13th edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars


 Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Buyers, Sellers, Facilitators
May 17, 18

(In less than three weeks)
 Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Last Chance for Early Bird Registration

Visit Landing Page for registration and sponsorship opportunities.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Senseless Government Rules Could Cripple the Robo-Car Revolution

R. Hagemann, May 1, "…Now, there’s little doubt that autonomous vehicles are the next frontier of transportation. …however, there are a number of roadblocks to surmount: infrastructure issues, restrictive state licensing policies, driver education, cybersecurity and privacy vulnerabilities, and more. For innovators, regulators, and policymakers, solving these problems will involve a long to-do list, but a pointless regulatory scuffle over technology standards should not be on it.
So why is the federal agency responsible for our road safety looking to introduce a totally avoidable roadblock to automotive innovation by mandating a severely flawed technological standard for vehicle communications?…". Read More Hmmmm... I love it…" a pointless regulatory scuffle" and "a severely flawed technological standard".  Only DSRC. could engender such criticism….  "…Imagine if the government had demanded that Henry Ford equip every one of his Model Ts with telegraph machines that could only communicate with other Model Ts. A 19th century communications technology mandated for use in a 20th century innovation would have been a crushing blow to innovation and competition in the emerging automobile industry. That’s precisely what is happening with the DSRC mandate, and the same potential for future innovation is at risk with its implementation…". Alain

T-Mobile unveils plan for first nationwide 5G network ready by 2020

T. Soper, May 2, "T-Mobile on Tuesday laid out its plan to offer the first nationwide mobile 5G coverage by 2019.  The Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier said it will utilize the low-band wireless spectrum licenses it just paid $8 billion for to offer the next-generation network, which will roll out in 2019 and expand nationwide by 2020. …" Read More Hmmmm... What is the DSRC national plan? Alain

Your car will eventually live-stream video of your driving to the cloud

L. Mearian, Apr 28, "… A single autonomous car could generate as much as 100GB of data every second, said Barclays analyst Brian Johnson, in a note published Wednesday…."  Read More Hmmmm... Just because it can, doesn’t mean it should.  An elegant human trait is that we both ignore and forget.  The smartest of SmartDrivingCars will do the same.  Alain

Even Before Driverless Cars Hit The Road, Auto Insurance Faces Big Challenges

F. Khayatt, May 2, "… While it’s a scenario (driverless) that every auto insurer has heard about and dreads, it’s not the scenario auto insurers should really be focused on today. Instead, they need to concentrate on the artificial intelligence already making its way onto the roads because it’s those advanced driver assistance systems that are about to upend accidents and claims experience in the industry’s pricing and underwriting models, long before self-driving cars make a significant impact….While the numbers with such innovations as autonomous braking and automatic steering correction functions are still few, that won’t be the case for long….

As in other industries grappling with such disruption spawned by artificial intelligence, auto insurers need to get out in front of the change, rethink strategies and tactics before that drip, drip, drip of innovation becomes a torrent. This once staid industry must initiate a reformulation of its pricing, underwriting, claims processes, and most importantly, its culture…."  Read More Hmmmm... Pow!!!  Two of the main themes of my upcoming Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit May 17 & 18…Insurance & AI/DeepDriving.  Register now.  Alain

Computer Vision for Autonomous Vehicles: Problems, Datasets and State-of-the-Art

J. Janai. Apr 18, "…This paper… (provides) … a state-of-the-art survey …(which)… includes both the historically most relevant literature as well as the current state of-the-art on several specific topics, including recognition, reconstruction, motion estimation, tracking, scene understanding and end-to-end learning. …we first provide a taxonomy to classify each approach and then analyze the performance of the state-of-the-art on several challenging benchmarking datasets including KITTI, ISPRS, MOT and Cityscapes. Besides, we discuss open problems and current research challenges…" Read More Hmmmm…An excellent survey.  Alain  For perspective, watch video. Alain

How self-driving cars will profoundly change real estate

D. Findling, May 2, "…Here are some of the changes he and other experts in the field predict:…" Read More Hmmmm..Just the tip of the iceberg. Alain

