Tuesday, September 20, 2016

U.S. Signals Backing for Self-Driving Cars

C. Kang, Sept.19, "Federal auto safety regulators on Monday made it official: They are betting the nation’s highways will be safer with more cars driven by machines and not people.

In long-awaited guidelines for the booming industry of automated vehicles, the Obama administration promised strong safety oversight, but sent a clear signal to automakers that the door was wide open for driverless cars.

“We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting,” said Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, adding that highly automated vehicles “will save time, money and lives.”…

The policies unveiled on Monday were designed to walk that line. In a joint appearance, Mr. Zients and Anthony Foxx, secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, released the first guidelines, which outlined safety expectations and encouraged uniform rules for the nascent technology. The instructions signaled to motorists that automated vehicles would not be a wild west where companies can try anything without oversight, but were also vague enough that automakers and technology companies would not fear over-regulation. .."  Read more Hmmm…Here it comes.. Looking for the details.  See also NPR: Feds To Set Rules On Self-Driving Vehicles.     Alain

Here are the details:  DOT+AV+Policy+Fact+Sheets.pdf

key passage:
"emphasizes that semi-automated driving systems – ones in which the human continues to monitor the driving environment and perform some of the driving task – that fail to adequately account for the possibility that a distracted or inattentive driver-occupant might fail to retake control of the vehicle in a safety-critical situation may be defined as an unreasonable risk to safety and subject to recall". Read more  Hmmm….What does that mean?  A truck cuts you off when you are lazily cruising down a roadway at 4:40pm on a clear afternoon. Nothing you could have done if you had your hands on the wheel in this safety critical situation. Does this trigger a recall???


Does this say that the only time that you can be distracted or inattentive is when you are NOT in automated mode. 


What they should have done is deal aggressively with automated emergency braking and automated lane keeping (with an emphasis on making sure that all highways had visible lane markings that would readily enable both humans and vision systems to clearly see the lanes. 

At first blush this seems to be NHTSA & DoT doing a "CA DMV regulations " on this.  They may make it that "NHTSA Level 3" is un-un-recallable, ie DoA, so Google may be right in that it is either Level 2 (close to useless, (except for safety)) or Level 4 "no steering wheel" and the public will really freak out ( ).  More later after I’ve had a chance to digest all of this.  Alain

Please join us for a 30-minute briefing with senior NHTSA staff on the launch of the new U.S. DOT Automated Vehicles Policy.  This policy will lay a path for the safe testing and deployment of new automated vehicle technologies that have dramatic potential for improving safety and mobility for Americans on the road.  The policy sets a proactive approach to providing safety assurance and facilitating innovation. 

 More information can be found at .

Time:  3:30 p.m. (ET)

Call-in phone number: 888-636-3807

Access Code:   2225680A

A Lesson of Tesla Crashes? Computer Vision Can’t Do It All Yet

S. Lohr, Sept.19, "…Today, computerized sight can quickly and accurately recognize millions of individual faces, identify the makes and models of thousands of cars, and distinguish cats and dogs of every breed in a way no human being could.

Yet the recent advances, while impressive, have been mainly in image recognition. The next frontier, researchers agree, is general visual knowledge — the development of algorithms that can understand not just objects, but also actions and behaviors…." Read more Hmmm…Poor title, but after first few paragraphs the article becomes good.     Alain

Uber launches self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

P. LeBeau, Sept 14, "Uber is launching a pilot program to establish autonomous-drive, ride-sharing services,.." See video Hmmm…Fantastic.  Couldn’t be happening in a better place and Go Stillers!!!   Alain

What It’s Like To Ride In A (Nearly) Self-Driving Uber

L. Reid, Sept 14, "…"For me this is really important," says Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber’s self-driving car team, "because I really believe that the most important things that computers are going to do in the next 10 years is drive cars."…" Read/hear more  Hmmm…Congratulations Anthony!  Alain

