Courtesy of Prof. Wm. Massey & Happy Hanukkah’16-122416

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waymo’s 100 autonomous Chrysler minivans are here

J. Golson, Dec 19, "Chrysler has completed the 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans that will join the Waymo (née Google) fleet in early 2017. The vans, which are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software built in, are part of a partnership between Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Waymo that was announced earlier this year.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said last week that his company is not interested in “making better cars.” Instead, it wants to make “better drivers.”…"

Read more Hmmm…Nice that these vehicles are targeted to a ride-sharing market (more seating capacity and easier in&out than the Prius/Lexus/Bug.) 

However,  the quote by John Krafcik is VERY troubling.  To make "better drivers" all one needs is Automated Collision Avoidance systems (or what I’ve termed ‘Safe-driving cars’).  That is indeed a laudable goal; however, that goal can be reached with a lot less hardware and software than what is in these modified Pacificas (which have a conventional steering wheel, brake & throttle pedals and driver’s seat).  But Safe-driving cars aren’t helpful to the Steve Mahan’s of this world (or to the young, or the Ubers or enable the Modified Pacifica’s to offer inexpensive high-quality shared-ride on-demand mobility to all.   Most unfortunately, what all of the extra gizmos on the modified Pacificas enable is for the driver to be better able to consume Google Ads for part of his/her time trapped in this vehicle.  So a more honest quote might have been: it wants to make "better drivers who can better consume Google Ads."  No wonder Chris bailed!  🙁  Alain

A first look at our Waymo fully self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans

J. Krafcik, Dec 18, "…Today, we’re sharing a first look at the completed vehicles, equipped with our latest Waymo self-driving technology, including our suite of updated sensors, all-new computer and other major system updates…" Read more Hmmm…An enormous step towards Self-driving and an abandonment of Driverless.  So sad.  One can see it now…OEMs adopting the Waymo Self-driving bundle. VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled), road congestion, energy consumption, pollution, GHG, urbanization and Google ad revenues all go through the roof. 

I realize that Alphabet has a fiduciary responsibility to its share holders to maximize shared holder value and that a global max may exist by serving the needs of solo drivers that have nothing to do for large parts of many of their trips.  All one needs are the Pacifica’s gizmos in their cars and Bingo!.  No need to suffer through the additional expense and regulatory nightmares to achieve Driverless.  Don’t need fancy AI to see that continuing to push ‘Driverless’ is a detriment to Alphabet’s bottom line.  (No doubt Baidu will come to see it the same.) 

So  poor Steven Mahan and ‘the environment’ will need Uber to come to the rescue because its bottom line absolutely needs Driverless and Driverless is sufficient for it to revolutionize the $10T global mobility market. 🙁 Alain 

Uber Halts San Francisco Driverless Cars As DMV Revokes Test Fleet Registration

A. Ohnsman, Dec 21, "Uber’s puzzling defiance of a California requirement that it get a $150 permit to operate self-driving cars in San Francisco came to an end with the ride-hailing company announcing it was suspending the program. Uber had little choice: California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked registrations for its 16-vehicle test fleet earlier in the day…"  Read more Hmmm…That likely took 16 of the safest vehicles off California roads.  Congratulations CA DMV.  You really need that $150/vehicle revenue stream.  This is why NHTSA and other states should NOT follow California. Wouldn’t it be better just to ask Uber to share its findings of its test and thank them for spending their own money to improve safety on California roads and improve mobility.  God forbid, something bad should happen, Uber is certainly sufficiently self-insured.  (In CA it only cost $125 to receive a restricted license after a DWI).  Alain

Uber to switch driverless car testing from California to Arizona

H. Fischer, Dec 23, "Spurned by California over safety concerns, Uber is moving the testing of its driverless cars to Arizona.  But Gov. Doug Ducey said Thursday that will not endanger Arizona motorists and pedestrians. In fact, he contends it actually could make the state’s roads safer — eventually.