  Apple, Tesla Weigh In on California Self-Driving Car Regulations

"…In addition, both Waymo and General Motors made comments related to liability rules. Liability is one of the biggest question marks surrounding self-driving cars, as regulators, manufacturers, and insurance companies have yet to figure out who is at fault when an autonomous car crashes. The companies building and operating self-driving cars will likely put pressure on regulators to limit their liability as much as possible, in order to prevent a flurry of lawsuits if autonomous cars really do hit the road in large numbers…and start malfunctioning."  Read More Hmmmm... Bad idea.  These systems MUST be safe and in a large sense the safer the better.  They wont be perfect, so there is some liability exposure and that is a legitimate cost of doing business and that is a good way to separate the winners from the losers.  Limiting the liability has us, the general public, helping the losers.  Doesn’t seem to be what we want to do.  If companies are leery of the liability, they should simply make safer vehicles.  Alain

Autonomous car start-up Zoox hires ex-Ferrari exec Lanzone

TechNew, May 1, "Autonomous vehicle start-up Zoox said on Monday Corrado Lanzone, former operations director of Ferrari SpA’s racing division, has joined the California-based company as its vice president of manufacturing operations.  Lanzone joins Zoox after a two-decade career at Scuderia Ferrari, where he oversaw manufacturing, purchasing, quality assurance and managed relationships with more than 100 Tier-1 suppliers, the Silicon Valley company said in a statement…." Read More Hmmmm... Very interesting.  Alain

Uber Executive Steps Back From Self-Driving Cars During Waymo Legal Fight

M. Issac, Apr 27, "Anthony Levandowski, the Uber executive accused of stealing trade secrets from Google, is stepping aside from leading some of the company’s work on self-driving vehicles, amid a bare-knuckled legal fight between the two technology giants…. At stake is what many technologists consider to be the intersection of the next wave of computing, artificial intelligence and an entirely new category of transportation. Mr. Kalanick has said the race for self-driving technology is “existential” to Uber’s future, looking ahead to a day when smart driverless vehicles can move millions of people around as quickly and efficiently as possible…." Read More Hmmmm... The stakes are enormous. Alain
Samsung joins the self-driving car race:

Samsung joins the self-driving car race:

 S. Liberatore, May 1, "…The South Korean electronics maker has recently been approved to test it deep-learning based autonomous vehicles on public roads.  Although the firm has been very quiet about the project, it has developed a ‘commercialized Hyundai vehicle equipped with the latest cameras and sensors’ that will be used during testing…" Read More Hmmmm... Another in Deep Learning space.  Alain

  Lee County looks ahead to driverless car revolution

B. Smith, May 1, "…The Lee Metropolitan Planning Organization is looking ahead to the region’s roadway needs for 30 years and longer into the future…."We don’t know exactly how it will come down, that’s kind of why we were talking about it,"  said Don Scott, the MPO executive director….."Nobody knows exactly how it gets rolled out, what the implications are," Scott said. "There’s more work to be done on what might be future infrastructure needs…." Read More Hmmmm... They should come to the Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit on May 17 and 18. Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention 

This neural network could make animations in games a little less awkward

D. Coldewey, May 1, "…Researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Method Studios put together a machine learning system that feeds on motion capture clips showing various kinds of movement. Then, when given an input such as a user saying “go this way” and taking into account the terrain, it outputs the animation that best fits both — for example, going from a jog to hopping over a small obstacle….   Read More Hmmmm... See video. and  A Deep Learning Framework for Character Motion Synthesis and Editing (SIGGRAPH 2016)  View as background. Very interesting,.  We need something like this to anticipate pedestrian and cyclists movement.  Alain

Uber’s C.E.O. Plays With Fire

M. Issac, Apr 23, "… In a quest to build Uber into the world’s dominant ride-hailing entity, Mr. Kalanick has openly disregarded many rules and norms, backing down only when caught or cornered. He has flouted transportation and safety regulations, bucked against entrenched competitors and capitalized on legal loopholes and gray areas to gain a business advantage. In the process, Mr. Kalanick has helped create a new transportation industry, with Uber spreading to more than 70 countries and gaining a valuation of nearly $70 billion, and its business continues to grow.But the previously unreported encounter with Mr. Cook showed how Mr. Kalanick was also responsible for risk-taking that pushed Uber beyond the pale, sometimes to the very brink of implosion.

