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Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV
7

Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
The preliminary NTSB report is available https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReport.... Not much is new

I've read a couple of news articles, speculating on Uber's processor failing to consistently detect the pedestrian as such, and not have a "jaywalking" detection.

If those comments are true, the Uber missed a more fundamental requirement, which is to not collide with ANYTHING, regardless of whether it's identifiable, and regardless of whether it's in a crosswalk or not. Another failure was the software's inability to string the detections into a single coherent story; instead, it apparently treated each detection as a completely standalone event, and the fact that the previous detected object disappeared and a new one appeared along the same trajectory didn't have any processing to link these events into a basic "unknown, inconsistent, object" on a collision course.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Constancy of existence is one of the first things that infants learn.

I think I've mentioned earlier that one mystery of intelligence is the ability to create an internal simulation of the outside world and that so far no one understands the mechanism that animals use to do that, much less how to make machinery that can mimic that ability in a general purpose manner. Soon after that happens an AI will be able to simulate itself, a key step to self-awareness. My guess is that it is limited because no one has been able to build a self-organizing network with even a tiny fraction of those available in animal brains that are necessary to do the mass-parallel process pattern matching required.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Sometimes, colliding with something is the best option, though- say, when something like a plastic bag goes blowing across the road.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
That's if you can tell it's that; but this was a big object, that was occasionally detected as a pedestrian and attached to the ground. Regardless of that; the software didn't even attempt to consider the object sequence to be an issue at all, until the victim was essentially 1.3 second from impact, i.e., she was completely within the path of the car and collision was pretty much unavoidable.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

In the normal course of driving pedestrians are far more often on a collision course than plastic bags.

Surely the primary priority is dealing with avoiding hitting objects whatever they might be.

Challenges of plastic bags and birds are certainly present but the default should be avoiding collisions.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

I run over plastic bags on my commute at least once a week, probably more. Have not come close to running over a pedestrian yet but I only encounter pedestrians within my neighborhood, less than 5% of my drive. But I drive more slowly and cautiously when they are present. The Uber should have slowed down when it first started to detect objects. The fact that it detected objects and discarded the detections leads me to believe they get a lot of false detections and just treat them as noise. Unfortunately this time they were not noise.

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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
I worked on a collision avoidance system over 25 years ago, and we dealt with false detections by looking at spatial correlations, which weeded out almost everything that was truly false. They had multiple detections correlated along a trajectory; it should have been relatively easy to figure that out.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (dgallup)

I run over plastic bags on my commute at least once a week, probably more. Have not come close to running over a pedestrian yet
Fair call. My implicit assumption that my driving is representative of all is far from ideal. Some people might often encounter plastic bags, others tumbleweeds, others snow drifts. (I've never come close to running over a pedestrian, but having to slow to give way to them is a daily requirement.)

This variation highlights the difficulties faced by object detection. Needless to say, pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users need to be protected and they are more difficult for the AI to recognise and predict than other vehicles.

Quote (dgallup)

The fact that it detected objects and discarded the detections leads me to believe they get a lot of false detections and just treat them as noise. Unfortunately this time they were not noise.
It almost seems like it has requires the system to confirm the object before it reacts to it. A cautious approach would be begin reaction until unknown object is identified and a collision is ruled out.

It is easy to be armchair experts on this. I don't doubt the challenges are significant.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

My armchair expert opinion is that whoever is (was) in charge at the system level was way out of their depth.

"Schiefgehen wird, was schiefgehen kann" - das Murphygesetz

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
I completely agree. We had, nearly 20 years ago, a somewhat similar case. We were supposed to be tracking a target using an existing tracker in a new hardware configuration. In the first field test, the tracker was misbehaving, so I asked why that was; "I re-acquire the target every frame." OK, that's bad, but not catastrophic, so what about the track history, "Oh, I don't use one." ARRGGGH.

I can see that his descendant obviously worked on the Uber obstacle processor; "Sure, there's a new detection after the previous detection, but I don't bother the processor with keeping track of things like that."

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

I've nearly hit a pedestrian. I was turning left, at night, across 4 or 5 lanes. There aren't many pedestrians in this area, and I didn't see anyone waiting to cross. It was easy for the man to avoid, but he was still angry with me. There were 6222 pedestrian deaths in 2018. In 6221 of those cases, the driver was a human; in one case the driver was software.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

"A.I. is hard.'

"A.I. outdoors is really hard."


The first is a very famous quote, and the word 'hard' is a hilarious understatement.

The second is my extension. The problem with 'outdoors' is that it is monumentally unpredictable.

The issue with making comparisons to human drivers is that autonomous vehicles will tend to concentrate the liability onto the manufacturer. If (for example) Ford has to pay wrongful death compensation of hundreds of victims per month, they won't last a year. AVs have to be orders of magnitude safer than human drivers, unless someone figures out a whole new liability insurance scheme.

They're not going to be sufficiently safe if they're still crashing into things like a blind drunk.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (IRstuff )


I've read a couple of news articles, speculating on Uber's processor failing to consistently detect the pedestrian as such, and not have a "jaywalking" detection.

