Self driving car? Humans now required.
To celebrate Fred and Anthony’s birthday the California DMV has banned GM Cruise self driving cars. The moral of the story? Don’t listen to tech bro nonsense AND don’t lie to the DMV. Turns out the GM Cruise that ran over a woman dragged her too but GM Cruise forgot to mention that part.
The DOJ is getting all up in Tesla’s business. Turns out lying to consumers about their EV range is not a good thing. A “super fog” causes a 168 car pile up, Colorado adds a vehicle weight fee, Fred invents a new number 5 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.
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.
Birthday today. Yeah, it was my birthday on Sunday. Oh, is that right? Hey, yeah.
Fred: Congrats. Hey, we’re almost twins.
Anthony: Congratulations. We look alike.
Fred: We do look alike. Except for a little bit of verticality and.
Anthony: That’s how we’re starting off the show with height jokes. Height ism
Michael: 33 guys. I remember that age.
You’re a rabbit. Height
Anthony: is 33. Yeah. So hey, speaking of which, you know what I got for my birthday is an amazing present. It was unfortunate for some people, but for me, it was amazing. You ever you ever go through a traffic light and you get pulled over and you’re in the back of your head, you’re like, I bet I can argue this.
But then you realize there’s cameras everywhere and you can’t really argue it. Remember a couple weeks ago, listeners, we talked about GM Cruise unfortunate accident where they pedestrian was hit. Rolled underneath their car and they said, Hey, we stopped the vehicle. And we had a discussion on the show about, Hey, do you leave the person pinned out of the car?
Do you remove the person from the car? What would a human driver do? Would a human driver behave differently? GM Cruise said, Hey, we acted appropriately. We immediately stopped the car and they showed that footage to the department of motor vehicles. Turns out they edited that footage. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. Turns out they they’re like cut tape. Because what we didn’t see in the Department of Motor Vehicles found out was that they did stop on top of the woman. Then they drove for another 20 feet at seven miles per hour, dragging this poor woman off the side of the road. California Department of Motor Vehicles, in celebration of my birthday, gave me a gift and said, Hey, GM Cruise.
Your robo taxis are no longer allowed to operate in the state of California. Amazing.
Fred: Now, what I want to point out to our gentle listeners is that last week we discussed the… Regulations associated with the autonomous vehicles and more to the point, the lack of regulations. And in particular, we talked about something called the minimal risk condition, which is at best a misnomer.
People should know that what this cruise vehicle did. With this poor woman who was completely consistent with compliance with a minimal risk condition that was adopted by the S. A. E. and implicitly it was adopted by Nyssa as well when they vacated the previous regulations associated with autonomous vehicles.
The fact that the woman was hit by the car stopped and then it dragged her 20 feet. Before it stopped again, the lawyers for GM will no doubt argue that your honor, this was completely consistent with a minimal risk condition, which is industry standard for how an autonomous vehicle should behave.
As discussed last week, we’re, we’ve been fighting this for a while. We haven’t completely won the battle yet, but this is an important evidence or an important illustration of why this is an important. Discussion why we need to win this and actually why the Center for Auto Safety exists to make sure that these kind of issues are introduced to the public.
Anthony: Yeah, so GM’s Cruise CEO, Kyle last month in an interview with the Washington Post, he was saying that the criticism of driverless cars is overblown and the incidents involving his company have been sensationalized. However, the California Department of Motor Vehicles said in its decision Tuesday that cruise vehicles are not safe for the public’s operation, and also determined the company misrepresented information related to the safety of autonomous technology.
Michael, from a lawyer perspective, let’s, what, it seems like they, they the cover up is worse than the crime almost.
Michael: Yeah, here, I think that’s really what got the DMV to act, we’ve in California, we’ve seen a lot of, hesitancy recently to by the governor who, vetoed the safety driver in trucks by the public utilities commission that tried to expand Cruise’s jurisdiction at the same time, this DMV that made the current decision was cutting it in half they’ve, Basically, I think what this comes down to is that the DMV here has, a duty under the law and their regulations to respond when they find out that someone’s lying to them.
We, as the public, we’re all Functionally being lied to here, not only with the whole, these things are safer than you, but in this specific circumstance, GM Cruise’s came out, showed video to reporters who were covering this, showed video to the DMV and completely omitted the fact that this vehicles, started moving again and what they’re calling a I forget what it was called some kind of special maneuver.
A pullover maneuver while the pedestrian was underneath the vehicle. They never showed that video to anyone. You might’ve heard us say, show us the video, Kyle, a couple of weeks back in the podcast. And this is the exact reason why, because there’s more to this story that GM was trying to cover up.
They didn’t do such a good job though, because they, it looks like they ran into either a NHTSA or NTSB person who was covering this and. That person mentioned that the vehicle restarted again and dragged the pedestrian after the crash. And, the DMV said, whoa, we haven’t heard anything about this, which is funny, because I’m assuming the reason that California didn’t hear about it and that this other.
Probably federal employee had is because federal law has criminal and civil penalties for people that lie to investigators. I’m not sure that California’s autonomous vehicle regulations have gotten that far yet. And functionally cruise was walking into the meeting with California DMV saying, Hey, we can tell these guys this, we don’t have to tell them about that and there’s nothing, we’re not getting thrown in jail and we’re going to try to skate through this without anyone finding out that we actually, our vehicle started again after coming on, running up on top of the pedestrian and dragged the person that was completely omitted from everything Cruise was representing at the time of this crash. And in the weeks afterwards, until we found out about this. I think this is, the DMV as, there’s still something not they’re not politically independent, obviously, since I’m sure that some of the governor’s office.
But in this case, I think they’re there. Probably a little angry at being played for a fool and, GM Cruise’s clearly went around the reporting obligations and they clearly, you can’t capture a crash. And in the very first particular I’m mumbled, I’m garbled right now, but you can’t capture a crash of that sort only in the, what happens the first moment you make contact.
