11th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars

Sunday, March 10, 2019

 cid:<a href=Volvo Cars to impose 180 kph speed limit on all cars to highlight dangers of speeding

Press Release, March 4, “Volvo Cars, as a worldwide leader in safety, is sending a strong signal about the dangers of speeding and will limit the top speed on all its cars to 180 kph from 2020.

The company’s Vision 2020, which aims for no one to be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020, is one of the most ambitious safety visions in the automotive industry. But realising that technology alone will not get it all the way to zero, Volvo Cars is now broadening its scope to include a focus on driver behaviour…

Apart from limiting top speeds, the company is also investigating how a combination of smart speed control and geofencing technology could automatically limit speeds around schools and hospitals in future…. ” Read more  Hmmmm…. Bravo Volvo!!!  I appreciate this ground-breaking initiative by an OEM.  Over the years Volvo has proven that “Safety” doesn’t sell, now Volvo is doubling down against the German Speed Fantasy.  Is Volvo crazy?

I applaud you.  Hopefully, this is just the first step  Why not 135 kph (~90mph).  Or “9 over” with ability to “buy a ’24 over'” at an exponentially increasing higher price. Alain  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 94

March 10, F. Fishkin, “What was missing from the Geneva Auto Show? Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser takes aim on that, plus, Volvo, Waymo Tesla and more along with co-host Fred Fishkin. Tune in and subscribe! ”  Just say “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!” .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain


GPU Technology Conference

March 17 -> 21

Silicon Valley

25% Discount Using SmartDrivingCar VIP Code: NVDASHAPIRO

3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Apply to Participate; Reserve your Sponsorship

cid:<a href= Volvo to Limit All Its Cars to 112 MPH Starting Next Year

D. Tracy, March 4, “The top speed of every new Volvo starting in 2020 will be 112 MPH, ….  For reference, the T6 and T8 variants of the XC90 and S90 are rated at 143 MPH and 155 MPH, respectively. So that’s a pretty big drop.

Probably nobody except a few Germans who have gotten used to cruising the left lanes of the Autobahn at 155 MPH, left hands always ready to yank their high-beam flashers to part the seas of Ford B-Maxes and VW Golfs.

As you have already likely surmised, limiting top speeds is far from unusual. The top German automakers, for example, historically kept a “gentlemen’s agreement” limiting their vehicles’ top speeds to 155 MPH.  … ”  Read more  Hmmmm…. So refreshing to learn that the German automakers aren’t going to let me go faster than 155mph in New Jersey.  Totally irresponsible!.  I understand that I may need acceleration for fast response, why do I need sustained speed, except to kill myself or someone else. Speed has no physical sensation.  We are traveling through the Universe at 1.3M mph.  Alain

cid:<a href= Waymo Starts Selling Sensors to Lower Cost of Self-Driving Cars

T. Randall, March 6, “Waymo is set on Wednesday to begin selling the laser-mapping sensors used on its driverless vehicles to other companies—as long as the customers don’t compete with its core robotaxi business. The sensors, known as lidar, shoot lasers off objects to determine what’s nearby. The next generation of warehouse robots, security systems, and even autonomous tractors could all be built with this technology…

“As we scale our fleet and build more cars, we need to make sure the cost of the sensor suite comes down as well,” Simon Verghese, the head of Waymo’s lidar team, said in an interview. “We’re excited to see what people might do with this and to explore whether some of these spinoff technologies give us another pillar to our business.” …

The overall market for lidar is doubling annually and will top $1 billion in 2019, said Frank Bertini, Velodyne’s head of lidar sales for non-automotive applications. Most of the market is for self-driving cars but roughly a tenth of the sensors end up in emerging industrial and commercial applications…”  Read more  Hmmmm…. Very interesting, very disruptive.   Alain

cid:<a”>   Volvo’s Polestar Electric Division Won’t Limit Speeds to 112 MPH

P. George,  March 6, “Car internet worked itself into a frenzy on Monday upon learning that beginning next year, Volvo will electronically limit the top speed of its cars to 112 mph (or 180 kph). The nerve!, the car people screamed. The sheer gall! Never mind that outside of a German Autobahn, a car’s top speed is largely irrelevant to most drivers, especially those in Volvo’s people-moving wagons and SUVs. But if you remain aggrieved by this news, take note that Volvo’s electric performance division Polestar isn’t having any of that.  … ”  Read more  Hmmmm….I guess Polestar realizes that having 3 strikes against you is really bad… “Safety, Electric, and Slow” is an absolute no-go. Alain

imap:<a href=Autonomous vehicles could be an environmental boon or disaster, depending on public policy

