Friday, March 29, 2019
14th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars

10 Lessons From Uber’s Fatal Self-Driving Car Crash

E. Niedermeyer, March 18, "he single most important moment in the world of self-driving cars was around 10 PM on a Sunday evening, one year ago today. On that fatal evening, Elaine Herzberg stepped out into Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona and was struck and killed by a Volvo XC90 that was testing Uber’s self-driving car technology. Herzberg’s death has cast a pall over what had been a white hot race to develop world-changing technology that promised to both save lives and create billions in value for the winners, changing public perceptions of autonomous vehicles and internal practices at the firms developing the technology alike. Though this shameful moment won’t stop the march toward autonomous vehicles, it does provide an important opportunity to stop and reflect on how it happened and what lessons must be learned to prevent it from happening again.

Lesson #1: This Is Not A Race… (1)

Lesson #2: Culture Matters. (3)

Lesson #3: Humans Are Bad At Overseeing Imperfect Automation. (9)

Lesson #4: Vulnerable Road Users Require Extra Care.(5)

Lesson #5: Regulation Beats The Alternative. (7)

Lesson #6: Legal Liability Must Catch Up With Technology. (10)

Lesson #7: Leaders Need To Listen. (8)

Lesson #8: Infrastructure Matters. (6)

Lesson #9: Autonomy Has Opponents. (2)

Lesson #10: Trust Is The Currency Of Autonomous Drive Technology. (4)

Lesson #xx:  Be totally transparent about what happened leading up to the crash. (3.5)

Lesson #yy:  Learn about safety from others and help others learn from you (3.6)  Read more  Hmmmm… Very worth reading.  I’ve provided my own ranking and added a couple of other lessons.  What is being disillusioned is the fairy tale / Sunday supplement aspects of this technology, which no one ever believed anyway.  What remains substantive is that Safe-driving car technology is being incorporated into new cars and it is beginning to work. Self-driving technology is being championed by OEM, especially Tesla and Volvo and it is being purchased to the satisfaction of OEMs.  And Driverless technology is being tried in goods delivery and, at least at Princeton University, is being focused to serve Mobility Disadvantaged communities whose quality-of-life this technology can most enhance.  While this technology is in its infancy with little scale or bandwidth, it is prudent that it focus on delivering mobility to those who can most benefit from the technology, rather than try to convert those that are indifferent or disdain.  Alain

  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 97 – Michael Sena

March 28, F. Fishkin, "The Future Networked Car? From Sweden, The Dispatcher publisher, Michael Sena, joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for the latest edition of Smart Driving Cars. Plus …the Boeing story has much to do with autonomous vehicles and more. Tune in and subscribe. Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

M. Sena, March 28, "The SYMPOSIUM ON THE FUTURE NETWORKED CAR 2019…." Read more  Hmmmm…  Excellent summary of the one day conference during the 2019 Geneva Auto Show, plus more.  An excellent read. Alain

  Mobility for all …greatest promise of autonomous vehicles

F. Fishkin, March 25, "When it comes to self driving vehicles….there’s an awful lot of confusion out there.    A recent Triple A survey found nearly three quarters of us have a negative impression of self driving vehicles or even the testing of them.   At Princeton University, the faculty chair for autonomous vehicle engineering, Alain Kornhauser, says those perceptions will have to be turned around…and understanding some of the benefits is a great place to start.   Full disclosure…I co-host the Smart Driving Cars podcast with Professor Kornhauser…who advocates for the technology to be used to create mobility for those most in need…

“The biggest opportunity for this mobility is to serve those who need it the most.  But what we need to do is figure out what is it that mobility disadvantaged community really needs.”… Read more  Hmmmm…  Listen.  Alain


A. Hawkins, March 29, Lyft debuted on the public market at $87.24 a share, up 21 percent from its offering price of $72 amid significant demand from prospective shareholders. It’s the first ride-hailing company to go public, with a market value of $30 billion. Meanwhile, its drivers — the people who power this app-based service — were on strike.

The ride-hailing company celebrated the milestone in Los Angeles, and not at the New York Stock Exchange, a more typical venue for high-profile coming out parties. LA is one of Lyft’s largest markets, and the city has embraced the company’s message of fewer personally owned cars and more shared trips.

But while Lyft celebrated, hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers were on strike in protest of low wages and unsatisfactory working conditions on the other side of town. Drivers went on strike in San Francisco and San Diego as well, hoping to use the moment to shift the spotlight away from Lyft’s IPO (and Uber’s forthcoming public offering as well) to the more pressing concern about the future of ride-hailing…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Congratulations on IPO and the big initial increase, but unless Lyft gets  to Driverless… increasing scale will be a challenge.  Lyft is going to need another pivot.  Alain

  Innovation Requires Originality

A. Shashua, March 25, "As we march towards a driverless future, we at Mobileye have continued to lead the industry with new innovations that will not only enable fully autonomous vehicles (AVs), but will also make human-driven cars safer than they have ever been. Over the years, I am proud that we have achieved many industry firsts: camera and radar fusion in 2007, pedestrian-detection warning in 2010, camera-only forward-collision warning in 2011, camera-only automatic cruise control (ACC) in 2013, hands-free assist in 2015, crowd-sourced HD-mapping in 2016, the Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) safety model in 2017 and, most recently, a “vision zero” horizon through a novel preventive system using RSS.