We’ve spoken about a lot here. There are a lot of post crash things that go on, for people to get. To have egress and get out of the vehicle. There’s a lot to the safety of cars and particularly autonomous vehicles that happens after the crash. And when you just show a video of the crash and you don’t show how the cruise vehicle responded to having a human being under the vehicle after the crash, you’re leaving out a huge portion of the safety story there.
And Cruise knows they were doing that. There’s no question about that.
Anthony: So let’s put this in a different. So Kyle always says that humans are terrible drivers. So let’s imagine that it wasn’t a robo taxi, it was a human behind the wheel. And let’s say I’m the driver and this happens. I hit somebody, they’re pinned under my car.
I hit the brakes. And then for whatever reason, I’m like let me pull off to the side of the road to get out of the way, even though I know I’ve hit a human, or I’ve hit anything, it doesn’t matter. So now I’ve stopped the vehicle, and now I’m dragging, and I, you can sense when you’re dragging anything in a car, but I’m gonna continue dragging for a good 20 feet at 7 miles per hour, and then I’m gonna park.
Now, as a person, as a licensed driver, what level of liability am I at? Besides having a TV movie made about me, about being the worst person on planet Earth, I imagine…
Michael: Besides being, an absolute idiot you are probably… You’re going, even if the, even if this incident happened and it was completely not your fault, the point at which you decided to move that vehicle again post crash and you injure someone, the whole clock starts over.
You’re not off the hook for that because you’ve made a decision outside of the crash that functionally has created a completely new circumstance. And it would just be dumb. If you’re in a, if you’re in a crash that has a chance of involving any type of injury to anyone you should be getting out of the car and not driving anymore for a lot of reasons, legal reasons, evidence, preservation, lots of things.
So that’s just be
Anthony: a human reaction. Yeah. So I imagine I, at a minimum, I, my driver’s license is suspended, if not revoked. I’m going to be subject to civil liability, if not criminal liability, right? Yeah,
Michael: And the good thing for Cruise’s, in California, if you’re a human and did this. You can’t just leave the state and go drive in another state, right?
Cruise is still going to be in Austin and Phoenix and Nashville and Raleigh and everywhere else they’re trying to plant their seed right now. And this obviously doesn’t apply outside the state of California. So they’re going to continue testing and doing whatever they want.
Anthony: Wow, okay, I didn’t even think of that.
So as a human as a person, my driver’s license is gone. I can’t drive in California, I can’t drive in Wisconsin, I can’t drive anywhere. But, since I’m not a human, I can do whatever the hell I want.
Michael: Yeah, as long as, here’s the thing, as long as NHTSA doesn’t stop you, which who knows what’s going to happen there, or the state that you’re in doesn’t find out about it and try to stop you, as an autonomous vehicle company, you can operate anywhere you want. This is probably something that should be, on a federal level, address like if you’re suspended in one state, you can’t drive in other states as a human. Why does the same thing not apply to autonomous vehicle companies? And, in the states assume that one state’s determination over you holds true. You’re a bad driver, your license suspended, you can’t drive in any other states, or you’ll be probably arrested if you’re pulled over here.
Cruise could say, okay, sCruise you, California, we’re going to go to, we’re going to stick to Texas now, where all the California company tech companies seem to be moving to escape this kind of thing where the roads are wide and the rules are non existent. So that’s what could be happening here.
Anthony: So it’s only been a couple of days since California DMV said, Hey, GM Cruise, you’re done. You’re done. Have any other states, Texas, Phoenix have they started poking around and saying, Hey, or that just, Hey, we just,
Michael: really quietly. Cause we didn’t think about it. And the states that a lot of the states that have passed autonomous vehicle regulations.
They’re very different. California was a lot more particular about what you’re gonna have to do in the state to, to do this. Most states, you come in and you say, oh, you put up a bond for $5 million for insurance or something. And okay, you’re good to go. You say everything’s safe. Check the box, and you’re on the roads.
California does have some, reporting requirements and some other things that are slightly heightened. Scrutiny of the company’s operation, but there’s. Even then, I was a little surprised by this and, I don’t know that the DMV in California would have made this determination outside of the fact that Cruise’s was lying to their face and basically violating their regulations by misrepresenting the circumstances of the crash.
So I don’t know that they would have made a determination. Without that misrepresentation saying, hey, these vehicles aren’t safe enough to be on our streets. So that’s another question here is does the fact that the company is, operating outside the realm of reality, if not somewhat illegally by lying to California authorities about these crashes.
Did that play a big role in this is I think my main question because people don’t being lied to and I Go that’s across the board and I think that may have been the impetus for a lot of this action Combined with the fact that we’ve seen so many problems in Cisco. We see Cruise’s starting to expand to LA Where Lord knows what’s going to what would have happened there.
Fred: Michael, I think that this falls under the requirements for reporting from the standing general order, right? How long will it be until we know? Whether or not that reporting took place and what NHTSA’s action as a result of it would be.
Michael: It should have already taken place. They’re required to file in 24 hours.
Now, we have no idea what was filed with NHTSA and that will be the circumstances of these crashes are redacted. I think we noted last week that when NHTSA opened its investigation into GM Cruise, we noted that. The there were SGO reports that were filed in the docket. Those went missing a couple of days later, and then they came back magically over the past week.
So you can look in that docket and see what an actual SGO report looks like. And what you’ll find is that a lot of the circumstances of the crashes are redacted the version that goes up on this as websites every month or so that has the current cases that they’ve received since the last month.
May or may not contain a description. It will have a lot of fields redacted. So it would be really, it’s difficult to tell what’s what exactly is going on there from a public facing standpoint. Now, NITSA has that information itself because they get the full report. And, they have a decision to make here.
They did not cite the in their opening report. NITSA did not cite this. Thank you. Evidence that the vehicle operated had a secondary operation after the initial contact with a pedestrian. I’m interested to see 1st. If that person that tipped off the California DMV to this was not.
