Saturday, April 23, 2016

  N.J. superintendent killed while jogging was struck by student late for trip

K. Shea, April 19, "…The Robbinsville High School student who was driving the car that struck and killed the district’s superintendent Tuesday morning was late for a school trip when the crash occurred, according to two sources involved in the investigation.…" Read more Hmmm…Most tragic in so many dimensions!!!  HOWEVER, it was NOT the student that STRUCK the Superintendent, it was the CAR.  AND the CAR needs to start being held responsible for ALLOWING such tragedies to ruin so many lives.  It is very likely that this tragedy could have been averted had the car been equipped with an automated collision avoidance system and/or lane-keeping system.  Given the availability of these "tragedy avoidance systems", we should all be asking why this CAR wasn’t equipped with such a system and why all cars aren’t so equipped.  Certainly innocent runners and dogs need to be asking such questions.  So too, that young lady’s car insurance company; it must be muttering: "shouda bought her that upgrade".  What about the car companies themselves who are largely just sitting on the technology or the dealerships that don’t feel compelled to espouse the benefits of such technology while pushing more "horsepower" and "Corinthian Leather" (and worse yet: "AooleCarXYZ" that distracts drivers).  We all know that Washington is broken.  Them staying out of the way is probably best (although aggressively applying better human-visible paint/laneMarkings and human-readable signs would go a long way to helping both attentive drivers and automated lane-keeping systems).  Everyone else has  fundamental self-interest at stake and each needs to stop pointing the finger to the frail human driver.  We have the technology and the the self-interest to make mobility substantially safer.  Let’s really get on with it.  It’s time!   Alain

Make American Transportation Great Again: Autonomous Taxi Fleet Management Strategies

S. Zhu, Thesis, "…Using a fleet of vehicles of varied sizes and a data set of synthesized travel demand for the state of New Jersey, this thesis analyzes the benefits of ridesharing for New Jersey and explores various fleet management strategies and the costs associated with these strategies. Ridesharing is able to increase average vehicle occupancy from 1 to 1.74 and reduces total vehicle miles traveled by 43%. Even in an upper bound case, the total number of vehicles needed to serve all of New Jersey’s travel demand is less than 50% of the number of vehicles currently on the road today in New Jersey, which would have significant benefits in terms of congestion and pollution…."  Read more  Hmmm..Very interesting.  Alain 

Quantifying the Potential for Dynamic Ride-Sharing of New York City’s Taxicabs

S. Baht, Thesis,"…This study confirms the existing potential for ride-sharing in the New York City Area, with ride-sharing simulations exhibiting a significantly higher average vehicle occupancy and requiring a lower fleet size than “direct” or non-ride-sharing schemes…" Read more  Hmmm..Very interesting.  Alain 

A Ridesharing Analysis with a Hitchhiking Modification Applied to Taxi Trips in New York

A. Schindele, Thesis, "…This thesis supplements the analysis with the addition of a “hitchhiking” policy. With such a policy in place, a taxi would, in addition to the original ridesharing mechanics, pick up passengers en route to its destination or destinations…." Read more Hmmm..Very interesting.  Alain 

Autonomous taxis: Why you may never own a self-driving car

D. Cardinal, April 18, "As the once unimaginable self-driving car moves closer to becoming a reality, the next question is “When can I buy one?” At the same time, some researchers, like Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser, and the University of Texas’s Kara Kockelman, have started to wonder whether you’ll ever need to. …" Read more Hmmm..Very nice summary.  Also read comments ( I like Koll-Aid).  Alain

Nvidia goes all-in on self-driving cars, including a robotic car racing league

D. Cardinal, April 6, "…Jealous? You too can build a (small) self-driving car!…Startup JetsonHacks has taken MIT’s RACECAR autonomous car learning platform and made it accessible to the DIY community with detailed assembly instructions, and cost-saving hardware options to make it more affordable than the University’s original version. The RACECAR is a massive kit bash of an offf-the-shelf RC vehicle — a Traxxas Rally — so that all the DIY fun is concentrated on the control and programming. The brain is (naturally) a Jetson TK1, running Robot OS (ROS)…" Read more Hmmm…Interesting.  Alain

