Sunday, September 4, 2016

  How Do You Buy a Million Cars When You Can’t Make a Dime?   

B. Simpson, Aug 25, "Isn’t this supposed to be a quiet time for business? …Not in transportation technology.

For instance, Ford announced it was working to launch fully autonomous automobiles by 2021. BMW, Intel and Mobileye joined to say they will have vehicles in production for the same target date. Ridesharing titan Uber says it will launch this month driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, though some employees will be in the car to ensure safety.

Forget the 10 years down the road baloney. We’ll be Level 4 Autonomous in three to five years.

Yet for all the excitement there’s been some downer news…. Lyft was seeking a buyer, despite the $500 million that GM pumped into it …Earlier this year Lyft pledged… to keep its U.S. losses under $50 million a month….Uber told its investors it lost $520 million in the first quarter, and more than $750 million in the second. This after losing about $2 billion in 2015….It’s valuable to keep in mind the shaky foundations of Uber and Lyft because the two have been touted as an important foundation for the growth of autonomous vehicles. Read more Hmmm…Do read more!  It may well be that those that can’t make a dime wont even have the opportunity to buy the driverless vehicles that would allow them to "make a dime".  The real value of the driverless vehicles may well be in their ability to generate operating cash without needing any of the $10B+ expertise/intellectual property amassed by Uber/Lyft in managing self-employed part-timers that aren’t needed.  If that is the case, then the makers of those vehicles will manage them for their own account rather than selling them at cost-plus (or the price of those vehicles will be such that only their maker is making any money). Alain

Tesla drivers who abuse Autopilot could lose Autosteer function

R. Milton, Sept. 4. "On Wednesday morning, electric-car maker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) said it would announce "major improvements" to its driver assist technology, Autopilot, later that day. Autopilot will not permit itself to be reactivated until the vehicle is put into Park.

Previous reports suggest that aside from new software, the changes will include extra sensors in each corner of the auto, as well as a front-facing "triple" camera system which Tesla has already started implementing in production of the latest Model S. As well as support for highway interchanges version 8.0 will make Autopilot’s steering smoother and the radar cruise control more responsive…"  Read more Hmmm…Absolutely…  Use it appropriately or loose it.  Your choice!  I love it.  Alain

Alphabet Executive David Drummond Leaves Uber Board

G. Bensinger, Aug 30, "Uber Technologies Inc. on Monday said a longtime Alphabet Inc. executive has left its board as the two tech companies increasingly clash over the future of transportation and logistics…." Read more Hmmm….Not surprising. Automated elevator trumps elevator with operator.  Alain

Alphabet Expands Car-Pooling Project, Casting Shadow on Uber

D. Wakabayashi, Aug 30, "Alphabet and Uber are inching closer to a showdown.  Alphabet, …, is broadening the scope of a car-pooling program that could challenge ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. The pilot program, operated through Google’s navigation app Waze, is limited to employees of companies near Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

In the fall, Waze plans to expand the program to users in San Francisco, where Uber is based, according to a person briefed on the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly about it.  Waze promotes the service as Waze Carpool on its website, recruiting drivers and riders to commute together in the Bay Area…."Read more Hmmm…Another shoe is dropping!   Alain

Car Makers Scrutinized on Self-Driving Claims

M. Spector, Sept 4, "A Mercedes-Benz magazine ad this summer described a new sedan as a “self-driving car from a very self-driven company.” …" Read more Hmmm… All old news.  Of course there should be truth in advertising and capabilities should not be over-hyped.  Also, these companies should do what it seems that Tesla is beginning to do… If you abuse it, you’ll loose it.  If you aren’t using the feature properly, then the car should tell the driver that if the system isn’t going to be used properly (hands back on the wheel or whatever…) it will begin to slow down, pull over to the shoulder and stop by itself and then turn on its emergency blinkers and do just that as soon as it can safely do it.  (Of course it should not just turn itself off because the driver may in fact be incapacitated.)  Alain

The Future of Farming: Meet The Driverless Tractor

J. Creighton, Sept 3, "…At Iowa’s Farm Progress Show earlier this week, Case IH showed off some remarkable tech. It’s tech that they assert will, one day, culminate in a fleet of driverless tractors. Notably, this gear isn’t meant to be completely autonomous. Rather, it is actually a remote controlled tractor.

