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 more Hmmm….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


NTSB, July 26, "…Tesla Model S, traveling eastbound on US Highway 27A …struck and passed beneath a 2014 Freightliner Cascadia truck-tractor in combination with a 53-foot semitrailer. At the time of the collision,  the combination vehicle was making a left turn from westbound US-27A across the two eastbound travel lanes….The Tesla struck the right side of the semitrailer, approximately 23 feet forward from the end of the trailer. Damage from the collision was consistent with a 90 degree angle of impact….Tesla system performance data downloaded from the car indicated that vehicle speed just prior to impact was 74 mph. System performance data also revealed that the driver was operating the car using the advanced driver assistance features Traffic-Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer lane keeping assistance.  The car was also equipped with automatic emergency braking that is designed to automatically apply the brakes to reduce the severity of or assist in avoiding frontal collisions.  Hmmm….Why the "hurdle" set so low for AEB?  order mattters.  It should be avoid frontal impact or reduce severity?  Unfortunately, in this case it did neither.
As a result of the crash, the rear hatch frame separated and folded back over the crushed rear window.  Other than the roof structure
and the front bumper components that engaged the polethe main body of  the car was generally intact, as shown in figure 3. …Read more  Hmmm… Could it be that the truck cut him off so aggressively that he felt that his best option was to slip underneath?  Unfortunately, we’ll never know.   Alain

Tesla mulling two theories to explain ‘Autopilot’ crash: source

D. Shepardson, Juky 29, "Tesla Motors Inc told U.S. Senate Commerce Committee staff it is considering two theories that may help explain what led to the May 7 fatal crash…at an hour-long briefing on Thursday that they were still trying to understand the "system failure" that led to the crash, the source said….Tesla is considering whether the radar and camera input for the vehicle’s automatic emergency braking system failed to detect the truck trailer or the automatic braking system’s radar may have detected the trailer but discounted this input as part of a design to "tune out" structures such as bridges to avoid triggering false braking, the source said.  Tesla declined to discuss the meeting except to say it did not suggest that the vehicle’s cameras nor radar "caused" the accident. It was not clear if other factors were under investigation….Read more Hmmm….Why did it fail to detect the tractor pulling the trailer.  Can’t use the "Bridge" excuse there?!  See Also NYT. Alain

Apple Car Might Have Already Been Delayed a Year

D. Reisinger, July 21, "The Apple Car doesn’t even technically exist, but it’s already been delayed, according to a new report….

In a look at brothers working on Apple’s  AAPL 1.70%  ultra-secret car project said to be called Project Titan, technology site The Information revealed that Apple has delayed its vehicle to 2021. Several rumors have claimed Apple had planned a 2020 launch for Apple Car, but The Information’s sources say that the project has “run into challenges,” and that a person who had worked on the Project Titan team confirmed Apple has pushed back its target launch from 2020 to 2021…. Read more Hmmm….Interesting. Alain

Mobileye Bears Folding as Tighter Grip Seen on Driverless Future

G. Coppola, July 23, "Bearish bets against Mobileye NV are receding after the maker of chips and software for driverless cars said it would team up with BMW AG and Intel Corp. to deliver fully-autonomous cars by 2021.
Traders cut short interest on Mobileye, at one point the world’s most-shorted software stock, to 17 percent of shares outstanding last week, near the lowest level since September. It peaked at 22 percent on June 6. The stock has doubled since hitting a low of $24.54 in February.  Investors say Mobileye’s pact with BMW shows it has gone beyond advanced driver-assistance systems to establish itself as a key partner for automakers as they step up investment in the race to achieve fully-autonomous driving. The stock’s meteoric rise after a $1 billion initial public offering in 2014 made it a target for short sellers like Citron Research, which argued its valuation implied a quasi-monopoly status for what was essentially an early-to-the-game chipmaker with no moat to fend off competition…. Read more Hmmm.. After a plunge holding flat within a band.  Alain

Mercedes pulls ‘self-driving car’ advert following concerns over Tesla’s use of ‘Autopilot’

F. Lambert, July 29, "When we reported on the European Public Road Authority supporting Tesla’s Autopilot system following some concerns over the use of the word ‘Autopilot’ and the program being in ‘beta’ earlier this month, we also mentioned that a bigger concern could be Mercedes calling its E-Class with ‘Drive-Pilot’ a ‘self-driving car’ in an advert, which is significantly more misleading than Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’.  Now we learn that the automaker is pulling the ad following Consumer Reports complaint to the FTC.

