Monday, July 13, 2015

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Automatic Cars Or Distracted Drivers: We Need Automation Sooner, Not Later

D. Norman 6/4/15 "Imperfect automation, continually getting better? Or distracted drivers, continually getting worse? Choose.


I am fearful of the rapid rush toward full automation and have published numerous articles about the difficulties we will face because of the mismatch of the automation and human behavior. However, I am even more fearful of the rapid rise of distracting devices installed in automobiles, mounted on dashboards, worn on the wrist or body, or carried on seats, pockets, and laps of drivers...Each day seems to bring a new distraction. Heads-up displays (HUDs) that once were aids to minimizing distraction by making it easier for the driver to see navigation aids and speed, are now catching featuritis, that deadly disease which corrupts products...."  Read more


Hmmm.... Yup!!  Plus more comments from Don... "You might also want to add your traditional sarcasm saying "He saw the light!" or something because up to now, I have been arguing for caution (including my keynote at last years automated Vehicles conference (where I met you) -- it's about to be published in the proceedings.  And I have a tech review article about to come out arguing the same caution (except I was just able to add a paragraph saying that all my words of caution are correct, but we still should switch to automation quickly).


The most dangerous part of automated vehicles is when they are partially automated: the better the automation, the less able a person is able to take corrective action. This is a point I have argued for since my early work on aviation safety some 20 years ago but has been part of the human factors literature since long before that (Bainbridge would not be bad to re-read the 1983 paper.). So we have to skip this stage if at all possible.  I have long argued that we should have either all or none. it is the mixture that is dangerous.


Basically, we have not solved the human element yet. By this I mean the pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboards, manually driven cars that will always be an issue. Moreover they will game the system: deliberately ignoring the cars under the assumption that they are programmed not to hit them, so they can do anything they want.


This assumption will both stall traffic, create roadblocks, and also occasionally prove to be false (automated cars cannot overcome the laws of physics).


Another complexity is aggression. Drivers have to be aggressive to get through traffic, but the amount and form of aggression is cultural. Pedestrians behave differently on college campuses (they think they own the place) versus the same people just a few miles away in cities, where they are more lawful. Korean drivers have to be aggressive to merge. And in China or Vietnam or India? Wow.


Milan drivers are the most lawful I have experienced recently, but even they lose their patience." Alain




A fleet of ‘robocabs’ could dramatically slash vehicle emissions, study suggests


C. Mooney, 7/6/15 "Whenever we hear the latest buzz about driverless vehicles — like the ones currently in development by Google — one of the first benefits brought up is safety. The gist is that the vast majority of car accidents are the result of human error, and taking the human out of the equation would thus make streets a lot safer.


But that’s hardly the only benefit, suggests a new study in Nature Climate Change by Jeffrey Greenblatt and Samveg Saxena of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The researchers model a future in which electric-powered driverless cabs or “autonomous taxis” roam the streets, in a range of sizes and specifically tasked to pick up a matching number of passengers for a given ride.... Read more Hmmm... Yup.  Not only sized properly, but the opportunities for casual-ride-sharing forgoes the use of many vehicles, especially in the peak-hour, peak-direction and centralized fleet management enable the transition to electric power.  Moreover, the operational characteristics of casual ride-sharing in small groups will enable more moderately dense land use that will bolster the ride-sharing.  Alain


Unmanned Systems Caucus “Autonomous Vehicle Technology: Briefing and Demonstration”


Rayburn Office Building, 7/8/15 "While we may be no closer to flying cars of Back to the Future or Star Trek’s teleportation, engineers are quickly unlocking the secrets to make another science fiction dream come true: the autonomous car. Systems like forward collision avoidance systems are already in use and improving highway safety. Join us for a discussion of the past, present, and future of autonomous car technology. "  Panelists,  Kornhauser Text, Slides


Livonia-based ZF TRW Launches Semi-Automated Driver Assist Systems


A. Roberts 7/2/15 "Livonia-based ZF TRW has launched a series of semi-automated driver assist features, including automatic steering, braking, and acceleration, along with a vehicle radar and camera fusion system.