"There’s all kinds of accidents and avoidable deaths due to human error,” he said. "Uber hopes to solve much of that.”…"We’re agreeing to being business friendly and saying that innovation and entrepreneurship and the solving of problem happens in real-world situations,” the governor said." Read more Hmmm…Now that’s more like it!  🙂 Alain

Will self-driving cars Make the Suburbs Great Again?

 N. Kobie, Dec 19, "The future of urban life is the commuter belt. Or so says one economist, who believes technology and transport improvements will help us live better lives on the fringes of cities than we do in the middle of them.

“A city is a technical solution to a problem from the Industrial Revolution,” said Karen Harris, managing director of Bain & Company’s Macro Trends Group, at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki last week. “We needed to have lots of bodies clustered to run our cities… it was a genius solution.”… The future of urban life is the commuter belt. Or so says one economist, who believes technology and transport improvements will help us live better lives on the fringes of cities than we do in the middle of them.

“A city is a technical solution to a problem from the Industrial Revolution,” said Karen Harris, managing director of Bain & Company’s Macro Trends Group, at the Slush startup conference in Helsinki last week. “We needed to have lots of bodies clustered to run our cities… it was a genius solution.” Read more  Hmmm… Implications of ‘Self-Driving’. Is this really what Waymo wants as a byproduct of its "Making better drivers"?  Alain

The shipping industry is poised for massive upheaval. Can FedEx weather the storm?

S. Halzack, Dec 15, "Between 10 and 11:30 p.m., as most of this city is winding down for the night, the FedEx Express World Hub is revving up for its busiest hours of the day.

Some 10,000 workers pour into the campus, ready to begin a mind-bogglingly complex ritual of steering packages to customers’ doorsteps on time. Hundreds of equipment operators zoom around the 880-acre site on warehouse tugs, pulling behind them trains of silver shipping containers shaped like half-igloos. In an earsplitting operation dubbed “the matrix,” package sorters corral boxes into a single-file line for a trip down a tangle of conveyor belts.

On this particular night at FedEx’s largest global facility, workers will sort some 1.3 million express packages. That number only swelled when holiday shopping kicked into high gear…." Read more  Hmmm… A really good article.  Alain

Amazon’s Real Future Isn’t Drones. It’s Self-Driving Trucks

D. Alba, Dec 20, "…Jeff Bezos likes to tout Amazon’s efforts to build delivery drones, particularly at this time of year. But that’s a ridiculous project compared to the efficiencies the company could gain through autonomous trucks. That’s where Amazon’s real future lies." Read more Hmmm… Pretty light article, but I really like the last paragraph. 

There are two issues here.  The ‘line-haul’ between manufacturers and Amazon warehouses and the ‘last-mile’ from the warehouses to your front door.  The first is really efficient and there is little for  Amazon to add (irrespective of the next article) given that there are 3 competitors (FedEx, UPS and USPS) that keep each other honest and labor is a relatively small of that cost.  The ‘last mile’ is a whole other issue.  Labor is a substantial part and this is where Driverless could most readily be accomplished. (Many deliveries could be done in off-peak hours and even in the middle of the night if they are uncoupled from human drivers. Substantial private and public benefits are derived.) Here it will come down to who is willing to make the investment.  Unlikely it will be FedEx, UPS and USPS.  Maybe Uber.  But Amazon has the most to gain by a seamless integration of home delivery with its warehouse operation.  Alain

Amazon is secretly building an ‘Uber for trucking’ app, setting its sights on a massive $800 billion market

E. Kim, Dec 15, "Amazon is building an app that matches truck drivers with shippers, a new service that would deepen its presence in the $800 billion trucking industry, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Business Insider.

The app, scheduled to launch next summer, is designed to make it easier for truck drivers to find shippers that need goods moved, much in the way Uber connects drivers with riders. It would also eliminate the need for a third-party broker, which typically charges a commission of about 15% for doing the middleman work…" Read more Hmmm… Of course.  Surprised its taken this long wrt the ‘line-haul’.  Alain

Is In-Car Electronic Technology Depreciating Faster than the Car Itself?

