Don’t burn your butt and GM Cruise reverts to meat computers
Time to pour some out for the poor folks at GM Cruise as they take time to reflect on how they can better earn the public’s trust. We suggest not dragging people under your car and lying about it to regulators. On the plus side lying to NHTSA will hopefully make NHTSA a little more proactive in their investigations into this company. Might make the GM Cruise investors a little more proactive too. Toyota has been slow to move into the EV market and now they are having an, “I told you so” moment as EV’s are not selling as well as expected. At the same time Toyota is putting a fake clutch and shifter into their EV because one good idea deserves to be followed up by one dumb idea? We dig into how safety inspections need to be updated for ADAS and self driving vehicles. And how exactly is a self driving car with no pedals or steering wheel going to get itself to an inspection station? Plus recall roundup.
This weeks links:
Subscribe using your favorite podcast service:
note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.
Anthony: You’re listening to their auto be a law, the center for auto safety podcast with executive director, Michael Brooks, chief engineer, Fred Perkins, and hosted by me, Anthony Simenon. For over 50 years, the center for auto safety has worked to make cars safer.
Okay. Recording in progress. No more clearing of the throat. Silence all phones. Have your seatbelt on, listener. WELCOME TO THE SHOW! I was expecting There was no good There was no good morning, even though we’re recording this. Listeners, I have to apologize in advance. Normally we record this nice and early in the morning while the caffeine’s still flowing through Michael and I’s system and vitamin D from his sun lamp collection is coursing through Fred’s veins, but today we’re doing it in the afternoon hey!
Let’s just see what happens.
Fred: I woke up to snow this morning, so the floods are running a little slowly today.
Anthony: Oh, wow. Okay that doesn’t sound great. But hey, it can’t be anything worse than what GM Cruise is doing. Ha! That’s right, listeners. Welcome to the GM Cruise’s… Dumb, project, company, hour.
No, it’s not gonna be the entire hour, but we told you last week about how Jim Cruise, the California Department of Motor Vehicles, said, Hey, not in our state anymore. And even the California Public Utility Commission’s Hey, even though we paid one of our salaries for a number of years and we’re gonna vote for you no matter what, this looked really bad when you dragged a pedestrian, so maybe, yeah, don’t…
To have these things in our state now, and that’s exactly how it happened. It is. And now Cruz has said in a post that it will take time to examine its processes, systems, and tools, and reflect on how we can better operate in a way that will earn public trust. What does that mean? They’ve canceled the driverless operations in Austin, Houston, and Phoenix.
Looks like Miami. That means
Michael: they’re still driving there, right? And all these places just with a safety driver.
Anthony: Yes. So they have a human on board.
Michael: Yeah, there’s no they’re not ceasing their operations really anywhere. I don’t think even in California, but they’re just going to continue using an actual human to make sure they don’t do things like drag a pedestrian behind the car after the crash.
ThEy’re resorting or to move the vehicle when they’re blocking, a firetruck. It’s a lot of the things we’ve seen,
Anthony: or like hitting the brake pedal when they hear a firetruck coming saying, Hey, wet cement. Let me turn the steering wheel. Yeah, Cruz unfortunately has resorted to an ugly, gross, gaseous meat computer behind their steering wheels.
Ugh, awful. Yeah I, I know those of you at home thinking, Oh, man, weren’t you guys gonna go easy on GM Cruise? Nope, cuz they’re bad. And speaking of who’s not going easy on them, his friend of the show, Phil Koopman, not pronounced Koopman, even though that’s how his name is spelled, Phil Koopman, on his blog, Safe Autonomy, he did a bit of a dive into the California DMV database, and from the opening part of his blog, a comparison of California Cruise Robot.
Taxi crash reports between the California DMV database and the Nitsa SGO database reveals significant discrepancies in reporting. 31 crashes reported to nitsa do not appear in the California DMV databases. This includes seven on reported injury crashes. Is every other car CEO going, how do we pull shit like this?
Michael: tHat one is, I’m wondering how NHTSA hasn’t already jumped up and fined Cruz, actually, because if you look at the standing general order, which Phil referenced in his post comparing it to the California reports, it, if you look at the report that Cruz filed with them when this event took place.
They don’t mention the post crash incident. They’re clearly misleading NHTSA’s authorities when they send them that report under the Standing General Order. There’s a provision in the Standing General Order that, provides for fines, rather large fines in some cases, for false reporting, and so we expect to see a fine there.
I don’t think there’s any question that. Cruz was leaving out the most important and safety related part of that entire incident that occurred with the pedestrian in their standing general order report. It’s a posted it to the docket of the investigation. You can see it right there.
There’s no mention whatsoever of the vehicle moving after the initial incident, which is, Clearly lying by omission and what got them in trouble with the California DMV in the first place.
Anthony: Fred, you’ve had a bit of a how do I say, a bit of a an adventurous experience with the law in your youth.
Michael: Fair enough?
Fred: I Can concur with
Anthony: that, yes. Okay. Just one? Look, we’re, this is a
Fred: family program. Hey, I’ve never been arrested, never been convicted.
Anthony: If you were going to lie to a federal regulator, would it be the one that oversees your industry, or would you just stick to the IRS and be like, ah, I didn’t know that wasn’t a deduction.
I run a cat ranch.
Fred: Once you start down that road, it’s hard to know where to stop, I think if you’re gonna, if you’re gonna lie to anybody, it’s going to be the person who’s most responsible for your behavior, right? There’s no point in lying to somebody if they’ve got nothing to do with your freedom.
Anthony: why I lie to myself
Fred: all the time. I waste the energy. So GM’s had years of experience lying to people, so is this, maybe there was a considered decision. This is the way to go. It really
Anthony: is puzzling. So GM, the old car company that’s been around for over a century at this point, they’ve made this mistake in the past of lying or misleading or, being jackasses. Whereas GM Cruise, it’s the hip new tech bro thing. They haven’t had that experience of of lying to regulators on the regular and getting caught for it. It’s the kind of the tech bro mantra. Regulators are stupid, man. We’re changing the world. My app will do everything. So is that what GM Cruise needs?
Is just to be slapped down? And, or do they need like big mama GM to be like, Hey dummies, we’ve gotten caught in the past and it led to things like the creation of the center for auto safety.
