Monday, Sept 14, 2015

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Automakers Will Make Automatic Braking Systems Standard in New Cars


B. Vlasic, Sept 11 " Federal regulators said on Friday that 10 automakers had agreed to install automatic braking systems, which use sensors to detect potential collisions, as standard equipment in new vehicles.


But the automakers have not set a timetable for the introduction of the systems, ...Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, said in a prepared statement that emergency braking technology could reduce traffic deaths and injuries.


“We are entering a new era of vehicle safety, focusing on preventing crashes from ever occurring, rather than just protecting occupants when crashes happen,” Mr. Foxx said....


The 10 companies “will work with I.I.H.S. and N.H.T.S.A. in the coming months on the details of implementing their historic commitment,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a statement (Same as the DoT Statement.)  Read more  Hmmm... This is major because the automakers "had agreed..." rather than "the regulators had required..."  (although  there seems to be a little push-back in that "...had not set a timetable..."  We do know that many are now offering these systems at a modest up-sell.  So there may actually be substance in the announcement.)  What is clear now is that we should all Invest in insurance companies that are creative in insuring these new vehicles!!!  They are going to become so profitable!  Insurance gets the cash benefit of the technology without having to pay for it!!! Wow!!!Congratulations Warren Buffett.  He must have played a role in this.  He stands to benefit so much.  :-)  While trucks are mentioned, (amazing that buses aren't; DoT is SO BAD!!), they seem very much the stepchild.  SO unfortunate! :-(   Alain


IIHS dedicates expanded testing facility to focus on crash avoidance


Press release Sept 11,  "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety began a new chapter Friday, opening an expanded testing facility that will enable it to evaluate the latest crash avoidance technologies year-round.


The $30 million expansion of the Vehicle Research Center was made possible through the support of IIHS member companies. The centerpiece is a 5-acre covered track, one of the largest fabric-covered structures in the United States, which will allow testing to continue rain or shine. Six fabric panels supported by steel trusses arc over the 700-foot-by-300-foot track and are supported by 18 concrete piers, which weigh a total of 7,000 tons and contain more than 39 miles of steel reinforcement bars.


An existing outdoor track was expanded, bringing the total area of track, including the covered section, to 15 acres. A new office and conference space was also part of the project...." Read more See also the video Hmmmm... This is a major accomplishment and will serve to be an important facility for advancing collision avoidance technologies.  Congrats to IIHS! It is a welcome addition to the facilities that are in the various stages of being created in the US including, the ones at Ann Arbor, Michigan, Contra Costa, California and Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.  There is enormous value to be captured by perfecting these technologies for which there is still substantial amount of work to be done that will need all of these facilities and more to approach perfection. Alain


As Head-Up Displays Become Common, Distraction Becomes an Issue


"When Manish Undavia took delivery of the 2016 Audi A7 sedan — list price, about $71,000 — it came with technology rarely found in automobiles, even five years ago: collision avoidance systems, sensors to keep the car from drifting and, perhaps most baffling to Mr. Undavia, a head-up display.


“A what?” he asked the salesman.  Richard Cardenas, a salesman at Biener Audi on Long Island, turned on the car and showed Mr. Undavia how it worked. From the driver’s seat, the car’s speed — “0 mph” — appeared about six feet beyond the dashboard, floating in space, visible only to Mr. Undavia....


To automakers, the technology makes for safer driving because the driver does not need to look down for information. ... But to skeptics, head-up displays are yet another informational distraction for the already data-overloaded driver. ...

Some drivers see the head-up display as the answer to a question that no one’s asking. According to a J.D. Power study released in August, 33 percent of more than 4,000 new-car owners recently surveyed said they “never use” the displays in their vehicles. Respondents said that they didn’t find the technology useful and that the feature “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it.”..."Read more  Hmmm... These things a SO BAD!!!  There aren't enough things to pay attention to while one is driving, now in our face all the time is what some ^&%$% decided is what we should be looking at all the time.  It's bad enough when the back seat driver is yelling out all the time these things, they are now being put in your face continuously,  C'Mon Man!!! Please don't!   Unfortunately, these systems are yet smart enough to know what the driver knows at each instant and can therefore, not be a total pain in the %^$%^ most of the time.  It is nice that a speedometer is not continuously in your face.  Actually it is rare (way less than 10% of the time) that you need to see it and with intelligent cruise control, rare is even rarer.  Similarly with turn-by-turn nav systems.  Again rare, even very rare.


