Loose steering wheels
NHTSA is taking advice from Anthony and investigating Zoox. GM complains about boogeyman burdensome regulations for their AVs and their marketing department creates a silly name for a good start at improving on ADAS features. Americans are “fearful” and concerned about Automated Vehicles. USPS cuts costs by neglecting safety. Waymo releases a transparency report that is unparalleled in the industry. Plus the Tao of Fred and Recall Roundup.
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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.
Michael: A lot happened in the last couple days.
Anthony: Yeah, a lot’s going on. And I we’ve gotta start with NHTSA finally listening to me and my concerns and my questions about zoo’s. Zoox we mentioned is I brought this up a couple weeks ago where Zoox has this pill shaped self-driving vehicle that doesn’t have a steering wheel, brakes or anything like that.
And I asked the naive question. How does this thing pass a crash test? And you guys inform me they’re self-certified. The folks at nhsa NHTSA have been listening to us and they’re like, wait a second, if that moron thinks they’re not Crashworthy baby. They’re not Crashworthy. So NHTSA’s investigating them and been talking to Zus about, wait a second, how is this really crashworthy?
So Michael, what’s the story here?
Michael: As it turns out, NHTSA has been apparently in conversation with Zoox about this since middle of last year at least, because in September they filed a special order that basically said, Zoox, you need to tell us what the heck’s going on here and how you’re certifying these vehicles in, in so many words.
And Zoox responded to them and said, this is how we’re doing it. And then I don’t know if NHTSA communicated with them that doesn’t work or that’s not right. That’s not how the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety standards work. But, here we are a few months later and NITHA’s open investigation into Zeke’s decision to put these things on public roads.
Now there’s an, there’s an analog to this going on with General Motors, and they’re, they have a petition for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard exemptions that’s specifically on the origin vehicle, which is their kind of odd looking vehicle. Looks, looks similar to the Zoox, but it’s a little larger, I think.
And they are going through t’s process where you petition, that’s a foreign exemption. So you can put these things on public roads and that involves a safety showing and you’re basically saying, yeah, we don’t have. Steering wheels. We don’t have brake pedals or accelerators, and all this other stuff is required by the Federal Motor Safety Standards.
But these cars are going to be as safe as the other vehicles on the road now that aren’t exempted, and they have to make a showing of that. That’s what GM’s trying to do. I think Waymo’s tried it in the past. This is a, GM’s been working on a, at least two petitions for the past few years on this issue.
And there’s, there’s a way to do it right, which is the way that GM’s doing it under the current regs, and there’s a way to do it wrong, which is the way that Zoox has done it, which is just throwing a vehicle that. Can’t be certified to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and hasn’t been exempted out onto public roads.
So we’re not really sure what prompted Zoox to make this decision. It’s almost like they’re, in some ways challenging NETA to do something about it. We hope NETA does
Fred: But thanks. I just wanna mention to our listeners that Zoox was an independent company that was developing a people mover, which is has no front or back.
It’s designed to carry the order of six to eight people between two destinations. And it was completely automatic. It was never intended to be driven by a human being. The zoo’s company was purchased by Amazon. So this is now an Amazon initiative. The corporate management of this has changed from a group of people who were.
Very familiar with the NHTSA regulations. In fact, the head of that company was a former NHTSA administrator to corporate executives who apparently are much less familiar with the NHTSA regulations. Now, I just wanted to drop in that background to give people little context.
Anthony: That’s an excellent point.
And so with this, with the communications with NHTSA, like NHTSA hasn’t revealed zoo’s responses. Is that
Michael: There’s been a real problem with NHTSA on these petitions for manufacturers to, for exemptions from federal safety standards. NHTSA did it with the Google petition that was filed many years ago.
They’ve done it with the GM and I can’t remember the name of the other little company that was deploying a A driverless delivery vehicle. I think you’re, think of a neuro, they did it with that petition as well. But they do this thing where they get these petitions that are public parti.
They’re petitions that are required to be made public and they hold onto them for a year or more and don’t let the public know that anything’s going on while they conduct negotiations of some sort with these manufacturers over how they’re approaching certification issues. And, you know, NHTSA issued a special order to zoo’s last September.
I still haven’t been able to find a copy of it. Special orders are something that should be, put on the agency’s website the day of or the day after. It’s the same thing they’ve been pulling for years where they’re. The public’s not getting notice of the activity that manufacturers are taking part in to, either certify or exempt themselves from federal safety standards and put these things on public roads.
We think that the public deserves a lot more notice and a lot more details than we’re getting out of mitsa.
Anthony: So I, for now, just the public, if you see one of these odd shaped vehicles with six to eight people in it drive away because, and we still don’t even, there’s still no details. If this thing has some sort of emergency override or braking system there’s like next to no details.
When you see a picture of it and from the picture, my uneducated brain says, that’s not gonna survive on a crash. And hey, nits is listening. We’ve got a lot of AV related stuff this week. Ford is back in the AV game. They had a project with, I believe it was Volkswagen, right? Margo ai. Yeah. Argo ai.
And so that kind of shut down or they, them in Volkswagen said, this is not happening as fast as we imagine, but now Ford is relaunched something to improve their Blue Cruise system, which is their advanced driver automation system. They’re not claiming this is, Hey, we’re getting rid of steering wheels and brake pedals, and things like that.
Michael: that true? No. Yeah, they’re not, and it’s, I think it’s focused on what they’re calling their level three and probably their advanced level two. driving system and some of this mess that manufacturers are starting to talk about now we’re creating these systems where you can completely disengage from the driving task and do other things while you’re in traffic or in other situations.
