Blogs

Tesla Autopilot alleged failure makes you wonder about how they train it

Another Tesla car crash, allegedly on autopilot, teaches us something about how well (or not well) Tesla is doing with its claimed ability to use its fleet of cars to quickly learn to identify unusual obstacles and situations. Here, a Tesla on autopilot crashes into a tow truck sticking out into the right lane (injuring the Tesla driver.) The driver says it was on Autopilot but that he was distracted for a few seconds.

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Tesla and NHTSA fight over what safety scores mean

Tesla advertised that the Model 3 is the safest car ever based on NHTSA's tests. NHTSA wrote them a letter saying, "stop saying that, you can't compare these scores across different weight classes."

Here's some analysis of who is right and why Tesla wins in the end at NHTSA and Tesla spar over safety claims

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How RV Parks can exploit a new market of EV road trippers

RV parks already have the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles on road trips. They just need somewhere decent for the road trippers to sleep and they can exploit a whole new market. Some already rent little cabins. If they add glamping tents they can serve customers at a low cost and could quickly fill out the many gaps in the EV trip network. In my new Forbes site article, I outline the things they could do, and give some advice to drivers too.

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Carpool lanes don't work, and carpool cheaters might be helping your lane go faster

Ever watched solo "cheaters" go by in the carpool lane and been angry? Turns out carpool lanes don't really work and often make congestion and throughput worse, which is why they are converting them to "HOT" (carpool+toll) lanes where they can, to let enough solo drivers in to properly use capacity.

Turns out carpool cheaters create a similar result, and if the fines and enforcement are tuned, they can pay a similar amount.

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How to not waste most of the public EV charging infrastructure

Over 60,000 EV charging stations have been installed in the US. But a huge number of them see fairly light use because they are not in the right place for the current generation of electric cars, and not for the coming self-driving ones.

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We need to stop talking about "car sharing" because it means two different things

At the Automated Vehicle Summit, and in may other places, one of the watchwords is "sharing." Everything is going to be great because robocar technology enables "sharing." Yet people use it to mean two different things -- taxi hailing and riding in groups -- and they don't really understand the real consequences of both.

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New evolution in safety thinking

I'm back from the AUVSI/TRB "Automated Vehicles Summit," this year in Orlando, Florida.

The opening session, kicked off by Chris Urmson of Aurora, was about current approaches to safety. In the various presentations, I noticed an evolution in thinking about safety, which I describe in this Forbes site article. We've moving away from incidents and miles and functional safety to operational safety and risk management.

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Cruise admits it will not deploy in 2019 -- is the "hard city first" strategy right?

It's not a big surprise, but Cruise has announced they will not meet their goal of deploying in 2019. Cruise says deploying in San Francisco is 40x harder than a place like Phoenix where Waymo is deploying, but that once they solve this harder problem, they will be the leader.

Is that the right strategy? I examine this in a new Forbes site article:

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Figuring out parking for robocars

People are working hard to get robocars to handle public streets, but they also need to handle private parking lots for parking, pick-up and drop-off. Private lots have all sorts of strange rules, so a system is needed to make it easy to map them and make those maps and rules available to cars. I outline such a system in a new Forbes site article found here:

How Self Driving Cars will figure out Parking

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GM/Cruise leaks show them way, way behind Waymo. It's time for better metrics from everybody

Cruise car with sensors all around.

GM's "Cruise" robocar unit is often cited as #2 behind Waymo. Some recent leaks of their internal metrics for progress paint a dim picture; that they aren't nearly as far along as they hoped, which does not bode well for the planned 2019 launch. In fact, they show as an order of magnitude behind where Google/Waymo was back in 2015.

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Reflections on 30 years of the dot-com

Tomorrow, June 8, marks the 30th anniversary of my launch of ClariNet.com. In the 1980s, there was a policy forbidding commercial use of the internet backbone, but I wanted to do a business there and found a loophole and got the managers of NSFNet to agree, making ClariNet the first company created to use the internet as a platform, the common meaning of a "dot-com."

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Make Supercharging better by ordering food in advance

Outlet malls are common supercharging sites, and they do not have fine dining.

I've written about how to make Tesla Supercharging work, you try to have a meal while doing that. Here's a proposal to make that work much better: Be able to order food from participating restaurants while on the way to the charger, and have it all timed perfectly to either:

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In spite of the hype, 5G is not crucial for robocars

You've seen the hype and battles over 5G. You may also have seen claims that one of the most important reasons we need 5G is communication with robocars. While more bandwidth and lower latency are never bad things, it's a mistake to presume the cars are doing to depend on them, or that getting 5G is some sort of blocking factor.

I explain the (fairly low) bandwidth needs of cars in a new Forbes.com article:

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