Mercedes’ Drive Pilot, like Tesla’s Autopilot, is a semi-autonomous driver assist system with features like active cruise control and automatic steering on highways, but the performance of the two systems are reportedly extremely different. Read more Hmmm…  I didn’t save a copy of the commercial.  If you have a copy, please forward. Other videos 1, 2, 3   Alain 

Letter to the FTC Chairwoman

July 27, "As advocates for motor vehicle safety and truth in the marketplace, we urge you to carefully scrutinize auto manufacturers’ marketing related to automated technologies. Today, we ask for your attention to Mercedes-Benz’s advertising for the 2017 E-Class, including a TV ad currently airing called “The Future,” which markets automated features available in the 2017 EClass. This ad is likely to mislead a reasonable consumer by representing the E-Class as selfdriving when it is not. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) should take enforcement action against companies that falsely, misleadingly, or unfairly claim that their cars drive autonomously when they actually require the steady control of a human driver.   " Read more Hmmm…While it is nice that CS et al. are making sure that MB and Tesla don’t "over-promise" on Self-Driving, why aren’t they also complaining about Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) systems that don’t work.  AEBs have been on the market for some years now and IIHS and other testing agencies have been demonstrating that many of these systems fail to work even at approach speeds of 12 mph.  The foundation of any Self-driving is the AEB.  In many ways, lane centering and intelligent cruise control are easy in comparison. AEB is intended to operate when weird things happen like a tractor trailer cutting you off.

Moreover, why aren’t these folks complaining about most advertising associated with automobiles.  Too many ads misleadingly promote some superhuman aspect of the vehicle.  The simple fact that the speedometer in my car displays values up to 160 mph yet relies upon me to not be an idiot and not misuse this feature.  The whole "love affair" with the automobile was built on deception.

And if they really want "truth in the marketplace" why don’t they demand that speed limits be real speed limits and that stop signs really mean stop, look (and listen) and yield signs really mean yield. The current system has evolved into a game in which there is little respect for many aspects that leads to horrible driver behaviors.  At least Self-driving systems can be designed to respect the true "rules of the road".  If these folks really want public agencies to "take enforcement action" they could focus on regulations mandating automated systems that override driver’s actions that place the car on a collision course should those actions continue.  A driver’s action should not be such that it leads to a collision; else, that driver should be taken out-of-the-loop and not able to regain control until the collision threat is not longer imminent.  Even though, such defensive driving can not eliminate all collisions, as may well have been the case when the Tesla was cut off by the tractor-trailer, many/most of these collision regimes can be readily identified and averted.  Anti-lock brakes don’t allow me to lock my brakes; AEBs shouldn’t permit me to collide with another car,  pole, or other object and lane centering shouldn’t allow me to run off the road or drift out of my lane.  (and lane markings should be clearly identifiable by all human drivers under "all" conditions.  If they are, then they’ll be readily identifiable by automated sensors.) Alain

The War For Autonomous Driving: 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class VS. 2017 Tesla Model S

A. Roy, July 27, "It’s a DrivePilot vs. AutoPilot cage match fight to the death—potentially yours…." Read more Hmmm… See also videos in 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class First Drive

