Saturday, November 22, 2014

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A Road Test of Alternative Fuel Visions


Hydrogen Cars Join Electric Models in Showrooms

By KENNETH CHANG  NOV. 18, 2014 "...

Hydrogen fuel cells readily scale up, even to trucks and buses.


A kilogram of hydrogen contains as much chemical energy as a gallon of gasoline, but fuel cells are more efficient than internal combustion engines, so fuel-cell cars like the Mirai have a 300-mile range, comparable to present-day gasoline cars. Filling up at a hydrogen pump takes about the same few minutes as filling a tank of gas, instead of hours plugged in to an outlet. Even Tesla’s high-powered superchargers need 20 minutes to give a Model S half a charge....


...Not surprisingly, the strategy has its critics, particularly from competing Tesla. Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of Tesla, mocks fuel cells as “fool cells” that will lose in the marketplace to battery electric cars like his. Battery electrics are more efficient than fuel cells and are cheaper to operate. And there are currently many more places to plug in than places to top off a tank of hydrogen...." Read more Looked into this in the 70's.  Is the "Hydrogen Economy" emerging from its "40 year" gestation in the desert".  :-)  Alain



Also:Honda Preps New Fuel Cell Vehicle for World Market Debut

And: Severe Issues with Fuel Cell Vehicle GHG Emissions Claims and Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure Grants Presented is a very critical view of the environmental impacts of fuel cells.  Alain


Automakers are rolling out features en route to self-driving cars


Charles Fleming 11/20/14 "...a host of autonomous or semiautonomous features are already offered on many of the vehicles featured at this month's Los Angeles Auto Show...  Many vehicles now come standard with features that will monitor blind spots, warn a driver against drifting out of a lane, or emit beeps or seat vibrations if an object is too close for safety.   Others have adaptive cruise control, a technology that can read traffic conditions and automatically direct the car to slow down or speed up. More advanced systems, using combinations of radar, sonar and GPS, can detect an impending wreck and take emergency action, such as slamming on the brakes.... Volvo's XC90, the company says, is the first car to feature automatic braking if a driver turns in front of oncoming traffic. Volvo boasts an "adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist" combination that allows driverless acceleration, braking and steering in stop-and-go traffic...." Read more Hmmm... The race is heating up.  Alain


In a self-driving future, we may not even want to own cars


Jerry Hirsch 11/21/14 "...For a century, cars have been symbols of freedom and status. Passengers of the future may well view vehicles as just another form of public transportation, to be purchased by the trip or in a subscription...Buying sexy, fast cars for garages could evolve into buying seat-miles in appliance-like pods, piloted by robots, parked in public stalls.


"There will come a time when driving the car is like riding the horse," said futurist Peter Schwartz. "Some people will still like to do it, but most of us won't."...

James Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North American operations, also questions a future of autonomous transport pods.  "You will still have people who have the passion for driving the cars and feeling the road," Lentz said. "There may be times when they want the cars to drive them, but they won't be buying autonomous-only cars."..." Read more Hmmmm ....Joe Smith, head of Kodak.  "You will still have people who have the passion for film, waiting for it to be developed, pasting the 3x5's in an album and putting the album on a shelf."  Alain



Study Shows Technology Makes or Breaks Car Purchase Decisions


Nov 17, 2014 "...  findings of the 2014 In-Vehicle Technology Shopper Influence Study - conducted online on its behalf by Harris Poll among 1,033 U.S. vehicle owners between October 15th and 20th, 2014, which provides insight into how vehicle technology impacts consumer vehicle purchase decisions. In its first year, this study sheds light on what vehicle owners are willing to sacrifice to get the features they want, the kinds of technologies they're putting at the top of their shopping lists and what manufacturers can do to ensure that shoppers drive off the lot with their vehicle. ..


The vast majority of vehicle owners prioritize safety features over infotainment (84 percent), with things like blind spot detection and back-up cameras/sensors rising to the top of the list. And while vehicle owners remain leery of fully autonomous vehicles (65 percent of vehicle owners think self-driving cars are a dangerous idea), six in ten (61 percent) are likely to consider a model with autonomous safety features like park assist and collision avoidance on their next purchase...."  Read more  Hmmm... Encouraging; however, the survey was by ...On-line which may imply substantial bias?  Alain



Some other thoughts that deserve your time:


The Unknown Start-up That Built Google’s First Self-Driving Car

Mark Harris Posted 19 Nov 2014 "Two of Google’s signature innovations, Street View cameras and self-driving cars, were actually developed by 510 Systems, a small start-up that the tech giant quietly bought in 2011..."  Read more  This is a very interesting article.  Enjoy :-) Alain


New Driverless Shuttle Developed from Vision Guidance Tech

11/14/2014 "... The technology, which is based on the use of simple video cameras, was developed by researchers at Institut Pascal (CNRS/Université Blaise Pascal de Clermont Ferrand/IFMA). It lies at the heart of the EZ-10 autonomous shuttle vehicle developed by Ligier Group, which was unveiled at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Chengdu (China) from November 11 to 14




The EZ-10 is an autonomous electric vehicle (without any driver). It is designed to cover short and predefined routes like pedestrian city centres, airports, amusement parks, parking spaces or even industrial sites. Read more  See video


A System That Any Automaker Can Use to Build Self-Driving Cars

By Alex Davies  11.18.14  "...Delphi ... built a self-driving car, but it won’t be sold to the public. This robo-car, based on an Audi, is a shopping catalog for automakers. The car is contains every element needed to build a truly autonomous system, elements Delphi will happily sell.   In other words, it’s an off-the-shelf autonomous system that could help automakers catch up with Google.  Read more


