Friday, September 09, 2016

The Head of CMU’s Robotics Lab Says Self-Driving Cars Are ‘Not Even Close’

J. Peterson, Sept 1, "..To find out what it’s been like to rebuild a top robotics lab after being gutted by one of the most powerful companies in the world, I called up Herman for a candid conversation about what universities can do that corporations can’t, and how CMU has managed to pick up the pieces of what Uber left behind…

Maybe, and maybe not. The objectives of companies like Uber, and our objectives as a university, are different. Uber as a company has to worry about its valuation. I think part of the reason that they released the news about these autonomous taxis is marketing. Technically, I’m not sure if it’s ready. They still have to have engineers in the car. So, for technical reasons, it’s not there. But for non-technical reasons, they decided that it’s a good idea to start talking about it…" Read more Hmmm…Juicy!  Alain

2015 Motor Vehicle Crashes: Overview

DOT HS 812 318, Aug, 2016, "The Nation lost 35,092 people in crashes on U.S. roadways during 2015, an increase from 32,744 in 2014. The 7.2-percent increase is the largest percentage increase in nearly 50 years…" Read more Hmmm…Very bad news.  Can anyone say "texting"!  Alain

Open data and traffic fatalities

R. Ragupathy, Aug 30 "Traffic fatalities in the U.S. jumped 7.2% to 35,092 last year, the sharpest increase in about 50 years. Yesterday the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) released final 2015 data on vehicle crashes in the United States. The Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the White House also issued an unprecedented call to action asking for help analyzing fatality data to find ways to prevent these tragedies:…

Responding to this call, we created the map below to show where fatal crashes have occurred over the last five years. Enter your address and the destination of your commute to see fatal crashes that occurred along your route between 2011 and 2015. Toggle between additional information, such as alcohol, excessive speeding, cyclists, or pedestrians involved and compare the differences between the years." Read more Hmmm…You must look at their "map below"  It is really good!!  Alain

Michigan Moves to Not Require Human in Driverless Test Cars

D. Eggert (AP), Sept 7, "Michigan would no longer require that someone be inside a self-driving car while testing it on public roads under legislation passed unanimously Wednesday by the state Senate, where backers touted the measures as necessary to keep the U.S. auto industry’s home state ahead of the curve on rapidly advancing technology…."  Read more Hmmm…This is very significant because, as far as I know, we have yet to drive the first meter/foot down a normal street in a normal environment without anyone in a self-driving (aka… a driverless self-driving) car! This is necessary legislation to negate legislation requiring that a person must be in a car motoring down a street (or legislation requiring remote operation of an empty vehicle.)  Alain

Intel to buy Movidius to help it win in new tech like virtual reality, driverless cars

A. Kharpal, Sept 6, "U.S. semiconductor giant Intel is to acquire Movidius, a company that creates so-called "computer vision" chips which will play a key role in technologies from virtual reality (VR) to driverless cars, the company announced Tuesday.

Movidius makes processors that use artificial intelligence to assess the world around them. The company is already working with Chinese dronemaker DJI with its tech implemented in the Phantom 4 unmanned aircraft, giving it the ability to sense and avoid obstacles in real time and hover in a fixed position without the need for a GPS signal…."Read more Hmmm…Very interesting!   Alain

Civil Maps Debuts Augmented Reality Maps for Self-Driving Cars

Sept 8, "Civil Maps, a software provider for crowdsourcing continental scale 3D maps for fully autonomous machines, today unveiled a passenger-facing augmented reality (AR) experience that integrates the company’s localization technology with 3D dynamic maps…."  Read more Hmmm…Interesting!   Alain

Driverless bus takes to the road in Perth

C. Griffith, Sept 1, "The first driverless vehicle on a public Australian road rolled out yesterday, mixing it with other cars, cyclists and pedestrians in Perth.

