Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Volume 4, Issue 3

M. Sena, Jan. 5, "In This Issue:
Report from Dispatch Central 1 "…While the 12 million people in the EU who earn their livings directly from the automotive industry are delighted by the news that car sales figures for Novem-ber were up significantly, and it looks like 2016 will be another banner year, there are people in governments doing everything in their power to make both building and owning motorized vehicles economically unviable…" Read more  Hmmm…Very interesting!

Autonomous Driving News Apple’s Letter to NHTSA 1 "…The Vehicle Safety Act requires companies to certify vehicles to the FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) before first sale. But this law applies to new motor vehicles intended for sale to the public, and by implication, by companies that make and sell cars, not companies like Apple that may or may not intend to sell cars. Further, FAST Act2 specifically allows car makers, but not non-car makers, to test on public roads without requiring ex-emptions from FMVSS…Read more " Hmmm… Very interesting!

What Car Companies Are Doing 2 "…So Uber must have made Volvo a pretty sweet offer when it gets rid of all the drivers with their own cars and has its own fleet of driverless cars…Read more" Hmmm…Very interesting!

Reurbanization or Spreading the Sprawl 3 "…Where do you want to go? My chart below has two opposing scenarios. In the top scenario, we keep doing what we have been doing. In the bottom sce-nario, we try to match policies with desired results. You choose…Read more" Hmmm…Very interesting!
Automotive Navigation-The Future of Traffic Info 4  "…ROUTE GUIDANCE WITHOUT
traffic information is useless..Read more" Hmmm…Stop right there.  We’ve known that!  The connected world will not get here until most of road vehicles are part of what will be but a few competing fleets.  It is those  fleet owners/managers that will find it compelling to deploy connectedness throughout their own fleets. Any meaningful sharing of data between competing fleets is not in any future that I foresee. It may even violate anti-trust laws (Unless Putin takes over the world).   Alain
Musings of a Dispatcher – Civilis cogitationes 6 "…I did not see a lot of people cycling to their jobs when I was in Västerås in the early autumn of this year.  Like most places in Europe
and the U.S., when cars became affordable for people with even modest incomes—starting in the 50s in the U.S. and in the 60s in Europe—it was a delight for workers to get out of the rain and snow and into their own car. It’s the same today in emerging markets, especially China,.." Read more  Hmmm…Our only hope is "Driverless"!  Alain

Tesla introduces first phase of ‘Enhanced Autopilot’: ‘measured and cautious for next several hundred million miles’ – release notes

F. Lambert, Jan 2, "Tesla didn’t want to start the new year on a bad note by missing a deadline with its Autopilot update for new cars to work is its ‘Tesla Vision’ image processing system and while it didn’t bring the system to parity with the last generation Autopilot, the company sort of kept its ‘December 2016’ goal for the release of ‘Enhanced Autopilot’, but it’s only what the automaker is calling the “first phase” of the new features…As we reported yesterday, Tesla started pushing the update to the first 1,000 cars in its fleet. It includes the Autopilot’s Traffic Aware Cruise Control feature, Forward Collision Warning, and Autosteer, but it will only be enabled at “low-speed” as a beta feature…What is particularly interesting is that it’s the first time features inside the vehicles are powered by the new hardware suite and Tesla Vision. …"  Read more Hmmm…Once again, a very nice article by Fred.  Alain

MIT study says 3,000 ride-sharing cars could replace every cab in New York City

J. Golson, Jan 2, "All 13,000 taxis in New York City could be replaced by a fleet of 3,000 ride-sharing cars if used exclusively for carpooling, according to research published today by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Instead of hailing taxis, passengers that use ride-sharing services for carpooling may lead to reduced traffic congestion, pollution, and fuel use.