M. Seltzer, March 6, ““We need fuel economy standards to ensure the cars are clean, and policies to encourage ridesharing to reduce vehicle miles traveled,” said Judi Greenwald, non-resident fellow at Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment and co-author of a Jan. 4 paper published in the journal Energy Policy.

The researchers found that well-managed autonomous vehicles “could increase mobility, improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and make fleet management companies rich, while lowering emissions and reducing energy use.” But, they said, poorly managed ones could make “things significantly worse on all these fronts.”

By allowing passengers to work or relax en route, automated vehicles would greatly improve the experience of traveling in an automobile. But planning, management and carefully crafted regulations are essential to reducing vehicle emissions and avoiding additional miles traveled by the vehicles, specifically vehicles traveling with few passengers or without any passengers at all…” Read more  Hmmmm….Yup!  Alain

cid:<a href=The Moore’s Law for Self-Driving Vehicles

E. Olsen, Feb 27, “… For this post, let’s measure the performance of a system in terms of the number of miles per disengagement. A disengagement, roughly speaking, is when the technology fails … I’d prefer to say… it is when the attendant perceives that the technology may be failing sufficiently such that a crash may occur… Since there is only one reality, there exist no data that can estimate the percentage of disengagements that would have resulted in a crash, or even if the attendant didn’t trust that the system could avoid being crashed into, or the severity of any avoided crash…We’ll guestimate some values later..   and a safety driver must take over. A great self-driving vehicle will have a big number — that means that the vehicle can drive a lot of miles and only infrequently fail.

The critical question is: “how good does the system need to be?” Let’s assume that the goal is to match human performance. Humans are actually tremendously good drivers; only one fatality per 100 million (10⁸) miles! Between human performance (10⁸ miles per fatality) and the best-reported self-driving car performance (10⁴ miles per disengagement) is a gap of 10,000x. Put another way, self-driving cars are 0.01% as good as humans… What??? This requires that each disengagement results in a crash that has a fatality.  C’mon man!!  … ” Read more  Hmmmm…. Deaths are completely different than disengagements.  Since Waymo has only had one 2 mph “crash” that may not even have been its fault, one can’t deduce that Waymo attendants just activate disengagements to avoid violent crashes, and potential  fender benders aren’t encountered and the attendants are never “fooled/spooked” into disengagements.  In fact there is no guarantee that even a very small crash would have occurred had the disengagement not been issued. 

Since attendants are trained to error on the side of safety, not even 10% of the disengagements may have avoided crashes.  To be conservative we’ll assume that half of the disengagements avoided crashes.  Given the severity distribution of human crashes (2 out of 1,000 crashes involve a death) there really is no reason to assume that the Waymo avoided crashes would have had a substantially different severity distribution. At a disengagement crash rate of 1 out of 2, this implies a death rate of 1 out of 1,000 disengagements. Thus Waymo is arguably at a fatality rate of 1 in 10^7 miles… 10% on the way to par with human drivers. If only 1 in 10 disengagements would have led to a crash, then Waymo’s  fatality rate is 2 in 10^8 miles or half way there.  Waymo may well be on par with human safety  when they get to 1 disengagement for every 20,000 miles.  Given the societal benefits that accrue by focusing Driverless mobility to serve the Mobility Disadvantaged, today that benefit may well be worth the safety risk.  Very soon, that safety risk completely disappears. Once Waymo’s are safer than humans, shared driverless mobility should be welcomed in every community.  Alain

cid:<a href=Tesla has a self-driving strategy other companies abandoned years ago

T. Lee, March 7, “An overhaul to Tesla’s Autopilot webpage might represent the clearest acknowledgment yet that the company has failed to deliver on Elon Musk’s ambitious vision for a self-driving future.  “You will be able to summon your Tesla from pretty much anywhere,” Musk wrote in July 2016.   “Once it picks you up, you will be able to sleep, read or do anything else enroute [sic] to your destination.” Indeed, he predicted, Tesla customers with full self-driving capabilities will be able to have their cars join a ride-hailing network in order to “generate income for you while you’re at work or on vacation.”

