The Double Whammy
This week we discuss the EPA mandate for electric vehicles and how the safety issue of vehicle weight is ignored. And since most people now drive trucks cars are getting even heavier.
Also, we visit the world of Autonomous Vehicles and check in with Auroa, mildly praise and mildly shame Kyle from Cruise, Fred covers the need for safety inspections of software with AV’s. recall roundup and bust the myths around seat belts.
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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: how will we start the show? Sure.
Yeah. I guess if, since we’re here let’s start this week talking about what’s been running in the New York Times, in the Washington Post the last few days. That President Biden’s really reshaping the EPA to push electric vehicles as soon as possible. I think this. Interesting on a number of levels.
But we’re really pushing a lot of, as a, you guys have made me cynics now we’re pushing a lot of extra weight on the road because batteries weigh a lot. And you guys have pointed out to me a number of times that the greater the weight, the greater the fun. No, the more damage is gonna happen to pedestrians and other cars around.
So what’s what are our thoughts here guys?
Michael: Basically just for background for the listeners the EPA regulates a couple of things involving cars that are important. They regulate the consumption the fuel consumption of the vehicles. They do that in coordination with NHTSA.
Those are the cafe standards or corporate average fuel economy standards that we hear about every few years. They’re actually in the process of writing those now. This is another area where EPA works on vehicles instead of consumption. It’s emissions. So it’s what’s coming out versus what’s going in.
They don’t have to coordinate with nitsa here. I think that shows somewhat, but who knows? I’m sure coordinating with NHTSA can be difficult at times. These we’re, I don’t think any of us aren’t in favor of tailpipe emissions here, but I think we all need to be very aware that there’s a big trade off.
And that makes me wonder whether or not there should be, a longer timeframe here for compliance. And that’s really because right now I’m not sure that the battery tech we have should be stuffed into every vehicle in America at the moment. We’re seeing things we know weight is undefeated in crashes.
The consequences of increased, injury and death are inevitable here. For every, thousand pounds you put into a vehicle, you’re going to increase the risk of severe death and injury by 50% or so. So that’s going to happen. What we don’t know here is whether, you know what the EPA is manning out of tailpipe emissions.
Is there some kind of. Is are we somehow saving way more lives here with reduced emissions than we are with ultimately going to kill an injury in vehicles? It’s a very difficult trade off, and it’s one that, with all the speculative and e evidence or EVs at this point the EPAs relying a lot of estimates.
I wouldn’t say that, I’m completely convinced that this is a, the path forward at this point. I don’t know. It’s a tough issue, but we know, we know from the other article this week that our cars really aren’t cars anymore. For the most part. Most people are driving trucks on the road.
These vehicles are getting bigger all the time, even without the added battery weight and. It’s the EPAs coming in on top of this, basically saying you’re going to need to add more weight to these vehicles starting in 2027 to make sure that these emissions are offset the emissions and ice vehicles by the added battery capabilities in your fleet.
Along with what we’re seeing in terms of range anxiety and vehicles being, the vehicle range is so important to consumers and to manufacturers who are trying to outran each other, that every gain in battery technology and gains and energy density in the battery is being applied to range increases versus reducing the vehicle’s weight to, to make them perform better in crashes.
Everything’s going in the wrong direction for those of us who are worried about added weight in vehicles. And this proposal it’s a proposed rule by the E P a, doesn’t take that into account. And like I say I, maybe they would’ve gained something hereby consulting with Nitsa, although Nitsa has always been very hesitant to do anything that would tell manufacturers they need to make their vehicles lighter.
So it’s a very difficult area. And unfortunately I think that, if this rule comes into effect, which it may or may not, depending on the legal challenges we will see some, more tragedies on the road due to increased weight of the vehicles that this is ultimately going to require.
