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Offline RE

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Nov 7, 2017 @ 11:00 AM 426
The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets
Our Driverless Future Begins As Waymo Transitions To Robot-Only Chauffeurs

Alan Ohnsman , Forbes Staff

The interior view in Waymo's self-driving Pacific Hybrid minivans for a passenger in the second row during testing at "The Castle" in Atwater, California.

Waymo is ready for a dramatic next step after eight years of preparation, most of it as the Google Self-Driving Car project. The Alphabet Inc. unit has begun testing autonomous vehicles on public roads without human safety drivers at the wheel, and early next year will make its robotic chauffeurs available to Phoenix-area commuters.

Speaking at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Waymo CEO John Krafcik said on Tuesday that company technicians are already hailing its Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans in and around Phoenix via a mobile app and leaving it to the artificial intelligence operating the vehicles to figure out how to get to requested destinations. Within a few months, Waymo vans loaded with laser LiDAR, radar, cameras, computers, AI and no human safety drivers will pick up Arizonans registered in its “Early Riders” program.

“We’re now working on making this a commercial service available to the public. People will get to use our fleet of on-demand vehicles to do anything from commute to work, get home from a night out, or run errands,” Krafcik said. “Getting access will be as easy as using an app; just tap a button and Waymo will come to you, and take you where you want to go.”

Google’s push to perfect driverless cars, stretching back to 2009, ignited a tech race in the auto industry that represents the biggest change in personal transportation since horses were replaced with horseless carriages more than a century ago. But Waymo has to move fast to lock in its early-mover status as autonomous vehicle programs at dozens of companies, ranging from General Motors to BMW to Uber to Tesla to Baidu, race to catch up and commercialize their own driverless tech.

2017, Not 2020

The Alphabet company appears to be first to operate an autonomous fleet without safety drivers, a transition that keeps it ahead of fast-moving rivals, at least for now.

“We recently surveyed 3,000 adults across the United States, asking them when they expected to see self-driving vehicles – ones without a person in the driver’s seat – on their roads. The most common answer? 2020,” Krafcik said.“It’s not happening in 2020, it’s happening today.”

In the 11 months since the Google program turned into Waymo, it’s taken a methodical approach to move from R&D initiative to revenue-generating venture. Krafcik’s speech didn’t spell out when the latter begins, but at the company’s current pace Waymo is likely to start offering a paid ride service sometime in 2018. (Phoenix-area riders currently don't pay to be driven in Waymo vehicles, which arrive with company technicians sitting in the front.)

During his speech Krafcik, who spent three decades in the auto industry at companies including Hyundai Motor and Ford before going to Google in 2015, showed a video of Waymo vans operating in suburban Phoenix with no one at the wheel. It “marks the start of a new phase for Waymo and the history of this technology,” he said.

“We’re test-driving these fully self-driving vehicles in a part of the Phoenix metro area in Arizona. Over time, we’ll expand to cover the entire Phoenix region, which is larger than Greater London. Our ultimate goal is to bring our fully self-driving technology to more cities in the U.S. and around the world.”

Though Waymo was stung by the loss of key founding team members in 2016 and is pursuing a rancorous lawsuit with Uber, it's executed step-by-step moves to commercialization in 2017.

In April it expanded a vehicle supply deal with Fiat Chrysler to a total of 600 minivans for its fleet, when it also announced the Phoenix test program for passengers who signed up to be Early Riders. It's also been in talks for a potential partnership with Honda.

In May it announced plans for an autonomous vehicle pilot program with ride-hailing service Lyft, and in June inked a service deal with rental car giant Avis to help maintain its Phoenix area test fleet. That month Waymo also disclosed that it’s testing self-driving technology on large commercial trucks.

In October Waymo began a public safety campaign about the benefits of self-driving tech, posting a 43-page report, “On the Road To Fully Self-Driving,” detailing its sensors, software and testing procedures. Days earlier it launched the "Let's Talk Self-Driving" campaign, joined by groups including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Safety Council and the Federation for Blind Children. Last month it also announced plans for cold-weather testing of driverless vehicles in Michigan, expanding from fair-weather locales including Phoenix, Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas.

This month, the company also announced plans for a multi-year partnership with AutoNation, the largest U.S. car dealer, to provide maintenance services across the U.S. as the Waymo fleet grows.