Michael: I don’t know that even the, the slap that’s provided for in the standing general order for this probably isn’t enough.
To affect them. I think they pretty clearly need new leadership at cruise. They’re functionally have spread out across America and told lots of fibs about how great autonomous vehicles and robo taxis are going to be while they’ve caused a lot of problems in the communities where they’re deployed.
And they’re doing this in a way that’s not responsible. It’s not, they say they’re going to have to go back and rebuild trust with, their America and their customers. And I’m wondering, when did you ever build it in the 1st place coming out and, saying we’re going to save the world, save people from themselves.
And meanwhile, you’re having to misrepresent, very simple incidents like this. If your vehicle had simply stopped when it should have known it was on top of another human and, disabled itself and you had the software, the hardware to do that in the vehicle, we wouldn’t be in this place.
And the fact that you’re literally. Taking video, showing it to reporters, showing it to who knows else, telling the California DMV that only the first part of this happened. This pedestrian was struck by another vehicle. We struck the vehicle. There was no way to avoid it. We’re not going to tell them that they’re, they didn’t tell them that there was this post crash incident which is really important.
That post crash incident shows it’s one yet another example that these things don’t operate as well as humans. Most humans would never start a car up and attempt to move it when another human was under the vehicle. So it’s. It’s a pattern there and I think it suggests that there’s a problem that crews, there’s a problem with transparency with, not only the public, but with federal authorities.
And that’s never a good thing. I
Fred: think there’s probably a group of people wearing green eye shades at GM who are taking a long, hard look at this right now. All of a sudden, instead of a. Development program that looked like it’s on the tracks and things are going just fine. We’re expanding around the country.
Oops, everything slams into reverse. They’re spending an enormous amount of money on this program. And so all of a sudden, they’ve got a tremendous amount of money going out and a huge question mark about when they’ll ever see this issue closed out and what happens then at the same time, as you guys know.
They are facing the fact that Honda has said, this EV industry isn’t what we thought it was going to be, and we’re going to pull out of the partnership with you to use your now,
Cruze is not an EV, but, I think in the management mind, these are all coupled. And so there’s the changes that are taking place in the EV and the AV markets right now, neither one of them leans in the direction of early Positive return on investment. I don’t know. I’m guessing there’s going to be a come up and fairly soon about the strategic allocation of resources towards cruise.
Michael: Honda actually, they’re backing away from the EV, but they’re they’re staying, they seem to be staying on course with cruise as far as Honda wants to introduce the origin Anthony’s favorite. Vehicle to Japan, I believe in the next couple of years. So they’re partnering.
It looks like on some introductions in Japan, but at the same time, I don’t know. I don’t know what Honda thinks about this. Honda is. Traditionally, a lot more careful when it comes to safety defects and this type of thing than general motors 20 some odd years, and it’s a little surprising to me that they’ve.
Jumped onto the cruise ship versus another manufacturer even doing it themselves.
Fred: I think they bought into the hype. It was hard not to, you looked at the margins that Elon Musk is bringing in with Tesla. You look at, all the news, you look at the benign regulatory environment. A couple of years ago, and it all looked like things were headed in the same direction.
But I think there’s been significant changes over the just the last couple of years. In all those respects, the Tesla’s, the other EVs are languishing in the storerooms right now, and they’re just not being sold the way they were going to be. As you’ll talk about later, there’s a pushback in Norway about the most electrified country in the world right now for automotives, uh, acknowledging the economic disparities that are being subsidized by the government and the fact that the cities don’t really want all these lumbering vehicles lumbering around in their particular cities.
There’s a lot of cross currents here, and they’re not all moving in the direction of early profitability for GM crews.
Anthony: But their designs are so pretty. Speaking of the origin so yeah, we just covered a lot of things we’re going to get to later on, but let’s stick with this robo taxi stuff.
Fred, you mentioned that they were all interested in this benign regulatory infrastructure, and I think, hey, One way to get regulators to be less benign? Lie to them! Ha! Ha! Ha! Hey, GM might have actually, GM Cruise might have just done a great thing for NHTSA. Cause NHTSA’s wait a second, you’re gonna lie to us?
I’m gonna take you out back. I’m gonna beat you down. And, that’s probably what will happen. California DMV’s been chomped with a bit. The California Public Utility Commission’s on their hands like, Eh, would you like to see my resume? I
Michael: don’t know the standing general order process of reporting is it’s not just the 1st report.
You have to make 1 report within, I think, 24 hours of the event. But then at that point, you have to follow up with other reports. And I’m wondering at which point in those reports, Cruz started crawfishing and letting. That’s a no about the post crash incident because they didn’t get in there first.
It’s backing away from your position. Have you ever seen how a cross crawfish wins backwards? Yeah,
Anthony: this is some more southern backpedaling would be a well, yes us in the North, we’d understand that one. Earlier you said the word fibbing and I was like, Oh, you’re putting on your cute.
I’m just a simple country lawyer speak. Yeah,
Michael: it comes out. I can’t help
Anthony: it. So GM crews, they’re putting humans inside their car, the old meat computer. And, but Uber, on the other hand this is from October 26th and their blog saying starting today, Uber customers can get matched up with a fully autonomous, all electric Waymo ride with no human driver behind the wheel.
You don’t have to listen to their awful music or smell their awful cuisine in the 225 plus square miles of the Metro Phoenix area where Waymo currently operates. They’re like, ah, this is no good. They stop and Uber and Waymo are just like, ah, people are, we have to pay them, let’s rid of them. And
Michael: the really interesting thing about this is, Uber.
Was responsible for the only death that we know of that’s been caused by an autonomous vehicle a few years back in Arizona and now they’re back in the game. So maybe that’s good news for Cruz. I don’t know luckily for uber they’ve partnered with a more responsible teammate than themselves In Waymo, which has you know been at the head of the curve as far as you know Being a little more transparent than Cruz I don’t necessarily think they’re the good guys yet, but they’re, definitely crossing more T’s and dotting I’s than cruises on safety.
But there’s still a lot of, there’s still a lot to be told there. They’re only going to be operating right now. And the Arizona areas where, you know, the weather and the roads are fairly stable and, no easy for these vehicles to navigate and good weather and all those things. And they’ve been on the roads in Chandler, Arizona, and those areas for many years now operating Waymo has.