The CSAIL researchers used public data from NYC taxi rides published by the University of Illinois to develop the algorithm. They calculated that 3,000 four-person vehicles traveling to similar destinations could meet 98 percent of taxi demand in the city with an average wait time of 2.7 minutes. Perhaps the most important part of the system is a dynamic repositioning of vehicles based on real-time demand, which makes the system 20 percent faster.  …."  Read more Hmmm…Maybe???  If one looks at the demand for taxis in NYC on a typical day, say on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, then according to tabulations performed by my student Keith Gladstone’17, there were 395,090 taxi trips that day that provided mobility to 643,456 customers.  The, very relevant, Time-of-Day  distributions of those trips can be seem in this Link.  At its peak, 5,982 taxicabs served customers; that’s the minimum number of cabs that could have physically provided that Level-of-Service (LoS) on that day.  So, with casual ridesharing (sharing with ‘Strangers’), it is conceivable that this number could be cut in half if the demand correlates well-enough spatially and temporally. 

However, as is naturally the case, the temporal distribution of people being served peaks.  On this day, the high point had 9,770 people traveling at exactly the same time.  An average occupancy of 3.25 would be needed for 3,000 cabs to serve this peak.  Since max capacity is 4.0, the spatial element of the demand would need to be VERY well aligned in order to come anywhere close to this number.  So, the implication that, even with an empty vehicle management algorithm/process that could move the cabs infinitely fast between where they are made empty to where they are needed, are very ‘challenging’. 

However, the article does have a "98%" caveat.  If that 98% is 98% of all the day’s trips, then from the temporal distribution, one sees that much of the day, the demand is substantially less than the peak.  Much of the day, the demand is substantially less than the peak, and 3,000 cabs can ‘easily’ do the job (and not many more were probably doing the job on Jan13).  So if the 2% (or 12,000) personTrips that aren’t served by the MIT simulation are used to flatten out the peaks leaving 10 to 15% of the trips un-served during peaks, then 3,000 cabs could do it.  But we all know that mobility without  peaks is easy to provide.  What makes it hard are the peaks and walking away from the peaks is not helpful.  

More info is provided in CSAIL which suggests that MIT also spatially and temporally aggregated the demand so that they are not really simulating an on-demand "hailing" LoS.  Displayed is a network with many fewer nodes, than actual locations where people get in and/or out of cabs on a typical day and they report "average waits" of 2.7 minutes which may well be much larger than the average wait that those 643,456 customers experienced on January 13.  No doubt that through spatial and temporal aggregation one should be able to uncover casual ride-sharing opportunities that would reduce substantially the number of cabs on NYC streets.  But,  would NYC cab patrons be please with such reduced levels of service remains to be demonstrated.   Alain

The Road to Autonomy

 M. Weinreich Jan. 4, "As someone who loves cars, it is diff­cult to look forward to a world without driving. I remember an old Volkswagen campaign that presented the act as a metaphor for life itself, proclaiming, “On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers.” “There are passengers and there are more passengers” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

For now, humans are still in the driver’s seat, but with each new car model, there comes a steady integration of autonomous features. And as ride sharing proliferates, individual ownership starts to feel unnecessary, especially in urban environments. A major cultural shift in how people think about cars is under way, which, in turn, puts an onus on automakers to embrace this new change….we examine all of these forces at play. In the stories that follow, we enter the expanding web of industry partnerships, investments, and acquisitions (“Hardwiring Mobility”); journey through the key trends (“All Roads Lead to Intelligence”); and sit down with Mark Aikman, General Manager of Marketing Services at Mercedes-Benz USA, to discuss the automaker’s efforts at creating the next level of luxury (“Rede­fining Luxury”).

