Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Uber Killing Pedestrians: There's More to the Story

I know it's not plural "Pedestrians" yet but apparently there is a real risk there are other potential victims.

A week ago we took at face value the comment of Tempe AZ police chief Sylvia Moir:
“It’s very clear it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode (autonomous or human-driven) based on how she came from the shadows right into the roadway.” 
Well, yesterday Ars Technica relayed:

Uber told to stop testing driverless tech in Arizona
The state welcomed self-driving cars with open arms and minimal regulation.
Uber was told on Monday evening to suspend its autonomous car-testing program in Arizona. The move follows the death of Elaine Herzberg, a pedestrian who was struck and killed by one of the company's self-driving vehicles on March 18. According to the Associated Press, Governor Doug Ducey told Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi that public safety should be a top priority, and that "[t]he incident that took place... is an unquestionable failure to comply with this expectation."

In recent months, Arizona has become a hotbed of autonomous-vehicle testing. In contrast to California, the state has very little in the way of oversight, and both Waymo and Uber have been testing extensively, along with other, smaller self-driving programs. Beyond carrying liability insurance, autonomous vehicles are free to drive and aren't subject to the crash or disengagement reports required by Arizona's neighbor to the west....MORE
And today Ars is headlining:
Why it’s time for Uber to get out of the self-driving car business

There is just one problem with that editorial:
April 18, 2017
"Uber isn't sure if it can 'remain a viable business' without building self-driving cars"
If I were a late round Uber investor this would be a bit concerning.
We've posted on Kalanick and his "existential" quote, which is one thing, but this is a statement to a Federal Court....
Re: Kalanick, he has a lot of repulsive qualities but he isn't stupid and he knew full well he was running a "Create-a-corp." fraud on the investors. He had to get to autonomous because the business model does not work if they have to pay drivers (thank you Izabella Kaminska, wherever you are).

On the legal liability issue Bloomberg reported yesterday: 
Uber Disabled Volvo SUV's Safety System Before Fatality
Uber Technologies Inc. disabled the standard collision-avoidance technology in the Volvo SUV that struck and killed a woman in Arizona last week, according to the auto-parts maker that supplied the vehicle’s radar and camera.

“We don’t want people to be confused or think it was a failure of the technology that we supply for Volvo, because that’s not the case,” Zach Peterson, a spokesman for Aptiv Plc, said by phone. The Volvo XC90’s standard advanced driver-assistance system “has nothing to do” with the Uber test vehicle’s autonomous driving system, he said.

Aptiv is speaking up for its technology to avoid being tainted by the fatality involving Uber, which may have been following standard practice by disabling other tech as it develops and tests its own autonomous driving system. Uber’s system failed to slow the vehicle as 49-year-old victim Elaine Herzberg crossed the street pushing a bicycle. Police in Tempe, Arizona, and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident....MORE
Additionally this all ties into the LIDAR technology Levandowski pilfered from Waymo. After the settlement of Waymo's suit Uber is bending over backward to not infringe on Waymo's patents.
And Uber chose not to use optical systems from MobilEye which Intel paid $15 Billion to acquire.

Seeing the PR opportunity both Waymo and MobilEye had comments:
From Bloomberg via the Los Angeles Times:
And from Intel's newsroom:
Experience Counts, Particularly in Safety-Critical Areas
Now Is the Time for Substantive Conversations about Safety for Autonomous Vehicles
By Prof. Amnon Shashua
Society expects autonomous vehicles to be held to a higher standard than human drivers. Following the tragic death of Elaine Herzberg after being hit last week by a self-driving Uber car operating in autonomous mode in Arizona, it feels like the right moment to make a few observations around the meaning of safety with respect to sensing and decision-making.
First, the challenge of interpreting sensor information. The video released by the police seems to demonstrate that even the most basic building block of an autonomous vehicle system, the ability to detect and classify objects, is a challenging task. Yet this capability is at the core of today’s advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which include features such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane keeping support. It is the high-accuracy sensing systems inside ADAS that are saving lives today, proven over billions of miles driven. It is this same technology that is required, before tackling even tougher challenges, as a foundational element of fully autonomous vehicles of the future.
To demonstrate the power and sophistication of today’s ADAS technology, we ran our software on a video feed coming from a TV monitor running the police video of the incident. Despite the suboptimal conditions, where much of the high dynamic range data that would be present in the actual scene was likely lost, clear detection was achieved approximately one second before impact. The images below show three snapshots with bounding box detections on the bicycle and Ms. Herzberg. The detections come from two separate sources: pattern recognition, which generates the bounding boxes, and a “free-space” detection module, which generates the horizontal graph where the red color section indicates a “road user” is present above the line. A third module separates objects from the roadway using structure from motion – in technical terms: “plane + parallax.”
This validates the 3D presence of the detected object that had a low confidence as depicted by “fcvValid: Low,” which is displayed in the upper left side of the screen. This low confidence occurred because of the missing information normally available in a production vehicle and the low-quality imaging setup from taking a video of a video from a dash-cam that was subjected to some unknown downsampling....MORE
Professor Amnon Shashua is senior vice president at Intel Corporation and the chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Mobileye, an Intel company.
And regarding the Eyes Wide Open scam the VC's willingly jumped into like crazed racetrack gamblers running to the mutual windows waving cash in both hands, here's the bullet point summary of what transpired:
...Uber bait and switch. Stages of which:

– Uber has a nice business as a status product (Uber Black Car ~ 2010)

– Uber Black may not be profitable, but Uber will displace taxis and be hugely profitable because of technology-driven efficiencies (UberX: 2014-2015)

– UberX may not be profitable, but UberPool will lead to new efficiencies in mass transit (2015-2016)

– UberX may not be profitable, but Uber is a logistics company and will rewrite the rules of delivery (UberEats, various speculative stories, 2013-2015)

– UberPool may not be profitable, but when Uber displaces car ownership the scale of the market will make it profitable (2016)

– Uber with drivers may not be profitable, but driverless cars will make Uber profitable (2014-)

– Driverless cars may not be profitable, but Uber is looking into flying vehicles (2016) The Uber makes losses while maintaining credibility for bringing “the future” in some form or other.
And just so you know, we were on top of the flying vehicles:
That's from a commenter called Slee at Brad DeLon's Grasping Reality recounted in 2017's:
Uber's Master Plan, The Short Version

Finally, the backstory on Uber leaving California for Arizona, recounted in "Uber Self-Driving Car Kills Pedestrian In Arizona" contains this prescient headline on a Mercury-News story:
Arizona’s Uber gain is not necessarily California’s loss