18th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Thursday, April 19,  2018

cid:<a href= 6 surprising ways driverless cars will change our world: Are you ready?

K. Baggaley, Apr 18, “…“I think we’re going to be really surprised by how many things change,” says Dr. Chris Gerdes, director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University.

Here’s a peek at what a future filled with driverless cars could look like.

1. WE’LL BE LESS LIKELY TO OWN A CAR…Dr. Alain Kornhauser, director of the program in transportation at Princeton University, says privately owned cars are unlikely to vanish completely — especially in rural areas, where it might prove inconvenient to wait for a driverless taxi to show up. Still, he says, the number of people who own cars — and the number of cars owned per family — will drop sharply.

2. URBAN CENTERS WILL EVOLVE…Driverless cars will bring big changes to city infrastructure. “We’ve made the world rather unfriendly for people who are walking and biking; cars have essentially won,” Gerdes says. But driverless cars could put the focus back on pedestrians, he says.

3. BUSINESSES WILL COME TO US…”  Read more  Hmmmm… These are the “Surprising ways”.  The “Normal way” is that traveling horizontally will be much like moving vertically today in elevators.  It will be on-demand, you will naturally share rides if someone else is going in your direction at about the same time, and it may well be free because the places that you are going from and to would not have any economic value if getting from and to them wasn’t made really easy to use, on demand, available 24/7 and free to the user.  Floors on any floor greater than “2” can’t attract any renter/user unless elevator service exists (really easy to use, on demand, available 24/7 and free to the user).  Part of the rent pays for the elevator’s capital and operating costs, not the visitors.  Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 35

F. Fishkin, Apr 19, “Will self driving car service be free? Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser thinks that just might be. He explains in Episode 35 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with co-host Fred Fishkin. Also…the latest on Waymo, Tesla and the need for grass roots movements to bring about the evolution.

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!  Alain

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cid:part20.BD46E098.5B3EA331@princeton.eduWaymo applies to test driverless cars on California streets

R. Crum, Apr 13, “Waymo confirmed Friday that it has applied with the California Department of Motor Vehicles for the permits it needs to begin testing fully driverless cars on public streets. A source who has seen Waymo’s permit application says Waymo intends on testing its driverless vehicles near its headquarters in Mountain View before expanding such tests around parts of the Bay Area. If its permit is approved, Waymo will be able to test driverless cars on streets, rural roads and highways with posted speed limits of up to 65 miles per hour….

Waymo isn’t alone when it comes to applying for driverless car operating permits. Jessica Gonzalez, a DMV spokeswoman, said Friday that the department has so far received two applications this week.. ”  Read more  Hmmmm… Waymo was the obvious 1st one.  The 2nd may be one of the low speed Driverless shuttles that needs Driverless certification to cross some public roads that run through their “gated” operating area.  I doubt it is GM. I don’t think that they are ready.  Alain  TESLA’S WILD FIGHT WITH THE FEDS INVESTIGATING ITS AUTOPILOT DEATH

J. Stewart, Apr 12, “…On the surface, the disagreement is about when and how to make information about the crash public. The NTSB, which investigates all major transportation accidents, is a cards-to-the-vest operation. It often shares facts as it finds them but rarely draws conclusions about things like causality or remedies until it’s ready to release a thorough, detailed, and considered report. That usually takes at least a year, sometimes two.

Tesla argues the safest thing to do is make whatever it knows public as soon as possible….

“Releases of incomplete information often lead to speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of a crash, which does a disservice to the investigative process and the traveling public,” it said in a statement.

