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Counter Argument: 3 Reasons We Need V2X
9/17/2013

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Source: John Maddox's speech, 'Improving Driving Safety Through Automation'
Source: John Maddox's speech, “Improving Driving Safety Through Automation”

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junko.yoshida
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Pro-V2X argument
junko.yoshida   9/17/2013 1:49:57 PM
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This is supposed to be a counter argument to another V2X story I posted last week: "If a Car's Really Autnomous, Why V2X?"

For every story, there are always two sides to the argument. I wanted to explore the topic further in this new article.

Let the debate begin.

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
Max The Magnificent   9/17/2013 2:07:31 PM
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@Junko: For every story, there are always two sides to the argument.

The problem is that I'm usually arguing on both sides :-)

junko.yoshida
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
junko.yoshida   9/17/2013 2:10:45 PM
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@Max, ha ha, that is true. I am also doing exactly that with this piece...

Bert22306
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
Bert22306   9/17/2013 5:19:03 PM
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All good points in this article. I especially likes the point about redundancy, since that seems to be missed by those who think self-driving cars can never work. If one type of communication fails, or if one type of sensing fails, others will take over, and the car will operate in a degraded mode.

Honestly, unless people are talking about different things when they say "self driving," I can't begin to understand why there would be any debate about this. I mean, unless "self driving" is only driver assistance, e.g. to provide a little extra safety, but the driver is still driving. In that case, maybe.

When one designs a control system, what you do is you ask yourself, how would I do this manually? And not JUST the easy way, when everything works. But it has to include contingencies. An example here would be, when you drive in a snow-covered road, how do you manage to navigate without seeing the road markings? That needs to be worked out. Or even, how do I react if suddenly I lose visibility, e.g. in hard rain or snow?

And then you write algorithms that duplicate the human behavior, only hopefully without the panic, slow reflexes, or incompetence.

The only way I would accept a notion that V2I isn't imperative is if someone can make a convincing argument that maps, traffic lights, pavement markings, and road signs, are useless. That all you need to drive a car is to see the cars around you. Make that argument, or tell me that self-driving only really means "driver assistance," and maybe I'll be convinced.

BarrySweezey
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
BarrySweezey   9/18/2013 11:39:00 PM
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I agree with your third and fourth paragraphs 100%.  And I think that'll be enough to make cars better drivers than people without v2x. 

BarrySweezey
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
BarrySweezey   9/18/2013 11:27:40 PM
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"V2X can determine the vehicle's position relative to other vehicles, intersections, and infrastructure."  So can the car.

"V2X can coordinate movement and timing, particularly through dangerous intersections."  Seems like you give the infrastructure more credit for smarts that you're willing to give the car.  Herds, schools and flocks manage to turn on a dime without carrying transmitter-receivers.

"V2X can give a driver more visibility when cars are turning at a corner. It also offers the driver more information about what's happening a kilometer ahead."  Fine, but that's true for human drivers, too.

If self-driving cars prove themselves unable to compile a safety record better that humans', then they need v2x.  Otherwise, they don't.  It's an empirical question.

But if they turn out to require it, they'll take a lot longer to be realized and cost a lot more, so we should try like heck to see what they can do without it.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
junko.yoshida   9/19/2013 6:34:39 AM
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@BarrySweezey, I think you just made a perfect argument where the U.S. automotive industry is heading to. Let's see how far "Google cars" or any other autonomous cars can get to reduce accidents -- before making too much commitment to building V2X infrastructure.

But as to what you wrote:

"V2X can give a driver more visibility when cars are turning at a corner. It also offers the driver more information about what's happening a kilometer ahead."  Fine, but that's true for human drivers, too. 


Well, unfortunately, not really. You can't see what's happening a kilometer ahead when you are driving a car. 

Bert22306
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
Bert22306   9/19/2013 3:18:53 PM
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"Well, unfortunately, not really. You can't see what's happening a kilometer ahead when you are driving a car."

That's right, Junko. Another of many examples, a work zone will often create different traffic patterns and different speed limits, from those a stale Google map might indicate. (The Google map itself being a form of V2I, btw.) Plus, the traffic congestions possibilities up ahead, beyond the range of car sensors, which will deteremine a different route must be taken.

A car's own sensors won't get this, UNLESS they can read road signs and pavement markings, and never mind the traffic reports. All of these are forms of V2I comms. Any time the car reads human-generated information provided by the infrastructure, that constitutes V2I comms.

