36th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars
The founder of $3.2 billion startup Zoox says that he was ousted as CEO ‘without a warning’ because ‘the board chose a path of fear’
T. Wolverton, Aug 22, “The CEO of Zoox has left in a management shake-up at the the high-profile, well-funded, and idiosyncratic self-driving car startup.
Zoox has already started searching for a replacement for Tim Kentley-Klay, who cofounded the Silicon Valley-based company, a source close to Zoox told Business Insider. In the meantime, it has named board member Carl Bass as its executive chairman and cofounder Jesse Levinson as its president, the source said. Bass is the former CEO of Autodesk.
Kentley-Klay confirmed his ouster in a statement posted on his Twitter account. Zoox’s board fired him “without a warning, cause or right of reply,” he said in the statement. “Today was Silicon Valley up to its worst tricks,” he said. “Rather than working through the issues in an epic startup for the win,” he continued, “the board chose a path of fear, optimizing for a little money in hand at the expense of profound progress for the universe.”
Along with his statement, Kentley-Klay posted a pair of charts comparing Zoox to its chief rivals — Google spinoff Waymo, Uber, and GM-owned Cruise. The charts essentially assert that Zoox has made more progress with its technology for less money than its rivals… A native of Australia, Kentley-Klay had no background automobile engineering or artificial intelligence before starting Zoox, according to a recent Bloomberg profile. Instead, he had worked in online advertising..” Read more Hmmmm…. Must be trying to protect its $3.2B valuation and avert an “Uberism” (a single valuation-changing irresponsible incident) . Alain
Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 53
F. Fishkin, Aug 26, “Ralph Nader weighs in when it comes to safety regulations for self driving vehicles…. but is his focus in the right place? Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser offers up his thoughts on that and more …from Zoox, to Waymo, Lyft and Drive.AI in Episode 53 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with co-host Fred Fishkin. Tune in and subscribe!” Hmmmm…. Now you can just say “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!” . Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay. Alain
Real information every week. Lively discussions with the people who are shaping the future of SmartDrivingCars. Want to become a sustaining sponsor and help us grow the SmartDrivingCars newsletter and podcast? Contact Alain Kornhauser at firstname.lastname@example.org! Alain
ready for more early riders in Phoenix
E. Perez, Aug 21, “We launched our early rider program in Phoenix in April 2017, and today, hundreds of riders are using our fully self-driving vehicles to get around every day, with even more joining throughout the summer. To run this self-driving service, we rely on our local operations teams to maintain our vehicles, manage fleet logistics, and provide around-the-clock support to our riders.
We’ve been busy growing these teams and building out our operations in Phoenix. Recently, we doubled the size of our operations center in Chandler, which will help us increase our fleet capacity and hire even more local talent for our test driving, fleet operations, and rider support teams there. What do all those teams do? Let’s take a look at what happens inside our operations center to ensure that our self-driving cars are safe, reliable, and easy to use for our riders….” Read more Hmmmm…. This is so impressive because it is such a professional operation just providing mobility. Its not about research, not about technology, not about hype, just about delivering mobility. It reeks of just working. Alain
ISO 15622:2010(en) Intelligent transport systems — Adaptive Cruise Control systems — Performance requirements and test procedures
“The main system function of Adaptive Cruise Control is to control vehicle speed adaptively to a forward vehicle by using information about: (1) ranging to forward vehicles, (2) the motion of the subject (ACC equipped) vehicle and (3) driver commands (see Figure 1). Based upon the information acquired, the controller (identified as “ACC control strategy” in Figure 1) sends commands to actuators for carrying out its longitudinal control strategy and it also sends status information to the driver. The goal of ACC is a partial automation of the longitudinal vehicle control and the reduction of the workload of the driver with the aim of supporting and relieving the driver in a convenient manner….
3.2 Adaptive Cruise Control
enhancement to conventional cruise control systems [see Conventional Cruise Control (3.5)], which allows the subject vehicle to follow a forward vehicle at an appropriate distance by controlling the engine and/or power train and potentially the brake….
