Friday, September 7, 2018
38th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

cid:<a”>  Self-Driving Cars Will Keep Getting Better Forever

D. Silver, Sept. 4, " Evans raises a particularly interesting question about autonomy: "what winner takes all effects apply?"

Waymo, which recently surpassed 9 million miles driven autonomously, started working on autonomous vehicles in 2009, years before many current competitors. That head start has allowed them to rack up far more autonomous miles than other companies (the next closest program appears to be Uber’s now-paused Advanced Technology Group, with 2 million autonomous miles)….
Similarly, Tesla has sold hundreds of thousands of Autopilot-enabled semi-autonomous cars. Collectively, Autopilot-enabled vehicles have driven approximately 1.5 billion miles, providing Tesla with a dataset no other company has.

With those kinds of leads, a question arises of whether Waymo and Tesla have already won the market?  …." Read more Hmmmm…. Very good question!!  What do you think?  Alain  

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 56

F. Fishkin, Sept 7,  "re Waymo and Tesla way out in front in autonomous technology.
Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser weighs in along with Fred Fishkin Episode 56 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast. Plus the latest from Amazon, Aurora Innovation, Ouster, Jaguar Landrover and Fiat Chrysler. Tune in and subscribe!"

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 55

F. Fishkin, Sept 6,  "The coming new world of driverless cars! In Episode 55 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast former GM VP and adviser to Waymo Larry Burns chats with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and Fred Fishkin about his new book "Autonomy: The Quest to Build the Driverless Car and How it Will Reshape Our World"." 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

cid:<a”>  Amazon just revealed an update to its plan to promise massive profits to anyone who wants to start a delivery company

D. Green, Sept. 5, "Amazon is going all in on its new delivery program.  The retailer announced on Wednesday that it would acquire 20,000 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans to use in its new homegrown delivery initiative, in which it says it will pay entrepreneurs to start small businesses to deliver its packages.

Amazon announced the program in June, promising $300,000 in annual profits for entrepreneurs willing to start companies and hire up to 100 drivers for a fleet of up to 40 delivery vehicles. The new vans will not be owned and managed by Amazon but by a fleet-vehicle company that will in turn lease to the new delivery companies.

The vans will, however, be emblazoned with Amazon’s branding and blue Prime logo…."  Read more Hmmmm…. When will Jeff Bezos drop the other shoe, announcing that either he’s developed, or is partnering with some "Waymo", to plop an automated technology package on each of these vans enabling each to make "Driverless Deliveries to your house in the wee hours of the morning"??? How neat would that be!!  Alain  HOW SELF-DRIVING SUPERGROUP AURORA PLANS TO MAKE ROBOCARS REAL

A. Davis, Sept 4, "….Just about a decade into the race to develop self-driving cars, this young industry has its own supergroup: Aurora Innovation, formed by three of the biggest names in the field and veterans of its highest-profile efforts. At the end of 2016, Chris Urmson, Drew Bagnell, and Sterling Anderson created the startup to deliver fully self-driving technology—no human involvement—and will start with operations in geofenced areas (somewhere), slowly expanding as the cars prove themselves…

You might expect Aurora’s founders, then, to throw their cumulative experience into an ambitious effort to outrace these more established programs to market, one of those together we can rule the galaxy-type deals. Instead, the zeitgeist at Aurora is one of humility. Urmson, Bagnell, and Sterling haven’t put any hard dates on when it when their tech might be ready. They don’t pitch a grandiose vision of a remade world of mobility. They seem to seek a role as a Tier 1 supplier, selling self-driving tech to automakers the way others sell airbags….

Aurora hasn’t made much noise in general since starting work in January 2017, apart from announcing partnerships with Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Chinese startup Byton, and raising an impressive but hardly stunning $90 million in funding. But now that it’s looking build up its team (currently about 160-strong), it has published a blog post laying out its approach to robo-driving…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Very interesting and read blog below.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Aurora’s Approach to Development

Aurora Team, Sept. 4, "At Aurora we believe that self-driving technology will dramatically improve the safety, accessibility, and convenience of transportation. Our mission is to deliver these benefits safely, quickly and broadly. In service of that mission, we wanted to share some of our thinking on how we approach the development of this technology….