The processor observed the object at 6 seconds, and identified it as a vehicle, and then a person with a bicycle, as it closed the distance. It recognized the impending collision. The failure was that all the systems that could have taken evasive action, including the driver, were disabled.

If you are driving behind a robot controlled vehicle, I would expect you to see different weird, erratic behaviour that what you would get from a human driver. As you point out, robots must be programmed to not smash into anything, ever. If you do not have an algorithm that reliably identifies empty plastic bags or puffs of smoke, the robot will have to slow down or take some other evasive action. This will be annoying as hell if you are driving behind them. It is presently annoying as hell to be tail-gated as you drive 20kph over the speed limit.

--
JHG

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

It recognized the impending collision.

I don't think so; unless we're talking about different things; the Uber processor did not recognize the impending collision until 1.3 seconds before impact. The reason is that the Uber processor didn't consider the individual detections as a coherent whole; that was what I was referring to; the processor should have had an over-watch algorithm that would have simply considered the detection as objects and strung them together into a single object moving on a collision course. But, because the processor wasn't programmed to worry about disappearing targets, it simply say a disconnected string of stationary objects, rather than one moving object.

The car's original equipment potentially could have lessened the impact; we'll never know for sure.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

"There were 6222 pedestrian deaths in 2018. In 6221 of those cases, the driver was a human; in one case the driver was software."

How many human drivers on the road in 2018 vs. how many self driving cars?

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

"Overall, there were an estimated 263.6 million registered vehicles in the United States in 2015" Are there 263.6e6/6222 self driving cars? Depends on whether you include Tesla I guess.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

So far the Teslas have been content with killing their owners.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

The only reason you hear about Tesla car accidents is "because it's a Tesla" not because they're less safe than anything GM/Ford makes.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

That is true

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

2
The reason you hear about the Teslas is not because they're Teslas. It's because "robot kills master" is a much more compelling headline than "man does something stupid and dies". The autopilot causing an accident makes it distinctively different from every other auto crash, regardless of actual safety statistics.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

The autopilot causing an accident makes it distinctively different from every other auto crash, regardless of actual safety statistics.

Because, in many, if not most, cases, it was being MISUSED; the driver is either inattentive a little, or enough to not even be looking at anything car-related.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

"it was being MISUSED; the driver is either inattentive a little, or enough to not even be looking at anything car-related. "

That brings us full-circle. In the 6000+ ped deaths cited above, exactly zero would have occurred if one or both parties were just carefully paying attention in the first place. If people are not incentivized to pay attention when the result of not paying attention could be serious injury or death, and the systems we are designing to try to save them requires people to pay attention, are we trying to engineer our way out of just plain laziness and stupidity?

IC

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (ImminentCollapse)

...are we trying to engineer our way out of just plain laziness and stupidity?
That's mostly what I have to do here every day.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

are we trying to engineer our way out of just plain laziness and stupidity

No, the reality is that it is nearly impossible to be 100% attentive 100% of the time; our attention wanders, we get tired, or we get distracted, even with just random objects within our field of vision. This is the promise of vision/AI systems; they maintain the same level of attentiveness and detection accuracy/efficacy whether it's one minute into the drive or 8 hrs into the drive. The big question is can we ever achieve the required detection accuracy without globs of false alarms? If the answer is no, then any sort of aiding might indeed be worse than none at all, since it lulls us into a false sense of security, making it that much harder to react/respond if something goes awry. Even when we're at our peak performance levels, our predator forebrains might be particularly lured to distractions that aren't actual threats, since our brains are not evolved for driving cars.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Everyone would buck if someone suggested we lower the driving age to 12.

Hardly anyone says a thing when we let cars driven by computers on the road without any sort of screening even though a 12 year old would be a better driver.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

I remain dubious that safety is the motivation for robotic vehicles. In my opinion, in the first place it is the elimination of expensive, paid human drivers. In the second place it is a broadening of the market, such that the ability to drive or afford a chauffeur is no longer a prerequisite for owning and operating a private motor vehicle. In the third place it is scheduled obsolescence, such that each generation of robotic vehicles is quickly made obsolete by lower cost and improved capability of the succeeding generation, thereby ensuring a sustained lucrative market.
Never mind that the gap between what they are working on now and what is needed to be barely viable in outdoor robotic driving is, in a word, incomprehensible.
The end game I see is that highly regimented zones are established to accommodate dumb robotic vehicles, in which human driven vehicles are banned, and outside of which purely robotic vehicles are likewise banned; or, alternatively perhaps, due to a few more spectacular episodes, the whole unfortunate experiment is written off as a failure and set aside for the foreseeable future.
Does anyone share my perception that this so called autonomous vehicle experiment is relying on the efforts of overconfident game programmers who are used to working within a confined, albeit large memory space, and do not comprehend concepts like hard real time, or infinityponder:

"Schiefgehen wird, was schiefgehen kann" - das Murphygesetz

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

In my opinion, in the first place it is the elimination of expensive, paid human drivers.