Finally, we look at the way automakers are embracing connectivity (“Designing Smarter Cars”) and how that intelligence, along with autonomous driving, will shape urban areas ("Smarter Cars, Smarter Cities")   🙂  ….Read more Hmmm…Goog thought and perspective article.  Alain

Tesla Autopilot stops car from crash

M. Wood, Jan 2, "…Hans Noordsij posted this video on twitter showing a Tesla vehicle using the Autopilot feature and how it reacted to a crash ahead.,,"  See the video  Hmmm…It appropriately reacted to what was happening directly ahead.  Whether or not the algorthms actually reacted to what was happening to the vehicle ahead of the vehicle ahead is questionable.  Alain

Intel invests in Here to create precise maps for autonomous cars

J. Kastrenakes, Jan 3, "Intel is buying a 15 percent stake in Here, the mapping service started by Nokia that was sold last year to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes for over $3 billion… That’s a key area for Intel, as it recently announced plans to invest $250 million in building self-driving vehicle systems…."  Not much to read here Hmmm… Doesn’t say how much it paid for the 15%.  More than $450M?  Doubtful!  Else, it would be announcing that "…it plans to invest …" much more than $250M.  But what do I know????   Let’s see… Philips invested about $1B, Nokia bought it for $8.1B,  the OEM’s paid $3.1B and now pieces are being sold for what???  (And Alphabet has all the really good data???)  Alain

Mercedes-Benz design chief Gorden Wagener believes people will still drive their autonomous cars

T. Warren, Jan 3, "..Of course we’ve seen models of sharing, but I believe we’re not as advanced as everyone thinks because it’s not that easy. There are various definitions of autonomous driving. There’s the Google way: slow speed, small mapped environment, easy to handle because you know all the parameters. You know where every little traffic light is. Slow speed is every easy to manage because it has to do with sensor power. We want to give the customer a choice. There’s actually a hyper analog movement, with increasing digitization we’ll also see some analog solutions, like chrono watches and vinyl records. In terms of luxury it’s much more sustainable, but we will see robo cabs driving around, the Google car. We want to give the customer the choice that he can be on autopilot or drive himself…" Read more Hmmm… All about Self-driving with Driverless nowhere in sight of this or any other OEM.  At some point, Kodak!!, Blockbuster!!  Alain

BMW, Intel, Mobileye to test 40 driverless cars in second half of 2017

Jan 4. No details to readHmmm…But we know that they mean ‘Self-driving’.  No way they’re going to test ‘Driverless’ any time soon.  BMW is still ‘The (as in The Ohio State..) Ultimate Driving Machine" and has zero interest in becoming "The Ultimate Riding Machine", (or even "an Ultimate…").   Alain

Driverless cars finally steer near showrooms

K. Naughton, Jan 3, "Now, the supplier is shifting from stunts to selling. In Las Vegas this week at CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, Delphi will give test rides to hundreds of potential customers in driverless Audis over a course of rugged terrain and tunnels. The goal: to walk away from this critical conclave with a handful of hot prospects for its self-driving system…." Read more Hmmm..Again, it would be nice it the writers got the headlines correct.   Again.. all about ‘Self-driving" which is quickly becoming the the ‘chrome & fins’ of the late 10s.  Alain

BMW just unveiled a futuristic concept for the interior of its driverless cars

C. Thompson. Jan 4,  "BMW unveiled a concept for the interior of driverless cars on Wednesday at a press conference in Las Vegas at CES…" Read more Hmmm…. Again, it has a steering wheel!!! It can’t be driverless!!!   BMW isn’t stupid enough to put a steering wheel in a car that is meant to take someone home from the watering hole.  Again, all about OEM’s sweet spot… Selling Fantasies!  Alain

Waterloo researchers help launch and demonstrate new autonomous vehicle

Press release, Jan 4, "A research team at the University of Waterloo played a key role in the development of a highly autonomous vehicle that Renesas Electronics America unveiled today at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Using sensors and powerful computers, the car is capable of detecting and responding to other vehicles, stop signs and traffic lights to provide a safer driving experience. For example, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications allow the vehicle to detect in advance when a traffic light will change…. "Read more Hmmm…Nice.  Congratulations. Alain