Moreover, the whole concept of Warning need a makeover.  Unfortunately it was embraced by the manufacturers because the systems were not good enough to be use to take action, so they just warned.  However, the false alarms cause drivers to ignore the systems or, far worse, turn them off or not buy them in the first place.  If/Once the systems become good enough to have very few false alarms, then the car should not bother to warn but to take corrective action itself. (Heck, I don't know what to do in these alarm situations other than slow down and if I turn the wheel, I'll probably flip it and die.)  That means that we skip the warning and go directly to automated collision avoidance.  Yes!!


By the way, Didn't we learn in 80s that in-your-ear warnings were a non-starter:  Speak & Spell VS The 1986 Chrysler New Yorker  In-your-face warnings that are largely irrelevant are even worse! Please stop! Alain


Travis Kalanick Interview


 Sep 11, 2015, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick talks about how Uber has changed the taxi industry and what the future holds for the company.  SeeVideo  Hmmm... Nice interview Stephen! Alain


Google Hires an Auto Industry Vet to Run Its Self-Driving Car Project


A. Davis, Sept 14 "Google has hired a veteran auto industry executive to run its self-driving car project, a sign the tech giant is serious about challenging car makers with its autonomous vehicles.


John Krafcik is the former head of Hyundai’s American operation, and was most recently the president of TrueCar, a car pricing service that works to make negotiations with dealers less stressful for consumers. He’ll join Google later this month as CEO of the self-driving car project, the company said Sunday night. Chris Urmson, the current head of the team, will stay on as the technical leader. Read more Hmmm...This is serious! Alain



Some other thoughts that deserve your:

Uber giving $5.5 million to CMU to support robotics faculty chair, fellowships


K. Lyons Sept 9, "San Francisco-based ride-sharing company Uber will give $5.5 million to Carnegie Mellon University to support a new robotics faculty chair and three fellowships, the company announced today.


The gift is part of a partnership Uber announced in February with CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center, which is aimed at producing self-driving cars.... Read more  Hmmm... Way to step up Uber!!  Now a lot of other companies that stand to benefit from SmartDrivingCars, such as Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Apple, Google, Amazon, Insurance Companies, etc. should step up and fund similar programs at other schools.  There is yet a lot to be done by may motivated researchers.  Much better if those that will really benefit from these technologies step up and fund the research, development and commercialization. Alain


Beyond Traffic Lights: Driverless Cars at Intersections

Aug 27 "...Stone and his team propose an intersection control system using current or near-term sensor technologies, a standardized communication protocol, and the ability to deploy gradually over time to safely accommodate a mix of autonomous and human-driven vehicles in changing proportions....“The beauty of this system as proposed, is its potential to facilitate the transition from today’s human-driven vehicles to an era when autonomous vehicles are the norm and perhaps even to accelerate the change by demonstrating a faster and safer way to get around,” observed David Yang, Federal Highway Administration’s technical representative on the project....Absolute collision prevention...are primary goals..." Read more See Also and AIM Hmmm... At least the project is focused on the transition from when there will be just an infinitesimally few autonomous vehicles (remember, today there are none.) to a day when there may be a few to many.  Since "All" isn't going to happen before anyone that is working today retires, such cases have only asymptotic implications.  The assumptions about the distribution of human behaviors manifesting the approach trajectories are critical to the performance expectations.   ( I won't comment on the "absolute" goal).   Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events



November 4-9, 2015







Prof. Alain L. Kornhauser

Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE)

Princeton University





Heathrow Operational PodCar


Only Steering, Inside

Audi Jam-Assist Demo

Pedestrian Recognition

Lane-Keeping w Brakes

Masdar PRT

Mining Application

Economist Cover Story