I think not, since that's the worst thing for a service industry, to have gigantic sunk costs. If you look at Uber's model now, they pay labor only, and have no liability for the hardware, or for insurance costs and repairs. Even assuming that the AIs can perfectly avoid inducing an accident, it just means that everyone around is a worse driver, so there will still be accidents, but now, you're talking about totaling a car that has $25k of additional hardware and the liability of any secondary incurred insurance risks. Uber had to settle with that pedestrian's family; had that been a human driver, Uber would have had washed their hands of the whole incident.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

I don't think ANYBODY really knows how and when the whole self driving cars will play out. It is sort of like asking computer programmers 40 years ago about having a bunch of apps and the internet in our pocket. AI has been imagined for well over half a century, but we don't really seem to be any closer.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HAL_9000

Quote (hemi)

The end game I see is that highly regimented zones are established to accommodate dumb robotic vehicles, in which human driven vehicles are banned, and outside of which purely robotic vehicles are likewise banned;
The problem with that end game is that requires completely new infrastructrue and city layout. Which is no easy task. And IF you are going to do that then you might as well rethink the entire concept of a car. You might as well go to 1 person pods at 1/5th of the weight and without all the safety equipment or empty seats because the need for such things in a gated environment is removed.

Quote (IRStuff)

I think not, since that's the worst thing for a service industry, to have gigantic sunk costs. If you look at Uber's model now, they pay labor only, and have no liability for the hardware, or for insurance costs and repairs. Even assuming that the AIs can perfectly avoid inducing an accident, it just means that everyone around is a worse driver, so there will still be accidents, but now, you're talking about totaling a car that has $25k of additional hardware and the liability of any secondary incurred insurance risks. Uber had to settle with that pedestrian's family; had that been a human driver, Uber would have had washed their hands of the whole incident.
Very good point.

But Uber continues to invest in this sector because they need to look like a TECH and not a taxi company with an easy to use app. Have a look at their financials and it is scary. They'll be bankrupt within the decade. Sure some TECH companies have spent years making losses, but that is because they were doing something nobody else could do AND/OR they had a captured market. Uber can't capture the market, it isn't a market that is a natural monopoly.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Uber have added literal killing to their long rap sheet of corporate shenanigans and legal abuses.
If any company can be described as toxic it is Uber.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (hemi)

I remain dubious that safety is the motivation for robotic vehicles. In my opinion, in the first place it is the elimination of expensive, paid human drivers.

Its just another element of and a natural progression of the Amazon Project.
Translation: World Domination.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
I still don't see the economics working out for driverless cars as a service

Assuming 22 hr of operation per day at $16/hr --> $128.5k revenue with 216.8 kmiles driven per year --> car replacement at least once per year.

Assuming 27 mi/hr average speed and $0.55/mi operating cost and $50,000 purchase price --> $169.3k per year amortized cost


TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (Human909)

But Uber continues to invest in this sector because they need to look like a TECH and not a taxi company with an easy to use app. Have a look at their financials and it is scary. They'll be bankrupt within the decade. Sure some TECH companies have spent years making losses, but that is because they were doing something nobody else could do AND/OR they had a captured market. Uber can't capture the market, it isn't a market that is a natural monopoly.

Yeah, I think cali passed a law recently with a number of test as to whether people are contractors or employees and it squarely places uber drivers as employees.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

If a car with driver can make economic sense and you can add the autonomous features for less than 50% extra then the autonomous car must be able to make a good business case. I think your $16/hr is way low. Probably could get 4 times that at least even without "surge pricing". Your average speed may be too high as well as your true cost per mile. These are going to be basic cars with little power driving on rock hard "eco" tires that never wear out. I envision plastic interiors that you can hose out, 3 cylinder engines, shit brown colors. Something about as nice as the inside of a subway car.

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The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (dgallup)

Something about as nice as the inside of a subway car.

Yeah. The trouble with public transportation is the, uh, public :)

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Johnny Cab?

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

If a car with driver can make economic sense and you can add the autonomous features for less than 50% extra then the autonomous car must be able to make a good business case.

But, it doesn't; the only reason it kind of works is that the car, insurance, etc., are sunk costs, and there's no attempt to recoup for that. The drivers are ignoring the economics and are only looking at the extra income, which is barely minimum wage.

27 mph is what my Prius reports as my average speed, over the course of a tankful and is probably 30% freeway, but it's Orange County, so there are brief instances of plausible freeway speeds, followed by minutes molasses-like progress.
$0.55/mi is roughly the GSA reimbursement rate for personal vehicles.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (ironic metallurgist)

Uber have added literal killing to their long rap sheet of corporate shenanigans and legal abuses.
If any company can be described as toxic it is Uber.

So now they're just straight up equipping each car with a bone saw?

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (dgallup)

If a car with driver can make economic sense and you can add the autonomous features for less than 50% extra then the autonomous car must be able to make a good business case.
Agreed. Just need to make the autonomous work. The BIG problem though is societal. Autonomous vehicles will INCREASE vehicle movements and we already have a problem in most major cities of congestion. Congestion is self limiting due to the human cost of time, with autonomous vehicles the situation gets dire. Restrictions or road use charging is almost inevitable in many cities even without autonomous vehicles. If they start hitting the streets governments will have to regulate/charge their usage of public roads.