In January 2016, Musk predicted that Tesla cars would be able to drive autonomously coast to coast “in ~2 years.”

The page’s headline has changed from “Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Cars” to “Future of Driving.” A sentence about Tesla’s ride-sharing network has been deleted. The “Full Self-Driving” section now includes a disclaimer that “future use of these features without supervision is dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience.”

In other words, despite Musk’s bluster over the years, Autopilot is still just a driver-assistance system. And it will continue to be just a driver-assistance system for some time to come.

Musk still wants to gradually improve the safety of this driver-assistance system. Eventually, the technology could become so good that it will no longer require human oversight.

But there’s reason to doubt that this strategy is going to work. More importantly, there’s reason to worry that it could get people killed…. “…” Read more  Hmmmm…. Luckily, I suspect that most Tesla owners are scared to death of the Self-driving capabilities simply because one remembers vividly when the system doesn’t perform perfectly.  Our survival instinct keeps most older folks from over-relying on the system.  For the indestructible young, that may be another story; it is a good thing that most can’t afford a Tesla.  Alain

cid:<a href=Future of Driving

March 2019 “… Current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous  aka Driverless  …” Read more  Hmmmm…. Emphasis on NOT.  Alain

cid:<a href=Automakers Unlikely to Follow Tesla’s Online-Only Model

J. Alicandri, March 10, “Over the past week, with the announcement of its move to online-only sales, Tesla reignited the twenty-plus-year-old debate of automakers selling direct to consumers via the Internet…. Automakers control almost every aspect of their dealerships’ operations. This includes a seemingly endless number of factors like, sales volume objectives; customer satisfaction scores; the auto parts that dealers buy and install; the training and seniority of staff; the use of digital-selling tools and in-dealership software; or even, in GM’s case, the amount of phone rings before the receptionist answers….

Much of this control is dictated by franchise agreements, but it’s also supported by incentive income, in which an automaker pays a dealership for achieving certain automaker objectives. In fact, dealers have become so dependent on automaker incentive income that many of them are unprofitable without it. …

While the incumbent automakers have fought franchise laws, conversely, they also view them as protecting their interests. As one analyst explained to me, they don’t want their years of investments in R&D, engineering, and brand equity to face the same competitive landscape as an Amazon-exclusive Chinese-made goose feathered coat. Automakers still prefer that their dealers differentiate and compete to sell their vehicles, even if they don’t view the franchise model as perfect. As Ken Elias, my colleague and former Priceline automotive executive states, “Most cars are sold, not bought.”  Read more  Hmmmm…. Plus conventional cars need maintenance which isn’t easily internet-able.  Alain

cid:<a href= Uber escapes criminal charges for 2018 self-driving death in Arizona

T. Lee, March 7, “… While Uber appears to be off the hook, Uber driver Rafael Vasquez could still face criminal charges. Dashcam video showed Vasquez repeatedly looking down at her lap in the final minutes before the crash…

Yavapai County Attorney Polk said she didn’t have enough information to decide whether it would be appropriate to charge Vasquez. She encouraged Maricopa County to hire an expert to analyze video footage from the crash to determine “what (and when) the person sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle would or should have seen that night given the vehicle’s speed, lighting conditions, and other relevant factors.”

Uber avoided a potential lawsuit from Herzberg’s family by settling with them days after Herzberg’s death…”

…the agency issued a damning preliminary report about the crash last May.