Anthony: shouldn’t we have some level of data though? Because okay. So you alluded to there’s an article we’ll link to in the Washington Post about how everybody’s driving a truck now, how. A lot of cars have been reclassified that way. So we’ve seen over since, the 1980s that vehicle weights keep going up, but at the same time, tailpipe emissions should be going down.
So there should be enough data at this point to see, hey has increased pollution controls, has that helped issues around asthma rates or is there a balance of, hey, these, but these cars are all heavier and they’re killing more people on the road, or just no one’s done that math, or, I’m wishful thinking.
Michael: I think there’s probably some useful data, but it is partly wishful thinking because this is ultimately, a change on our roads that we’ve never seen before. The past may be a reference for the present, but it’s, I don’t think it’s very predictive. Because
Anthony: every vehicle with moving to today’s current lithium ion or iron phosphate batteries, that automatically adds an extra what,
We that’s a problem here. We’re looking at. I think Tesla Ford has certainly indicated this, I think they built the whole plant around this idea of moving to iron, the iron based batteries, the L F P batteries that have a much lower, they’re somewhat more reliable.
They have a much lower rate of combustion and fire, but they weigh 30% more, which means that if you want the same range out of it in a vehicle, the vehicle battery is going to weigh 30% more than it would have otherwise, so it’s, that’s an automatic addition of weight. And it’s something that I think these batteries, they’re probably more cost effective to produce than the other lithium types with the higher energy density, which is another reason manufacturers are moving to them.
It’s, the way we, the consumers on the road are bearing the brunt of those decisions. We are the ones who are going to be hit by these vehicles that way.
Anthony: More so the goal behind this is eventually is reducing pollution, reducing tailpipe emissions, making cars more efficient, no matter the power source.
But auto manufacturers have fought against this forever. Like I, my current car probably gets an EPA rated 30 something miles per gallon, but the car I bought in the nineties got 30 miles per gallon as well. Like a, and these were at the high end, like the fleet averages were, probably then were, 17 miles per gallon.
Now they’re 20 something or something like that. But the thing is, so the auto industries have fought against this forever. They have had zero interest in doing. And that’s why it seems they’ve cla we’ve tried to reclassify every car as possible as a truck because if it’s classified as a truck, it doesn’t have to follow these tougher car fuel economy standards it’s
Michael: almost like they lobbied to get that fu that loophole put into the whole system.
Fred: Yes. I, let me jump in here. I, this, the purpose behind this regulation is to reduce the net fuel consumption by the world, right? Or exterior ing? It’s to reduce carbon footprint
Michael: and it’s reducing the emissions.
So it doesn’t really, it the consumption, that’s what the cafe part of it
Fred: that’s, and reducing the emissions. Yeah, that’s what it does. But the motivation behind this is to apparently force manufacturers to move to electric vehicles because it’s technically difficult to achieve these standards.
As I, under, as I’ve heard them reported, I haven’t seen ’em myself, but as I’ve heard ’em reported it’s difficult to do it any other way than to go with electric vehicles, but here’s the problem. Okay? This whole problem of carbon and footprint and pollution is rather than a balloon, you squeeze it in one place and it just pops out in some other place.
There are so many issues associated with this and the net carbon consumption that, this may well backfire on everybody because if you force people to move to electric vehicles, you are also forcing the utility companies to put in a lot more power distribution. If you move to regenerative technologies, windmills, solar power, what have you, you are forcing people to put in a lot of batteries.
You are forcing people to change the structure of the electrical substations so that they include both energy storage as well as energy distribution. You’re moving the utilities from a distribution system to a system that’s also going to capture and store the energy and become a, more like a warehouse than merely a distributor.
So there’s a tremendous tale associated with this requirement, and I don’t think it’s been, I just don’t think it’s been thought through. My, my real concern is that, this is gonna, this is gonna come back and bite us all because the net cons, net energy production and the net carbon associated with this change may well be in the wrong direction because of all the ancillary activities that have gotta take place to, to make this happen.
