Rafaela Vasquez and Elaine Herzberg are both victims in Uber Tragedy — There is a far better way
Rafaela Vasquez and Elaine Herzberg are both victims. They nor anyone else involved in the Uber or Tesla tragedies to date should have been part of these events because they should never have occurred.
Most autonomous vehicle makers are using a process to create autonomous that will literally never result in anything close to a true autonomous vehicle. The lives that are being lost are completely unnecessary. This means that the industry is doing the exact opposite of that which it says it is doing. It will never save most of the lives it eventually wants to save and take thousands of lives needlessly in a fatally flawed effort trying. The reasons for that are:
· It is impossible to drive and redrive, stumble and restumble on all the miles and scenarios needed to train and/or test the system. RAND stated it was impossible with their calculations extending to 500B miles at 10X better than a human. Toyota stated it would be one trillion miles.
· It is impossible to spend the money to drive those miles. It would be a minimum of $300B.
· The public, press, government, attorneys etc will never allow that process to evolve to complex, dangerous and accident scenarios. When it is realized that thousands of accident scenarios have to be run thousands of times each, which would result in thousands of casualties, the process will be stopped. (I believe when the first child or family is killed it will be stopped).
· The process also relies on something called handover. That process involves the vehicle passing control back to the human to take control at some point. Often than handover is either unexpected by the human or the time needed to reacquire proper situational awareness cannot be provided by the AV no matter what monitoring and control system it uses. That time is between 6 and 45 seconds depending on the scenario. Handover is used in the public domain as L3 vehicles as well as during the development process when the public shadow or “safety” driver gives control over to the system for testing. NASA, Missy Cummings, a plethora of studies and more recently Waymo, Ford, Chris Urmson and quite hypocritically Volvo have said the process is dangerous and needs to be skipped. Just this week at an AV Expo near DC the NTSB Director of Highway Safety Robert Molloy, who leads crash investigations, stated that there is a window of time proper situational awareness cannot be provided and that most of the activity should be done in simulation.
Each issue above renders this process untenable and/or unethical and reckless. It should not exist. Given that the tragedies involving Rafaela Vasquez, Elaine Herzberg, Joshua Brown, Walter Huang and Gao Yaning should never have happened because the process used in their tragedies should not exist. While Rafaela clearly did not obey company policy by watching videos it doesn’t matter. She never had a chance to recover properly and the situation that put her there should not have existed. She and the world around her are being misled by the industry into believing the process being used is the best or only one that can be used and that the people who die as a result are for the greater good. That the process is an ends to a means or a necessary evil. That is an absolute myth. It is unreasonable and grossly negligent to expect anyone to shadow drive in most complex, critical and dangerous situations. Ford report their professional drivers fell asleep. NASA has a plethora of data on how ineffective this process is in those situations and has recommended to the AV industry they not use it. The solution is to use FAA processes and aerospace/DoD level simulation. (I mention this because the simulation used mostly in the AV and auto industries has capability gaps and in some cases is providing false confidence).
Why isn’t this being addressed? Because no one wants to rock the boat. There is too much money, ego and pride involved. Even worse than Elon Musk declaring lives need to be lost to advance this technology we have Dr. Rosekind, the former head of NHTSA, Director of “Safety Innovation” for Zoox, saying the same thing. They are trying to desensitize us so we accept the deaths that have occurred and will accept a drastically increasing death rate as the current simple or benign scenarios being run evolve to those that are complex and dangerous. (Dr. Rosekind led NHTSA when they conducted their fatally flawed 2015 L2/L3 Study that determined control could be regained in under 2 seconds and that monitoring and notification systems could make handover safe. The problem with that study was they shoes to not look at any situational awareness issues or the quality of the action taken after people regained control. All they had to do was face forward and grab the wheel). Most disappointing of all has been the NTSB. Robert Molloy, the lead of accident investigations, clearly knows what I have said here is true. They should be taking the appropriate action. That action should be an immediate moratorium on all handover activities while a proper investigation is done. I believe that will lead to NHTSA ensuring proper levels of simulation and test tracks are used prior to any public shadow driving. And if that is required it should be controlled like a movie set versus letting people drive around wherever and whenever they want. Due to the issues I list above that path would have to lower public shadow driving down to 1% or less of the time or they can never get through enough scenarios to finish for the reasons stated.
Please find more information in my articles below. The first is a summary and the second has a wide array of links to data sources proving the points I made.
Impediments to Creating an Autonomous Vehicle
Autonomous Levels 4 and 5 will never be reached without Simulation vs Public Shadow Driving for AI