That’s the kind of thing that makes sense to us. You operate in one area, you get to know a lot about it over a few years, and then you turn on the button and see if you can operate there, but you can’t just. Start in one spot for a few months and then hop to 20 other cities across the country.
I just, I don’t know that’s reasonable and it’s not really the model that, I think some of the more responsible companies that are testing and deploying this stuff are using. Could
Anthony: it be because GM Cruise backed by General Motors primarily is a tenth, if even that much, the size of Waymo, which is backed by Google, which just craps money and they don’t have a rush to be like, Hey, we have to get out into 30 markets by the end of the year.
I don’t know.
Michael: I’m not sure that comes to the dynamics of investments and a lot of other things that I’ll never truly understand, but. Waymo has, and Google, have been in this space now, a lot longer than Cruise has, and, you
Anthony: know, I think Hey, Kyle’s been doing this since he was a child.
Don’t you remember? He had an RC car when he was a little boy, and this is his dream come true, dammit.
Fred: That was only three years
Anthony: ago. Ah, that’s ageism, buddy. Okay, look.
Fred: I think GM is trying to become Waymo. I think GM is trying to become Google. They’ve seen this all this activity. They’re trying to open up an app store.
They’re opening up the API for their electronic control system in their vehicles. And I think what they really want to do is they really wanna be Google. They’d much rather have a return on investment of 800% per year than the 5% per year that they’re getting now. sO this I think this is probably all part of a corporate strategy to remake GM in the mode of Google.
Michael: Money on your tech and, subscriptions and things versus the actual vehicle, right? Yeah. You
Fred: know, matter is so old school.
Michael: It truly is 13 billion years or so, right?
Anthony: iT’s 5, 000 years old. Okay. The let’s jump into GM opening up their APIs. So this is instead of focusing on.
Things that I think, and that we think would be great, like automatic emergency braking. And, not using ARC airbags. They’re spending time saying, hey, which is, I think is a smart idea in some sense, saying, hey, we should probably, build our own software in our cars instead of just using Google and Apple stuff and letting them take all the money.
Well, GM, not a software company, decided, hey, we’re going to become a software company because, if I say it, it must be easy. And they’ve started opening up a set of APIs, which are Application Programming Interfaces. So software developers can add cool little apps and while you’re driving, you can download an app to Hey, let’s defrost my seats at the same time as it rolled out on the windows and flashes my high beams.
I don’t really know what these things are going to do, but those are some of the openings they have in their applications. I don’t know what thought they’ve given at all to safety concerns. Are they only going to allow you to download apps while the car is parked? Are they going to let you do anything?
Is there any limitations on, hey, let’s not have people be able to flash lights? The safety
Fred: problems run a lot deeper than that, Anthony. Because, traditionally API for software is sitting on your computer. The worst that’s going to happen is you’re going to crash the computer. The second worst thing that’s going to happen is somebody’s going to use those APIs to get into your databases and steal your money.
bUt the third thing that’s going to… The thing that’s really important about these APIs is they’re on a moving vehicle. Which automatically jeopardizes you and jeopardizes the people around you. And unless you’ve got a lot of firewalls built into these APIs to make sure that nobody can do anything catastrophic to the motion of the vehicle, you’re really opening yourself up to a lot of jeopardy.
That some person, and there are dopes in the world who would do this, will find a way to put the API in there and be a great way to blackmail somebody, wouldn’t it? If you give me Bitcoin or you’re going to crash into a wall at 800 miles an hour I don’t know I’m going to stick with my, I’m going to stick with my old Subaru for a while, I’ll tell you that.
Anthony: Yeah. So that’s the thing is there. These APIs, they haven’t, they’ve just just very early talked about, Hey, this is what will allow developers to do. And we’ll have an ecosystem and some other BS marketing type terms and we’ll take 30%. Exactly. That’s the business model. They all want us.
We want to take 30 percent just like Apple
Michael: already in their cars doing that. Through the phones and their interfaces that they have, some of these vehicles already have android or apple built into the system. Some don’t, but in that case, a lot of people use their phones instead of the system.
So they want a piece of that market. There are a lot of things people do in cars that are monetized now. And, why not there, I think that’s their approach. We can only make so much money selling cars. We need to open this ecosystem to developers who want to make.
Apps and software for GM owners and vehicle users. And, that makes sense to an extent whether people are going to adopt that over the options they already have on their phones, it remains to be seen.
Anthony: The problem with doing this in cars is something what’s the word I’m looking for?
Oh, safety. Yeah, because every week we talk about how rear view cameras stop working because they’re tied into the entertainment system. And so now you’re opening up the APIs to allow people to do stuff, and that’s gonna break. And the amazing thing about software is, unlike automobiles, Unlike airplanes, unlike trains there’s no regulations, there’s no government oversight saying, hey, this is safe what you’ve deployed.
Like when Boeing, writes software they check things over and over again. And they’re like, no one will catch on to this thing with the engines and the Macs. But seriously, they, there’s a bunch of very standardized practices. They do a very old school approach to these things. It’s still not perfect.
If NHTSA or can’t, oversee things like A, B emergency, automatic emergency braking, how are they going to do, Kyle, now that he’s an app developer, making the auto defrost be quicker. How’s that going to happen?
Michael: It’s weird because here you’re functionally asking people, programmers from outside of your.
Company to design and, make apps that are going to be running on the car while the vehicles moving in some cases, a lot of cases not, but whatever the apps are for. And that’s, you can’t test a vehicle and certify it and then sell it and say, we’ve completely validated this whole thing is safe when.
They’re going to be outside outside agents, designing software that they’re going to pop onto the vehicle later. That seems really problematic. And to me, it suggests that we need to have, a firewall or some type of separation between, any system in the vehicle that, that, controls vehicle performance is any way related to safety and then all this other stuff, the infotainment, the APIs that, can tell people all sorts of things about their car that most of us don’t care about and all those other things that are being designed right now, there needs to be some type of system that prevents, any outside actor from being able to program anything that has to do with vehicle performance and safety.
Anthony: Or even just heated seats. Right now, if my heated seats I don’t have heated seats, but I want to, one day, I want to have heated seats. If they fail and they don’t turn off, I know that I can go to Toyota and be like, your product failed, and Toyota will do a recall. But now I’m using Kyle’s excellent Butt Warmer 9000.