At this stage, it is still just a prototype, and it is known as the Case IH Autonomous Concept Vehicle. Check it out in the video .." Read more Hmmm… Video is very interesting.  Alain

Latest findings from human factors research on automation in vehicles to be presented

Sept 2, "Many human factors experts are studying effects of automation in vehicles to help ensure the safe application of technology for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and infrastructure. More work needs to be done in this area as vehicle and technology developers rush to bring products and systems to market in what has become a highly competitive area in transportation.

Automation in vehicles is the topic of a number of presentations at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2016 Annual Meeting, to be held September 19-23 at the Washington Hilton…. " Read more Hmmm…Should be very interesting! Alain

World’s first driverless bus service begins carrying passengers in French city of Lyon

D. Chazan, Sept. 3, "The world’s first driverless bus service began carrying passengers in the French city of Lyon this weekend, attracting curious onlookers keen to photograph the vehicles.

Two electric minibuses with a capacity of 15 passengers each are now operating a 10-minute route with five stops in the city centre at an average speed of 6 miles (10km) per hour….“Neither the current technology nor the legislation allow this type of vehicle to operate in the midst of cars or other traffic,” said Jean-Pierre Farandou of the Keolis transport group that operates the service…. Read more Hmmm… Again, another CityMobil2-type preliminary step.  Congratulations! (but we are not yet close to taking the first real driverless-step.)  Alain

Dubai debuts driverless minibus

Sept. 3, "DUBAI has unveiled its first driverless bus service, launching a month-long trial period for the electric vehicle with a view to expanding it across the futuristic Gulf city state. The 10-seat vehicle made its first trip on Thursday along a 700-meter (2,300-foot) stretch of road in downtown Dubai, near to the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower…." Read more Hmmm… Ditto. Alain

How Driverless Cars May Interact With People

J. Markoff, Aug 30, "…The cars won’t speak with pedestrians and bicyclists. But they will try to communicate with visual displays that go beyond today’s turn signals, perhaps with bannerlike text and easily identifiable sounds, company officials said…."Read more Hmmm…That’s what Daimler showed @ 2015CES in their F 015!   Alain

Uber’s test track almost ready still no official word on when self-driving cars will roll out

M. Belko, Sept 3, "The asphalt is down, the buildings are up, and, for all intents and purposes, it looks like the test roadways for self-driving cars planned by Uber Technologies at the former LTV Coke Works in Hazelwood are about ready to go.  But just when the first vehicles will zip across the sprawling fenced-in site is anybody’s guess. Read more Hmmm… The track is a good first step, but self-driving is ultimately more about avoiding the other guys in the weird configurations. Alain

Self-Driving Car Crash Raises Questions About Safety

G. Allen, Sept 2, "A Dallas man says his car drove him straight into a guardrail at 80-miles-an-hour. The wreck is raising questions about the safety of self-driving cars…." Read more Hmmm… See the embedded video report.  Alain

  Tesla enters car insurance business as self-driving cars prepare to disrupt the industry

Aug 30, "Electrek has learned that Tesla is entering the car insurance business starting with new programs in Australia and Hong Kong.  The new program is called InsureMyTesla and it features custom insurance plans for the company’s vehicles underwritten by bigger insurers partnering with Tesla.  In Hong Kong, Tesla is partnering with AXA General Insurance and in Australia, the automaker released its new plan with QBE Insurance. Read more Hmmm… Of course.  It would be interesting to know the details of the partnership. Beginning the disruption anticipated in  KPMG’s report of 2015.  Alain

Driverless cars will kill the most jobs in select US states

M. Farley, Sept 2, "If Silicon Valley gets its way, it won’t be long until every vehicle in the country has nobody behind the wheel. Hmmm… Even if it gets its way, it will be long until even a majority of…  Anyway, go on…
Driverless car technology is expected to reduce labor costs, fuel costs and accidents, but it will also be a complete disaster for the millions of Americans who work as long-haul truckers, bus drivers or cab drivers. Truck driving alone is the most common job across vast swathes of the United States, and they could all be unemployed within years.

Almost 3 percent of all working American are drivers of some sort — more than 2 percent are truck drivers, 0.4 percent are bus drivers and 0.3 percent are cabbies and other types of drivers, according to Census Bureau occupational data. …"  Read more Hmmm… Way before these folks lose their jobs they will each be much safer and less stressed while doing their jobs.  That’s the biggest benefit of having "silicon Valley get its way".  Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Passenger Jet Service From U.S. to Cuba Starts Wednesday

F. Robles, Aug 31,"The first scheduled passenger jet service in history from the United States to Cuba will take off Wednesday morning from Fort Lauderdale, another important step toward normalized relations between two former Cold War foes.

