B. Grush, Oct. 2016, "Two contradictory stories about our transportation infrastructure are currently in circulation. One is that Ontario’s aging, inadequate and congested infrastructure is perennially unable to catch up with a growing and sprawling GTHA. The other is that vehicle automation will soon dramatically multiply current road capacity by enabling narrower lanes, shorter headways and coordinated streams of connected vehicles to pass through intersections without traffic signals to impede flow.
Since the premature forecast of peak car in 2008 and now the hype surrounding the automated vehicle, we are often told that we have enough road capacity; that shared robotic taxis will optimize our trips, reduce congestion, and largely eliminate the need for parking. This advice implies we need wait only a few short years to experience relief from our current infrastructure problems given by decades of under-investment in transportation infrastructure.
This is wishful thinking. Vehicle automation will give rise to two different emerging markets: semi-automated vehicles for household consumption and fully automated vehicles for public service such as robo-taxi and robo-transit. These two vehicle types will develop in parallel to serve different social markets. They will compete for both riders and infrastructure. The purpose of this report is to look at why and how government agencies and public interest groups can and should influence the preferred types and deployment of automated vehicles and the implication of related factors for planning…" Read more Hmmm…Bravo! The Key Findings & Recommendations are excellent. This is an excellent report (but it largely misses goods movement.) Especially 5.1 (read ‘semi-autonomous’ as ‘Self-driving’ and ‘full-automation’ as ‘Driverless’. My view: Driverless may well be at the heals of Self-driving because it is a business play rather than a consumer play. Driverless will be ordered by the hundreds or thousands rather than individually.) and, of course Ch 10: Ownership (the business model) is more important than technology. Alain
B. Fung, Oct 24, "…"The advent of autonomous cars is one of the most exciting developments ever to happen to cities," Bloomberg said. "And if mayors collaborate with one another, and with partners in the private sector, they can improve people’s lives in ways we can only imagine today."…" Read more Hmmm.., Again, he means ‘Driverless’ cars that can operate as a fleet of autonomousTaxis. Alain
H. Grabar, Oct 25, "It depends on who owns them…" Read more Hmmm…We will own ‘Self-driving’ cars. We won’t share them. VMT will increase. Parking lots will NOT disappear. We won’t own ‘Driverless’ cars. We’ll ride-share as we do in elevators. Parking lots will be fewer and not necessarily near activity centers. Attached garages to homes will officially become storage facilities. Some on-street parking will be converted to aTaxi stands; others will disappear. Gas stations will consolidate and visited only by empty vehicles bankrupting their convenience store. The last of the Drive-in movies will close. Rest areas along freeways will shutter…. Alain
S. Lubell, Oct 21, "…We asked eight urban planners and futurists to share their visions of a driverless future…" Read more Hmmm…Interesting. (BTW, I’m assuming that they were each responding to ‘Driverless’ and not ‘Self-Driving’) Alain
WSJ Video, Oct 26, "Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots for Alphabet’s X, talks about the most difficult parts of building a road-ready driverless car. .." See Video Hmmm… Yup! Enormous difference between "Self-driving" and "Driverless". Alain
A. Hashley & M. Laris, Oct 20, "…“The DOT is not equipped to lead something this big, this complex, something this cross- cutting,” said Paul Brubaker, chairman of the alliance, “and I think [the Office of Science and Technology] has access to the talent, to the mandate and will have the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively operationalize this strategy and produce the outcomes that we’re looking for.”
Brubaker has worked at the departments of transportation and defense and as a senate staff member. His report says that “American drivers have a deeply misplaced confidence in their ability” to drive, and suggests that the sooner they be relieved of that responsibility, the better.
“Make no mistake, we will eventually get to a self-driving future, but every day we delay can be measured in lives lost,” the report says…." Read more Hmmm… Amen! Be sure to look at the report:"A NATIONAL STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK TO ADVANCE LIFE-SAVING SELF-DRIVING VEHICLES". Also see: Automobiles aren’t ‘driverless’ if they can’t go full auto … What??? No Kidding. ‘Driverless’ means No Driver! Of course you can sleep if you wish. You aren’t allowed to drive the ‘bus’. Alain
M. Isaac, Oct 25, "… The futurists of Silicon Valley may not have seen this one coming: The first commercial delivery made by a self-driving truck was 2,000 cases of Budweiser beer.
On Tuesday, Otto, the Uber-owned self-driving vehicle operation, announced the completion of its first commercial delivery, having delivered its beer load from Fort Collins, Colo., to Colorado Springs, a roughly 120-mile trip on Interstate 25…." Read more Hmmm… It is a shame that hype has to accompany these milestones. 120 miles of Self-driving on I-25 was an accomplishment 20 years ago. I know the article said that "at no point was the driver required to intervene", the video doesn’t document the beginning and ends, so I remain skeptical. Plus I don’t understand why there is hype. Is Uber trying to flip Otto already? Alain
L. Ying, Oct 19, "Autonomous vehicle startup nuTonomy has stopped all trials of its vehicles until investigations into an accident involving one of its driverless cars is completed, said the company’s co-founder Emilio Frazzoli on Wednesday…" Read more Hmmm…This is what happens when one rushes to the starting line. "Crowd Testing" has serious consequences. Just because Google was able to do it essentially flawlessly, it doesn’t mean that it is easy. Alain
J. Stewart, Oct 24, "…The automaker did release a video of its Model X SUV, carrying the new hardware and prototype software, driving itself around Palo Alto. It seems impressive, but it’s no proof of concept.