Machine smarts: how will pedestrians negotiate with driverless cars

M. Gough Sept 8, "…“There’s no more eye contact with the driver, there’s no more gesturing, there’s no one in the vehicle. So something has to be there instead to say, ‘Yes, it is OK to cross’.”… Read more Hmmm…Isn’t it even easier with driverless cars..  They can be equipped to either display or speak exact information.  Then there is no longer any need for ad hoc body language or flicking lights.  It will be "just the facts, Mam"!  Alain

CVTA Standards Integration Workshop Whitepaper available to download

S. McCormick, Jan 4, "CVTA’s Standards Integration Review Workshop  was held on 5 October 2016… The workshop was intended to consider end-to-end security standards integration for the connected vehicle ecosystem:
•What standards are already available/in progress across the ecosystem?
•Where are the gaps and opportunities for collaboration in development, demonstration, testing of these standards?
•What should we be doing to ensure that our standards suite is sufficient to enable our
ecosystem?… Read more Hmmm…Standards for Connected Vehicles is now at the "white paper" stage. Alain

Ford cancels Mexico plant; will build electric and autonomous cars in Michigan

Jan 3, "Ford is canceling its plans to build a $1.6 billion plant in Mexico and is instead investing $700 million into its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan.

Ford President and CEO Mark Fields made the announcement at the plant Tuesday morning. He explained the transformation and expansion of the Flat Rock plant will create 700 new jobs and allow for production of electric and an autonomous vehicles.  Read more Hmmm…xcellent! Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

On the More Technical Side

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

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

Driverless cars save lives

Opinion, Jan 4, "…One topic the article highlighted was the safety aspect of driverless cars. Self-driving cars have the ability to prevent accidents, thus saving lives and money. … Don’t read more.   Hmmm… In the same paragraph, they can’t make up their minds what they are writing about, when, in fact, they actually mean ‘Smart-driving Cars".  C’Mon Baltimore Sun.  You are as bad as the Ravens (I’m a Stiller Fan!). 🙂   Alain

What Happens If Driverless Cars Cause A Drought Of Organ Donations?

There’s already not enough organs for everyone on the transplant list, and one of the major sources is people who die in car accidents.  Don’t read more  Hmmm… For those that don’t procrastenate enough over the Trolley Problem, you can have this cone, the Ultimate C’Mon Man!!!  This article had to have been manifested by the OrganTransplant-Surgeon’s Benevolent Organization (OTSBO).  You can’t make up this stuff!   Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Self-driving Leadership Summit @ CES
January 7, 2017
Las Vegas, NV

January 8-12, 2017
Washington, DC
Princeton Alumni & Friends Banquet
Tuesday, 6:00pm Jan 10

Recent Highlights of:

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Waymo’s 100 autonomous Chrysler minivans are here

J. Golson, Dec 19, "Chrysler has completed the 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans that will join the Waymo (née Google) fleet in early 2017. The vans, which are plug-in hybrid variants with Waymo’s self-driving hardware and software built in, are part of a partnership between Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Waymo that was announced earlier this year.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said last week that his company is not interested in “making better cars.” Instead, it wants to make “better drivers.”…"

Read more Hmmm…Nice that these vehicles are targeted to a ride-sharing market (more seating capacity and easier in&out than the Prius/Lexus/Bug.) 

However,  the quote by John Krafcik is VERY troubling.  To make "better drivers" all one needs is Automated Collision Avoidance systems (or what I’ve termed ‘Safe-driving cars’).  That is indeed a laudable goal; however, that goal can be reached with a lot less hardware and software than what is in these modified Pacificas (which have a conventional steering wheel, brake & throttle pedals and driver’s seat).  But Safe-driving cars aren’t helpful to the Steve Mahan’s of this world (or to the young, or the Ubers or enable the Modified Pacifica’s to offer inexpensive high-quality shared-ride on-demand mobility to all.   Most unfortunately, what all of the extra gizmos on the modified Pacificas enable is for the driver to be better able to consume Google Ads for part of his/her time trapped in this vehicle.  So a more honest quote might have been: it wants to make "better drivers who can better consume Google Ads."  No wonder Chris bailed!  🙁  Alain

