Blog, June 30, “We learned yesterday evening that NHTSA is opening a preliminary evaluation into the performance of Autopilot during a recent fatal crash that occurred in a Model S. This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated…
The customer who died in this crash had a loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss. He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community, a person who spent his life focused on innovation and the promise of technology and who believed strongly in Tesla’s mission. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.” Read more I also wish to extend my deepest and sincerest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends. Alain
B. Vlasic & N. Boudette, June 30. “Federal regulators, who are in the early stages of setting guidelines for autonomous vehicles, have opened a formal investigation into the incident, which occurred on May 7 in Williston, Fla ….said preliminary reports indicated that the crash occurred when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of the Tesla, and the car failed to apply the brakes.
Florida Highway Patrol identified him as Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio. He was a Navy veteran who owned a technology consulting firm….” Read more Hmmm…Thank you NYT for providing more information on Joshua Brown.
What is interesting here is that failure is being attributed to the AutoPilot aspects rather than the Automated Collision Avoidance (ACA) aspects of the car. Yes, ACA is a building block of AutoPilot, but it is a system that is supposed to be on all the time and can not, and should not, be disabled by the driver. (Similar to the anti-lock mechanism in brakes and electronic stability control. The information made available so far does NOT implicate AutoPilot’s driverless “Summoning” , lane changing function, nor lane centering functions. It’s Intelligent Cruise Control at some point was challenged, but probable failure may lie in the ACA (which one would like to think is on all the time). To date ACA systems have unfortunately over-promised and under-delivered. All one need to do is to look at the videos in slide 9 of David Zuby’s presentation at last week’s I-95 CC AV Conference. The manufacturer-selected settings for these systems are too timidly set in the trade-off between “false-alarm” and “crash anyway”. They also need to be improved, ( which is true of all technology developments). We fail, we learn, we fix , we improve. (We certainly don’t do what GM did with the ignition switch issue .). Zuby’s following slides highlight that these first generation ACAs do deliver some crash avoidance value but they should, and very likely can, work much better. What I haven’t seen published is information on highway deaths involving vehicles that had ACA. There must be many. It may well be that this accident is another one of those and not one in which the Sunday Supplement vision of “Self-driving” is to blame just because it happened to be on at crash time. (It is likely that EgyptAir 804’s autopilot was on when it began to fall out of the sky on May 19; however, it is not likely that its autopilot played a significant role in its crash.)
A couple other things: We have all expected this day to come because we know that nothing is perfect. I am sure that Tesla and Google and everyone else in this field have developed, rehearsed and practiced contingency plans associated with this kind of event. It surprises me that Tesla’s plan would be one to wait nearly 2 month and follow rather than lead some announcement by some public agency. It may be that Tesla doesn’t correlate this crash with “self-driving” but with something else so it didn’t fit into the contingency. Don’t know (it doesn’t really matter anyway, just surprised.).
The other thing is: why is NHTSA doing the formal investigation? (We know the textbook answer!) and not NTSB (NTSB has experience in investigating transportation crashes that involve “autoPilots” and “blackBoxes”, both of which are involved in this case.) or some new public entity (there are arguments that can be made that have “Self-driving” and “Driverless” as new “modes” that deserve their own public oversight as is afforded to aviation, pipelines, railroads, trucks, …)
Finally, we have had many tragedies, learned from them, fixed things and achieved the benefits that we sought. This does not reach the levels of the Apollo 1 and Challenger tragedies nor require that intensive of an investigation. The Amtrak 188 Philadelphia Derailment comes closer. This case certainly deserves as intense of an investigation as was made there (without the conclusion “throwing the train engineer under the bus“.) Alain
Survey: New Yorkers and Californians Ready for Autonomous Cars; Texas and Pennsylvania Residents Skeptical
Press release, June 29, “Nine out of ten New Yorkers and 86 percent of residents in California feel that autonomous cars could make life easier, according to Volvo Cars’ Future of Driving survey, the largest online consumer conversation about autonomous driving to date with nearly 50,000 responses worldwide.
