Thursday, January 14, 2016

Obama’s $4 Billion Plan for Self-Driving Cars Will Make Google Very Happy

M. Bergen, Jan 14 "The Obama Administration has seen the self-driving future, and it’s jumping aboard.  At the Detroit auto show on Thursday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will unveil a plan to develop a national blueprint for autonomous driving technology within the next six months.  He will also announce that President Obama is planning to insert $4 billion into the 2017 budget for a 10-year plan to support and “accelerate” vehicle automation projects.

“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” Secretary Foxx said in a statement. …But here’s the part of Foxx’s talk that really matters for Google: These national rules will allow fully driverless cars..." Read More  Hmmm… A few months ago it was $42M for Connected Vehicles. Today it is 100x for automated vehicles! Finally Secretary Foxx.."YES! YES! JESUS H. TAP-DANCING CHRIST… I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT" (Blue Brothers)  Yea!!!!!   🙂 Alain

Secretary Foxx Unveils President Obama’s FY17 Budget Proposal of Nearly $4 Billion for Automated Vehicles and Announces DOT Initiatives to Accelerate Vehicle Safety Innovations –

Press Release, Jan 14 "In his last State of the Union address, President Obama signaled his intent to invest in a 21st century transportation system.  U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today revealed part of the president’s proposal: a 10-year, nearly $4 billion investment to accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects.  Read more

U.S. Department of Transportation and Mobileye Partner to Equip Smart City Challenge Winner with Crash Avoidance Technology

Press Release, Jan 7,  "U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the latest partnership in the Smart City Challenge;  the winning city’s public bus system will receive  the installation of Mobileye’s Shield +TM technology on every bus.  This is in addition to U.S. DOT’s award of up to $40 million and an award of up to $10 million from the Challenge’s launch partner, Vulcan Philanthropy. 

Mobileye’s Shield +TM driver assistance safety technology is designed to enable bus drivers in the selected city to avoid and mitigate imminent collisions and protect road users including cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcyclists…." Read more  Hmmm…This is very interesting and certainly a first step in using technology to help bus drivers better perform their very difficult and stressful job; however, one would hope that a truly "Smart City" would go beyond simply providing technology that warns the bus driver of an impeding crash to one that automatically avoids the crash (and without harming standing and (unbelted) seated passengers riding the bus). Hopefully the winning "Smart City" (and all other, apparently, "not-so-smart cities")will learn from the on-going demos that WSTIP, Munich Re and Rosco are conducting in the State of Washington.  🙂 Alain

Google Self-Driving Car Testing Report on Disengagements of Autonomous Mode

Dec 2015 12,  "In accordance with regulations issued by the the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Google Auto LLC (“Google”) submits this report of disengagements from autonomous modethat have occurred when operating its self-driving cars (SDCs) on public roads in California. In accordance with the DMV rule , this report covers the period from the date of issuance of Google’s Manufacturer’s Testing Permit (September 24, 2014) through November 30, 2015.

Disengagements are a critical part of the testing process that allows our engineers to expand the software’s capabilities and identify areas of improvement. Our objective is not to minimize disengagements; rather, it is to gather, while operating safely, as much data as possible to enable us to improve our self-driving system." Read more  Hmmm…This is very good news that Google released this report. This is all about uncovering the "corner cases" ("the edge of the cage") so that Google and everyone else can stay away from these "corners" or improve the algorithms, sensors and actuators so that the cage becomes larger.  This report contains EXTREMELY valuable information!  🙂  Alain

In First Public Comments, Self-Driving Car CEO Urges Automakers to Buy Into Google’s Driverless Vision 

M. Bergen, Jan 12,  "A ton of car industry eyes were watching John Krafcik closely today as he delivered his first public comments as the chief executive of Google’s self-driving car division.

But they didn’t see any big surprises. Krafcik did not unfurl any deals with carmakers. Instead, he doubled down on Google’s unique commitment to total autonomy, a critical signal to the industry — and its regulators — that this approach is the safest route as self-driving vehicles prepare to become a massive business….But most of his talk focused on how self-driving cars will drastically curb deaths on the roads. .." Read more  Hmmm…OK. Alain

U.S. Transportation Secretary: Self-Driving Car Rules Are Coming — Eventually (Q&A)

M. Bergen, Jan 7,  "…Foxx, who is likely to be heading out with the Obama Administration, also appears intent on setting national self-driving policies before he departs, particularly on vehicle-to-vehicle communication standards. For now, robot car rules are left to the states. The first draft regulation to come out, from California, drew the ire of Google for its prohibition on fully driverless cars. Foxx strongly suggested that his agency may deploy overriding Federal rules, but stopped short of giving specifics. “We’re a little ways away,” he said..