Crossing that line was not a one-off for Mr. Kalanick. According to interviews with more than 50 current and former Uber employees, investors and others with whom the executive had personal relationships, Mr. Kalanick, 40, is driven to the point that he must win at whatever he puts his mind to and at whatever cost — a trait that has now plunged Uber into its most sustained set of crises since its founding in 2009.." Read More Hmmmm... Always interesting. Alain

On the More Technical Side

Artur Filipowicz’17, Virtual Environments as Driving Schools for Deep Learning Vision-Based Sensors in Self-Driving Cars, April 2017

Nayan Bhat’17, DeepFollowing: Vision-Based Distance Estimation on Synthetically-Generated Driving Video using 3D Convolution, April 2017

Antigone Hope Valen’17, The ATaxi Revolution: Autonomous Vehicle Implementation and Ride-Sharing Optimization in the United States and China, April 2017

Keith Gladstone’17, The Search for the Sustainable Fleet: Driverless Taxi System Simulations , April 2017

Rebeca De La Espriella’17,  Developing the Regulatory Environment for Autonomous Vehicles: Historical Lessons for the Socio-technical Transition, April 2017

Thomas P. Byrne ’17,  Commercial Auto Insurance Risk Management Strategies, April 2017

Kara Kockelman, An Assessment of Autonomous Vehicles Traffic:Impacts and Infrastructure Needs , April 2017

Kara Kockelman,Appendices, Ensuring the Benefits of a Connected and Auto ,  April2017

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

  Elon Musk elaborates on autonomous ride-sharing, says will eventually be cheaper than public transport

F. Lambert, May 1, "…Musk actually ties his vision of shared autonomy with his new tunnel boring project because he sees the advent of car-sharing with autonomous driving ultimately increasing traffic – and tunnels can alleviate that. He said during this interview at TED:.." Read More Hmmmm... Part of the problem with TED talks.  They tend to be Half-baked.  Sharing allow Person-mile traveled to increase without necessarily increasing Vehicle-miles traveled.  Tunnels??? Through mountains and under some parts of some cities (Munich, Montreal, …Maybe; Between cities… Not needed.  The roads are still empty most of the day and all of the night.  Alain

  Watch Elon Musk’s TED talk on his grand tunnel plan, self-driving cars and more

D. Etherington, May 1, "… Watch demonstration video for his vision of how a network of underground tunnels might ease traffic concerns…" Watch TED Talk  Hmmmm... Probably should be in C’mon Man!  Alain

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

AV Policy Series

May 15, 2017
American Institute of Architects,
1735 New York Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 17 & 18, 2017
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date

Recent Highlights of:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waymo to Offer Phoenix Area Access to Self-Driving Cars

D. Streitfeld, Apr, 25, "…On Tuesday, the company was to announce the next phase of testing: putting ordinary people inside its Chrysler minivans and Lexuses….Only those who live in Chandler, Mesa, Tempe and Gilbert — roughly the southeastern Phoenix area — will be eligible for the program. And the cars, for that matter, will not take them anywhere else — no weekend jaunts to the Grand Canyon. Read More Hmmmm... Here we go!  Very conservative, but the path ahead is clear.  In 2013 they said that they were going to do this in 2017!   This is the beginning of real commercialization. Congratulations!  This is a major milestone.  Alain

Tuesday, April 17, 2017

Don’t Worry, Driverless Cars Are Learning From Grand Theft Auto

D. Hall, Apr 17, "In the race to the autonomous revolution, developers have realized there aren’t enough hours in a day to clock the real-world miles needed to teach cars how to drive themselves. Which is why Grand Theft Auto V is in the mix.
The blockbuster video game is one of the simulation platforms researchers and engineers increasingly rely on to test and train the machines being primed to take control of the family sedan. Companies from Ford Motor Co. to Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo may boast about putting no-hands models on the market in three years, but there’s a lot still to learn about drilling algorithms in how to respond when, say, a mattress falls off a truck on the freeway….The idea isn’t that the highways and byways of the fictional city of Los Santos would ever be a substitute for bona fide asphalt. But the game “is the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from,” said Alain Kornhauser…"  Read More Hmmmm... Well…we have a slightly different view of history wrt to GTA5.  The ‘Alain view’ is that Chenyi Chen*16 independently started investigating the use of virtual environments as a source of Image – Affordances data sets to use as the training sets in a ‘Direct Perception’ approach to creating a self-driving algorithm.  Images of the road ahead are converted into the instantaneous geometry that is implied by those image.  An optimal controller then determines the the steering, brake and throttle values to best drive the car.  The critical element in that process are the Image – Affordances data sets which need to be pristine.  Chenyi demonstrated in his PhD dissertation , summarized in the ICCV2015 paper,  that by using the pristine Image – Affordances data sets from an open-source game TORCS one could have a virtual car drive a virtual race course without crashing.  More importantly, when tested on images from real driving situations, the computed affordances were close to correct.

