44th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars


J. Stewart, Oct 18, "The self-driving-car crashes that usually make the news are, unsurprisingly, either big and smashy or new and curious…. Look at every robocar crash report filed in California, though, and you get a more mundane picture—but one that reveals a striking pattern. In September of this year, for example, three self-driving cars were sideswiped. Another three were rear-ended. One of them by a bicycle. And that’s not even the strangest one: In June, an AV operated by General Motors’ self-driving arm, Cruise, got bumped in the back—by a human driving another Cruise….

As this chart shows, GM’s Cruise has filed by far the most reports in 2018, but don’t read too much into that. If the pattern holds from 2016 to 2017 (we won’t have full 2018 numbers until early next year), Waymo has been dialing down its testing in California in favor of Arizona. Cruise has been ramping it up and does its driving in the chaos of San Francisco. Waymo has the second-most collisions, followed by Zoox, a startup that also tests in the city…..

These reports, written and filed by the companies running the cars, consist mostly of check boxes, with a line or two explaining what happened. Some detail thankfully freaky, presumably rare incidents: “The Cruise AV was struck by a golf ball from a nearby golf course.” Some reveal what we’ll call exasperation on the part of other road users: “The driver of the taxi exited his vehicle, approached the Cruise AV, and slapped the front passenger window, causing a scratch.”

Other sorts of crashes happen more frequently.  Drilling down into the data shows that autonomous vehicles being rear-ended accounts for 28 of the 49 filed reports, nearly two-thirds….  But combine that with the fact that the computer was in charge in 22 of those 28 rear-end crashes, and you have reason to believe that the AVs are doing something that makes cars behind them more likely to hit them. Maybe that’s driving herkily-jerkily (as we experienced in a Cruise car in San Francisco in November 2018), or stopping for no clear reason (as we experienced in an Uber car in Pittsburgh last year). That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It indicates a conservative focus on safety: Better to stop for a fire hydrant than run down a preschooler. But part of being a good driver is behaving in a way others expect, which doesn’t include constantly stamping on the brakes…"  Read more Hmmmm….  This is a really good article and deserves your full attention.  A couple of comments…  As is mentioned, not enough about the operational environment is reported to really indicate if it is the automated operational aspects that are inducing the crashes.  There is a wide variance in the way people drive.  Many of us get upset with people who don’t drive the way we drive and sometimes we run into the back of them.  We report to the police that we do this about 1.7 million times a year.  (Who knows how many there would be if the reporting was as stringent as California’s?).   There are about 3.2 Billion vehicle miles traveled per year.   This implies that the ""Police" reported rear-ender-rate"  is about one per 2 million miles driven, which is roughly an order of magnitude better than the "California AV reported rear-ender-rate".  But given the likely differential reporting between the national number and the California AV number and that a large part of the National VMTs are driven in domains where few rear-ending crashes occur (cruising at higher speeds in not so congested "freeways"), the difference may in fact be negligible when "apples" were really compared to "apples".

What is not said, that is really be clear, is that these SmartDrivingCars, when operating using their automated driving systems, DON’T rear-end people-driven cars!   That is the real message here!   And, by the way, why do people-driven cars still rear-end other cars????  Why haven’t the OEMs developed Automated Emergency Braking systems that actually work (definition of work: don’t let the car crash into things in the lane ahead!).  Here they (OEMs) are working feverishly to sell us visions of being able to take our hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals so we can text, watch movies and sleep, yet they haven’t even developed the system that keeps the car from plowing into a firetruck that’s parked in the lane ahead or rear-end a GM/Cruise car as it’s trying to make its way through San Francisco obeying traffic laws.  C’mon OEMs. You can do this.  Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 62

F. Fishkin, Oct 19,  "Why do people keep rear ending self driving cars? It’s the title of the latest article by Senior Writer for Wired, Jack Stewart. This week Jack joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for Episode 62 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast. And there’s more on semi-autonomous safety, Lyft, Uber and Waymo. 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!  Alain

 cid:<a”>  For the first time, Euro NCAP puts automated driving technology to the test

Leuven, Oct 18, "More than 70% of car drivers believe that it is already possible to purchase a car that can drive itself, according to a new #TestingAutomation consumer survey commissioned by Euro NCAP, Global NCAP and Thatcham Research[1]….