And then, when those situations advance to a point where we where the vehicle thinks that the driver needs to take back over then hopefully the vehicle will. So there’s a lot of research and a lot of things that still need to be done in that area. And so they formed this new company it looks like, based on a lot of the employees they had in the old company, and they called it Latitude ai.
So they’re gonna be developing Ford’s Advanced technology for the next few years there.
Anthony: Got it. And so just to recap for viewers, listeners, level two is your lane keeping assist, your automated cruise control. And level three is bad because of why Mr. Perkins,
Fred: I’m sorry, sleeping.
It takes me a while to take control of the well. Level three is bad because it assumes the car is going to drive a cell for a long time and then may suddenly then abruptly command you to take over. So if you’ve been knitting a scarf, you have to put aside your knitting needles and your yarn as well as the unfinished scarf, and then grab the steering wheel really quickly before you end up in the guard rails at the side of the road.
So level three is probably not compatible with organisms. We like to call human beings. .
Anthony: Okay. So hopefully they don’t do level three or whatnot, but then Ford decides to do a, they a guy, a patent issued for automatically being able to take over your car and recall it and repossess it. This is the craziest thing I’ve seen.
This is clearly some bean counter came up with this, whereas I guess if you have a Ford lease or something like that and you miss a couple payments, you can’t hide your car anymore. Cuz Ford’s gonna get it and recall it somehow, or disable it. This just seems like it’s right full of not only PR problems, just a lot of safety issues,
What could possibly go wrong in a car that suddenly takes control of itself and decides to drive to a remote location? How could that possibly be a bad idea? Have
Anthony: you ever seen a science fiction movie? No, I never have. What are they like? Yeah, I don’t know. There’s, I’ve seen ones that are trucks that took over and drove themselves.
I think Kurt Russell was in it.
Fred: Yeah. This is a, this has been called a zombie car initiative. And I can imagine you’ve got a car that’s plugged in. Is it going to unplug itself and crash through your garage door? As you’re sending your three-year-old to her violin lesson, does it decide halfway there that now is the time to go to the depo and repossess itself?
Yeah. How could this possibly be a bad idea?
Anthony: Hey, if you can afford violin lessons for your three-year-old, you can afford to make your car payment on time. Okay. Look, I don’t care if you’ve got health problems. This is priority number one at. ,
Michael: Looking at the patent in a different way, which is what I did, because I think that the, I’m not really concerned about the repo process for Ford.
It looks like you could switch a few words around in pictures in that patent application. It would turn into a pretty good theft protection system that would allow owners or law enforcement to, prevent vehicles from being used in furtherance of other crime or from being stolen. So there’s a lot more to it maybe than meets the eye that doesn’t go towards the repo process.
They have a, they’ve outlined systems there whereby, police emergency services and other entities can be contacted. I don’t know why in a repost situation you would need the police or emergency services if they weren’t pondering some other uses for that system. So it was certainly intriguing at the very least.
Fred: I also wanna point out, this is a patent to application. It’s not a patent that’s been granted. There were a few gates to get through between here and there for them.
Anthony: Okay. Apparently, I’m just the reactionary, I get it. Just going for all the clicks for general Motors is taking a very interesting approach here.
They’re laying off people in their cruise division, which is their AV division. And at the same time they’re saying, Hey, we’re making things safer. I don’t know how you cut staff and make dramatic improvements. But I’m curious to find out how.
Fred: They mentioned that there are quote cumbersome regulations, closed quote, that are driving them nuts.
So laying off staff that’s involved in who knows what, enhancing safety. At the same time as they’re saying they don’t have to abide by all these troubling, perhaps safety regulations. It’s an interesting approach to increasing safety. I’m not sure how that’s gonna play
Michael: out. I’m still trying to figure out what all these cumbersome regulations they’re talking about are, because I don’t see any,
Anthony: no, that’s the thing we keep talking about with San Francisco, whereas San Francisco just lets these vehicles go out on the street and
Michael: I have, San Francisco has no choice in the matter because in California, AVS are regulated at the state level, so they’re functionally being told what to do.
This is the problem we’ve talked about. It’s going on right now in Seattle, where the state’s trying to take over control of the city’s AV operations. .
Fred: No, it’s going on in San Francisco too. The city government’s pushing back pretty hard on the avs that are roaming the streets. They’re, yeah. Not getting a lot of traction yet but they’re pushing back.
Anthony: Come visit San Francisco. You can get you can take our historic trolley cars unless the GM cruise has decided to stop in front of it it will be removed by an intern within the next two to four hours. But Jim, at the same time is enhancing their cruise driving system. Now they have and I don’t know what it’s called now, but the Super Cruise where this is the approach where it’s a smart approach that I think we all like, where they say, Hey, you have this kind of hands off driving experience.
There’s cars there’s cameras inside the co vehicle, making sure that you’re still paying attention to the road. And it only works on mapped divided lane highways. So they’re not making these absurd. Claims that, hey, we can drive you across the country while you’re knitting a scarf.
And they’re not putting a bu more importantly, they’re not putting a button on the vehicle like Tesla that allows you to turn this thing on wherever you are, no matter whether you’re on a road, whether it should be used or not. It’s also something they should put on their ev Hummers in instead of the WTF button, which is a nightmare we’ve discussed before.
One of the, yeah, there’s an odd nomen nomenclature issue here too. Gm, they’re, their autonomous division is called Cruise. They’re, okay. Level two is called Super Cruise, and now they’re awesome. Level two is called Ultra Cruise, so they need to work that out. I’m thinking the super cruises should be, or the Ultra Cruises, I don’t know, are they gonna have platinum crews yet next Mega Cruise.