And that’s an investigator, did cruise line and it says are there potential civil or criminal penalties that can arise from this? And also. I don’t want to really want to say poor Waymo, but this is the kind of thing that really sets back. We’ve been, we’ve obviously been, out at the forefront of saying, GM Cruise’s and some of the things they’re doing are just a giant load of bullshit, there are companies that are trying to do a better job and they get wrapped up in this as well, fortunately, I think for Waymo, they’re not facing a suspension or anything at the moment, but they need to stay on their toes.
Anthony: I think that’s good for everybody out on the streets for more, sunshine being focused on these companies and how much leeway they’ve been given. It was only one month ago that the California Public Utilities Commission said, yes, go ahead. Charge for these things. These things are great and safe.
I can’t imagine what it’s like on the. Sitting on the public utility commissions now. They’re probably like, Oh, what report? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t have that vote. I, maybe one time I worked for GM Cruise, but it was, I was in youthful indiscretion. I don’t, you know what, why are you getting me?
At the end of the day, GM Cruise. General Motors invests two billion dollars a year in this. Smart money, dumb money. I don’t know. But hey, let’s continue along with things that autonomous vehicles are going to struggle with. There is a something called a super fog. There’s an article we’re linking to from the Washington Post.
The title is, toll rises to 8 dead, 63 hurt from Louisiana interstate pileup blamed on dense fog, marsh fire smoke. So there was a series of crashes. On where did it, I can’t find it, but
Michael: it is near Louisiana. It is on the way on I 55, connects Jackson, Mississippi and new Orleans, which is a route I knew well in college.
And it. Is that where this happened was you’re basically going through a swamp. It’s between Lake Pontchartrain and a lot of marsh there. And so you’ve got a raised. Basically, you’re riding on one long bridge for 10 or 15 miles, I think.
Anthony: Is this the Lake Pontchartrain bridge? Is it that thing?
Michael: But one of, there are a couple of s, there are a lot of structures like that in the marsh and Louisiana where you’re basically riding on a large raised divided highway with very little room to move on the shoulders.
So that was really a big part of the problem here is there’s nowhere to go when people are trapped in the fog and you. It’s the fog itself is bad enough. We’ve seen crashes that had nothing to do with smoke involved with the fog that apparently creates this super fog.
In, in the, I think between Chattanooga and Knoxville in Tennessee, a number of years ago, if you drive there now, there are still, lights and signs and billboards with warnings. And variable speed limits that change in response to conditions because it’s in the area of the Smoky Mountains where there’s a lot of fog, and there have been a number of pilots in that area over the years, and they wanted to stop that.
Here’s a situation where you wonder, hey, could the infrastructure have been better here? Shouldn’t you? Isn’t it pretty obvious when there’s a giant blanket of fog that vehicle drivers can’t see through in an area, shouldn’t you be lowering the speed limits in that area during that period? Yes, and yes.
And, and there’s also the question of, should the cars themselves be responding or communicating in a way that prevents these kind of pileups from happening? That’s another big question that. I don’t want to get us off onto a V2V vehicle to vehicle communications rant here, but that’s really what could prevent these type of situations when if vehicles knew where other vehicles were in front of them, behind them, they could, these type of acts could be prevented.
Anthony: So that’s the sign be road closed, like in these situations.
Michael: There’s a, there are situations I’ve encountered where I, I wish that was the case. I guess the worst type of driving experience I would have in a super heavy thunderstorm down south where you can literally see nothing and there’s hydroplaning rest.
There’s water all over the road. And, some cars are driving at 20 miles an hour with their hazards on, and some people still think it’s okay to just go the speed limit and blaze on through all of that. So there’s a combination of, bad driving, bad weather, you can’t shut an interstate down really in the midst of an event like this.
What are you going to do with the people that are stuck on the interstate? They have to get from point A to point B somehow. So there needs to be a lot of thought put into that. I don’t think it’s that difficult from a meteorological perspective to predict these events and be ready for them and be watching.
There are Marsh fires going on and, which way the winds blowing and where the fog is in this situation. So I don’t think it’s. It’s incredibly difficult to predict from a weather perspective and, if state transportation officials could be on top of that and be aware, they have cameras on these roads.
They know there’s fog encroaching lowering the speed limits, even there’s a lot of things that could have been done. There’s a lot of things I think they probably wish they had done now, given, the carnage that occurred in, in, in this series of crashes.
Anthony: Yeah, it’s 168 vehicles involved.
So Fred, you like to ask us a series of questions in the show. I’m going to ask you a couple rapid fire questions related to this. Ready? Okay. Dense fog, we talk about, Hey, cars are getting better and safer and all this cool was technology. Will a camera work help in this situation? Dense fog.
Fred: Infrared camera would work and do a lot to alleviate that standard. RGB cameras probably wouldn’t do much because of course it’s foggy, you can’t see through it.
Anthony: Okay. Do cars come with infrared cameras?
Fred: They do not, generally speaking, but the technology has been developed and is commercially available.
And it’s not required, so it’s not deployed.
Michael: It’s primarily used in, higher end luxury vehicles where you have things like… Sensing systems for animals. Oh, that’s neat. Like the flu type things.
Fred: So technology, the technology’s there. It could be deployed, but has not been,
Anthony: Will lidar the will that
Fred: LIDAR in the visual range would not work.
Lidar in the infrared range could work. Okay. We need, but but again, it depends on the time scale associated with the events that are happening.
Anthony: Okay, so is there any other magical technology that we’ve ever discussed or someone’s discussed that says hey This is in production now or coming production soon.
That would help this situation
Fred: the the radar would help, the forward looking infrared sensors would help, and displays would help and a sign that says slow the hell down would help.
Anthony: Okay, so that’s
Michael: the simple solution. Or you have vehicle to vehicle communications that say, hey, we’ve got a, a crash ahead, you have to slow down now.