It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and our innovations have not gone unnoticed with many embracing the same concepts that we pioneered. One industry player in particular habitually follows our lead and today I would like to set the record straight on its latest imitation….

And although we enjoy flattery as much as anyone else, we hope that SFF’s Safety Procedure is based on independent innovation as opposed to imitation of Mobileye’s technology leadership. But don’t take my word for it, let’s let the text speak for itself:…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Whew!  I’m getting out of the way of this one.  Alain

  Intel Blasts Nvidia For ‘Inferior’ Self-Driving Technology

J. Hruska, March 26, "Intel is pissed. That’s the only way to summarize an extraordinary blog post published by Professor Amnon Shashua, senior VP of Intel and CEO of Mobileye…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Joel’s view of the previous posting.  Alain


Press release, January 2019, "AAA’s recommendation for common naming of advanced safety systems… Advanced Driver Assistance Systems have become increasingly prevalent on new vehicles. In fact, at least one ADAS feature is available on 92.7% of new vehicles available in the U.S. as of May 2018.1 Not only are these advanced driver assistance systems within financial reach of many new car consumers (about $1,950 for the average ADAS bundle2), they also have the potential to avoid or mitigate the severity of a crash. However, the terminology used to describe them varies widely and often seems to prioritize marketing over clarity. The lack of standardized names for automotive systems adds confusion for motorists when researching and using advanced safety systems.
The intent of this paper is to create a dialog with the automotive industry, safety organizations and legislators about the need for common naming for advanced driver assistance systems. Within this report, AAA is proposing a set of standardized technology names for use in describing advanced safety systems. AAA acknowledges that this is a dynamic environment, and that further input from stakeholders and consumer research will further refine this recommendation.
To date, automakers have devised their own branded technology names which, for example, has resulted in twenty unique names for adaptive cruise control and nineteen different names for lane keeping assistance (section 3.2) alone. A selection of these names is shown in Figure 1. Further complicating the issue, regulatory bodies and automotive standards organizations such as NHTSA and SAE have used multiple unique names such as collision imminent braking3 and forward collision mitigation systems4 to describe automatic emergency braking (section 3.1)… "  Read more  Hmmmm… Wow!  Congratulations AAA, you avoided using numeric levels or colors to name things.   You actually used semantics in your choice of words.  Wow!  This is an enormous advance.  However, I do quibble a little that you have a class of capabilities called collision mitigation (with only 3 items, yet there are 5 for parking assistance.  Does this imply that more is being done to help one park than to keep from crashing???  I digress, sorry.)  Why did you fold "avoid" with "lessen".  Mitigation is associated with lessen.  Avoid is avoid.  Inserting the or simply leads to confusion and doesn’t offer the opportunity for a manufacture that offers a system that avoids any benefit over one that only lessens.  Please fix by having "collision mitigation" be for those systems that primarily "lessen" the severity of impact and create a new category "Collision avoidance" for those systems that focus on avoiding impacts!  Two VERY different concepts.  As different as  Lane Departure Warning is different than Lane Keeping Assistance!!! Alain

  Watch Tesla Model S On Autopilot Hit Cement Divider: Video

E. Loveday, March 26, "Luckily, the damage was very minor. However, in these edge-case scenarios, no current self-driving system on the market is able to always do what’s right.

As Tesla states though, the driver should always be attentive and always in control of the car. We need to remember that even Tesla says the cars aren’t yet capable of full self-driving, so the driver then is in charge…" Read more  Hmmmm… One has to wonder if this was staged.  How irresponsible do you have to be to have autoPilot on while driving in a construction zone and not bothering to slow down.  Not surprising that you  the glanced off a protrusion from the "NJ Barrier".  I’m wondering how many other Teslas did the same thing (If Tesla knows, then Tesla should tell us.)  Another question is how many human drivers did the same thing?.  Finally, why was  a piece of whatever sticking out from in between two NJ Barrier segments?  This is NOT an "edge case" scenario.  AutoPilot is a Self-driving system which requires adult supervision and is not designed to work in certain environments which include construction zones at any speed and certainly not at excessive speeds.  So please do not blame autoPliot.  This one is totally on you.  Alain

  Tesla Autopilot: Video Shows Hidden Ability to Stop at Red Lights

M. Brown, March 28, "esla’s vehicles have a hidden ability to stop at red lights, a video uploaded Wednesday reveals. The company recently rolled out an update to its semi-autonomous Autopilot system earlier this month that alerts the driver of oncoming stop signals and traffic lights, but one tinkerer has modified their car to unlock a promised upcoming feature: stopping and starting at these signals.