‘Door to Door,’ by Edward Humes

Book review, M. Roach, "DOOR TO DOOR: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation By Edward Humes, 372 pp. Harper/HarperCollins Publishers. $27.99….In the 1920s, drivers plowed into oncoming traffic and bicyclists and trees just as they do now, but no one talked about ­automobile accidents. Back then, notes Edward Humes… these events were known as “motor killings.” And citizens were outraged. They rioted and demanded reforms. They staged “massive parades” in protest. It was the kind of civil unrest that would come to be associated with social injustice and the Vietnam War…. Read more  Hmmm…I/we should read the book. Sounds very timely. Alain

Self-driving vehicle tests won’t need permission to use public roads, say NPA guidelines

National, April 2016, "Japan will not impose time and place restrictions on autonomous driving tests on public roads, according to draft guidelines released by the National Police Agency last week.

Those hoping to experiment using self-driving cars will be allowed to do so without obtaining permission to use public roads as long as they comply with rules such as having a driver and passenger in the car…The NPA will finalize the guidelines after seeking public feedback until May 7."  Read more Hmmm…Encouraging. Alain 

DT and 5G Lab Germany Collaborate on Technology to Enable Network-Connected Autonomous Vehicles

Press release, Feb 24, "..IDT’s RapidIO technology will be used to explore two key elements of the network. First, the 100ns latency RapidIO switching and interconnect technology will be used to realize 5G Lab Germany’s vision of transforming the vehicle into a connected appliance by networking it with a 5G base station’s “edge computing” server. Second, it is planned for RapidIO technology to be evaluated to connect multiple vehicle sensors in real time for the mission-critical sensor fusion network essential for the self-driving or computer-assisted driving experience. A RapidIO-connected heterogeneous computer network will run real-time analytics to assist various network devices, including vehicles.."  Read more  Hmmm… Encouraging. Alain 

  Singapore to welcome its first fleet of driverless pods this year

E. Loi, April 21, "…SMRT is teaming with Dutch automated-vehicle makers 2getthere to bring its systems to Singapore…" Read more Hmmm… Nice seeing 2Getthere making progress beyond Masdar. Alain 

Self-Driving Car Completes 1,200-Mile Roadtrip Across China

 April 17, "Chongqing Changan Automobile Co., Ford Motor Co.’s partner in China, said it completed a 1,200-mile road trip to test a self-driving car as part of its ambitions to produce highly automated vehicles by 2020.
The car set off from the company’s headquarters in Chongqing and reached Beijing after six days, the automaker said in a statement to the Shenzhen stock exchange. The driverless car employed cameras and radar to test automatic cruising, lane-keeping and changing, assisted driving during traffic congestion, and speed reduction through traffic sign recognition and voice control, according to the company…."  Read more Hmmm…Sounds like a good test.  Hopefully they’ll publish the results/findings. Alain 

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

On the More Technical Side

Recompiled Old News & Smiles:

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

Driving to Safety:  How Many Miles of Driving Would It Take to Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicle Reliability?

N. Kalra and S. Paddock. April 2016, "How safe are autonomous vehicles? The answer is crucial for developing sound policies to govern their deployment. One proposal to assess safety is to test-drive autonomous vehicles in real traffic, observe their performance, and make statistical comparisons to human driver performance. This approach is logical, but is it practical?…   Read more  Hmmm…Worth reading the whole report.  (So maybe it is slightly better than Half-baked). It lays out what everyone already knows. The 4 questions that it asks are appropriate ONLY if one realizes that the safety implications of a driven-mile vary enormously over many dimensions!  The safety implications of "a mile-driven" here under these circumstances is not necessarily anywhere close to the same as "a mile driven" under different circumstances.  Everyone knows that.  Luckily, "policy-oriented deployment" is not what is going to lead to development and market adoption of this technology.  It will be the realization that one only need this technology to work during the miles when drivers are inattentive which is obvious to even the most casual policy maker.  C’mon Rand!  Alain

