Sunday, January 3, 2016

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars

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

If You Care About Cars and Riding in Them, Then CES 2016 Actually Matters

N. Kulwin, Jan. 4  "You can gain a lot of insight into the state of tech by looking at the content and makeup of CES. Begun as a showcase for hardware gadgets, the annual confab transformed, in recent years, into a compulsory destination for the media world, which tech was transforming, largely via destruction.

This year’s agenda shows clearly that transportation is the next industry tech is trying to transform and perhaps decimate….the CEOs of General Motors and Volkswagen are delivering keynotes in Las Vegas this week. The second marquee session is focused on urban mobility, with execs from key suppliers in autonomous vehicles — Qualcomm, Bosch, Mobileye — along with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Other big auto manufacturers, like Ford, are on hand en masse at parties, dinners and other events…Read more  Hmmm…Really a transformation of the mobility space.  See also the Faraday Video. and Fortune. Alain

GM and Lyft to Shape the Future of Mobility

Press Release, Jan 4  "General Motors and Lyft today announced a long-term strategic alliance to create an integrated network of on-demand autonomous vehicles in the U.S.  GM will invest $500 million in Lyft to help the company continue the rapid growth of its successful ridesharing service. In addition, GM will hold a seat on the company’s board of directors.  “We see the future of personal mobility as connected, seamless and autonomous,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “With GM and Lyft working together, we believe we can successfully implement this vision more rapidly.”

John Zimmer, president and co-founder of Lyft, said: “Working with GM, Lyft will continue to unlock new transportation experiences that bring positive change to our daily lives. Together we will build a better future by redefining traditional car ownership.”

Key elements of the GM and Lyft alliance include:.." Read more  Hmmm…Very interesting! 🙂 Alain

Google to Make Driverless Cars an Alphabet Company in 2016

J. Lippert, Dec. 16  "Google Inc. plans to make its self-driving cars unit, which will offer rides for hire, a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella next year, a person briefed on the company’s strategy said…Read more  Hmmm…Not surprising. Hopefully they’ll be shared rides, when appropriate. 🙂 Alain

January 9 within the DC Beltway

L Fabian, Dec 19, "…Something extraordinary is happening, and you have an opportunity to tap into it at the University of Maryland on Saturday, January 9, 2016. ATRA will have its annual technical information exchange (dubbed Technix) structured to engage you to Envision Advanced Transit (EAT). A modest registration covers breakfast, lunch and materials. The fellowship, learning and networking are free…."  Read more Hmmm…Should be interesting. Alain

With Via, Sharing More Than Just a Ride

C. Tell, Dec 30, "…Compared with taxis, where rides are on the  decline, the price of a shared ride is worth the middle seat and constant pickups. A Via ride costs just over $5 for any two points throughout Manhattan south of 110th Street.

But convenience aside, these shared cars are also prime breeding grounds for scandalous, titillating exchanges, where New Yorkers sandwiched together are networking, flirting and sparring in a seemingly consequence-free environment where nearly anything goes…"  Read more   Hmmm…Some evidence that shared-ride autonomousTaxis might make it. 🙂 Alain

Draft Comments on CA-DMV AV Proposed Regulations

R. Peterson Dec 20, "Allow me to comment on the DMV’s proposed autonomous car regulations. My comments will include my opinions, but I like to think that they are well founded opinions. I have been commenting on and lecturing on autonomous vehicles for several years. My comments may also, at times, be blunt – perhaps too blunt. Please forgive. I would also like to express my condolences that the legislature dropped this task on you. As you have noted on several occasions, your core competence lies in vetting drivers, not cars…." Read more Hmmm…Well worth reading. Alain

The Most Overhyped Story Of 2015 – And 2016: Driverless Cars

A. Wahlman Dec 23, "There is a world of difference between a true driverless car, and one in which the driver must be alert and skillful to take over on a split second’s notice. …" Read more Hmmm…Not bad. Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your

