Thursday, February 11, 2016

Budget of the U.S. Government, FY 2017

Feb. 9, "…(3) Accelerate the integration of autonomous vehicles, low-carbon technologies, and intelligent transportation systems into our infrastructure….

  • Providing almost $400 million on average per year in funding over the next 10 years for the deployment of self-driving vehicles. Investments would help develop connected infrastructure and smart sensors that can communicate with autonomous vehicles, support R&D to ensure these vehicles are safe and road ready, and expand at-scale deployment projects to provide “proving grounds” for autonomous self-driving and connected vehicles in urban and highway settings.

Read more Hmmmm…major victory…not only: "…for autonomous self-driving…", but that’s also stated before: "… and connected…".     Alain

Step Toward Approval for Self-Driving Cars

Reuters "…The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Google of its decision in a previously unreported Feb. 4 letter to the company posted on the agency’s website this week. Google’s self-driving car unit on Nov. 12 submitted a proposed design for a self-driving car that has “no need for a human driver,” the letter said…." Read more Hmmmm…Major decision!   Alain

Tesla slams the brake on Autopilot i n urban areas

C. Osborne, Jan 11, "Tesla is updating the Autopilot system present in Model S sedans to prevent hands-free use in urban areas after a series of recorded near-misses and dangerous driving forced CEO Elon Musk to revisit the issue.

On Sunday, the automaker’s chief executive revealed the update in a third quarter earnings call. Musk said the upgrade was taking place as a response to videos posted on media streaming site YouTube showing a series of near-misses caused through the use of Autopilot.  To prevent injuries from occurring due to the technology, functionality may have to be restricted to stop drivers doing "crazy things," according to Musk…." Read more Hmmmm…Of course… See stupid video.   Alain

Uber Drivers in New York City Protest Fare Cuts

M. Santora, Feb 1, "… New York City just keeps getting more and more expensive,” Mr. Sherpa said at the rally. “How are we supposed to survive with less money?”  “They call us partners,” he added. “But they’re treating us like slaves.”…" Read more  Hmmmm…How badly does Uber want driverless car technology to become a reality!!  As if the business case wasn’t already a no-brainer.  Alain

  Google wants to deliver packages from self-driving trucks

M. Murphy, Feb 9,  "Look out, Amazon.  A new patent awarded to Google today suggests that the search giant is looking into developing self-driving delivery trucks, just as Amazon readies its autonomous delivery drone fleet…" Read more Hmmmm…US Patent Myllymaki . Really??? This is patentable?  And why does it  have a conventional cab in the front?  A better idea would  be a cab-less box with headlights, taillights and wheels that carries compartments that are only openable with a proper electronic key enabled at the appropriate delivery location.  In all seriousness, these have a better chance of being the first driver-less vehicles to share our public streets with our current conventional vehicles.   They’ll never have people in them!  Plus, they don’t need to be bigger than the current Google Car to substantially outperform Amazon’s Drones. Alain

Google Is Sending Self-Driving Cars to Washington

K. Korosec, Feb 3, "Google is expanding its self-driving car project to Kirkland, Wash., a city that allows the company to test its driverless vehicles in a wetter environment…hinted that Google was preparing to enter into four more U.S. cities with its self-driving cars."  Read more  Hmmmm…More progress!   Alain

London looks to get in driving seat for Google autonomous car tests

Feb 5, "London transport chiefs are in “active discussions” with Google in an attempt to convince the company to trial its driverless cars in the capital. Isabel Dedring, the deputy mayor for transport, said officials met with Google recently to encourage the technology company to extend its pilot scheme to London.  It would be the first time Google’s autonomous cars have been tested extensively outside the US…" Read more  Hmmmm…It very much depends which part of Landon, but this could be a real challenge and its not only about driving on the "wrong side" of the road.   Alain 

Arctic testing ecosystem for intelligent transport opens in Finnish Lapland

Feb 11, "A world-class Arctic testing ecosystem for intelligent transport systems (ITS) and automated driving, known as ‘Snowbox’, is being built in Finnish Lapland. Led by the Regional Development Agency for Fell Lapland, the key members involved in the planning and implementation of the Aurora project are: the Finnish Transport Agency; Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications; the Finnish Transport Safety Agency – Trafi; the National Land Survey of Finland; the Finnish Meteorological Institute; ITS Finland; HERE; Roadscanners Oy; and Lapland Proving Ground.