U-M, Toyota announce plan to equip 5,000 Ann Arbor cars for connected vehicle research

M. Durr, April 13, "The partnership aims to help the newly launched Ann Arbor Connected Vehicle Test Environment (AACVTE) deploy 5,000 vehicles in the area that are equipped with a vehicle awareness device that will transmit speed and positioning data to other vehicles that are equipped with the same device as well as the surrounding environment where research equipment will be located on the roadside and at intersections…Plans are to add 1,500 vehicles a year to the program." Read more  Hmmm… While 1,500 vehicles a year is substantial for V2I, it doesn’t begin to scratch the surface for V2V.  Will all these cars also have Automated Collision Avoidance and Lane Keeping?  It would be nice to see V2I get beyond the "back-seat driver" mode.  Alain

Nauto raises $12 million for driverless car technology that’s street-legal today

L. Kolodny, Apr 13, "The latest company to attract a round of funding for driverless car technology is Palo Alto-based NAUTO, co-founded in 2015 by CEO Stefan Heck and CTO Frederick Soo.

Andy Rubin’s hardware focused venture fund, Playground Global, led the $12 million investment in Nauto, joined by Draper Nexus.  Heck explained, “Our systems today help humans drive better, safer, smarter and faster in terms of avoiding congestion and traffic. They retrofit into existing cars, and eventually will enable true autonomy in new or older vehicles.”…Nauto also automatically understands when a collision is about to happen, and records the scene inside and outside of the car then.

Images and data about the incident are stored in the cloud, and can be shared with a fleet manager or driver via Nauto’s mobile app, which proves handy for resolving questions of liability Read more  Hmmm… Driverless, really???  Sounds like a dashCam warning a driver.  Hmmmm??Alain 

Hyundai Motor Group Announces Roadmap for Connected Car Development

Press release, April 5, "…Along with the roadmap, Hyundai Motor Group plans to embark on a new era of connecting the ‘Car to Life’, as cars are increasingly at the center of our lifestyles…Autonomous driving provides utmost safety by connecting a vehicle to city and road infrastructure…" Read more Hmmm… Excuse me, but "connecting a Hyundai to city and road infrastructure" does NOT provide "utmost safety".  Something must have been lost in translation.  Alain 

  The Far-Out Near Future of Cars

J. Will, Apr 2016, "…t will likely be a decade or more before armies of legislators untangle the legal issues such vehicles raise.  In the meantime, you can drive a car off the lot today — or soon, anyway — packed with features that sound like they were cooked up by a nerdy screenwriter: cars that can see around corners, smart windshields that highlight a stray pedestrian, and cars that know how you’re feeling. Here’s the stuff you should be excited about now." Read more  Hmmm… Way too much testosterone when one’s just trying to get someplace.  🙁  Alain

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Workshop on Automated Vehicle Policy and Regulation:

A State Perspective

The National Transportation Center, University of Maryland

May 18, 2016
Preliminary Program

Recent Highlights of:

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Automated Vehicle Operational Guidance Public Meeting

April 8,"At this meeting, NHTSA sought input on planned operational guidelines for the safe deployment of automated vehicles (AV). Of high importance to the agency is information on the roadway scenarios and operational environments that highly automated vehicles will need to address, and the associated design and evaluation processes and methods needed to ensure that AV systems are able to detect and appropriately react to these scenarios"  Read more  Hmmm…Watch testimony  , especially: testimony of Dr. Jerome Lutin.   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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Uber seeking to buy self-driving cars: source

Reuters, Mar 19, "Ride-hailing service Uber [UBER.UL] has sounded out car companies about placing a large order for self-driving cars, an auto industry source said on Friday.  "They wanted autonomous cars," the source, who declined to be named, said. "It seemed like they were shopping around."  Loss-making Uber would make drastic savings on its biggest cost — drivers — if it were able to incorporate self-driving cars into its fleet….Earlier on Friday, Germany’s Manager Magazin reported that Uber had placed an order for at least 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars, citing sources at both companies….