Uber to pour $500m into global mapping project

L. Hoook, July 31, "Uber is preparing to pour $500m into an ambitious global mapping project as it seeks to wean itself off dependence on Google Maps and pave the way for driverless cars….By developing its own maps Uber could eventually reduce its reliance on Google Maps, which currently power the Uber app in most of the world….Last year Uber hired one of the world’s leading digital mapping experts, Brian McClendon, who previously ran Google Maps and helped create Google Earth.  Read more Hmmm…, T. Russell Shields of NavTeQ got Phillips to spend more than $1B to create a global digital map that sold to Nokia for $8.1B .  Who knows how much Google has spent to get to where they are but it may well be 10x $0.5B.  So, Uber, be prepared to spend much more if you really intend to develop a competitive product.  The digital attributes need to be pristine!   Alain

Authorizing Automated Vehicle Platooning: A Guide for State Legislators

M. Scribner, July 28, "… One problem … is found in states’ following-too-closely (FTC) statutes, which outlaw many automated vehicle platooning applications.  Automated vehicle platooning—often referred to as road trains, connected automated vehicles, or cooperative automated vehicles—is one of the more promising potential functions of automated vehicle technology. Platooned automated vehicles can travel close together at highway speeds, mitigating traffic congestion, improving fuel economy, and increasing vehicle throughput without costly physical roadway capacity expansions.6this report is based upon an inventory of state laws as published rather than as interpreted by the courts…." Read more Hmmm…. A very good and very useful synopsis of the state laws ; however, it is too early and unwise to advocate for platooning.  The traveling public is not ready for it and we all need to get Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system to work and deployed throughout the truck fleet before we promote platooning or self-driving.  (and driverless is way after all of that).  Without a proven and pervasive AEB, platooning is just a catastrophe waiting to happen.   Plus the economic benefits of AEB probably outweigh the most optimistic fuel savings benefits of platooning.  (It is nice that Peloton is finally recognizing the safety benefits of their system.) Alain

Delphi launches autonomous car pilot in Singapore

M. Martinez, Aug 1, "Delphi Automotive PLC on Monday said it is launching a self-driving car pilot program in Singapore that will have driverless cars ferrying passengers and goods around a business park in the island nation by decade’s end….Testing will last for three years, with operational service targeted by 2022. Delphi expects to announce later this year plans for similar testing in North America and Europe….Read more Hmmm…OK, but what at once was "by 2018 s now "by 2022"  Oh well!  Alain

Your Self-Driving-Car Manual

J. Reiner, July 30, "  Congratulations on the purchase of your 2017 Golem Zombie, the world’s most technologically advanced self-driving vehicle. This Quick Start manual will get you going to enjoy the best-in-class features that only the fully autonomous Golem Zombie provides, liberating you to enjoy the open road without the responsibilities of driving.

Unlike other self-driving vehicles, Golem’s autopilot engineering and contextual cultural awareness sensors give you the power to select from 457 factory-programmed Driving Modes by simply engaging the LED dashboard menu through voice-activated commands. Some of the Zombie’s popular Driving Modes include:…"  Read more Hmmm….Enjoy!!! Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Impact of Car2Go…

E. Martin, S. Shaheen, "…Car2go is currently the largest carsharing operator in the world, with a presence in nine countries and nearly 30 cities. It operates as a one-way instant access carsharing system within a pre-defined urban zone. Members can find an unoccupied parked vehicle, access it immediately, and use it to meet their local travel needs. As long as the vehicle is parked within the operating zone, users only pay for the time that they drive. As a one-way system, car2go provides flexibility to the user. There are questions as to whether one-way carsharing increases overall vehicle miles traveled (VMT), by facilitating easier oneway travel (and automotive commuting) within urban environments. The results of this study suggest that access to ubiquitous shared automobiles allows some residents to get rid of a car or avoid acquiring one altogether. These actions taken by a minority of members have VMT-reducing effects that are estimated to exceed the additional driving that does take place within car2go vehicles….

