an imperial armada rolling out from North America’s West Coast, these companies would try to establish beachheads on every other continent.
But when American giants tried to enter the waters of China, the world’s largest internet market, the armada invariably ran aground.
Plagued by opaque and ever-shifting regulations and a culturally abstruse way of doing business, American companies fell to a series of local giants. Instead of Google, Baidu. Instead of Facebook, WeChat, owned by the giant Tencent. And instead of Amazon, Alibaba.
That has left us with a divide: Today, there is the Chinese internet, and there is the internet of the rest of the world. A network seen in its early days as a tool to foster financial and political unity across a fragmented planet has irrevocably cleaved into two completely separate spheres…Read more Hmmm…Most interesting. Also read Uber to Sell to Rival Didi Chuxing and Create New Business in China Alain
Google Netherlands"This spring, Google is introducing the self-driving bicycle in Amsterdam, the world’s premier cycling city. The Dutch cycle more than any other nation in the world, almost 900 kilometres per year per person, amounting to over 15 billion kilometres annually. The self-driving bicycle enables safe navigation through the city for Amsterdam residents, and furthers Google’s ambition to improve urban mobility with technology. Google Netherlands takes enormous pride in the fact that a Dutch team worked on this innovation that will have great impact in their home country. See Video Hmmm…Enjoy every 1st of April. Alain
L. Vinsel, July 21, "On a cool December day in 1925, Charles Adler Jr. stood beside Falls Road, a state highway on Baltimore’s north side. He was there to test his latest invention: an electromagnetic apparatus that would automatically slow cars traveling at unsafe speeds. Adler had embedded magnetic plates in the road where it led into a precarious curve, and he was now waiting for a specially prepared car to drive over the magnets. The magnets would activate a speed governor connected to the vehicle’s engine, slowing it to 24 kilometers per hour…." Read more Hmmm…Very interesting. Alain
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
"Earlier this year, a concept for a public transport bus that straddles traffic emerged. Named the Transit Elevated Bus or “TEB,” the futuristic vehicle debuted as a scale model at the Beijing International High-Tech Expo in May. Well now, a real-life functioning TEB has been built for trial purposes, with its first test run held on Tuesday in the northeastern city of Qinhuangdao, in the Hebei province…"Read more Hmmm…See video and sure hope a garbage truck doesn’t come along. Alain
Older stuff that I had missed:
Videos that I couldn’t find last issue:
Mercedes-Benz "Future Commercial"
Mercedes Vision Self Driving Car World Premiere
Take a look at the self-driving Mercedes E-Class in action
Mercedes-Benz Concept Car Powered by NVIDIA DRIVE at CES 2016
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Aug 3, "…Business Insider notes that the researchers from Morgan Stanley believe that drivers could consume even more than one extra drink per week if they reside in cities where shared mobility is accessible. The circumstances would imply more self-driving cars on the roads, as well as the possibility of hailing self-driving ride-sharing services. According to Morgan Stanley researchers, autonomous vehicle technology will go through a significant leap beyond 2025, which will bring greater opportunities for the alcoholic beverage market…" Don’t read more Hmmm…This isn’t even C’mon Man. It’s just stupid. Alain
Tech Insider, D. Muoio, Aug 2, "The hack lets Jeff drive his Tesla to locations where Pokémon have been spotted and easily catch them on his giant screen. Except there is one minor problem: he can only catch the Pokémon when the car is in reverse since the only camera is in the back bumper. …" Don’t read more Hmmm…Just more stupid stuff. Please STOP! Alain
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Recent Highlights of:
M. Ramsey, July 26, " A key supplier of semiautonomous car technology ended a supply agreement with Tesla Motors Inc. following a high-profile traffic fatality in May involving one of the Silicon Valley company’s electric vehicles.
Mobileye NV said it would no longer provide its computer chips and algorithms to Tesla after a current contract ends due to disagreements about how the technology was deployed. Mobileye provides core technology for Tesla’s Autopilot system, which allows cars to drive themselves in limited conditions….Read more Hmmm….Very interesting!! Alain
And in Mobileye’s Short Trip with Tesla : D. Gallagher, July 26, "In the emerging business of autonomous driving, even the safer road isn’t free of potholes….In explaining its move, Mobileye suggested that protecting its reputation was at least part of the rationale. Below is what the company said on the call:… Read moreHmmm….And why in all of this isn’t there a discussion of Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) technology/suppliers?? There must be no consumer/regulatory appeal to AEB? Alain
E. Musk, July 20 "…Integrate Energy Generation and Storage
Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app….