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The California DMV says Uber has to stop operating its self-driving cars in SF

J. Bhuiyah, Dec 14, "…In a letter addressed to Anthony Levandowski, the co-founder of Otto and now head of Uber’s self-driving unit, the California DMV demanded that the ride-hail company stop operating its fleet of self-driving cars…"  Read more Hmmm… This is all so confusing.  The letter from DMV describes the ‘testing’ of ‘autonomous technology’, but Uber isn’t ‘testing’, it is operating and it doesn’t describe its cars as ‘autonomous’ anything, but, ‘self-driving’ (which is the correct designation).  To me, what Uber is operating is basically the same thing as what Tesla is selling in California.  Moreover, Uber’s Self-driving is less ‘autonomous’ in its operation than the operation of ‘electronic stability control (ESC)’ that has been mandated in every car built since 2012 that operate on California roads. (ESC has sensors and control logic that coordinate the operation of the brakes and throttle at the discretion of the sensors and over-ride the intended control actions of the driver.  Now that’s real ‘autonomy’  …taking the driver out of the loop at the discretion of some control logic. Anti -lock brakes are similarly ‘autonomous’)  Should everyone in California get a letter from DMV?   Just think, New Jersey is trying to enact CA-like legislation. 🙁  Alain 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Google is spinning off its self-driving car program into a new company called Waymo

A. Hawkins, Dec 13, "Today, Google announced that it would be spinning off its six-year-old self-driving project into a standalone business called Waymo, which stands for “a new way forward in mobility,” according to John Krafcik, the CEO of the new company.
It was previously reported that Google would be dropping its plan to build its own vehicle without steering wheels and pedals, instead focusing on creating the self-driving technology that can be installed in third-party vehicles. Krafcik didn’t provide much clarity there, but did state definitively that the new company was still fully committed to fully autonomous vehicle technology.

“We are all in, 100 percent, on Level Four and Level Five fully driverless solutions,” he said.

Krafcik didn’t comment on a report in Bloomberg that Google would be starting its own ride-sharing service in partnership with Fiat Chrysler using the Italian car maker’s Pacifica minivans as its fleet of self-driving taxis. Google and FCA announced their collaboration earlier this year. Krafcik did confirm that the self-driving Pacificas were still in the build phase, but would hopefully be on the road for testing very soon.

It may be too soon to say that Google is abandoning its plans to build it’s own fleet of driverless cars, without steering wheels and pedals. That said, Krafcik made it clear that Waymo “is not a car company, there’s been some confusion on that point. We’re not in business of making better cars, we’re in the business of making better drivers.”…Read more  Hmmm… Boy that is a lot of hedging.  If they are in the business of making better drivers, then all they need to do is to make Automated Collision Avoidance systems that actually work… avoid collisions (aka Safe-driving Cars).  That would make all drivers better drivers, but it wouldn’t do anything for non-drivers… the young, old, poor, blind, those under the influence, …  Has Google abandoned all of those folks and reverted to the ‘dark-side’?  Alain

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

 Why the driverless car industry is happy (so far) with Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary

R. Mitchell, Dec 6, "Silicon Valley voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, but companies working on driverless cars seem overjoyed with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao.   Chao will wield great power over how driverless cars and other automated vehicles will be regulated — or not….Industry insiders say they don’t want Chao to ignore driverless car policy….

Instead, they hope to avoid a patchwork of differing and conflicting rules across the 50 states.   “This should be centralized,” said Alain L. Kornhauser, director of the transportation program at Princeton University and an autonomous vehicle expert, “but that doesn’t mean the states don’t play a part. It would be better if we had a common understanding….” Read more Hmmm… Yup! Alain

Sunday, November 20, 2016

  DSRC’s ‘Dead End,’ Says Qualcomm Exec

J, Yoshida, Nov 15, "…Qualcomm’s pending takeover of NXP Semiconductors isn’t making the path to V2X any clearer.