The 11-seater French Navya shuttle bus was bought by automotive club the RACWA for $296,000 and will spend the next three months covering a 2.7km stretch of the South Perth foreshore along the Swan River, operating at speeds of up to 25km/h. Read more Hmmm…Another first adopters!   Alain

Nvidia and Baidu partner on a ‘top-to-bottom’ platform for self-driving cars

D. Etherington, Aug 31, "Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang revealed a new partnership on stage at Baidu’s annual Baidu World conference today. This partnership with Baidu will see Nvidia and the Chinese tech giant work together on building a comprehensive autonomous driving platform.

“We’re going to bring together the technical capabilities, our expertise in AI, and the skills of two world-class companies,” Huang said, noting that the partnership will the AI and deep learning skills of both companies. “By combining these capabilities, we will be able to deliver a cloud-to-car architecture platform that promises to get cars on the road in the next several years.”

Nvidia and Baidu will be building an end-to-end solution for self-driving cars, according to Huang. The end goal is a platform that allows Baidu to get a self-driving taxi fleet on the road, and the same platform is also designed for use in OEM cars, tied into the same network…." Read more Hmmm…"end-to-end" solutions AND supply OEMs!??? Sound like a monopoly???   Alain

  Tesla says Autopilot system not responsible for Dutch crash

AP, Sept. 7, "Tesla Motors says the Model S sedan involved in a fatal crash in the Netherlands wasn’t operating in the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode and was going more than 96 miles per hour when it crashed…" Read more  Hmmm…I hate to say this, but maybe it is now time for cars to keep us from behaving irresponsibly when we exercise our privileged to drive.  It is a privileged and we should be doing it responsibly.  If it is really important that we go 96 mph, then there should be an easy way for us to get permission to do it (for example if we are trying to commit suicide, or ???); else, the car should not let us do it.  In this case, the car knew it was going 96 mph and that it wasn’t on the German autobahn (and that it wasn’t avoiding something).  While in this case no one else was killed, a bunch of people had to clean up the mess that was created.  "AutoPilots" should make it much more difficult/challenging for us to behave irresponsibly.  See also Alain

Big Carmakers Merge, Cautiously, Into the Self-Driving Lane

N. Boudette, Sept 1,  "…The big carmakers hope to avoid the criticism that has enveloped Tesla’s Autopilot — that the driver-assistance technology can lull the person behind the wheel into a mind-wandering sense of false security.  “Through the driver’s eyes, you can detect his or her level of attention,” Mark Reuss, G.M.’s executive vice president for global product development, said in July at an auto technology conference in Detroit.

The monitoring system, which analyzes images of the drivers’ eyes and head to tell if they are looking forward, will notice if drivers are drowsy, looking down at their cellphones or have turned to reach into the rear seat.  If the driver does not turn back to the road after a few seconds, warning tones and lights go off. If the driver does not respond, SuperCruise can (…will???) slow or (…safely pull over and ???)stop the car, Mr. Reuss said.  Read more Hmmm…OK!?!   Alain

‘Best practices’ for autonomous car testing sought by new industry grou

R. Beene, Sept 8, "Bolstering shaky public confidence in the safety of autonomous cars will be a key aim for a new group of transportation, research and former government officials formed to issue recommendations about how driverless cars should be tested on public roads.  Dubbed the Commission on Autonomous Vehicle Testing and Safety, the group will study and publish “best practices” for the safe testing of self-driving cars on public streets to inform automakers and policymakers working on the issue.

The group is a project of Securing America’s Future Energy, or SAFE, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates reducing U.S. dependence on petroleum. The organization has recently begun a major push for autonomous vehicles. The autonomous vehicle commission is expected to be announced by SAFE today…." Read more Hmmm…Good!   Alain 

  Toyota and University announce driverless car project details

K. Linder, Sept 7, "In a continued partnership with the University of Michigan, Toyota announced it will invest $22 million to fund research on driverless cars and methods of artificial intelligence. This is an expansion of the Toyota Research Institute’s April announcement, which revealed TRI will be opening a new facility in Ann Arbor…." Read more Hmmm…Congratulations!  Alain