It has been so long since an airline in the United States flew a regularly scheduled flight to the island that the last time it happened, the passengers flew on a propeller plane, said Marty St. George, the executive vice president of JetBlue…"Read more Hmmm…Congratulations Marty!   Alain

Dramatic Video Shows Huge Scale of SpaceX Rocket Explosion

M. Wall Sept 1, "…The two-stage Falcon 9 and its payload, a communications satellite called Amos-6, were destroyed during an engine test Thursday, which was part of the standard protocol to prepare for a planned Saturday (Sept. 3) launch from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station…." Read more Hmmm…After almost 60 years since Sputnik, Vanguard TV3 , others and now this have shown that it isn’t easy.   Alain

  Intelligent Technology

H. Varian, Sept 2016, " …One example of technology making a big difference to productivity is photography. Back in 2000, about 80 billion photos were taken worldwide—a good estimate since only three companies produced film then. In 2015, it appears that more than 1.5 trillion photos were taken worldwide, roughly 20 times as many. At the same time the volume exploded, the cost of photos fell from about 50 cents each for film and developing to essentially zero.
So over 15 years the price fell to zero and output went up 20 times. Surely that is a huge increase in productivity. Unfortunately, most of this productivity increase doesn’t show up in GDP, since the measured figures depend on the sales of film, cameras, and developing services, which are only a small part of photography these days…." Read more Hmmm…Interesting. Alain

On the More Technical Side

Learning to Recognize Distance to Stop Signs Using the Virtual World of Grand Theft Auto 5

A. Filiowicz, J. Liu, A Kornhauser, Aug 1 Read more

The Interplay between Fleet-size, Level-of-Service, and Empty Repositioning Strategies in Large-scale, Shared-ride autonomousTaxis Mobility-on-Demand Scenarios

S. Zhu, A. Kornhauser, Aug 1 Read more

Synthetic Generation of Individual Vehicle-borne Person Trips That Characterize Individual Mobility Across the United States on a Typical Day

K. Marocchini, A. Kornhauser, Aug 1 Read more

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

Here Comes Russia’s Driverless Minibus

D. Meyer, Aug 25, "…Yandex  announced a partnership on Wednesday with Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz, whose shareholders include the Russian government, Daimler and the government-backed NAMI automotive research facility.

The deal revolves around the development of a driverless minibus shuttle. Yandex will bring to the party its expertise in computer vision, artificial intelligence, and speech recognition…"  Read more  Hmmm…I’m very skeptical for obvious historical reasons and the provenance.  Alain

Older stuff that I had missed:

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Sept 15 & 16, 2016
Arlington, VA

Sept 19-21, 2016
Antwerp, Belgium

Sept 19-23, 2016
Washington, DC

F1/10 Autonomous Racing Competition
Oct 1-2
Wean Hall, Carnegie Mellon U.

Recent Highlights of:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

T. Simonite, Aug 23, "BMW, Ford, and Uber have all recently said they plan to have “fully autonomous” cars ready to drive themselves on the road in 2021 (see “2021 May Be the Year of the Fully Autonomous Car”). Ford says its fleet of vehicles will lack steering wheels and offer a robotic taxi service.

But don’t expect to toss out your driver’s license in 2021. Five years isn’t long enough to create vehicles good enough at driving to roam extensively without human input, say researchers working on autonomous cars. They predict that Ford and others will meet their targets by creating small fleets of vehicles limited to small, controlled areas.

“Probably what Ford would do to meet their 2021 milestone is have something that provides low-speed taxi service limited to certain roads—and don’t expect it to come in the rain,” says Steven Shladover. …Alain Kornhauser, … “By then we may be able to define [a] ‘fenced’ region of space where we can in fact let cars out there without a driver,” he says. “The challenge will be making that fenced-in area large enough so that it provides a valuable service.”…Jeffrey Miller, …says figuring out how sensors limit the situations a vehicle can reliably handle on its own is one of the most crucial challenges for companies working on autonomous driving. Read more  Hmmm…Achievable reality.  Alain

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ford Promises Fleets of Driverless Cars Within Five Years

N. Boudette, Aug 16, "In the race to develop driverless cars, several automakers and technology companies are already testing vehicles that pilot themselves on public roads. And others have outlined plans to expand their development fleets over the next few years.