6.3 Basic driver interface and intervention capabilities…
6.3.1 Operation elements and system reactions…
220.127.116.11 Braking by the driver shall deactivate the ACC function, at least if the driver-initiated brake force demand is higher than the ACC initiated brake force … (Thank you Dave Zuby for the 6.3, 6.3.1, 18.104.22.168 verbage)” . Read more Hmmmm…. Yipes!!!!! Controlling a car takes place over a spam of time. It does NOT happen instantaneously. This “Standard” requires that the “ACC function” that I may be relying upon to not rear-end the car in front of me, gets turned off (meaning both the throttle AND the brake functions get turned OFF) if, as I approach a vehicle in front of me, I happen to decide to slow down more gracefully than my ACC and happen to tap the brakes (apply a brake force that is greater than zero, since the ACC hasn’t begun to apply the bakes). This ISO “Standard” interprets this action by me as a directive to turn off the throttle (good, the touching of the brake certainly is an indication that I want to slow down, so the throttle isn’t going to be needed) AND relieves the ACC from ever applying any brake force unless I turn the ACC back on. Why would such a system EVER assume that if greater brake force was ever required, that it would just forget about what it thinks and leave me to plow into the rear of the car if front of me because I didn’t apply enough brake forces early enough??? This is just crazy!!! This is just stupid!! This is just dangerous!!!
(In conventional cruise control (CCC), the only actuation is of the throttle,. Never the brake; its not even connected to the CCC . So touching the brake, should and does deactivate the throttle function. However, since the throttle is the only function and turning off the whole system is equivalent to turning off the throttle. So then have a ball!!! … Turn of the whole system. But with ACC, both the throttle and the brake are controlled. So turning off the throttle is NOT equivalent to turning off the whole thing!!!! Turn off the throttle function; DON’T turn off the whole thing!!)
This “Standard” MUST be changed NOW!!! This is as bad, if not worse, than turning off AEB because the car is traveling too fast. The car should NOT be able to travel at speeds greater than the capabilities of its AEB!! (I know I’m being unreasonable; however, the OEMs should improve their AEBs so that this is true and NHTSA should make them do it. If an OEM wants to put a speedometer in my car that reads “160 mph”, then my AEB should be good enough to make me feel comfortable that my car won’t slam into a stationary object in my lane ahead when I’m doing 160 mph on a straight segment on the “New Jersey Turnpike”. If the AEB is only good to X mph, then my car should never go faster than X mph. If that was required, the OEMs would be really hard making sure that AEBs work at speeds up to at least 90 mph. Certainly BMW would. It wouldn’t be much of an “ultimate driving machine’ if its speed was limited to say 50 mph because their AEB only works at speeds up to 50mph.
It is irresponsible when Uber operates its “Self-driving Cars” in domains when its AEB is turned off. It is equally irresponsible, for a “Standards” organization requires that braking functions be turned off when that braking function may indeed be needed in the moments ahead. It is also equally irresponsible, for OEMs to have NOT designed and implemented sufficiently good AEBs that allow the vehicle to travel at speeds where, in the OEM’s “infinite wisdom”, it has turned off the AEB and therefore will not apply brakes from the instant at which it senses a stationary object in the lane ahead all the way until the eventual crash! So sad!!! So bad!!! Alain
Self-driving cars will destroy a lot of jobs—they’ll also create a lot
T. Lee, Aug 24, “Many people worry that the development of self-driving technology will put taxi drivers and truck drivers out of work. What often gets missed is that self-driving technology companies are going to create plenty of jobs, too.
Most obviously, high-end jobs will spring up for engineers designing the necessary hardware and software. But there are also going to be jobs for workers further down the income spectrum, doing things like taking customer calls, cleaning and repairing cars, and updating the high-definition maps that cars use to move around.
