Thursday, May 21, 2015

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The View from the Front Seat of the Google Self-Driving Car


Chris Urmson May 11, 2015 "After 1.7 million miles we’ve learned a lot — not just about our system but how humans drive, too. The most common accidents our cars are likely to experience in typical day to day street driving — light damage, no injuries — aren’t well understood because they’re not reported to police. Yet according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, these incidents account for 55% of all crashes. It’s hard to know what’s really going on out on the streets unless you’re doing miles and miles of driving every day. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with our fleet of 20+ self-driving vehicles and team of safety drivers, who’ve driven 1.7 million miles (manually and autonomously combined). The cars have self-driven nearly a million of those miles, and we’re now averaging around 10,000 self-driven miles a week (a bit less than a typical American driver logs in a year), mostly on city streets. In the spirit of helping all of us be safer drivers, we wanted to share a few patterns we’ve seen. A lot of this won’t be a surprise, especially if you already know that driver error causes 94% of crashes.


If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car. Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel, and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident. ... We’ll continue to drive thousands of miles so we can all better understand the all too common incidents that cause many of us to dislike day to day driving — and we’ll continue to work hard on developing a self-driving car that can shoulder this burden for us." Read more


Hmmm.... MUST reading; HOWEVER, we need much more information to be released, not just a few examples.  Please make your data public!  We don't need to know who but we desperately need to know what so that not only Google, but the rest of us can... " hard on developing..." SmartDrivingCars "....that can shoulder this burden for us." Alain


A Ride in the Google Self-Driving Car

Ready for the Road

Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes

May 15, 2015 "When we started designing the world’s first fully self-driving vehicle, our goal was a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving. Vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button could transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error (PDF), reclaiming the billions of hours wasted in traffic, or bringing everyday destinations and new opportunities within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car.  Read more  Hmmm... Here we go!! Alain


La Rochelle


May 2015 "La Rochelle started its large-scale demonstration on Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  The official launch by Brigitte Desveaux, Vice-President of the Urban Community of La Rochelle in charge of Mobility, was held the day prior to the start of service to introduce the initiative to the public.


This launch has been made possible thanks to the preparatory work initiated immediately after the selection of La Rochelle as a demo site. Indeed, road adaptations have been needed to ensure enough safety, traffic lights have been installed in order to give priority to the ARTS vehicles at crossings and on-street parking has been removed to provide enough space for the vehicle. ... Read more and look at the video .  It is getting very real! Alain


Study Confirms High Effectiveness of Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB)

Brussels, Belgium, 13 May 2015  -  Euro NCAP and ANCAP, the independent safety bodies for Europe and Australasia, today announce the advanced publication of EFFECTIVENESS OF LOW SPEED AUTONOMOUS EMERGENCY BRAKING IN REAL-WORLD REAR-END CRASHES in the online edition of the journal ‘Accident Analysis & Prevention’.


The publication reported:


- that Low Speed AEB technology leads to a 38% reduction in real-world rear-end crashes;

- that there is no significant difference between urban and rural crash benefits;

- that Meta-analysis is an effective method for combining data from various countries.


The publication concluded that Low Speed AEB technology needs widespread fitment for maximum benefits.  Read more  Hmmm...  Very encouraging!  Alain


Automated and Autonomous Driving


May 2015  "Many cars sold today are already capable of some level of automated operation, and prototype cars capable of driving autonomously have been - and continue to  be - tested on public roads in Europe, Japan and the

United States. These technologies have arrived rapidly on the market and their future deployment is expected to accelerate. Autonomous driving promises many benefits: improved safety, reduced congestion and lower stress for car occupants, among others. Authorities will have to adapt existing rules and create new ones in order to ensure the full compatibility of these vehicles with the public’s expectations regarding safety, legal responsibility and privacy. This report explores the strategic issues that will have to be considered by authorities as more fully automated and ultimately autonomous vehicles arrive on our streets and roads. It was drafted on the basis of expert input and discussions amongst project partners in addition to a review of relevant published research and position papers..."  Read more Excelelent!  Alain