“An unedited sequence of the vehicle driving itself in downtown San Francisco would be more meaningful to see what the vehicle is capable of doing,” says Raj Rajkumar, who runs autonomous driving research at Carnegie Mellon University.
Let’s say the car’s as capable as the video makes it seem. Could it get itself across the country? “If we’re looking at another year of development, I think we could see something like that happen,” says Jeffrey Miller, an IEEE member who studies autonomous driving at the University of Southern California.
Yet Rajkumar points to Google, which, after nine years of work on this project, still won’t even give a timeline for its rollout. “Mastery of self-driving under real-world conditions is not going to be easy,” he says…" Read more Hmmm… I agree! The video is enormously dangerous because of what it does NOT show especially at the end when it gives the appearance that there is no one in the car and it actually drives down what one is led to believe is a normal unprepared public street at a normal time without anyone is the car. If it actually did that, it would be a world’s first. If so, Elan would be proclaiming it. Maybe I’m just too cynical. Sure drive around a private parking lot and maybe even a public street that has been cordoned off by police, but I can’t believe that even Elan is so irresponsible that he would send it out by itself, no one in it on an unprepared public street. We simply are not there yet. Likely not even close. And then there is more hype in: Tesla just made a big move to take on Uber I can’t take it anymore. Tesla is nowhere near a ‘Driverless’ car. Self-parking is an infinitesimally small piece of ‘driverless’. Alain
M. Dune, Oct 26, "Early verdict: Tesla’s Autopilot system in many situations might just be a smoother, more consistent driver than I am …But, I have the clear edge in complex traffic situations. Autopilot is no match, for example, when it comes to maneuvering quickly across more than one lane to catch the right highway exit..
I can disengage the Autopilot system at any time by either tapping on the brakes or by taking over the steering…. Tapped Brakes. Like most drivers, I respond reflexively to brake lights. When a car in front taps its brakes, I tap my brakes…." Read more Hmmm…Pretty good and fair description. I do want to repeat one of my pet peeves with respect to Tapped Brakes: That human action should ONLY turn-off the acceleration function of AutoPilot (and NOT the braking and steering). Similarly, grabbing the wheel, should allow steering to be over-ridden but NOT turn-off the the braking function. ‘Hitting the ‘gas’ pedal should turn-off the Brake, but NOT the steering. Alain
K. Korosec, Oct 26, "General Motors now has 30 self-driving all-electric Chevrolet Bolt vehicles that it’s testing on public roads in Scottsdale, Ariz., and San Francisco, GM CEO Mary Barra said Monday during the automaker’s third quarter earnings conference call…. "Read more Hmmm…See also: Tesla Versus GM: Which Self-Driving Car Roadmap Will Win? Alain
D. Clark, Oct 25, "… As a result of the software race, and chips like Nvidia’s, the benefits are going to move much more quickly than the rate at which gains in conventional microprocessors accelerated innovation in industry’s like personal computers—a pace of innovation named after Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore.
“It’s going to move way faster than Moore’s Law,” Mr. Huang said…." Read more Hmmm…Yup! Alain
K. McSweeney, Oct 24, "At the top job site Indeed.com, a variety of companies are posting positions for engineering autonomous vehicles. Visitors click on these listings much more frequently than the other 16 million jobs that are posted on the site…Nearly 100 different companies have job listings for autonomous vehicle positions on Indeed.com, and there is an interesting mix of traditional auto manufacturers and tech companies…." Read more Hmmm… 🙂 Alain
M. Lampinen, Oct 25, "…In May 2016, Swiss Re and HERE published the findings of their joint research study into the impact of autonomous driving on the insurance industry. ‘The future of motor insurance – How in-car connectivity and ADAS are impacting the market’, (Swiss Re/HERE, 2016) found that autonomous drive (AD) technologies could reduce insurance premiums globally by US$20bn by 2020. …It is hardly an exaggeration to suggest that the automotive insurance industry could be dealt a massive blow by the rise of self-driving car technology and the growing acceptance of business models involving shared vehicles…" Read more Hmmm… Yes, Auto Insurance is about to face a ‘Kodak Moment’. Alain
Some other thoughts that deserve your attention
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time:
C, Pitas, Oct 12, "With the steering wheel turning on its own and radar and camera technology guiding it, a driverless car took to Britain’s streets for the first time on Tuesday, as part of trials aimed at getting autonomous vehicles onto the roads by 2020. The electric-powered pod – like a small two-seater car – navigated its way around a pedestrianised area in the southern English town of Milton Keynes at 5 miles (8km) per hour, turning corners and stopping as pedestrians crossed its path…." Read more Hmmm… I can’t imagine the reaction the reaction of Milton Keynes motorists and bicyclists trying to get around these things traveling at 5 mph. Of course NOT. The "first time" is in a "pedestrianized area" NOT a "UK street". Please let us know when it happens on normal "UK street". Alain
E. Woyke, Oct 12, "…Advocates for the blind—at Perkins and beyond—say driverless cars could revolutionize their lives, provided the vehicles are designed to be accessible…." Read more Hmmm… Wrong! Self-driving cars do essentially nothing for the ‘Blind’. What they need are Driverless cars!!! There is an enormous difference and MIT should not be sloppy in its terminology. The blind are not prepared to intervene every time a Self-driving car can’t ‘do it’. Alain
L. Bliss, Oct 12, "…Could lives have been saved if evacuees didn’t have to pilot themselves?…" Read more Hmmm… No! Next Question? … No! Cars are already connected with with SmartPhones. Alain
Older stuff that I had missed:
Reuters, Sept. 29, 2016, "A bill signed into law … allows a self-driving vehicle with no operator inside to test on a public road, a key step enabling a private business park outside San Francisco to test driverless shuttles….The bill … allows testing in Contra Costa County northeast of San Francisco of the first full-autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, brakes, accelerator or operator.