Take Waymo, for example. The Google spinoff plans to launch a driverless taxi service in the Phoenix area before the end of the year. On Tuesday, the company offered a look inside its operations center in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler. …see above article……
I’ve focused on self-driving taxis because that’s the service Waymo expects to launch first. But the replacement of truck drivers with autonomous trucks would actually be more significant, economically speaking. There are only about 300,000 taxi, limo, and ride-hail drivers in the United States, compared with 1.7 million heavy truck drivers and 900,000 delivery truck drivers.
But here, too, the effects on employment aren’t so clear-cut. The rise of self-driving delivery vehicles is likely to give rise to a significant shift from conventional retail stores to delivery services. And while an autonomous delivery service doesn’t need drivers, it’s likely to need plenty of other people to make it work….” Read more Hmmmm…. Nice article. My take on truck driving is that “Self-driving” features will enhance the appeal of long haul truck driving as an occupation and thus alleviate the current driver shortage. If there is any sanity in the hours of service regulations, they will be relaxed, thus allowing drivers to better feed their families. The “driver” will also be able to provide higher valued services to the high-valued goods that they are chaperoning, rather than focused on staying between two white lines and not hitting anything in the lane ahead. For “10%” of the time, they’ll need to focus on driving. For “50% of the time, they can provide “enhanced customer services”. For the remainder 40% of the time they can “relax”. Since the Self-driving technology that so drastically improves the driver’s work environment pays for itself simply from the enhanced safety that the technology produces, CEOs of every trucking company and owner operators should be insisting that the technology be part of every new class 8 truck that they acquire. Alain
Waymo sets up subsidiary in Shanghai as Google plans China push
Reuters Staff, Aug 24, “…Waymo has set up a subsidiary in Shanghai, according to a business registration filing, the latest sign that the U.S. internet giant is attempting to make new inroads into China. Waymo established a wholly-owned company called Huimo Business Consulting (Shanghai) Co on May 22 in Shanghai’s free trade zone with registered capital of 3.5 million yuan ($509,165), according to China’s National Enterprise Information Publicity System.
Its scope includes business and logistics consultancy as well as services related to the design and testing of self-driving car parts, said the document, which also listed the firm’s legal representative as Kevin Bradley Vosen….” Read more Hmmmm…. The scope above is fine, but trying to establish a driverless mobility service, a la Phoenix, above, is unlikely to be successful. No way Waymo would be “Welcomed” in China the way they’ve been “welcomed” in Arizona. Without a solid “Welcome” you are DoA, especially in China. Alain
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A WAYMO SELF-DRIVING TAXI
A. Hawkins, Aug 21, “In a nondescript depot in suburban Arizona, the future of transportation is getting a tune-up. This is where Waymo, the self-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, houses its growing fleet of self-driving cars: hundreds of Chrysler Pacifica minivans fitted with highly advanced hardware and software that enables them to safely ride on public roads without a human driver behind the wheel….
In advance of the launch of its commercial ride-hailing service later this year, Waymo shared exclusive details with The Verge about all the work that goes on behind the scenes. At the heart of that activity is the company’s 70,000-square-foot depot, where its fleet of autonomous vehicles are tended to by teams of technicians, engineers, and mechanics, as well as customer service reps and product managers…” Read more Hmmmm….See embedded video which is almost boring because it is business as usual.”
Driverless-Car Legislation Is Unsafe at This Speed
Ralph Nader (PU Class ’55), Aug 22, “n my 1965 book, “Unsafe at Any Speed,” I strongly urged auto companies to accelerate their adoption of proven lifesaving technologies. A year later, Congress authorized the Transportation Department to issue mandatory safety standards. This federal program has prevented millions of fatalities and injuries, and the auto industry has prospered.