Read more and see video Hmmmm…Very interesting.   Alain

Jaguar Land Rover to Road Test Future Technology on the UK’s First Connected Corridor

Feb 1, "Jaguar and Land Rover is investing in a 41 mile ‘living laboratory’ project on UK roads to develop new Connected and Autonomous Vehicle (CAV) technologies. The new CAV test corridor, which includes 41 miles of roads around Coventry and Solihull, will be used to evaluate new systems in real-world driving conditions.  The £5.5m ‘UK-CITE’ (UK Connected Intelligent Transport Environment) project will create the first test route capable of testing both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems on public roads in the UK…" Read more Hmmmm…Great, but now the UK is calling this Connected and Auto…I guess they haven’t heard that the notation has changed to:  "Auto.. and Connec….". However, this effort seems to be focused on Connected.  🙁   Alain

The Case for Making Self-Driving Cars Think Like Humans

A. Davies, Feb 5, "CAR CRASHES KILL more than a million people each year, and roughly 90 percent of them are the result of human error. That’s the strongest argument for developing self-driving cars: Humans are lousy drivers. Coolly logical robots, the thinking goes, will far exceed us.  The irony of that is the best way to program those robots to drive may be to program them to drive more like humans. The UK is studying this very idea as part of “Move-UK,” an $8 million, three-year project intended to bring self-driving cars to market, on the double.

The researchers see three potential advantages to making robo-cars ape human habits. A robot that behaves more like a human driver could provide a sense of familiarity with the technology and reassure passengers who might be reluctant to surrender control. It could blend into and interact with traffic. And it might be more suited to handling situations where human intuition can be more useful than fixed algorithms…" Read more Hmmmm…There is no such thing as "a human human driver".  There is a broad distribution of human drivers.  The driving algorithms should mimic only the best central core of that distribution with the choice of the implemented behavior be left to the owner (or possibly the user) of the the self-driving vehicle. Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

Senators Call for a Much Broader Recall of Defective Takata Airbags After a Recent Death

H. Tabuchi, Feb 2 "The steering wheel in the 2006 Ford Ranger belonging to Joel Knight. He was killed in December when the vehicle’s Takata airbag ruptured after he ran into a stray cow in South Carolina….Over the weekend, The New York Times reported the circumstances surrounding Mr. Knight’s death and risks posed by not yet recalled and unrepaired vehicles with Takata airbags."  Read more Hmmmm…We need to be really careful and really good to, of course, avoid as many of these as possible but to also respond instantly as we discover what we didn’t know about SmartDrivingCars.   Alain

On the More Technical Side

Recompiled Old News & Smiles:

Hyundai: Ryan Reynolds everywhere Ryan Reynolds is the  most appealing — and omnipresent — man on earth in Hyundai’s new Super Bowl ad

Hmmmm…At least Hyundai had a responsible Super Bowl ad, in contrast with Audi’s "outdated irresponsible muscle car revival".  The market for a 205 mph car is about as large as the number of Apollo astronauts, each about as old and none anywhere near as bright.  MASHABLE’S The Best SB 50 Ads Alain

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

How to Build a Streetcar That Works

Y. Freemark Feb 10 "… But taking a stand in favor of these measures is vital; without them, the streetcar will be too slow to provide improved transportation for the people who need it, and it will attract too few riders to justify its construction. Devoting more room on our streets to the streetcar and, just as important, to buses, is a policy Mayor de Blasio, and other municipal leaders, would do well to champion."  Read more  Hmmmm…So bad!  Please realize that by the time any of the above is done, we’ll have the opportunity to provide aTaxi mobility to Brooklyn that will completely "Blockbuster" street cars and fixed route buses even before any Mayor has a chance to cut the ribbon on what is being proposed here.  Sorry!  Alain

Apple Maps vans operating around the clock in run-up to ‘iOS 10’ debut

A. Staff, Feb 11, "With Apple widely expected to announce improvements for its in-house mapping effort alongside "iOS 10" this summer, the company’s fleet of sensor-laden vans continues to ply the streets — even at night…Apple officially acknowledged the maps data program last June. The company now provides a listing of locations where the vans are expected to appear in the immediate future."  Read more  Hmmmm…Is this really the way to collect digital map info?  Wouldn’t customer sourcing be much more effective, timely and financially efficient??!; however, when you have more cash than God, why not!  Alain

  Why you should buy a driverless car, in 1 chart.