Residents in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas are less convinced than the average consumer about the safety benefits of autonomous driving. Only about half (52 percent) of Illinois respondents would trust an autonomous car to make decisions about safety, 10 percent less than the national average. Similarly, only 62 percent of Pennsylvanians think that having more autonomous cars on the road will eliminate traffic accidents versus a national average of 68 percent, and 60 percent of Texans believe autonomous cars could keep their family safer compared to 69 percent of people across the nation…. “Read more Hmmm…Also go to https://www.futureofdriving.com/ to participate in the survey.”. Alain
A. Schmitt, June 24 “Self-driving cars are coming, and maybe sooner than we think. But the question of how they will shape cities is still wide open. Could they lead to less traffic and parking as people stop owning cars and start sharing them? More sprawl as car travel becomes less of a hassle? More freedom to walk and bike on city streets, or less?… a statement of policy recommendations to guide the deployment of autonomous cars in cities [PDF]….” Read more Hmmm…Good recommendations, but they need to also extend beyond “Self-driving’ to “Driverless”. Alain
Press release, June 29, “– HERE… today announced a significant step forward in efforts to drive a global standard for vehicle-to-cloud data –HERE has now submitted the design for a universal data format called SENSORIS to ERTICO – ITS Europe, the European public/private partnership for intelligent transport systems, which has agreed to continue as an Innovation Platform to evolve it into a standardized interface specification for use broadly across the automotive industry…
HERE believes that pooling analogous vehicle data from millions of vehicles will be a key enabler for highly and fully automated driving, ensuring that each vehicle has a near real-time view of road conditions and hazards that can lead to better driving decisions ”..” Read more Hmmm…Big issue is who becomes “Big Brother” in this “Nineteen Eighty-Four“. Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
C. Said, June 27, “…Now the state is considering having the California State Transportation Agency take over implementation and enforcement of those rules, as well as crafting new ones….”Read more Hmmm…???? More bureaucracy 🙁 . Alain
Recompiled Old News & Smiles:
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
D. Newcomb, June 19, “…Now, according to Maeil Business News Korea, Uber wants to partner with Hyundai on the development of self-driving technology in the automaker’s home country, and is also poised to place an order for a huge number of Hyundai vehicles. …” Read more Hmmm…Uber need “Driverless” not “Self-Driving” BIG difference. Why are they wasting their time???? Some other game is being played. Alain
Tianjin, June 27, “Search engine giant Baidu plans to mass-produce driverless cars in five years, said company president Zhang Yaqin on Monday…” Read more Hmmm…Either poor translation or Zang Yaqin doesn’t appreciate the the capabilities needed for “Driverless”. He must mean “Self-driving” . Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Thursday, June 30, 2016,
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM (UTC-5:00) Eastern Time (US & Canada)
Recent Highlights of:
E. Griffith, June 24, “…Also, he’s hit the decoy plenty of times. In 2012 he even did it in front of Ford’s board of directors. Back then the idea of self-driving cars looked, to Ford’s leadership, like a frivolous Silicon Valley moonshot. Four years later things have dramatically changed. Today Ford’s vehicle lineup features more than 30 options for semiautonomous features, including the automatic brakes I tested, and the company is aggressively working on cars that fully drive themselves. By year-end the company expects to have the largest fleet of autonomous test vehicles of any automaker.
Ford is not alone. The entire automotive industry is in the midst of a radical transformation that is reshaping the very definition of what it means to be a car company. There is hype, hope, fear, and insecurity—and at the center of it all is the self-driving car. Thanks to cheap sensors, powerful machine-learning technology, and a kick in the butt from the likes of Google and Tesla Motors , driverless vehicles are becoming a sooner-than-you-think reality….” Read more Hmmm…A very good summary of where the industry stands with respect to Self-driving; however, it really doesn’t address Driverless, (autonomousTaxi (aTaxi) shared-ride on-demand transit). It makes no mention of the low-speed Easy Mile, 2GetThere, CityMobil2 approaches. Fortune is still seeing a personal car future and not a Mobility-on-Demand future. That would be way too disruptive. See also the intro video Alain
J. DeAngelis, June 15, “…autonomous vehicles (AVs) also stand to disrupt the norms of both transportation and land use planning. According to a new report from the Florida State University Department of Urban & Regional Planning titled Envisioning Florida’s Future: Transportation and Land Use in an Automated Vehicle World, AVs may exert as great an influence on the built environment as the mass production of the automobile did in the early to middle 20th century.
Parking minimums, street design, rights of way, development demand, signage and signalization, building siting and design, access management, and their accompanying norms and standards have the potential to change dramatically over the next 40-50 years.a…” Read more Hmmm…. Land-use implications are THE big unknowns. See report next. Alain
M Richtel, May 22, ” Roadway fatalities are soaring at a rate not seen in 50 years, resulting from crashes, collisions and other incidents caused by drivers.