PSA will debut self-driving features on 508

May 15 Bruce Gain " Peugeot will debut self-driving features on its next-generation 508 midsize car as the brand seeks to go upscale in Europe. PSA/Peugeot-Citroen CEO Carlos Tavares told the company’s annual meeting on April 29 that the driver assistance features planned for the 508 will be a step toward fully autonomous driving.  A PSA spokesman said the 508 will offer hands-free steering and braking control in traffic congestion, along highways and for parking, without being more specific..." Read more


The car of the future is the most powerful computer you will ever own


 Sophie Curtis, May 17, 2015, "The car of the future will be the most powerful computer you will ever own, packing the processing power of a supercomputer into a box the size of a car stereo, according to American chip maker Nvidia.


Nvidia is best known for supplying powerful graphics processors for video game consoles and laptop computers, but ten years ago the company started adapting its chips for use in cars. The third generation Audi A8, which launched in 2009, was the first car to use an Nvidia graphics processor to power its 3D navigation system display.  Read more


Effectiveness of low speed autonomous emergency braking in real-world rear-end crashes


 Accident Analysis & Prevention. Volume 81. Page 24 - 29 "Abstract This study set out to evaluate the effectiveness of low speed autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology in current model passenger vehicles, based on real-world crash experience. The validating vehicle safety through meta-analysis (VVSMA) group comprising a collaboration of government, industry consumer organisations and researchers, pooled data from a number of countries using a standard analysis format and the established MUND approach. Induced exposure methods were adopted to control for any extraneous effects. The findings showed a 38 percent overall reduction in rear-end crashes for vehicles fitted with AEB compared to a comparison sample of similar vehicles. There was no statistical evidence of any difference in effect between urban (≤60 km/h) and rural (>60 km/h) speed zones. Areas requiring further research were identified and widespread fitment through the vehicle fleet is recommended."  Read more


Saying That Autonomous Cars Will Kill Millions Of Jobs By 2025 Is Crap


M Ballaban May 13 "...I understand where Kanter’s coming from then, at least if his other main assumption, which is that with driverless vehicles we’ll all switch over to Uber and ride-sharing services like Zipcar, actually made any sense. Because if it did make sense, then we’d all be buying fewer cars, because we’d all be sharing from an existing pool. Fewer cars on the roads means fewer jobs making said cars, and thus many of them could be eliminated...." Read more Hmmm... An "Uber" with driverless cars  doesn't have much labor cost.  In fact, the cost of the ride may be reduced by as much as 90%! Alain


How Daimler Built the World’s First Self-Driving Semi


Alex Davies May 11 "..The Freightliner Inspiration is a limited take on autonomy. The system will kick in only once the truck’s on the highway and up to speed, and then it will maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and stay in its lane. It won’t change lanes to pass slower vehicles on its own. If it truck encounters a situation it can’t confidently handle, like heavy snow or faded lane lines, it will alert the human that it’s time for him to take over..." Read more


Are self-driving cars as safe as we thought? Google admits its autonomous cars have crashed ELEVEN times - but says none were the car's faults


    J. O'Callaghan May 11 "Several of the 48 self-driving cars on Californian roads have crashed

    Some were operated by Google, with another car being an Audi

    But both companies said their cars had not been at fault in the accidents

    Most of the crashes were caused by human drivers in the car..."  Read more  Hmmm... So far so good.