B. Fung , Feb 5, "…The chart was produced by James Anderson.    Read more  Hmmmm. … Not to quibble, but… the axes are not independent since society is the ensemble of consumers!  So the benefits to society are essentially identical in measure as the benefits to consumers; so the dots should lie on a 45 degree line in such a chart.  I do agree that driverless technology’s (aTaxis) ability to enhance mobility, improve safety will deliver substantial benefits to consumers, and thus society.  Its ability to deliver ride-sharing without compromising on-demand point2point mobility will then eliminate congestion and improve land-use while substantially reducing the need for energy and its environmental consequences.   Alain

Status of the Dedicated Short-Range Communications Technology and Applications Report to Congress

Final Report—July 2015 FHWA-JPO-15-218 "A. Staff, Feb 11, "… USDOT has synthesized expectations and preliminary plans into a candidate roadmap to guide industry and public agency implementation efforts.  It offers three key milestones for the year 2040:
1. 90 percent of the US light duty vehicle fleet is DSRC enabled;
2. 80 percent of all traffic signals are DSRC equipped; and
3. DSRC exists at up to 25,000 additional safety-critical roadway locations.
The roadmap is predicated primarily on a market-driven scenario wherein applications are provided by industry for consumer adoption and public agency implementation…."  Read more  Hmmmm…There is no mention anywhere in the report of any benefits of DSRC in its initial stages of adoption.  So why would consumers begin buying this technology?  In fact, until market adoption surpasses 70% DSRC’s availability in safety critical situations isn’t better than a coin flip, let alone its ability to impart altered driving such that the impending collision is sufficiently mitigated.  Thus, the "market-driven" predicate has no opportunity to even get started, let alone gain sufficient momentum to achieve a 70% penetration level.   The house of cards collapses. DSRC is DoA. This report is an obituary for DSRC.   Alain

Self-Driving Cars Will Rely on Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Technology First

 M. Ottolini Feb 10, "…National Highway Traffic Safety Association administrator Mark Rosekind spoke at MIT on the realities of self-reliant vehicles, and said the ability for vehicles to communicate with one another in an instantaneous fashion is crucial to ensuring the safety of passengers…." Watch video Hmmm…. So bad…. 1st the title is misleading (nothing about V2V being "First") and while there is no argument that "…Connected vehicles give you "further lines of safety"…", one should point out the "lines" are infinitesimally thin improvements over independent autonomous safety and the cost is enormous.  Also, what is all of this ego about "the human needs to be "front-center". I sure hope this unleashed a healthy discussion; else, So Bad, MIT!  Alain  

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

Transportation Secretary Says Hyperloop

D. Morris, Jan. 30, "U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday that the Hyperloop, a futuristic transportation concept involving levitating pods, may be a candidate for research funding from his department…"  Read more  Hmmmm…Really??? Whew!!  Even though Beach built one in 1869 in NYC and it operated until 1873, it still deserves a C’mon Man!  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

The Business of Autonomous Vehicles
March 22-23, 2016
Crowne Plaza Hotel, San Francisco Airport

Recent Highlights of:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

London’s first driverless cars revealed

The consortium behind the trial has decided to adapt electric passenger shuttles that are currently in service at Heathrow Airport for use in Greenwich.  Unlike the Heathrow pods, they will not need dedicated tracks.
The Greenwich trial is one of four in the UK to test driverless technology and public reaction to it…"This vehicle has millions of miles under its belt and now we have to take it outside of the track and modify it for use on pavements," he added.  The so-called UltraPODs currently in service at Heathrow carry passengers between the car park and Terminal 5. In the five years they have been in use, they have carried 1.5 million passengers and traveled three million kilometers (1.8 million miles)…."   Read more   Hmmm…Wow!! … PRT evolving to be autonomousTaxis!  Wow!!!  🙂    Alain

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Obama’s $4 Billion Plan for Self-Driving Cars Will Make Google Very Happy

M. Bergen, Jan 14 "The Obama Administration has seen the self-driving future, and it’s jumping aboard.  At the Detroit auto show on Thursday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will unveil a plan to develop a national blueprint for autonomous driving technology within the next six months.  He will also announce that President Obama is planning to insert $4 billion into the 2017 budget for a 10-year plan to support and “accelerate” vehicle automation projects.

“We are on the cusp of a new era in automotive technology with enormous potential to save lives, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and transform mobility for the American people,” Secretary Foxx said in a statement. …But here’s the part of Foxx’s talk that really matters for Google: These national rules will allow fully driverless cars..." Read More  Hmmm… A few months ago it was $42M for Connected Vehicles. Today it is 100x for automated vehicles! Finally Secretary Foxx.."YES! YES! JESUS H. TAP-DANCING CHRIST… I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT" (Blue Brothers)  Yea!!!!!   🙂 Alain

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Google Pairs With Ford To Build Self-Driving Cars

J. Hyde & S. Carty, Dec. 21 "Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, …According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development; while the automaker has been experimenting with its own systems for years, it only revealed plans this month to begin testing on public streets in California….