Most of the car2go population appears to use it for a small number of trips a year to satisfy incidental mobility needs. This activity generally adds to driving that is additional or would have otherwise occurred with another automobile. The analysis also found that a minority of the population uses car2go as a substitution for personal automobiles as they either sold personal vehicles owned or suppressed the acquisition of a private auto. The impacts of these changes are large relative to the overall increase in driving that is caused by car2go activity. Thus, the results of this analysis suggest that car2go is on net reducing vehicles that would be owned by households, reducing driving, and thus lowering GHG emissions.  Read more Hmmm….Interesting.  Basically autonomousTaxis without the ride-sharing nor the empty car repositioning opportunity (for which no mention is made as to its implications on VMT) . Alain


On the More Technical Side

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

Older stuff that I had missed:

  Taking on Tesla: China’s Jia Yueting aims to outmuscle Musk

N. Shirouzu, Apr 25, "Tomorrow’s cars will be all-electric, self-driving, connected to high-speed communications networks … and free.  And probably Chinese….LeEco hopes to start producing a version of the LeSEE in a few years at a plant being built near Las Vegas by U.S. strategic partner Faraday Future, in which Jia has invested. Those cars would be sold in the United States and China. Further ahead, the plan is to produce electric cars in China, too, probably through a partnership with BAIC Motor.  Read more Hmmm….Maybe???  The advertising environment in which they could immerse you could substantially reduce the price of a ride.  Maybe!!! Alain

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Sept 15 & 16, 2016
Arlington, VA

Sept 19-21, 2016
Antwerp, Belgium

Recent Highlights of:

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

E. Musk, July 20 "…Integrate Energy Generation and Storage
Create a smoothly integrated and beautiful solar-roof-with-battery product that just works, empowering the individual as their own utility, and then scale that throughout the world. One ordering experience, one installation, one service contact, one phone app….

Expand to Cover the Major Forms of Terrestrial Transport
With the Model 3, a future compact SUV and a new kind of pickup truck, we plan to address most of the consumer market. A lower cost vehicle than the Model 3 is unlikely to be necessary, because of the third part of the plan described below.

What really matters to accelerate a sustainable future is being able to scale up production volume as quickly as possible. That is why Tesla engineering has transitioned to focus heavily on designing the machine that makes the machine — turning the factory itself into a product….In addition to consumer vehicles, there are two other types of electric vehicle needed: heavy-duty trucks and high passenger-density urban transport. Both are in the early stages of development at Tesla…With the advent of autonomy, it will probably make sense to shrink the size of buses and transition the role of bus driver to that of fleet manager. Traffic congestion would improve due to increased passenger areal density by eliminating the center aisle and putting seats where there are currently entryways, and matching acceleration and braking to other vehicles, thus avoiding the inertial impedance to smooth traffic flow of traditional heavy buses. It would also take people all the way to their destination. Fixed summon buttons at existing bus stops would serve those who don’t have a phone. Design accommodates wheelchairs, strollers and bikes.

As the technology matures, all Tesla vehicles will have the hardware necessary to be fully self-driving with fail-operational capability, meaning that any given system in the car could break and your car will still drive itself safely. It is important to emphasize that refinement and validation of the software will take much longer than putting in place the cameras, radar, sonar and computing hardware.

Even once the software is highly refined and far better than the average human driver, there will still be a significant time gap, varying widely by jurisdiction, before true self-driving is approved by regulators….I should add a note here to explain why Tesla is deploying partial autonomy now, rather than waiting until some point in the future. The most important reason is that, when used correctly, it is already significantly safer than a person driving by themselves and it would therefore be morally reprehensible to delay release simply for fear of bad press or some mercantile calculation of legal liability….It is also important to explain why we refer to Autopilot as "beta"….

When true self-driving is approved by regulators, it will mean that you will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere. Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute to your destination.  You will also be able to add your car to the Tesla shared fleet just by tapping a button on… Read more Hmmm….This is a chock-full vision that sounds pretty good me (and doesn’t have a mention of DSRC, V2V or V2x 🙂  ); except, do I really want to invest to become a "Tesla (AirBnB) Host" or simply use the "Mobility-on-Demand Transit System" (MoDTS) that Tesla or ALK or ???? (unfortunately NJ Transit, the obvious MoDTS operator, will pass.)  Alain

Thursday, July 14, 2016

  Another Tesla crash blamed on car’s Autopilot system

S. Musil, July 12, "The most recent crash involved a Model X near the small town of Whitehall, Montana, on Sunday morning, according to the Detroit Free Press. Neither the driver nor the passenger was injured in the single-vehicle crash, the Montana Highway Patrol told the newspaper….The car failed to detect an obstacle in the road, according to a thread posted on the Tesla Motors Club forum by someone who said they’re a friend of the driver. The thread included photos showing the damage to the vehicle.