It’s getting confused, but they’re, they’re talking about, and some of the interesting things, one of the interesting things I thought about that article was that they’re saying, to get to really good level two systems, we’ve gotta have lidar on these vehicles and we’ve gotta have all sorts of other sensors.
They laid out a number of other sensors they’re putting on these cars. Which and they were clear. They said, the decision to include LIDAR is less about money and more about safety. Which is something that we wish other manufacturers were doing. This area, putting more sensors on the vehicles versus the cost cutting measures that seem to result in, or that have resulted in some of the sensor fusion that we wanna see on these cars to make sure that events don’t happen that, that have bad out
Do you have a specific manufacturer that you’re thinking of? No.
Michael: Anthony, I do not.
Anthony: Do you? No, I I vote Tesla who wants to move all,
Fred: Hey, but before we leave this, I wanna, I just wanna point out, alter crews is soon to be coming to a neighborhood near you because the objective of ultra crews is to move that technology off of the divided highways into suburban streets.
And they claim that 95% of the roads in the United States will be covered under their ultra cruises. So that’s, it’s a huge expansion. of the environment that they’re pushing these autonomous vehicles into. We don’t know a lot about it. They haven’t been very transparent in the features that they’re putting in or how they’re planning to do this.
We know a lot more about super cruises and as you’ve just discussed, but alter cruises something they wanna put into your garage. Yeah. And
Anthony: so the the article that will link to one thing, in GM’s defense I’ll say is in the article I mentions, despite its enhanced capabilities, GM says it still considers alter cruise a level two system.
Which is basically, again, fancy cruise control, lane keeping assist. So they’re still gonna be requiring there’s cameras to watch the drivers to make sure you’re
Michael: still engaged. Yeah. And importantly still requiring the driver to maintain full control of the vehicle at all times. Yeah.
Which as opposed to some of this level three stuff where you pe they’re literally starting to tell people you could take your eyes off the road and you’re seeing other manufacturers lean into that idea and propose things like putting the metaverse into vehicles and letting you watch movies and all
Yeah. But let you know, let’s remember that there is no standard, there is no federal standard for what Level two means or what Level three means. No, you’re right. So level to say that it is still level two means more or less, nothing. Nothing. Cause level two can be whatever GM decides it wants to be.
Anthony: That’s an excellent point. Yeah, so this article points out that gm I don’t think they have a release date for this. This is still just marketing thing, and they’re talking about all the sensors that require, which I like, besides them saying, Hey, we need lidar is also, we need short range and long range radar systems.
So first of all, who knows anybody who could afford this stuff for the next five years? I just imagine, lidar systems alone are pretty expensive.
Michael: Yeah. They, I think the article know that they’ve been coming down on scale because of so many manufacturers turning to that technology.
Anthony: The public and Fred agree that driver attitudes towards self-driving cars people are afraid of them.
AAA released a survey. Their annual automated vehicle survey shows that this high level interest in partially automated vehicles, but attitudes towards fully self drying vehicles have become increasingly apprehensive because people keep listening to this podcast. That’s why, they show in the people are afraid of them.
The number in 2022 was 55% of respondents in 2360 8% of people. And that doesn’t even count the three of us who we’d be in scared shitless category .
Michael: I, I’ve been looking at there, there are a lot of opinion polls over the years on avs and some of them, A lot of it depends on the questions.
We see this, the AA poll, which is really tracking fear in some ways, which, people are afraid of them or unsure, or they trust them or the categories that they’re going after. And we did see a pretty significant rise in last year, about 13% in the fear category. I’m not sure what the explanation for that is.
Are, are Americans learning a lot more about this? Or, are more Americans turning against Tesla and Elon after the Twitter debacle? You just don’t know where these numbers are coming from because they’re based on a survey. But, it does suggest that people are paying more attention to this stuff and maybe people, when they’re driving or noticing some of the odd things that are happening with these vehicles and, maybe some people walking around the streets in San Francisco.
Don’t like the situation either.
Anthony: I think it’s people listening to this podcast and then they go onto the auto safety.org website, click on donate, and become monthly donors. That’s how we know that you’re afraid of avs. Fred is applauding it. I don’t know why he couldn’t hear that, but he was applauding, he was cheering.
He took his shirt off, swung it around over his head. That was a little too much in my opinion, but hey, enthusiasm’s, what we ask for and your monthly donation. So speaking of Fred swinging around a shirt above his head I think it’s tough. And let’s cover
Michael: one more thing. I wanted do, oh, one thing before we jump in.
I wanted to cover the, also because the advocates for H and all our safety put Oh, they’re Paul yesterday, which just along some similar topics, but their numbers were you. Even more strikingly higher than the AAA numbers and suggest that Americans overwhelmingly want to put in place regulations at the federal level.
I would assume. And to make sure that these vehicles are, performing safely and to make sure that they’re cyber secure and to make sure that they’re properly evaluating their environment. They’re calling it a vision test in the advocate survey and, the numbers there approach, 80, 70% of the public really want something done here.
It suggests that it’s time for NHTSA to do that.
Anthony: Yeah. The surprising thing about their results were it’s the lowest level of concern was at 84%. Cause they broke it down by age group. And I assume that younger, the Gen Z, they have the 18 to 26 year olds that they’d be less concerned cuz they, that’s the generation where we thought they.
All thought cars drive themselves anyway, but they’re at the 84% concern all the way up to baby boomers at 89%. So it’s not a huge difference. I imagined it would be
Michael: completely different. Yeah. And another thing I’d point out between those two surveys at least, is using the word fear versus concern is probably pretty important.
Because if you ask a lot of men, if they’re afraid of something, their response is going to be no . If you ask if they’re concerned, your response might be yes. And that’s really how a lot of people fear at this point. We’re not scared of avs. I’ve never seen one driving down my street. I’ve only, I even hopped in one.