Now, the situation is reversed. The autonomous vehicle, or self-driving car, industry is moving too quickly in pending legislation to exempt itself from existing and needed regulations. …Mr. Thune’s bill neglects cybersecurity requirements to protect driverless cars from hacking—the kinds of cyberattacks, malware and data breaches that have occurred in other sectors of the economy. …So-called white-hat hackers have demonstrated that they can exploit smart features and take control of brakes in existing passenger vehicles….Mandatory performance standards based on open, peer-reviewed data, with adequate budgets, continuing research, inspections and recall authority are tested ways of ensuring public safety. Whether drivers prefer to control their vehicles or relinquish control to fully autonomous technology, they prefer this kind of human intelligence over unbridled, underdeveloped artificial intelligence. Read more Hmmmm…. We are in a very different state than we were in 1965. In 1965, there were 75 million motor vehicles registered in the US and essentially all were unsafe at any speed. Hard data existed that described the problem. Today, only Waymo has operated an unattended driverless car on a public street and its attended driverless cars have accumulated over 9 million miles, have not been hacked and have at most been responsible for a single 2mph crash. The “white hat” cyber attacks are “grand stand highly contrived attacks on single vehicles”, nothing like the unsafe Corvair data of the mid 60s. Certainly Waymo has invested “adequate budgets”. Even Uber is claimed to have been spending $1m per day; let alone what GM, Ford, Toyota, BMW, … have spent; much of which has been spent on safety. Zoox just fired their CEO, possibly because he wasn’t focused sufficiently on safety. The industry fundamentally recognizes that SAFETY is an absolute necessary requirement. Uber just lost at least $10B in valuation because of one crash. In 1965, GM probably didn’t lose a penny for each Corvair crash.
US DoT has no budget for any of this. NSF could fund what??.. a week or so of Uber’s efforts? Washington has no money for this. So… Nice that Ralph is out there, but the world has changed from 1965. Alain
Tesla Semi made it ‘across the country alone’ with only Supercharger network and an extension cord, says Elon Musk
F. Lambert, Aug 25, “Just as the diesel truck industry is in disbelief of what Tesla Semi can do and it is asking for proof, CEO Elon Musk taunts them by claiming a Tesla Semi prototype drove ‘across the country alone’. (Elon Musk Tweet: “What’s cool is that it was driven across the country alone (no escort or any accompanying vehicles), using the existing Tesla Supercharger network and an extension cord,) …
People who have witnessed Tesla Semi prototypes charging at Supercharger stations have told Electrek that the system made of extension cords plugs into several Supercharger stalls at the same time and into several charge ports on the truck…” Read more Hmmmm…At least Elon didn’t suggest that they used the truck to make the cross-country “AutoPilot crossing”. Alain.
Accessible Olli – a Living Laboratory #CES2018
K. Pyle, Aug 24, “The old saying about walking a mile in one’s shoes to understand another person’s world echoes in comments made by Erich Manser, Accessibility Researcher at IBM. Manser is well suited for his role of understanding the requirements to improve accessibility, as he has been unable to drive for the past 15 years due to a gradual loss of vision. Accessibility, especially when it comes to mobility is a big deal, as, according to IBM’s Laura Langendorf, half of us have one or more impairments by the time we are 65.
At CES2018, IBM, along with other the other ecosystem partners that are part of the open and crowd-sourced, Accessible Olli project, demonstrated their methodology for understanding the needs of different people. Accessible Olli is about providing a low-speed, autonomous transit pod that can ferry multiple people, regardless of their ability, while providing the passengers independence that is generally not available today…” Read more Hmmmm….also see video. Very pertinent. Alain
Drive.ai expands its self-driving cars pilot to Arlington, Texas with federal and city funding
K. Wiggers, Aug 22, “Hot on the heels of deployment in Frisco, Texas, Drive.ai today announced that it’ll begin piloting a fleet of self-driving cars in Arlington, Texas, later this year. On Tuesday evening, the City of Arlington signed a one-year contract with the autonomous tech startup.
“Drive.ai looks forward to the opportunity to bring our innovative self-driving technology to the City of Arlington. This forward-thinking, bustling city has unique transportation needs, and we plan to provide a last-mile transit solution within a vibrant entertainment district,” Conway Chen, vice president of business strategy at Drive.ai, said in a statement. “Together with the city, we aim to reshape the way people experience transportation in Arlington, Texas.”