Tesla, never one to let a good scrap go to waste, fired back this afternoon. It reiterated that it broke up with the NTSB, not the other way around. “It’s been clear in our conversations with the NTSB that they’re more concerned with press headlines that actually promoting safety,” it said in [a statement…”

But to properly understand Tesla’s seething anger at a government body widely seen as even-keeled and impartial, you need a quick dive into the past…”  Read more  Hmmmm…Indeed we do.  That was a very important investigation and NTSB’s investigation did not support its conclusion.  The NTSB did not report any evidence that Joshua Brown was inattentive prior to the crash.   Granted the NTSB needed to alert the public that they must remain alert (deliver adult supervision) when using Self-driving technology, but the NTSB did not provide any evidence that justified them using Joshua Brown as their poster child for that message.  What is worse, is that by grandstanding that message, they may have completely missed some other fundamental flaws that came together to cause that crash:  The extent to which the roof pillar obstructed the truck driver’s view as he made the left turn and began to cross Brown’s lane; the lack of proper intersection controls on this type of crossing that might encourage the running of the turn, especially in light traffic situations; the actual geometry of the intersection (being slightly greater than 90 degrees) imparting gaze and attention challenges to the drive making that turn, and most importantly, the role of the Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system in that crash. 

Finally, while it is nice that a public-sector entity is taking its time performing its own analysis, but time is important.  And, of course, one doesn’t want to release information while that information is still evolving.  HOWEVER: we are dealing with pre-crash data that isn’t going to change and algorithms that respond in a deterministic/repeatable way to those data that isn’t going to change.  It is those elements that need to be made public/transparent in a much different timeline than what NTSB has been accustomed.  All of the pre-crash data needs to be released ASAP so that everyone else can check to see what outcomes would have been likely should they have encountered that set of pre-crash data to enable them to immediately begin to improve their own algorithms so as to reduce the repetition of such tragedies.

In this particular situation, Tesla needs to release data not only from this particular car but also from other similar cars that have traversed this section of road.  There may well be some combination of aspects that came together to lead to this crash, such as: confusing lane markings, road geometry, other moving objects etc.  These data need to be released so that everyone can properly traverse this and similar sections of road.  This IS a corner case and the data associated with it needs to be released ASAP and not wait for NTSB’s timetable.  Alain  Tesla Keeps Using Disputed Crash Stat to Defend Autopilot

R. Beene, Apr 18, “Tesla Inc.’s ardent defense of its Autopilot system is getting heat from safety advocates who question a key data point the company has been citing to plead its case.

Several times since an Autopilot-linked fatality last month, the electric-car maker has claimed the U.S. government found that an early version of Autopilot reduced crash rates by 40 percent. Several safety experts say Tesla is misstating a conclusion reached by its regulator. Others are calling on Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to release the underlying data as automated-driving technology comes under greater scrutiny following several high-profile deaths.

Both the company and NHTSA — the publisher of the report Tesla has invoked — have resisted releasing the data, which is the subject of an ongoing public-records lawsuit. Tesla, which can constantly collect information on the acceleration, braking and speed of its customers’ vehicles, is standing by its statements. …
The latest statement the company sent to reporters this month stated that “NHTSA found that even the early version of Tesla Autopilot resulted in 40 percent fewer crashes and it has improved substantially since then.”

The statements are “an overly generous interpretation” of what NHTSA’s report actually found, said Nidhi Kalra, a senior information scientist at Rand Corp. who researches autonomous vehicles.  “They’re taking one piece of data that is missing support and inflating it to something that it doesn’t say.”

NHTSA didn’t provide the mileage figures needed to show whether the crash rates were statistically significant, Kalra said. And since the crash rates were based only on airbag deployments, the figures would exclude minor fender-benders.

“I don’t think Tesla’s being egregious,” Kalra said. While the company’s claim is probably legitimate, “this is the time to be precise in our language when we talk about self-driving and safety,” she said. “We’re in a tenuous place. The public is confused, regulators are under pressure and companies are moving fast.”..”  Read more  Hmmmm… I agree with Kalra… This is no time to be fudging or inflating safety statistics or putting out the proper spin.  We MUST be transparent and release ALL safety related data and there MUST be independent corroboration of the implications drawn from the data.  Alain  


S. O’Kane, Apr 19, “… It’s a far harder task than it sounded even a few years ago because human drivers know a lot — not just about their cars but about how people behave on the road when they’re behind the wheel. To reach that same kind of understanding, computerized cars need lots of data. … what is important is the understanding/knowledge that is revealed by the data, not the raw data itself.  Those “pearls of wisdom”  are themselves small, but the data that reveals that understanding/knowledge/wisdom is extremely large.  Moreover,  each additional morsel of knowledge requires even larger data experiences to reveal those additional pearls of wisdom….And the two companies with the most data right now are Tesla and Waymo.