This encouraged us to look for more appropriate virtual environments. For many reasons, including: "wouldn’t it be amazing if ‘Grand Theft Auto 5’ actually generated some positive ‘redeeming social value’ by contributing to the development of algorithms that actually made cars safer; saving grief, injuries and lives".  Consequently, in the Fall of 2015, Artur Filipowicz’17 began to investigate using GTA5 to train Convolutional Neural Networks to perform some of the Direct Perception aspects of automated driving.  With Jeremiah Liu, he continued his efforts in this direction last summer which were presented at TRB in January.  Yesterday, he and Nyan Bhat’17 turned in their Senior Theses focused on this topic.

Indeed, GTA5 is a rich virtual environment that begins to efficiently and effective address the data needs of Deep Learning approaches to safe driving.    Alain

Monday, April 3, 2017

Uber Crash Shows Human Traits in Self-Driving Software

M. Bergen, Mar 29, "… Uber Crash Shows Human Traits in Self-Driving Software…In a statement to police, Patrick Murphy, an Uber employee in the car, said the Volvo SUV was traveling 38 miles per hour, a notch below the speed limit. He said the traffic signal turned yellow as the Uber vehicle entered the intersection. He then saw the Honda turning left, but "there was no time to react as there was a blind spot" created by traffic. The Honda hit Uber’s car, pushing it into a traffic pole and causing it to turn on its side. …Eyewitness accounts can often be unreliable, and other witnesses in the police report did not say that the Uber car was at fault — something the police agreed with. Still, Torres’s account raises the question of whether Uber’s self-driving sensors spotted the light turning yellow and, if so, whether it decided it could safely continue through the intersection….Self-driving cars have more often been criticized for driving too cautiously, slowing or stopping when human drivers would be more aggressive. Autonomous vehicles operated by Waymo have been rear-ended due to such issues and the company has been working to make its system more human…" Read more   Hmmmm... Read the whole article.  In a very concise way it hits the major issues, one of which is the very sensitive subject of offensive v defensive driving.  How should we tune driving behaviors?  As I pointed out last week, it would be very helpful if Uber released all of the data that was captured in the seconds leading up to this crash so that everyone can as Mark wrote:  "…Last year, after a Waymo car bumped into a bus, the company said it used the incident, and "thousands of variations on it," to refine its software.   "This is a classic example of the negotiation that’s a normal part of driving — we’re all trying to predict each other’s movements," it added…."  Alain

Monday, March 20, 2017

Uber’s autonomous cars drove 20,354 miles and had to be taken over at every mile, according to documents

J. Bhuiyan, Mar 16, "Some of Uber’s self-driving cars aren’t driving as smoothly as the company hoped they would. Documents circulated throughout the company’s self-driving group, which Recode obtained, gives us a first look at the progress of the ride-hail company’s robot cars in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California.
The top line: Uber’s robot cars are steadily increasing the number of miles driven autonomously. But the figures on rider experience — defined as a combination of how many times drivers have to take over and how smoothly the car drives — are still showing little progress….
For example: During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars on the road only drove an average of close to 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over for one reason or another…
The good news is the number of miles between these “critical” interventions has recently improved. Last week, the company’s cars drove an average of approximately 200 miles between those types of incidents that required a driver to take over…" Read more Hmmm… Waymo is so incredibly far ahead.  Even with these statistics, it depends on when and where the miles were drive.  It is relatively unchallenging in some places at some times, especially if you’ve experienced it many times before. Its all about being able to handle the unexpected to achieve Driverless. Uber accrues no substantive value until it reaches Driverless.  Self-driving’s only value is as a way/process to achieve Driverless.  Alain

Friday, March 10, 2017

Intel to Buy Mobileye, Maker of Sensors for Self-Driving Cars, for $15.3 Billion

M. Scott, Mar 13, "Intel agreed on Monday to buy Mobileye, an Israeli technology company that specializes in making sensors and cameras for autonomous cars, for $15.3 billion, as the global microchip giant tries to expand its reach in the fast-growing sector….As part of the deal, Intel said it would buy Mobileye’s outstanding shares at $63.54 a share, a 34 percent premium to Mobileye’s closing price on Friday….

