Tag: self-driving

Tesla settles autopilot lawsuit

Tesla has settled the lawsuit against its former director of Autopilot Programs, Sterling Anderson, for stealing proprietary information about the Autopilot programme and recruiting fellow Tesla engineers to work with him at Aurora Innovation.

The lawsuit was settled with Tesla withdrawing its allegations without damages and Aurora agreeing to make itself available for an audit by a third party to make sure it doen’t have proprietary information from Tesla’s Autopilot program.

Aurora also agreed to cover the cost of the audit for up to $100,000. The startup claims that it had already ordered its own audit, which found no material Tesla confidential information.

As for the allegations of poaching employees, Aurora has agreed not to reach out to Tesla employees for a year and to release the names of former Tesla employees who have joined the startup already.

It seems rather odd that Tesla appears to be backing down having made such a bit noise against the outfit. It does appear as if the whole legal project went off half cocked from the outset.  The tech press did a quite shufty at all the Aurora employees on LinkedIn and it is  clear that Tesla has nothing to moan about.

A handful of Autopilot engineers joined Aurora while almost a dozen former Uber engineers working on self-driving have joined the startup, including Drew Bagnell, a Carnegie Mellon University who was part of Uber’s autonomous driving leadership until last December.

 

Uber self-driving case takes a dark turn

The US judge overseeing the self-driving car technology case has said that Uber could face an injunction if a key Uber executive does not testify.

Google’s Waymo sued ride services company Uber last month, alleging that its former executive, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 confidential documents before leaving the company to join Uber.

Waymo is seeking a preliminary injunction from the court, which would temporarily stop Uber from using any of the allegedly stolen intellectual property.

Uber, which has said the allegations are baseless, has not yet responded to Waymo’s complaint in court, and has argued that the trade secrets issue should go to arbitration.

But Uber has fallen foul of District Court Judge William Alsup who told Levandowski’s lawyer that his client was in a mess.

Apparently Levandowski is worried his client could face criminal action and would be asserting his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Uber said that it would like to put Levandowski on the stand, because “he has a good story to tell”,  but could not force him. But were the case sent to arbitration, Levandowski might choose to testify, because arbitration proceedings are not public.

“I’m sorry that Levandowski has got his — got himself in a fix. That’s what happens, I guess, when you download 14,000 documents and take them, if he did. But I do not hear anybody denying that,” Alsup said.

Uber’s strategy would be to convince the court that Uber was “not using any of these things” Waymo says he stole.

“That would be a legitimate point,” responded Alsup. “Maybe you can convince me of that.”

But Alsup warned Uber of its difficulty in dodging a preliminary injunction in light of Levandowski’s Fifth Amendment privilege.

“If you think for a moment that I’m going to stay my hand because your guy is taking the Fifth Amendment and not issue a preliminary injunction to shut down that … you’re wrong,” Alsup said.

Bloke builds his own open saucy self-driving car

A self-driving car does not have to cost you a fortune if you can get away from the car industry, according to a University of Nebraska student.

According to MIT Technology Review Brevan Jorgenson used open source software to convert his Honda Civic into a high tech self-driving car,

His homemade device in place of the rear-view mirror can control the brakes, accelerator, and steering, and it uses a camera to identify road markings and other cars.

Jorgenson built the lot using plans and software downloaded from the internet, plus about $700 in parts.

He started his project after George Hotz of Comma.ai, a San Francisco startup that was developing a $999 device that could upgrade certain vehicles to steer themselves on the highway and follow stop-and-go traffic.

Hotz was forced to cancel plans to launch the product after receiving a letter asking questions about its functionality from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In November, he released the company’s hardware designs and software for free, saying he wanted to empower researchers and hobbyists.

The whole thing is powered by a OnePlus 3 smartphone equipped with Comma’s now-free Openpilot software, a circuit board that connects the device to the car’s electronics, and a 3-D-printed case. Jorgenson got the case printed by an online service and soldered the board together himself.

Subsequent tests revealed that the Neo would inexplicably pull to the right sometimes, but a software update released by Comma quickly fixed that. Now fully working, the system is similar in capabilities to the initial version of Tesla’s AutoPilot.

Bryant Walker Smith, a law professor at the University of South Carolina, says that federal and state laws probably don’t pose much of a barrier to those with a desire to upgrade their vehicle to share driving duties. NHTSA has authority over companies selling vehicles and systems used to modify them, but consumers have significant flexibility in making changes to their own vehicle, says Smith, who advises the US Department of Transportation on law and automation.

UK sorts out insurance for self-driving cars

accidentcarinwashingtondcThe UK plans to introduce new insurance rules to ensure victims of accidents involving self-driving cars are compensated quickly.