Euro NCAP has tested the comparative performance of so-called Highway Assist systems in ten cars: the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, DS 7 Crossback, Ford Focus, Hyundai NEXO, Mercedes-Benz C Class, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S, Toyota Corolla and the Volvo V60. Highway Assist systems combine Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Centering and Speed Assist Systems to support the driver in driving situations on motorways

Euro NCAP’s key conclusions from these tests include:

•    No car on the market today offers full automation or autonomy.  No kidding!!  Nothing is "full" and these aren’t even close.  What is "autonomy" anyway.  There is no one even thinking about these having a mind of their own.
•    Cars on the market today can provide driver assistance but this should not be confused with automated driving. The driver remains fully responsible for safe driving. Very important
•    Used correctly, this technology can help the driver to maintain a safe distance, speed and to stay within the lane. Very nice.
•    These systems should not be used in situations they are not designed for and should not be relied upon as an alternative to safe and controlled driving.  Very important
•    Different manufacturers have implemented different approaches to the application of driver assistance technologies in terms of the level of assistance given to the driver.  Very confusing to the consumer
•    Euro NCAP’s tests assess and highlight these differences and the varying degree of driver support each manufacturer provides.  Very nice.…."

The Results
Adaptive Cruise Control:… The Tesla risks an over reliance on the assistance system with the vehicle being primarily in control. …  The Tesla risks an over reliance on the assistance system with the vehicle being primarily in control… What??? It does "not allow" yet it disengages if the driver applies steering torque"  I don’t understand. 

Cut in and Cut Out:.. None of the systems were able to help.  This means that the Automated Emergency Braking systems in all of these systems don’t work!!

…the driver takes their hands off the wheel where it is assumed that the vehicle can drive autonomously.   strange definition of "autonomous" … ability to take hands off wheel???

Read more Hmmmm….  All test results are here; however, the driver assistance results are not easy to find.  Rating are easy, but the actual test results don’t seem to be divulged and it is non-easy to understand the ratings.  What is Euro-NCAP hiding? Alain   DRIVERS WILDLY OVERESTIMATE WHAT ‘SEMIAUTONOMOUS’ CARS CAN DO

J. Stewart, Oct 18, "CARS ARE GETTING smarter and more capable. They’re even starting to drive themselves, a little. And they’re becoming a cause of concern for European and American safety agencies and groups. They’re all for putting better tech on the road, but automakers are selling systems like Tesla’s Autopilot, or Nissan’s Pro Pilot Assist, with the implied promise that they’ll make driving easier and safer, and a new study is the latest to say that may not always be the case. More worryingly, drivers think these systems are far more capable than they really are.

Euro NCAP, an independent European car safety assessment group (similar to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US) …See above… has just released the results of its first round of tests of 10 new cars with driver-assistance technologies. It also published the results of a survey of over 1,500 car owners in seven countries, asking them what they believe these cars are capable of.

“Seventy percent of people believe you can buy autonomous cars," says Matthew Avery, head of research at the UK’s Thatcham Research, a Euro NCAP member. Eleven percent said they’d be tempted to have a nap, read a paper, or watch a film while using one of the highway-assist features available today, even though every automaker peddling the tech requires drivers to pay attention to the road at all times. “It’s really worrying that consumers are believing the hype.”…

One crucial test Euro NCAP preformed was a look at how reliably adaptive cruise control would brake when a car encounters a stationary object ahead. This can happen when the vehicle in front suddenly changes lane, revealing a parked fire truck for example—something that Tesla’s Autopilot has had problems with. The testers used dummy, deformable, remote controlled cars, which look real to sensors but fall apart harmlessly when hit.

None of the cars did well at this tricky test, which isn’t surprising, as it pushes systems to their current limits as they try to figure out what’s a real obstacle and what’s a harmless road sign or trash can. Read more Hmmmm…. How often are we going to need to report the fundamental flaw in the AEB systems before the OEMs or some start-up fix it???  They (OEMs and SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers)) can’t even get intelligent cruise control to turn off correctly.  "Tapping the bakes" means I don’t want to use the throttle any more, so turn it (the throttle) off.  I don’t drive with one foot on the brake and the other foot on the throttle at the same time, so turn off only the throttle, but, please, do not turn off the brake because I may not be using it enough and I may need some of your help.  But no!   Tapping the brake turns off both (should it also turn off the lights?? (just kidding))!  why??? (Please, not because that’s the way SAE did things with "stupid" cruise control that controlled only the throttle.  And SAE turned off the throttle by turning everything off  (when everything was only one thing, the throttle).  Also,if I override the steering, that means that I’m taking over the steering and the automated steering system should only take over again if I actively "tell" it to.  Simply letting go of the steering is only good enough if the steering is really good; else I should have to more actively turn it back on.  Don’t get me wrong, If it is really good, then simply letting go may be indication enough. Alain

cid:<a”>  The Mexican town that refused to become a smart city

M. Wattenbarger, Oct 16, "Santa Maria Tonantzintla was set to be one of Mexico’s first smart cities – but residents saw it as an attempt to westernise their town and leave tradition behind… But in being presented with this futuristic-sounding vision, it appears that residents of Santa Maria Tonantzintla found themselves caught in a conflict repeated the world over, between centuries-old customs and new development trends….