Tesla said Tuesday that it appears the driver in the crash was using the system improperly.

"The data suggests that the driver’s hands were not on the steering wheel, as no force was detected on the steering wheel for over 2 minutes after autosteer was engaged (even a very small amount of force, such as one hand resting on the wheel, will be detected)," a Tesla spokesman said in a statement. "This is contrary to the terms of use that are agreed to when enabling the feature and the notification presented in the instrument cluster each time it is activated.

"As road conditions became increasingly uncertain, the vehicle again alerted the driver to put his hands on the wheel. He did not do so and shortly thereafter the vehicle collided with a post on the edge of the roadway," the spokesman said. He added that the Autopilot feature was being used on an undivided mountain road despite being designed for use on a divided highway in slow-moving traffic….Read more  Hmmm….Interesting that Tesla didn’t say that the car began to slow down (as it is supposed to if the driver does not put his/her hand back on the wheel!!!!???? (The "lane-centering" should NOT turn off if the driver does not respond (I believe the Mercedes "997 package" turns off lane-centering if you don’t respond to the buzzer 🙁  (However, since the lane centering on my 2014 S-550 only works if the lane is essentially perfectly straight, and Mercedes has never made an effort to fix/update my software, I rarely take my hands off the wheel.  The system is so poor that I can’t tell if lane-centering is just not working or the buzzer turned it off.  🙁  )) ,  What should happen is that the car should turn on its emergency flashers, slow down at a rate that is proportional to the quality of the road conditions and once it reaches a slow enough speed have the capability to determine if a lane change to the right (in US and …) is safe or a clear shoulder to the right is available.  If so,  make the lane change and come to a complete stop, all the while announcing to the driver what the system is doing because hands have not been put back on the wheel.  After stopping, "AutoPilot" should then turned off as should "AutoPilot" privileges until a "Tesla" representative resets the system.  If that doesn’t convince the driver to put "hands-on-wheel", then the car has just averted a possible catastrophe associated with a comatose driver.     Alain

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)…Tesla’s electric cars are not self-driving, but when the Autopilot system is engaged it can keep the car in a lane, adjust its speed to keep up with traffic and brake to avoid collisions. Tesla says audio and visual alerts warn drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel and watch the road. If a driver is unresponsive to the alerts, the car is programmed to slow itself to a stop.

Such warnings aren’t sufficient, though; some Tesla drivers, as shown in videos on YouTube, have even gotten into the back seat while the car was moving. Such reckless behavior threatens not just the drivers but everyone else on the road, too. (Absolutely!)… If that system (V2V) had been in place, Mr. Brown might have survived. (Sure, but Mr Brown would have had to wait more than his normal expected life span before that system would have been adopted by more than 70% of all vehicles for it to have better than a "coin flip" chance of helping him.   What would have helped Mr. Brown is if the Automated Emergency Braking system worked on his Tesla, or if the truck driver had seen him coming (not become distracted) and had not "failed to yield".  ) Federal officials could take lessons from the history of airbags and the lack of strong regulations. (This is a VERY appropriate and relevant lesson!)… The agency does not yet have regulations for driverless cars or cars that have driver assistance systems. But when officials do put rules in place, they will have to update them regularly as they learn about how the technology works in practice. Automation should save lives. But nobody should expect these vehicles to be risk-free. (This is very wise.  They should also immediately focus on Automated Emergency Braking systems which are the foundation of any Self-driving or Driverless systems. )  Read more  Hmmm….Comments in-line above.  Alain

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?  Why was his truck not equipped with sensors that can warn him of collision risks at intersections?  As I’ve written, driving is one of the most dangerous occupations.  Why isn’t OSHA concerned about improving the environment of these workers?  Why doesn’t  ATRI (the American Trucking Association’s research arm recognize the lack availability/adoption of "SmartDrivingTruck technology" as one of its Critical Issues?  Why didn’t his insurance agent encourage/convince him to equip his truck with collision risk sensors.  If they aren’t commercially available, why hasn’t his insurance company invested/promoted/lobbied for their development?  These low-volume rural highway intersections are very dangerous.  Technology could help.