And it's not enough to rely on what the cars in front of you are doing. Obviously, someone has to be the first in line, or the only car in the vicinity, so that car has to get up-to-date information.

BarrySweezey
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
BarrySweezey   9/19/2013 11:52:01 PM
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My point was that if that's a valid argument for self-driving cars needing v2x, then it also implies that human-driven cars need v2x.  But no one is going to say that people shouldn't be driving cars if they can't see around corners or a km ahead.

Bert22306
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
Bert22306   9/20/2013 4:17:02 PM
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If there's traffic congestion somewhere beyond visual range of the human driver, hopefully the human driver will have heard about it in a traffic report and found an alternate route. Or on some roads you get those LED warning signs about problems ahead. If the human driver ignores these V2I options, he gets stuck in traffic.

If a human drives along a street with multiple traffic lights in a row, often the traffic lights are timed (more or less) to the speed limit signs, so you can drive at a steady speed and most of the lights will be green (only works properly on one-way streets, obviously). If the human driver ignores the speed limit signs, he will have to stop at every light.

These are all forms of V2I that a truly self driving car also needs, in addition to maps, merging lane indications, modified traffic patterns in construction zones, and all the many other examples of V2I we have already talked about.

GPS is also a form of V2I. It is conceivable eventually that GPS could be replaced by a scheme that uses actual stars instead of the GPS constellation of aritificial stars (satellites). At least, while the stars are visible. More like migratory birds. In the meantime, this navigation data too has to be provided via artificial V2I.

BarrySweezey
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Re: Pro-V2X argument
BarrySweezey   9/22/2013 8:43:37 PM
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Okay, if you say that any way information gets into a car is v2i, then v2i is necessary.  But I don't think that's how Junko or the commenters view v2i.  I think the question these articles are asking is will we have to change the environment?  Will new communication devices in cars and the infrastructure be necessary in order for self-driving cars to operate safely?

DrFPGA
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Safety is Phase One
DrFPGA   9/17/2013 5:04:37 PM
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Seems like the argument being made is that autonomy isn't possible until safety with an actual driver is dramatically improved. Once there are fewer accidents then autonomy could be considered and implemented. Sounds like a good strategy to me, but proving out 'just' crash avoidance features sounds like a very, long process. I don't expect to see autonomy for a very, very long time...

junko.yoshida
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Re: Safety is Phase One
junko.yoshida   9/17/2013 5:18:16 PM
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DrFPGA, I agree. But what's muddying the water in the autonomous car discussions is the fast progression (and adoption) of today's advanced driver assitance systems (ADAS) introduced in luxury cars.

Further improvements we are seeing in the ADAS makes us all realize that ultimate "autonomous car" scenario is not exactly the stuff of science fiction.  

Of course, there is a big gap between ADAS and self-driving cars. And yet, there are also a lot of overlaps between ADAS features and technologies enabling autonomous cars.

Bert22306
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The role of LTE or other cellular scheme
Bert22306   9/17/2013 5:33:56 PM
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Not sure why this side-debate gets so much attention either, actually. Use of cellular makes a lot of good sense, especially for long range V2I or V2V. Like, download the map. Or, talk to your buddies back home, or out on the road 50 miles ahead.

LTE doesn't make as much sense to show you the lanes or road edge, where you are traveling this instant. For that, you want a more direct and short-range link, with information that is valid right now. If you think this info is useless, then ask yourself how you drive on snow-covered roads (or any other situation where road markings aren't visible). What cues do you use? Provide those cues somehow, if not with an RF link then with some other scheme, and you're good to go. Or, how do you navigate through a construction zone?

It will take a mix of link types and/or on-board sensors to get there. LTE is only one piece of the puzzle, seems to me.

Luis Sanchez
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about fuel economy...?
Luis Sanchez   9/18/2013 12:15:01 AM
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The article states that we need autonomy on the cars because of lesser accidents, traffic jams and better fuel economy? That last point draws my attention because I've always heard that having a stick shift is better for fuel economy than the automatic shift. Is this statement still truth? If so, what is the reason behind it? 

I simply thought us humans would have even a better feeling than computers on how to step on the pedal and when to switch gears. Isn't it the gut feeling that which makes a driver better than others? Oh... just had a vision! There will come the day in which a autonomous vehicle be raced against a human driven one! First it was chess. then Jeopardy... then Nascar? 