Expand to Cover the Major Forms of Terrestrial Transport…
With the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck, we plan to address most of the consumer market. A lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary, because of the third part of the plan described below.
What really matters to accelerate a sustainable future is being able to scale up production volume as quickly as possible. That is why Tesla engineering has transitioned to focus heavily on designing the machine that makes the machine — turning the factory itself into a product….In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla…With the advent of autonomy, it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager. Traffic congestion would improve due to increased passenger areal density by eliminating the center aisle and putting seats where there are currently entryways, and matching acceleration and braking to other vehicles, thus avoiding the inertial impedance to smooth traffic flow of traditional heavy buses. It would also take people all the way to their destination. Fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops would serve those who don’t have a phone. Design accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.
As the technology matures, all Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely. It is important to emphasize that refinement and validation of the software will take much longer than putting in place the cameras, radar, sonar and computing hardware.
Even once the software is highly refined and far better than the average human driver, there will still be a significant time gap, varying widely by jurisdiction, before true self-driving is approved by regulators….I should add a note here to explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future. The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability….It is also important to explain why we refer to Autopilot as "beta"….
When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination. You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on… Read more Hmmm….This is a chock-full vision that sounds pretty good me (and doesn’t have a mention of DSRC, V2V or V2x 🙂 ); except, do I really want to invest to become a "Tesla (AirBnB) Host" or simply use the "Mobility-on-Demand Transit System" (MoDTS) that Tesla or ALK or ???? (unfortunately NJ Transit, the obvious MoDTS operator, will pass.) Alain
S. Musil, July 12, "The most recent crash involved a Model X near the small town of Whitehall, Montana, on Sunday morning, according to the Detroit Free Press. Neither the driver nor the passenger was injured in the single-vehicle crash, the Montana Highway Patrol told the newspaper….The car failed to detect an obstacle in the road, according to a thread posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum by someone who said they’re a friend of the driver. The thread included photos showing the damage to the vehicle.
Tesla said Tuesday that it appears the driver in the crash was using the system improperly.
"As road conditions became increasingly uncertain, the vehicle again alerted the driver to put his hands on the wheel. He did not do so and shortly thereafter the vehicle collided with a post on the edge of the roadway," the spokesman said. He added that the Autopilot feature was being used on an undivided mountain road despite being designed for use on a divided highway in slow-moving traffic….Read more Hmmm….Interesting that Tesla didn’t say that the car began to slow down (as it is supposed to if the driver does not put his/her hand back on the wheel!!!!???? (The "lane-centering" should NOT turn off if the driver does not respond (I believe the Mercedes "997 package" turns off lane-centering if you don’t respond to the buzzer 🙁 (However, since the lane centering on my 2014 S-550 only works if the lane is essentially perfectly straight, and Mercedes has never made an effort to fix/update my software, I rarely take my hands off the wheel. The system is so poor that I can’t tell if lane-centering is just not working or the buzzer turned it off. 🙁 )) , What should happen is that the car should turn on its emergency flashers, slow down at a rate that is proportional to the quality of the road conditions and once it reaches a slow enough speed have the capability to determine if a lane change to the right (in US and …) is safe or a clear shoulder to the right is available. If so, make the lane change and come to a complete stop, all the while announcing to the driver what the system is doing because hands have not been put back on the wheel. After stopping, "AutoPilot" should then turned off as should "AutoPilot" privileges until a "Tesla" representative resets the system. If that doesn’t convince the driver to put "hands-on-wheel", then the car has just averted a possible catastrophe associated with a comatose driver. Alain
Editorial Board, July 11, "A recent fatal crash in Florida involving a Tesla Model S is an example of how a new technology designed to make cars safer could, in some cases, make them more dangerous. These risks, however, could be minimized with better testing (Hmmm….Yes!) and regulations (Still too early, we don’t know enough, yet)…Tesla’s electric cars are not self-driving, but when the Autopilot system is engaged it can keep the car in a lane, adjust its speed to keep up with traffic and brake to avoid collisions. Tesla says audio and visual alerts warn drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and watch the road. If a driver is unresponsive to the alerts, the car is programmed to slow itself to a stop.