I don’t know, did his software fail, or did the hardware inside the car fail? Who’s gonna recall this, cause my ass is on fire.
Yeah, we’ll get to losing them later on,
Michael: we’re going to have
Fred: some more questions than I can imagine answers for. It’s just, it’s a whole new universe. And, in the future, everything will be better. Maybe not in this case. I don’t
Fred: How do we fit Piggly
Anthony: Wiggly the thing, is all these, I’m going to create the app that just takes you to the nearest Piggly Wiggly.
You have no control over it, you have no say, you just get in there, there’s going to be a pig icon, you press it. And, for me, living in the Yankee. country. It will take me a long time to get to a Piggly Wiggly, I imagine. But I will be so happy when I get there. But not as happy as you, listener, when you click on that donate button on autosafety.
org. Go to autosafety. org and click that donate button. And then you can just come back and listen to this podcast again, giggle at the word Piggly Wiggly. Just like me. Go ahead. Donate. Piggly Wiggly. Ah, I’m a grown up. Okay. So we’ve covered that. So we were just talking about so let’s jump into Toyota has been against electric vehicles for a while and they’re like, no, this is not good.
They even putting all their money on on on hydrogen. There’s no infrastructure for that really either. But no one’s buying these things, and the Toyota chairman, the former Toyota CEO, is ha! No one’s buying these things, I told ya! And a bunch of auto execs are like, ha! No one’s buying these things. GM CEO Mary Barra said she’s surprised that no one’s buying these things, but GM was surprising.
They had a really hot seller of an electric vehicle. People were buying them, people loved it, the Bolt, it was great, using old battery technology, but people loved it, they sold a ton of them. And then they’re like, I got an idea. Let’s make something more expensive. Really heavy and stupid. We’ll call it the Hummer Ev, and we’ll put all of our resources into that.
And now GM’s like, why is nobody buying our stupid cars?
Fred: Listen, hey, you mentioned as an aside, you mentioned the hydrogen Yes. Experience, and I was always programmed to say there’s no such thing as a hydrogen well in the world. And it turns out I was wrong. It turns out that there’s just been a test well drilled in France of all places that has discovered an enormous reservoir of organically produced hydrogen.
Apparently it’s gigantic and so it may be a, successor to natural gas in that economy. So things could rapidly be changing in the world of hydrogen. As an aside,
Anthony: that’s interesting. We’ll talk about that on Fred Perkins podcast gas.
Michael: That CEO of Toyota. He basically was.
Pressured to leave his position because he had positioned Toyota and what I think we said at the time was, a market reality that you’re going to have to be reliant on ice vehicles for a long time now, still until people can actually adopt the or until the batteries get good enough that.
Everyone in America can adopt them right now. They’re really not at that point. And he said, we rely on hybrids. That’s not true.
Anthony: No the, we’ve discussed this, haven’t we? That the batteries are good enough. It just, people want, they want the last 800 miles, whatnot.
Where’s right now? Are they
Michael: not? No, for, for the guys who are. Buying pickup trucks this big fleet of pickup trucks that GM wanted to sell. The, they’re not buying them because they can only tow so far. They can only work so many hours in a day when they’ve got an EV, they have to plug it in charge versus gas, which they can just fill the car with and keep working.
There’s a lot of drawbacks there. And there’s also, EVs in America. There’s some people who will be damned if they’ll buy an EV at this point. He knew that, he knew that there was going to be demand for ice for many years. Now, not just political, but, I’m still, I can’t afford an electric vehicle yet.
I don’t know about you guys. They’re not cheap. So there’s still a long way to go bridging all the gaps that it’s going to take to make EVs work for everyone. And I think he recognized that he was positioning Toyota to, to make a lot of money on that while everyone else rushed into EVs.
And for some reason, his, he was pressured to step down from his position because of that. So that’s,
Fred: We talked a couple of weeks ago about Toyota’s announcement of a big advancement in battery technology. The solid state battery, right? Remember that? We’re talking about tremendous price benefits as well as performance benefits.
So maybe Toyota is coming at this correctly from two different directions. One is to maintain their current profitable sales of the internal combustion engine vehicles, as well as positioning themselves to bring in this low priced, high performance. Battery technology, if and when it becomes
Michael: available, catch on fire,
That’s the big, yeah, that’s the big thing. It
Michael: makes a lot more sense for a lot of people, really. You can fit more more energy density into the batteries means you can either choose range or choose the lower vehicle weights or, add power to some of the pickup trucks that simply the Aren’t operating long enough for a farmer to use.
And a lot of things like that, better batteries are going to solve those problems in many ways, I think the batteries we came out with in this first, run of EVs is, are going to be, ultimately going to be seen as inferior. I think from an environmental and a safety perspective.
Anthony: Yeah, it could be.
You’re right. It’s just this is the first generation really but yeah, we will, you guys have educated me on repeatedly is, behind your EV should be like 30 firetrucks just in case it’s a Tesla. Ah, oh, um, yeah, it’d be interesting listeners. I’m curious what, have any of you bought EVs?
Have you? If so, write in, let us know. Contact at autosafety. org. But first, you have to donate. That part’s not true, but it just makes me feel better. Yeah, seriously, let us know what your thoughts on EVs are. Because we always thought that Norway was the the poster child for electric cars. They’re they’re having second thoughts.
And it’s interesting why they’re having second thoughts on EVs is there’s an article in Vox. com, we have a link to that their EV bonanza did reduce emissions, but at the expense of compromising vital societal goals. Eye popping EV subsidies have flowed largely to the affluent. Same problem in the U.
S. Contributing to the gap between rich and poor in a country proud of its egalitarian social policies. Just like the U. S. Worse, the EV boom has hobbled Norwegian cities efforts to untether themselves from the automobile. And enable residents to instead travel by transit or bicycles decisions that do more to reduce emissions, enhance road safety, and enliven urban life than like swapping a gas powered car for an electric one.
Michael: think Norway has, Norway may be surprising to some listeners. It’s a little surprising to me, per capita, they have double, even a little more than double the land area that we do in the United States. Yeah, so I think it’s, they have 66 kilometers square kilometers of land per person, and we have about 30, so they’re facing, where.