“Emergency braking maneuvers are not enabled while the vehicle is under computer control, to reduce the potential for erratic vehicle behavior,” the NTSB reported. “The vehicle operator is relied on to intervene and take action.” However, “the system is not designed to alert the operator” if an emergency braking action is needed…”  Read more  Hmmmm…. Makes little sense to me.  Uber management orders the system to be tested in a domain where Uber coders have explicitly turned off the AEB,and  fails to inform the attendant that she’ll be testing in such a domain. That’s deemed “not criminal”  ???? Yet Rafael gets distracted for a brief time and that may be criminal .  Hmmmm???  Alain

cid:<a href=   Ethiopian Airlines Crash Kills at Least 150; 2nd Brand-New Boeing to Go Down in Months

H. Ahmed, March 10, “A jetliner with passengers from at least 35 countries crashed Sunday shortly after leaving Ethiopia’s capital, killing all 157 people on board and renewing concerns about the new model of aircraft involved in the accident, the popular Boeing 737 Max 8.

After taking off from Addis Ababa in good weather and with clear visibility, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, bound for Nairobi, Kenya, struggled to ascend at a stable speed, according to flight data published by FlightRadar24. The pilot sent out a distress call and was cleared to return to the airport, Bole International, the airline’s chief executive told reporters.

But the plane — the same Boeing model that went down in Indonesia in October, killing all 189 people on board — lost contact with air traffic controllers six minutes after takeoff. It then plummeted to the ground near Bishoftu, a town southeast of the capital…” Read more  Hmmmm…. This is, of course, NOT good.  The correlation with Indonesian crash 5 month ago is NOT good.  The basic circumstances are just too similar.  Let’s see how this is handled by the NTSB compared to the recent Tesla crash & Joshua brown’s crash.  Alain

cid:<a href=Tesla crashes into river, owner claims it accelerated on its own

March 10, Fred Lambert, “A Tesla Model S owner crashed his vehicle into a river near a Supercharger station in China and he claims that the vehicle accelerated on its own – in yet another alleged event of unintended acceleration…

Tesla vehicles have been involved in several unintended acceleration events, which consists of vehicles accelerating without it being the driver’s intention – whether it is due to malfunction or driver error.

We extensively covered cases of unintended acceleration involving Tesla vehicles and we concluded that the evidence points toward pedal misapplication, including in one particular case where the logs were reviewed by a third-party…”  Read more  Hmmmm…. This is the reason why each of these vehicles MUST save all input and output data from their automated systems so that the systems can defend themselves when falsely accused and help improve themselves when at fault.  It is equally important that these data be made public to enable the public to properly perceive the abilities of these automated system where the safe driving responsibility is shared between human and machine.  Without ‘Just the facts ma’am” the systems can’t defend themselves against “the vehicle accelerated on its own” .  Alain

cid:<a href=The King and I

F. O’tool, March 21, “Perhaps the defining moment of the Trump presidency occurred before it had even begun, two days after his election. Since May 2016, Chris Christie, then governor of New Jersey, had been head of the transition team planning for the takeover of power if Trump won in November. Given the candidate’s complete lack of experience in public office, this process was even more important than usual. Trump himself, however, did not think so. In his self-pitying memoir Let Me Finish, a title that soon becomes the reader’s prayer, …” Read more  Hmmmm…. Certainly don’t read “Let Me Finish”, but do continue to read the review.  One can’t imagine how bad it was for eight (8) years in New Jersey.  BridgeGate was nothing. One of the first things that he did was to eliminate the budget of New Jersey’s Commission on Science and Technology in spite of Peter Reczek’s efforts.  In 2009/10 Christie determined that Science & Technology wasn’t a worthy pursuit for New Jersey.  You can’t make up this stuff.  Alain

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

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

Simply Click Bait

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

GPU Technology Conference

March 17 -> 21

Silicon Valley

25% Discount Using SmartDrivingCar VIP Code: NVDASHAPIRO

imap:<a href=

3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Apply to Participate; Reserve your Sponsorship

Catalog of Videos of Presentations @ 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
Photos from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Program & Links to slides from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

September 4-6, 2019
Pocono Manor, PA

  On the More Technical Side