NXP remains a staunch advocate for DSRC-based V2X (as demonstrated via truck platooning on Munich roads last week during Electronica). Qualcomm, a leading voice and force behind the progress of the cellular standards, is sticking to its cellular radio technology-based V2X evolution…We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in… " Read more Hmmm…V2X is important, but primarily as a complement to vehicle-centered automated collision avoidance and not as a centralized orchestration of individual vehicles.  Finally seeing this as: "We see this as a continued cellular revolution with new elements coming in…"  may bring some reality to V2X.  Alain

Sunday, November 6, 2016

   Our Driverless Future

S. Helpen, Nov 24, " Review of  Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead   by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurma, MIT Press, 312 pp..." Read the review and the book. Hmmm… This book is really about ‘Driverless’ and differentiates it well from ‘Self-driving’, kudos for that.  So while it has no equations, it precisely address the issues.  I enjoyed Ch 6, First there were Electronic Highways, especially pages 116,7 and, of course,  Chapter 7, Build Smart Cars, not Smart Highways.  especially pages 137,8 and the subchapter The value of dumb highways.  Chapter 10 Deep Learning: The Final Piece of the Puzzle is a very nice background while much is being advanced ‘as we speak’.   The book appropriately ends with a chapter about hype, Ch 12 The Ripple Effects which references the Zero Principle, addresses local goods movement and lists the potential losers in this technological revolution.  The book ends by supporting the argument that this technological transition is more about the rapid evolution of algorithms than hardware.  Bravo!  Alain

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Ontario Must Prepare for Vehicle Automation

B. Grush, Oct. 2016, "Two contradictory stories about our transportation infrastructure are currently in circulation. One is that Ontario’s aging, inadequate and congested infrastructure is perennially unable to catch up with a growing and sprawling GTHA. The other is that vehicle automation will soon dramatically multiply current road capacity by enabling narrower lanes, shorter headways and coordinated streams of connected vehicles to pass through intersections without traffic signals to impede flow.
Since the premature forecast of peak car in 2008 and now the hype surrounding the automated vehicle, we are often told that we have enough road capacity; that shared robotic taxis will optimize our trips, reduce congestion, and largely eliminate the need for parking. This advice implies we need wait only a few short years to experience relief from our current infrastructure problems given by decades of under-investment in transportation infrastructure.

This is wishful thinking. Vehicle automation will give rise to two different emerging markets: semi-automated vehicles for household consumption and fully automated vehicles for public service such as robo-taxi and robo-transit. These two vehicle types will develop in parallel to serve different social markets. They will compete for both riders and infrastructure. The purpose of this report is to look at why and how government agencies and public interest groups can and should influence the preferred types and deployment of automated vehicles and the implication of related factors for planning…" Read more Hmmm…Bravo!  The Key Findings & Recommendations are excellent.  This is an excellent report (but it largely misses goods movement.)  Especially 5.1 (read ‘semi-autonomous’ as ‘Self-driving’ and ‘full-automation’ as ‘Driverless’.  My view:  Driverless may well be at the heals of Self-driving because it is a business play rather than a consumer play.  Driverless will be ordered by the hundreds or thousands rather than individually.)  and, of course Ch 10: Ownership (the business model) is more important than technology. Alain

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How Apple Scaled Back Its Titanic Plan to Take on Detroit

M. Gurman, Oct 17, "Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.
Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public.

New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person….