Quote (IRstuff)

$0.55/mi is roughly the GSA reimbursement rate for personal vehicles.
And your are double counting by using this figure and the capital cost of the car. You'll find that capitcal cost is the majority of this figure.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

You'll find that capitcal cost is the majority of this figure.

I won't quibble that possibility. So, drop the $50k, it's barely breakeven, which isn't enough to pay for the rest of Uber, not even counting the amortization of its development costs.

OTOH, I think a fully automated vehicle fleet will alleviate a lot of congestion; no more looky-loos because automated cars don't care, no more slowing down in turns and going up grades because they stay on their cruise control, no sudden and random braking and slowdowns because they'll stay on their cruise control, no accordion effects because they'll all stay at a uniform separation, etc.

What's more critical to alleviating congestion is ridesharing; if people are more willing to partake in Uber-like ridesharing, that could substantially reduce the number of cars on road. And, since the automated cars don't mind idling and waiting or being the last stop, that could make vanpooling more practical.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (IRstuff)

No, the reality is that it is nearly impossible to be 100% attentive 100% of the time; our attention wanders, we get tired, or we get distracted, even with just random objects within our field of vision. This is the promise of vision/AI systems; they maintain the same level of attentiveness and detection accuracy/efficacy whether it's one minute into the drive or 8 hrs into the drive. The big question is can we ever achieve the required detection accuracy without globs of false alarms? If the answer is no, then any sort of aiding might indeed be worse than none at all, since it lulls us into a false sense of security, making it that much harder to react/respond if something goes awry.

I think I agree with you here. I've made a what I think is a similar statement previously, that expecting a human driver to remain even somewhat attentive when the person is not doing any of the driving tasks, is unrealistic. The only people who do that are driving instructors. They get paid well, and only do it for short periods of time. Imagine being a passenger on a road trip and having to be ready to grab the wheel any second in case the driver suddenly becomes unconscious. How tedious would that be? Much worse than just driving yourself, right?

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, once the computer is doing the steering, it better be able to handle any situation it will encounter. Otherwise, it's a disaster in the making.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

At minimum autonomous vehicles should greatly alleviate parking problems. I don't know how much of inner city driving is just going round and round the block looking for a place to bark but I'll bet it's a significant amount. They should also cut down exhaust emissions as the number of cold starts should be greatly reduced.

I agree that app developers are probably not qualified to develop safety critical software.

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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

once the computer is doing the steering, it better be able to handle any situation it will encounter. Otherwise, it's a disaster in the making.

That's the SAE Level 4 or 5 system, which we are a long way from achieving.

Certainly, one thing that could at least help is if companies like Tesla state clearly and upfront, what is SAE level of their vehicle. Obviously, some fudging is likely, but Tesla would have to be insane to claim anything beyond Level 2, out of 5.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote:

...one thing that could at least help is if companies like Tesla state clearly and upfront, what is SAE level of their vehicle.

I don't think it would make a difference for most people. Regardless of what you call it or what level of automation the manufacturer deems it to be, most people won't care. If the car can drive itself, those that are so inclined, will let it drive, and will not pay attention. The only thing that I can see improving the situation is a warning when the computer figures out it's in over its head and needs the human to take over. I can't see that being too successful either, between the aforementioned false alarms and the demonstrated lack of ability of the systems to anticipate problems, either the alarms would be going off all the time, or would come too late to matter.

Those of us that don't trust the system will never buy a car that has it, and we certainly won't pay extra for a feature we won't use. I won't even buy one that has the parking assist feature, because the control freak in me doesn't like the idea of my car even having the ability move the steering wheel. I can parallel park and back a trailer (and parallel park with a trailer if I need to) just fine on my own.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
I'm surprised you allow the car to run the spark plugs without the using your own ECU winky smile

But, seriously, ECUs are way more automated than a carburetor/distributor, so we've accepted a rather huge amount of "automation" to get the gas consumption/power/efficiencies that the ECU provides.

I think it's just going to be a matter of time; when you're the lone standout on a freeway, messing up the traffic, it'll be really obvious. I can imagine a scenario where you'll either get a ticket for not using the AI or be prevented from driving on the road.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Driving as a human requires decent focus of attention. As driver assist features get added the amount of focus needed initially decreases: eg Automatic emergency braking systems can help prevent crashes during lapses of attention, but don't constantly kick in and so aren't something the driver gets used to. But systems that regularly activate and work under "normal" circumstances but require the driver to stay alert for failures? Those are a recipe for disaster. They train humans to not pay attention, then require instant attention when they fail. Humans are SLOW to switch attention.

IMO Levels 0 and 1 are safe, with 1 being safer than 0. Level 2, 3 & 4 are deadly. Level 5 will be fine, since it doesn't depend on the human as a backup. Humans make terrible backup systems.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
Level 4 does not require a human backup. The difference between it and level 5 is the number of driving modes covered, but in all cases, the system is supposed to deal with the situation although level 4 will request the driver to intervene, but will come up with a safe exit even if the human fails to intervene.