Such warnings aren’t sufficient, though; some Tesla drivers, as shown in videos on YouTube, have even gotten into the back seat while the car was moving. Such reckless behavior threatens not just the drivers but everyone else on the road, too. (Absolutely!)… If that system (V2V) had been in place, Mr. Brown might have survived. (Sure, but Mr Brown would have had to wait more than his normal expected life span before that system would have been adopted by more than 70% of all vehicles for it to have better than a "coin flip" chance of helping him. What would have helped Mr. Brown is if the Automated Emergency Braking system worked on his Tesla, or if the truck driver had seen him coming (not become distracted) and had not "failed to yield". ) Federal officials could take lessons from the history of airbags and the lack of strong regulations. (This is a VERY appropriate and relevant lesson!)… The agency does not yet have regulations for driverless cars or cars that have driver assistance systems. But when officials do put rules in place, they will have to update them regularly as they learn about how the technology works in practice. Automation should save lives. But nobody should expect these vehicles to be risk-free. (This is very wise. They should also immediately focus on Automated Emergency Braking systems which are the foundation of any Self-driving or Driverless systems. ) Read more Hmmm….Comments in-line above. Alain
May 7 Crash
Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):
1. On May 7, 2016 at about 4:40pm EDT, there was a crash between a Tesla and a Class 8 Tractor-Trailer. The accident is depicted in the Diagram from the Police Report: HSMV Crash Report # 85234095. (1) Google Earth images from the site.
2. The driver of the Tesla was Joshua Brown. "No citations have been issued, but the initial accident report from the FHP indicates the truck driver "failed to yield right-of-way."" (2) . Hmmm….No Citations??? Did the truck have a data recorder? Was the truck impounded, if so, how is the truck driver making a living since the crash? Why was his truck not equipped with sensors that can warn him of collision risks at intersections? As I’ve written, driving is one of the most dangerous occupations. Why isn’t OSHA concerned about improving the environment of these workers? Why doesn’t ATRI (the American Trucking Association’s research arm recognize the lack availability/adoption of "SmartDrivingTruck technology" as one of its Critical Issues? Why didn’t his insurance agent encourage/convince him to equip his truck with collision risk sensors. If they aren’t commercially available, why hasn’t his insurance company invested/promoted/lobbied for their development? These low-volume rural highway intersections are very dangerous. Technology could help.
"…(the truck driver)…said he saw the Tesla approaching in the left, eastbound lane. Then it crossed to the right lane and struck his trailer. "I don’t know why he went over to the slow lane when he had to have seen me,” he said…." (2) . Hmmm….If the driver saw the Tesla change lanes, why did he "failed to yield right-of-way"???
"…Meanwhile, the accident is stoking the debate on whether drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security by such technology. A man who lives on the property where Brown’s car came to rest some 900 feet from the intersection where the crash occurred said when he approached the wreckage 15 minutes after the crash, he could hear the DVD player. An FHP trooper on the scene told the property owner, Robert VanKavelaar, that a "Harry Potter" movie was showing on the DVD player, VanKavelaar told Reuters on Friday.
Another witness, Terence Mulligan, said he arrived at the scene before the first Florida state trooper and found "there was no movie playing." "There was no music. I was at the car. Right at the car," Mulligan told Reuters on Friday.
Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said on Friday that "there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," but wouldn’t elaborate further on it. She also said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage….
…Mulligan said he was driving in the same westbound direction as the truck before it attempted to make a left turn across the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 27 Alternate when he spotted the Tesla traveling east. Mulligan said the Tesla did not appear to be speeding on the road, which has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, according to the FHP…." (2) .
3. "…the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents…" (3). Not sure how Tesla knows what Joshua Brown saw or did not see. Events prior to the crash unfolded over many seconds. Tesla must have precise data on the car’s speed and steering angle, video for those many seconds prior to the crash, as well as, what it was "seeing" from MobilEye’s cameras and radar data. At no time prior to the crash did it see anything crossing its intended travel lane? More important, why didn’t the truck driver see the Tesla? WHAT WAS HE DOING? What was the truck doing. How slow was it going? Hopefully there was a data speed recorder on the truck. Was the truck impounded, if so, how is the truck driver making a living since the crash?
One can also ask: Why was the truck not equipped with sensors that can warn the driver of collision risks at intersections? As I’ve written, driving is one of the most dangerous occupations. Why isn’t OSHA concerned about improving this workplace environment? Why doesn’t ATRI (the American Trucking Association’s research arm) recognize the lack availability/adoption of "SmartDrivingTruck technology" as one of its Critical Issues? Why didn’t the driver’s insurance agent encourage/convince him to equip his truck with collision risk sensors. If they aren’t commercially available, why hasn’t his insurance company invested/promoted/lobbied for their development? These low-volume rural highway intersections are very dangerous. Technology could help.