Maryann Keller, Dec 21, "Technological obsolescence in a modern vehicle occurs much faster than the useful life of the car. That’s becoming a problem for supporting residual values into the near future – and buyers of these vehicles might start thinking about leasing rather than ownership to avoid the future unknown loss of value…
As more vehicles are equipped with expensive technologies that inflate MSRPs, buyers will face the risk of rapid obsolescence of these features as future vehicles incorporate the latest generation…
One obvious consideration – always lease, and never buy, one of these new gadget-filled or novel cars…Read more  Hmmm… Really good advice, especially for cars that haven’t been designed to incorporate software upgrades let alone firmware and hardware upgrades.  This is especially true for cars with self-driving capabilities.  OEMs are torn between the desire to get you to buy the latest and greatest and having it affordable by maintaining value in your trade-in. 

I contend that there is a market to substantially enhance most cars manufactured since 2012 though retrofit of after-market automated collision avoidance systems. Conventional thought argues that such efforts would void warranties and that NHTSA would disallow it.  What a shame…’Violate warranties & defy NHTSA’ or ‘continue causing ~$1B annual economic losses & kill 38,000‘.  Only way to make a dent quickly is via the after-market.

Insurance can help here!! Please send us a nice holiday present by beginning to this as an insurance profitability opportunity.  Alain

  Allstate Announces Autonomous Vehicle Research Agreement

Press release, Dec 13, "Working toward a future where more autonomous vehicles are on the road, Allstate Insurance Company today announced a multi-year research agreement with the Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Stanford University. Allstate’s goal is to help pave a way for safer roads.

"We are proactively embracing and participating in the evolving landscape around personal transportation through our work with world-class institutions at the forefront of this automotive revolution," says Allstate’s Senior Vice President of Product Innovation Howard Hayes. "We aim to learn about, and contribute to the algorithm research, software platforms and the datasets, tools and standards related to connected and autonomous vehicles."…Stanford Professor Mykel Kochenderfer will serve as the principal investigator during the three year project." Read more Hmmm… Congratulations Mykel for getting Insurance to step up.  Alain

The Big Bang of autonomous driving

L. Chappell, "…You may have wondered: How in the world did all this start?…

There was a Big Bang on a Saturday in November 2007, and chances are you missed it.

"That was the moment," agrees Red Whittaker, a leading robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh who has spent his career exploring and patenting ways to automate mining, farming and industrial vehicles…"  Read more  Hmmm… Red, you have every reason to be very proud of a great career.  You created the Big Bang!  🙂  Alain

Ohio eyes self-driving trucks, cars tests

T. Linkhorn, Dec 18, "An ambitious plan to build a 500-acre specialty testing site in East Liberty, Ohio, for driverless cars and commercial trucks could go a long way toward cementing Ohio’s status as a key location for developing and proving the technology that looks to be a lock for the future of the automotive industry.

The Transportation Research Center, a sprawling independent proving grounds that shares a border with Honda Motor’s Ohio operations, hopes to finish the first phase of the $100-million project by the end of next summer…. Read more  Hmmm… Go for it Ohio.  Nice article.  Alain


Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Thinking about thinking

Dec. 17,  "DURING the second world war a young Jewish boy was caught after curfew on the streets of Nazi-occupied Paris by an SS soldier. The soldier picked him up, hugged him, showed him a photograph of another boy and gave him money. The young Daniel Kahneman left more certain than ever that his mother was right: “People were endlessly complicated and interesting.” His curiosity about human thinking would lead him to a pioneering career in psychology, exploring the systematic flaws of decision-making, in a remarkable partnership with his collaborator, Amos Tversky. In 2002 Mr Kahneman (pictured) won a Nobel prize in economics, for work on how people overvalue losses relative to gains. Tversky would have shared it had he not died in 1996.