Okay. Oh, great point, yeah.
Fred: Unfortunately, the FCC has given away most of the bandwidth and has actively tried to suppress the development of that technology. That could be there. It could have been there a long time ago, but yeah, as Michael said, technically available, but programmatically not available.
Anthony: Okay. But you mentioned radar. So like the radar built into my automatic emergency braking, that will still work in dense fog and fire? Yes.
Fred: Okay. And depends on the frequency of the radar, but typically they’re designed to avoid the Effects of weather and smog and rain.
Anthony: Okay, and so how long before we have automatic emergency braking technology like that?
Standard on all cars. Long pause.
Fred: Crickets. Nobody can say. It’s technically, it could be rolled out in a couple years. Programmatically, somebody’s got to push for it. Somebody in the government’s got to push for it. So it’s not a technical question, it’s a programmatic question.
Anthony: Oh, I guess we’ll we’ll keep pushing from our end the best we can. But, somebody who doesn’t like radar somebody who thinks LIDAR is stupid, How do you like this for a transition? Is some guy named Elon Musk, and he thinks, Hey, I can see with my eyeballs, I can drive with my eyeballs, So that’s all the car needs is a cheap camera that does that.
He ignores the fact that he can actually hear, too, and whatnot. But I think we mentioned this a little while back, but now it’s the Department of Justice is investigating the range of Tesla’s electric vehicles because they’ve been lying about the range their EVs get, and it’s always these things that surprise me.
I’m like, what is Tesla doing that their range is like always at least 50 miles longer than their competition. They’re all using the same basic batteries. Is their car more slippery? What did they have? Some amazing, cool software management system. And it turns out they have a really cool software feature called lying.
They lying. Basically if the battery is above 50 percent charge, it says, Hey, we’re going to go 50 percent further. Then you hit below 50 percent charge. It’s Oh yeah, we, just, we’ve entered Kyle mode earlier. We were in Kyle mode, we were lying to you now we’re in truth mode and Hey, you better plug this thing in real fast.
So yeah, the Department of Justice, that’s never a good thing when the DOJ says, hey, let’s figure out what’s happening.
Michael: Yeah, they basically what happened was Tesla filed it’s whatever quarterly report, SEC, and they changed their wording significantly in it to, before they had said, we were, we had been actively receiving, information requests or things like that from the government.
And then this, and in this version, they said they’ve actually received subpoenas. And, these subpoenas are related to a number of things. They’re related to. Everything from, autopilot, full self driving and all of the mess that’s going on there where, the emergency vehicles are crashing into motorcyclists, just all that entire process where Tesla is saying we can sell a vehicle and call it autopilot or full self driving, even though it’s not there’s an investigation into all of that.
There’s also a look into some of the stuff that, the whole musk. Talking on Twitter and having the SEC tell him what, run, get permission to promote certain things. After some of the things he said in the past, there is this issue. Even going to issues of things like was Elon building a glass house somewhere?
There’s a lot of things these subpoenas are going to go on to. And again, we’ve talked about this in the past. There’s just not a lot of insight. For folks like us into the inner workings of the DOJ, which is probably the way it should be. It does appear that, that’s just even more confirmation that the government is looking into criminal charges, possibly, and certainly civil penalties when it comes to a lot of Tesla’s behaviors in relation to not just consumer safety, but also, the range on your vehicle and some other activities that have been going on there.
Fred: I want to point out to our listeners that the SEC means Securities and Exchange Commission, and they have jurisdiction over public companies, the companies listed on the stock market, for example, and also the reporting that is required by public companies. So the company Tesla is a public company, so they are required to do certain reporting and have certain factual statements.
The other companies owned by Mr. Musk, or controlled by Mr. Musk, including X, are private companies and They can do whatever they want. So there’s no reporting requirement for private companies. So that’s why this has come up in relation to Tesla and who knows what else is going on in the private companies, but there are responsibilities for reporting the public companies that.
Are the reason for this disclosure, why this is coming out now.
Anthony: So I might be jumping ahead here a bit, but do you think in the future, do you think that Kyle and Elon will be able to share the same prison cell?
Michael: I don’t know, I think they’re too much alike, opposites attract. We need more diversity there.
They’re both… Pretty experienced in the art of sleight of hand.
Fred: So you have cells with three beds because there’s another gentleman who might be headed that way soon. It’s been in the news lately.
Anthony: Wait, don’t read news articles about me. What are you talking about?
Fred: Oh gosh, some guy who
Anthony: alleged to be heading up the
contract. You’re talking runs one prison gang, Elon runs the other prison gang. It would be interesting.
Michael: Do you really see them as gang leader enforcer types? No. Okay. I think they’re probably in the prison library on the computer trying to communicate with. They’re friends. They got a lot of friends.
Anthony: Aw, that would be a great reality show.
Become a friend with one of these sociopaths. Hey, more on sociopathic behavior. A couple years ago, Elon got on stage with this thing that looked like it was designed inside Minecraft. And he called it the Tesla Cybertruck, and he was saying it was bulletproof. And then he took a steel ball, and he broke the glass windows, and Oh, that didn’t work, let’s try that again, and again, same thing happened.
Forget the aesthetics of this thing. He was claiming that it was going to be this that the conventional body and bed of a conventional truck did nothing useful. They are all carried like cargo, like a sack of potatoes. So he’s saying that the design, the build of trucks, pickup trucks, that, not used by, soccer parents and whatnot, but like by…
Construction workers and people actually use them, that it’s pointless to have these things here, these truck beds. I don’t understand that logic where he was coming from there.
Michael: Especially after you look at a Cybertruck and realize the bed is crap and it’s small and you’re not doing anything with it.
It’s a joke. It’s like Silicon Valley tried to meet Middle America and build them a pickup truck and really fucked it up.