When will we see fully autonomous cars on the road? "I think we’re going to see it within five years. That doesn’t mean 100 percent penetration; that just means market availability. But I actually think we’re going to see it within five years." Read more  Hmmm…Foxx pushing Autonomous (without reference to DoT’s Connected legacy).  Wow!  🙂   Alain
B. Thompson, Jan 12 "Once again, a company, built around the hottest tech in the industry, stole the spotlight at CES. This time, though , the product was not a smartphone, and the company was not Apple. For my money the most interesting news of last week came from a most surprising source: General Motors.

First up was the news that the century-old American car maker was investing $500 million in ride-sharing startup Lyft. Then, a few days later, the company formally introduced the Chevrolet Bolt, …. Perhaps it was the company in question, or simply the timing, but it reinforced the sense that fundamental change is coming to the world of transportation.  What is interesting, though, is that while change is certainly coming, it is coming on multiple axes: … when it comes to questioning the future of transportation, the “What?”, “How?”, and “Where?” are all in play. …

Similarly, self-driving cars remove the largest cost from ride-sharing services: the driver. This has import beyond any one ride in question: the big prize is consumers giving up cars completely, which would result in ride-sharing utilization increasing exponentially…" Read more  Hmmm…Yup!!  Also try: CAR FOLLOW-UP, THE APPLE CAR, UBER’S FINANCIALS  and  Uber’s Losses Grow, But So Do Its Profit Projections Alain

  Uber’s Losses Grow, But So Do Its Profit Projections

A. Efrati, Jan 11, "Uber’s losses grew to nearly a billion dollars in the first half of last year, nearly 50% more than its full-year losses in 2014, according to confidential documents issued by the company as part of financing efforts last year. Net revenue in the first half of 2015 was $663 million, the documents showed. …" Read more    Hmmm…Yup!! Set it up for the operating costs to be cut by an order of magnitude with driverless cars.  Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your

Ford’s FordPass app is the beginning of the end of car ownership

N. Jaynes, Jan 11.  "Mobility" has become a buzzword in the automotive industry. It’s not enough anymore to simply make safe, reliable cars anymore. Brands now have to also boast about their ability to get people mobile products as well…
Granted, this first generation of FordPass seems to be a bit more style than substance. That said, it is most certainly the first glimpse into what the new mobility universe will look and operate like in the coming decades. Let’s look at why…"   Read more  Hmmmm…Maybe???  Alain

On the More Technical Side

Recompiled Old News & Smiles:

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

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

The Business of Autonomous Vehicles
March 22-23, 2016
Crowne Plaza Hotel, San Francisco Airport

Recent Highlights of:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars

J. Hyde & S. Carty, Dec. 21 "Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, …According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California….

Google already has several links to Ford; the head of the self-driving car project, John Krafcik, worked for 14 years at Ford, including a stint as head of truck engineering, and several other ex-Ford employees work in the unit as well. Former Ford chief executive Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year.

And Ford executives have been clear for years that the company was ready to embrace a future where cars were sold as on-demand services. Ford CEO Mark Fields has repeatedly said Ford was thinking of itself “as a mobility company,” and what that would mean for its business" Read more  Hmmm…Not surprising and not exclusive. 🙂 Alain

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1.  Hmmm … Watch Video  especially at the 13:12 mark.  Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above!  Also see his TipRanks.  Alain

Sunday, December 6, 2015

FAST Act: 2015 Surface Transportation Reauthorization

Overview prepared by Dr. Shawn Kimmel, Dec 2, "The FAST Act, passed on Friday 12/4/15, is
a 5 year surface transportation reauthorization bill, which is the first reauthorization lasting more than 2 years since 2005 (MAP-21 was only 2 years). This bill represents a compromise between the Senate DRIVE Act and House STRR Act.  The funding for the bill is about 77% from gas tax and 23% from other temporary funding sources. This bill contains many research provisions outlined in this document… Read more 

Hmmmm… A excellent summary; however, Shawn was being very kind by stating that the bill contains "many" research provisions.  I’d characterize it as containing "less than minimal" research provisions.  Especially in the light of the enormous transformation that is occurring in surface transportation.  I comment below in the C’Mon Man! section that the Congress has "not gotten the memo".  Think of it, this is a "5 year" act basically extends the status quo in surface transportation.  This ensures that Washington will neither be leading nor even having an opportunity to play a part in this rapidly changing sector.  It doesn’t even recognize that FTA could help the transit Industry "print money" by investing in the development of Automated Collision Avoidance Systems for buses.  These have a RoI of less than 2 years through their reduced liability exposure as well as save lives.  Plus they’ll "print money" for their remaining service life helping to off-set the industry’s staggering need for subsidy.  