Whereas you think of Europe, you would think it more dense cities, more, than America, which is sometimes used the wild west. That’s not really the case with Norway and some other places. They have a lot of space and Norway is pursued. EVs, harder than any country on the planet, really.
But what they’ve seen is that, like we’re seeing in America, most of the EVs are too expensive for low income folks to afford. They’re not really making a huge impact in the cities where they’re and also that it seemed like people were just buying them in Norway as just to have a third car or to get a.
Tax benefit from it and not really as their vehicle. They need to use every day. That was, it just seems like there were some some real problems that were created in that rush because you’re not rushing there to, transform your entire infrastructure. You’re just rushing towards a new type of vehicle that’s going to continue to operate on roads in the same manner as all the other vehicles that are out.
There may be a little more environmentally friendly.
Fred: Simultaneously, Michael points out in the article that the city governments are trying to restrict the use of automobiles and decisions as much as possible. So these 2 different government agencies were working at cross purposes.
Michael: And I wonder if we’re seeing that in the United States too, we’ve talked about a lot of cities and they’re starting to try to charge people more for having big trucks, charge people more for parking larger vehicles and spaces
Anthony: A little hamlet I live in is proposing congestion pricing.
Michael: And that’s that there is, in cities and probably rightly. There’s, there is an anti car agenda because they are the source of a lot of congestion. A lot of people drive cars around for really no good reason at all. Besides just people that steal Hyundai’s and Kia’s and they’re, people who drive, Two hours round trip just to get a particular kind of fried chicken.
There’s a lot of things that cars enable you to do that you, in a normal world with the wagon and buggy, you wouldn’t be able to. So a lot of unnecessary trips. Cities are usually the center of a lot of this stuff. And there’s always a tension between. What’s good for the entire country versus what’s good for the city.
And we see that play out in, American transportation politics a lot more, now, I think that we’ve ever seen before because there are a lot of people who live in rural areas who rely on really big trucks and things to get their jobs done. But. Taking those vehicles into cities doesn’t work out so well.
And they don’t operate quite as well in the environment. I know I don’t like driving a really large truck in the, in Washington when I have to drive one here in DC. How about y’all? I love he said,
Fred: I think it’s great fun. Great fun, Anthony, but it hasn’t. Haven’t studies shown that most of the traffic in New York City is just people circulating looking for a parking spot?
Anthony: It could be. I have no idea. But again, Michael, I’m not trying to start something today. I’m going to have, two hours for fried chicken. Because that actually inspired me. Because there’s this place in Chinatown. Oh my God. Fried rice is unbelievable. It’s made like with happiness and just sunshine, but if I could get there in the subway, which I could, but then I gotta get back on the subway.
By the time I get home, it’s cold. Whereas if I drive there, it’s probably it might be an hour round trip. But it’s still hot when you get home. Still, yeah, exactly.
Michael: That one came from personal experience. When my daughter was, a couple years ago, my daughter was in high school, her and her friend wanted to drive I don’t know where it was an hour away, back and forth, to get fried chicken, and I’m like, that doesn’t work with dad’s risk calculations.
There are a lot of things that are worth traveling an hour for, but that’s probably not one of them.
Anthony: Did they bring you back any of the fried chicken? They didn’t go. Yeah, oh, see, that’s more of the lack of a frontal cortex being fully developed there, I think it’s… What happened there?
Alright, let’s jump back into Toyota real quick. So we were talking about how, hey, Toyota made the right decision saying, hey, let’s slow roll EVs. At the same time, and we’ve mentioned this once before, Toyota has an EV where they put in a clutch and a shifter. They’re not real clutches. They’re not real shifters.
They’re like weird little toys that you can actually, quote unquote, stall an electric vehicle. Now, this is some weird fetish thing that some engineer at Toyota’s Yeah, now I’m really driving. I got my fake pedal. And it makes me wonder, like, when they first sold the Model T was Henry Ford be like, We gotta put in some horse sounds.
People are gonna miss the horse sounds. Can we let’s full the seats full of horse manure so it gives that authentic driving experience. This is not a very safe… Not a very safe choice here. Someone hitting a third pedal that’s just a button. What’s, what are they thinking?
Fred: Hey, it’s all fun.
The reviewer said it was a blast to drive. bRought back all those warm and fuzzy memories.
Anthony: Yeah, there’s, it’s an Ars Technica article and people in the comments are like, Oh, could I use this to train my kid how to drive a stick? No,
Michael: it’s just silly to me. I think, at a base level, it just seems unsafe to me because you’re providing the driver with, stimulus.
Basically you’re providing the driver with data for things that aren’t, that don’t exist in reality. You don’t have gears, you don’t have a clutch and why on earth would you want to experience those, false, fake. Feelings while you’re driving an electric vehicle. It seems like it could, I don’t know, it just seems right for all sorts of problems there.
Because you’re really just trying to create an experience there. What if I want an experience of flying a plane while I drive a car? Can I do that too? Like where does this end? And when, why are we distracting drivers with this kind of nonsense? This kind
Fred: of That’s a great idea, Michael.
That’s a great idea, and maybe, the GMAPI, they could do that.
Anthony: You’re not driving your Hummer. You’re flying it.
Fred: You’re flying it. You could project the, terrain onto the windshield. You could do the elevation. You could come in for hard landings. It’d be a real blast. I
Anthony: like it. Yeah, I learned how to drive a stick on a Honda Civic that I thought this is how all sticks were.
But no, because when you be on a on an incline like stopped at a traffic light, you’d have to dance and pull on the parking brake or else they would roll back. It was just going backwards. Oh, it was just anxiety inducing nightmare. I hate it.
Michael: That was one of the first things I had. I had an 84 Honda Accord, and that was the first thing I really had to focus on was being able to, when I’m on a hill, being able to stop at a stop sign, pull forward without rolling backwards into the vehicle behind me.
I changed my commute or without skidding and looking like a terrible driver.
Anthony: or stalling on that incline and then having a ring restart off.
Fred: Oh, guys you’re not even close to horror stories. Look, I had a 1961 Volkswagen Beetle. With a broken clutch, and I couldn’t afford to fix the clutch, so I had to learn all about power shifting and, synchronizing RPM.
I had to learn to do all that without a clutch, and I also had to learn to time traffic lights, particularly when I was going up a hill, really carefully, because if I was going up a hill and the light turned red, I was in a world of hurt. But, going downhill was perfectly fine, and then level was fine.
