Sunday, November 26, 2017

Autonomous Cars - Part 5

One of the obvious ways to ensure that cars on the road avoid each other and cooperate with each other is to have them communicate with each other.  This is an area that's getting a lot of attention among radio suppliers: Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to, well, just about anything: infrastructure, lights, traffic sensors and more.  Together, this all gets wrapped up in what's being called V2X.  There's just one problem: there's more than one way to do it and the industry hasn't chosen one.
The ITS-G5 technology, which is based on the modified IEEE 802.11p WiFi standard, is opposed to the C-V2X, which is based on the 3GPP standards. Although BMW, one of the “inventors” of the V2X technology, has already moved to the C-V2X camp and industry heavyweight Qualcomm recently launched a reference design that can be regarded as a clear commitment to C-V2X, the dispute has not yet been resolved. There are still good reasons for ITS-G5, as shows our interview with Onn Haran, co-founder and CTO of chip company Autotalks. The company is regarded as one of the pioneers of V2X technology.
As is often the case, these technologies aren't compatible and will interfere with each other.  That means there can be only one.  It becomes a high stakes game of each group developing their products and pushing to get their system mandated.  They push government agencies, not just here, but worldwide.  This interview is from EENewsAutomotive in Europe, but the same thing is going on here.

Commenter Dan, in response to the last post, voiced the idea:
And there has to be a motive behind the massive push to create driverless vehicles. It's not as if the technology is cheap, it's not. It's a very expensive bit of engineering to design, create and implement. It makes one ask why....why are they trying so hard to get this technology into the real world. The realist in me leads me to conclude that such technology will assist those in power with what they enjoy most. CONTROL. If left unfettered eventually autonomous vehicles will become practical ( a term that is subject to debate of course). Eventually the technology will become widespread.....and once it does the power mongers will do what they always do....legislate. They will seek to make it illegal to use a vehicle that is NOT autonomous....because "do it for the children" etc. Once they succeed in banning vehicles that humans can control they will essentially have TOTAL control over all transit and travel in America. And THAT is worth the cost....both in $$$ and in least to a politician.
I'm sure a lot of people think this, but I'm not sure I want to "go there".  While it's a possible motivation, that's playing a long game.  Many of us, perhaps curmudgeonly, think that this is not coming immediately; it's 25 or more years out.  With a few exceptions, government has shown over and over that they're really not capable of thinking for the long game.  "Long" means the next election cycle.  That said, there have been a few playing a conscious long game of slowly taking over.

I think the answer is more immediate and it's evident in the story about competing standards for the vehicle communications.  The "computer revolution" of the 80s and 90s made the electronics industry, especially the semiconductor side, extremely hype cycle driven.  The chip makers built infrastructure to supply parts for a demand like the computer sector had during those days.  Now that computer sales have dropped, they're constantly looking for the Next Big Thing. 

Today, the Next Big Thing seems to be "The Internet of Things That Don't Quite Work Right".  However autonomous cars are a gold mine of epic proportions for the chip makers.  I think they say the typical car has around 25 microprocessors in it now; that number will jump, and the number of sensors (like the radar or synthetic vision) will skyrocket.  The number of this kind of sensors now is essentially zero.

There are other factors, of course.  For one, the hype is creating interest among the buying public.  As the AAA study I wrote about months ago says, while the majority of people surveyed are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the survey also found that a bigger majority (59%) wants to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. For another, it's clear that agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants them, evidenced by them goosing the process to put a regulatory framework in place.

So I see this as sort of a Perfect Hype Storm: the semiconductor industry wants it to sell chips every year*, the auto industry wants to help flagging sales, the Feds probably want it because those deplorable people won't cause so many accidents (greased liberally with knowledge the industries involved will be spreading money around for influence in perpetuity), and finally, the people are intrigued by the idea of perhaps having the car handle some of the tedium of a daily chore.  
A look at the V2X communications space, illustration from reference PDF at Innovation Destination article.

* The largest sales volume single part that semiconductor giant Analog Devices sells is not an analog integrated circuit.  It's the deceleration sensor in your seat belts that locks them in event of an accident or other sudden jerk on the belt.  It's a MEMS device (Micro Electro Mechanical System).


  1. I have to make one point here: the Left has always taken the long view. From the Fabians to the Marxists (especially Asian, such as in China) to the elitists who have decided globalism - with them leading it - is preferable to any socialist or religious (islam) mode of organizing, an oligarchy with them at the top. Twenty-five years down the road is not a long stretch for those who have been planning the downfall of our Republic, and of individuality vs collectivism.

    Even Russia took the long view, evidenced by their infiltration of our government, industry, and media. Not just moles and "sleepers", but grooming young people to become fanatical adherents of socialism/fascism, as materialists, hedonists, and even nihilists, via our schools and universities.

    It isn't difficult to imagine that taking control away from individuals by forcing them to become passengers instead of drivers, even losing the ability to drive were they given the opportunity, _might_ be another tool by which the State could control - and limit - our choices and even our ability to choose.