We’re making a fresh start at building the driver by combining excellence in AI, rigorous engineering and a team with decades of experience building robots that work. Together we will deliver self-driving vehicles safely, quickly and broadly…." Read more Hmmmm…. Interesting self appraisal. Alain

cid:<a”>  Volvo reveals new robo-taxi in race to autonomy

E. Vaish, Sept 5, "Volvo Cars presented a fully electric robo-taxi on Wednesday, as the Geely-owned Swedish company races to meet an ambitious target for driverless vehicle sales with its Uber supply deal on hold.  Besides city driving, Volvo said the 360c would extend its customer base by tapping into demand from inter-city taxi passengers traveling as far as 300 km (186 miles), allowing it to challenge short-haul airlines and train operators.

Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said the Uber partnership remained intact, with Volvo set to supply up to 24,000 cars to the startup over two years.  Samuelsson, speaking to journalists at the launch, said the company was in talks to deliver an autonomous car specially designed for Uber’s driverless program as it sees ride-hailing as the right way for Volvo to make good on its promise to deliver its first autonomous car by the 2020s.

“This is a product where we see interest from ride-hailing businesses,” Samuelsson said…."   Read more Hmmmm…. Very Interesting. To really serve and compete in the ride-hailing business, it must be driverless.  Alain

cid:<a”>  This lidar/camera hybrid could be a powerful addition to driverless cars

T. Lee, Sept 4, "Lidars and cameras are two of the three standard sensors (along with radar) on almost all self-driving cars being tested today. Lidars and cameras both operate by detecting reflected light, but cameras are passive, whereas lidars actively send out laser pulses and measure the light that gets reflected back. Cameras produce a flat two-dimensional image, while conventional lidars produce a three-dimensional "point cloud."

Lidar startup Ouster has developed a clever and potentially significant hack: the company figured out how to make the sensors already on its powerful OS-1 lidar units function as a     camera, producing a panoramic two-dimensional snapshot of the sensor’s

surroundings.Even better, these snapshots actually have three layers. The first layer is an ambient-light image like you would get from a conventional camera. Meanwhile, a second, "signal" layer is based on light reflected from the sensor’s laser pulses. Finally, there’s a "depth" layer that provides the distance to each pixel in the other two layers.

Still, these images have significant limitations: they’re low-resolution, and they’re black and white, not color. And while conventional cameras capture light in visible wavelengths, Ouster’s lidar captures light in near-infrared wavelengths—though Ouster says the images "closely resemble visible light images of the same scenes."….

Convolutional neural networks are designed to work with multi-layered pixel maps—after all, conventional images can be thought of as having red, blue, and green layers. So it’s straightforward to take a neural network designed for conventional color images and retrain it to recognize images with ambient, laser, and depth layers instead of red, blue, and green…"  Read more Hmmmm…. Very interesting having {greyScale, distance} at teach pixel, especially for improving "correspondence" with the "next frame" so that I can compute a relative velocity vector at each pixel.  Now I send that to CNN.  Watch out!   Alain

cid:<a”>  Fiat Chrysler Confirms $30M Investment for Autonomous Vehicle Testing Facilities

J. Gilboy, Sept 6, "Fiat Chrysler Automobiles confirmed on Thursday that it will invest $30 million on a variety of improvements to its testing facilities. The upgrades will help the automaker better develop and evaluate self-driving vehicles.

The announcement outlined three major upgrades to its Chelsea Proving Grounds test track in Chelsea, Michigan. The first is a 6,500 square-foot command center equipped with computer monitoring systems for external control and tracking of prototype autonomous vehicles. The second is a track for highway-speed testing exclusively with autonomous vehicle prototypes, which will be subjected to a variety of conditions such as tunnels, obstacles, on- and off-ramps, and different lighting conditions. Lastly, a 35-acre paved area will be used for automated parking and emergency braking system testing. …"  Read more Hmmmm…. Not Half-baked like BMW’s announcement because the  "monitoring capability (and remote intervention)" of a  driverless vehicle fleet is really important.  Testing at "highway speeds", which means 85 mph or less (this isn’t Germany, we have no autobahns) is just fine, thank you.  Anything that will help make "emergency braking systems" actually work is worth its weight in Gold.  Thank you Fiat Chrysler.  So the only thing that could have been considered "half-baked" is the "automated parking" … that’s just so lame and really trivial in the scope of driverless capability…  Anyway, nice job Fiat Chrysler. Alain

cid:<a”>  Jaguar Land Rover’s prototype driverless car makes eye contact with pedestrians