"…(the truck driver)…said he saw the Tesla approaching in the left, eastbound lane. Then it crossed to the right lane and struck his trailer. "I don’t know why he went over to the slow lane when he had to have seen me,” he said…." (2) .  Hmmm….If the driver saw the Tesla change lanes, why did he "failed to yield right-of-way"???

"…Meanwhile, the accident is stoking the debate on whether drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security by such technology. A man who lives on the property where Brown’s car came to rest some 900 feet from the intersection where the crash occurred said when he approached the wreckage 15 minutes after the crash, he could hear the DVD player. An FHP trooper on the scene told the property owner, Robert VanKavelaar, that a "Harry Potter" movie was showing on the DVD player, VanKavelaar told Reuters on Friday.

Another witness, Terence Mulligan, said he arrived at the scene before the first Florida state trooper and found "there was no movie playing."   "There was no music. I was at the car. Right at the car," Mulligan told Reuters on Friday.

Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said on Friday that "there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," but wouldn’t elaborate further on it. She also said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage….

…Mulligan said he was driving in the same westbound direction as the truck before it attempted to make a left turn across the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 27 Alternate when he spotted the Tesla traveling east.  Mulligan said the Tesla did not appear to be speeding on the road, which has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, according to the FHP…." (2) .

3. "…the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents…" (3). Not sure how Tesla knows what Joshua Brown saw or did not see.  Events prior to the crash unfolded over many seconds.  Tesla must have precise data on the car’s speed and steering angle, video  for those many seconds prior to the crash, as well as, what it was "seeing" from MobilEye’s cameras and radar data.  At no time prior to the crash did it see anything crossing its intended travel lane?  More important, why didn’t the truck driver see the Tesla?  WHAT WAS HE DOING? What was the truck doing.  How slow was it going?  Hopefully there was a data speed recorder on the truck.  Was the truck impounded, if so, how is the truck driver making a living since the crash? 

One can also ask: Why was the truck not equipped with sensors that can warn the driver of collision risks at intersections?  As I’ve written, driving is one of the most dangerous occupations.  Why isn’t OSHA concerned about improving this workplace environment?  Why doesn’t  ATRI (the American Trucking Association’s research arm) recognize the lack availability/adoption of "SmartDrivingTruck technology" as one of its Critical Issues?  Why didn’t the driver’s insurance agent encourage/convince him to equip his truck with collision risk sensors.  If they aren’t commercially available, why hasn’t his insurance company invested/promoted/lobbied for their development?  These low-volume rural highway intersections are very dangerous.  Technology could help.

While the discussion is about AutoPilot, the Tesla also has Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) which is supposed to always be on.  This seems more like an AEB failure rather than an AutoPilot failure. The Tesla didn’t just drive off the road,  The discussion about "hands-on-wheels" is irrelevant.  What was missing was "foot-on-brake" by the Tesla driver and "eyes-on-road" by, most importantly, the truck driver, since he initiated an action in violation to "rules of the road" that may have made a crash unavoidable. 