I would just put it in second gear, turn the ignition on, and push the car open the driver’s door, push the car until it started to kick over, and then before the car got away from me, jump in the driver’s seat, and off we’d go. Yeah, we all loved that. It was all perfectly safe, though, perfectly safe.
Michael: Do you ever get to a light and have to, heading uphill and have to stop and then make yourself have to turn around and go back downhill so you can come back up the hill again?
Fred: It was a little embarrassing because the people behind, I’d have to wave them around and then wait till the road cleared and then do what I had to do, but,
oh, no, I would never do that. I’m always a safe driver. Michael, what are you talking about?
Anthony: Ah, speaking of nightmares, it’s that time for the Tao of Fred! Ha! Ha! You’ve now entered the Tao of Fred. I’ll try that again. It’s time for everybody’s happy go lucky fun time hour! It’s not gonna be an hour. But today the topic, from looking at my notes, is safety inspections.
Hopefully, part of the safety inspection is seeing, does this car have a working clutch? Fred, what’s a safety
Fred: inspection? Oh, welcome to the world of TAL, Fred. I appreciate the listeners. So listen, we’ve been looking at safety inspections. And Michael, how many states have safety inspections? And more to the point, how many do not?
Michael: do now, and 35 do not.
Michael: wait, there’s 36 maybe because the district of Columbia may be one of those safety inspection states. That’s it’s considered a state for the purposes of that conversation. But it’s really low. It’s really low. We were shot to find that out.
Fred: They do tend to be the larger states that have the safety inspections because, congestion and people crashing into each other.
Anyway, we’ve been thinking about. How this applies to ADAS, or automated driver assistance system technology, as well as autonomous vehicles, because they’re already here, they’re in the car that I own, they’re in the car that many people own, and you trust your life to these safety critical features that are completely automated.
How does the state wrap itself around these and do a safety inspection? sO we’ve been looking at that a little bit, and it turns out it’s not easy. You can specify the kind of things that people should be looking for in an autonomous vehicle. You can, the safety features that are built into it the things that you cannot visually or tactically examine to make sure that they’re working properly, which is what the safety inspections were intended to do, right?
Look at the tires, look at the wipers, the windshield got any holes in it, all those kinds of things. But all of the safety critical features embedded in a computer are simply not accessible to a human being using their own senses. So you’ve got to rely on technology to look at those. And Rather than talk about the enumeration of all the different things you need to look at uh, at the top level, these are the kind of things that the state has got to do.
They need to define what the safety critical features are. Right? What is a safety critical feature? What’s not a safety critical feature? Is automatic parking a safety critical feature? I don’t know. Lane keeping assist? Probably is, because you don’t want to bang into the cars next to you. But somebody in a position of authority has got to define what those are.
tHen there needs to be establishment of safe operational bounds for all of those safety critical features, for example, think of steering, right? If you steer the car, you can steer it. Really a lot at very low speeds, which is what you do in your parking. If you steer that same car to the same extent, when you’re going 70 miles an hour you’re in a world of hurt because you’re going to flip off the driveway or run into somebody around you.
So you’ve got to, you’ve got to be able to record how the vehicle. Performed within a safe balance over a function of time and over the operating envelope of the car. This is not easy.
Anthony: Real quick because I’ve often thought about this, and this is just the child in me. When you’re going 70 miles per hour, can you actually yank, will the car actually allow you to yank the steering wheel and do crazy things?
You can do it once. But, oh man, it’s going to be a good story. Yeah.
Fred: Okay. Yep, maybe. Hope you live to tell the
Anthony: story. All my food will be liquid, but yep.
Fred: So then something else is going to happen is that there’s got to be a requirement that the vehicles record sufficient data and track it appropriately so that you can actually tell whether or not the vehicle is operating within the bounds of its own safety limits.
So what else have you got to do? Now you’ve got to specify a server somewhere so that the person in the inspection facility, a gas station, or what have you, or dealers, dealer, can actually hook into your car and get a readout of what the safety critical features are and how they’ve been performing.
This is a, it’s a substantial task to do this. And in order to make it happen. You’ll probably have to have a standard API that all of the different automobile companies use so that you only got to have, one server rather than a hundred servers for a hundred different brands of cars. This is a lot of work.
So you need the specifications, you need the API, you need to figure out where the server is going to be. You could put the server in the car itself. Because a server, after all, is just a bunch of software, so you could put it in the car, or you could put it somewhere else. anD if you put it somewhere else, like a central server, you’ve got to address the cybersecurity issues associated with that, like you would with any other server.
But then would a state police be able to pull over a semi tractor trailer and do a safety inspection if they have to rely on a remote server somewhere? I don’t know the answer to that. Somebody, but somebody’s got to figure that out. If you’ve got the server on board the vehicle, it’s pretty straightforward, right?
You just log into the server and out it could come. I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know what the best answer is, but states have simply got to step up to this, and this is not just for the future of AEVs. This is for the current generation of vehicles that have ADAS built into them.
Michael: Yeah, I’m wondering how this would, how does this work in, I guess in a simple way, the way I think about it most often is automatic emergency braking.
A, B is going to be programmed into your car using sensors and all sorts of things when you get it, what is the state looking for, say, you’re going for safety inspection 5 years later, are we expecting the state? To basically go in and look at the software and make sure that it’s working properly.
Are we expecting the state really just to be looking at the cameras or whatever sensors that the AEB is using to make its decisions and make sure that they’re calibrated properly? What exactly do we because there’s, there’s. States can only do so much here because they can’t, get into the area of NHTSA and federal regulations too much, but they do have the authority to make sure that vehicles are in good operating condition.
Fred: The details of that answer, I don’t know, but in general. Every vehicle that’s operating this way has got something called an OEDR implementation, object, event, and detection and response, right? So all of the AEB systems, for example, have got to have something like that. There have got to be parameters inside of that.
Computer that says either it’s working the way it’s supposed to, or it’s not working the way it’s supposed to. I think you would probably be looking at whether or not an image was received by the AEB system. And then what happened? How do you take apart that OEDR?
This is not, it’s not simple.
Anthony: There’s got to be a way to put… Is it something that the caller…
Michael: Yeah, I’m just wondering if, is it something that the car could, when you start the car does a self check and all these things are in place and then that’s, you don’t have to go to the inspection station, right?