The top-flight limousine, around 100,000 of which Mercedes-Benz sold last year, does not yet have fully autonomous driving functionality.."  Read more  Hmmmm…Uber has the current valuation to place the order; however, they aren’t the only ones that will want to place an advance order for such a fleet.  Lyft will want to, Enterprise-Rent -A-Car (remember, they "pick you up" (while incurring an enormous labor expense) and all of the AlainkAutonomousTaxi companies that see the economic opportunity of providing on-demand mobility without incurring labor cost.  It will be interesting to watch the bidding war for these driverless vehicles.   All of this will be going on while Alphabet gobbles up the market with its own vehicle that it keeps for itself.  Advertisers are already in the back seat of conventional cabs.  While that revenue isn’t enough to pay for the driver, it is likely to substantially offset aTaxi’s operating and capitalization costs. What’s Alphabet’s other business?? 🙂  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

Press Release, Mar 17, NHTSA & IIHS "announced today a historic commitment by 20 automakers representing more than 99 percent of the U.S. auto market to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature on virtually all new cars no later than NHTSA’s 2022 reporting year, which begins Sept 1, 2022. Automakers making the commitment are Audi, BMW, FCA US LLC, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla Motors Inc., Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo Car USA. The unprecedented commitment means that this important safety technology will be available to more consumers more quickly than would be possible through the regulatory process…The commitment takes into account the evolution of AEB technology. It requires a level of functionality that is in line with research and crash data demonstrating that such systems are substantially reducing crashes, but does not stand in the way of improved capabilities that are just beginning to emerge. The performance measures are based on real world data showing that vehicles with this level of capability are avoiding crashes.. Watch NHTSA video on AEB  Download AEB video from IIHSRead more  Hmmmm…Fantastic!  Automakers leading with regulatory process staying out of the way.   Alain

Saturday, March 12, 2016

GM Buying Self-Driving Tech Startup for More Than $1 Billion

D. Patrick Mar 11,"General Motors  GM 1.43%  this morning announced that it will acquire Cruise Automation, a San Francisco-based developer of autonomous vehicle technology. No financial terms were disclosed, but Fortune has learned from a source close to the situation that the deal is valued at “north of $1 billion,” in a combination of cash and stock.

Talks between the two companies originally related to a strategic investment by GM in Cruise, which was planning to raise a new round of venture capital funding. But that quickly morphed into an acquisition discussion with the entire agreement getting hashed out in less than six weeks. Read more Hmmmm…That sets the bar.  Reminiscent of AOL paying $1.1B for MapQuest resulting in NavTeq getting $8.1B from Nokia followed by Here getting $3B from MB et alDeja vu all over again!  Very interesting  🙂  Alain

Thursday, March 3, 2016

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN: How we found (and lost) the dream of Personal Rapid Transit

A. Robertson, Feb 10 , Feb. "…Half a century after its heyday, the Alden StaRRcar clearly wasn’t made for its world. It looks like a white flatiron with wheels or a sleek, plastic bullet, dwarfed by the regal sedans of 1960s Detroit. It belongs in one of Buckminster Fuller’s domed cities, a vehicle for traveling under the geodesics of a bubble-topped Manhattan. Its future wasn’t one of highways, but of narrow cement tracks looping gracefully between city and suburb, connecting increasingly alienated parts of the American landscape…

Once considered a key to solving urban blight, the StaRRcar was part of a public transit revolution that never was — but one that would help launch one of the weirdest and most politicized public infrastructure experiments of the 20th century. It’s an old idea that today, in an age of self-driving cars, seems by turns impractically retro and remarkably prescient…

PRT’s invention is attributed to a transportation expert named Donn Fichter, but the central idea was conceived, remixed, and adapted by many in the 1950s and 1960s. While the details varied, the prototypical PRT system was a network of narrow guideways populated by small passenger pods. When commuters arrived, they would hit a button to select a destination, calling one of the pods like a taxi. Then, instead of running on a set line, the pod would use guideways like a freeway system, routing around stations in order to take passengers directly to their final stop.