Volvo will sell its self-driving car tech to other automakers

J. Golson, Sept 6, "Volvo is forming a joint venture with Swedish automotive safety supplier Autoliv to develop autonomous driving software and sell it to other automakers. It’s the first time an automaker has partnered with a "tier-one" supplier to develop self-driving technology…." Read more Hmmm…Since we have software folks getting in he car business, why not have car folks in the software business! Is this really the "1st"? Alain

  Volvo first in the world with self-driving truck in underground mine

Press Release, Sept 9, "Volvo’s fully autonomous truck is the first in the world to be tested in operations deep underground in the Kristineberg Mine. The self-driving truck is part of a development project aimed at improving the transport flow and safety in the mine. The truck will cover a distance of 7 kilometres, reaching 1,320 metres underground in the narrow mine tunnels.  See Video Read more Hmmm…Seems like to would be easier.  Not many options.Well defined edges/walls. Alain

Google’s driverless cars fitted with police detection technology

H. Williams, Sept 7, "…A supporting US patent filing revealed that Google has hoped for a system that will recognise emergency services’ flashing lights. The sensors would be made to identify red or blue colours, as well as that of ambulance vehicles…Read more Hmmm…See patent application 20160252905. Alain

How This Tech in Self-Driving Cars Is Paving a Road Beyond Silicon

K. Fehrenbacher, Sept 8, "Ever heard of gallium nitride transistors? You’re about to thanks to Lidar in cars….
For more on how self-driving cars are blowing up the auto industry, watch video:   Read more Hmmm…OK.  Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention


Sharing to help solve the snarls of traffic

G. Lombaerde, Sept. 8, "…What Air BnB did to match a house guest with that extra room in your home, Hytch does for empty seats in your car. Sharing the cost of a ride turns that unused asset into a money maker. Imagine 50 to 75 people in your neighborhood who are on your route to work or just a stone’s throw off your route for pickup. If you had 75 options available for sharing a ride, would you take advantage once in a while? Once a week?…" Read more Hmmm…As a former Hitch-hiker, I can’t understand why the smartPhone hasn’t completely rejuvenated THE original of the shared economy?  Alain

  Intelligent Technology

H. Varian, Sept 2016, " …One example of technology veloping services, which are only a small part of photography these days…." Read more Hmmm…Interesting. Alain

On the More Technical Side

Shared Autonomous Electric Vehicle (SAEV) Operations across the Austin, Texas Network with a Focus on Charging Infrastructure Decisions

Ben Loeb, Kara Kockelman, and Jun Liu. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017). Read more

Tracking a System of Shared Autonomous Vehicles across the Austin, Texas Network using Agent-Based Simulation 

Jun Liu, Kara Kockelman, Patrick Boesch, and Francesco Ciari. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017). Read more

Anticipating the Emissions Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles Using the MOVES Model

Jun Liu, Kara Kockelman & Aqshems Nichols. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017). Read more

Economic Effects of Autonomous Vehicles 

Lewis Clements & Kara Kockelman. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017). Read more

Anticipating the Regional Impacts of Connected and Automated Vehicle Travel in Austin, Texas 

Yong Zhao & Kara Kockelman. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017). Read more

Making the Most of Curb Spaces in a World of Shared Autonomous Vehicles: A Case Study of Austin, Texas

Qinglu Ma, Kara Kockelman, & Marc Segal. Under review for presentation at the 96th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and publication in Transportation Research Record (2017).
Read more

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

Older stuff that I had missed:

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

Simulating motion sickness in autonomous cars

J. Duarte, Aug 25, "…That’s right … people are getting sick in simulators in order to make a new generation of vehicles more sensitive to its occupants’ suffering from motion sickness. …"  Read more  Hmmm…Wait a minute, I get sick every time I get in one of those simulators irrespective of what I’m doing, yet when I ride shotgun and my better half is driving, not so much.  What???  C’mon man!.  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Sept 15 & 16, 2016
Arlington, VA

Sept 19-21, 2016
Antwerp, Belgium

Sept 19-23, 2016
Washington, DC

F1/10 Autonomous Racing Competition
Oct 1-2
Wean Hall, Carnegie Mellon U.