Seven years ago to ride across this 14th Street bridge in dc. So there’s, it’s not really fear, but it’s certainly concern, whether these things can perform over the long term, whether they’re designed safely, whether they’re going to be reliable, whether they’re going to hold up transit, buses, and ambulances and all these other factors we’re talking about.
Anthony: I have a concern that you guys will sense that I’m afraid of automated vehicles. And with that, let’s go into the towel of
VO: Fred. You’ve now entered the Dow of Fred.
Fred: Thank you and good morning world. Again, so we’re talking ,
Anthony: we don’t know what time people are listening to this again, but hey, good morning, world
Fred: Oh, what is the what? The Hello world. That’s we’ll stick with the programming. I’m
Anthony: sorry. Program standards.
Fred: I’m sorry, didn’t interrupt. So we’ve been going over the AV Bill of Rights. And we’ve covered three of them in the past. So we’re going on to the fourth item now. And the fourth item is AVS must respond appropriately to emergency vehicle lights, audible signals, and manual directions from police officers and good Samaritans without endangering either those third parties or vehicle occupants.
This seems really obvious, police officers are still giving out tickets for failing to move over into the left lane when they’re stopping people. There are a lot of restrictions and they’re all dynamic restrictions about motorist response to a stopped emergency vehicle. This is a very difficult thing to program in because you can’t relocate or you can’t geo fence where the.
Emergency action’s going to be you certainly cannot geofence where good Samaritan might wave their arms or wave a flashlight in front of you to say, don’t go down here because the bridge is washed out. And we’ve all encountered this in our routine driving. It happens when somebody’s got a car that’s broken down or disabled or for a lot of other reasons.
So avs have simply got to do that. They’ve gotta respect and adhere to motor vehicle laws concerning operations with or near law enforcement personnel and other first responders in the vicinity of or near the planned trajectory of the avs. Sorry. It’s where the AV is now and where the AVS pointed to be going in the future.
There’s a lot to, this is both the current location and the projected location. There can be a lot of inputs about where this police action is, including the It’s conspicuous lights that some vehicles seem to run toward sound sirens, just the shape and contour of the vehicles that are involved.
These have all gotta be built into the av into the AV logic so that there’s no conflict between them. And importantly, they’ve gotta respond appropriately if some human being is in the road trying to get attention and get people to slow down or avoid a hazard that’s in the road. A lot of these are un the, probably all unplanned, but un many of them are unreported and would be unknown to Navy if it’s basing its trajectory on a map that’s located in its memory or some other input that’s not responsive.
And, concurrently with the development of emergency situations, surprisingly , there’s no standard that requires this. And this goes beyond just conformance to traffic laws because, as we said, a lot of these things will happen perfectly legally, but unusually in unusual circumstances.
So this is a difficult one, but this is something that has been underrepresented in the logic that we’ve seen on the road so far. A very important perimeter for the future. That’s all I’ve really got to say about this unless there’s any questions. But I do wanna point out to our listeners that we have this AV Bill of Rights posted on our website.
We invite you to go there auto safety.org and leave us your comments on it. There may be things we’ve overlooked. There may be things that we’ve. Left ambiguous. So we’d love to get your inputs on what those are and where we can improve this. Michael Anthony, any questions or comments on this one?
Michael: I was just gonna point out that, this isn’t just, conjecture that there’s a problem here. We’ve seen in San Francisco the fire hose issue where firefighters are actively battling fires and a cruise vehicle pulled into the area and wasn’t able to respond to directions, hand directions, signals from the firemen to stay away from the fire hoses, which a vehicle hitting those and running over those can be incredibly dangerous to the firemen and others in the area.
So this is, it’s something that’s a concern particularly when we’re seeing vehicles that pretend to be autonomous running into emergency responders. And there’s active and it’s investigations into those subjects. I think it’s an area where. These companies really need to get things right.
And there are a lot of challenges in, in, in interpreting signals from human to vehicle that when you have a human driver in a in a car, those signals are much more naturally interpreted and put into action, whereas the computers and the AI just aren’t quite ready yet.
Anthony: Yeah, my impression was from everything on the AV Bill of Rights.
This is probably the technically the hardest one to solve. I guess again, I’m thinking of interactions with police officers and good Samaritans. A lot of things, interactions we’ve pointed out are, you’re making eye contact and you’re getting so much information off of these kind of micro gestures or little things like that beyond these, even larger movements.
I, I. I think this is a tough one. That, and also responding to, emergency vehicle lights. That’s just, I see teenagers just setting that up as pranks is, Hey, look at this. I can stop an av.
Fred: Sure. The avs stopping isn’t the problem. It’s just stopping by running into cars. That’s a real problem running into fire trucks.
But, it is a cliche to have a city scape where you’ve got a police officer in the middle of an intersection giving hand signals to cars and blowing a whistle to controlled traffic. This is a real thing. It doesn’t happen all that often, but boy, it’s an incredibly complex thing for a computer to figure out and respond appropriately to.
You might also have a police officer who directs traffic the wrong way up a one way street. because of a blockage or an emergency situation to a human being that’s easy to understand because you’ve got a police officer scowling at you and making hand directions and okay, you go up the wrong way.
How much of a scowl has got to be on a person’s face before a Navy recognizes it as an imperative? Boy, that’s a tough one.
Anthony: That’s a tough one. That’s a great point. Because there is, you’ll be getting conflicting data, you’ll be like, Hey, go into the wrong lane cuz a police officer’s telling you to do this.
But the AV is I shouldn’t go on that lane cuz it’s a one-way street heading the wrong direction. That’s absolutely, yeah. I’d be curious to see what kind of research has been done into these scenarios, because they’re not that uncommon.