This is the terrain of Michael Lewis’s new book, “The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds”. It is part biography of a friendship and part account of psychology’s impact, while also taking in much of modern Israel’s history. It is a fine showcase of Mr Lewis’s range…" Read more  Hmmm… Read the article but, more importantly, read the book.  And if you haven’t read Thinking, Fast & Slow, you should.  Alain

What DeepMind brings to Alphabet

Dec 17, "…DeepMind’s most immediate benefit to Google and Alphabet is the advantage it gives in the strategic battle that technology companies are waging over AI (see chart). It hoovers up talent, keeping researchers away from competitors like Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon. The Kings Cross office already houses about 400 computer scientists and neuroscientists, and there is talk of expanding that to 1,000…"Read more Hmmm… No wonder AI is getting respect from the Computer Science academic community. Alain

On the More Technical Side

National guidelines for automated vehicle trials:  Discussion paper

November 2016, "Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to seek stakeholder feedback on options for national guidelines to support automated vehicle trials.
Abstract This discussion paper:
• proposes key criteria for inclusion in national guidelines
• identifies key issues for supporting trials based on a detailed comparison of trial frameworks in other jurisdictions both in Australia and internationally.
Submission details Submissions will be accepted until Monday 16 January 2017 online at

Read more  Hmmm… 40 pages of real content.  Alain

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


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

Ford studies using drones to guide self-driving cars

Dec 16, …"Ford Motor Co. is studying a system to use drones to help guide self-driving vehicles, including on off-road adventures, company officials said.

Drones launched from an autonomous vehicle would help guide it by mapping the surrounding area beyond what the car’s sensors can detect. Vehicle passengers can control the drone using the car’s infotainment or navigation system…" Read more Hmmm… What????  There is so much that needs to be done to provide safe mobility for all and we’re wasting time on off-road adventures.  Whatever??? Anything to sell more F-150s. C’mon Ford!! Alain


Webpage "… CarTube combines two existing modes of transport, automated electric cars and mass transit, into a single, seamless underground road system: a network of relatively small bore tunnels under major conurbations…" Read more Hmmm… Maybe in some distant future once adoption of Driverless cars reaches well into double digits. Until then this is C’mon Man! Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Self-driving Leadership Summit @ CES
January 7, 2017
Las Vegas, NV

January 8-12, 2017
Washington, DC
Princeton Alumni & Friends Banquet
Tuesday, 6:00pm Jan 10

Recent Highlights of:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The California DMV says Uber has to stop operating its self-driving cars in SF

J. Bhuiyah, Dec 14, "…In a letter addressed to Anthony Levandowski, the co-founder of Otto and now head of Uber’s self-driving unit, the California DMV demanded that the ride-hail company stop operating its fleet of self-driving cars…"  Read more Hmmm… This is all so confusing.  The letter from DMV describes the ‘testing’ of ‘autonomous technology’, but Uber isn’t ‘testing’, it is operating and it doesn’t describe its cars as ‘autonomous’ anything, but, ‘self-driving’ (which is the correct designation).  To me, what Uber is operating is basically the same thing as what Tesla is selling in California.  Moreover, Uber’s Self-driving is less ‘autonomous’ in its operation than the operation of ‘electronic stability control (ESC)’ that has been mandated in every car built since 2012 that operate on California roads. (ESC has sensors and control logic that coordinate the operation of the brakes and throttle at the discretion of the sensors and over-ride the intended control actions of the driver.  Now that’s real ‘autonomy’  …taking the driver out of the loop at the discretion of some control logic. Anti -lock brakes are similarly ‘autonomous’)  Should everyone in California get a letter from DMV?   Just think, New Jersey is trying to enact CA-like legislation. 🙁  Alain 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Google is spinning off its self-driving car program into a new company called Waymo

A. Hawkins, Dec 13, "Today, Google announced that it would be spinning off its six-year-old self-driving project into a standalone business called Waymo, which stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” according to John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company.
It was previously reported that Google would be dropping its plan to build its own vehicle without steering wheels and pedals, instead focusing on creating the self-driving technology that can be installed in third-party vehicles. Krafcik didn’t provide much clarity there, but did state definitively that the new company was still fully committed to fully autonomous vehicle technology.

“We are all in, 100 percent, on Level Four and Level Five fully driverless solutions,” he said.