The move will remove a major obstacle for the nascent industry. Self-driving car introduction has been hampered by legal hurdles in several countries as insurers and legislators try to establish who would ultimately be responsible in the event of an accident.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling said the public needed to be protected in the event of an incident and the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies will be out this week.

A single insurance product will be available to cover a driver when a vehicle is being used conventionally, as well as when the car is being used in autopilot mode, the transport ministry said in a statement.

The Blighty government wants to encourage the development and testing of autonomous driving technology to build an industry to serve a market it reckons could be worth about $1.1 trillion worldwide by 2025.

Japanese carmaker Nissan is due to test autonomous cars in London later this month after initial tests on public roads in the southern English town of Milton Keynes late last year.

The UK will also set out plans to improve infrastructure such as charging points for electric vehicles, the fastest growing sector for new car sales in the country and key to meeting environmental targets.

Waymo shows off self driving white mini-vans

 

adrian_googly_eyesWaymo is showing off the self-driving mini-vans which will mean that White Van men will disappear from roads.

While they will probably be mourned in the same way that the end of smallpox was mourned, it will be another job which will have been lost to machines.  Until Waymo works out a way to make them swear and knock cyclists off their bikes.

Waymo, which is a Google spin-off, will be deploying its fleet of self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans onto public roads for the first time later this month.

The minivans will be hitting the roads in Mountain View, California and Phoenix, Arizona, where the company’s self-driving Lexus SUVs have already driven thousands of miles over the past few years.

The outfit showed off its self-driving Pacificas, which have been under wraps since the deal between Google and Fiat Chrysler was first announced back in May 2016.

Waymo says that for the first time, its producing all the technology that enables its cars to completely drive themselves in-house. That means for the first time, the Google spin-off is building all its own cameras, sensors, and mapping technology, rather than purchasing parts off the shelf.

This means the outfit can have more control over its self-driving hardware, as well as bring the cost down to ridiculously cheap levels.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik said that by building its own LIDAR sensors the company cut 90 percent off its costs and sensors that Google purchased for $75,000 back in 2009 now only cost $7,500 now.

Rumor has it that Waymo and Chrysler will eventually launch its own autonomous ride-sharing service to compete with the likes of Uber and Lyft, possibly by using Google’s Waze mapping service.

Krafcik said Waymo was looking at ride-hailing, logistics, personal transportation, and last-mile business.

Human drivers will bully self-drive cars

classic car, wikimedia commonsTechnology experts are starting to worry that human drivers will bully self-drive cars – simply because they can.

While self-driving cars promise to bring increased safety, comfort and speed to our roads. The rest of the road will be populated by men in white vans, BMW drivers and Italians who will make life hell for automated roadsters.

The London School of Economics and Goodyear conducted a study into social attitudes to self-driving technology. Drivers who are more “combative” will welcome the adoption of self-driving technology, because they assume it will be easier to “bully” self-driving cars than actual humans.

Self-driving cars will be programmed to avoid accidents, just as they should be. So given the choice between driving timidly or causing an accident just to prove a point, the self-driving car will slam on the brakes every time. The more aggressive drivers in this survey said that they’d treat self-driving cars like “learner drivers” and mess with their automatic heads.

One respondent he would be overtaking all the time because they’ll be sticking to the rules,” one Another said robot cars are going to stop. “So you’re going to mug them right off. They’re going to stop and you’re just going to nip around.”

So those who really should be self-driving are exactly the sort of people who should not be behind the wheel.  It is only a matter of time before self-driving will require a psyche-test to see if they should be allowed to drive.

 

Google wants to create artificial Roman drivers

 

toyotahybrid-20140417113203813 (1)One of the technical challenges of self-driving cars is making the automatic pilots behave like humans and in some cases that means honking the horn.

In Rome, honking the horn has a complex etiquette which often leads to wild gestures and swearwords related to the drivers’ testicles or lack thereof, and the fact that the Virgin Mary might have actually been a pig.

Google is apparently discussing how its cars will communicate with human drivers in other cars to make sure they don’t kill themselves. The strategy, which is teach the autonomous cars how to honk at them, will go down like cold Quinto Quarto.

Google says 94 percent of minor crashes are caused by human error, so to combat this, the Menlo-Park, California-based company’s autonomous cars are going to need to whip us fallible beings into shape by disciplining us when we misbehave.

The company says the point of the honking software is to “recognise when honking may help alert other drivers to our car’s presence — for example, when a driver begins swerving into our lane or backing out of a blind driveway.”