Just don’t call them accidents anymore.
That is the position of a growing number of safety advocates, including grass-roots groups, federal officials and state and local leaders across the country. They are campaigning to change a 100-year-old mentality that they say trivializes the single most common cause of traffic incidents: human error. “When you use the word ‘accident,’ it’s like, ‘God made it happen,’ ” Mark Rosekind, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said at a driver safety conference this month at the Harvard School of Public Health. “In our society,” he added, “language can be everything.”
Almost all crashes stem from driver behavior like drinking, distracted driving and other risky activity. About 6 percent are caused by vehicle malfunctions, weather and other factors….” Read more Hmmm… I should have started the last issue of SDC with this article. Mark is absolutely correct here. Language matters and it is NOT an accident. it is a Total Poop Show!. Alain
Public meeting of May 17 “… Executive Summary…This report addresses the following safety issues:
- Crewmember situational awareness and management of multiple tasks.…
- Positive train control. In the accident area, positive train control had not yet been implemented at the time of the accident, but it has since been implemented. The NTSB found that the accident could have been avoided if positive train control or another control system had been in place to enforce the permanent speed restriction of 50 mph at the Franklin Junction curve.
- … Read more
Hmmm… Kudos to NTSB for finding “…the accident could have been avoided if positive train control or another control system had been in place to enforce...”
HOWEVER, given that PCT was mandated by Congress in 2008 with a deadline of December 15, 2015 and that 6 months before the deadline PTC had NOT been implemented on Amtrak’s highest volume segment (PHL-NYC) is so unacceptable that this deserved to have been their #1 bullet. NOT some poor train engineer that was simply trying to do a job made enormously more dangerous and stressful because Amtrak management failed to implement in a timely manner what had been mandated by its “sugar daddy”!! So the NTSB “threw” the engineer “under the bus” and essentially all of the news reports pointed to the engineer rather than Amtrak’s senior (mis)management (The Atlantic, NBC, Washington Post, WSJ, NYT etc. Why didn’t the NYT do a long story on why Amtrak management didn’t install PTC in a timely manner???)
My point here is larger in that this same issue exists in the rest of the transit industry where crash-avoidance technology exists today that can substantially reduce collisions and do so while printing money for the transit industry. Dr. Jerome Lutin and I have pointed out to deaf ears that automated collision avoidance systems exist today for buses whose costs are substantially less than the net present value of the liability that these buses can be expected to impose on society. This is about the cash that a hopelessly bankrupt transit industry has to pay out because it isn’t installing existing crash avoidance technology that is available today. On top of that cash are all of the societal benefits associated with eliminating collisions. There is no rush (not even a faint heart-beat) by the industry to do this. FTA is totally asleep, yet bus drivers continue to be placed in some of the most stressful and unsafe working conditions without the help that such technologies can deliver. I can’t be more blunt… The major cause of accidents in the transit industry is the fact that the management of the transit industry is not installing in its fleets existing and available automated collision avoidance systems. What is even more derelict is that new bus procurement don’t include such provisions either. When is the finger going to finally be pointed towards “Management” and the FTA instead of the poor bus driver or train engineer? NTSB is getting close by at least putting it 2nd, but if the public is to become aware, it will need to rise to the top bullet. Alain
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
M. Walker April 15, “The Beverly Hills City Council voted unanimously this week to adopt a resolution to develop driverless vehicles that will provide public transportation throughout the city.