Intel’s deal for Mobileye seems to be a recognition that chip-making rivals like Nvidia and Qualcomm have moved slightly ahead in the race to provide the computing power needed for autonomous cars… Intel said it would continue investing in the autonomous-driving industry, a sector that it said would be worth about $70 billion by 2030…"  Read more Hmmm… The hits keep coming!  Friday..the California Regs welcoming Driverless; Monday… this.  Tomorrow… nVIDIA????   Alain


Robot cars — with no human driver — could hit California roads next year

R. Mitchell, Mar 10, "California is back on the map as a state that’s serious about welcoming driverless cars.Truly driverless cars — vehicles with no human behind the wheel, and perhaps no steering wheel at all — are headed toward California streets and highways starting in 2018…
The regulations lay out “a clear path for future deployment of autonomous vehicles” in California, said Bernard Soriano, deputy director at the Department of Motor Vehicles…." Read moreHmmm… Congratulations Bernard!  This is fantastic news on the road to providing high-quality mobility for all.  It squarely addresses the fundamental need to efficiently re-position vehicles so that they can get to even those who can’t drive.  This is a real turning point for automated vehicles from self-driving toys for the 1% to affordable, environmentally friendly mobility for everyone.  Alain

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

M. Bergen, Feb 23, "It took Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo seven years to design and build a laser-scanning system to guide its self-driving cars. Uber Technologies Inc. allegedly did it in nine months.
Waymo claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that was possible because a former employee stole the designs and technology and started a new company….Anthony Levandowski, a former manager at Waymo, in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary and confidential files, including the lidar circuit board designs, according to the complaint. He also allegedly created a domain name for his new company and confided in some of his Waymo colleagues of plans to “replicate” its technology for a competitor…." Read more   Hmmm…This is very serious.  So unfortunate.  🙁   Alain

Friday, February 17, 2017

Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2016 Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years

Press release, Feb. 15, "NSC offers insight into what drivers are doing and calls for immediate implementation of proven, life-saving measures…

With the upward trend showing no sign of subsiding, NSC is calling for immediate implementation of life-saving measures that would set the nation on a road to zero deaths:…" Read more  Hmmm…"Automated Collision Avoidance" or anything having to do with ‘Safe-driving Cars‘ is not mentioned anywhere in the Press Release.  One of us is missing something very fundamental here!!  So depressing!!  🙁   Alain

Friday, January 27, 2017

Serving the Nation’s Personal Mobility Needs with the Casual Sharing of autonomousTaxis & Today’s Urban Rail, Amtrak and Air Transport Systems

A. Kornhauser, Jan 14, "Orf467F16 Final Project Symposium quantifying implications of such a Nation-wide mobility system on Average Vehicle Occupancy (AVO), energy, environment and congestion, including estimates of fleet size, needed empty vehicle repositioning, and ridership implications on existing rail transit systems (west, east, NYC) and Amtrak of a system that would efficiently and effectively perform their ‘1st mile’/’last-mile’ mobility needs. Read more  Hmmm… Now linked are 1st Drafts of the chapters and the powerPoint summaries of these elements.  Final Report should be available by early February.  The major finding is, nationwide there exists sufficient casual ridesharing potential that a well–managed  Nationwide Fleet of about 30M aTaxis (in conjunction with the existing air, Amtrak and Urban fixed-rail systems)  could serve the vehicular mobility needs of the whole nation with VMT 40% less than today’s automobiles while providing a Level-of-Service (LoS) largely equivalent and in many ways superior than is delivered by the personal automobile today.  Also interesting are the findings as to the substantial increased patronage opportunities available to Amtrak and each of the fixed rail transit systems around the country because the aTaxis solve the ‘1st and last mile’ problem.  While all of this is extremely good news, the challenging news is that since all of these fixed rail systems currently lose money on each passenger served, the additional patronage would likely mean that they’ll lose even more money in the future. 🙁  Alain 

