Self-Driving Cars
Work in Progress - Latest Jan 12, 2020

Abstract

Self-Driving Cars - Spoiler Alert: There are no self-driving cars for sale!

There are six levels (0-5) of car autonomy from “no automation” to “full automation.”

Most of us are driving Level 0, no automation, or Level 1, driver assistance cars. A few like Tesla that are ranked at Level 2, partial Assistance. Fewer like the Audi A8 are ranked at Level 3, conditional assistance. The prophecy is some Level 4 cars are being tested on public roads. There are a few full autonomous vehicles Level 5 concept cars being tested.

Technology leaps are needed before self-driving vehicles can interact with humans and handle novel situations gracefully.

There are other challenges. Self-driving vehicles Artificial intelligence comes with some drawbacks. AI struggles when it deals with something it hasn’t learned.

It is hard to deal the with the unpredictable, stupid, and crazy things human drivers and pedestrians do.

When a self-driving vehicles makes an ill-advised decision, it’s extremely difficult to debug the vehicles. Unlike an airplane black box.

Cars will need fifth generation wireless, 5G, widely deployed before they are self-diving. There are major 5G problems to be solved before cars can be truly be self-driving. Consumer 5G smartphones will have similar problems. See 5G and Self-Driving Cars


ThumbsDown Self-Driving cars are Fiction


Self-Driving Cars

JaguarSDC

Understanding the 6 Autonomous Levels

Thee are six levels of car autonomy from “no automation” to “full automation” as defined by the SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers)

SAEJ 3016

Human driver monitors the driving
Level 0 - No Automation

Most vehicles are at this level today. They are cars where the driver does everything. The human driver controls all aspects of driving – from steering to operating the pedals, monitoring surroundings, navigating, and determining when to signal or manoeuvre. The car may have some automated warning tones and automated emergency braking.

Level 1 - Driver Assistance

"The driving mode-specific execution by a driver assistance system of either steering or acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task." - SAE J3016

Vehicles with this level of autonomy, in some driving modes, can handle steering or throttle and braking – but never both. Most functions are controlled by the driver. However, there are some systems that will step in to control the car. These might keep the car in its lane without input from the driver. Or they might brake the car and accelerate to maintain a set speed and distance in relation to the car in front. The driver is still primarily in control and these systems don’t work together. Even when the car is making decisions, the driver must be ready to step in at any moment. Cars with radar assisted ‘active cruise control’ fall into this category.


Level 2 - Partial Assistance

"The driving mode-specific execution by one or more driver assistance systems of both steering and acceleration/deceleration using information about the driving environment and with the expectation that the human driver perform all remaining aspects of the dynamic driving task." - SAE J3016

More than one system works together governing acceleration/deceleration and steering by using information gathered by the car from the driving environment. The driver performs all other elements of driving and remains in total control of the car. This might be a car that has radar-assisted cruise control working with Lane Keep Assist.

Vehicles can handle the steering and throttle and braking in some driving modes at Level 2. The driver must be alert at all times, be ready to take over the control of the vehicle, and is still responsible for monitoring the surroundings, traffic and road conditions.

An example of Level 2 autonomy is Tesla’s Autopilot system. This is a suite of driver assistance technologies including Traffic Aware Cruise Control and Autosteer with lane change, which enables automatic steering on undivided roads but with speed restrictions.

Other cars that have Level 2 systems are Volvo Pilot Assist, Mercedes-Benz Drive Pilot, and Cadillac Super Cruise. ---

Automated driving system (“system”) monitors the driving environment
Level 3 - Conditional Assistance

"With Level 3 autonomy, the vehicle can monitor its surroundings, change lanes, and can control the steering, throttle and braking in certain situations, such as on motorways. However, the driver must be ready to take back control of the vehicle when required." - SAE J3016

This level of autonomy has been termed conditional automation. An automated driving system that takes over all aspects of the driving process. It assess conditions around the car, accelerate, decelerate and even change lane without any human input. However, the driver must still be on hand and ready to intervene if the car requests it. Crucially, the human doesn’t have to be paying attention as much as in the previous levels.

The Audi A8 is the first production car to have Level 3 autonomy. Unfortunately regulators currently prohibit Level 3 autonomy. The A8′s AI Traffic Jam Pilot manages starting, steering, throttle and braking in slow-moving traffic at up to 60km/h on major roads where a physical barrier separates the two carriageways. When the system reaches its limits the driver is alerted to take over the driving.

Audi has said it will use a step-by-step approach to the introduction of the traffic jam pilot in its production models, because of local laws and regulations regarding autonomous diving.


Level 4 - High Automation

"The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene" - SAE J3016

These cars are probably what we think of when someone says the words ‘autonomous vehicle’

Level 4 automated cars can drive themselves with a human driver onboard. The car takes control of the starting, steering throttle and braking as well as monitoring its surroundings in a wide range of environments and handling the parking duties.

