Friday, November 14, 2014

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Tesla’s Autonomous Car Claims More Hype Than Reality

Maryanna Saenko "...Given the bold claims, it is likely that in 2015 Tesla will be backpedaling from its CEO’s comments. Perhaps Tesla has a partnership in the works and its ADAS features are being developed by outside developers, but nonetheless, Tesla has notoriously been delayed in product deployments. Still, marketing and PR are a true strength of Tesla, and conversations in our automotive network indicate frustration that Tesla is viewed as so advanced while in reality numerous OEMS have technologies equal to or more advanced than what Tesla is claiming. Clients should expect Tesla to continue to drive the conversation, but expect the rapid innovation in ADAS and autonomous vehicles to progress quickly – and much of it outside of Tesla’s walls."  Read more Hmmmm.. Amen! Alain


Permits for testing self-driving cars are a hot commodity in California


Verne Kopytoff, Nov. 11 "...Big name automakers and a certain electric car upstart are among the companies to be issued permits for testing autonomous vehicles in the state. ...The latest to get permits in the nearly two-month old program are Tesla, Nissan, Delphi Automotive, and Bosch, according to Bernard Soriano, a deputy director with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. They join Google, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz unit, and Volkswagen’s Audi unit, all of which received permits when the program first kicked off...Companies are not required to disclose in their applications where they plan to do their testing. Nor must they reveal any details about their technology. But they must report any accidents or instances when drivers had to unexpectedly turn off the autonomous technology within 10 days to the state’s DMV. Only one company has filed such a report.


Delphi told the agency that another car crashed into its Audi test vehicle on the evening of Oct. 14 in Palo Alto, Calif. The test car was stopped while waiting to merge with traffic when a Honda traveling in the opposite direction crossed an elevated center median and struck Delphi’s car. The accident left Delphi’s vehicle with a dented front end and right fender. No one was injured in the crash.


The crash doesn’t appear to have anything to do with Delphi’s autonomous technology. At the time of the crash, the car’s self-driving mode was turned off. Instead, a human driver was in control. Furthermore, in their report, the police laid blame on the Honda’s driver, who they said caused the crash by making an unsafe turn....Still, many car makers with permits are testing on private or federal land, where state regulations don’t necessarily apply. Mercedes, for instance, is using the sprawling Concord Naval Weapons Station, near San Francisco, to experiment. Installing traffic signals that communicate with cars—presumably to get them to differentiate between a red light from a green one—is among the experiments. The company is also subjecting cars to potentially dangerous situations, which would be unwise to do on city streets.  Read more


Hmmm... Seems like California is well underway.  Here in New Jersey we have Fort Monmouth siting and waiting to help this revolution.  The silence is deafening.  Alain


Telematics Industry Insights by Michael L. Sena


21 Nov. 2014; Vol 2, Issue 1 Individual Highlights: Telematics Update Munich 2014 p1; Standardization p1;  Next Phase for Maps p3; Mobility Wishes p6;  The Newsletter p6  Read moreHmmm...Well worth reading. Alain


Re-Programming Mobility: The Digital Transformation of Transportation


Anthony Townsend, "..In a distinct shift from the last 50 years, when transportation innovation in theUnited States was shaped by big public infrastructure projects like the Interstate Highway System, this transformation is being driven by the private sector. These companies are investing in infrastructure for mobility on a similar scale, but using very different technology. For instance, by 2014 mobile carriers have spent over $500 billion building out the nation’s cellular communications grid – about the same cost of the Interstates. All but invisible to planners and citizens alike, this new communications network is the most important transportation infra-structure of our era, enabling us to re-invent the how our roads, transit systems, and freight and logistics networks function.  We call this process re-programming mobility. In lieu of large civil infrastructure projects, transportation systems are increasingly being augmented with arange of information technologies that make them smarter, safer, more efficient, more integrated. Over the next twenty years, the hints of change that we see today will accumulate, challenging our assumptions about how Americans travel – where they go and why, how they get there, and how the answers to both change

the way we use land, the way we plan our communities, and in so doing the veryrole of government itself in shaping infrastructure and land use.  The hidden nature of these new mobility infrastructures – tiny devices in our pockets communicating over invisible radio waves with algorithms running on servers in the cloud – has conspired to conceal the important public policy and planning issues that their mass adoption raises. While we now recognize the critical importance of understanding how new information technologies will change transportation, there is great uncertainty about how this process will play out.     Self-Driving Cars: The 800-Pound Gorilla of Transportation Futures.  (p7)"

Read more  Very interesting  Alain


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

By Steve Johnson, 11/12/2014 "...One of the most surprising lessons: While hoping to make cars that are safer than those driven by people, Google has discovered its smart machines need to act a little human, especially when dealing with pushy motorists.