Anthony: Yeah, it was somebody like, they’re like, I really like that movie Mad Max, and I think my three year old’s Van Gogh. Yeah, so he was claiming all this stuff that it was gonna be monocoque body construction, some of the Formula One cars, it was going to be this unibody construction, or all the stuff, and so as they go along, they realize we can’t do any of this none of this works, I am a liar, my pants are on fire this car is, it’s, How many years behind schedule four or five?
Michael: Yeah, that in combination with the fact that the other manufacturers of electric pickup trucks have been sitting on lots right now and sold and are, basically shutting down production because there’s not enough demand. So it’s really looking bad. It really looks like they dug their own Musk said.
Anthony: Yeah, it’s interesting. So it’s the whole this stainless steel body thing. They another famous car that stainless steel is a DeLorean and they just found one parked in like a farmhouse in Wisconsin somewhere and hadn’t been used in forever. And you can see like stainless steel doesn’t really hold up that well.
Like it’s not as as exciting as you can be. It’s the same reason they make countertops out of it and gas stations. That’s what stainless steel is good for. But yeah, this artist technical article ends with basically what Michael was just saying is saying, ah, it doesn’t look like there’s much of a market for these things.
Michael: Hey, good luck. They’ll have to look at me market, that’s about it. I don’t think they’re getting farmers and contractors involved. And there’s, you’re going to have so many dings on that, all the panels after one week of work, that it’s going to be, you’re going to have an ugly truck immediately.
I don’t understand.
Fred: In that case, you’re starting with an ugly truck, so you can’t help but end up with an ugly truck. But, sometimes when people are willing to buy a bad idea whose time has come, they rapidly realize that it’s a bad idea and its time has come and gone pretty quickly. Pet rocks come to mind.
Anthony: My pet rock’s still going strong. So how
do we know how much does a Cybertruck weigh?
Michael: What’s its weight? I think the reports are everywhere, but it’s over 6, 000 pounds. It could be as high as nine. It can, you just don’t know.
Anthony: We don’t know yet. Huh?
Michael: Nothing’s really clear that comes out of there, except the price for what you’re going to buy.
Anthony: And even that changes based on his mood. Yes. So the reason I ask about weight is Colorado is adding a vehicle weight fee to try and tame the mega car crisis and protect vulnerable road users. Colorado looks like they’re gonna charge for something like a Toyota Rav four as little as an extra four 50 a year for.
It’s registration fees, and Be hum be a Hummer, you’d have to pay 29. 90 more a year, which sounds incredibly low. And this is, in Colorado, it’s gonna be too, for residents of all but the 12 most populous counties would be exempt from this. And that’s meant to reflect where bicyclists and pedestrian deaths happen the most.
But of course, when you actually look at the data from this article from streetsblog. org, of course, many sustainable transportation advocates argue that disincentivizing large vehicle purchases should be a legislative priority, even in less populous rural areas where pedestrian deaths rates are actually higher per mile than they are in urban centers.
So it seems like they’re doing the right thing. They want to do this, but it also seems like. If you’re buying a Hummer, what’s 30 bucks a year? Who cares? Like 30 bucks doesn’t even get them like three miles to the gallon.
Michael: Yeah, I think that, if it was. 30. Here’s where and then DC’s tried something similar to this.
And here’s where the states need to be careful and where the money matters. You’ve got to put this money directly back into infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, whether you’re creating better crosswalks, or you’re creating bike lanes that are actually separate from traffic.
I don’t think that the fees proposed in Colorado are going to get them say they have 2, 000, 000. SUVs in Colorado at 5 a pop. You know that even if you’re charging 50 a pop, you’re probably not getting enough money into the state treasury to really make an impact and really create new and better infrastructure.
D. C. what they did was they take that money and they throw it right into the general fund where it’s not even going to transportation. At least Colorado got it right in terms of putting the money. Back into the right places with this law, but the amount of money I still question as to whether that’s going to have a real impact on the conversion of, making infrastructure better and, making people actually leave their vehicles do more walking using public transportation is a.
Giant problem and I don’t know how that’s going to be addressed long term, but I don’t think that, something this small, a fee that small really is going to do a whole lot about it.
Fred: A problem this large it’s hard to take on all at once. And I think that the initiative is very important because getting started down the road towards.
Making these vehicles assume liability and the consequences of their own design is an important and big step to take. What’s 30 bucks this year will be 300 bucks in 5 years, or maybe 3000 bucks in 10 years. So once the mechanism is in place and people accept the mechanism. There’s probably a lot that the legislators can do to increase the disincentives, if you will, or, to try to equilibrate the consequences of those vehicle designs with the rest of the public.
It’s a small step, but it’s a big, but it’s a very important step to take. And we’d like to see it. At least I’d like to see it nationwide. This whole idea of these giant trucks careening down the highways is very bad.
Anthony: No, it’s also a small but significant step. Going to autosafety. org and clicking on that donate button.
We’re not asking for millions and millions of dollars, but hey, if you’re a Colorado resident, why don’t you pay the fee that you do on your your giant, massive car? Granted, if you listen to this podcast, you probably don’t have a giant, massive car. You probably have two! And that’s how wealthy you are, so doubly, donate even more money!
Thanks for putting up with that nonsense that spills out of my face.
Michael: Thanks, everyone. I want everyone to know that
from me. Yeah.
Anthony: Every time I speak, Michael, a little part of him dies on the inside. All let’s go into the towel Fred this week. Cause I think this is a, this is going to be an interesting one.
We’re going to talk in honor of in honor of Halloween, the scary auto engineering top five,
Fred: You’ve now entered the Tao of Threat. Michael asked me, in honor of my five years with the Center for Auto Safety, to come up with the top five engineering disasters. Of the last five years. So I’ve tried to do that.
So top five engineering problems in the last five years. Here’s number seven, . The
Active suppression of V two X technology development and deployment by FCC. So V two X means vehicle to everything communication. There was bandwidth reserved by Congress to enable vehicles to talk with each other.