The failure of communication and understanding between the municipality, planners and locals cuts to the heart of conflicts around urban development: how can planners achieve local buy-in, and how can residents truly play a role in determining what happens to their cities?… " Read more Hmmmm….  It may be that the "failed communications" is NOT that "planners achieve local buy-in" but that "planners pay attention, listen and learn what is important to the population that is going to spend their lives in their supposedly "Smart Plan"".   Kudos to Santa Maria Tonantzintla for standing firm on their definition of "Smart" rather than what is emerging to be what some "Planner" is trying to sell.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Self-driving stories: How 6 US cities are planning for autonomous vehicles

T. Maddox, Oct 17, "Autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be ubiquitous in a matter of years with more cities than ever making long-range transportation plans and hosting self-driving pilots, according to a new report and guide from the National League of Cities (NLC).

According to the report, Autonomous Vehicle Pilots Across America, more than 50% of US cities are currently preparing their streets for self-driving vehicles, …"   Read more Hmmmm…. Of course, they are talking about "Driverless" … and not "Self-driving"…, but that’s not the important point.  What is important is that in Central Jersey, which isn’t one of the "6 cities" nor included in the report, we’re looking at serving those in most need and whose lives could be most improved with the "Driverless" opportunity to provide safe affordable on-demand shared 24/7 horizontal mobility…to the most mobility disadvantaged on a priority basis.  More later.  Alain

cid:<a”>  University of Minnesota awarded federal grant to research autonomous vehicles

Press release, Oct 5,  "The University of Minnesota announced today that it has received a $1.75 million grant over three years from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of the NSF’s Smart & Connected Communities grant program. … The grant, entitled Leveraging Autonomous Shared Vehicles for Greater Community Health, Equity, Livability, and Prosperity (HELP), supports fundamental research on a critical challenge facing many cities and communities—how to leverage the emergence of self-driving vehicles, also known as autonomous vehicles, to rethink and redesign future transportation services and enable smart and connected communities where everyone benefits….

“These smart cloud community systems have the potential to bring about far-reaching societal changes,” said Zhi-Li Zhang, a University of Minnesota computer science professor of computer science and engineering in the College of Science and Engineering who is the lead researcher on the grant…."  Read more Hmmmm….  Fully support the thrust of the "HELP" concept of the research focused on shared-ride Driverless AVs as opposed to the OEM (Daimler, Volvo, … ) pursuit of the conventional high-end personal car market.  Alain


National Transportation Commission, Oct 2018 , "Laws in each Australian state and territory require every registered vehicle to have motor
accident injury insurance (MAII). Vehicles with automated driving systems (ADS) that can
drive themselves for all or part of a trip are now being trialled and are expected to be
commercially deployed in coming years. Although it is anticipated that automated vehicles
will improve road safety in the longer term, accidents will continue to happen. This raises the
question of how a person injured or killed in a crash involving a vehicle with an ADS could
access compensation.
The purpose of this paper is to:

  • identify barriers to accessing compensation under current MAII schemes for personal injuries caused by an ADS
  • seek views on whether existing MAII schemes should be amended to provide cover for injuries caused by an ADS
  •  seek views on other options that could provide cover for injuries caused by an ADS. ….

Principles:  Any decision on reform to ensure people injured in an ADS crash can obtain compensationshould be guided by the overarching principle that:
No person should be worse off, financially or procedurally, if they areinjured by a vehicle whose ADS was engaged, than if they were injured by a  vehicle controlled by a human driver. …"  Read more Hmmmm….This is an excellent report and deserves your attention, even if you don’t live in Australia.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Uber and Lyft Charge Toward Potential I.P.O.s Next Year

M. de la Merced, Oct 16, "Uber and Lyft have for years battled for customers in the fast-growing ride-hailing business. Now the bitter rivals may fight for investors in their initial public offerings.