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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

IRstuff, the ECU doesn't drive the car; it only controls the internal workings of the engine. It doesn't control the throttle or the steering wheel. I don't have a problem with driver assistance features, such as cruise control or even autonomous emergency braking, but I draw the line at the car actively steering itself. I think I'll keep that under my control.

Quote (Eufalconimorph )

Humans make terrible backup systems.

Exactly!

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

The ECU very likely does control the throttle based on a suggestion from a pot or magnetic pickup at the accelerator pedal and/or the simultaneous application of the brake.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (3DDave)

The ECU very likely does control the throttle based on a suggestion from a pot or magnetic pickup at the accelerator pedal and/or the simultaneous application of the brake.

Not on any of my vehicles. All of mine have a mechanical linkage to the butterfly valve in the throttle body. Of course, the newest vehicle I have is a 2009, so some newer vehicles may be set up that way. Hybrid vehicles I think are set up that way by necessity.

Granted, cruise control, and especially adaptive cruise control, do control the accelerator, and make adjustments to the throttle. However, with cruise control in operation on vehicles numbering well over a hundred million, I haven't heard of any cases where one engaged on its own or would not disengage. Even if that were to occur, it would be much easier to mitigate than a vehicle suddenly deciding it needs to make a hard left turn.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

If you have a car with ABS or even ~worse~ active handling, then it is quite capable of braking a single wheel and causing the vehicle to turn.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

That's a scary story, IRstuff. It reinforces my aversion to vehicles where the ECU controls the throttle.

LionelHutz, last I knew only the European cars had ABS systems that used the wheel speed sensors that reduce the brake pressure to unlock the brakes if the suddenly wheels stop turning, indicating a slide. The 'ABS' on American cars last I knew consisted of merely pulsing the brakes when a skid is indicated. The Mercedes M Class also used the wheel speed sensors for the 4WD system to apply the brakes to a wheel that was slipping, in order to force the power to the other wheels, but it's the only one I know that has implemented the system in that way. I don't know if Daimler/Chrysler has implemented that system on any of the American vehicles; I can see them using the technology on Jeeps, maybe.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (3DDave)

The ECU very likely does control the throttle based on a suggestion from a pot or magnetic pickup at the accelerator pedal
Indeed, my 2003 Silverado has a servo operated throttle.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

The VW Golf R (or GTI?) has a similar type of differential where it applies the brakes to get power to the other side. Seen one suffer what I believe was brake fade from this at autocross and drive clean into a pole.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Well, mark the Silverado and the Golf off of my Christmas list. Darn, I was thinking of maybe getting a Golf at some point, although it was the TDI that I was interested in, so I might have to look closer at which models have what controls.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

My rather old C6 has stability control, traction control, ABS, drive by wire throttle, active shocks and probably a few more systems I've forgotten. It will very definitely activate a single inside wheel brake to assist the car turning in if it detects an under steer condition. It will decrease throttle and brake individual wheels if it detects over steer or excessive wheel spin. These are not new capabilities, they might have been novel in 2005 but they are everywhere today along with a host of additional capabilities. A BMW quality engineer was showing me the active cruise control. You can set it to 80 mph on the highway and when you come up on some slower traffic it will reduce speed to match. You may forget it's engaged and enter a reduced speed zone of say 40 mpg. As soon as the traffic ahead clears it will go right back to 80 mph.

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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Yeah, 2 of my vehicles have traction control - I always turn it off anytime it's slippery and it might engage, and so does my wife.

One of ours has the adaptive cruise control as an optional cruise control setting. I never use that either.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

All cars and light trucks (and probably heavy on-road trucks) destined for the developed world since 1996 have used drive-by-wire for the accelerator/throttle due to OBDII emission and diagnostic requirements.

ABS has been mandatory for quite a while. "reduce the brake pressure to unlock the brakes" and "merely pulsing the brakes" - pulsing the brakes is done by reducing the brake pressure. Perhaps what you mean is that some systems are capable of modulating brake pressure as opposed to cycling between driver-request brake pressure and zero.

Stability-program has also been mandatory in the US market for several years now. In order to do that, the brake systems have to be able to actuate brakes independently of whether the driver is requesting brake actuation. So, all modern automotive ABS systems are capable of not only reducing brake pressure but also applying it when the driver isn't.

"Electronic differential lock" piggybacks on top of this. If you have drive-by-wire and you have ABS with actuators, then traction and stability control and EDL and all sorts of drive modes that 4x4 vehicles use are just software.

I accept power steering but I draw the line at the computer deciding to turn the steering wheel. That's a decision that I want to reserve for myself. I don't want any part of the newfangled self-driving systems. Traction control doesn't trouble me but I want to be able to turn it off. It seems that "the powers that be" have decided that ABS systems shall not be capable of being turned off.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

That's correct, the 'off' button typically means 'less intrusive', many of the functions are still enabled. TC is probably the only one that can be completely deactivated, and ABS in snow mode, if you have it, is not going to intervene. You cannot buy a new car in the USA that doesn't have ESC and ABS, since 2012. Anything with a high cg will have Roll Over Mitigation, in practice.