When the conditions are right, the driver can switch the car to autonomous mode. When the vehicle encounters something that it cannot read or handle it will request the assistance of the driver.

However, even if the driver does not intervene and something goes wrong, the car will continue to manoeuvre autonomously.

These cars are truly self-driving and the Google/Waymo self-driving vehicle has been tested at this level of autonomy on public roads for some time.


Level 5 - Full Automation

"The driving mode-specific performance by an automated driving system of all aspects of the dynamic driving task, even if a human driver does not respond appropriately to a request to intervene" - SAE J3016

The vehicle does not need human control. Humans are nothing but cargo. It doesn’t need to have pedals, or a steering wheel, or a human onboard.

The car is fully automated and can do all driving tasks on any road, under any conditions, whether there’s a human on board or not.

Some concept cars are Level 5 autonomous vehicles – including the Volkswagen Group SeDriC (SElf-DRIving Car), above, and the Audi AIcon concept."

Tesla’s Elon Musk

I think Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the best poster child for self-driving cars hype. Some of Musk’s statements are contrary to the SAE J3016 Six Levels Of Driving Automation. See Self-Driving Cars


All cool stuff, but it is a drop in a bucket for what is needed within 2 years to transform Tesla products from Level 2 Partial Assistance to Level 5 Full Automation cars, that was talked up April 15, 2019 Musk predicts Tesla will achieve full autonomy by 2020.

Level 5 Full Automation require the vehicle does not need human control. It doesn’t need to have pedals, or a steering wheel, or a human onboard. It is fully automated and can do all driving tasks on any road, under any conditions, whether there’s a human on board or not.

And, it must deal the with the unpredictable, stupid, and crazy things human drivers and pedestrians do.

"The latest 2019.40.50 firmware gives Tesla owners with Autopilot Hardware 3 a preview of its upcoming Full-Self driving capabilities, showcasing an increasingly more intelligent Tesla Neural Net that’s able to identify and display multiple traffic lights, stop signs, and even garbage cans on the vehicle’s touchscreen. The ability to render road markings and vehicle types, in detail, on-screen paves the way for Tesla’s upcoming “feature complete” Full-Self Driving suite."



"At Tesla’s Autonomy Day event for investors, CEO Elon Musk described the new FSD (Full Self-Driving) computer that will power Tesla’s vehicles, Musk said they contained what was “objectively” the “best chip in the world.” And that’s not best by a little, but “by a huge margin.""


"Experts and rivals beg to differ. They say this claim should be taken with a pinch of salt, and that while Tesla’s new hardware is impressive, it doesn’t provide an insurmountable advantage for the company, nor will it solve the challenges facing self-driving cars."


Elon Musk’s wildest predictions about Tesla’s self-driving cars

April 22, 2019

Here are a few quotes from the article.

"Musk is an outlier in an industry that’s been dialing back expectations around self-driving cars"


"Musk says teslas vehicles have all the hardware necessary to enable ‘full self driving’"


“lidar is a fool’s errand, and anyone who relies on lidar is doomed”


Musk predicts Tesla will achieve full autonomy by 2020

April 15, 2019

What magic transforms a Level 2 Partial Assistance Tesla into a Level 5 Full Automation in less than 2 years? I think this would probably be the biggest technology magic show ever.

"Tesla is less than two years away from full self-driving, CEO Elon Musk said in an interview. And said Tesla was far ahead of other companies working on self-driving technology."


"To me right now, this seems 'game, set, and match,'" Musk said. "I could be wrong, but it appears to be the case that Tesla is vastly ahead of everyone."


"Musk said Tesla customers would need to keep their hands on the wheel "for at least six months or something like that." But he predicted that soon—"maybe even toward the end of this year, I’d be shocked if it’s not next year at the latest"—Tesla’s self-driving technology will become so good that "having a human intervene will decrease safety."


A Whole Lot of Hyping Going On

"Technologists, media, and scores of online pundits have promised self-driving cars soon for years."


"Do not expect self-driving cars any time soon."


"A decade of hype and bold predictions is coming to a quiet end. But now those deadlines are passing and humans are still behind the wheel…"


"A decade of hype and bold predictions is coming to a quiet end."


"Automakers and tech companies have promised a transportation utopia, and invested billions to try to make it so. Tesla’s Elon Musk talked of autonomous cross-country trips in 2017. GM promised self-driving rides would be available in 2019. Ford was more cautious with its choice of 2021."


"Deadlines are passing and humans are still behind the wheel"


"And then there’s the trough of disillusionment, when things start failing, falling short of expectations, and hoovering up less money than before. This is where the practical challenges and hard realities separate the vaporware from the world-changers. Self-driving, it seems, is entering the trough. Welcome to the hard part. "



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