What It Feels Like to Ride in a Self-Driving Uber

M. Isaac, Sept 14, "… In this case, my “computer” is a modified Ford Fusion hybrid sedan code-named Boron 6, an atomic element often found in magnets, laundry detergent and nuclear reactors. Uber has outfitted it with more than 20 cameras, seven lasers, a spinning 360-degree laser-based detection system and 1,400 other aftermarket parts that render millions of bits of data about the environment in real time as I drive through it. If the car works as advertised, someday neither I nor anybody else will sit in the driver’s seat of a car again…." Read more Hmmm…Interesting.  Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Autopilot Cited in Death of Chinese Tesla Driver

N. Boudette, Sept 14, "…The crash took place on Jan. 20 and killed… Read more Hmmm…We are only hearing about this after 8 months????     Alain

Road Warrior: Road deaths take an alarming turn

J. Cichowsky, Sept 15, " …From Washington to Los Angeles, police, lawmakers and road-safety advocates like Poedubicky want answers to a scourge that took 35,092 lives last year – 2,348 more than in 2014…. Read more Hmmm…Interesting.  Alain


On the More Technical Side

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

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

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

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

Anticipating the Emissions Impacts of Autonomous Vehicles Using the MOVES Model

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

Economic Effects of Autonomous Vehicles 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Older stuff that I had missed:

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


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


Sept 19-21, 2016
Antwerp, Belgium

Sept 19-23, 2016
Washington, DC

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

Recent Highlights of:

Friday, September 09, 2016

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

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

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

Sunday, September 4, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

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

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

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

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

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

Monday, August 8, 2016

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

J. Markoff, Aug 5, " A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project.

Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University research scientist, joined Google in 2009 to help create the then-secret effort. …Mr. Urmson has been unhappy with the direction of the car project under Mr. Krafcik’s leadership and quarreled privately several months ago with Larry Page over where it was headed, according to two former Google employees….
Mr. Urmson said he had not decided what he will do next. “If I can find another project that turns into an obsession and becomes something more, I will consider myself twice lucky,” he wrote. Read more  Hmmm…Very unfortunate.  What a great job he has done. All the best. Alain

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

M. Ramsey, July 26, " A key supplier of semiautonomous car technology ended a supply agreement with Tesla Motors Inc. following a high-profile traffic fatality in May involving one of the Silicon Valley company’s electric vehicles.

Mobileye NV said it would no longer provide its computer chips and algorithms to Tesla after a current contract ends due to disagreements about how the technology was deployed. Mobileye provides core technology for Tesla’s Autopilot system, which allows cars to drive themselves in limited conditions….Read more Hmmm….Very interesting!! Alain
And in Mobileye’s Short Trip with Tesla : D. Gallagher, July 26, "In the emerging business of autonomous driving, even the safer road isn’t free of potholes….In explaining its move, Mobileye suggested that protecting its reputation was at least part of the rationale. Below is what the company said on the call:… Read moreHmmm….And why in all of this isn’t there a discussion of Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) technology/suppliers??  There must be no consumer/regulatory appeal to AEB?  Alain

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

Editorial Board, July 11, "A recent fatal crash in Florida involving a Tesla Model S is an example of how a new technology designed to make cars safer could, in some cases, make them more dangerous. These risks, however, could be minimized with better testing (Hmmm….Yes!) and regulations (Still too early, we don’t know enough, yet)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

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

1.  On May 7, 2016 at about 4:40pm EDT, there was a crash between a Tesla and a Class 8 Tractor-Trailer. The accident is depicted in the Diagram from the Police Report: HSMV Crash Report # 85234095. (1)  Google Earth images from the site.

 2. The driver of the Tesla was Joshua Brown"No citations have been issued, but the initial accident report from the FHP indicates the truck driver "failed to yield right-of-way."" (2) .  Hmmm….No Citations??? Did the truck have a data recorder?  Was the truck impounded, if so, how is the truck driver making a living since the crash? 

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

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

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

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

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