Make Way For Robots

Technical chief Dmitri Dolgov told reporters visiting Waymo’s semi-secret “Castle” test facility last month said its minivans operate at SAE Level 4 autonomous capability, meaning they can drive without a human at the wheel in most circumstances. The ultimate goal of Waymo and its competitors is to reach Level 5 capability, in which vehicles can drive anywhere a human can under all conditions.

Level 5 is still a ways off, but millions of on-road test miles and billions of miles of virtual driving in computer simulation, combined with elaborate sensor rig and backup computers, has given Waymo a high level of ability to predict behavior of other cars, pedestrians, cyclists and everyday challenges its vehicles encounter, Krafcik said.

“For each road user, our technology is able to make predictions about their movements in the future, just like a human would. Except while a person may only be able to do this for a handful of objects in front of them, we can do this for hundreds of objects around us, simultaneously,” he said.

“The fact that we could operate on public roads without a human driver means we have to be ready to safely handle everything that could happen, even rare and unusual situations that you may come across once or twice in a life-time of driving.”
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Waymo CEO John Krafcik is interviewed by James Fallows of The Atlantic at the Washington Ideas Forum in September 2016 in Washington, DC.

Alan Ohnsman covers technology-driven changes reshaping transportation. Follow him on Twitter. Have tips to share with Forbes anonymously? Click here.
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Self-driving bus crashes two hours after launch in Las Vegas
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 06:14:35 PM »
Wait until the Driverless Semis start crashing! lol.


Self-driving bus crashes two hours after launch in Las Vegas

The bus was touted as the United States' first self-driving shuttle project for the public before it hit a semi-truck.
Jonathan Chadwick

By Jonathan Chadwick | November 9, 2017 -- 00:18 GMT (16:18 PST) | Topic: Innovation

A driverless shuttle bus crashed less than two hours after it was launched in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The city's officials had been hosting an unveiling ceremony for the bus, described as the US' first self-driving shuttle pilot project geared towards the public, before it crashed with a semi-truck.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the human driver of the other vehicle was at fault, there were no injuries, and the incident caused minor damage.

The oval-shaped shuttle -- sponsored by AAA, the Review-Journal added -- can transport up to 12 passengers at a time. It has an attendant and a computer monitor, and uses GPS and electric curb sensors instead of brakes or a steering wheel.

The crash follows the US House passing the Self Drive Act in September, which if passed by the Senate would exempt car manufacturers from various federal and state regulations, allowing for the eventual deployment of up to 100,000 test vehicles a year.

Under the Act, states would still decide whether or not to permit self-driving cars on their roads. However, the federal government could permit a car manufacturer to bypass certain federal safety rules, as well as some state regulations.

The Las Vegas crash is not the first time self-driving vehicles have been involved in a collision. In March, Uber halted its self-driving vehicle tests in the US following a collision in Arizona. An Uber spokesperson later said all tests had been paused for the ride-hailing service to complete an investigation.

Google's self-driving car was found to be at fault when it struck a public bus in California early last year. The company said that it would improve software for the vehicles to more accurately differentiate larger vehicles such as buses. Its self-driving car unit Waymo also recently patented a way to make vehicles softer as part of efforts to reduce collision-related injuries.

Tesla's Autopilot feature was engaged when the driver of a 2015 Model S was killed in an accident in Williston, Florida in May last year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into the performance of the feature, although it later found no defects in the its design or performance.

Car manufacturers around the world are still investing in autonomous vehicle efforts. Volvo plans to involve every-day drivers in its "Drive Me" pilot on the streets of London in December; while Intel's Mobileye is building more than 100 level 4 SAE vehicles, which it will test in the United States, Israel, and Europe starting this year.

General Motors last month announced its acquisition of LiDAR developer Strobe to accelerate the development of its autonomous vehicle tech; Toyota last year opened a research institute with a focus on fully autonomous driving; and Audi announced its partnership with Nvidia earlier this year with the aim to bring level 4 autonomy to the roads by 2020. Level 4 vehicles are "designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip," according to the Department of Transport (DOT).

Nissan, BMW, and Hyundai are all looking to have driverless vehicles on roads within the next five years, which is also the amount of time Ford believes driverless cars will take to "change the world".

In Australia, Transurban is currently conducting a driverless vehicle trial in Melbourne over the course of 18 months; while the NSW government kicked off a two-year trial of a driverless shuttle bus at Sydney Olympic Park back in August.