Atlanta Begins Charging for a Streetcar Named Undesirable by Some

A. Blinder, Jan 1.  "The streetcar was stopped in downtown traffic, and before long Keisha Schwarzel figured that was enough of a first experience with the year-old addition to Atlanta’s transit system.  “I’d rather walk,” Ms. Schwarzel, 35, said on a rain-drenched Wednesday morning.  And that was when the ride was free…Atlanta’s 2.7-mile, $98 million streetcar system… Ridership, estimated at about 900,000 trips,…

In a December vote that reflected at least a measure of urban unease, the City Council removed Buckhead, a popular retail and dining district, from a future streetcar service plan.  “The day may come when the public will support sharing precious Peachtree Road capacity with streetcars, but today isn’t it,” Howard Shook, a councilman who represents Buckhead,..

“We need to accept that this was a dismal failure and that once people actually have to start paying to ride it, we’ll see ridership plunge,” …the debut of fares — $1 per ride or $3 for a one-day pass…. Read more  Hmmmm…$100M Capital cost must translate into at least a $10M/yr. operating&maintenance  cost which is $10/ride.  1.  Why bother collecting a fare???? (Oh, someone bough a fare collection system.  🙁   ) 2.  Why not just abandon the whole thing now and give the $9/ride to "Uber" to provide on-demand shared-ride service down this 2.7 mile corridor?  3. Why not prepare the corridor to Buckhead for autonomousTaxis which will be a reality BEFORE any ribbon cutting on any extension of the existing streetcar.  The tea leaves are showing deja vu all over again.  This technology is about to suffer it’s 2nd extinction.  Alain

Rail Industry Again Given More Time to Install Safety System

R. Nixon, Dec 30, ":When Congress in October gave railroads extra time to install a badly needed speed-control system, officials at the Federal Railroad Administration vowed to move aggressively to make sure the safety technology would be in place by the end of 2018, the new deadline.  This month, Congress struck again. Tucked into a 1,000-page transportation law signed Dec. 4 is new language that could effectively extend the deadline until the end of 2020. And positive train control, a technology that safety advocates say could have prevented the deadly Amtrak crash in Philadelphia in May, could stay on the shelf even longer…"  Read morHmmm…Maybe the problem is positive train control and all of its antiquated regulatory oversight which needs to be rethought?  Maybe this is whee US DoT should focus its "V2V connected" legacy?  (Or, does this lethargy highlight the fundamental fallacy of "V2V"?)  Alain

Uber Hits One Billionth Ride, Gifts Free Year

K. Roof, Dec. 30 "…Rapidly expanding car service startup Uber says it has driven its 1 billionth ride. Launched in June 2010, it took the company 5.5 years to reach this milestone.  Uber trip number 1 billion took place in London on Christmas Eve. …."Read more Hmmm….Big number; however, there are about 1 Billion person trips every day just in the US, so Uber still has an infinitesimally small share of the mobility market!   Alain

The secret to Uber’s success: Be everywhere all the time

M. Weinberger, Dec 25 "Wherever you are, whatever you do, whatever device you own, Uber wants to give you a ride.  You can call an Uber car from your Apple Watch, Pebble smartwatch, or Microsoft Band 2 fitness tracker. …But Uber rushed in where others stayed out, building a super-deluxe app for Windows 10 computers, tablets, and smartphones. In fact, it’s the first Uber app for the desktop computer….."Read more Hmmm…. Yup! The Apps are impressive!   Alain

BMW and Mercedes accused of cheating on emissions tests

J. Kay, Dec 18 "…The same researchers who discovered that the auto manufacturer had been cheating on emissions tests are now accusing Mercedes and BMW of the same thing…."Read more Hmmm…. Please tell me it ain’t true!   Alain

Recompiled Old News & Smiles:

Uber v. Taxi:  One must die for the other to live

K. Herzog, Sept 2015 "…UBER MAY BE a tech-darling upstart, but the taxi industry is three decades older than Canada itself. In 1837, Thornton Blackburn, a runaway slave from Kentucky, built Toronto’s first taxi, a wooden red and yellow box drawn by a single horse. The city was a tiny place then, but Blackburn found plenty of business along the docks of Lake Ontario. Business grew, and in 1843 city councillors drafted a comprehensive law “to license and regulate the duties and charges on coaches, carriages, cabs, carts, and other vehicles.”  Many early provisions seem quaint now: Cabs required “two well-lighted lamps” after dark, “unless it be moonlight.” They were prohibited from carrying cargo on Sundays. A driver could not “wantonly snap or flourish his whip.”…."Read more Hmmm…. Interesting!   Alain

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

Google has gotten incredibly good at predicting traffic — Here is How

T. Stenovec, Dec 18 "…"It’s not just what [traffic] is right now, but how do we expect it to change over the next hour or two hours," Amanda Leicht Moore, the lead product manager for Google Maps, said in an interview with Tech Insider…."Read more Hmmm…. I don’t believe it.  In the next hour or two, you’ll be 50 or 100 miles down the road.  The "13 minute delay" shown in the graphic is NOT the delay that is expected at the time that you get to the bridge.  Total hype!  CoPilot with Inrix is still better, but, of course, I’m very biased. 🙂 Alain 

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

Here’s why lawyers are ‘salivating’ over self-driving cars

N. McAlone Dec 22 "…But what’s not hard to establish is who will likely benefit: lawyers..." Read more Hmmm…. Soooo wrong!   The reduction in the number of collisions will decimate the ambulance chasers.  Plus, the availability of information will eliminate uncertainty about what really happened so that lawyers will have nothing to argue about.  A couple may do well, the rest will be in the bread line.  C’mon Man!   Alain 

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Technix 2016
Envision Automated Transit (EAT)
Saturday, January 9th, 2016

9:30 am – 4:00 pm
Kim Engineering Building, University of Maryland
8228 Paint Branch Dr., College Park, MD 20742
Open to the public

The Business of Autonomous Vehicles
March 22-23, 2016
Crowne Plaza Hotel, San Francisco Airport

Recent Highlights of:

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

Sunday, December 6, 2015

FAST Act: 2015 Surface Transportation Reauthorization

Overview prepared by Dr. Shawn Kimmel, Dec 2, "The FAST Act, passed on Friday 12/4/15, is
a 5 year surface transportation reauthorization bill, which is the first reauthorization lasting more than 2 years since 2005 (MAP-21 was only 2 years). This bill represents a compromise between the Senate DRIVE Act and House STRR Act.  The funding for the bill is about 77% from gas tax and 23% from other temporary funding sources. This bill contains many research provisions outlined in this document… Read more 

Hmmmm… A excellent summary; however, Shawn was being very kind by stating that the bill contains "many" research provisions.  I’d characterize it as containing "less than minimal" research provisions.  Especially in the light of the enormous transformation that is occurring in surface transportation.  I comment below in the C’Mon Man! section that the Congress has "not gotten the memo".  Think of it, this is a "5 year" act basically extends the status quo in surface transportation.  This ensures that Washington will neither be leading nor even having an opportunity to play a part in this rapidly changing sector.  It doesn’t even recognize that FTA could help the transit Industry "print money" by investing in the development of Automated Collision Avoidance Systems for buses.  These have a RoI of less than 2 years through their reduced liability exposure as well as save lives.  Plus they’ll "print money" for their remaining service life helping to off-set the industry’s staggering need for subsidy.  

I guess that it is good that Washington has solidified its hold on the highway (concrete and paint) portion of surface mobility and is leaving the vehicles to the private/consumer sector.  What a shame that the bill didn’t include more of what was contained in Congressman Lipinsky’s Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (TRIP) Act.  Alain

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Inside Faraday Future, the secretive car company chasing Tesla

T. Warren Nov. 19 "…This is the headquarters of Faraday Future, a young, seemingly well-funded company with an odd name that hasn’t said much about what it’s working on. We know that electric cars are involved, and we know that they’re probably years away from production. In the year and a half since Faraday’s founding, it has transformed this facility into a bustling corporate campus, stacked with a who’s-who list of poaches from some of California’s most prominent tech companies..