“The detections are available in all cars today,” the user, who goes by the name “greentheonly,” tells Inverse. “It’s the actual stopping that you need to do some tricks to actually enable.”…" Read more  Hmmmm… See video  Irrespective of user misbehavior, AutoPilot seems to be getting better and better, but still no where near Driverless!!!. Alain

  Dashcam video shows Tesla steering toward lane divider—again

T. Lee, March 22, "The afternoon commute of Reddit user Beastpilot—who requested that we not use his real name—takes him past a stretch of Seattle-area freeway with a carpool lane exit on the left. Last year, in early April, the Tesla driver noticed that Autopilot on his Model X would sometimes pull to the left as the car approached the lane divider—seemingly treating the space between the diverging lanes as a lane of its own.

This was particularly alarming, because just days earlier, Tesla owner Walter Huang had died in a fiery crash after Autopilot steered his Model X into a concrete lane divider in a very similar junction in Mountain View, California.

Beastpilot made several attempts to notify Tesla of the problem but says he never got a response. Weeks later, Tesla pushed out an update that seemed to fix the problem.   Hmmmm…Another excellent article by Timothy Lee.  Alain

  Tesla starts rolling out new Dynamic Brake Lights feature

F. Lambert, March 29, "Tesla started rolling out a new safety feature called Dynamic Brake Lights in Model 3 vehicles in Europe to help avoid rear-ending accidents.
As part of its 2019.8.3 software update, which brought several different features to various Tesla vehicles depending on the type and the market, the automaker also pushed this Dynamic Brake Lights feature that is quite simple and yet could help prevent avoidable accidents.

Tesla describes the feature in the release notes:

“If you are driving over 50 km/h (31 mph) and brake forcefully, the brake lights will now flash quickly to warn other drivers that your car is rapidly slowing down.”… "  Read more  Hmmmm… I asked NHTSA about this feature a few years ago and I was told that it was "not permitted" in the USA. I’m thrilled to see that NHTSA now allows this (I imagine).  Alain

Autonomous Vehicle Technology: Preparing for the next wave of innovation in public transit

R. Popple, March 27, "…Since our founding, the industry has looked to Proterra as a trusted partner to lead the way on technology, a responsibility that we take very seriously. As electric vehicles increasingly become a mainstream option, government entities and leading transit agencies are now preparing for the next wave of innovation in public transit – autonomous vehicle technology. Increased automation for buses promises to improve safety, operations and efficiency, while also addressing congestion in cities. Automation will also help with parking and charging buses, maximizing depot space and enabling smart charging as a cost-effective measure….

Here are some exciting applications we see for electric bus automation: 

  • Advanced Driver Assistance
  • In-depot Automation
  • Platooning
  • Fully Autonomous Bus… Read more  Hmmmm… Looking forward to public transit moves in these areas.  I will point out again that I called for testing platooning the XBL in 1995. That initiative remains THE best platooning opportunity in the world. Alain

  What we can learn from the history of DC’s circles and squares

M. Eckenwiler, March 26, "Despite Washington’s status as the quintessential planned American city, key elements of the L’Enfant Plan have evolved over time. This is especially true of the core city’s squares and circles. From the 1870s up to the present day, competing interests—erecting monuments and memorials, preserving space for civic recreation, and catering to vehicular traffic—have led to drastic changes in our shared public spaces.

The history of these shared public spaces, and their varying uses over time, holds an important lesson for how we should think about them today…." Read more  Hmmmm… Very interesting and very pertinent when we begin to look at accommodating shared-ride aTaxis.  Alain

The Influence of Technologies and Lifestyle on the Value of Time

P. Goodwin, U of Bristol, 2019, "…Considering the above, an increasingly critical view that the benefits calculated in this way may give too much weight to ‘time’ as compared with other criteria of importance to individuals and objectives of transport policy has grown in recent years. Not all these suggestions are consistent with each other, and some have been controversial and discussed energetically. Without implying judgement on the merits of the arguments, the following counter suggestions have been raised:…
Hence, in a rather exaggerated way, the phrase ‘Zero Value of Time’ is helpful. It reflects a mood that a progressive reduction in the Value of Time can be a mark of success, or a mark of more realistic understanding of what is important, or both. Achieved reductions in the Value of Time can be interpreted as a measure of the benefits from improving the conditions of travel.
In this context it is not axiomatic that the main research task is to encourage an everlasting process of more and more detailed calculations of values of time separated by types of individual and context and mode and location and duration and size and alternatives available for the use of the time saved. This may not be helpful if it ignores this bigger questions of what are values of time for, and what do they mean? Since a large part of the agenda of this Roundtable is devoted to precisely such calculations, it is necessary to assess them in the context of the wider question: why are we doing this?
This is not primarily a theoretical argument, but a practical one: what is the relative importance of time as compared with health, comfort, reliability, air quality, energy conservation and climate change? What do we do with the detailed results to be discussed at the Roundtable? … Read more  Hmmmm… Driving is work for which we are not paid nor obtain any real pleasure, irrespective of what the OEMs want us to fantasize, one gets zero quality-of-life improvement from the drive (other than the time-place utility improvement that is achieved upon reaching one’s destination).  However, if one is emancipated from the work of driving and can "text" then one earns some value while traveling. Since the "cost of time while traveling is the difference between what value one gains while traveling minus the Max {value of the extra time spent staying longer @ origin ; arriving earlier @ destination} makes the time value of driverless mobility clearly defined.  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

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