"We found that we actually need to be -- not aggressive -- but assertive" with the vehicles, said Nathaniel Fairfield, technical leader of a team that writes software fixes for problems uncovered during the driving tests. "If you're always yielding and conservative, basically everybody will just stomp on you all day."... " Read more


The Massive Economic Benefits Of Self-Driving Cars


Adam Ozimek 11/08/14 "...So in total we have $317 billion from fatal crashes, $226 billion for non-fatal crashes, and $99 billion in time savings. That’s a total of $642 billion a year in welfare that self-driving cars can generate. These are extremely conservative back of the envelope calculations, and it misses a lot of important benefits like senior citizens who currently can’t drive at all right now, and the cost savings to households who gain much cheaper access to cars by renting them by the hour. But even leaving all those benefits out, $642 billion is a really, really big deal... "  Read more

Hmmm...  A better assessment of the cost of accidents was done by NHTSA. (" ...The value of societal harm from motor vehicle crashes ... $870 B in 2010..." ) Big question is... how many of these could really be averted with SmartDrivingCars?  (My back of the envelope stands at 50%.)  And how many new ones would be caused by SDCs? (My expectation is very few, else they wont see the light of day.) Alain


MINES ParisTech Announces the Creation of an International Research Chair on Automated Driving,

 vendredi 31 octobre 2014  " MINES ParisTech, France’s leading academic institution by volume of contractual research, today announces the creation of an international automotive research chair in partnership with manufacturers Valeo, PSA Peugeot Citroën and Safran.  Baptized “Automated Vehicles- Drive for You”, the chair will unite researchers from MINES ParisTech's Robotics Centre with teams from international partner institutions — Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China, the University of California, Berkeley in the United States and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Supported by the MINES ParisTech Foundation, with the manufacturers contributing €3.7 million in funds, the chair will work for five years on the topic of automated driving to:


    Expand knowledge of self-driving vehicles

    Develop intelligent onboard systems.

    Get self-driving vehicles on the road in Asia, Europe and the United States.


“The automated driving chair is a logical extension of the work we have been doing for more than 20 years in collaboration with key industry players on such topics as smart cars, control, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, mobile robotics and logistics,” said Arnaud de la Fortelle, Director of MINES ParisTech’s Robotics Centre and holder of the new chair. ..." Read more


In Self-Driving Cars, a Potential Lifeline for the Disabled By PAUL STENQUIST, NOV. 7 "... In a statement provided to The Times, Google said that the potential of a self-driver to help those with disabilities could be realized only if the human operator were taken out of the equation. The company maintains that denying the driver an active role in vehicle control will also eliminate human error and improve driving safety..." Read more   Hmmm .... maybe.  Very much a rehash but I include it for the new reader.  Alain


Getting streets ahead with Volvo’s driverless car


Craig Thomas, November 13, 2014 "...I come away from that brief insight into the future more convinced than ever that self-driving cars are inevitable. Not only will they improve our lives, but also we’ll quickly learn to rely on them. Like our smartphones, cars with autonomous capabilities will give us the ability to perform tasks in new ways and new environments, which will very quickly become second nature. We’ll soon be behind the wheel of a car and, after switching it to self-driving mode, we’ll be able to use that time on the road to read, communicate with others, watch a film, surf the web, work and even sleep – anything other than getting stressed and frustrated by traffic jams. Indeed, some early research has suggested that if something else is doing the driving, we’re more willing to accept our car going at a slower speed..." Read more


Korean Competition Shows Weather Still a Challenge for Autonomous Cars


By Evan Ackerman, 11 Nov 2014 "Last month, Hyundai quietly held its 2014 Future Automobile Technology Competition in South Korea. Out of 12 participating teams, four made it to the final round, which required the cars to navigate a test circuit. The autonomous cars were required to avoid obstacles, stop for pedestrians, obey traffic laws, and do all of the stuff that self-driving cars will have to be able to do if we’re ever going to be able to hop in, plug in a destination, and turn our attention elsewhere. The competition wasn’t anything that we haven’t seen before—except that during the second day of the competition, it rained...." Read more

Some other thoughts that deserve your time:


From Charles McManus: 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

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


Drive makes phone-using drivers keep their hands on the wheel


Ben Coxworth, Nov. 10,   "When it comes to safe driving tips, taking your hands off the steering wheel to make or receive calls doesn't rate way up there. Many people instead use hands-free voice prompt systems, although these can also be be distracting, as they require users to think of the correct prompts and then speak them very clearly. Drive offers an alternative – it's a device that's controlled using finger movements, and it won't work unless the user's hands are on the wheel.


Created by former Apple engineer Ronald Isaac, the Drive device mounts magnetically on the steering column, and pairs via Bluetooth with a variety of messaging apps on the user's iOS or Android smartphone. It emits two pulsing infrared light beams, to the 10 and 2 o'clock positions on the steering wheel. By moving their fingers – but keeping their hands on the wheel – users interrupt those beams..."  Read Less

Hmmm  This must be an Onion article.  they can't be serious.  Why would anyone buy something that makes them do something that they don't want to do.  Are they that masochistic?  If you don't want to do it, then don't do it!  Please!!! C'mon Man!! Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events


Webinar hosted by Timmons Group

Transportation Engineering in the Age of Self-Driving Cars

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM EST



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