Faraday’s cars will be electric, and Sampson suggested that they will be autonomous. More pointedly, he focused on the potential for new ownership models that Faraday is considering. "Uber, for instance, is a new way of traveling, a new way of getting about. Some people are considering not even having a car. The cars of the future have got to meet those needs," he says. Sampson imagines various custom vehicles that are designed for specific purposes such as a family trip, the work commute, or Home Depot runs. "I don’t have to buy one compromise vehicle, I can just have use of the perfect model when I need it, like a subscription service. We now subscribe to music; we used to buy music."…" Read morHmm… Very interesting, especially the video interview.  Faraday may be real and have legs.  See also Green Car Congress and Alain

Sunday, November 15, 2015

  Google Just Open Sourced TensorFlow, Its Artificial Intelligence Engine

C. Mertz, Nov 9, "…The app uses an increasingly powerful form of artificial intelligence called deep learning. By analyzing thousands of photos of gravestones, this AI technology can learn to identify a gravestone it has never seen before. The same goes for cats and dogs, trees and clouds, flowers and food…." Read more   Hmmmm… And we think it can identify the salient features of the driving environment to provide an elegant algorithm for autonomous driving.  These tools will allow more of us to contribute to contribute to the development of SmartDrivingCars.  Alain

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Port Authority Unanimously Approves $10 Billion Plan to Replace Bus Terminal

A Siff, Oct 22 "The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has unanimously approved an estimated $10 billion plan to replace the existing 65-year-old bus terminal.
The plan approved Thursday includes an international design competition. The final design will be picked in September."  See Video
Hmmm… This is great, but since it will not be finished for 15 years, it better be designed with SmartDrivingBuses in mind.  In fact, 20 years ago, Lou Pignataro and I envisioned that today’s longitudinal and lateral control systems could readily allow a 50% increase in the capacity (from a current max of 700  to 1,050 buses/hr) of the Counter-flow Exclusive Bus (XBL) lane/Lincoln Tunnel if only the PA Bus Terminal could accommodate the additional buses.  This enable an additional 17,500 seated passengers per hour to commute from NJ to NYC, a volume that is essentially equivalent to what a new rail tunnel would provide.  Hopefully, the PANY&NJ accommodate such a service improvement when they design and build this new bus terminal.  Alain 

Friday, October 02, 2015

"60 Minutes" test-rides Mercedes-Benz self-driving car

Oct 2 "As Google’s driverless cars have logged more then a million miles in the past six years, the rest of the auto industry is racing to keep up. Computer scientist Ralf Herrtwich hits the road with "60 Minutes" correspondent Bill Whitaker to demonstrate Mercedes-Benz’s most advanced self-driving prototype. Watch the full story Sunday on "60 Minutes."  Watch video and watch 60 minutes on Sunday Oct 4. This is really becoming mainstream.  Congratulations Ralf! Alain

Friday, August 28, 2015

Truck Safety Out of the Box from Autonobox

B Simpson, July 19, 2015 "The premise is promising. Develop and market a plug-and-play, forward-avoidance braking system for the heavy vehicle market that can be installed quickly, upgraded regularly, and even transferred from vehicle to vehicle if necessary.

The Autonobox System essentially is a second braking system for heavy-duty vehicles that addresses the long-standing problem of brakes that overheat after intense use like a panic-stop or sustained use while going downhill…. Read more  Hmmm…A viable after-market retro-fit opportunity.  Alain

Monday, August 10, 2015

Self-Driving Cars Could Destroy Fine-Based City Government. What’s the Downside?