Uber has received proposals from the investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs that say the technology giant could be worth as much as $120 billion in an I.P.O., two people briefed on the matter who were not allowed to discuss it publicly said on Tuesday…." Read more Hmmmm…. "as much as…" .   Goldmine must think that Uber can catch Waymo’s Driverless.  We’ll see if anyone else believes it.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Uber reportedly considers selling minority stakes in its costly self-driving car unit

Reuters, Oct 17, "Uber Technologies is considering selling minority stakes in its costly self-driving car unit as the ride-hailing company tries to address rising cost pressures ahead of its initial public offering, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.

Uber received interest from potential investors and could spin off its Advanced Technologies Group into a separate business unit with its own valuation and equity, FT reported, citing people familiar with the matter…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Yes, but then what will the Goldmine Sacks "worth as much as $120B" be attributed to?  What remains of Uber or "the separate business unit" ???? Alain

cid:<a”>  Lyft monthly subscription plan now available for riders

WBRZ Staff, Oct 17, "Lyft’s is now offiering its All Access Subscription Plan nationwide. With the plan, Lyft users can seamlessly set up a monthly payment option for more flexible, convenient, and reliable rides, according to a release from the company.  The All Access  Subscription Plan "unlocks" more than $450 worth of value:

  • -$299 for 30 rides up to $15
  • -Five percent off additional rides
  • -If a ride exceeds the $15 limit, passengers only pay the difference
  • -Available across all ride types
  • -Available in all markets in the U.S. 

Read more Hmmmm…. Just think what they could offer if the rides were shared in a Driverless aTaxi.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Waymo details how emergency services should deal with self-driving incidents

M. Moon, Oct 18, "Waymo has officially published guidelines cops and first responders can follow in case an autonomous car is involved in an accident. Without a human driver controlling the wheel, after all, there’s nobody to ask license or information from. More importantly, authorities need to know how to safely pry open or deactivate self-driving vehicles if their passengers are unconscious and need help. The Alphabet-owned company submitted the guidelines to the California DMV back in May, and now you can read (PDF) the whole thing online. … Read more Hmmmm…. Of course Alain

cid:<a”>   Audi, Admitting to Role in Diesel-Cheating Scheme, Agrees to Pay Major Fine

J. Ewing, Oct 16, "Audi, the luxury car division of Volkswagen, has agreed to pay a substantial fine in Germany for its role in an emissions-cheating scandal that has become a serious threat to the country’s auto industry.

The fine of 800 million euros, or about $930 million, will resolve civil claims against the company, but it does not affect a criminal investigation of Audi executives that resulted in the arrest of the former chief executive, prosecutors in Munich said.   Audi said in a statement that it “accepts the fine and, by doing so, admits its responsibility.  ” Read more Hmmmm….  If it isn’t obvious to everyone, we can’t have similar issues associated with achieving/proclaiming safety of AVs.  No cheating!!! Alain

cid:<a”>  Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property?

C. Duhigg, Oct 22, "…Some of the biggest fights involved risks that Levandowski was taking in self-driving experiments. The software that guided Google’s autonomous vehicles improved by ingesting immense amounts of test-drive data. One effective way to teach autonomous vehicles how to, say, merge onto a busy freeway is to have them do so repeatedly, allowing their algorithms to explore various approaches and learn from mistakes. A human “safety driver” always sat in the front seat of an autonomous vehicle, ready to take over if an experiment went awry. But pushing the technology’s boundaries required exposing the cars’ software to tricky situations. “If it is your job to advance technology, safety cannot be your No. 1 concern,” Levandowski told me. “If it is, you’ll never do anything. It’s always safer to leave the car in the driveway. You’ll never learn from a real mistake.”…" Read more Hmmmm….  C’mon Anthony, Safety can and should be number 1 and it doesn’t require "leaving the car in the driveway".  "Number 1" doesn’t imply nor require perfection.  Perfection is "number zero".  Its a philosophical concept at some limit and has yet to be achieved in anything.  In perspective, one should also realize that it has been more than 130 years since the Benz patent and the invention is still involved in the death of 3,000 per day around the world.   Let’s be careful and not overly burden an effort that has the realistic potential of substantially reducing that number many times more than any any other effort short of "leaving the car in the driveway".  I guess this article should be titled  "Anthony’s Travels"  Alain

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 End of Driving Workshop
Planning for Autonomous Vehicles Now

Dec 6, 2018
Mississauga, ON, Canada


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5th Symposium on
Autonomous & Connected vehicles

October 23-24, 2018
Brooklyn, NY

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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