  2. SiG....when you say that to 'the government' the next election cycle IS 'the long game' there is probably an element of truth in that. The problem however is that 'the government' is not the true power player. It is the face of those in power.....people who NEVER need fear what the voter will do. And THAT group does deal in 'the long game'....a time period of decades or more. One of the prime examples of that group is George Soros....a man who plays chess with countries to further the power of the unelected oligarchy. To this group everything they do is geared towards CONTROL. When you have a billion or two dollars it stops being about that point there is nothing you need and damn few things you desire that are not obtainable. At that level it's all about the most addictive narctotic in human history....POWER. And total control over travel and transportation is an ENORMOUS amount of power. Greater perhaps than even the power to disarm a society.

    1. Of course you're right, as is Reg T. Besides the Soros groups, there's the UN after all: this fits very well in with Agenda 21 or 2030 or whatever they're calling it these days.

      In this case, since I still read the trade magazines and see the hype wave cresting, I see the other groups pushing for it and I think it started for those reasons. I think it started for improvements in traffic handling, and then Google's self driving cars because they wanted "Street View" without paying drivers to go around with cameras.

      It's possible that lots of more sinister groups climbed on board once they became aware of autonomous cars and thought about it a bit.

      Perfect Hype Storm continues as a reasonable explanation.

  3. If Hillary was president, I wonder how the ITS-G5 vs C-V2X disagreement would be settled...

    Of course, it would be done the same way if Jeb! had won.

  4. So they want to create the largest fleet of remote control vied's ever imagined, what could go wrong? After the first event, will each vehicle be required to have camera and sniffers in the passenger compartment and trunk?

    1. Not only that, but the telemetry from same will be constantly uploaded to the Only Ones. And they will have the capability to remotely command the vehicle to do whatever they want.

  5. Back in the dark ages when the internet was "the next big thing" (circa 1992), I don't believe anyone envisioned what the whole concept has turned into - and certainly not in the days of ARPANet. I suspect something similar with autonomous vehicles. Some form of it will come, just not the way it's envisioned now. There's still the "we didn't know what we didn't know" to be worked out.

    Regarding a push for chip demand, I hadn't considered that aspect. I would think the Intels would be bigger players than ADI ... but a concept very worthy of consideration. Now that AI has picked up the competition TI left laying around, I see your point. I wouldn't blow off big government interest though. There's new taxes to be collected.


  6. Check out the protocols for tire pressure sensors. They're in almost all new cars. They are bluetooth based, and retransmit to act as relays. It has been shown that their signals can relay through at least ten cars in NYC streets - random cars, not selected ones.

    1. It would be interesting to see that. Do cars get underinflation warnings from the next car over in traffic? Two cars over?

  7. I noticed you deleted my comment regarding your ability as a prognosticator on artificial intelligence. OK, it's your blog. I will periodically comment here on the state of the art in AI just so you can keep up.

    I ran across this article a few days ago:

    Agreed that chess is not the same as driving cars but just like driving it has until recently been regarded as something only humans can do. That idea went down the tubes with Deep Blue and the advantage to AI has increased dramatically since then.

    The article is about a new Google chess playing program that was 'programmed' in a few hours by mining chess knowledge on the internet. Interestingly, the computing power of AlphaOne, the Google chess player, is about the same as that of Deep Blue and of Stockfish, the previous chess champion. The difference is in the software. So this was not just due to Moore's law.

    Any comments?

    Bob the Engineer.

    1. Number one: I never delete comments unless they're obvious spam. I check every day for things that Google incorrectly put in the Questionable or Spam folders and I haven't seen anything in quite a while, certainly nothing that belonged as real comment.

      I have no idea what happened to it, but I never delete comments other than obvious spam. I have had one other guy tell me that he posted a comment and it vanished, though.

      Number two: I have no way to bar or prohibit one person, just all comments. Especially an anonymous comment.

      As for the Science Alert content, there is far more to a fully autonomous robot car than playing chess.

      I also find it interesting that they took a system that won 28% of its games and declared it a veritable God of chess.

      "In a series of 100 games against Stockfish, AlphaZero won 25 games while playing as white (with first mover advantage), and picked up three games playing as black. The rest of the contests were draws, with Stockfish recording no wins and AlphaZero no losses.

      "We now know who our new overlord is," said chess researcher David Kramaley, the CEO of chess science website Chessable.

      This says nothing about sensor fusion, interpretation of questionable results from radar, lidar, or a half dozen other things.

      Nice, but it's a milestone along the way, not an answer.

      I believe you're the guy I told I'm hard line empiricist. If it isn't verified in the real world, I'm not sold. All that a good chess playing computer tells me is that it's a good chess playing computer, not that it's ready to "... run cities, continents, universes.""

      So tell me: teleportation of quantum entangled subatomic particles has been done in the lab, right? When they invent a transporter and they've moved a few blocks of compound chemicals around, are you going to be the first person to say "send me" or are you going to wait to watch what happens in lower animal studies?

    2. This reads a lot more awkwardly the second time I read it: I have no way to bar or prohibit one person, just all comments. Especially an anonymous comment.

      I mean I have no way to ban or prohibit one commenter, just turn off comments. I meant it's especially hard for anonymous comments. If I allow one, I allow all.