Cheers

Greg Locock


New here? Try reading these, they might help FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm?

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

I'll preface this by stating wholeheartedly that I think fully autonomous vehicles (outside of controlled or purpose built environments) are a long way off if ever. And that they should not be beta tested on public roads without strict regulatory oversight. But those citing one case of a flipped bit gremlin or who are otherwise fearing the infernal ECU are acting as if throttles have never hung open in the history of mechanical linkages to butterfly valves.

As for stability and traction control... I have definitely felt the former help when having to take sudden evasive maneuvers on wet pavement. Why wouldn't I want that feature? Or traction control for that matter? I grew up in the land of lake effect snow without it and know how to horse a FWD sled around in all kinds of conditions so I can moderate a throttle just fine if I have to. And I do. But it's also great when I'm sitting right on that patch of ice and the light and TC takes care of it for me. What's the harm?

I've got adaptive cruise at the moment and it's wonderful. And I recently drove a '19 Nissan Rogue with an even better system. It would bring the vehicle to a complete stop and resume it as needed. Really cuts down on fatigue during long trips in traffic.

It had "lane keep(?)" assist system too that would subtlety keep the car between the lines as needed. It was very well implemented and could tell quite readily if I was an active participant in steering or not and would disable if I wasn't. And while it could steer the car, I got the sense that it was very limited in what it could do in the event of a malfunction. For one, it was just a torque assist unit to an otherwise mechanical system. It is there to provide a modest amount of torque and I presume it wouldn't be capable of more than that. Why would it be? So if it ever wanted to do something I didn't want it to, I would be able to manage to overpower it. It also appeared limited in its speed. It's just there for subtle course corrections. You folks act as if somehow this thing is going to wrest the wheel from your hands and turn it to the left full lock into oncoming traffic in the blink of an eye.

You know what's much more likely to kill you? Some mechanical failure (ball joint, tie-rod end, frame, braking system) of a rust bucket an eastbound jalopy that sends it careering into your westbound lane under no control whatsoever because we don't have a mandatory nationwide vehicle safety inspection program.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

fwiw: I don't know when electronic throttle became 'mandatory', but for sure GM's 2003 Buick Regal did not have it. I think they went to dbw in 2004.
But the electric power steering? It has the torque to steer a car when stationary, when you would have difficulty steering it unassisted.
Therefore, it may indeed have enough torque to overpower a person, depending on that person's muscularity or alertness.


Jay Maechtlen
http://www.laserpubs.com/techcomm

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

My 2002 Kia Sedona has mechanical throttle linkage, as does my 1997 Nissan pickup.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Drive-by-wire throttle is not "mandatory", still isn't to this day, but it is really hard to achieve current emissions targets without it. And it's hard for stability control systems to work properly without it.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)

Quote:

It has the torque to steer a car when stationary, when you would have difficulty steering it unassisted.

Just a nit, but the power steering also works at idle.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Oh I checked on my 2018 SUV with EPAS and more electronics than it needs. Both brakes and steering work normally if I switch the engine off (push start button for 3 seconds) at 40 mph. I don't know if the brakes were working on the vacuum reservoir or the ABS pump. Irritatingly it won't restart until the trans is in Park. Grr.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (GregLocock)

I don't know if the brakes were working on the vacuum reservoir or the ABS pump.
If you were at speed and in gear then you would still be getting vacuum from the still turning engine.

Quote (GregLocock)

Irritatingly it won't restart until the trans is in Park.
Did you try neutral? Certainly my car from the mid 90s could be restarted in neutral. I had to do that a couple of times when my duel fuel LPG switch stopped the engine briefly.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

BridgeSmith - I hope you're not expecting to buy a new vehicle then. EVERY newer car built for North America is electronic throttle and they all have stability control systems that can apply the brakes. I'm actually surprised you found a 2009 model with a throttle cable. That was definitely the last of a dying breed. As already noted, the electronic throttle still isn't mandatory, but it's was made necessary for emissions and for the mandatory stability control system which was made mandatory in 2012 in the USA. Your thoughts on simple ABS pulsing systems might apply to early systems from the 80's or early 90's, but that's about the only time range where they might have existed. All manufacturers have used systems with 4 wheel speed sensors for many years now.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

https://leftlanenews.com/2010/01/15/toyota-avalon-...

As for Toyota. I never did hear a definitive cause behind those true stuck throttle cases. I know they found tin whiskers growing in the throttle pedal that could cause the wrong signal to be sent to the ECU which could cause the throttle to open. They also found that the ECU code was crap for lack of a better description. The ECU code supposedly could only cause the throttle to hang at the last cruise control commanded level and not force it open wider. Lots of complaints also consisted of "The car surged ahead when I stepped on the brake" which makes me believe many of the complaints were simply cause by the owner catching the throttle pedal with the edge of their foot as they stepped on the brake

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

LionelHutz, I didn't say I wouldn't buy a car with an electronic throttle. 3 of my cars do have them (btw, it was a 2002 model that I said had a mechanical throttle, not a 2009). The electronic throttles have a good history of reliability, and as the posted story showed, managing to control the vehicle if it does malfunction is generally not difficult, especially if a person drives cautiously (not tailgating, etc.), as I do. I drove enough old clunkers in my younger days, I still leave myself enough of a space cushion from other vehicles to account for brakes failing (or sudden acceleration) or the engine dying instead of accelerating from a stop.

