Driverless Safety and AI “Experts” are not doing their Due Diligence and Risking Lives-Including Missy Cummings

One of the loudest and seemingly most credible safety and robotics voices in the industry is Missy Cummings. Her resume and direct approach is impressive. From female fighter pilot to the director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory and Duke Robotics. She routinely states handover or use of human Guinea pigs for testing autonomous vehicles, especially in Tesla’s, is problematic. The primary reasoning being it is scientifically impossible to expect humans to conduct proper handover in many time critical scenarios. The problem though, is she and many other who say this, including PAVE who has recently hosted here in several online events, ONLY want to stop this in production systems. They believe it must continue in development systems because there is no other way to do it. Said differently, they support the injury and loss of life this has and will cause because they think it is a necessary and unavoidable evil. Worse yet, when I mention DoD/aerospace simulation and modeling technology can solve this, they refuse over and over to allow me to show them the tech and make the case.

Since Missy is a former fighter pilot, who I assume has time in FAA Level D simulators, this is especially intellectually, ethically, morally, and professionally disappointing and reckless. To make matters worse she states simulation cannot provide an acceptable enough alternative to move away from public human Guinea pigs. To ensure I gave her more than enough opportunity to do her due diligence, in addition to asking over and over to show her the tech I am referring to, she has refused to provide a list of scenarios, objects, equipment etc she thinks cannot be properly modeled and why. This despite my explaining the tech I am referring to is far different and better than the gaming technology and modeling approaches the industry currently uses. (Keep in mind the real-world is used to inform and validate this simulation. The issue is there is far less of it needed.) This leads me to the unfortunate conclusion Missy Cummings is a wolf in sheep’s clothing who may be more damaging than Elon Musk. The reason for this being she attacks him for the same practices she supports. The only difference being production vs development systems. (The odd part being Elon’s systems are in development. I assume the issue being that Missy prefers AV maker employee Guinea pigs over customer Guinea pigs).

(A similar problem is the folks using the term “Autonowashing” to push back on folks stating their systems have reach autonomy. While correct they too have a massive ethical, moral, and professional blind spot. The same needless use of human Guinea pigs I discuss above.)

Hopefully, Missy will respond to this Medium article and my associated LinkedIn post.

More in my articles below including how to resolve these issues

The “Autonowashing” Town Criers are Autonowashing


The Autonomous Vehicle Industry can be Saved by doing the Opposite of what is being done now to create this technology


Proposal for Successfully Creating an Autonomous Ground or Air Vehicle


Simulation can create a Complete Digital Twin of the Real World if DoD/Aerospace Technology is used

Simulation Photorealism is almost Irrelevant for Autonomous Vehicle Development and Testing


Autonomous Vehicles Need to Have Accidents to Develop this Technology

Using the Real World is better than Proper Simulation for AV Development — NONSENSE

The Hype of Geofencing for Autonomous Vehicles

My name is Michael DeKort — I am a former system engineer, engineering and program manager for Lockheed Martin. I worked in aircraft simulation, the software engineering manager for all of NORAD, the Aegis Weapon System, and on C4ISR for DHS.

Key Industry Participation

- Founder SAE On-Road Autonomous Driving Simulation Task Force

- Member SAE ORAD Verification and Validation Task Force

- Stakeholder for UL4600 — Creating AV Safety Guidelines

- Member of the IEEE Artificial Intelligence & Autonomous Systems Policy Committee (AI&ASPC)

- Presented the IEEE Barus Ethics Award for Post 9/11 Efforts

My company is Dactle

We are building an aerospace/DoD/FAA level D, full L4/5 simulation-based testing and AI system with an end-state scenario matrix to address several of the critical issues in the AV/OEM industry I mentioned in my articles below. This includes replacing 99.9% of public shadow and safety driving. As well as dealing with significant real-time, model fidelity and loading/scaling issues caused by using gaming engines and other architectures. (Issues Unity will confirm. We are now working together. We are also working with UAV companies). If not remedied these issues will lead to false confidence and performance differences between what the Plan believes will happen and what actually happens. If someone would like to see a demo or discuss this further please let me know.

Systems Engineer, Engineering/Program Management -- DoD/Aerospace/IT - Autonomous Systems Air & Ground, FAA Simulation, UAM, V2X, C4ISR, Cybersecurity