I think it’s a real concern. I. That’s a concern for me. And I think politically it may backfire because nobody’s ever yet shown that any society that’s heavily invested in electric transportation reduces its net carbon consumption. Norway, for example, has the highest penetration of electric vehicles in the world.
Nobody’s, nobody said that the oil consumption in Norway has gone down. They’re pumping like crazy. They’re now providing all the natural gas for Europe that used to come from from Russia. The, this is a very complex problem. A simple solution to this complex problem is unlikely to solve the
The one thing we do know is that, added weight is going to increase deaths and injuries on the roads, right? Oh, absolutely. A lot of this other stuff is an estimate and it’s it’s, that’s why it’s difficult. We here at the center, we know what the consequences of weight are. Some of these other things, maybe not as concrete to us, right?
Fred: Yeah. But let’s think of ways to reduce the weight of cars. You could put inductive mechanisms into a highway so that the the highway becomes a source of the power, the mode of power for the vehicles going over it. It’s technically possible to do that. It only requires more money than the world has got.
Okay. But, but it’s technically possible to do it. And again, I think that it’s really important to think through the consequences of this kind of change before forcing it on the world. I understand politically you can’t do everything and it’s more important to do something than to do nothing.
But I think there’s a lot of jeopardy here, inre, including politically, that, if all of this stuff happens, then with the consequences of it and the benefits of it may just not be there the way people think they are. And that’s, that would give the opposition, the political opposition, lots of fodder for the kind of nonsense that they pursue.
Michael: We’ve talked in the last few weeks about tech neutrality and how nitsa, when it’s pursuing standards for automated vehicles and otherwise, tends to want to remain tech neutral. Obviously there are some things that we’d like to see in cars, for instance. I think, infrared that could detect objects and people and animals is the kind of thing we’d love to see included in auto pedestrian automatic emergency braking package.
But it’s hard to mandate that type of technology because you’re basically saying you have to use this when there might be other ways of accomplishing it. I, in this circumstance, I, I would ask both of you, do you think this proposal is tech neutral? They’re touting it as a tech neutral regulation, but then they go on to site, most of the document that I’ve read is citing studies in electric vehicles.
It’s pretty clear where the push is here and it’s anything but tech neutral from my perspective,
Anthony: no, it doesn’t seem to be tech neutral at all. And that’s something I don’t understand with. Nitsa claiming they’re tech neutral. Seat belts are required. Like sure, they don’t tell you it needs to be made out of nylon or something like that, but you don’t have any choice.
Airbags are required. Sure. We learn. You can, it’s more or less tech neutral. Sure. The propellant, as we’ve learned, can be anything they want. Like you need tires. Like it’s there’s certain things that are not really tech neutral. And I’m fine with that, but I think what we’re talking about, what we can focus on the center of auto safety the weight issue.
I think there are better ways to reduce weight or maybe it’s what this other article, the Washington Post article talks about where everyone’s driving trucks. I remember in, it must have been the late nineties or so where there was a tax incentive, or it was maybe the early two thousands where you got a massive tax break if you bought an S U v, like this was an ins a tax incentive to make you go out and buy a heavier vehicle that got less miles per gallon.
Why there should be the opposite, where you have a car above a certain weight, you should be right paying a tax. And that more, cause we’ve pointed out heavier vehicles rip up roads more, they destroy roads. I think that’s legitimate because you look at, there’s a number of small electric vehicles that don’t weigh that much.
Maybe they’re not the most attractive for people like the Nissan Leaf. Maybe it’s too small cause I can’t, hook up my boat to it that I’m gonna travel 3000 miles each weekend with, cuz people have that myth or a Chevy Bolt or I think Honda has a small ev something like that. You can get vehicles that aren’t that heavy.
To do that. And I think it’s, and they’re not gonna destroy the road as much, but yeah. I can’t sit 20 feet above traffic and not see the kid in front of me that I ran over. I’m just like, Hey, I hit a bump. Ha. Let’s keep going. Woo-hoo.