A project at the Bishop Ranch office park in the city of San Ramon to deploy driverless shuttles from French company Easymile had been on hold pending passage of the bill. Easymile already operates the shuttles in Europe.
New legislation was necessary because although driverless vehicles can be tested on private land like the office park, the shuttle will cross a public road on its loop through the campus….
Google and others have complained that California state regulations on self-driving vehicles are too restrictive, and that a patchwork of state regulations is unwieldy…." Read more Hmmm… Micro-Patchwork Legislation! Alain
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
Press release, Oct 20, "…Jaguar Land Rover is working with Ford and Tata Motors European Technical Center to test connected technologies that will allow cars to talk to each other as well as the roadside infrastructure, such as traffic lights, in the future…." Read more Hmmm…I guess J/LR didn’t get the memo that ‘Connected’ is out and ‘Automated’ is in. C’mon Man! Alain
Calendar of Upcoming Events:
Recent Highlights of:
M. Gurman, Oct 17, "Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.
Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public.
New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person….
Regardless of Apple’s struggles, established carmakers have recognized the threat posed by new entrants and have embarked on a hiring and acquisition splurge to beef up their software capabilities. They are wary of allowing technology companies to own the lucrative software component of new cars…" Read moreHmmm… Very interesting!) Alain
D. Victor, Oct. 5, "Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady climb….
The numbers were released on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of 2016 than in the first half of 2015, an increase of 3.3 percent….Officials have not identified a specific cause for the most recent increase… " Read moreHmmm…worst kept secret…Texting!!! It is an epidemic and the way to address it begins with Automated Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS)…what is on the shelf today (if it only really worked), and a necessary foundation for Self-driving (which improves Quality-of-Life for some but increases VMT) and Driverless (which improves Quality-of-Life for all and decreases VMT). Alain
H. Grabar, Sept 29, "One possibility is that easy mobility—driverless cars, on-demand deliveries, and the like—will dull the pains of suburban life. The long commute, the wasted driving time, the difficulty of running out for a carton of milk—the inconvenience and expense of the subdivision will be melted away by hot new technology. Milk by drone, what a concept!
Another is that easy mobility produces greater advantages in the city. Carless living is better than ever. NIMBY battles don’t happen because parking and congestion aren’t problems. Wasted auto infrastructure, like lots and curbside parking and garages, is converted towards better uses like housing and restaurants. Maybe a central highway, once evidence of a city’s essential unpleasantness, becomes a park…. Read more Hmmm…VERY interesting. My view: There is essentially zero consumer demand for Driverless car ownership. Without a substantial mobility alternative, suburbanites will buy and love Self-driving cars. Driverless is a useless upgrade.
However, fleets of Driverless vehicles can provide a compelling alternative. They have a much better opportunity to thrive (be a profitable fleet business) if Driverless makes sharing rides "consumer acceptable/desirable". This may be achieved through price, amenities, ease-of-use, marketing, ???. Moderate density generates demand that can be readily served with moderate ridesharing that is substantially better than individual car ownership or car-sharing. This kind of elevator-like mobility is better in terms of service, price, overhead, environment, … and it substantially enhances the fundamental attractiveness of medium density urban lifestyle. Thus, ride-share Driverless favors moderate urban while Self-driving favors status quo. Alain
September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety. (p5)
…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)
…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)
…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6) Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY. We all have recognized safety as a necessary condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful. (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition. Alain
"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain
"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…" Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain
"…2. Model State Policy (p7) The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done. Alain
"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…" Hmmm… Excellent. Alain
"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…" Hmmm… Yes. Alain
"…Note on “Levels of Automation” There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. ) Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless. While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly. That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless". Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today). So autonomousTaxis are impossible.
Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected. These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles). I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work. In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time. This is not acceptable. These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now. It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.
"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7) However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8) . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)
In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected", focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves. Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety. Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility.
What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit. NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines. FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight. Alain
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
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. 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. …." Read more Hmmm…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
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. … Read more Hmmm…Very unfortunate. What a great job he has done. All the best. Alain
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. 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
Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):
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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