“We're following a building block approach to automated driving functions showcasing what is achievable today using proven technology,” says Peter Lake, executive vice president of sales and business development of ZF TRW. “Drivers will need to trust the technology and see its benefits as we move along a continuum to higher degrees of automation leading to more convenience and the ultimate goal — safer vehicles and roadways."..." Read more  News Release Hmmm  Things are moving!  Yea!   Alain


GM to test Cisco technology for sharing road safety spectrum


6/24/15 "General Motors Co plans to begin testing new Cisco Systems Inc technology that could allow "talking" cars to share radio communication bands with roadside Wi-Fi devices, a GM executive told U.S. lawmakers.


The technology could hold out the promise of allowing Wi-Fi devices to share the same radio band as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) safety systems without causing interference, he said in written testimony posted to a House oversight committee website on Wednesday...."   Read more Hmmm... Finally a modern approach to using the 5.9 GHz band of the radio spectrum. Alain


Mercedes readies advanced safety tech for next E class


D. Kurylko 7/7/15 "Calling the new features “real life safety,” Mercedes-Benz executives said Tuesday the intelligent and safety systems bring its vehicles closer to accident-free and autonomous driving...The new advances -- dubbed Intelligent Drive next Level -- include systems to protect an occupant’s ears and hearing during a crash, steering assistance to outmaneuver an obstacle or avoid an accident, and safety protection that pushes the driver and front seat passenger away from the doors during a side impact.... Read more Hmmm... hopefully the automated lane centering will be improved so that it actually works on other than straight roads and allows one to take one's hands off the wheel for more than 7 seconds.  Also, I hope that the Distronic Plus Intelligent Cruise Control does NOT turn off its deceleration function simply because the brake pedal is touched.  Please!  You should turn off the acceleration function if I touch the brakes but don't turn off the braking function!  I may not be braking hard enough.  Don't wait until you have to apply the emergency brake because I didn't brake hard enough!!  Alain


More computing power for automated driving


Press release "... Bosch is now heading an international research team that is working on laying the foundations for highly efficient use of state-of-the-art, high-performance hardware. The AMALTHEA4public project involves 21 partners from Germany, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey, with the German project partners focusing primarily on automotive industry requirements. AMALTHEA4public will run through August 2017. ..." Read more  Also see Amalthea


How a Driverless Car Sees the Road


Chris Urmson ".. Chris Urmson heads up Google's driverless car program, one of several efforts to remove humans from the driver's seat. He talks about where his program is right now, and shares fascinating footage that shows how the car sees the road and makes autonomous decisions about what to do next. ..See video


Car dashboards that act like smart phones raise safety issues


S McBride 7/7/15 "..."I think they (the screens) raise serious public safety questions," said Joe Simitian, the former California lawmaker who spearheaded the state's laws on phone use while driving. "From a legislative standpoint, this is going to be something legislators struggle with for years to come."


“You can’t be looking at a screen and be looking at the road at the same time,” said David Strayer, a professor of cognition and neural science at the University of Utah, who has written several studies on distracted driving. The screens “are enabling activities that take your eyes off the road for longer than most safety advocates would say is safe.”... Read more  Hmmm.... YES!! They are the problem and should NOT be permitted unless they are doing the driving, too! Alain


Google to Test Carpooling Service in Israel


M. Scott, 7/6/15 "Google said on Monday that it would start testing a carpooling service in Tel Aviv through Waze, the Israeli social mapping start-up that the company bought in 2013 for $1 billion...Unlike similar services offered by the likes of Uber, Google’s carpooling service will allow drivers to recoup only the cost of gas and wear and tear to their vehicles. Drivers will not be able to use the app to offer traditional taxi services...."  Read more Hmmm... Very interesting.  If one can reliably get a ride home, one may well be willing to take a ride from home.  Without that reliability, things will be challenging.  Alain


Would you be a carpool passenger for $14 per day?