R. Aouf, Sept 4, "Jaguar Land Rover has created self-driving cars with eyes that are used to communicate with pedestrians when it’s safe to cross in front of them…." Read more Hmmmm…. Cute, but is this really the way these machines should communicate with us???   I suspect that Don Norman , Myra Blanco and others would have better approaches.   Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla stock falls as Mercedes unveils an all-electric SUV and Goldman Sachs says ‘sell’

R. Mitchell, Sept 4, "…Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday unveiled the EQC, its first entry into the all-electric luxury vehicle market. It joins Jaguar’s new I-Pace all-electric SUV, due in U.S. showrooms this fall. …Rising competition was one reason Goldman Sachs stock analyst David Tamberrino downgraded Tesla’s stock Tuesday morning; the other is the pending end of tax credits on its vehicles.

In a note to investors, Tamberrino put a “sell” rating on Tesla stock with a target price of $210 a share — 30% below Friday’s closing price of $301.66. At the close of trading Tuesday, Tesla stock was down 4% to $288.95…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Ouch!  Alain

cid:<a”>  Micron Bets $3 Billion on Autonomous Vehicles

B. Duberstein, Sept 4, "…Beyond 2021, more widespread adoption of Level 5 autonomous vehicles could accelerate the need for memory even further. Although today’s "regular" vehicles have quite a bit of electronic content in them, a fully autonomous Level 5 vehicle — which can drive with no human behind the wheel — will need more than nine times the amount of DRAM and a stunning 100 times the amount of NAND flash!…" Read more Hmmmm…. Maybe. Look also at Micron v nVIDIA Alain

cid:<a”>  Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV) Open Data Recommendations

A. Somers, Sept 2018, "…The recommendations from this project seek to map out a strategic approach to the next steps that Austroads could take in this field. The recommended approach includes a phase of active learning to assist the development of the positive guidance sought by government and industry. While some aspects of the future data ecosystem have emerged, much remains unclear and developments are occurring at fast pace. The value of the future guidance will be strengthened by using this active learning as a key input. Beyond this, the focus shifts to supporting change…"  Read more Hmmmm…. Lots of discussion but doesn’t really deal with the 10 seconds prior to cashes and near misses. (or I missed it in the report.)  Alain


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

cid:<a”>  BMW Building High-Tech Driving Simulation Center in Munich

G. Kuruvilla, Sept 5, "e BMW Group has started work on a new $116 million Driving Simulation Center in Munich that will help with the company’s testing and development of autonomous driving technology. The new facility will "bring the road into the lab” and is located in Munich’s Milbertshofen district. The new build will cover a total of 123,000 square feet and will be equipped with 14 simulators and labs creating nearly 160 jobs. The facility is expected to be completed in 2020.

The Driving Simulation Center will allow virtual testing of advanced driving assistance systems, and innovative display and control concepts to move autonomous tech forward. At the heart of the center are two innovative driving simulators. One is a high-dynamic simulator creating movements up to 1.0 G-force. It will be used to test new systems and functions by replicating evading maneuvers, full braking, and hard acceleration.

The second unit is one that can provide an extremely detailed rendering of real-world driving characteristics and is called the high-fidelity simulator. Braking and accelerating while cornering, driving in roundabouts, and a series of multiple turn-off maneuvers can be reproduced with precision in this simulator’s nearly 4,300 square-foot motion area.  …"  Read more Hmmmm…. Half-baked because this is at least "half" to support BMW as the "ultimate driving machine" and less than "half" to support "autonomous driving" aka "ultimate riding machine" and thus a misrepresentation on BMW’s part.  If it was really to support the   "…testing and development of autonomous driving technology. .. ", then they would be talking about all of the nVIDIA boards that they were buying and all of the AI Dynamic Deep Learning stuff and the number of Virtual Reality gamers that they’ll be hiring to build a robust training, testing and enhancing environment to ensure the safety, comfort and convenience of the shared-ride-hailing public.  Alain

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

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3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
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  On the More Technical Side