Correction!  Not From Charles McManus; but from Important New Thoughts on Autonomous Vehicles


11/14/14 HI continue to read extensively about autonomous vehicles (AVs), and while I see significant potential, the more serious literature I review, the more skeptical I become about the popular media hype of cars without any function for a driver, going anywhere on demand. Two of the most thoughtful discussions of the limitations posed by current systems are "Who Is in Charge: the Promises and Pitfalls of Driverless Cars," by M. L. Cummings and Jason Ryan, in the May-June 2014 TR News from TRB and "A Driverless Future?" by Paul Hutton, drawing on the views of five industry experts, in Vol. 9, No. 3 of Thinking Highways, North American edition.


Let me summarize the main points raised by this collection of experts, as follows:

    Automation is inherently brittle and subject to failures;

    Hence, for at least a long time, a driver must be able to take over on short notice;

    We don't really know how to provide such transitions, and the aviation experience is troubling; and,

    There are ambiguous situations where we may not want the automation to make the decisions. ..."

Read more.


Hmmm... much of the pushback in these articles are red herrings.  No one is promoting driverless is promoting driverless everywhere at all times.  Heck, the Beijing to Tianjin expressway closed a few weeks ago because the "fog" was so dense, it was unsafe for humans to drive; some roads are impassable by all cars except "Hummers" and the philosophical questions that are raised have existed for 50,000 years.  And yes, we will still need some tow trucks and computers will not be running everything.  Alain


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


Google Gets It Wrong Again


November 16, 2014 11:24 rlanctot  "... There are some things about the automotive industry that Google just doesn’t get and one of those is the fact that some of us, in fact most of us, are perfectly happy driving our cars. Some of us even thrive on the driving experience – love it. For Google? Driving is a distraction – a distraction from Google...." Hmmm...  Really, of the last 100 hours that you spent driving your car, how many of those hours did you a) enjoy driving _____?; b) tolerate driving ______?; c) would have preferred to have someone else drive_____?   and d) could imagine that you might have welcomed the car to drive itself _____?  Alain  . "... The first part is pervasive skepticism that a pedal-less, steering wheel-less car is practical, possible or attractive to anyone or for any application...The second part is the fact that the driving experience is in the midst of a major revolution and the steering wheel is very much a part of that.... enabling a wider range of gesture recognition applications...."  Hmmm but if the gesture recognition is so great, isn't the steering wheel redundant and in the way?  Alain  Read more


 IDEO Imagines the Wild Future of Self-Driving Cars


    By Liz Stinson  11.18.14 "...The road to fully-autonomous cars might be paved, but there are plenty of lingering questions to answer before we ease our white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel. For instance: How will we communicate with our cars now that they’re smart? What happens if our cars make a mistake? Will they really look like a Pixar character? “There are some really challenging human-machine interactions that haven’t been totally thought through yet,” says Danny Stillion, a partner at IDEO....This is a long-term vision, and it’s a provocation more than anything. But with a little imagination—and some technological optimism—we may be seeing some form of these concepts on the road sooner than we think. Let’s get to it...." Read more , another version:  This Is What Mobility Will Look Like In 15 Years   and Something really goofy (glassHoles would make it less goofy) from Mercedes: This is the car interior of the future, according to Mercedes   Hmmm...All of this needs a lot more thought and creativity.  There is little to build on.  Consider today's vehicles that we don't drive ourselves: taxis, shuttles, limos, buses, trains, planes, and the passenger area of our cars...  precious little has been done to these vehicles to accommodate passengers.  We need a clean sheet of paper here.  Alain


For Google's self-driving cars, learning to deal with the bizarre is essential


By Steve Johnson  11/12/2014 Good background article, but mostly rehash.  Alain



Driverless cars compete in China


17 November 2014 "China has been holding its sixth driverless car competition, with the unmanned vehicles having to navigate their way through various obstacles..." Read more


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


Carnegie Mellon College of Engineering Marks the 30th Birthday of Self-Driving Car Technology


Nov. 19, 2014 PITTSBURGH--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The College of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) will celebrate 30 years of self-driving car technology on November 20. Carnegie Mellon is the birthplace of self-driving or autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. In the next decade, self-driving cars will revolutionize transportation worldwide..." Read more Hmmm... Really... There was Bob Fenton at The Ohio State University in the late 70s and guys at RCA Sarnoff labs in Princeton int he early 70s let alone the GM concepts dating back to 1939.  C'mon CMU! Alain


What’s your take on autonomous truck platooning? ATRI wants to know


November 17, 201 "The American Transportation Research Institute wants to hear from carriers and drivers about the use of truck platooning systems, also dubbed Driver Assistive Truck Platooning, ATRI says. The survey will be open through Dec. 8. Click here to take it. Read more  Hmmm... Unless Platooned drivers accrue hour-of-service credits the benefits of platooning are infinitesimal; however, since the Platooning's  Automated Collision Avoidance Technology has an attractive ROI because of its substantial reduction of accident liability expenses, it is available at essentially zero incremental cost.  Alain The C'mon Man is for the push for Platooning instead of Automated Collision Avoidance Technology



Calendar of Upcoming Events


Novel Modes Workshop

December 2 & 3, 2014




Walt Disney World; Coronado Springs Resort

December 15 -16, 2014



Call for Papers









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