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Brad Templeton founded ClariNet Communications Corp., the first internet-based content company. (Sold to Individual Inc/Newsedge Corp.) ClariNet published an online electronic newspaper delivered for live reading on subscribers machines. He has been active in the internet community since 1979, participated in the building and growth of USENET from its earliest days and in 1987 he founded and edited rec.humor.funny, the world's most widely read computerized conference on that network, and today the world's longest running blog. He has founded 2 software companies and is the author of a dozen packaged microcomputer software products. He is a director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading civil rights advocacy group for cyberspace, and chaired the foundation from 2000 to 2010. He is track chair for computing and networks at Singularity University, a new multi-disciplinary school of rapidly changing technology, and was among the founding faculty. He writes and researches the future of automated transportation at Robocars.com and worked for two years on Google's team building these cars. He is also on the board of the Foresight Institute (A nonprofit Nanotech think-tank) and technical advisor to startups BitTorrent, NewAer and RePost. He is also a well known photographer and artist at Burning Man, and a popular speaker at international events on cars, online rights and other topics.
by   -   September 15, 2017

NHTSA released their latest draft robocar regulations just a week after the U.S. House passed a new regulatory regime and the senate started working on its own. The proposed regulations preempt state regulation of vehicle design, and allow companies to apply for high volume exemptions from the standards that exist for human-driven cars.

by   -   September 13, 2017
Tesla Motors autopilot (photo:Tesla)

The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) has released a preliminary report on the fatal Tesla crash with the full report expected later this week. The report is much less favourable to autopilots than their earlier evaluation.

by   -   September 8, 2017


How will robocars fare in a disaster, like Harvey in Houston, Irma, or the tsunamis in Japan or Indonesia, or a big Earthquake, or a fire, or 9/11, or a war?

Source: here.com

Almost all robocars use maps to drive. Not the basic maps you find in your phone navigation app, but more detailed maps that help them understand where they are on the road, and where they should go. These maps will include full details of all lane geometries, positions and meaning of all road signs and traffic signals, and also details like the texture of the road or the 3-D shape of objects around it. They may also include potholes, parking spaces and more.

This week’s news is preliminary, but a U.S. house committee panel passed some new federal regulations which suggest sweeping change in the US regulatory approach to robocars.

In San Francisco, I’m just back from the annual Automated Vehicle Symposium, co-hosted by the AUVSI (a commercial unmanned vehicle organization) and the Transportation Research Board, a government/academic research organization. It’s an odd mix of business and research, but also the oldest self-driving car conference. I’ve been at every one, from the tiny one with perhaps 100-200 people to this one with 1,400 that fills a large ballroom.

I’ve written a few times that perhaps the biggest unsolved problem in robocars is how to know we have made them safe enough. While most people think of that in terms of government certification, the truth is that the teams building the cars are very focused on this, and know more about it than any regulator, but they still don’t know enough. The challenge is going to be convincing your board of directors that the car is safe enough to release, for if it is not, it could ruin the company that releases it, at least if it’s a big company with a reputation.

While very few details have come out, Reuters reports that new proposed congressional bills on self-driving cars will reverse many of the provisions I critiqued in the NHTSA regulations last year.

Source: Waymo

Waymo (Google) has announced a pilot project in Phoenix offering a full ride service in their new minivans. Members of the public can sign up — the link is sure to be overwhelmed with applicants, but it has videos and more details — and some families are already participating.

Luminar, a bay area startup, has revealed details on their new LIDAR. Unlike all other commercial offerings, this is a LIDAR using 1.5 micron infrared light. They hope to sell it for $1,000.

A new report from Navigant Research includes the chart shown below, ranking various teams on the race to robocar deployment. It’s causing lots of press headlines about how Ford is the top company and companies like Google and Uber are far behind. I elected not to buy the $3,800 report, but based on the summary I believe their conclusions are ill founded to say the least.

First ride: Encountering a school bus on real city streets in Austin, Texas. Credit: Waymo/Google

Recently we’ve seen a series of startups arise hoping to make robocars with just computer vision, along with radar. That includes recently unstealthed AutoX, the off-again, on again efforts of comma.ai and at the non-startup end, the dedication of Tesla to not use LIDAR because it wants to sell cars today before LIDARs can be bought at automotive quantities and prices.

Costs for electrifying Caltrain are projected to run over $1.5 billion. In this article, Brad Templeton examines an alternative: a robotic transit line that uses self-driving cars, vans and buses.

I generally pay very little attention when companies issue a press release about an “alliance.” It’s usually not a lot more than a press release, unless there are details on what will actually be built. The recent announcement that Uber plans to buy some self-driving cars from Daimler/Mercedes is mostly just such an announcement.

California published its summary of all the reports submitted by vendors testing robocars in the state. You can read the individual reports. They are interesting, but several other outlines have created summaries of the reports calculating things like the number of interventions per mile. On these numbers, Google’s lead is extreme. Of over 600,000 autonomous miles driven by the various teams, Google/Waymo was 97% of them — in other words, 30 times as much as everybody else put together.


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