The future of computer-driven cars and deliverbots
Tesla "reverse summon" won't be very exciting, but the eventual consequences areSubmitted by brad on Wed, 2020-04-22 11:43
Last year Tesla released "smart summon" which let you (very slowly) call your car to you from across a parking lot. It was cute but a bit of a dud, as it's not just very useful. Now Elon Musk promises "reverse summon" that will valet park your car for you. But if you have to watch it, it's not going to be very useful either.
Eventually, though, we'll get a robotic valet park that works without supervision. That will be very useful, allowing cheaper parking and better charging. Even today, the basic summon could allow slightly denser parking for cars that have it.
Does pseduo-LIDAR help Tesla or its competitors more?Submitted by brad on Tue, 2020-04-14 11:36
Tesla doesn't want to use LIDAR. So they are hoping for success in a technique known as pseudo-LIDAR, where you train neural networks to look at images and calculate the distance to everything in the scene, as though you had a LIDAR. It's not here yet, but an interesting question is, should this succeed, is it better for Tesla or for their LIDAR using competitors who already have tons of experience using 3D point clouds?
How do Robotaxis deal with a pandemic?Submitted by brad on Mon, 2020-04-13 13:08
Uber, Lyft, Scooters and Transit have all cratered in ridership. Will people be more likely to ride in self-driving taxis if they had them during a pandemic crisis? I discuss some of the Covid-19 issues around robotaxis in this new article.
It's found at Can robotaxis survive a pandemic?
Starsky Robotics is very open about why their robotruck company diedSubmitted by brad on Thu, 2020-04-02 11:35
Recently, Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, the founder of Starsky Robotics -- a startup doing self-driving and remove-driven transport trucks that I advised before they started going -- wrote a detailed and complex blog post about why he feels his company had to shut down. He goes into several issues, including failures of Deep Learning to meet hype, VC desires, strangeness of the trucking industry and lack of love for safety.
In my new article for the Forbes site, I dig into those reasons and whether he's right that nobody else will succeed soon, either.
ExoWorld conference on the future of the world with rapidly changing technology comes April 14-16Submitted by brad on Wed, 2020-03-25 12:22
Delivery robots could have saved the day if the virus had come a bit laterSubmitted by brad on Thu, 2020-03-19 12:23
I've been involved with delivery robots for a long time, and on my walk through empty streets yesterday, I noticed a certain irony. We have a desperate need for more delivery capacity, especially without humans handling packages, and teams have been working hard to make deliverbots safe enough to drive on our streets.
EasyMile Self-Driving Shuttle Banned After Sudden Stop Hurts Passenger — Are Seatbelts Needed?Submitted by brad on Tue, 2020-03-03 10:57
An EasyMile made a sudden stop from 7mph and a seated passenger fell off her seat to minor injuries. Now NHTSA has ordered EasyMile to stop testing with passengers.
Transit shuttles don't usually have seatbelts, but maybe EasyMile needs them during the testing phase. But can it ever take them out?
Internet, AR, genomic and robotic technologies could make a pandemic much less disasterousSubmitted by brad on Fri, 2020-02-28 10:55
California Disengagement Reports aren't too engagingSubmitted by brad on Thu, 2020-02-27 16:04
The California robocar disengagement reports are out. And everybody is now pointing out that they're not very useful because everybody uses different methods. So I have an article about what we do learn from the data, little as it is.
Read California Disengagement Reports aren't too engaging at Forbes.com
NTSB comes down hard on Tesla, Driver Monitoring, AEBSubmitted by brad on Wed, 2020-02-26 09:58
Researchers fool an old Tesla into misreading a speed limit sign; that fools the public into panicSubmitted by brad on Mon, 2020-02-24 10:20
Many of the media were keen to pick up on a report from McAfee researchers about how they were able to simply modify a speed limit sign to cause the MobilEye in old Teslas to misread it and speed up. We get spooked when AI software acts like an idiot. But in reality, this isn't the sort of attack that is likely to be done in the wild, and it's also unlikely to cause any danger.