Google already has several links to Ford; the head of the self-driving car project, John Krafcik, worked for 14 years at Ford, including a stint as head of truck engineering, and several other ex-Ford employees work in the unit as well. Former Ford chief executive Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year.

And Ford executives have been clear for years that the company was ready to embrace a future where cars were sold as on-demand services. Ford CEO Mark Fields has repeatedly said Ford was thinking of itself “as a mobility company,” and what that would mean for its business" Read more  Hmmm…Not surprising and not exclusive. 🙂 Alain

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

Friday, October 02, 2015

"60 Minutes" test-rides Mercedes-Benz self-driving car

Oct 2 "As Google’s driverless cars have logged more then a million miles in the past six years, the rest of the auto industry is racing to keep up. Computer scientist Ralf Herrtwich hits the road with "60 Minutes" correspondent Bill Whitaker to demonstrate Mercedes-Benz’s most advanced self-driving prototype. Watch the full story Sunday on "60 Minutes."  Watch video and watch 60 minutes on Sunday Oct 4. This is really becoming mainstream.  Congratulations Ralf! Alain

Friday, August 28, 2015

Truck Safety Out of the Box from Autonobox

B Simpson, July 19, 2015 "The premise is promising. Develop and market a plug-and-play, forward-avoidance braking system for the heavy vehicle market that can be installed quickly, upgraded regularly, and even transferred from vehicle to vehicle if necessary.

The Autonobox System essentially is a second braking system for heavy-duty vehicles that addresses the long-standing problem of brakes that overheat after intense use like a panic-stop or sustained use while going downhill…. Read more  Hmmm…A viable after-market retro-fit opportunity.  Alain

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rep. Lipinski Introduces Future Transportation Research and Innovation Act

I. Sancken 03/29/15, "Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) has introduced H.R. 2886, the Future Transportation Research and Innovation for Prosperity (TRIP) Act, to support innovative technologies that have the potential to fundamentally alter mobility in America and beyond.

"Surface transportation used to be rather staid and unimaginative, but today the very concept of ‘mobility’ is being reinvented through research, innovation, and entrepreneurship," said Rep. Lipinski. "Rapidly advancing automation, connectivity, and information technologies are creating incredible opportunities for transportation innovation. We need to develop innovative ways to improve safety, ease congestion, improve personal mobility, and cut energy use…"  Read more  Hmmm… Excellent!  Alain

Friday, May 29, 2015

John F. Nash Jr., Math Genius Defined by a ‘Beautiful Mind,’ Dies at 86

E. Goodmay, May 24 "…Dr. Nash and his wife, Alicia, 82, were in a taxi on the New Jersey Turnpike in Monroe Township around 4:30 p.m. when the driver lost control while veering from the left lane to the right and hit a guardrail and another car, Sgt. Gregory Williams of the New Jersey State Police said.

The couple were ejected from the cab and pronounced dead at the scene. The State Police said it appeared that they had not been wearing seatbelts…. Read more
See also: John, Alicia Nash Remembered After Fatal Crash
A Beautiful Mind Mathematician John Nash and His Wife Killed in N.J. Car Crash ;

Hmmm… So tragic!!! What a crying shame!!! So preventable!!! We will miss them 🙁

Unfortunately, the NYT and others tried but missed the fundamental point by following up with "Deaths of Math Genius John F. Nash Jr. and Wife Show Need to Use Seatbelts in Back, Experts Say ".  Why do we so easily put up with crashes in the first place?  It is as if it is OK to go around crashing, just put on a seat belt.   Technology is available to avoid crashes, but there isn’t sufficient public policy focus on avoiding crashes to accelerate its adoption and enhancement.

The fundamental problem was that the taxi was not equipped with available automated stability control, lane keeping and collision avoidance systems.  This was not an accident, it was a failed public safety policy that refuses to move beyond crash mitigation and its challenged “V2x” initiatives to embrace forthright automated crash avoidance. 

Moreover, there is a failed Taxi regulatory structure that doesn’t even hint that taxis should have electronic stability control, automated lane keeping and collision avoidance.  What is the purpose of taxi regulation, to keep “Ubers” out of business? 

It is time for the nation’s transportation policy to focus intelligence/automation on the vehicle in support of the driver.  Hopefully Congress will restructure the pending transportation legislation to focus automated vehicle technologies that actively assist drivers when they make driving mistakes.  We are not perfect.  We deserve a public safety policy that is more mindful of our imperfections. Policy that isn’t aimed at just warning and scolding us but actively takes over and does the right thing.  We, not the infrastructure, are the cause of most of the the highway carnage.  It is the driver who needs help and our public policy should focus on delivering that help.      Alain

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