But few have gone so far as to give a definitive date for the commercial debut of these cars of the future.  Now Ford Motor has done just that.  At a news conference on Tuesday at the company’s research center in Palo Alto, Calif., Mark Fields, Ford’s chief executive, said the company planned to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021….
“That means there’s going to be no steering wheel. There’s going to be no gas pedal. There’s going to be no brake pedal,’’ he said. “If someone had told you 10 years ago, or even five years ago, that the C.E.O. of a major automaker American car company is going to be announcing the mass production of fully autonomous vehicles, they would have been called crazy or nuts or both.”…
Ford also said it had acquired an Israeli start-up, Saips, that specializes in computer vision, a crucial technology for self-driving cars. And the automaker announced investments in three other companies involved in major technologies for driverless vehicles….." Read morHmmm…This is significant because it implies that Ford, (or an entity under its control) will operate and deliver on a day-to-day basis MaaS (Mobility as a Service).  In other words it will both build/assemble and operate mobility’s "Cloud".  The scale economies of such a mobility "cloud" are arguably much more substantial than that of the data storage & computing "cloud".  Think about it!  Alain

Monday, August 8, 2016

Latest to Quit Google’s Self-Driving Car Unit: Top Roboticist

J. Markoff, Aug 5, " A roboticist and crucial member of the team that created Google’s self-driving car is leaving the company, the latest in a string of departures by important technologists working on the autonomous car project.

Chris Urmson, a Carnegie Mellon University research scientist, joined Google in 2009 to help create the then-secret effort. …Mr. Urmson has been unhappy with the direction of the car project under Mr. Krafcik’s leadership and quarreled privately several months ago with Larry Page over where it was headed, according to two former Google employees….
Mr. Urmson said he had not decided what he will do next. “If I can find another project that turns into an obsession and becomes something more, I will consider myself twice lucky,” he wrote. Read more  Hmmm…Very unfortunate.  What a great job he has done. All the best. Alain

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

M. Ramsey, July 26, " A key supplier of semiautonomous car technology ended a supply agreement with Tesla Motors Inc. following a high-profile traffic fatality in May involving one of the Silicon Valley company’s electric vehicles.

Mobileye NV said it would no longer provide its computer chips and algorithms to Tesla after a current contract ends due to disagreements about how the technology was deployed. Mobileye provides core technology for Tesla’s Autopilot system, which allows cars to drive themselves in limited conditions….Read more Hmmm….Very interesting!! Alain
And in Mobileye’s Short Trip with Tesla : D. Gallagher, July 26, "In the emerging business of autonomous driving, even the safer road isn’t free of potholes….In explaining its move, Mobileye suggested that protecting its reputation was at least part of the rationale. Below is what the company said on the call:… Read moreHmmm….And why in all of this isn’t there a discussion of Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) technology/suppliers??  There must be no consumer/regulatory appeal to AEB?  Alain

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

Editorial Board, July 11, "A recent fatal crash in Florida involving a Tesla Model S is an example of how a new technology designed to make cars safer could, in some cases, make them more dangerous. These risks, however, could be minimized with better testing (Hmmm….Yes!) and regulations (Still too early, we don’t know enough, yet)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):

1.  On May 7, 2016 at about 4:40pm EDT, there was a crash between a Tesla and a Class 8 Tractor-Trailer. The accident is depicted in the Diagram from the Police Report: HSMV Crash Report # 85234095. (1)  Google Earth images from the site.

 2. The driver of the Tesla was Joshua Brown"No citations have been issued, but the initial accident report from the FHP indicates the truck driver "failed to yield right-of-way."" (2) .  Hmmm….No Citations??? Did the truck have a data recorder?  Was the truck impounded, if so, how is the truck driver making a living since the crash? 

Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Chenyi Chen PhD Dissertation , "…the key part of the thesis, a direct perception approach is proposed to drive a car in a highway environment. In this approach, an input image is mapped to a small number of key perception indicators that directly relate to the affordance of a road/traffic state for driving….."  Read more  Hmmm..FPO 10:00am, May 16 , 120 Sherrerd Hall, Establishing a foundation for image-based autonomous driving using DeepLearning Neural Networks trained in virtual environments. Very promising. Alain

Friday, March 25, 2016

Hearing focus of SF 2569 Autonomous vehicles task force establishment and demonstration project for people with disabilities

March 23 Hmmm… Watch the video of the Committee Meeting.  The testimony is Excellent and very compelling! Also see Self-Driving Minnesota Alain

Thursday, March 17, 2016

U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Sunday, December 19, 2015

Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1.  Hmmm … Watch Video  especially at the 13:12 mark.  Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above!  Also see his TipRanks.  Alain

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