Bert22306
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Re: about fuel economy...?
Bert22306   9/18/2013 3:10:40 PM
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Luis, it used to be true that stick shifts got better fuel economy, in the days when automatics did not yet have lockup torque converters and only had 3 gears. But now, automatics do have lockup torque converters, which don't waste energy heating up the fluid when the car is going at mostly steady speeds, and they have up to 8 gears. Way more than a human can manage intelligently. Which gives automatics an advantage over sticks.

These days, in the US market anyway, car companies try to avoid selling stick shifts, because stick shifts make it more difficult to meet their fuel economy requirements. They have to add gizmos to urge the driver to shift to the correct gear, for instance. When stick shifts are sold, if you read interviews with automakers on this subject, it is purely to satisfy consumer demand. Brands like even Mercedes Benz have pretty much stopped selling sticks in the US.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: about fuel economy...?
Caleb Kraft   9/18/2013 3:35:36 PM
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This is a fantastic point! I have often wondered if it were still the case that sticks were better. Now I know!

junko.yoshida
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Re: about fuel economy...?
junko.yoshida   9/18/2013 5:35:48 PM
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Luis, since Bert covered your stick shift question, let me cover the other question -- why autonomous cars are good for fuel economy. As the automotive industry experts tell the story, here's what they have in store (see the diagram on page 2 of this article):

When cars need to pass through a number of traffic lights, the V2X infrastructure can inform drivers of a recommended driving speed, in order to reduce unnecessary acceleration or slowdown.


In a nutshell, the grand plan is to have smart infrastructure like V2X let you drive through a road with less frequent stops and goes. Sounds too good to be true? Yes, I agree.

rberg920
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Re: about fuel economy...?
rberg920   9/19/2013 6:52:24 PM
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Hi Luis, nobody commented on your autonomous vehicle racing against a human one.  Take a look at this:

http://www.gizmag.com/stanford-audi-tts-autonomous-car-thunderhill/24957/

 

There's a cool YouTube video near the bottom of the page.

Kinnar
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Human Errors Are the Cause of Accidents Today
Kinnar   9/18/2013 7:44:54 AM
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Human Errors are today considered the major cause of Accidents. Automation and/or Driverless Vehicles are of discussions today to overcome the human errors, the studies are comming up with the fact feagures stating that Automation will be adding to the safety, but once the Automation and/or Driverless Vehicles will start taking the critical decision "Machine Errors/Failures" will become the major cause of Accidents. And these will not be under anyone's control then after.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Human Errors Are the Cause of Accidents Today
junko.yoshida   9/18/2013 5:41:35 PM
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@kinnar, we all fear that eventuality, don't we?

But not so fast. Currently, autonomous cars are NOT exactly defined as "driverless cars." I think that the assumption -- at least among regulators -- is to have a driver present in the driver's seat all time.

That, however, does not solve all the quandries you mentioned in your comment -- because it's not just machines' failures (which will happen) that we need to worry about, but we do wonder what if a human overrides a machine's decision (or vice versa), while the other car your may about to have an accident with didn't.

Kinnar
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Re: Human Errors Are the Cause of Accidents Today
Kinnar   9/19/2013 4:31:17 AM
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That is quite right, the life is full of threats, via science and technology we are trying to cope-up with the threats and improve the possibilities of living, on the same path I am very much sure that these developments will be ultimately leading towards better road safety, but this was just a point in the discussion.

 

vasanth kumar d
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Count matters
vasanth kumar d   9/18/2013 10:18:54 AM
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I dont agree with the idea that autonomous system would only be accepted if it causes zero accident.

Consider these two options.

A transport system with human control that takes 100 life/year.  (or)

A transport system fully autonomous that might only take (0...50) life/year.

I choose the second one. What would you prefer?

 

 

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Count matters
Max The Magnificent   9/18/2013 10:32:14 AM
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@vasanth kumar d: I agree with you -- the problem is that whenever someone is injured or dies due to a problem with the automatic system, the victim (or his/her family) will have a field day suing anyone who had anything to do with the creation of that system.

junko.yoshida
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Re: Count matters
junko.yoshida   9/18/2013 5:44:17 PM
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You have a point there, @vasanth.

There are in fact already "driver-less" transportation systems functioning well -- but they are limited to a certain rail or lane.

Autonomous cars are problematic because they can freely change lanes and they don't always drive on a "diamond" lane in a highway.

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