The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) of Western Australia kicked off Australia's first driverless electric bus trial last year with support from the state government and the City of South Perth.

The vehicle, known as the RAC Intellibus, is able to carry up to 11 passengers and operates at an average speed of 25 kilometres per hour. It uses light detection and ranging, stereovision cameras, GPS, odometry, and autonomous emergency braking to detect and avoid obstacles.

The South Australian government also launched a AU$2.8 million trial of driverless shuttle buses in March, similar to the RAC Intellibus; while Darwin has entered its second phase of a driverless bus trial, although with a driver still on board for safety. According to the ABC, more than 3,500 passengers had ridden the bus from the beginning of the trial in January up to June.
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Offline John of Wallan

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Re: Our Driverless Future Begins As Waymo Transitions To Robot-Only Chauffeurs
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2017, 03:54:05 PM »
Wow, another waste of time and resources on the way down the Seneca cliff from those who think progress always means more complexity. Same people working on Hydrogen cars and permanent moon bases i would assume.

We need a simpler less energy intense future not a more complex version of the same.

Cant wait to see how driverless cars and Skippy go sharing the road together.

I see 2 or 3 “fresh” dead roos a week in my area, and I am only 50km from Melbourne CBD, let alone the massive wheat belts of WA and Western NSW where I come from. You dont drive outside of town after dark in these areas unless you have a 5 post bull bar and lots of driving lights!


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Re: Our Driverless Future Begins As Waymo Transitions To Robot-Only Chauffeurs
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2017, 04:12:48 PM »
If "they" want us all dead, they're easier & cheaper ways to do it.
Death by "bot" coming to a metropolis near you.

To bad the article you posted didn't have some cctv vid of the incident.
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline John of Wallan

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Re: Our Driverless Future Begins As Waymo Transitions To Robot-Only Chauffeurs
« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2017, 03:54:26 PM »
Anyone who has driven in Melbourne will love this: From Age Newspaper today.
Hook turns and Skippy are 2 reasons self driving cars are not going to happen any time soon in Aus.
Took me 6 months living in Melbourne to figure out how to do a hook turn in tram areas! Now they are still tricky 25 years later. 
I know plenty of people who do 3 left turns instead of 1 right hook turn....



It's the Melbourne traffic quirk that baffled the world's oldest motor company. Just how do
you get a driverless car to complete a hook turn?
When the team from the Mercedes-Benz autonomous driving program arrived in Melbourne to
collect data back in March, it was the hook turn that stumped them. After millions of miles of
testing around the world, team leader Jochen Haab admitted he had seen nothing like it.
"I am very proud of myself for getting around unharmed," Haab joked at the time. "The
thing about the variables in a hook turn from a [computer] coding and sensor standpoint. You
Self-driving car trial lights the way for autonomous vehicles
Mercedes-Benz team gathers data on Sydney to Melbourne mission.

I need the car to go left and stop at a line, wait for a light, give way to trams, to cars, to
bicycles, to pedestrians, and then complete a right turn before oncoming traffic. For a
programmer, this is very difficult. There are so many random variables."
Eight months down the track, and Haab has returned to Australia. His autonomous vehicle
engineers have just completed a test drive from Sydney to Melbourne in a prototype selfdriving
car, finding few technical barriers to the gradual introduction of driverless technology
in Australia.

Mercedes-Benz is testing its autonomous technology to learn local conditions.
Mercedes-Benz sent a modified S-Class sedan to Australia as part of a world tour intended to
gather data before the widespread roll-out of "level three" autonomous vehicles capable of
assuming driving duties in some circumstances.

Mastering the hook turn is among them. The test car also featured "digital light" technology
capable of projecting complex images onto the ground at night. Autonomous vehicles could
use their lights to project their intended path onto the road, communicate with other vehicles
or even illuminate asphalt with a striped zebra crossing showing pedestrians it is safe to walk
in front of the car.

One of the projected images is for Melbourne's unique hook turn, and the car is
being programmed to follow a path through Melbourne's tricky CBD turns.
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Haab sees it as a challenge.
“If you ask me as a person I will do everything so that if you bring a car here the hook-turn is
programmed,” he says.
“But that’s not my decision. If we say on a global scale it doesn’t make sense from the very
first introduction to program a hook turn, you might not.”
Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman Jerry Stamoulis said that just as some drivers prefer not
to attempt the unique manoeuvre, “as it stands today an autonomous vehicle would not be
compatible with the complexities of a hook turn”.