Regardless of Apple’s struggles, established carmakers have recognized the threat posed by new entrants and have embarked on a hiring and acquisition splurge to beef up their software capabilities. They are wary of allowing technology companies to own the lucrative software component of new cars…" Read moreHmmm… Very interesting!)  Alain

Friday, October 7, 2016

An Alarming 10% Rise in Traffic Deaths in the First Half of 2016

D. Victor, Oct. 5,  "Traffic deaths in the United States rose 10.4 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period in 2015, maintaining a steady climb….

The numbers were released on Wednesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which noted that Americans drove about 50.5 billion more miles in the first six months of 2016 than in the first half of 2015, an increase of 3.3 percent….Officials have not identified a specific cause for the most recent increase… " Read moreHmmm…worst kept secret…Texting!!!  It is an epidemic and the way to address it begins with Automated Collision Avoidance Systems (ACAS)…what is on the shelf today (if it only really worked), and a necessary foundation for Self-driving (which improves Quality-of-Life for some but increases VMT) and Driverless (which improves Quality-of-Life for all and decreases VMT).   Alain

Friday, October 1, 2016

Do Driverless Cars Favor Urban or Suburban Life?

H. Grabar, Sept 29, "One possibility is that easy mobility—driverless cars, on-demand deliveries, and the like—will dull the pains of suburban life. The long commute, the wasted driving time, the difficulty of running out for a carton of milk—the inconvenience and expense of the subdivision will be melted away by hot new technology. Milk by drone, what a concept!

Another is that easy mobility produces greater advantages in the city. Carless living is better than ever. NIMBY battles don’t happen because parking and congestion aren’t problems. Wasted auto infrastructure, like lots and curbside parking and garages, is converted towards better uses like housing and restaurants. Maybe a central highway, once evidence of a city’s essential unpleasantness, becomes a park…. Read more  Hmmm…VERY interesting.  My view: There is essentially zero consumer demand for Driverless car ownership.  Without a substantial mobility alternative, suburbanites will buy and love Self-driving cars. Driverless is a useless upgrade. 

However, fleets of Driverless vehicles can provide a compelling alternative.  They have a much better opportunity to thrive (be a profitable fleet business) if Driverless makes sharing rides "consumer acceptable/desirable".  This may be  achieved through price, amenities, ease-of-use, marketing, ???.  Moderate density generates demand that can be readily served with moderate ridesharing that is substantially better than individual car ownership or car-sharing.   This kind of elevator-like mobility is better in terms of service, price, overhead, environment, …  and it substantially enhances the fundamental attractiveness of medium density urban lifestyle.  Thus, ride-share Driverless favors moderate urban while Self-driving favors status quo. Alain 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

September 2016, "Executive Summary…For DOT, the excitement around highly automated vehicles (HAVs) starts with safety.  (p5)

…The development of advanced automated vehicle safety technologies, including fully self-driving cars, may prove to be the greatest personal transportation revolution since the popularization of the personal automobile nearly a century ago. (p5)

…The benefits don’t stop with safety. Innovations have the potential to transform personal mobility and open doors to people and communities. (p5)

…The remarkable speed with which increasingly complex HAVs are evolving challenges DOT to take new approaches that ensure these technologies are safely introduced (i.e., do not introduce significant new safety risks), provide safety benefits today, and achieve their full safety potential in the future. (p6)  Hmmm…Fantastic statements and I appreciate that the fundamental basis and motivator is SAFETY.  We all have recognized safety as a necessary   condition that must be satisfied if this technology is to be successful.  (unfortunately it is not a sufficient condition, (in a pure math context)). This policy statement appropriately reaffirms this necessary condition.  Alain

"…we divide the task of facilitating the safe introduction and deployment (…defines “deployment” as the operation of an HAV by members of the public who are not the employees or agents of the designer, developer, or manufacturer of that HAV.) of HAVs into four sections:(p6) Hmmm…Perfect! Alain

"…1. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p6)…"  Hmmm… 15 Points, more later. Alain