Service will kick off on October 19. As in Frisco, passengers will hail Drive.ai’s self-driving cars — which will travel at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour on public roads with a safety operator — with a smartphone app. And they’ll be picked up and dropped off within predefined, geofenced locations — in this case, Arlington’s entertainment district, which includes the Cowboys stadium, Texas Rangers park, and “other venues and locations.”
The initial pilot will include three of Drive.ai’s self-driving vans initially, with the potential to expand to five vehicles at a later date. Drive.ai said it will be funded in part by the city and a $343,000 federal grant…” Read more Hmmmm…. This is nice, but in comparison with Waymo in Phoenix, well… Unfortunately, “Federal Programs” are hopelessly minuscule behind private investments in businesses valued at “>$100B” chasing a “$10T/yr” global market. Alain
Carmera raises $20 million to map cities for self-driving cars
K. Wiggers, Aug 23, “Self-driving cars rely on a bevy of sensors — including cameras, lidar, and radars — to navigate their complex surroundings. But sight is no substitute for maps, and with over four million miles of roads in the U.S. alone, collecting that data is no small feat. That’s where Carmera comes in.
The Brooklyn-based startup, which launched in June 2017 after spending two years gathering three-dimensional maps of New York City with lidar-equipped vehicles, today unveiled a real-time event management engine that facilitates quick, up-to-the-minute updates to said maps. It also announced a partnership with the City of New York and a $20 million funding round led by GV, Google’s venture capital arm, with participation with prior investors including Matrix Partners…” Read more Hmmmm….Congratulations Ro! Keep up the great work. Alain
Lyft and Aptiv complete 5,000 self-driving rides in Las Vegas
J, Fingas, Aug 21, “Lyft’s experiment with paid self-driving rides in Las Vegas appears to be going as smoothly as you might hope. Lyft and its partner Aptiv have revealed that they’ve completed 5,000 autonomous trips since launching service earlier in 2018. The passengers are happy with the experience, Lyft claimed. About 96 percent said they planned to use self-driving service again, while 20 percent have already used the service at least twice. Lyft also touted the average five-star rating, although that’s not surprising when max ratings are par for the course among human ridesharing drivers.
There are still some unknowns. Each car in the program (20 so far, 30 total) has a backup driver in case the system fails, and it’s unclear how many of these trips required human intervention. It’s also important to put Lyft’s boasting in context. The company’s overall service was racking up a million rides per day in 2017 — 5,000 over the entire length of the self-driving program is a drop in the bucket. This is more about showing that the service has been hiccup-free than proving it was a resounding success…” Read more Hmmmm….Again, some good news but the “context”is important. As of right now, while everyone is still at “Zero_Kelvin” Waymo is the is the only real one.
Self-driving cars face a long road to becoming transportation’s future
K. Wiggers, Aug 23, “Self-driving cars are the future of transportation. According to some reports, 10 million vehicles will hit the road by 2020. They’ll ferry passengers from place to place, like driverless taxis. They’ll transport packages and raw materials from city to city. And they’ll deliver groceries, meals, and packages to homes and apartments across the country.
But for all the optimism surrounding autonomous cars, there’s an equal amount of skepticism — and concern….” Read more Hmmmm….This reminds us all of the standard concerns. However, There is beginning to be substance in the hype (see Waymo above). Alain
Self-Driving Cars Won’t Save Cities – Here’s What Will
PolyMatter, Aug 24, “…” See video Hmmmm…. Much is correct especially if Driverless cars are sold and used as personal vehicles. In fact, this video highlights the problems that would be created if these vehicles are sold as personal vehicles as conventional cars are sold today. The societal impacts are completely different if these driverless vehicles are operated as a Mobility as a Service by a fleet owner/manager. Then most of the challenges are converted to beneficial opportunities. Alain
Interested in working in Toronto? Have a good background and interest in working on safety and security for autonomous driving vehicles and fleets? Contact Dr. Fengmin Gong, DiDi Labs
Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time
C’mon Man! (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)
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3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
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On the More Technical Side