autonomous vehicles, car crashes, Collisions, Crashes and Collisions, Distracted Driving, driverless technology, Driverless Vehicles, NHTSA, Road Safety Research, Self-Driving Cars, Technology, traffic fatalities, Traffic Safety

Defining safe behavior standards for autonomous vehicles

Google_self-driving_car

The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, in an average month, more than 150,000 people a month will be killed in traffic accidents around the world.  Around 90% of crashes are caused by human error – so will driverless cars reduce the number of incidences that lead to too many fatalities on the road?

In 2015, Nevada led the way in passing legislation regarding self-driving cars at the state level. Since then, several other states including California, Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and Oklahoma have proposed similar legislation to set standards for regulating self-driving cars. The problem with passing laws that regulate safety standards for autonomous vehicles (AVs) lies in not having a consistent standard defining “safe driving” in terms of how an AV can understand robotic rules of the road – every company that has forayed into the field is writing their standards in a different way. That is why some in the industry think the time has come to devise a standardized set of rules for how AVs should behave in different situations.

A team of researchers at Mobileye, a provider of AV technology, published a paper on a framework, “Responsibility-Sensitive Safety”, that outlines mathematical rules for various activities performed by AVs – lane-changing, pulling out into traffic and driving cautiously when pedestrians or other vehicles are partially occluded, etc. The framework covers all 37 pre-crash scenarios in the accident database maintained by National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It is hoped that this framework would be adopted as the basis of an open industry standard. A similar proposal, “Open Autonomous Safety”, was put forth by Voyage, another player in the AV field, that defines the correct, safe behavior for vehicles in a range of circumstances, including pedestrians being in the road, nearby vehicles reversing and arrival at a four-way stop. In addition, Voyage has made its internal safety procedures, materials and test code all open source, with the aim of providing a foundational safety resource in the industry.

Dr. Bryant Walker Smith, assistant professor in the School of Law and School of Engineering at the University of South Carolina, was interviewed about how self-driving cars can change the way people travel.

bryansmithred

Professor Smith welcomes the proposals from Mobileye and Voyage, but warns that it is too soon for regulators to “calcify dynamic conversations that are fundamentally technical in nature”. Researcher predict it will take years rather than months for the industry to cohere around a standard, but are optimistic it will eventually happen because discussions are already under way and because many people working in the field of autonomous vehicles are recent recruits from academia, who consider sharing and open-sourcing to be second nature.

 

autonomous vehicles, Distracted Driving, LIDAR technology for autonomous vehicles, Self-Driving Cars, Uncategorized

Should Uber blame its driver for the first autonomous vehicle-caused fatal pedestrian incident or is the technology flawed?

A video published by police yesterday raises some serious questions about Uber’s driverless-car technology.

UBER_fatal_pedestrian_crash
Tempe police released the video of the UBER self-driving car at the time of the fatal pedestrian crash

This video, released by the Tempe, Arizona, Police Department, shows what happened moments before one of Uber’s autonomous cars killed a pedestrian. The driver was recorded by a camera inside the car, looking down for several seconds.  She looks up at the last moment to see someone walking into the car’s path.

Was #DistractedDriving to blame? Experts have long warned that partial autonomy lulls people into a false sense of security, causing them to become dangerously disengaged. Situational awareness (SA) in driving is compromised with distractions. SA means a driver is aware of his or her surroundings and comprehends the variables in situations that are constantly changing. It can take many seconds for a person to regain situational awareness if something goes wrong – not enough time to prevent a disaster from happening, such as the case of the Uber fatal pedestrian crash.

LIDAR—Light Detection and Ranging – is the technology utilized by autonomous vehicles to measure distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulsed laser light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of a target. Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board are tasked with investigating the sensors aboard the Uber self-driving car that failed to spot the pedestrian, who was wheeling her bike across the road.

The scary thought about this incident is that companies rushing to commercialize vehicle automation are already testing experimental systems on public roads – at least 52 companies have permits to test out self-driving cars California alone. Uber has been testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Toronto and the greater Phoenix area for months. Waymo has testing locations in Atlanta, Detroit and Austin. Arizona is also the home for multipe testing sites, including Chandler, Gilbert, Guadalupe, Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe. California testing sites include Carmel, Daly City, Half Moon Bay, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Merced, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sunnyvale, Tiburon and Truckee. Lyft has a driverless pilot program in Boston and offered driverless rides around the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Cruise Automation driverless cars are on the road in California, Arizona, and Michigan. In 2015, Daimler’s Self Driving Truck became the world’s first licensed autonomous freightliner in Nevada.

Is self-driving vehicle technology moving too quickly for the public’s good? Post your comments.

autonomous vehicles, driverless technology, Self-Driving Cars, Technology

Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index – Assessing openness and preparedness for autonomous vehicles worldwide

KPMG_Autonomous_Vehicles Readiness Index
Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index – Assessing Openness and Preparedness for Autonomous Vehicles Worldwide, https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/01/avri.pdf

Self-driving cars are beginning to show up on public roads, in public policy and on the horizon of drivers’ consciousness, and have made substantial progress in creating a new economic sector in countries throughout the world.Technology is transforming the transportation industry, including automobiles, and the pace of innovation is accelerating; It will affect us all. A recent report from KPMG International explores the readiness of countries around the world “on the cusp of a transport revolution”.

The top global leaders in the race to bring self-driving cars – the so-called autonomous driving vehicles – to city streets and highways were determined by measuring public policy initiatives, technology and innovation fostered; infrastructure built, and consumer acceptance cultivated. The number one country? The Netherlands. Rounding out the top five are Singapore, USA, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with Germany, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and South Korea comprising the rest of the top 10.

Making up the list’s lower half are Japan, Austria, France, Australia, Spain, China, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, and India.

Complete rankings, detailed breakdowns of each country’s strong suits and shortcomings, and more information on how the research was compiled and conducted can be found in the report, Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index – Assessing Openness and Preparedness for Autonomous Vehicles Worldwide, https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/xx/pdf/2018/01/avri.pdf