ODI (Office of Defects Investigation) Findings on Tesla AEB & AutoPilot

(Above link should work) Jan 19, "… Summary: …     NHTSA’s examination did not identify any defects in the design or performance of the AEB or Autopilot  systems of the subject vehicles nor any incidents in which the systems did not perform as designed.  AEB systems used in the  automotive industry through MY 2016 are rear-end collision avoidance technologies that are not designed to reliably  perform in all crash modes, including crossing path collisions.  The Autopilot system is an Advanced Driver Assistance  System (ADAS) that requires the continual and full attention of the driver to monitor the traffic environment and be prepared to take action to avoid crashes.  Tesla’s design included a hands-on the steering wheel system for monitoring driver engagement…
…  ODI analyzed data from crashes of Tesla Model S and Model X vehicles involving airbag deployments that occurred while operating in, or within 15 seconds of transitioning from, Autopilot mode. Some crashes involved impacts from other vehicles striking the Tesla from various directions with little to no warning to the Tesla driver.  Other crashes involved scenarios known to be outside of the state-of-technology for current-generation Level 1 or 2 systems, such as cut-ins, cut-outs and crossing path collisions…. 
…The Florida fatal crash appears to have involved a period of extended distraction (at least 7 seconds)…"
.Hmmm… nothing else is written about this nor is a basis given for  the ‘at least 7 seconds’.  Possibly the most important information revealed in this summary is Figure 11, p11: "…  Figure 11 shows the rates calculated by ODI for airbag deployment crashes in the subject Tesla vehicles before and after Autosteer installation.  The data show that the Tesla vehicles crash rate dropped by almost 40 percent after Autosteer installation…
…A safety-related defect trend has not been identified at this time and further examination of this issue does not appear to be warranted.  Accordingly, this
investigation is closed. "  Read more  Hmmm… WOW!!! . Every word of this Finding is worth reading.  It basically exonerates Tesla, states that AEBs (Automated Emergency Braking) systems don’t really work and aren’t designed to work in some scenarios (straight crossing path (SCP) and left turn across path (LTAP), see p 2,3).  …which suggests, to me, that DoT/NHTSA should be placing substantial efforts on making these systems really work in more scenarios.  And… there is the solid data that ‘AutoSteer" reduced Tesla crashes by almost 40%!!! WOW!! Will Insurance now finally get on-board and lead?  Alai


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

B. Grush, Oct. 2016, "Two contradictory stories about our transportation infrastructure are currently in circulation. One is that Ontario’s aging, inadequate and congested infrastructure is perennially unable to catch up with a growing and sprawling GTHA. The other is that vehicle automation will soon dramatically multiply current road capacity by enabling narrower lanes, shorter headways and coordinated streams of connected vehicles to pass through intersections without traffic signals to impede flow.
Since the premature forecast of peak car in 2008 and now the hype surrounding the automated vehicle, we are often told that we have enough road capacity; that shared robotic taxis will optimize our trips, reduce congestion, and largely eliminate the need for parking. This advice implies we need wait only a few short years to experience relief from our current infrastructure problems given by decades of under-investment in transportation infrastructure.

This is wishful thinking. Vehicle automation will give rise to two different emerging markets: semi-automated vehicles for household consumption and fully automated vehicles for public service such as robo-taxi and robo-transit. These two vehicle types will develop in parallel to serve different social markets. They will compete for both riders and infrastructure. The purpose of this report is to look at why and how government agencies and public interest groups can and should influence the preferred types and deployment of automated vehicles and the implication of related factors for planning…" Read more Hmmm…Bravo!  The Key Findings & Recommendations are excellent.  This is an excellent report (but it largely misses goods movement.)  Especially 5.1 (read ‘semi-autonomous’ as ‘Self-driving’ and ‘full-automation’ as ‘Driverless’.  My view:  Driverless may well be at the heals of Self-driving because it is a business play rather than a consumer play.  Driverless will be ordered by the hundreds or thousands rather than individually.)  and, of course Ch 10: Ownership (the business model) is more important than technology. Alain

Friday, September 23, 2016

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety.  (p5)

…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)

…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)

…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6)  Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY.  We all have recognized safety as a necessary   condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful.  (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition.  Alain

"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain

"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…"  Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain

"…2. Model State Policy (p7)   The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done.  Alain

"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…"   Hmmm… Excellent. Alain

"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…"  Hmmm… Yes. Alain

"…Note on “Levels of Automation”  There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. )  Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless.  While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly.  That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless".  Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today).  So autonomousTaxis are impossible.

Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking  (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected.   These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles).  I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work.  In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time.  This is not acceptable.  These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now.  It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.

"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7)  However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8)   . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)

In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected",  focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves.  Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety.   Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility. 

What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit.  NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines.  FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight.  Alain

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Thursday, March 17, 2016

U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles

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

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