Fred: No. Think of an evacuation of a coastal city where a hurricane’s anticipated, what do they do? They shut down the highway and both sides of the. Divided Highway are now handling traffic that’s moving out of the city. If you’ve got your, your excellent map in place, which says don’t go the wrong way down a divided highway you’ve got a built-in problem here.
Anthony: I remember when I lived in DC on nine 11, watching traffic being directed the exact opposite direction that it should flow. So it’s crazy. That’s a good one. The AV Bill of Rights. Please check it out. Feedback is greatly appreciated. We’ve gotten some feedback so far. People seem to like what we’re putting out there, which is great.
And speaking of AV feedback, Waymo Waymo released something that’s unprecedented in the AV industry really is they released their own transparent transparency report. And their opening line is basically, Hey, after a million miles of research data, Which sounded really impressive to me, A million miles.
And then I asked Michael and Fred, and they’re like, that is means nothing at all. But I think the two of you are still impressed that Waymo under their own volition started releasing, Hey, this is what we’ve experienced. This is what we’re going for. And we’d love to see this from every other AV company.
But a million Rob, apparently a rounding error. We would also
Fred: love to see it from any other AV company. There
Anthony: you go. Hey, Zoox,
Michael: it’s, it was pretty, it’s, to me this type of work on the on by an AV company is fairly impressive because it addresses a lot of the issues that we’ve complained about for many years, which is that, we’re not really seeing what they’re doing on the road.
We’re not seeing the incidents that happen. And in this report, Waymo lists every single contact that one of their vehicles made with any object during the course of the, their, that million miles. It was 20 contacts. If you look. If you look at that based on your average driver, I think that a million miles is about 80 years worth of driving for the average human.
20 contacts might with no injuries or anything else, might seem like a pretty great track record for a computer driven vehicle. However, this was very limited operational design domain. They were typically operating in great weather in Arizona for most of these miles. So there is that there’s that takeaway as well, maybe it’s not as great as you think.
And plus we have the, statistically probably mentioned frequently about there’s a fatality for a little over every a hundred million miles traveled. So what does a million miles really prove here?
Fred: Yeah, I wanna applaud the people at Waymo who wrote this. It’s written very carefully and very well.
There’s, as far as I can tell, there’s nothing in it that’s wrong. . There are some things that are interesting and for example, the conclusion is that let’s see, I think I got it right here. Basically their conclusion is that what they’ve done so far is inconclusive. And and they recognize that and saying as we get more information, we will be able to do a better job and improve this.
It I’m quoting now, it says the results of this paper are consistent with the assertion that the Waymo driver will reduce the frequency of severe collisions by mitigating potential and defensively to avoid entering into a conflict situation in the first place and taking appropriate avoidance maneuver if a conflict develops, they don’t say that it proves that it.
It says that it’s consistent with the assertion, and that’s correct. So it shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an overall proof that everything is hunky dory. But it’s certainly a big step in the right direction. I also wanna point out that they mention or they show let me make sure I get it right here.
They talk about 20 collisions and they have them tabulated. Of those 20 co collisions, 10 of them involve moving avs. Okay. So if we go back to the AV bill of Rights where we said, do no harm, and we go back to the NHTSA information that says, the standard for critical factors associated with vehicle failures is roughly one every.
one to 2 billion miles of operation or one. Okay. Then what we discover is that the standard, since the standard for the critical factor in crashes, is one of the two and a half billion with their reported crashes, they’re showing a vehicle failure. Because you’ve got an AV moving that’s involved in a crash.
So I’ll just say that’s, high indication that there’s a critical factor that’s failed. Although one, every one, every
Michael: 200,000 miles case failure of the other vehicle, it could be they got hit by another car as well.
Fred: I took those out. So these are only the, these are only the 10 where the AV was moving.
Okay. It’s not where the AV was stationary. And yeah, there’s a lot of parsing of data that could be done to a refined this, but I just want to, I just want to point out that if it’s true that. That shows a vehicle failure once every 200,000 miles, right? You’ve got five incidents that are oh, let’s see.
No, that, so five just said 10 to 20 moving avs. I guess I took that down anyway. If you, if it were only five, then you’ve got one every 200,000 miles. I don’t have my logic all tripped up here. So let’s just say one to 200,000 miles indicates strong indication of vehicle failure. That’s off the mark by a factor of 12,500.
Okay? So you can quibble about whether it’s, five vehicles out of those 20 or four or whatever. They’ve still got a really long way to. Before they can demonstrate that these vehicles do no harm with respect to the known statistics of how often a vehicle failure is a critical factor in a crash.
Michael: And and they’re not just shooting for do no harm, I think is one thing I picked up from this paper. They’re trying to achieve what they call a positive safety impact, which right is, we’ve discussed risk calculations and some of the, some of those things is a positive safety impact? Is it a moving target?
Is it something that. We’ve achieved, say we’ve achieved do no harm, but we want to do more. We want to continue to build these systems to, to make the road safer and safer. Is that what that means
Fred: functionally? It’s squishy because it relies on the International Standards Organization documentation for what acceptable risk is, and basically it says that acceptable risk is the absence of unreasonable risk.
Okay, so that’s squishy because what’s reasonable, right? What’s reasonable to one person might not be reasonable to another person. When these standards are all developed, they’re developed without any hard numbers for what safety means or exactly how you implement it. They’re all based, more or less on the concept of reasonable risk and the absence of unreasonable risk.
So what they’re saying is that Waymo’s safety philosophy is to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities. That is to achieve what we call a positive safety impact. That’s great. Okay, but what is the positive safety impact? If it’s merely the absence of unreasonable risk, then you’ve gotta say who determines what’s reasonable and what’s not reason?