What I will attempt to avoid, at least until there is a much larger history of success, it vehicles where the computer can move the steering wheel or apply the brakes to individual wheels.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

So nothing newer than 2012, then, and nothing with stability-control (which started several years before that). That's when stability-control became mandatory in the USA. All automotive stability-control systems rely on being able to actuate brakes on individual wheels independently of driver input. All of the current ones that have an "off" button, don't really turn completely off when that button is pressed, either. (Some of them have a special procedure to go through which they claim turns it off, but I suspect it just de-fangs the system to the bare minimum that can pass the legal requirements.)

Self-steering is where I draw the line. I don't want anything to do with that.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

AFAIK the only cause was using oversized mats on one car. The first driver to encounter the dealer loaner got that car to the side of the road and discovered the problem, returned to the dealership and complained. They did nothing and sent the car out in the same condition, where that driver crashed. The dealer was sued out of existence. In either case the driver had to have pushed the pedal literally to the floor for the pedal to catch the floor mat.

The tin whisker problem was a different symptom where the throttle would be unresponsive for the initial part of the travel and then register as the pedal exceeded a relatively low threshold. The abrupt change in throttle response startled some drivers who mistook it for surging.

The only demo I ever saw was someone wadding a floor mat and jamming it alongside the accelerator pedal. With tens of millions of cars and tens of millions of cell phones the lack of video documentation suggests that there was no fundamental problem.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

...aside from people stepping on the wrong pedal themselves.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
The article discusses the ramifications of Toyota's poor software design around critical variables, which was what actually caused Toyota to settle the lawsuit against them
Toyota Case: Single Bit Flip That Killed

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

And yet, since then, nothing about unintended Toyota acceleration**. The lawsuit failed to prove the software failed; it merely established that it might have. In a civil suit that's all that is required. The larger suit was for loss of value of the cars due to the adverse publicity that was supposed to be based on some demonstrated defect.

Our Toyota got the accelerator pedal recall, but I don't remember one to replace the ECM with a new fault-tolerant one.

Latest news - https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/autos/2...

**Except the guy who tried a hoax to get paid.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (human909)

If you were at speed and in gear then you would still be getting vacuum from the still turning engine.

Quote (GregLocock)
Irritatingly it won't restart until the trans is in Park.
Did you try neutral? Certainly my car from the mid 90s could be restarted in neutral. I had to do that a couple of times when my duel fuel LPG switch stopped the engine briefly.

It's an auto so when the engine is stopped it doesn't rotate. Yes, interestingly despite the infobox on the dash, it will start from neutral.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (GrekLocock)

It's an auto so when the engine is stopped it doesn't rotate.
If the car is still in gear the an engine on a auto will still get driven by the wheels. The torque converter will still transfer some rotation. But depends on whether you car lets you stay in gear. Older autos you could still roll start. Most autos in the last 20-30 years will let the wheels drive the engine and switch off all fuel when you coast at moderate speeds.

Quote (GrekLocock)

Yes, interestingly despite the infobox on the dash, it will start from neutral.
Its a good safety. I would hope it is on most if not all cars, but who knows with everything electronically controlled now.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (hpaircraft)

So now they're just straight up equipping each car with a bone saw?

Extreme point miss and a ridiculously stretched either/or proposition.
I suggest you follow the (real) news and catch up on what Uber have been up to.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

If the aforementioned vehicle has a VW DSG transmission, the clutches default to "open" (uncoupled) and in a key-off situation, that's what happens. YES, this is the reverse of what happens with a manual-transmission clutch. The VW DSG clutches require active energisation in order to engage. Key-off? No torque transmitted. No bump-start for you. It will not command the clutches to engage if you attempt to bump-start the car.

Re auto trans being used for bump starting ... Keep in mind that they are not only reliant upon the torque converter being filled with oil but they are also reliant upon the correct internal multi-plate clutches being supplied with hydraulic pressure in order to transmit any torque, whether due to the engine driving or in over-run coasting (or in an attempt to bump-start).

If you go back to the dawn of hydraulic-controlled automatic transmissions, up to the early 1960s, they had a front pump driven by the engine and a rear pump driven by the drive shaft, expressly to permit bump-starting. You shifted to "drive" (no electronic controls in those days), had someone push the car, the rear pump developed pressure which engaged the clutches and then hopefully back-drove the engine to start it. It would have to be pushed fast enough for the torque converter (or, originally, fluid coupling) to transmit enough torque to get over that first compression stroke ...