P. Minet 7/3/15"Auckland will receive $4.2 billion of NZ Government funding over 3 years for infrastructure improvements aimed at reducing congestion.  This article argues that it would be more effective to put the money in the bank and use the interest to pay more people to travel as passengers in carpools, rather than driving...." Read more  Hmmm... Also Paul point to the new App CarZac Alain


The Case Against Transportation Devolution: A Conservative Perspective


J. Schenendorf "This is a critically important time for federal transportation programs. While many experts argue that we must not only maintain, but substantially increase federal investment in transportation infrastructure, some advocates are now calling for the opposite approach—“devolution” of transportation programs to the States, either in part or in full. This paper assesses those arguments from a conservative perspective and makes the case for continuing the current cooperative federal-state regime. Although devolution may seem superficially appealing, it would conflict with the nation’s long and unbroken history of federal transportation investment, balkanize the nation’s transportation networks, cause a substantial drag on the economy, and bring about a host of other serious problems.... Read more Hmmm... Interesting in the light of the continuing struggle for the proper funding of our transportation infrastructure.  Alain

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


Autonomous taxis could greatly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions of US light-duty vehicles


J. Greenblatt & S. Saxena 7/6/15 "...Here we estimate 2014 and 2030 greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and costs of autonomous taxis (ATs), a class of fully autonomous7, 8 shared AVs likely to gain rapid early market share, through three synergistic effects: (1) future decreases in electricity GHG emissions intensity, (2) smaller vehicle sizes resulting from trip-specific AT deployment, and (3) higher annual vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), increasing high-efficiency (especially battery-electric) vehicle cost-effectiveness. ... Read more  Hmmm...  Environmental benefit in higher VMT, really?  Unfortunately, they fail to realize that the real benefit of aTaxis is their ability to accommodate casual ride-sharing.  It is casual ride-sharing and its ability to substantially improve vehicle occupancy that allows increases in PMT (personal miles traveled) without the accompanying increase in VMT.  In fact, vehicle occupancy can increase to completely compensate for increased PMT and even result in a decrease in VMT.  Alain


USAA Leads $24 Million Round For Connected Car Platform Automatic


S. Perez 6/25/15 "Automatic, the connected car platform whose sensor and app combination is sometimes referred to as a “Fitbit for your car,” announced this morning $24 million in Series B funding, led by the investment arm at USAA, a top insurance and financial services provider for military families, which today counts 11 million members. ...Read more  Hmmm... Unfortunately this is all about the wrong kind of "connected" in that it has nothing to do with collision avoidance and safety, just collecting data about how you drive and who know with whom that is shared. :-(  USAA should be investing in companies that focus on avoiding crashes because that is the most effective way that USAA can achieve Loss Prevention and deliver real value to military families.    Alain



Automated Vehicles: One Eye on the Road, Another on You


W. Knight 6/16/15 "Monitoring driver behavior will become important as more vehicle automation is introduced. ..." Read more

Hmmm... Wouldn't these resources be better spent if they focused on improving the automated driving so that I "could hop in the passenger seat".  Automated driving should be restricted to situations and times when intervention by the driver is NOT desirable.  If the system has to call for immediate help from the driver, it should NOT be driving!  Alain


Uber CEO To Tesla: Sell Me Half A Million Autonomous Electric Cars In 2020


S Edelstein "...Uber CEO Travis Kalanick says... he'd buy every one Tesla builds..". Hmmm... Get in line! I'm buying 1.5 million just to sever NJ's mobility needs.  I'm sure that Enterprise Rental Car ("We'll pick you up") is in line as well as "every Tom, Dick and Harry"!  Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events


Fundamental Issues for Road Transport Automation


Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Time: 1:00 P.M. to 2:30 P.M. EDT




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