Recent Highlights of:

Sunday, September 4, 2016

  How Do You Buy a Million Cars When You Can’t Make a Dime?   

B. Simpson, Aug 25, "Isn’t this supposed to be a quiet time for business? …Not in transportation technology.

For instance, Ford announced it was working to launch fully autonomous automobiles by 2021. BMW, Intel and Mobileye joined to say they will have vehicles in production for the same target date. Ridesharing titan Uber says it will launch this month driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, though some employees will be in the car to ensure safety.

Forget the 10 years down the road baloney. We’ll be Level 4 Autonomous in three to five years.

Yet for all the excitement there’s been some downer news…. Lyft was seeking a buyer, despite the $500 million that GM pumped into it …Earlier this year Lyft pledged… to keep its U.S. losses under $50 million a month….Uber told its investors it lost $520 million in the first quarter, and more than $750 million in the second. This after losing about $2 billion in 2015….It’s valuable to keep in mind the shaky foundations of Uber and Lyft because the two have been touted as an important foundation for the growth of autonomous vehicles. Read more Hmmm…Do read more!  It may well be that those that can’t make a dime wont even have the opportunity to buy the driverless vehicles that would allow them to "make a dime".  The real value of the driverless vehicles may well be in their ability to generate operating cash without needing any of the $10B+ expertise/intellectual property amassed by Uber/Lyft in managing self-employed part-timers that aren’t needed.  If that is the case, then the makers of those vehicles will manage them for their own account rather than selling them at cost-plus (or the price of those vehicles will be such that only their maker is making any money). Alain

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

T. Simonite, Aug 23, "BMW, Ford, and Uber have all recently said they plan to have “fully autonomous” cars ready to drive themselves on the road in 2021 (see “2021 May Be the Year of the Fully Autonomous Car”). Ford says its fleet of vehicles will lack steering wheels and offer a robotic taxi service.

But don’t expect to toss out your driver’s license in 2021. Five years isn’t long enough to create vehicles good enough at driving to roam extensively without human input, say researchers working on autonomous cars. They predict that Ford and others will meet their targets by creating small fleets of vehicles limited to small, controlled areas.

“Probably what Ford would do to meet their 2021 milestone is have something that provides low-speed taxi service limited to certain roads—and don’t expect it to come in the rain,” says Steven Shladover. …Alain Kornhauser, … “By then we may be able to define [a] ‘fenced’ region of space where we can in fact let cars out there without a driver,” he says. “The challenge will be making that fenced-in area large enough so that it provides a valuable service.”…Jeffrey Miller, …says figuring out how sensors limit the situations a vehicle can reliably handle on its own is one of the most crucial challenges for companies working on autonomous driving. Read more  Hmmm…Achievable reality.  Alain

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years.

But few have gone so far as to give a definitive date for the commercial debut of these cars of the future.  Now Ford Motor has done just that.  At a news conference on Tuesday at the company’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said the company planned to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021….
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. “If someone had told you 10 years ago, or even five years ago, that the C.E.O. of a major automaker American car company is going to be announcing the mass production of fully autonomous vehicles, they would have been called crazy or nuts or both.”…
Ford also said it had acquired an Israeli start-up, Saips, that specializes in computer vision, a crucial technology for self-driving cars. And the automaker announced investments in three other companies involved in major technologies for driverless vehicles….." Read morHmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service).  In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud".  The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud".  Think about it!  Alain

Monday, August 8, 2016

Latest to Quit Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit: Top Roboticist

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

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

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

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)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

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? 

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities

March 23 Hmmm… Watch the video of the Committee Meeting.  The testimony is Excellent and very compelling! Also see Self-Driving Minnesota Alain

Thursday, March 17, 2016

U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

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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