Wouldn’t that be a lot easier? But it would be a
Fred: lot easier. But again, you’re looking at a world where they’re going to open up the APIs to third parties, right? So it would be. Okay. Conceivable that a third party could simply go in and alter the data that’s in the vehicle so that even if it was intended to be operating normally, even if it does have a built in diagnostic system, it’s just software, right?
You could go ahead and you could subvert that. You could also inject malicious software. Into that system so that it looks the same way worms work now, right? So this your computer goes ahead and runs does everything it’s supposed to do except it happens to send your credit card information to Nigerian princes so He needs help They, they do need help.
Yes. Yeah. So there, there’s a lot of thorny issues that come out of this. I think as uh, I think that the states are gonna have to do a crawl, walk, run approach to this and start somewhere and start saying, okay, I’m gonna look at first, I don’t know, the performance margins of the centralized computer.
You’ve got to be able to verify that the computer has performance margin available throughout the operating design domain or throughout its operational use, right? You want to make sure that the computer isn’t oversaturated, so that would be a good place to start. You want to make sure that signals are coming in from the camera into the processing system so that people can analyze the images and find out if something’s in front of you or whatever, whatever the system is.
So it would be incumbent on the manufacturers to go ahead and develop their safety margin information capability so that somebody can look at that and say, okay, you’re within the margins or you’re not. It’s certainly possible that you’ve got safety critical features in the system that are completely inoperable, but you don’t know it because you haven’t encountered the situation for which that feature was designed.
There’s got to be a comprehensive look at that. So all of that stuff is associated with all of the vehicles that have built in safety critical features. An alternative would be for the states to say, The hell with it. We’ll just develop, we’ll just punt on this and let the manufacturers do whatever they do.
Michael: That’s certainly looking at the tires and whether you have a crack in your window, that’s longer than your forearm and the rest of
Fred: it, all those things. Yeah. And a lot of companies would like that to happen because. It’s easier for them. They don’t have to accommodate anybody and they don’t have to report to anybody what the status of the safety critical systems is.
I spoke with one dealer who sells cars that have a lot of these features and they said it, it’s all for ports. Just trust us. It’s going to tell you if anything’s wrong.
Michael: It’s a bad way
Fred: for that. Yeah, trust us is good, but it doesn’t always work. But before we leave this, okay, I just wanted to throw one more thing in there.
In addition to all of this stuff that’s got to happen at the state level and at the manufacturer’s level to make these features inspectable for a full AV system, a full autonomous vehicle system, you’re not going to be able to navigate that into the inspection bay. It’s very unlikely that you’re going to be programming it so it goes into the inspection bay so that it can be conveniently located or inspected.
Also true for things like heavy trucks. They simply won’t fit into an inspection bay. So the state is going to have to come up with some way of defining an inspection area. That is consistent with the AV capability. So the AV can come to the inspection area and be inspected and, check the lights, check the tires, check all that stuff that’s got to get checked on any vehicle.
But if you can’t drive the vehicle to the inspection station, you got to have the vehicle drive itself to the inspection station and special accommodations that are required to make that happen. So there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to happen here before the states are. Going to be able to do manage the safety inspections of both 80 A.
S. And A. V. S. And to the best of our knowledge, none of that has yet happened. So we’re looking at that. We’re trying to help people understand what’s required and hopefully roll this into some legislation or some initiatives within the states that will allow them to continue to do the safety inspections meaningfully as the safety critical features move further and further away from the traditional approach that says, use your, use your human capabilities to do this safety inspection.
That is no longer adequate, no longer sufficient to do that and to validate the safety, the continued operational safety of the vehicles on the highway.
Michael: I would suggest also that it, this may, it may get out of control if, if 50 different states are crafting inspection standards, that people have to meet.
This may be 1 of those areas similar to right to repair where a more cohesive solution might be, a federal law in this area, because at that point, you’re not relying on all the states to choose 1st, whether or not to even have a safety inspection, 36, 35 states have already chosen not to do that.
So those 35 states probably aren’t going to do anything here when you’re talking about much more, even more complex inspection system that they would have to put into place. A lot of this, I think, could be solved, if the Fed simply required vehicles to do a self inspection, a reportable type self inspection that, you can print out and take to your state or send to your state and say, my car is good maybe that’s the easier solution long term.
Fred: We’re not sure. I’m sure, no, that’s a great idea. I do want to point out that the federal government has done similar things in the past. For example, they have model, uh, specifications for commercial driver’s licenses, right? There’s no federal CDL, but every state has got a CDL and every state models their CDL on the federal on the federal model.
So I think that, there’s middle ground between all fed and all state, but I agree with you that it would be really beneficial if the NHTSA, if the federal government would take a look at this and start a project or start a process to define what’s needed and an implementable path forward.
Anthony: MIchael, is California one of the states that has a safety requirement?
Michael: I’m pretty sure they are,
Anthony: yes. Okay, I imagine they are too. So I think, you got the GM Cruze Origin, the ugly side of a Honda Odyssey connected to the ugly side of a Honda Odyssey with no steering wheel, no pedals, no things like that, and you’ve gotta take that in to get inspected.
So you’ve gotta convince this thing to go drive itself to a safety inspection station. They’re building this thing, and so they’re either thinking, Hey, it’s ugly, We’re gonna get around state regulations entirely, was their goal, or their goal is, we don’t give a crap, we’re gonna get around this no matter what.
So it’s, is that what Kyle’s thinking? The law doesn’t apply to me? Doesn’t he know the, that his time is up? I have no idea. I don’t have an idea either. But this is a fascinating discussion. But know what’s also fascinating? Recall Roundup! Oh! And for those of you paying for the enhanced subscription with the video option Fred just had a dog on his lap.
Yeah, and but anyway, recall roundup time, or also what I like to call is rear camera failure time. Let’s start off with a Mazda with a failing rear camera. That’s right, Mazda, potentially 11, 903 vehicles for their CX 90 hybrid electric vehicle. This is vehicles with a 360 degree view monitor vehicles equipped with a rear view monitor containing static guidelines or not equipped with the 360 that’s okay.
Michael: You’re going to get stuck on all that stuff. Basically, if you’ve got dynamic guidelines, you know what those are in your reverse where you see the lines guiding you or you have the 360 degree view monitor, this could apply to you.