The program is part of Beverly Hills mayor John Mirisch’s plan for a municipally owned fleet of autonomous vehicles that would function as an on-demand car shuttle service to and from any address in the city. ..” Read more Hmmm…Communities all around the nation should follow what BH, Austin and a few other communities are doing. There is an opportunity to begin on-demand shared-ride “21st Century Public Transit” mobility using volunteer drivers to initiate and thoroughly demonstrate this low-cost mobility in preparation for a massive roll-out that can take place once driverless cars can extend/replace the volunteer drivers. Staff report on the matter; another article; landing page for the program. Alain
K. Shea, April 19, “…The Robbinsville High School student who was driving the car that struck and killed the district’s superintendent Tuesday morning was late for a school trip when the crash occurred, according to two sources involved in the investigation.…” Read more Hmmm…Most tragic in so many dimensions!!! HOWEVER, it was NOT the student that STRUCK the Superintendent, it was the CAR. AND the CAR needs to start being held responsible for ALLOWING such tragedies to ruin so many lives. It is very likely that this tragedy could have been averted had the car been equipped with an automated collision avoidance system and/or lane-keeping system. Given the availability of these “tragedy avoidance systems”, we should all be asking why this CAR wasn’t equipped with such a system and why all cars aren’t so equipped. Certainly innocent runners and dogs need to be asking such questions. So too, that young lady’s car insurance company; it must be muttering: “shouda bought her that upgrade”. What about the car companies themselves who are largely just sitting on the technology or the dealerships that don’t feel compelled to espouse the benefits of such technology while pushing more “horsepower” and “Corinthian Leather” (and worse yet: “AooleCarXYZ” that distracts drivers). We all know that Washington is broken. Them staying out of the way is probably best (although aggressively applying better human-visible paint/laneMarkings and human-readable signs would go a long way to helping both attentive drivers and automated lane-keeping systems). Everyone else has fundamental self-interest at stake and each needs to stop pointing the finger to the frail human driver. We have the technology and the the self-interest to make mobility substantially safer. Let’s really get on with it. It’s time! Alain
April 8,”At this meeting, NHTSA sought input on planned operational guidelines for the safe deployment of automated vehicles (AV). Of high importance to the agency is information on the roadway scenarios and operational environments that highly automated vehicles will need to address, and the associated design and evaluation processes and methods needed to ensure that AV systems are able to detect and appropriately react to these scenarios” Read more Hmmm…Watch testimony , especially: testimony of Dr. Jerome Lutin. 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
Press Release, Mar 17, NHTSA & IIHS “announced today a historic commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. auto market to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature on virtually all new cars no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins Sept 1, 2022. Automakers making the commitment are Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process…The commitment takes into account the evolution of AEB technology. It requires a level of functionality that is in line with research and crash data demonstrating that such systems are substantially reducing crashes, but does not stand in the way of improved capabilities that are just beginning to emerge. The performance measures are based on real world data showing that vehicles with this level of capability are avoiding crashes.. Watch NHTSA video on AEB Download AEB video from IIHSRead more Hmmmm…Fantastic! Automakers leading with regulatory process staying out of the way. Alain
D. Patrick Mar 11,”General Motors GM 1.43% this morning announced that it will acquire Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based developer of autonomous vehicle technology. No financial terms were disclosed, but Fortune has learned from a source close to the situation that the deal is valued at “north of $1 billion,” in a combination of cash and stock.
Talks between the two companies originally related to a strategic investment by GM in Cruise, which was planning to raise a new round of venture capital funding. But that quickly morphed into an acquisition discussion with the entire agreement getting hashed out in less than six weeks. Read more Hmmmm…That sets the bar. Reminiscent of AOL paying $1.1B for MapQuest resulting in NavTeq getting $8.1B from Nokia followed by Here getting $3B from MB et al. Deja vu all over again! Very interesting 🙂 Alain
A. Robertson, Feb 10 , Feb. “…Half a century after its heyday, the Alden StaRRcar clearly wasn’t made for its world. It looks like a white flatiron with wheels or a sleek, plastic bullet, dwarfed by the regal sedans of 1960s Detroit. It belongs in one of Buckminster Fuller’s domed cities, a vehicle for traveling under the geodesics of a bubble-topped Manhattan. Its future wasn’t one of highways, but of narrow cement tracks looping gracefully between city and suburb, connecting increasingly alienated parts of the American landscape…
Once considered a key to solving urban blight, the StaRRcar was part of a public transit revolution that never was — but one that would help launch one of the weirdest and most politicized public infrastructure experiments of the 20th century. It’s an old idea that today, in an age of self-driving cars, seems by turns impractically retro and remarkably prescient…
PRT’s invention is attributed to a transportation expert named Donn Fichter, but the central idea was conceived, remixed, and adapted by many in the 1950s and 1960s. While the details varied, the prototypical PRT system was a network of narrow guideways populated by small passenger pods. When commuters arrived, they would hit a button to select a destination, calling one of the pods like a taxi. Then, instead of running on a set line, the pod would use guideways like a freeway system, routing around stations in order to take passengers directly to their final stop.
