Honda has announced they have approval for, and will ship a "Traffic Jam Pilot" in the Honda Legend by March 2021. This is a big deal because one of the key differences between driver assist (like Tesla "full" self driving) and a robocar is whether the car takes responsibility. While they will call it level 3, level 3 doesn't really exist. This is a self-driving car for a specific problem area - traffic jams.
While we've all been obsessed with the big elections, some notable news in California, where a corporate sponsored bill to reverse California AB5 on gig-drivers passed. AB5 would have required drivers for companies like Uber to be employees and not contractors.
What would Uber have done if it had not passed, or what can they do if an employee rule passes somewhere else? I discuss these issues in a new story on Forbes.com:
In what is perhaps the robocar story of the year, Waymo has released a detailed safety report which shows 6.1 million miles of driving with no at-fault accidents and even a low number of not-at-fault ones. It is now past time for them to deploy a real service. In addition, this throws down the gauntlet at all other companies to be transparent with data.
Tesla released the latest safety numbers for the 3rd quarter. I decided to put all the numbers on a chart, but corrected for the fact that Autopilot is used almost exclusively on freeways, while non-Autopilot use is a 40-60 mix. The result is that Autopilot and non-Autopilot safety are fairly similar, with Autopilot maybe slightly worse.
The rise of self-driving cars offers the potential for an entirely new way of regulating vehicles. First, because you can get all the "drivers" of self-driving cars in a room, rules of the road can be quickly negotiated and settled directly, and adhered to robotically, rather than writing complex sets of regulations.
Videos how now emerged from the beta of Tesla's "full self driving" (really a city version of Autopilot.)
In this new article I outline various reactions to the limited amount we know about it today, what it means, and whether it's legal.
Recently Tesla had a network outage which caused a very small number of customers to be unable to authenticate payment at superchargers -- and thus be stranded unable to charge. Due to the larger outage, they could not put in a new credit card either. (The system lost their working cards, they did not have bad cards.)
While it seems only a few were affected, it shows the challenge of having anything critical depend on a network that might go down.
As the USA moves to more mail-in voting -- and more efforts at voter suppression by strict enforcement of ballot spoilage rules rather than lax enforcement when the intent of the voter is clear, it seems that some apps and tools could do things to reduce that.
If a judge were hearing a case, and the judge were known to have a strong positive bias or strong resentment of a party before the judge, should the judge recuse?
In our justice system, do we allow parties to a case to select which judge will hear their case? Why?
How do we currently assure that parties do not get to pick their judge?
If you learned that in a case that party in a case before a court had been able to somehow pick their judge, should that judge recuse?
Two new Forbes site articles this week.
AI boosts videoconferencing
NVIDIA showed off their new platform of AI tools to improve video conferencing, including vast decreases in bandwidth, ability to move a person's head so they look at you and much more.
In dry California, with no rain from May to October, we don't just get fires. If you have a pool, you have to add water to it regularly.
When California announced it will ban the sale of new gasoline cars in 2035, a lot of people wondered how the electric grid would handle all that new electrical demand.
The answer is (almost) "easy-peasy" thanks to solar being cheap if you have storage tech, and cars all have storage.
I outline why in a new Forbes.com article at The grid will handle it
For 12 years I was part of a theatre company that wrote and produced our own comedy shows with lots of songs. We still get together, and this year I wrote a parody song about Justin Trudeau using the opening song from "Hamilton."
Tesla's "Battery Day" announced a large set of new improvements in battery technology, manufacturing, and car design. Each one is modest but good, together, Tesla says they add up to a 56% improvement in battery cost and range, which is a big deal.
Read about it in my new Forbes site story at:
In the last legal chapter of the Uber fatality, the Uber safety driver, who was watching a streaming video on her phone instead of watching the road when Uber's buggy vehicle killed a woman in March of 18 will now be charged with negligent homicide.
Not a lot of details, but an update on what this means is at Uber Tempe Fatality safety driver changed with negligent homicde
Uber, following Lyft, announced a big push towards electric rides, declaring all rides will be electric by 2030. That's a good goal, but as I outlined earlier, there are reasons your Uber is not usually electric today. They need to find ways for lower-income drivers to own electric cars and a place to charge them overnight, and also briefly during the day, and we have to wait for the cars to get cheap. I outline the issues in this new article on Forbes.com
There is a disturbing trend in virtual conferences. Due to the tempting technical advantages, many of them are switching to using pre-recorded talks rather than live ones to prevent technical glitches. It's obvious why organizers like it, but it sucks the soul out of the event. Nobody would imagine going to a physical conference to watch pre-recorded video of the speakers. Here's some advice on how to resist the temptation.