Both Tesla and Waymo are attempting to collect and process enough data to create a car that can drive itself. And they’re approaching those problems in very different ways. Tesla is taking advantage of the hundreds of thousands of cars it has on the road by collecting real-world data about how those vehicles perform (and how they might perform) with Autopilot, its current semi-autonomous system. Waymo, which started as Google’s self-driving car project, uses powerful computer simulations and feeds what it learns from those into a smaller real-world fleet….

Intel believes autonomous vehicles could generate $800 billion per year in revenue in 2030 and $7 trillion per year by 2050. Last summer, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note that data might be more valuable to Tesla than something like the Model 3. “There’s only one market big enough to propel the stock’s value to the levels of Elon Musk’s aspirations: that of miles, data and content,” he wrote in June. … Adam will be the leadoff speaker at the  2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit, May 15 -> 17…

t’s hard to pin down exactly how many miles of data Tesla’s gotten from Autopilot because the company doesn’t make many public statements about it. In 2016, the then-head of Autopilot told a conference crowd at MIT  that Tesla had logged 780 million miles of data, with 100 million of those miles coming while Autopilot was “in at least partial control” according to IEEE Spectrum. Later that summer, Musk said that Tesla was collecting “just over 3 million miles [of data] per day.” As of last July, though, the total number of fleet miles driven had jumped to 5 billion. As Tesla sells more cars, the amount of data that can be collected increases exponentially….

The only other company working with similar amounts of data is Waymo, which announced earlier this year that it has simulated 5 billion miles of autonomous driving. The company also said it has notched 5 million self-driven miles on public roads. That’s more than basically every other company testing self-driving vehicles combined,…

Access to good simulation is crucial to developing autonomous vehicles, says Danny Shapiro, the senior director for automotive at Nvidia, in an interview with The Verge. “There’s no way we can possibly drive around and capture all the crazy stuff that happens on the roads. There are trillions of miles that are driven, [but] a lot of those, the majority of those are very boring miles,” he says. “After a certain point, you’ve mastered that.”  Danny will be speaking at the Summit in May….  ” 

Read more  Hmmmm… I’ve commented several times: car owners want to help make cars better and many, maybe even most, will gladly share with car manufacturers data that encapsulates their experiences in using the car, especially if those data result in improvements in “my car”.  Tesla’s philosophy: if you share your experiences we’ll improve your car with over-the -air updates.  Whereas Mercedes, in over 3 years,  hasn’t even bothered to ask me for any data, hasn’t provided any updates and is encouraging me to buy a new one (that ship isn’t going to sail”!!).  Alain    

cid:<a href=Connecticut May Be The Next State to Allow Self-Driving Car Tests

S. Edelstein, Apr 18, “onnecticut is launching a pilot program to allow testing of self-driving cars on public roads within its borders. The state government is inviting towns and cities to apply to become test sites, and will select up to four municipalities to participate in the program. The goal is to position Connecticut as a technology leader.