And with the infrastructure to eliminate safety problems, the FCC refused to license the implementation of this technology. And then they use the argument that nobody has licensed the technology to say, we don’t need to reserve this bandwidth anymore and restricted the bandwidth. Available to this technology.
So it was a classic. We’ve met the enemy and we as us technique and it worked for them. And who is the chairman has gone on to his future. So that’s number 7 number 6 the elimination of all engineering and safety requirements for classification development, safety and public highway operation.
In previous administrations, there were some preliminary regulations that were promulgated by NISA for the AV development. The previous administration negated all of those, just simply took them out and said in the future everything will be better and go do whatever you want. That’s a huge gap that should be closed.
What could go wrong? Come on. What could possibly go wrong? That’s right. No idea. Number five. There is no third party inspection capability or resources for current or planned safety critical automated control features. So if you go into, if you bring your car into a safety inspection, or you’d like to know whether or not your car is safe, typically you walk around the car, lights work, wipers work, tires work.
These are all visual inspections. There are a lot of safety critical automated features in every car sold today. Whether it’s automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist blind spot warning systems, a lot of automatic safety critical features that cannot be inspected visually. There is no way for a third party, including the owner, to verify that all of these systems are operating correctly before you take the car out on the road.
That’s a huge gap that needs to be closed. Number four, no requirements, standards or specifications or commercial availability for immobilization of vehicles driven by impaired drivers. Impaired drivers are overrepresented in the deaths of motorists and pedestrians. In America today worldwide actually, but the impaired drivers, including drunk drivers with medical problems who knows what can happen, right?
Anthony: Texting drivers. I’m sorry? Do texting drivers count as an impaired driver? Because isn’t texters
Fred: the Somehow immobilizes the vehicle if it’s not being driven properly, and that’s not happened. It’s contributing to a lot of highway deaths unnecessarily. Next up, number three, over reliance on 50 percent male hybrid 3 ATDs, also known as crash test dummies. It’s well known in the industry, it’s well known by government that women are underrepresented.
In the crash test dummies, that the physical crash results of a male oriented crash test dummy are not the same as women. Many of us have noticed that women are not the same as men. Women distribute the weight differently and have different biological functions. They get pregnant. Men rarely get pregnant.
There is no adequate representation of women in particular and or other body types like elderly, tall people in the ATDs that are being used for crash tests worldwide and worldwide in general, but in the United States in particular, the United States is far behind Europe and the diversity of dummies being used.
Anthony: Of the items you’ve mentioned so far, this sounds like the easiest one to fix because there already exists dummies of a variety of shapes and sizes.
Fred: Yes, and there are a lot of empty seats going, begging in the crash test that are being done. Maybe it’s something I’m not seeing clearly, but it seems like you could fill up some of the other empty seats in these crash test vehicles with different body types to find out what the heck is happening.
Industry may not want that because it complicates the design standards and perhaps reduces the number of stars they get. But as we’ve discussed in this show in the past, every vehicle now is getting four or five stars. So what the hell we’re not learning anything from these crash tests, except that people know how to design to the test.
Anthony: Everyone gets a trophy.
Fred: Everyone gets a trophy participation trophies. That’s a great idea.
Michael: That’s also why we, I try to highlight every time the Insurance Institute comes out with some of its studies and crash testing results because they do put people in rear seats more often and they often come out with we’ve talked in the past about some of the minivan rear seat issues and just rear seats in general, where there have been a severe lack of dummies for testing for many years.
Fred: No, that’s a great point. And again, to remind our readers that crash tests are done by NHTSA, by the US government and their crash test program. They’re also done by private organizations in the United States, primarily the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which runs a, in some sense, parallel program, but the IIHS uses a much more extensive set of tests and test subjects than the government does.
The government’s running way behind they should be catching up. So number two is the absence of NHTSA standards applicable to current models for sale to the public for airbag inflator development, qualification and safety, connected vehicle cybersecurity, automated controls that induce automation complacency, full life cycle, safety critical technology performance assurance, operational software stress testing and validation, and object event detection and response.
So this is not futuristic stuff. This is all stuff that’s being built into the cars that are being delivered today. To ordinary purchases of these cars. None of them have associated regulations with them. All of them are being deployed at the discretion of the automobile manufacturers. And as we learned today from the discussion of the cruise.
Incident in San Francisco, the manufacturers don’t always have a vested interest. It seems and using the truth and the best information available to make the public understand the limitations of these technologies. And now I’m going to go to number 1. Number 1 is stylish overweight SUVs and pickups.
Paren with no speed limiters, close paren, savaging fuel consumption and endangering motorists and pedestrians and bicyclists alike. Okay, so we’ve noted here that worldwide there’s been a steady and consistent decrease in pedestrian and highway deaths in every developed country except for which one, Michael?
That would be us. That would be us, the United States. We have met the enemy and he is us. We don’t know for sure, but it seems more and more likely every day that this is simply because of the push for the giant vehicles that are being put out on the highways. Now you’ve played ping pong, right?
Michael? Oh yeah. Anthony, you’ve ever played ping pong?
Anthony: Love ping pong. I once worked for a startup where the entire engineering staff all played ping pong. I thought my team was messing with me. They made me go up and go out and buy like a 30 ping pong paddle. They had the former Pakistani amateur champion.
Michael: good hazing.
Fred: Thank you for those details. That’s a little off topic. I got excited. But you’ve seen ping pong in any case. And what happens with ping pong is you have a very light object, which is the ball, and a very massive object, which is the paddle, which is attached to the human being.
So most of us recognize that when you hit the very small object with the very large object, the small object goes flying. And the massive object continues more or less in its trajectory. This, friends, is the same thing that happens when these gigantic vehicles run into other vehicles or run into a pedestrian on the highway.