$16 billion spending on robocars is a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions to be madeSubmitted by brad on Tue, 2020-02-18 11:49
Recent coverage summed up robocar spending as about $16 billion to-date. Many have wondered how this can be worth it, since nobody is shipping. When you look at other analysis of how much the winners stand to gain, it's a drop in the bucket. I analyse the numbers in a new article on the Forbes site:
Companies Have Spent Over $16B On Robocars. It’s A Drop In The Bucket
NTSB report on Tesla Autopilot Silicon Valley Fatality is outSubmitted by brad on Thu, 2020-02-13 10:14
The NTSB has released their docket on the fatal crash of a Tesla on Autopilot in Silicon Valley in 2018. In this article, I examine what they learned about the cause of the accident and the few new details and wrinkles found in the latest report. The full hearing will be Feb 25.
Read it at NTSB report on Tesla Autopilot Silicon Valley Fatality is out
Everybody's focused on "sharing" -- is it actually the right first path?Submitted by brad on Mon, 2020-02-03 09:55
I wrote earlier about Cruise's "Origin" which they say is a vehicle devoted to shared rides. Many other companies also are hoping to make vehicles for shared rides -- it's treated as almost a received wisdom. But the reality is that sharing rides isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and to work what you really need is frictionless instant mode transfers so nobody goes out of their way. And for that you need automated single person pods, not big shared vehicles.
Early leaks and reports on Uber weren't too long on the truthSubmitted by brad on Tue, 2020-01-28 12:38
With the story of the Uber fatality now behind us, I thought I would do a review of the various leaks and early releases that we saw about the incident, and how well they scored once the final NTSB report came out. The score is not at all good.
Read my report on Forbes.com at Early leaks and reports on Uber weren't too long on the truth
GM/Cruise releases a plan for a future custom designed robotaxi -- and it reminds me of ZooxSubmitted by brad on Mon, 2020-01-27 06:22
Recently, Cruise, the unit of GM (and partner of Honda) did a splash release of a new vehicle design which they say is "not a concept." It's a custom-designed robotaxi, and it reminds me a lot of the plan of Zoox, the $billion funded startup that I advised when it was just getting going.
I've written an article about the risks and benefits of making your own custom vehicle, and whether it's smart or crazy. You can find that at:
LIDARS for robocars are everywhere at CESSubmitted by brad on Wed, 2020-01-15 10:54
I'm back from CES and my first report concerns the trends in the LIDAR industry I saw from the 43 LIDAR companies exhibiting there. I talked to most of them. Those trends include lowered cost, more robust instruments and scores of paths to victory. There is also much more attention on LIDAR for the ADAS market. Bosch even said it would make a LIDAR, but said nothing about it.
Read LIDARS for robocars are everywhere at CES on Forbes.com
Robocars 2019 Year In ReviewSubmitted by brad on Thu, 2020-01-02 10:22
Here is a summary of the Robocar stories from 2019 that were the most significant. It was actually not a year of very big change. Waymo is still the distant leader, in spite of having slipped a bit on their goals. I talk about the trough of the hype cycle and the challenges going ahead for the 2020s. If you skipped most of my coverage in the year, these are the selected ones to read.
Read the year in review at Robocars 2019 in review
Trolleys, Risk and Consequences: A Model For Understanding Robocar MoralitySubmitted by brad on Thu, 2019-12-12 01:05
One of the most contentious issues in robocars are the moral issues involved in testing and deploying them. We hope they will prevent many crashes and save many lives, but know that due to imperfection, they also create a risk of causing other crashes, both in deployment, and during deployment. People regularly wonder if they should be out there tested on city streets, or ever deployed. Even with numbers that are perhaps the most overwhelmingly positive from a utilitarian standpoint, we remain uncertain.