Fred: Roll cold. One, one good solution for reducing the weight of vehicles is to promote the use of bicycles and to promote the use of public transportation.
And this whole initiative is just a way for actually the government and us to kick the real problem down the road, which is that the mobility model we’ve got for the United States is horribly destructive. And, other countries are recognizing that they’re restructuring their transportation systems to allow people, and in fact encourage people to use low carbon, healthier, safer technologies to get back and forth to work.
We don’t do that here. We’re heavily committed to individual transportation based on cars. And really to solve this problem, to solve a lot of problems, governments need to step up and say that we really need to restructure our transportation system to allow people to do things that’ll benefit themselves as well as the public, like bicycles, like public transportation greenways limiting parking.
There’s a lot of things that can be done, but there’s no political will to do them. I, I’ve got the feeling that this tailpipe emissions control is really looking at the wrong end of the elephant, and they really are to look at the front end of the elephant and say how are we gonna fit this elephant into the world that we live?
Anthony: I don’t wanna look at an elephant. They’re creepy looking. But yeah, I don’t think you’re wrong. I, you look at how Los Angeles is laid out, and I blame General Motors. But speaking of our friends at General Motors, I’m gonna jump to something a little more light as regular listeners to the show.
Myself and Kyle, the head of GM Cruise, we have a, a relationship right now. It’s one way. I’m the more aggressor and he’s passively just watching and listening. We called out last week how the GM cruise ran into a bus. And GM Cruise now is applauding themselves for saying, Hey, we did a voluntary recall because, this was a rare incident.
We’ve never had anything like this happen. They put a little blog post about it saying, Hey, less than an hour after the conclusion collision, we had fully assembled the team to investigate what happened. Hey, only an hour later if you’re in an automated vehicle. Whereas if I crash in your car right now, I don’t need to wait an hour.
We’re talking, I’m exchanging information. And probably first responders are on the scene with less than an hour, but this is a new brave new world. And they said, Hey, we identified the Root Cross, which was a unique error re related to predicting the movement of articulated vehicles. This was a bus that, those long buses and whatnot.
And they’re saying, Hey, we’ve never had a collision related to this before. Granted, he ignores all the other collisions they’ve had, but we’ve never had one. We’ve hit a bus before. Aren’t we amazing? You’re not amazing. You’re a clown. Oh, that might be too hard. Oh, Anthony, I know. It’s too high. I’m just,
Michael: I actually, I like.
What Kyle is doing here. I like that he’s covering the company’s recall and putting out, a document that’s, I agree from the company that’s, that consumers can read and say, oh they really care. Because typically with recalls, you don’t get that. You get a report, the 5 73 that’s submitted to nitsa that, technically describes a recall, and then basically leaves it up to reporters and everyone else to cover, the subject matter.
Here, they’re getting out ahead and saying, we know you. Folks in San Francisco have seen some issues. We know there’s some problems here, blah, blah, blah. That’s a good thing to reach out to consumers like that. I think we still don’t necessarily. Think that there’s really any reason to have these vehicles out patrolling the streets of San Francisco and Austin, the use case problem there.
But they’re gonna keep pushing ’em out and they’re gonna keep pushing for legislation on ’em, and they’re gonna keep, ultimately trying to convince us that we need these cars and that Uber and these other services we already have aren’t good enough. That’s all I just want to, take up for Kyle Little, since Anthony is just very harsh.
Fred: Lemme just suggest that they’ve got the best engineers in the world because they pushed out a a fix for this within 48 hours. So they did a complete root cause analysis. They did an update, they did regression testing over all these hundreds of millions of lines of code in every possible circumstance that the vehicle is going to encounter and less time than it takes most of us to tie our shoes.