There’s no standard for it. Are you gonna have a statistical test for that? How is that going to be done? So again I think that what Waymo has done here is a big step forward. There’s a lot of visibility and transparency into what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. But I don’t think that this is in any way a stand-in for federal requirements or federal safety regulations that put a, put a marker in the , a line in the sand, or however you say that to say exactly what it is, it means to be reasonable risk, what it means to be unreasonable risk.
How do you quantify that so that the engineer knows whether or not they’ve achieved an absence of unreasonable risk?
Michael: I, and this is something we ask ni to. Five years ago, I believe we petitioned them to force manufacturers to do better safe self-assessments of their own safety. And I think at the time, if we had seen something like this from Google, we’d said, you know what?
That’s probably good enough. That’s better than these glossy pamphlets advertising their products that they’ve been submitting to NHTSA for years. And, it’s something, that I hope a lot more manufacturers, other than Waymo start doing is a real transparent, accounting of the incidents and the not just crashes, but any type of problems they’re seeing on the roads involving these vehicles.
Anthony: I think it’d be great for a Waymo engineer or someone from Waymo to come on and be a guest and talk to us about this. I, come on, why not? We’re nice people. We’re friendly people. I want, personally, I want AVS to be great and work and meet all these guidelines. Cuz my goals in 20 years is be retired and my wife and I, we can get into one of these AV based RV things and we’ll sit in back.
I have to have a fake steering wheel in it so she pretends like she’s driving. She won’t know. But there’s no way in hell we’re gonna have the computer do it cuz I wanna live and be in back hanging out. But yeah, I’m gonna give her the the Lisa Simpson or what was the baby’s name on the Simpson?
Maggie. Maggie Simpson. Give her the fake steering wheel pedals. A whole nine. She’ll be having a
Michael: blast. I, Yeah, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of steering wheel related issues and recalls this week, by the way. I
Anthony: know. Wade, you’re jumping ahead. You’re, you are jumping ahead cuz we’re gonna get to that.
But before recalls, we’re gonna hit a specific auto safety issue. The US Mail, this is awful. An article in the Wall Street Journal will link to it’s titled, trucks Hauling Us Mail Frequently Vi Violates Safety Rules. Crashes Killed 79 people since 2020. Basically, the postal service is under cost cutting pressures.
No, I have no idea. I wonder who runs the postal service, why they would do this. And they’re hiring basically some cut rate third party companies to deliver mail who are, doing everything they can to find, Hey, you got a pulse, you ever play pole position as a kid, great. Get in this 18 wheeler and go really fast.
It, it’s unbelievable. Again, my naive brain, Hey,
Michael: Look, the, you would think that, government agencies are, working to make safety their number one priority. But over the years we’ve seen, the postal service has had issues in other areas. Some of their postal trucks, have had a pretty nasty fire record.
The ones driving on your street every day, . And then, we see this issue where cost cutting measures in the postal service are leading to some pretty shady hiring practices that are putting Americans at risk. That’s, that’s. Not people like to beat up on the postal service.
This isn’t just a postal service problem. We’ve had the the government ignoring recall warnings from NHTSA on vehicles owned by the government now for many years, selling vehicles with recalls onto consumers for many years now, and resisting efforts by us to, get laws put around this or to make changes in their process.
The government’s not always that great when it comes to, sticking to the rules that it creates in its own department of transportation.
Anthony: Yeah, it’s it’s scary stuff. But, let’s jump into that recall roundup, cuz I really like this, these, this week. So recall roundup time
VO: strap in time for the recall roundup.
Anthony: The first one we have is titled Steering Wheel Made Detached from Steering Column. I’ve seen that in, I believe it was the road runner maybe, or it was something like this. It was Nissan potentially affecting over a thousand vehicles, certain 2023 Aria vehicles. Not even not sure what kind of vehicle that is.
But a steering wheel, a loose or missing bolt can detach from the steering column. How scary is that? And again, this sounds like a Friday afternoon problem.
Michael: Yeah, that’s, that’s gotta be scary. I haven’t experienced it. But it’s just an odd an odd recall. We’ve seen it, we’ve seen this type of thing before where the steering wheel pops up, pops off, and I, you.
I don’t know what that Nissan vehicle is either. I think it’s a newer, a very new model that they’re just getting their manufacturing going on. So maybe this is just an early days problem at the Nissan plant that’s causing this issue.
Anthony: Tesla has a similar problem. But this is not a recall.
Is it a Yeah,
Michael: this was weird. Tesla’s that just, it just came out this morning on nits website. They. Opening an investigation into Tesla steering, wheels popping off. Which is, it’s a little odd because you would think that if Tesla had, I, it seems like NIT has reached out to Tesla about this.
I can’t imagine they’re just gonna blindly open an investigation when they haven’t already mentioned it to Tesla. So I would guess here that they’ve reached out to Tesla in the matter and Tesla’s giving them a little resistance. So they’re open investigation. Who knows maybe Tesla’s trying to resist calling this a recall for some reason.
To us, it’s pretty clear you’re missing a steering wheel. There should be a recall .
Anthony: Yeah. And this is over 120,000 estimated 2023 model wise. Which again, it’s not a new vehicle, it’s the same exact design since what, 2018? So who knows, maybe this is, they only make these on late Friday afternoons.
I think that’s it. We have for steering wheel related recalls, but here’s a good one. Buyer sensor may falsely detect wires, they’re just, they’re being very cautious. This is provost, which I believe this is like an an RV type company. Yeah. These
Michael: are RVs. Yeah,
Anthony: this is 2018 to 2023 H 3 45 motor coaches.