“The vehicle would do what most people do who aren’t comfortable with a hook turn, and go
around the block,” he said.
Haab took a small number of journalists on a route from Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra
and Albury. Cruising down the Hume Highway at 110km/h, the car was able to drive
autonomously for extended periods without any human intervention, even changing lanes
safely when prompted by a flick of its indicator switch.
The car features the same driver aids set to be offered as standard when the refreshed
Mercedes-Benz S-Class goes on sale in 2018, save for the removal of a system requiring
drivers to make contact with the steering wheel from time to time. Special permission was
granted for the left-hand drive car to be driven on Australian roads

Mercedes-Benz is testing its autonomous technology to learn local conditions. Photo: Supplied
Next year's S-Class will be one of several cars on sale with sophisticated "level two" driver
aids paving the way for more advanced "level three" systems that can assume total control of
a car in limited areas such as well-marked dual-carriage motorways.
Haab says Australia's road infrastructure is largely sufficient in those circumstances, with a
few exceptions such as flashing digital speed signs that can confuse on-board cameras.
His team made note of tricky situations, recording 70,000 elements of data per second to
update mapping systems at the heart of new models.
Mercedes-Benz is testing its autonomous technology to learn local conditions. Photo: Supplied

"Lane markings and speed signs are good, but digital signs in Sydney are problematic," he
"We are looking for the unexpected – we're looking for issues we can solve.
"We eventually have to come up with ways to deal with the unexpected. We cannot define
and program each and every situation that will ever occur."
The machine's autonomous driving functions performed near-flawlessly on a run over the
NSW border with Victoria, confused occasionally by speed signs on slip roads beside the
Hume Highway that prompted it to slow down. Autonomous vehicle engineers suggest that
the roll-out of self-driving cars will be gradual, initially limited to major roads away from
pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. Haab's machine was less adroit in the Melbourne
CBD, where traffic lights, complex intersections, cyclists and foot traffic required more driver
The brand will apply this week's data to a map-based active speed limit assistance program
that could mean the end of speeding fines for some customers. Once activated, the system
automatically adopts the correct speed for a given stretch of road, combining GPS and
camera data to maintain the correct velocity.
Capable of recognising temporary speed signs and slowing itself for bends or roundabouts,
the technology will soon be available in Australian vehicles.
Mercedes spokesman Bernhard Wiedemann says this week's data could help the
manufacturer to introduce new technology in Australia.
"Obviously our intention is to offer this system to as many people as possible since we believe
it is a great system - it offers a lot of benefit to the customer," he says.
"We would love to offer it more, yet we need to safeguard it and that's why we have wheelson-
the-ground in several markets, that's why we are not making decisions out of an office
in Sindelfingen [Germany] to decide on things that we haven't seen.
"That's why we are here."
- With Mark Hawthorne

Offline RE

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Re: Our Driverless Future Begins As Waymo Transitions To Robot-Only Chauffeurs
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2017, 02:58:06 AM »
Anyone who has driven in Melbourne will love this:

This must be unique to Melbourne, I don't remember this problem in Sydney, although when I was there I was still a bit too young to get a Driver's License so my friend Simon did all the driving. (He was 16, I was 14.  Our wheels were a "Rolls-Canardly".  Rolls down the Hill, Canardly get back up again.  ;D )

I Googled this to check it out.  Interesting traffic control idea.  Not too safe, but interesting nonetheless.  lol.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

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Offline John of Wallan

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Re: Our Driverless Future Begins As Waymo Transitions To Robot-Only Chauffeurs
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2017, 07:07:32 PM »
Only place in the world I know of that has hook turns is Melbourne.
Sydney has no trams any more. They were pulled up by some far sighted idiot in the 60's.

Idea is to let through traffic and trams flow while cars are waiting to turn. Catches hundreds of tourists and many locals out every day!

Last time I drove in land of the free was in Kentucky, and I loved the idea of turning right on red once stopped. Trouble is it was only supposed to be from far right lane, not any lane! Managed to get away with it for 2 weeks... Was pointed out to me by a local on my last day that only far right lane applied...



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