Krafcik didn’t comment on a report in Bloomberg that Google would be starting its own ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler using the Italian car maker’s Pacifica minivans as its fleet of self-driving taxis. Google and FCA announced their collaboration earlier this year. Krafcik did confirm that the self-driving Pacificas were still in the build phase, but would hopefully be on the road for testing very soon.

It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build it’s own fleet of driverless cars, without steering wheels and pedals. That said, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”…Read more  Hmmm… Boy that is a lot of hedging.  If they are in the business of making better drivers, then all they need to do is to make Automated Collision Avoidance systems that actually work… avoid collisions (aka Safe-driving Cars).  That would make all drivers better drivers, but it wouldn’t do anything for non-drivers… the young, old, poor, blind, those under the influence, …  Has Google abandoned all of those folks and reverted to the ‘dark-side’?  Alain

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

 Why the driverless car industry is happy (so far) with Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary

R. Mitchell, Dec 6, "Silicon Valley voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, but companies working on driverless cars seem overjoyed with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.   Chao will wield great power over how driverless cars and other automated vehicles will be regulated — or not….Industry insiders say they don’t want Chao to ignore driverless car policy….

Instead, they hope to avoid a patchwork of differing and conflicting rules across the 50 states.   “This should be centralized,” said Alain L. Kornhauser, director of the transportation program at Princeton University and an autonomous vehicle expert, “but that doesn’t mean the states don’t play a part. It would be better if we had a common understanding….” Read more Hmmm… Yup! Alain

Sunday, November 20, 2016

  DSRC’s ‘Dead End,’ Says Qualcomm Exec

J, Yoshida, Nov 15, "…Qualcomm’s pending takeover of NXP Semiconductors isn’t making the path to V2X any clearer.

NXP remains a staunch advocate for DSRC-based V2X (as demonstrated via truck platooning on Munich roads last week during Electronica). Qualcomm, a leading voice and force behind the progress of the cellular standards, is sticking to its cellular radio technology-based V2X evolution…We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in… " Read more Hmmm…V2X is important, but primarily as a complement to vehicle-centered automated collision avoidance and not as a centralized orchestration of individual vehicles.  Finally seeing this as: "We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in…"  may bring some reality to V2X.  Alain

Sunday, November 6, 2016

   Our Driverless Future

S. Helpen, Nov 24, " Review of  Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead   by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurma, MIT Press, 312 pp..." Read the review and the book. Hmmm… This book is really about ‘Driverless’ and differentiates it well from ‘Self-driving’, kudos for that.  So while it has no equations, it precisely address the issues.  I enjoyed Ch 6, First there were Electronic Highways, especially pages 116,7 and, of course,  Chapter 7, Build Smart Cars, not Smart Highways.  especially pages 137,8 and the subchapter The value of dumb highways.  Chapter 10 Deep Learning: The Final Piece of the Puzzle is a very nice background while much is being advanced ‘as we speak’.   The book appropriately ends with a chapter about hype, Ch 12 The Ripple Effects which references the Zero Principle, addresses local goods movement and lists the potential losers in this technological revolution.  The book ends by supporting the argument that this technological transition is more about the rapid evolution of algorithms than hardware.  Bravo!  Alain

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How Apple Scaled Back Its Titanic Plan to Take on Detroit

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Alarming 10% Rise in Traffic Deaths in the First Half of 2016

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

Friday, October 1, 2016

Do Driverless Cars Favor Urban or Suburban Life?

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 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years.    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 morHmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service).  In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud".  The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud".  Think about it!  Alain

Monday, August 8, 2016

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

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Chenyi Chen PhD Dissertation , "…the key part of the thesis, a direct perception approach is proposed to drive a car in a highway environment. In this approach, an input image is mapped to a small number of key perception indicators that directly relate to the affordance of a road/traffic state for driving….."  Read more  Hmmm..FPO 10:00am, May 16 , 120 Sherrerd Hall, Establishing a foundation for image-based autonomous driving using DeepLearning Neural Networks trained in virtual environments. Very promising. Alain

Friday, March 25, 2016

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1.  Hmmm … Watch Video  especially at the 13:12 mark.  Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above!  Also see his TipRanks.  Alain

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