Why scaling more test vehicles won’t get us a self-driving car

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Photo by Lance Asper on Unsplash

Congress reconvened last week to discuss self-driving car legislation. Testing was again at the heart of the debate. Automotive and technology companies sought to raise the number of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard exemptions given out each year from 2,500 per company to 10,000 per company, as well as preempt states from making their own laws that might impede experimentation.

The argument is that more test cars on the road will ultimately deliver safer self-driving cars on a shorter timeline. Supporters believe scaling more permissive testing will get us there faster. …

Your car is going to get a lot better

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In part 1, I talked about why cars are great. Now, let’s talk about some of the ways they are going to get even better.

People choose cars for their extraordinary benefits, but that is not to say that our life with cars is perfect. People hate traffic, and rightfully so, Americans alone waste an estimated 8.8 billion hours per year due to congestion. Cars can be dangerous, especially when alcohol is involved, killing nearly 40,000 people in the United States every year. Cars also use up a lot of energy, producing emissions that are bad for the environment.


Your car is amazing

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You are reading Part 1 of a two-part series about why personal cars are the future of transportation. Part 2 discusses the changes that cars will undergo as they become smarter, safer, and more efficient.

Pundits, bloggers, journalists & venture capitalists look deep into the crystal ball to bring us stories about “The Future of Transportation.” They tell us that robotaxis, scooters, bikes and hyperloops will shuttle us around in a utopian near-future. While the details of the brighter future differ slightly, they all share one thing in common: our own cars are not part of the story.

But here…

Why an L3 system is the secret to putting true self-driving on the road faster.

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Imagine a world where cars drive themselves. People are finally free to do more with their time, and the world is a happier and more productive place.

Sadly, there is still no clear path to that future. The world has bifurcated on two distinct approaches to autonomy, defined by their level of automation. On one side, auto companies are aiming for L2: driver assistance systems that still require you to drive. And on the other side, robotaxi companies are aiming to go straight to L4/L5: cars with no drivers that transport people door-to-door like self-driving taxis. …

New learning systems will overtake robotics in the race to self-driving

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Traffic on the Nimitz Freeway. Photo by Waymond C and used under a Creative Commons license

CES was once a celebration of progress and enthusiasm in the autonomous vehicle industry. Now it has become an annual reminder of how much things have stayed the same. Again, companies announced more miles driven, reimagined more car interiors, and made more promises on a 5–15 year timescale. But none of them announced a real self-driving car for sale, so little has actually changed.

It is clear that robotics, the approach that has dominated the past decade of AV development, has proven inadequate to solving the massive complexity of real-world driving.

But there is hope. Starting in 2017, new autonomous…

Why the Perfect Driver must pass the Turing Test

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Roboticists have put more than 10 years and 10 billion dollars into self-driving cars. But the promises of just a few years ago have been replaced with doubt, as self-driving has failed to reach commercialization and internal milestones push further into the future.

I suspect that the entire self-driving industry has been limited by a fundamental flaw in design.

From The Information:

“there were debates about whether [Waymo should] try to mimic typical human driving behavior that doesn’t strictly follow the law. …

To achieve perfection in self-driving, we need to dramatically simplify the problem.

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Real self-driving: when a person can fully turn their attention elsewhere and leave control of their vehicle to a computer. This breakthrough will transform our lives, unlocking billions of hours of our potential to put towards something better than traffic.

But real self-driving requires perfection — a driving model that performs better than a person, requiring no driver oversight or last-second intervention, and a software and hardware system that never fails, with a formally proven run-time and full redundancy.

There is a path to perfection, one that requires…

John Hayes

Founder/CEO Ghost Locomotion. Founder $PSTG. Last optimist in AV. Everything will be obvious in 2020.

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