There is no reason for these vehicles to be so large, except for style. And gosh, to me it seems odd and tragic that people are so concerned about wanting to get behind this vehicle that makes them think they’re driving a Mack truck that they’re willing to endanger themselves and other people around them.
Anthony: I think you’re missing the big point. Where am I supposed to put my double gulp cup holders of my little Toyota Corolla? No, I need a giant SUV with giant cup holders. Thank you. Get out of my way, Boomer.
Fred: So are you submitting that if Toyota offered optional large cup holders on their Prius that we wouldn’t be seeing so many sales of these large SUVs?
Anthony: Prius people aren’t buying double gulps. What are you talking about? Yeah,
Fred: I guess it’s important for the economy because these vehicles are the most overpriced and profitable vehicles being sold by American manufacturers today. And the pickup factories are the most profitable factories in the United States.
So what does that mean to you, the consumer? It means that the largest proportion of the money that you’re spending on this vehicle is going right into the coffers of these companies without regard for the actual cost of producing the vehicle. Congratulations. You are supporting the stock market, which I guess we all benefit from now because we’re 401Ks, right?
So thank you very much for overspending on your vehicle. We appreciate it. And that’s the list of the top five. Any comments, guys?
Michael: That seemed like there were more than five.
Anthony: Yeah, I don’t think you can count. What kind of engineer are you? You don’t work to sub 10 micron accuracy. Do you?
Fred: I’m a Mike, I’m a rocket scientist retired.
So that, you
Michael: know, Number one, I’m from a generally rural space in America and, there are people who work every day and rely on pickup trucks to get them to their jobs and back and to do the work they’re doing while they’re at their jobs. What’s, could we cut the current pickup trucks in half weight wise and still accomplish the same things?
Fred: Absolutely. Why not? People tend to buy the pickup trucks imagining that they’re going to be traveling, they’re going to be dragging their 45 foot trailer to the, the woods to go on their vacation or whatever. But the world went on quite nicely 50 years ago when pickup trucks were small and cheap.
And the cliche of the rural owner who had a pickup truck with a rifle rack in the back, that’s not a new phenomenon. That’s been around for a long time. I think that if the companies were to offer. Large trucks with large beds that are a lot lighter and maybe they don’t have a V12 engine in them.
Maybe the world can get by with a six cylinder engine in these vehicles. I can tell you that a six cylinder engine in a pickup truck is still enough to get you a speeding ticket. Absolutely. And if you put many trucks have things called transmissions in them, which allows you to provide enough torque to pull anything at a lower speed, even if you have a smaller engine, you really don’t need to have a gas turbine engine in your pickup truck in order to accomplish the things you need to accomplish.
The driver’s seat does not need to be 10 feet off the ground. You do not need to have a ladder to get into your pickup truck in order to accomplish the things you need to accomplish every day when you go to work. I’m sorry. I, I’m not, I guess I’m working. I’m working out of my house.
So maybe I’m not the right person to ask, but, these damn things are enormous.
Michael: I was going to say, we know things started going wrong when pickup trucks started having automatically deploy deploying steps that let you get into this.
Fred: Yeah, which we, they call them running boards back in the 30s, right?
But I guess now they’re automatically deployable steps.
Anthony: So a friend of mine has like a used Acura and it’s funny because the previous owner put one of those ball pickup joints on the rear end of it, so you can attach things to it. And I was like why would you have this? What is it called? A tow hitch.
A tow hitch. Yeah. So they have a tow hitch on an Acura sedan type thing. Yeah. And I was like, what do you like, how does this work? ’cause I always assumed I would’ve tow something. You need a truck. Very naive and dumb of me. But apparently this tow, like on an Acura sedan, it’ll tow over 5,000 pounds. That, I think that’s more than the car aways .
Fred: And that’s a lot of weight. That’s a lot of masks. Yeah. You can get a pickup truck that can tow 10, 000, you can get a semi tractor trailer that can tow 20 tons. Okay I think the people who buy the pickup trucks imagine themselves to be a truck driver who’s going to be traveling, and dragging 20 tons.
And if you watch the commercials on the football games, they’ve always got a pickup truck that is towing a 50 foot trailer into the wilderness so that you can have fun with your family.
Anthony: But they’re always towing out like a flat screen TV and a couch, which is very strange to me.
Fred: I think that’s a better idea for watching football, actually.
Anthony: That’s just me. Take it out into the woods and, set up a flat screen TV. And I,
Fred: and this is it’s not the end of the world for somebody to buy a pickup truck. But if you look at, again, over the past five years and trends that are increasing the hazard to people on the highway, rather than decreasing the hazard to people on the highway.
This really looms large no pun intended, but, these giant vehicles with restricted visibility burning people over and just adding tremendous amounts of energy to the crash scene and really disadvantaging people who don’t care to buy such giant vehicles for defensive purposes. It’s not criminal, but it’s I think a bad a bad idea whose time has come.
Anthony: So listeners, tell us what you think of Fred’s top 5, 7 lists. What things have you come across in the last 5 years, last 10 years, last 20 years, last 100 years that you’re like, hey, this is a really bad idea in cars. Okay, automated lap belts, that’s, that’s too obvious. The Pontiac Fiero which burst into flames.
Great name for a car, very accurate. But yeah, write in, let us know, contact at autosafety. org. And now it’s time for rear backup camera failures.
Fred: Wait, wait. Before we do that, I just want full disclosure to let people know that I contacted Michael and Anthony ahead of time and asked them what their ideas were.
And Anthony came up with the Dimaxion vehicle. Which was Buckminster Fuller’s vision of the future from 1942 or something like that. It’s always interesting to see visions of the future as they collapse when the future finally arrives. And Dimension Vehicle is one of those, but kudos to Anthony.
Kudos to Anthony for knowing that little bit of engineering history.