"…2. Model State Policy (p7)   The Model State Policy confirms that States retain their traditional responsibilities…but… The shared objective is to ensure the establishment of a consistent national framework rather than a patchwork of incompatible laws…" Hmmm… Well done.  Alain

"…3. NHTSA Current Regulatory Tools (p7) … This document provides instructions, practical guidance, and assistance to entities seeking to employ those tools. Furthermore, NHTSA has streamlined its review process and is committing to…"   Hmmm… Excellent. Alain

"…4. New Tools and Authorities (p7)…The speed with which HAVs are advancing, combined with the complexity and novelty of these innovations, threatens to outpace the Agency’s conventional regulatory processes and capabilities. This challenge requires DOT to examine whether the way DOT has addressed safety for the last 50 years should be expanded to realize the safety potential of automated vehicles over the next 50 years. Therefore, this section identifies potential new tools, authorities and regulatory structures that could aid the safe and appropriately expeditious deployment of new technologies by enabling the Agency to be more nimble and flexible (p8)…"  Hmmm… Yes. Alain

"…Note on “Levels of Automation”  There are multiple definitions for various levels of automation and for some time there has been need for standardization to aid clarity and consistency. Therefore, this Policy adopts the SAE International (SAE) definitions for levels of automation. )  Hmmm… I’m not sure this adds clarity because it does not deal directly with the difference between self-driving and driverless.  While it might be implied in level 4 and level 5 that these vehicles can proceed with no one in the vehicle, it is not stated explicitly.  That is unfortunate, because driverless freight delivery can’t be done without "driverless"; neither can mobility-on-demand be offered to the young, old, blind, inebriated, …without "driverless".  Vehicles can’t be "repositioned-empty" (which (I don’t mean to offend anyone) is the real value of a taxi driver today).  So autonomousTaxis are impossible.

Also, these levels do not address Automated Emergency Braking  (AEB) Systems and Automated Lane Keeping Systems which are the very first systems whose on-all-the-time performance must be perfected.   These are the Safety Foundation of HAV (Highly Automated vehicles).  I understand that the guidelines may assume that these systems are already perfect and that "20 manufacturer have committed" to have AEB on all new cars, but to date these systems really don’t work.  In 12 mph IIHS test, few stop before hitting the target, and, as we may have seen with the Florida Tesla crash, the Level 2/3 AutoPilot may not have failed, but, instead, it was the "Phantom Level 1" AEB that is supposed to be on all the time.  This is not acceptable.  These AEB systems MUST get infinitely better now.  It is a shame that AEBs were were not explicitly addressed in this document.

"…I. Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles (p11) A. Guidance: if a vehicle is compliant within the existing FMVSS regulatory framework and maintains a conventional vehicle design, there is currently no specific federal legal barrier to an HAV being offered for sale.(footnote 7)  However, manufacturers and other entities designing new automated vehicle systems
are subject to NHTSA’s defects, recall and enforcement authority. (footnote 8)   . and the "15 Cross-cutting Areas of Guidance" p17)

In sum this is a very good document and displays just how far DoT policy has come from promoting v2v, DSRC and centralized control, "connected",  focus to creating an environment focused on individual vehicles that responsibly take care of themselves.  Kudos to Secretary Foxx for this 180 degree policy turn focused on safety.   Once done correctly, the HAV will yield the early safety benefits that will stimulate continued improvements that, in turn, will yield the great mobility, environmental and quality-of-life benefits afforded by driverless mobility. 

What are not addressed are commercial trucking and buses/mass transit.  NHTSA is auto focused, so maybe FMCSA is preparing similar guidelines.  FTA (Federal Transit Administration) seems nowhere in sight.  Alain

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Prepare to be Underwhelmed by 2021’s Autonomous Cars

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.    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. …." 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

Monday, August 1, 2016

SJMobileye Ends Partnership With Tesla

 Thursday, July 21, 2016

Master Plan, Part Deux

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lessons From the Tesla Crash

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

May 7 Crash

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

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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