The system was designed to be everything that existing public transportation wasn’t. Pods would carry only as many people as an average car, guaranteeing a nearly private ride. Riders wouldn’t need to follow a timetable or wait for other people to enter and exit the system. Because the pods would only be dispatched on demand, cities could run service to many low-traffic areas without worrying about waste. There were no drivers to train or pay, and the pods could run quietly on electrical power instead of with fossil fuels…
Multiple plans for personal rapid transit fell through, whether because of budget problems, logistical issues, or political power struggles….
And as in the ‘60s, we’re talking about whether self-driving vehicles could spell the end of private cars….” Read more Hmmmm…A must read. Pretty much as I remember it. I lived much of it, including designing 10,000 station, 10,000 mile PRT networks that could serve all of New Jersey’s needs for personal mobility. The good news was that the area-wide systems would provide great mobility for all. The bad news: No viable way to start. The best starting places could each be readily served by conventional systems with no technology risk. Without a place to start, PRT never got a chance to flourish in the vast areas that are un-servable by conventional technology. Moreover, PRT needed the diversion of public sector capital funds that weres already in the back pocket of those pedaling the conventional technologies. Consequently, the personal auto has reigned on.
Today is different. With PRT, even the first vehicle needed a couple of stations and interconnecting guideway (and all of the discussion and heartache was about the location and cost of those initial stations and guideway). With autonomous taxis sharing existing roads, one can begin with a single vehicle capable of serving many existing places without needing to pay-for/justify any infrastructure. That is today’s fundamental opportunity, in contrast to PRT’s monumental infrastructure burden even for one vehicle. That’s why aTaxis are destined to finally deliver PRT’s utopian mobility to all and substantially transform our cities and suburbs. Alain
Press Release Feb 16 “With continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy resulting in an estimated 3.5% increase in motor-vehicle mileage, the number of motor-vehicle deaths in 2015 totaled 38,300, up 8% from 2014.
The 2015 estimate is provisional and may be revised when more data are available. The total for 2015 was up 8% from the 2013 figure. The annual total for 2014 was 35,398, a less than 0.5% increase from 2013. The 2013 figure was 3% lower than 2012. The estimated annual population death rate is 11.87 deaths per 100,000 population, an increase of 7% from the 2014 rate. The estimated annual mileage death rate is 1.22 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase of 5% from the 2014 rate. Read more Hmmmm…This is REALLY BAD news. Come on insurance. This is costing you money! Accident rates going up means that your actuarials are behind, your regulated pricing lags and you are losing money. To get ahead of your actuarials, you MUST incentivize the adoption of automated collision avoidance systems. You’ll then do very well, thank you AND help society. Alain
Feb. 9, “…(3) Accelerate the integration of autonomous vehicles, low-carbon technologies, and intelligent transportation systems into our infrastructure….
- Providing almost $400 million on average per year in funding over the next 10 years for the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Investments would help develop connected infrastructure and smart sensors that can communicate with autonomous vehicles, support R&D to ensure these vehicles are safe and road ready, and expand at-scale deployment projects to provide “proving grounds” for autonomous self-driving and connected vehicles in urban and highway settings.
Read more Hmmmm…major victory…not only: “…for autonomous self-driving…”, bit also stated before: “… and connected…”. Alain
M. Bergen, Jan 14 “The Obama Administration has seen the self-driving future, and it’s jumping aboard. At the Detroit auto show on Thursday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will unveil a plan to develop a national blueprint for autonomous driving technology within the next six months. He will also announce that President Obama is planning to insert $4 billion into the 2017 budget for a 10-year plan to support and “accelerate” vehicle automation projects.
“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” Secretary Foxx said in a statement. …But here’s the part of Foxx’s talk that really matters for Google: These national rules will allow fully driverless cars...” Read More Hmmm… A few months ago it was $42M for Connected Vehicles. Today it is 100x for automated vehicles! Finally Secretary Foxx..”YES! YES! JESUS H. TAP-DANCING CHRIST… I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT” (Blue Brothers) Yea!!!!! 🙂 Alain
J. Hyde & S. Carty, Dec. 21 “Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, …According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California….
Google already has several links to Ford; the head of the self-driving car project, John Krafcik, worked for 14 years at Ford, including a stint as head of truck engineering, and several other ex-Ford employees work in the unit as well. Former Ford chief executive Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year.
And Ford executives have been clear for years that the company was ready to embrace a future where cars were sold as on-demand services. Ford CEO Mark Fields has repeatedly said Ford was thinking of itself “as a mobility company,” and what that would mean for its business” Read more Hmmm…Not surprising and not exclusive. 🙂 Alain
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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