“Make no mistake, autonomous vehicles are the future of transportation, whether it is people looking for a safer and easier way to commute, more efficient and cheaper commercial transit, more precise ride-sharing or for-hire services, or beyond,” Governor Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. “These vehicles are going to be part of our lives soon and we want to take proactive steps to have our state be at the forefront of this innovative technology. We are showing this industry and those around the country that we promote the development of these kinds of forward-thinking, technology-driven products in Connecticut. We cannot allow our state to be  outpaced as this technology grows.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm… We desperately need a similar statement from Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey!  Alain

cid:<a href=Autonomous Shuttles = Improved Mobility & More #CES2018

K. Pyle, Apr 18, “0 passengers and 11.5 miles per hour are the typical occupancy and speed of the public transit bus in the United States, according to Keolis’ EVP Market Innovation and Development, Andreas Mai.* With these statistics in mind, Mai points to the opportunity associated with autonomous technology to optimize bus size and frequency to meet actual demand. Mai brings credibility to this argument, as 100 year-old Keolis provides fixed-route, shuttle, paratransit, taxi (Keolis owns Yellow Cab), back-end customer support and fleet and management services to private and public fleets around the world…” Read more  Hmmmm… See Video . It may well be now or never for these shuttles.  If Waymo gets a foothold, then there may not be any room for them except in very limited controlled environments/gated communities, campuses.  Alain

cid:<a href=Every big tech firm in China is becoming a self-driving car company

E. Huang, Apr 17, “If there’s one thing China’s tech giants are known for, it’s their ability to venture into everything from social media, to online payments, to delivery services. The latest thing they’re all speeding towards? Autonomous driving.

Last month, a local news outlet based in Hangzhou reported that the city had built its first route (link in Chinese) for autonomous driving tests. That piqued interest since the city is known for being the main headquarters of Alibaba, China’s largest online retailer. On Tuesday, the firm told financial news publication Caixin (link in Chinese) that it has been conducting autonomous driving tests on a regular basis and that it’s ready to do open road tests.

With that, China’s entire BAT grouping—which apart from Alibaba includes search giant Baidu and Tencent, the social media and gaming titan—is now in the self-driving industry. …” Read more  Hmmmm… Let’s hope that they all do this very carefully because one can easily see Uber/Tempe Crashes all over the place. Given the (perceived) lack of transparency in China, achievements there wont influence efforts in the US or Europe. Alain 

cid:<a href=Study: Consumers trust Tesla the most for self-driving car

Analytics Team, Apr 17, “…According to a recent survey by Autolist, 32 percent of respondents said they trusted Tesla the most to bring a self-driving car to market, among all tech companies and legacy automakers. Twenty-seven percent said they didn’t trust any company at all. Of the legacy automakers, Toyota was the most-trusted, with 15 percent of consumers citing it as their top choice….polling was aimed at gauging name recognition and trust….”   Read more  Hmmmm….While I like the results, one has to be VERY careful because these are opinion surveys and it really matters the exact language used in the survey and how it was administers.  Alain



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

cid:<a href=Toyota, Lexus to launch ‘talking’ vehicles in 2021

A. Krok, Apr 16, “Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) systems are one tool in automakers’ bag of tricks to reduce accidents, improve traffic and eventually usher in autonomy. And in less than half a decade, you’ll start seeing this tech on new Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Toyota announced that it intends to deploy DSRC tech on Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the US starting in 2021. The goal is to have this tech on most of its lineup by the mid-2020s….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Road/Show must have copied this from The Onion. Toyota can’t be serious.  DSRC???? Alain



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


Feb 28, “…The tables in the pages that follow are the result of the strategic planning efforts to-date. They are meant to set the priorities and direction of the Forum over the next 3-5 years. They will assist the Steering Committee in setting Forum meeting agendas, direct the Action Team in its next steps, and identifies new committees and partnering organizations that may be important to the Forum in helping it to achieve the goals set out in this process…” Read more  Hmmmm… A strategic plan to plan strategically without any substance in sight.  If you’ve ever wondered why planning never gets anywhere, just look at this document. This group of folks is supposedly doing strategic planning of transportation for a region (Central New Jersey) yet none of the following words appear anywhere in the document: automation, autonomous, driverless, Waymo, Uber, Ride-sharing, Ride-hailing.  Yet reference is made to an “Action Plan (November 2004)”.  can that still be relevant?    C’mon Man is the nicest comment.  So sad!  Alain





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2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
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  On the More Technical Side

Capsule Networks (CapsNets) – Tutorial