Anthony: Thank you. I do what I can. So recall roundup. Let’s start off with one from Chrysler. Pedestrian alert siren not connected. Photo me. Oh, so close to get. I’m just going to skip it. But potentially 4, 660 vehicles. This is a Chrysler recalling certain 2023 to 2024 Dodge Hornet.
They still make a Dodge Hornet and Alfa Romeo Tonali. Plug in hybrid vehicles. The pedestrian alert siren may be missing or disconnected and failed to alert pedestrians when the vehicle is in reverse, huh? So wait, is this like the Whistler thing on
Michael: EVs? Yeah, it’s the vehicles, hybrid and electric vehicles when they’re operating under a certain speed, don’t make really much noise.
And so NHTSA put into place. Basically, a minimum sound requirement that you have to make a noise when you’re traveling at these speeds to warn people, whether they’re just normal pedestrians, whether they’re blind, whatever there, there needs to be some type of warning. And here, Alfa Romeo slash Chrysler Dodge didn’t hook them up when they shipped the vehicles.
So they’re connecting that up
Anthony: for, it’s another argument for a 4 day work week. So we skip these Friday afternoon problem headliner plate detachment. This is Kia rare to see them here in Recall Roundup. Kia is recalling certain 2009 2014 Borrego vehicles, the headliner plates may not be secured properly, which can result in the plates detaching in the event of a side curtain airbag deployment.
Oh my, wait, there’s headliner plates? I don’t… What’s a headliner plate like the headliner is always that thing in old cars when you’re not drooping and you’re like, Oh, this looks
Michael: like the yeah, the top of the little the fabric plastic type thing that’s covering the top of your vehicle on the inside.
Yeah, on the inside. And so basically, the airbags deploying and then. Blowing or pushing this headliner plate out into people, which can cause a crash. I don’t know that my mimicking what happens visually really helps our listeners there. But yeah, it it’s essentially, it doesn’t appear to be a Incredibly forceful type deployment are happening a lot.
But because these are, these vehicles are some of them. 15 years old. So they’ve gone back in time, I would say that this is one of the things that key is detected due to some enhanced recall and safety monitoring they’re doing in North America that they weren’t doing in the past.
Anthony: And here it is. I know you’ve been waiting for it the entire episode. Another recall rear view camera image may not display. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 1 1 1. Ford is the winner this week! 2, 866 vehicles. Ford is recalling certain 2023 Explorer vehicles equipped with a standard rear view camera.
Is there a non standard rear view camera? Due to manufacturing error in the wire harness, the rear view camera may display a blue image on the sync screen when the vehicle is placed in reverse. As such, these vehicles do not comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 111, Rear Visibility.
Oh, that was also a lesser known Hitchcock movie. No, not
Michael: at all. We went a couple of weeks, which is surprising. This is one of the rising recalls that we’ve seen in the last couple of years, where I think there were 30 or more in each of the previous two years, and we’re seeing even more this year.
And this is another wiring issue on these, there’s a couple of ways that we typically seeing the rear view cameras fall out of compliance, and that’s a bad software interaction with the, the infotainment system, which probably shouldn’t be connected up with it, but they’re forced to be because they’re united in the fact that they both use screens that are available to drivers. So they’ve been joined in function and in most vehicles. And so that’s what we usually see. But we also see a lot of this where there’s wiring issues. There’s, I guess there’s a long way to travel between your screen at the front and the camera at the back for the rear view cameras.
And so this is a wiring harness splice problem in the Ford Explorers.
Anthony: They just gotta go wireless, man. Wireless.
Michael: Then there will be recalls on that.
Anthony: And the final recall this week effects BMW 9000 plus vehicles. This is the 740i xDrive, 760i xDrive. And it’s also recalling the people who came up to the name of these vehicles.
They need to be taken up back and have a stern talking to. Approximately 5, 680 vehicles were manufactured in which the ground connection to the steering wheel may not have been attached according to the specifications by the supplier. What is that going to do for me?
Michael: What that would do is it would allow the vehicle to detect whether or not your hands were in contact with the steering wheel.
So these BMWs have a form of driver monitoring and they have this thing called. The emergency stoppings assistant, and this thing literally it’s, I hadn’t really heard of it until a couple of days ago, specifically the BMW system, but there’s some cool videos of it where if you are experiencing a medical emergency, or if the vehicle detects that you’re not driving the vehicle, it can pull over.
To the side of the road and stop the car. And it can do so even in traffic. If you’re incapacitated there’s a, I think it was you pull up on the parking brake lever and hold it for a few seconds. And that engages the system and pulls the vehicle over. Essentially autonomously, which is really interesting.
But it’s something obviously it’s on BMWs. It’s only on very high end vehicles that cost a lot more than what most of us can afford, but it’s a really cool feature, it doesn’t work when you don’t plug the steering wheel. Into the system so that inputs to the steering wheel can be connected.
So apparently they sCruiseed up at the manufacturing point and did not hook that up. So that system and the driver detection or detection and monitoring systems, those vehicles isn’t effective until you have that steering wheel input, which is so important to the whole process. You have to have that information coming into.
The computer so that it can make an evaluation of whether the driver’s actively driving the car.
Anthony: Pretty neat system. Hey, and with that, listeners, we’re out of time. Next week we’re going to cover something we missed this week that I want to cover, is a dip in deer strikes. Apparently people are hitting deers less and they’re trying to figure out why.
Doesn’t apply to Fred Perkins, but hey other drivers are hitting them less. So that’s something. But anyway thanks for listening. Maybe next week Kyle will be in jail. We don’t know. I can’t say things like that. Sure I can say whatever the hell I want. Yeah, that one’s that bad. . Okay.
That okay? Good. Hey again, thanks for listening. Be sure you subscribe, give us five stars just like we’re an end cap test. And tell all your friends. Bye
Fred: bye bar. Thank you for listening.
Michael: Bye, everybody.
Fred: For more information, visit www.auto safety.org.