Michael: So they’ve got this great fire suppression system in the engine compartment. It’s something that I think Hyundai and Kia wish they’d put in all their cars starting about 15 years ago. . And what’s happening is over time the component, the sensor I believe degrades and you’re driving down the highway at some 0.1 day and your fire suppression system goes off and blows all, I don’t know if it’s foam or some type of baking, soda based fire suppressant into your engine compartment, which I’m assuming causes a significant vi visibility issue for driver or following vehicles.
But it, it sounds both humorous and very dangerous at the same time.
Anthony: I literally the recall so far this week came straight out of Looney Tunes. We got steering wheel as a disconnect, fire systems that just go off. And now we got another one from Tesla. Ah, and hey, it’s the same the 20 22, 20 23 model wise.
where a loose seat frame belt, a loose seat frame bolt may reduce the seatbelt system’s performance, increasing the risk of injury during a crash. It’s over 3000 vehicles have been recalled. A again, people just not tightening bolts at the Tesla factory.
Michael: Yeah, I mean that, this, I think that recall, I’ll show you, if you look at it closely, there’s a lot of interrelation between, the.
How you’re protected in a vehicle, how strong your seat is, how your seatbelt and your pretensioners, and a lot of systems that are connected and around your seat work together to protect you in a crash. And a loose seat is disaster waiting to happen. Yeah.
Anthony: Okay. Okay. Here’s a another one Straight out of the comics.
Rear spoiler may detach while driving. A damaged real sp rear spoiler can detach and become a road hazard, increasing the risk of crash. This is Chrysler over 139,000 vehicles. Certain 20 21, 20 23 Dodge Durango vehicles that don’t need a real rear spoiler. Yes. Like spoilers are for like race cars to create downward force.
They don’t go on the air Dodge Durango. What’s its top speed,
Michael: like when you look at it it’s, I don’t know if it’s really a performance spoiler in the sense you’re trying to get some serious racing done or if it’s more to, help a fuel economy or what. It’s this basically a very, it’s a a rectangular attachment that goes right at the top of the rear window.
And what’s happening is as people raise and lower their rear gate somehow, because this thing was put on a way that’s misaligned. Repeatedly being bumped or jostled during these lift gate operations. And at some point when you’re driving down the road, it becomes loose enough where it can drop off and become a danger to the folks behind you.
So bad design.
Anthony: Yeah. Okay. And the last recall we’ve got is we’ve about this one a lot. This is so the replacement airbag inflater incorrectly installed. So , I wanna laugh, but I don’t, this is Ford. It’s 98,000 plus vehicles the recalling cert, 2004, 2006 range of vehicles that received replacement.
Front bag passenger inflaters. This is the Tejada problem. And I guess they put these in backwards. Yeah,
Michael: That’s what it looks like. It looks, and so what they’re, what they were doing, which is a great thing and something that we want everyone to do and something that we think should be built into recalls in the future, is providing mobile repairs on recalls that allow for that the Dikata airbag repair did.
And so they were sending out teams of repairmen to find these old rangers, which were a pretty big problem in the whole takota. Recall, so that they were sending out repair crews to do mobile repairs for folks who didn’t have time to go to the dealer or were who weren’t presenting their vehicle for a repair, couldn’t figure out a way to get the dealer, we’ll send the guys to you.
And so what happened unfortunately is that some of the airbags were put in a reversed manner that basically made them not work at all. I’m not sure if that increased the risk of the actual inflater explosion issue, but I think it probably did increase the risk of your airbag not deploying properly in a crash.
So they’re going back and fixing this problem. They don’t know if it happened on every vehicle in that population. They just know that a few airbags here and there were incorrectly installed. And so they’re gonna go back as a precautionary measure and check all
Anthony: of them. that. That’s good. And still, if you have a Takata airbag, replace it.
It’s free. Please do that. I just thought of something. These, there’s vehicles, there’s not many of them, but they drive really fast and they don’t have airbags at all. F1 racing cars, there’s, they don’t have a single airbag at all in them, and they hit the wall at over 200 miles per hour and people come out of it fine.
So maybe we all just need five point harnesses in our cars. I would love to talk to an F one. If anyone here works for f1, please. I would love to talk to one of their safety engineers, cuz they have to put a lot of thought into that. And I know we’re not gonna put f
Michael: Harness. Yeah.
There’s a slightly different budget there for those vehicles.
Anthony: There is, but some of their technology trickles down. Alright the last thing I think we, we got time for just one more thing, and this is,
Fred: Actually if I may, on the F1 there, there is a common denominator, which is that the crumple zone in cars absorbs a lot of energy.
And there’s a essentially a some, a cage around the occupant so that they’re protected from. Being crushed, particularly when the car rolls over. So that is technology that, that is common to both of them. And the F1 cars, essentially the entire vehicle, except for the cockpit, is a crush zone. Yep. I so it, it absorbs a lot of energy before it gets to the compartment, before it gets to the cockpit.
So there is a common denominator there and the, the physics holds and I think that there has been crossover between the F1 and the actual passenger safety and the typical passenger car. But it would, I agree with you, it would be great to talk to one of the safety engineers to find out what they’re all about and what really drives them.
Anthony: Yeah, because one of the things in the last store I wanna touch on is all F1 cars are hybrid vehicles, so they all have a massive battery in it, and I don’t think there’s been a case of those batteries bursting into flames. Which is impressive considering the temperatures they run at and the speeds they run at.
Michael: Maybe they’re lithium iron phosphates.