Anthony: And so what happens here? The it, oh, the loss of fronts, the cameras lost front side and rear view camera, which is one in reverse, or when using the 360 degree monitor can fail and increase the risk of crash.
Michael: It’s basically, I think it’s video processing logic in the camera, right? That’s causing this problem. Of course, they’re, they’re going to, I believe it’s just a software update that should be available
Anthony: soon. That’s good to know. Let’s continue with the Mazda thread. Hey, Mazda, double header today.
Yeah, we don’t see
Michael: a lot of Mazda recalls, so this is a little unusual to see two
Anthony: in a week. Two in a week, they don’t sell a lot of cars, but still, we expect, see them more often. And this is 4, 200 plus vehicles. This is the, again, the CX 90 hybrid electric. The engine, yeah, the engine and electric motor may shut down with little to no warning in fail safe mode.
How would I get to fail safe mode? Why would I get to fail safe mode?
Michael: It’s fail safe mode, really all that safe. I’m assuming this is similar to turtle mode or the low power modes that we see a lot of manufacturers put in when the vehicle’s going to stall but they want to give it some drive power.
Anthony: Oh, and an increase in the FEV system inverter temperature above a specified threshold will activate the fail safe mode. That’s how we get into it.
Michael: So basically your system inverter temperature in your hybrid. Powertrain and motor system. I don’t really know what that is, Fred, can you explain what the system inverter would be?
Is that changes current or something?
Fred: The inverter typically will change AC to DC or DC to AC. That’s and I don’t know the details of this, so I’m not sure what. So it looks like it’s… But the battery of course is DC and the motors may well be AC. I simply don’t know how it’s configured.
Michael: But it looks like this is going to be a software fix as well. They’re just going to reprogram the power train and engine control modules to fix that. So it won’t turn off while you’re driving. .
Anthony: All right, we’re gonna jump to Honda now. The 2022 to 2024 I said 2022. Yeah, that works. A Honda Civic four D it’s got 176,000 plus vehicles.
The steering racks are, could, they’re set to an incorrect stroke length. And if the steering rack stroke length exceeds a certain length while driving, the tire, or tire with snow chains installed, could contact the lower suspension, arm, and or tire ride end. Todd, tight, hey, ah, hey! Only one more recall after this.
Michael: And I think this one was for people who already had their steering rack replaced once and were, this is a replacement parts that had an incorrect steering rack stroke length, it can pop your tires by contact. And also it appears there’s some issues created with snow chains as well, which I’m sure get pretty interesting.
I’m not a snow chain guy. Fred, do you drive snow chains?
Fred: I haven’t done it in a while, but I’ve done it in the past. So the steering rack is the part of the steering that goes left and right. To push the wheels when you’re steering it, as opposed to the pinion, which is connected to the shaft that turns the rack.
So yeah, if it’s too long, it’s going to allow the wheels, and when you turn them, to impact some part of the car. That’s generally speaking a bad idea, and when you’ve got chains on the car, the effective diameter of the tire is increased by one or two inches, because, your centrifugal force is going to make the chains fly away from the tread as it goes around.
I can see where this would be a problem.
Anthony: How would something like this ever even happen? Like it’s not like they don’t change the length of these things during production. They, it’s a Honda Civic. They’ve been making these things for 40 years.
Michael: It looks like the supplier here simply got a, built them with a bad measurement and these parts were all sent out to
Michael: to Imperial.
They were sent out could be they were sent out to dealerships and, repair places and they were the wrong link. So if you got your car fixed, it was not fixed. It was made more less safe
Anthony: in the spinal tap problem. 13 inches versus 13 feet.
Fred: Something like a good idea at the time,
Anthony: somehow. Okay, speaking of Spinal Tap, if you’ve got more money than brains, you might have a Lucid. Look, I say that as somebody who thought the Lucid was a really cool concept at first. And I think it, it had potential. But every single one of their cars manufactured has been recalled at this point.
1, 267 more Lucid. Air 2022 23 vehicles software change introduced to Lucid Air vehicles in version 2. 1. 0, removed active temperature monitoring control for the rear seat heaters in certain non driving vehicle modes. Basically, you wanna burn your ass? Drive a Lucid. This is horrible. And another example of why software, eh.
It works, but let’s put it in cars.
Michael: Yeah. That’s what the fix is here It’s going to be you know, it’s It’s odd to think that a seat heater that you know, it looks like that can char the seats or burn the seats That this is a software issue, but it appears that it is there’s a lot of things that operate in lucid or but, looks like they’re going to get it fixed pretty quick because you can already download a software fix for it.
And they say to update as soon as possible for those. Do we have any listeners that own Lucids?
Anthony: If you do, if you own a Lucid and you listen to this show, if you own a Lucid and you listen to this show, we like you a lot and we’d like you if you donated. sO please do that. But, yeah, I don’t know if you’ve ever, we rented a car once and I’m driving and all of a sudden I’m sweating like, oh my god, my butt is on fire.
My wife’s handbag accidentally hit the seat heaters and I’d never been in a car with heated seats before and it was like middle of August. Like I’m dying here. I don’t you know, i’m not a fan at all 60 miles per hour trying to figure out where this thing is Yeah, it wasn’t a lucid honda kia stole it Alright, hey, with that, listeners we thank you for your time as always, and we thank you for your donations.
But more importantly, we thank you for telling your friends about how you had such a great time on the show. Oh, wait, didn’t we have listener mail? We had listener mail. Oh, man, I gotta find it. Ah, does anyone have listener mail in front of them? I don’t know. Somebody wrote in and said, yeah, never in my backyard.
That was their entire comment.
Michael: Yeah, I still don’t understand that, but I believe they were discussing electric vehicles. I’m
Anthony: not sure. They didn’t, there was no concept. It was literally somebody… Sometimes
Michael: we get these missives that come in and don’t make a lot of sense.
Anthony: But we enjoy it. Yeah. Hey, thanks listeners.
Give us five stars, tell all your friends. Donate often. Thank you. Goodbye.
Fred: Thank you for listening. Bye bye.
Michael: Thanks everybody.
Anthony: Now I press
Michael: stop. Thanks y’all. For more
Fred: information visit www. autosafety. org