This is either an incredible achievement or they didn’t do a very good job with the regression testing because that’s not easy. Takes time, takes thought, and it’s my hat’s off to ’em. If they really did a great job doing the regression testing to make sure that this software is adequately validated, I’m going to, I would be very surprised if a critical analysis showed that they covered every.
Anthony: Alright. I agree. I’m gonna back off. I’ll apo you know, Kyle, look, I’m a little too aggressive with you, you had that silly interview where you out? Elon Musk. Elon Musk. But I wanna point out in this press release, and I agree. It’s great you came out, you were a little public about it, but this is not Cruise specific here.
Now this is all AV companies pull the same kind of obfuscation in his little blog pod. He said our AVS had driven over 1 million miles in fully driverless mode. And that sounds really impressive as a layperson, a million miles. That’s crazy. I’ll never drive a million miles in my entire life. Wow.
That’s great. And you can’t see the video. I’m looking both at Fred and Michael and they’re like, million miles is nothing. It’s a rounding error. It’s the, a sig significant amount of miles for your car to find out, like if it’s actually saved is what, 100 million miles? Is that
Michael: Yeah, that’s what I was gonna point out.
One, 1 million miles means very little when we know that, there’s a vehicle fatality every little over, every a hundred million miles traveled, so it’s 1 million miles is, you’re not that far. Plus, during this time you’ve been doing things like recalls and reprogramming the software and so that million miles was driven on, different systems and in some respects.
So it’s, it’s also a lot less miles, I believe, than Waymo and some others are claiming. Eh, a million miles is a million miles Sounds like a lot because I’ll never drive that far. But in terms of overall traffic and the safety analysis, a million miles is not that
Fred: much. It’s 1% of the way to.
Showing, something, but I guess it’s a start. So it’s been, what, two years? So let’s see, two years is 1%. So we’re talking 200 years to get up to the point where they could say that, maybe with low confidence there as safe as some other vehicle if they don’t change the software.
And if no other ha no other bad circumstances take place. So yeah, 200 years from now I’ll be ready to take a ride.
Anthony: All right. You’ve heard it first. Fred Perkin’s prediction self-driving cars in the year 2,223. It’s 2023, right? Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. 2223. Yeah. Yeah. 2223. I’m gonna make it. 22. 22. Okay.
Michael: It’s, you should have done that.
Yeah. Yeah. You should have said 199 years since they’ve already gone through one year, right? Or two years.
Anthony: Look we’ll all win on the prices cuz we’re all gonna bid $1. Speaking of self-driving cars, Aurora trucking company, they’re getting ready next year to have a trucking, a self-driving truck go from Dallas to Houston to Dallas back.
I don’t know how many, if they’ve reached the million mile mark in their testing. But there’s an article in the Dallas Morning News and what they’re saying is it’s equipped to handle common driving maneuvers like lane changes emerges and can also deal with construction, emergency vehicles, and extreme weather.
It’s not done yet, says the chief Product officer of Aurora. I appreciate the fact that he said it’s not done yet, regardless, we’re gonna put it out on the road next year. Have a nice day.
Fred: How much time do I have to rant
Anthony: on this? As much as you want. And the person you’re gonna rent against is not Kyle Boat.
It is Sterling Anderson.
Fred: Mr. Anderson wrote that the milestone marks the culmination of six years of research and development. He does not go on to say why this is enough. So there’s, there’s
Anthony: no the investor said it was enough. Let’s make
Fred: some say that must be it. Then he goes on to say some uncommon and infrequent there.
It’s ability to detect and respond to some uncommon in an infrequent scenario as he could encounter. So I wonder why only some and not all, you would think that a reasonable person would say all of the. Situations like they two encounter have been vetted and everything looks okay, but I guess some is where you’re gonna start.
What else? What? Oh, there’s so much.