Anthony: They could be lithium iron phosphate batteries, which is, hey, the next topic. It’s like you knew. So we, we’ve talked many times about lithium ion batteries that burst into flames and it takes 30 firetruck to put ’em out. There’s a problem in my neighborhood where a couple of apartment buildings, one on fire because people’s powered bikes with lithium ion batteries using these cheap batteries exploded and set people’s apartments on fire.
Few manufacturers, including Ford and Tesla are switching to lithium iron phosphate batteries, which are. Better for some reason, cuz they don’t use cobalt and magnesium. That’s magnesium, right? No. Cobalt nickel. Cobalt is a horrible mineral to get because as a mineral it’s fine, but the way it’s mined is horrific.
It’s almost as bad as how your iPhone is made. And your iPhone, I think contains cobalt. So they’re switching to lithium iron, phosphate, batteries, and iron. Much easier to mine. But so Fred, tell us these are what are the benefits we’ve got here with these batteries?
Fred: Lithium ion phosphate battery is lower fire risk.
It’s probably better for the environment, but it’s heavier. It does not have the same what’s called energy density, which is the amount of electric power per unit weight. That is available from some other technologies. They’re also looking at nickel, cobalt, manganese, which has it’s quicker to charge, quicker to discharge, it has better energy density than the lithium iron phosphate batteries.
So what they’re really looking at is putting a mix of these batteries in to match the intended use of the vehicles. The, this is a article that came out, Associa from Ford, that talks about their options available and. Happily, the consumer’s not going to have to decide on which battery chemistry they want.
The consumer’s going to have to decide whether they want the longer range batteries, which could be including more of the nickel, cobalt, manganese composition, or whether they want the lithium iron phosphate batteries. That’s a question of the performance that you’re going to get out of it, how long you’ll be able to drive the car with the car’s ranges and what the relative fire risk is.
So the nickel cobalt, manganese batteries that Ford will also be offering does have a fire potential associated with it higher than the lithium ion phosphate. So that that all sounds like a lot of background chatter. I think what the real message here is that the battery technology is advancing very rapidly.
They are moving in the direction of safer batteries than are currently available. Which is not to say that the current batteries are inherently unsafe, but in the case of the bikes and the bikes you talked about, Anthony, that are burning up, those are typically very low cost batteries that have made a lot of quality control problems associated with them.
They’re known to be relatively hazardous. I don’t think we’re seeing the same thing in cars so much. They’re getting used to the idea of putting out high quality batteries for the vehicles, but still, there is a mix of chemistries it’s going on, mixing chemistries available and like we were Fonda saying in the future everything is bound to be better cause the battery technology is advancing very rapidly.
Anthony: I think what better in the future? Oh, sorry, , sorry. It’s just another reiteration that Fred’s never seen a sci-fi movie. He keeps thinking that everything’s better in the future.
Michael: Sorry, Michael. The I, looking at this, my concern here I like these batteries. The lower risk of fire is certainly great.
My concern with them is, Ford’s building them at the moment to put into their Mustang maquis, which are relatively small vehicle with a lower energy density in these batteries. It means they’re gonna be, I don’t know, it’s probably between 30, 40%, maybe heavier than the lithium ions we’re currently seeing in vehicles.
And if Ford puts this type of battery in an F-150 Lightning or GM, put this type of battery in, its big Hummer. We would be talking about battery sizes that were outrageous, 4,000 pounds, 3000 pounds. So that’s a concern here. I think this, I hope that, that these batteries as they advance, become a lot lighter because that’s, as we’ve spoken before about, that’s one of our, the growing concerns in this area.
And it seems like, there are a lot of trade offs. This battery is less prone to fire, but it may be heavier and contribute more to crashes. Newer batteries, the lithium ions, at least the, they’re lighter but they catch on fire more. So there’s a lot of trade-offs that we’re making in vehicle electrification moving forward.
And I’m hoping that the weight issue is one that manufacturers continue to work on in the next decade, or I’m afraid we’re going to see some bad. ,
Fred: I, my personal opinion is that the batteries that we’re looking at now are just to transition to a future where fuel cells will take over.
But fuel cells are relatively expensive. They’re light, they’re powerful. They don’t emit any noxious chemicals. But they’re expensive because you gotta have great quality control for them and you’ve gotta develop a mass market for them before they will take over the market. They’re just too expensive right now.
But that being said, in the future, everything could be better because they are a lot lighter. They do have better energy density. It’s why they put them into space vehicles that have to sustain people that when they go to the moon or when they go into orbit, cuz they do have that very good energy density, the very high energy density associated with them.
And not too many problems associated with noxious chemical release. .
Anthony: So folks, you’ve heard it, everything will be better in the future, especially if you donate. Become a monthly donor, 10 bucks a month, that’s it. That’s 120 bucks a year, maybe five bucks a month. That’s just 60 bucks a year. And you can keep us going, become a sustainer or else we’re gonna do an entire episode.
And it’s gonna feel like you’re watching PBS Pledge Drive, . It’ll be annoying. It’ll be me for an hour. Just being like, and your support helps with printer paper. I don’t know. , and you
Michael: won’t get a mug.
Anthony: No, there’s no I have a mug on my desk somewhere. I don’t know what it’s for, but yeah, we’ll get, I’ll send you random stuff.
There you go. I got some random stickers from different people. I’ve got a half used bottle of vitamin D on my desk. You can have that.
Fred: You have some nice guitars in the background.
Anthony: I am not sending those away. No. Nope. Sorry. You have to be, become a very big donor and it’s still not
Fred: gonna happen. A water pick.
Maybe not giving away
Anthony: my water. Pick . I’ll give away your water pick. You get to visit Fred in his bunker. There you go. Alright, thanks listeners. We’ll be back next week. Thanks
Michael: everybody. Thank you.