I guess that it is good that Washington has solidified its hold on the highway (concrete and paint) portion of surface mobility and is leaving the vehicles to the private/consumer sector.  What a shame that the bill didn’t include more of what was contained in Congressman Lipinsky’s Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (TRIP) Act.  Alain

Friday, October 02, 2015

"60 Minutes" test-rides Mercedes-Benz self-driving car

Oct 2 "As Google’s driverless cars have logged more then a million miles in the past six years, the rest of the auto industry is racing to keep up. Computer scientist Ralf Herrtwich hits the road with "60 Minutes" correspondent Bill Whitaker to demonstrate Mercedes-Benz’s most advanced self-driving prototype. Watch the full story Sunday on "60 Minutes."  Watch video and watch 60 minutes on Sunday Oct 4. This is really becoming mainstream.  Congratulations Ralf! Alain

Friday, August 28, 2015

Truck Safety Out of the Box from Autonobox

B Simpson, July 19, 2015 "The premise is promising. Develop and market a plug-and-play, forward-avoidance braking system for the heavy vehicle market that can be installed quickly, upgraded regularly, and even transferred from vehicle to vehicle if necessary.

The Autonobox System essentially is a second braking system for heavy-duty vehicles that addresses the long-standing problem of brakes that overheat after intense use like a panic-stop or sustained use while going downhill…. Read more  Hmmm…A viable after-market retro-fit opportunity.  Alain

Monday, July 27, 2015

Center for Automated Road Transportation Safety @ Fort Monmouth is Launched

Monday, July 20, 2015 – "After more than three (3) years of planning and several major meetings the substantive launch the Center for Automated Road Transportation Safety @ Fort Monmouth (CARTS@FM) occurred this week with the establishment of the not-for-profit. (501(c) (6)), New Jersey Corporation.  The mission of this Center is to substantially improve safety on our existing conventional roadway infrastructure through the use of inexpensive automated collision avoidance systems installed on individual vehicles operating harmoniously with conventional vehicles throughout most, if not all, existing roadways.   The scope of CARTS’s mission is across all modes that utilize the nation’s conventional road system: trucks, buses and cars. .." Read more

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rep. Lipinski Introduces Future Transportation Research and Innovation Act

I. Sancken 03/29/15, "Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) has introduced H.R. 2886, the Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (TRIP) Act, to support innovative technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter mobility in America and beyond.

"Surface transportation used to be rather staid and unimaginative, but today the very concept of ‘mobility’ is being reinvented through research, innovation, and entrepreneurship," said Rep. Lipinski. "Rapidly advancing automation, connectivity, and information technologies are creating incredible opportunities for transportation innovation. We need to develop innovative ways to improve safety, ease congestion, improve personal mobility, and cut energy use…"  Read more  Hmmm… Excellent!  Alain

Friday, May 29, 2015

John F. Nash Jr., Math Genius Defined by a ‘Beautiful Mind,’ Dies at 86

E. Goodmay, May 24 "…Dr. Nash and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike in Monroe Township around 4:30 p.m. when the driver lost control while veering from the left lane to the right and hit a guardrail and another car, Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police said.

The couple were ejected from the cab and pronounced dead at the scene. The State Police said it appeared that they had not been wearing seatbelts…. Read more
See also: John, Alicia Nash Remembered After Fatal Crash
A Beautiful Mind Mathematician John Nash and His Wife Killed in N.J. Car Crash ;

Hmmm… So tragic!!! What a crying shame!!! So preventable!!! We will miss them 🙁

Unfortunately, the NYT and others tried but missed the fundamental point by following up with "Deaths of Math Genius John F. Nash Jr. and Wife Show Need to Use Seatbelts in Back, Experts Say ".  Why do we so easily put up with crashes in the first place?  It is as if it is OK to go around crashing, just put on a seat belt.   Technology is available to avoid crashes, but there isn’t sufficient public policy focus on avoiding crashes to accelerate its adoption and enhancement.

The fundamental problem was that the taxi was not equipped with available automated stability control, lane keeping and collision avoidance systems.  This was not an accident, it was a failed public safety policy that refuses to move beyond crash mitigation and its challenged “V2x” initiatives to embrace forthright automated crash avoidance. 

Moreover, there is a failed Taxi regulatory structure that doesn’t even hint that taxis should have electronic stability control, automated lane keeping and collision avoidance.  What is the purpose of taxi regulation, to keep “Ubers” out of business? 

It is time for the nation’s transportation policy to focus intelligence/automation on the vehicle in support of the driver.  Hopefully Congress will restructure the pending transportation legislation to focus automated vehicle technologies that actively assist drivers when they make driving mistakes.  We are not perfect.  We deserve a public safety policy that is more mindful of our imperfections. Policy that isn’t aimed at just warning and scolding us but actively takes over and does the right thing.  We, not the infrastructure, are the cause of most of the the highway carnage.  It is the driver who needs help and our public policy should focus on delivering that help.      Alain

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