In the mid sixties, the rear pump was deleted, and that was the end of bump-starting. If the engine is not running, the pump is not running, therefore there is no hydraulic pressure to engage the clutches. Doesn't matter what gear range was selected, doesn't matter how fast you spin the drive shaft in an attempt to back-drive and bump start. Pump not running -> no pressure -> no clutches engaged -> nothing happens.

Now, add to that the electronic controls, which also default to "off" in a key-off situation.

The thing that I don't know, is on a vehicle that has complete automation (switching the key off doesn't actually key-off anything), if you commanded engine-stop while rolling forward, is whether it would detect this and leave the transmission coupled in the interest of keeping the power steering and power brakes working, or whether it would simply cut all solenoid power to the transmission, in which case all solenoids go off, and all clutches disengage.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

No, there was no engine braking. As you say, no power means no clutches engaged. I'd forgotten about the 2 pump malarkey on early autos, I've only ever worked on hydraulic 4 speeds and above, which had just the one pump.

Cheers

Greg Locock


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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (BridgeSmith)

LionelHutz, I didn't say I wouldn't buy a car with an electronic throttle. 3 of my cars do have them (btw, it was a 2002 model that I said had a mechanical throttle, not a 2009).

Sigh, see below...


Quote (BridgeSmith)


Quote (3DDave)

The ECU very likely does control the throttle based on a suggestion from a pot or magnetic pickup at the accelerator pedal and/or the simultaneous application of the brake.

Not on any of my vehicles. All of mine have a mechanical linkage to the butterfly valve in the throttle body. Of course, the newest vehicle I have is a 2009, so some newer vehicles may be set up that way.


Yes, you did say you wouldn't own a vehicle with an electronic throttle.

Yes, you also said you had a 2009 with mechanical linkage.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

I don't understand the angst associated with an electronic throttle. The actuator for my afore-mentioned 2003 Silverado once suffered an intermittent failure. The throttle fails in a spring-return position to above idle, and a diagnostic message displayed that says 'Reduced engine power'. If the ECU indeed still has throttle control, it can only drive it down to idle but not above the spring return position thereby keeping it from exploding the engine. Also in this situation, the engine does provide enough power to get you off of the road albeit at reduced speed. I assume the failure mine experienced was a loss of position feedback, in which condition would keep any ECU controlled car from running properly. A couple of cycles returns the engine operation to normal. I purchased a replacement Delco throttle for $135 and it took me all of 1/2 hour to replace it. This all happened after I had over 150K miles on it so I don't consider any of that to be unacceptable.

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Quote (LionelHutz)

Yes, you did say you wouldn't own a vehicle with an electronic throttle.

Yes, you also said you had a 2009 with mechanical linkage.

My apologies. I thought I had edited that post before submitting it. I looked at the pedals in my cars and realized I was mistaken about my newer vehicles, and apparently newer vehicles in general. Given the substantial number of vehicles successfully using the electronic throttle, I don't have the hesitation about them that I did. Perhaps, when the steering control systems (for parallel parking and such) have had a widespread successful history, I'll be ok with driving a vehicle that has it (still don't think I'd ever use it), but I don't think I'll ever trust a computer to drive me somewhere, though.

Rod Smith, P.E., The artist formerly known as HotRod10

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

The only stuck throttle I've ever experienced was my '79 Mustang when the "automatic" choke fell off the carb body and kept the throttle about 1/4 open. I managed to drive it home (only a couple of miles to go) by turning the ignition on and off to modulate the power. Fortunately it was late at night so little traffic and I just ran the red lights. No way I could park it like that so I drove up over the curb and left it in the front yard. Damn those unreliable mechanical systems.

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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

One thing I enjoy about electronic engine control systems are the videos of what mechanics have to go through to see what the reason for a fault is, sometimes requiring the use of an oscilloscope. My favorite was a "Reduced Engine Power" failure display that was eventually traced to the redundant throttle position sensors; apparently if there was more than a slight disagreement between the two sensors, the ECU would basically paralyze the vehicle. While they can be very reliable, when they fail they can be maddeningly difficult to diagnose and can be horrifically expensive to repair.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

dgallup-
Try driving a 60's or 70's era pickup with a straight 6 and a broken engine mount, causing trottle, shifter and clutch linkages all to jam up at once!

Brad Waybright

It's all okay as long as it's okay.

RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

Oh, I drove several of them without a broken engine mount and had to pull over to un-jam the worn shifter linkage.

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RE: Self Driving Uber Fatality - Thread IV

(OP)
My Charger(Arrow) would routinely break its front engine mount, but that didn't seem to incur any other damage.

A REALLY TINY disaster -- that car was sold in America, with American lug nuts, but it had metric-threaded studs, so I once got a flat and took out the wrench to remove the lug nuts, but SOMEONE had lost one of the OEM nuts during a previous repair and replaced it with the metric-threaded metric nut, which, of course, didn't fit my wrench. So, being in the pre-cellphone era, I had to wait, and wait, and wait, for AAA to come and help with installing the spare tire. Turned out the OEM lug nuts were actually metric nuts wrapped with a chromed cover that made it look like a US lug nut.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
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