Some other thoughts that deserve your time:

Amtrak Train Derailed Going 106 M.P.H. on Sharp Curve; at Least 7 Killed


Sheryl Stolberg, et al, May 13 "An engineer jammed on the emergency brakes just seconds before Tuesday’s fatal Amtrak derailment, but the train — traveling at 106 miles an hour, more than twice the speed limit — slowed only slightly, federal authorities said, before hurtling off its tracks, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 200.  Read more  Hmmm... Much has been written about this and, of course, I don't know the real cause(s), but my speculation is that the engineer became disoriented and thought that the train was beyond the curve.  So he throttled up.  This was an accident just waiting to happen simply because it is irresponsible for us to require absolute perfection from a train engineer, a bus driver and/or a truck driver.  They don't get paid enough.  It is a tough work environment.  Organized labor and OSHA should recognize the dangers of this work environment and insist that technology be focused on improving the safety of "the driver" workplace. They've done that in mining and manufacturing.  It is time that they turn their attention to transportation.  Alain

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

Meet Zoox, the Robo-Taxi Start-up Taking on Google and Uber

Mark Harris, May 20 "... The company is called Zoox, and it’s the brainchild of the Australian designer Tim Kentley-Klay and Jesse Levinson, an engineer who worked at Stanford University with Sebastian Thrun, the first director of Google’s self-driving car program. Their vision is for a sleek, modernistic, deluxe electric taxi with gullwing doors, in which four passengers face one another. The car is code-named L4, a play on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s classification of full automation as Level 4. Unlike rival designs, it has no front or rear end but can drive equally well in either direction. It has no windshields facing either way, nor does it have a steering wheel or brake pedal..."  Read more

Hmmm.... Maybe! Lots of horses in this race.  Alain


Goodbye, parallel parking

May 21 "Let's dispel any potential misconception right up front that Baltimore suffers from an abundance of motorists who are excessively skilled at parallel parking. One can drive a lifetime in the suburbs without parking one's car alongside a curb, but in the city, that's an ability that comes in pretty handy. Who among us has not been stuck in traffic because some clown on Charles Street can't fit a 15-foot-long vehicle in a 17-foot space?


Yet the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration announced this week that henceforth parallel parking is no longer part of the driving portion of the driver's license test. A 16-year-old can now acquire a license without those endless hours maneuvering Dad's Camry between a set of buckets and tomato stakes in the local high school parking lot...and thus reduce the lines at MVA testing centers as fewer people will need to retake the test — probably played in a role in the decision as well..." Read more


Hmmm....MVA can really reduce the lines by creating incentives for SmartDrivingCars that in the end will not require anyone to have a driver's license.  Plus,  all the more reason that parents should/must buy SmartDrivingCars for their kids!  Alain


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


USDOT ‘accelerating on V2V technology’


May 15, "The US Department of Transportation (US DOT) is accelerating its timetable on a proposed V2V rule that would require vehicle-to-vehicle equipment --technology that allows cars to ‘talk’ to one another-- in all new vehicles.  V2V technology is a critical element of the connected automation that makes driverless cars as safe as possible.


Writing in the USDOT Fastlane blog, Transportation Secretary Antony Foxx announced that he has directed the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to accelerate the timetable for its proposal to require vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology in new vehicles..."  Read more  Hmmm ... If NHTSA is going to require something, why don't they go straight to the issue and require automated collision avoidance that deals directly with a major safety issue rather than requiring what may well be an ineffective approach whose only virtue is that it forces the purchase of otherwise useless devices. Better yet, don't mandate anything and let the market and consumers work out the solution. C'Mon Man! Alain


US Transportation Secretary Foxx talks autonomous cars in Silicon Valley


A. Goodwin, May 13 " At a briefing today at Delphi Labs in Silicon Valley, Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx discussed the DOT's plans to expedite rulemaking that would make eventually make vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication a requirement in future cars, autonomous or otherwise... Read more Hmmm Again... I guess he hasn't gotten the memo, but 5.9 GHz. is NOIT "a requirement" for autonomous cars.  Nor is the Fed's V2V.  5G and consumer-oriented wireless communications will make most if not all of US DoT's investment obsolete even before the expected mandate comes into play.  Sorry to be so politically incorrect, but C'Mon Man!  Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events


Call for Papers



November 4-9, 2015


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