3. "Problem Description: A fatal highway crash involving a 2015 Tesla Model S which, according to Tesla, was operating with automated driving systems (“Autopilot”) engaged, calls for an examination
of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash."
(4). Not to be picky, but the initiator of the crash was the failure to yield by the truck driver.  Why isn’t this human failure the most fundamental "Problem Description"?  If "driving aids" were supposed to "bail out" the truck driver’s failure to yield, why isn’t the AEB system’s "design and performance" being examined.  AutoPilot’s responsibility is to keep the Tesla from steering off the road (and, as a last resort, yield to the AEB).  The focus should be on AEBs.  How many other Tesla drivers have  perished that didn’t have AutoPilot on, but had AEB?  How many drivers have perished of other cars that have AEB?  Seems as if this crash was more about an emergency automated systems failing to apply the brakes, rather than a driver not having his hands-on-wheel.  Unfortunately, it is likely that we will eventually have a fatality in which an "AutoPilot" will fail to keep a "Tesla" on the road (or in a "correct" lane), but from what is known so far, this does not seem to be the crash. 

4. "What we learn here is that Mobileye’s system in Tesla’s Autopilot does gather the information from the vehicle’s sensors, primarily the front facing camera and radar, but while it gathers the data, Mobileye’s tech can’t (or not well enough until 2018) recognize the side of vehicles and therefore, itcan’t work in a situation where braking is required to stop a Tesla from hitting the side of another vehicle.

Since Tesla pushed its 7.1 update earlier this year, the automaker’s own system used the same data to recognize anything, under adequate conditions, that could obstruct the path of the Tesla and if the radar’s reading is consistent with the data from the camera, it will apply the brakes.

Now that’s something that was put to the test by Model S owners earlier in the week:" (4). See video,  "In the last two tests, the Autopilot appears to detect an obstacle as evidenced by the forward collision warning alerts, but the automatic emergency braking didn’t activate, which raised questions – not unlike in the fatal crash.

Though as Tesla explained, the trailer was not detected in the fatal crash, the radar confused it for an overhead sign, but in the tests above, the forward collision warning system sent out an alert – though as evidenced by the fact that the test subject wasn’t hit, the AEB didn’t need to activate and therefore it didn’t. Tesla explains:

“AEB does not engage when an alternative collision avoidance strategy (e.g., driver steering) remains viable. Instead, when a collision threat is detected, forward collision warning alerts the driver to encourage them to take appropriate evasive action. AEB is a fallback safety feature that operates by design only at high levels of severity and should not be tested with live subjects.”…" Read more (5) With all of the expertise that MobilEye has in image processing, it is surprising that it can’t recognize the side of a tractor trailer or gets confused with overhead signs and tunnel openings.  If overhead signs (and overpasses and tree canopies) are really the issue, then these can be readily geocoded and included in the digital map database.)

5.  It seems that all of the other stuff about DVD player, watching movies, previous postings on YouTube is noise. Automated Collision Avoidance Systems and their Automated Emergency Braking sub-system MUST be more robust a mitigating "failed to yield right-of-way" situations irrespective of the "failure to yield" derived from a human action (as seems to have occurred in this crash) or an "autoPilot" (which doesn’t seem to be the case in this crash).  Alain

(1) Self-Driving Tesla Was Involved in Fatal Crash, U.S. Says, June 30 NYT,

(2) DVD player found in Tesla car in fatal May crash, July 1, Reuters

(3) A Tragic Loss, June 30, Tesla Blog

(4) NHTSA ODI Resume PE 16-007 Automatic vehicle control system, June 28, 2016

(5) Tesla elaborates on Autopilot’s automatic emergency braking capacity over Mobileye’s system Electrek, July 2, 2016  See also: Understanding the fatal Tesla accident on Autopilot and the NHTSA probe July 2, 2016, Tesla Autopilot partner Mobileye comments on fatal crash, says tech isn’t meant to avoid this type of accident [Updated], July 1,

Monday, June 27, 2016

Who Will Build the Next Great Car Company?

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Derailment of Amtrak passenger train 188, Philadelphia, PA, May 12, 2015 NTSB/ DCA15MR010

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  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

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 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

  N.J. superintendent killed while jogging was struck by student late for trip

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

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

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

  Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

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

Thursday, January 14, 2016

 Obama’s $4 Billion Plan for Self-Driving Cars Will Make Google Very Happy

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

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

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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