Google said that during testing, it taught our vehicles to distinguish between potentially tricky situations and false positives, i.e. the difference between a car facing the wrong way during a three-point turn, and one that’s about to drive down the wrong side of the road.

“At first, we only played the horn inside the vehicle so we wouldn’t confuse others on the road with a wayward beep. Each time our cars sound the horn, our test drivers take note whether the beep was appropriate, and this feedback helps our engineering team refine our software further.”

Unlike Rome with its single toot which means something like “the light is actually green now you might wish to move” or a long toot which means “If you pull out now I will kill you and all your family and dance on their rotting bodies” Google has come up with various types of honks.

“We’ve even taught our vehicles to use different types of honks depending on the situation. If another vehicle is slowly reversing towards us, we might sound two short, quieter pips as a friendly heads up to let the driver know we’re behind. However, if there’s a situation that requires more urgency, we’ll use one loud sustained honk.”

We will not believe that it is effective until the car automatically winds down the window and extends an automatic fist and another driver.

 

Self-driving cars might get driving test

accidentcarinwashingtondcUS vehicle safety regulators have said the artificial intelligence system piloting a self-driving Google car could be considered the driver under federal law, and could sit a driver’s test.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told Google, that its driving system could be tested for its driver’s licence. Google submitted a proposed design for a self-driving car that has “no need for a human driver” to the department at the end of last year.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Chief Counsel Paul Hemmersbaugh said his department will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the (self-driving system), and not to any of the vehicle occupants.

“We agree with Google its (self-driving car) will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.”

All participants in the autonomous driving race complain that state and federal safety rules are impeding testing and eventual deployment of such vehicles. California has proposed draft rules requiring steering wheels and a licensed driver in all self-driving cars. Others want a man on a horse to ride before the car carrying a red flag.

The fact that the NHTSA is prepared to name artificial intelligence as a viable alternative to human-controlled vehicles, is seen as substantially streamline the process of putting autonomous vehicles on the road, assuming it passes its test of course.

If the car’s computer is the driver for legal purposes, then it clears the way for Google or automakers to design vehicle systems that communicate directly with the vehicle’s artificial pilot.

“The next question is whether and how Google could certify that the (self-driving system) meets a standard developed and designed to apply to a vehicle with a human driver,” NHTSA said.

 

Self-driving cars are safer

vintage-car-crash-2Self-driving cars are involved in fewer crashes on average than vehicles with a driver behind the wheel.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has added up the numbers and divided by its show size and worked out that test fleets of self-driving cars have been having less accidents over the last six years.

To be fair, the study was commissioned by Alphabet Google unit so we would expect that finding.  It looked only at Google’s fleet of more than 50 self-driving cars, which have logged 1.3 million miles in Texas and California in self-driving mode.

The test fleet has reported 17 crashes over the last six years, although none were the fault of the self-driving cars, Google said.

The study estimated cars with drivers behind the wheel are involved in 4.2 crashes per million miles, versus 3.2 crashes per million miles for self-driving cars in autonomous mode.

Crash rates for conventional vehicles at all severity levels were higher than self-driving crash rates, the study found.

 

A study released in October by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute compared crash rates among Google, Delphi and Audi self-driving cars in 2013 and found they had a higher rate than for conventional cars.

But that study noted the low volume of driverless miles — 1.2 million compared with 3 trillion miles driven annually on U.S. roads.

 

Nvidia wants to build self driving cars

model tIn a leap into new territory, GPU maker Nvidia wants to start making self driving cars.

It took Nvidia the better part of a decade to gain acceptance as a global automotive supplier, a lesson for other technology firms hoping to make a similar move  from consumer electronics to car components.

Danny Shapiro, Nvidia’s senior director of automotive operations said that after all these years making entertainment systems for cars, Nvidia had learned a thing or two about jalopies.

Now it things it is ready to build automated driving systems.
The company is pushing to crack the emerging market for driver assistance systems, which include such tasks as self-parking and semi-automated steering and braking.

Those systems require huge amounts of computing power in very small packages and Nvidia is waving its Tegra X1 about to fill the role.

Morgan Stanley analyst Joseph Moore said that Nvidia brings unparalleled graphics capabilities that could prove critical building blocks” for driver assistance systems.

Nvidia got coaching from automotive customers who liked the company’s technology but were not sure of its ability to measure up to their standards.
Nvidia had to go back to its suppliers to make sure that key components, from memory to power supply, could be upgraded as needed over that longer life cycle.

Nvidia Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang said that when you work with car companies and you engage in these developments with them, over the years you adopt their culture.

He said that “the car is dying to be reinvented.” We just hope no-one dies while Nvidia reinvents it..