While the discussion is about AutoPilot, the Tesla also has Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) which is supposed to always be on. This seems more like an AEB failure rather than an AutoPilot failure. The Tesla didn’t just drive off the road, The discussion about "hands-on-wheels" is irrelevant. What was missing was "foot-on-brake" by the Tesla driver and "eyes-on-road" by, most importantly, the truck driver, since he initiated an action in violation to "rules of the road" that may have made a crash unavoidable.
3. "Problem Description: A fatal highway crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S which, according to Tesla, was operating with automated driving systems (“Autopilot”) engaged, calls for an examination
of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash." (4). Not to be picky, but the initiator of the crash was the failure to yield by the truck driver. Why isn’t this human failure the most fundamental "Problem Description"? If "driving aids" were supposed to "bail out" the truck driver’s failure to yield, why isn’t the AEB system’s "design and performance" being examined. AutoPilot’s responsibility is to keep the Tesla from steering off the road (and, as a last resort, yield to the AEB). The focus should be on AEBs. How many other Tesla drivers have perished that didn’t have AutoPilot on, but had AEB? How many drivers have perished of other cars that have AEB? Seems as if this crash was more about an emergency automated systems failing to apply the brakes, rather than a driver not having his hands-on-wheel. Unfortunately, it is likely that we will eventually have a fatality in which an "AutoPilot" will fail to keep a "Tesla" on the road (or in a "correct" lane), but from what is known so far, this does not seem to be the crash.
4. "What we learn here is that Mobileye’s system in Tesla’s Autopilot does gather the information from the vehicle’s sensors, primarily the front facing camera and radar, but while it gathers the data, Mobileye’s tech can’t (or not well enough until 2018) recognize the side of vehicles and therefore, itcan’t work in a situation where braking is required to stop a Tesla from hitting the side of another vehicle.
Since Tesla pushed its 7.1 update earlier this year, the automaker’s own system used the same data to recognize anything, under adequate conditions, that could obstruct the path of the Tesla and if the radar’s reading is consistent with the data from the camera, it will apply the brakes.
Now that’s something that was put to the test by Model S owners earlier in the week:" (4). See video, "In the last two tests, the Autopilot appears to detect an obstacle as evidenced by the forward collision warning alerts, but the automatic emergency braking didn’t activate, which raised questions – not unlike in the fatal crash.
Though as Tesla explained, the trailer was not detected in the fatal crash, the radar confused it for an overhead sign, but in the tests above, the forward collision warning system sent out an alert – though as evidenced by the fact that the test subject wasn’t hit, the AEB didn’t need to activate and therefore it didn’t. Tesla explains:
“AEB does not engage when an alternative collision avoidance strategy (e.g., driver steering) remains viable. Instead, when a collision threat is detected, forward collision warning alerts the driver to encourage them to take appropriate evasive action. AEB is a fallback safety feature that operates by design only at high levels of severity and should not be tested with live subjects.”…" Read more (5) With all of the expertise that MobilEye has in image processing, it is surprising that it can’t recognize the side of a tractor trailer or gets confused with overhead signs and tunnel openings. If overhead signs (and overpasses and tree canopies) are really the issue, then these can be readily geocoded and included in the digital map database.)
5. It seems that all of the other stuff about DVD player, watching movies, previous postings on YouTube is noise. Automated Collision Avoidance Systems and their Automated Emergency Braking sub-system MUST be more robust a mitigating "failed to yield right-of-way" situations irrespective of the "failure to yield" derived from a human action (as seems to have occurred in this crash) or an "autoPilot" (which doesn’t seem to be the case in this crash). Alain
(1) Self-Driving Tesla Was Involved in Fatal Crash, U.S. Says, June 30 NYT,
(2) DVD player found in Tesla car in fatal May crash, July 1, Reuters
(3) A Tragic Loss, June 30, Tesla Blog
(5) Tesla elaborates on Autopilot’s automatic emergency braking capacity over Mobileye’s system Electrek, July 2, 2016 See also: Understanding the fatal Tesla accident on Autopilot and the NHTSA probe July 2, 2016, Tesla Autopilot partner Mobileye comments on fatal crash, says tech isn’t meant to avoid this type of accident [Updated], July 1,Sunday, May 15, 2016
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
Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities
U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles
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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