S. Shackford, July 15 "One of the propelling concepts behind self-driving cars isn’t just innovation for the sake of innovation, leading us to our sci-fi Jetsons future. If successfully implemented, it will make ground travel safer, …Local governments have become increasingly dependent on human screw-ups as a way to raise money. Speeding tickets. DUI citations. Parking violations. Those are all big money-makers for municipalities that could very well go away under a regime of self-driving cars….On top of that, if the theory that self-driving cars will lead people to own fewer cars holds up, revenue from registration fees will drop as well…. Read more    Hmmm…  No downside here!  These have to be one of the most regressive tax systems, just behind lotteries and gambling.  Governments deserve it, but will save because they will need way police police who now waste way too much of their time enforcing traffic laws.  Police have much better things to do. Wins all around; No Downside! Alain

Monday, July 27, 2015

Center for Automated Road Transportation Safety @ Fort Monmouth is Launched

Monday, July 20, 2015 – "After more than three (3) years of planning and several major meetings the substantive launch the Center for Automated Road Transportation Safety @ Fort Monmouth (CARTS@FM) occurred this week with the establishment of the not-for-profit. (501(c) (6)), New Jersey Corporation.  The mission of this Center is to substantially improve safety on our existing conventional roadway infrastructure through the use of inexpensive automated collision avoidance systems installed on individual vehicles operating harmoniously with conventional vehicles throughout most, if not all, existing roadways.   The scope of CARTS’s mission is across all modes that utilize the nation’s conventional road system: trucks, buses and cars. .." Read more

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rep. Lipinski Introduces Future Transportation Research and Innovation Act

I. Sancken 03/29/15, "Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) has introduced H.R. 2886, the Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (TRIP) Act, to support innovative technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter mobility in America and beyond.

"Surface transportation used to be rather staid and unimaginative, but today the very concept of ‘mobility’ is being reinvented through research, innovation, and entrepreneurship," said Rep. Lipinski. "Rapidly advancing automation, connectivity, and information technologies are creating incredible opportunities for transportation innovation. We need to develop innovative ways to improve safety, ease congestion, improve personal mobility, and cut energy use…"  Read more  Hmmm… Excellent!  Alain

Friday, May 29, 2015

John F. Nash Jr., Math Genius Defined by a ‘Beautiful Mind,’ Dies at 86

E. Goodmay, May 24 "…Dr. Nash and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike in Monroe Township around 4:30 p.m. when the driver lost control while veering from the left lane to the right and hit a guardrail and another car, Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police said.

The couple were ejected from the cab and pronounced dead at the scene. The State Police said it appeared that they had not been wearing seatbelts…. Read more
See also: John, Alicia Nash Remembered After Fatal Crash
A Beautiful Mind Mathematician John Nash and His Wife Killed in N.J. Car Crash ;

Hmmm… So tragic!!! What a crying shame!!! So preventable!!! We will miss them 🙁

Unfortunately, the NYT and others tried but missed the fundamental point by following up with "Deaths of Math Genius John F. Nash Jr. and Wife Show Need to Use Seatbelts in Back, Experts Say ".  Why do we so easily put up with crashes in the first place?  It is as if it is OK to go around crashing, just put on a seat belt.   Technology is available to avoid crashes, but there isn’t sufficient public policy focus on avoiding crashes to accelerate its adoption and enhancement.

The fundamental problem was that the taxi was not equipped with available automated stability control, lane keeping and collision avoidance systems.  This was not an accident, it was a failed public safety policy that refuses to move beyond crash mitigation and its challenged “V2x” initiatives to embrace forthright automated crash avoidance. 

Moreover, there is a failed Taxi regulatory structure that doesn’t even hint that taxis should have electronic stability control, automated lane keeping and collision avoidance.  What is the purpose of taxi regulation, to keep “Ubers” out of business? 

It is time for the nation’s transportation policy to focus intelligence/automation on the vehicle in support of the driver.  Hopefully Congress will restructure the pending transportation legislation to focus automated vehicle technologies that actively assist drivers when they make driving mistakes.  We are not perfect.  We deserve a public safety policy that is more mindful of our imperfections. Policy that isn’t aimed at just warning and scolding us but actively takes over and does the right thing.  We, not the infrastructure, are the cause of most of the the highway carnage.  It is the driver who needs help and our public policy should focus on delivering that help.      Alain

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