The system was designed to be everything that existing public transportation wasn’t. Pods would carry only as many people as an average car, guaranteeing a nearly private ride. Riders wouldn’t need to follow a timetable or wait for other people to enter and exit the system. Because the pods would only be dispatched on demand, cities could run service to many low-traffic areas without worrying about waste. There were no drivers to train or pay, and the pods could run quietly on electrical power instead of with fossil fuels…

Multiple plans for personal rapid transit fell through, whether because of budget problems, logistical issues, or political power struggles….

And as in the ‘60s, we’re talking about whether self-driving vehicles could spell the end of private cars…." Read more  Hmmmm…A must read.  Pretty much as I remember it.  I lived much of it, including designing 10,000 station, 10,000 mile PRT networks that could serve all of New Jersey’s needs for personal mobility.  The good news was that the area-wide systems would provide great mobility for all.  The bad news: No viable way to start.  The best starting places could each be readily served by conventional systems with no technology risk.  Without a place to start, PRT never got a chance to flourish in the vast areas that are un-servable by conventional technology.  Moreover, PRT needed the diversion of public sector capital funds that weres already in the back pocket of those pedaling the conventional technologies. Consequently, the personal auto has reigned on.

Today is different. With PRT, even the first vehicle needed a couple of stations and interconnecting guideway (and all of the discussion and heartache was about the location and cost of those initial stations and guideway).  With autonomous taxis sharing existing roads, one can begin with a single vehicle capable of serving many existing places without needing to pay-for/justify any infrastructure.   That is today’s fundamental opportunity, in contrast to PRT’s monumental infrastructure burden even for one vehicle.  That’s why aTaxis are destined to finally deliver PRT’s utopian mobility to all and substantially transform our cities and suburbs. Alain

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Vancouver councillor wants city to prepare for driverless cars  T. Fletcher, Feb 18 "Driverless cars might seem like a futuristic dream, but a city councillor doesn’t want Vancouver to take a hands-off approach to the emerging technology.  Coun. Geoff Meggs is steering a motion slated for next Tuesday’s council meeting asking city staff to look into the impact of self-driving vehicles and how to maximize the benefits of the technology for Vancouver and the city’s economy.

Although the city’s transportation 2040 plan, which outlines a strategy for how people and goods will move in and around Vancouver for the next 30 years, was adopted only four years ago, Meggs said it fails to address driverless technology….  “It may be a powerful tool or there may be problems with it, but at the moment, it’s an empty category in a lot of our thinking,” Meggs told Metro. “We don’t want our (transportation) plan, which we just did, to be obsolete before it even starts.”…"  Read more Hmmmm…Yup!  Obviously, "obsolescence before ribbon cutting" is something all cities should try to avoid.  Alain

Thursday, February 18, 2016

  Motor Vehicle Deaths Increase by Largest Percent in 50 Years

Press Release Feb 16 "With continued lower gasoline prices and an improving economy resulting in an estimated 3.5% increase in motor-vehicle mileage, the number of motor-vehicle deaths in 2015 totaled 38,300, up 8% from 2014.

The 2015 estimate is provisional and may be revised when more data are available. The total for 2015 was up 8% from the 2013 figure. The annual total for 2014 was 35,398, a less than 0.5% increase from 2013. The 2013 figure was 3% lower than 2012. The estimated annual population death rate is 11.87 deaths per 100,000 population, an increase of 7% from the 2014 rate. The estimated annual mileage death rate is 1.22 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, an increase of 5% from the 2014 rate. Read more Hmmmm…This is REALLY BAD news.  Come on insurance. This is costing you money!  Accident rates going up means that your actuarials are behind, your regulated pricing lags and you are losing money.  To get ahead of your actuarials, you MUST incentivize the adoption of automated collision avoidance systems.  You’ll then do very well, thank you AND help society.  Alain

Tuesday, February 9, 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…", bit also stated before: "… and connected…".     Alain

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

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