Michael: Oh, I would say it’s a little unclear from what I’ve read, whether or not there’s going to be a safety driver. It sounds like they’re planning on their not being one, but they’re not quite there yet. So that’s a little unclear as well. Yeah, I
Anthony: feel okay with the safety driver because in my mind then it feels almost like the Ford Blue Cruise or the GM Super Cruise thing, which I’m, because there has to be a driver, cuz okay, it’s on the freeway, but how did it get on the freeway?
How’s it getting off the freeway? It doesn’t make that, yeah.
Fred: Prove it to that he, Anderson goes on to write, Mr. Anderson goes on to write by designing the Aurora driver to detect and respond to the unexpected. Now we’re working to ensure it exceeds the rigorous safety, efficiency and reliability standards of major carriers, et cetera.
So wouldn’t it make sense? To exceed those standards before you put it on the road, rather than put it on the road and expect it to build up to that. It seems like a curious case of putting the cart before the horse or putting the driver before the truck. I’m not sure how you wanna say that.
Michael: I think they’re gonna learn a lot here because that is a heavily trafficked route between Houston and Dallas.
And also very importantly, and, it’s somewhat of a difference from where we see crews and Waymo and some of the other companies testing. You’re gonna have a lot of severe weather in that area as far as heavy rain and storms and things like that, but that some of the robo taxii type bleeds aren’t really dealing with at this moment.
It will be very interesting to see what happens with Aurora. There are a lot of eyes watching them because they’re one of the leaders in the trucking space. That’s saying driverless. And that means that, a lot of truck drivers aren’t going to have jobs if this technology is adopted across the market.
And that’s a big future problem that we’re facing in automation, is what we’re gonna do with all these people we’re trying to replace.
Fred: The biggest thing you did not report is the metrics that the, that they’re being collected, the safety performance indicators they’re using, the metrics they’re collecting, and who determines what is safe based upon those metrics that they’re collecting.
Are they looking at deaths per minute? They’re looking at pedestrians killed per month. How are they doing this? And what is the expected result of this? If there’s, if they’re trying to make a safety case that everything’s okey dokey, shouldn’t it be incumbent on them to tell us what the metrics are, how they’re doing to determine this, and when they’ll know they’ve done enough?
I think it’s interesting and Disappointing that they don’t share any of the objectives of this testing with the public before they go out. And, how does the public know that it’s going to be safe at all? How do they know it’s going to be safe enough? And how do they know that Auroras met the standards that it’s set much less?
Who said that those standards are acceptable? How, how does that all work?
Anthony: And they haven’t even thought about the children on road trips. They go up to a truck and they make that pole symbol and they get the trucker to blast their horn if there’s no one in there, these poor kids are just gonna be crying all the time.
There’s no wood
Fred: driving it. They may have to adopt a new hand symbol as they pass the truck. Yeah.
Anthony: So are these are not EVs, right? These are ice vehicles, correct.
Michael: I suppose they could be both. Ev
Anthony: hauling besides what Ilan says, like they’re not really pulling much weight and they’re not driving four and a half hours as a semi, right.
Fred: Aurora’s model is not based on the type of propulsion for the truck. I didn’t think. So their business model is to look at putting this software into any arbitrary propulsion system.
Anthony: Okay. And Michael, I have to point out, so this from from the trucker.com, which we’ll link to the refined beta, oh, that’s what I want.
On the road of beta software, the refined beta 6.0 adds the ability to detect and respond to some uncommon and infrequent scenarios. It could encounter such as sudden heavy rain. Yep. Snow fog. I don’t know how these are uncommon in Texas. Sudden heavy rain that doesn’t strike me as uncommon in Texas.
Snow Texas has some strange weather fog. Okay. I no, I don’t I’m I’m concerned cuz I, I think they still have a long way to go. I’d be comfortable with them having a safety driver in this, someone who’s paying attention, taking over. But I know that destroys their business model.
Cause their business model is get rid of the people.
Michael: Y Aurora is using to, I guess to their credit, something we’ve talked about a lot on here. They’re using a safety case framework now. Oh. They’re not very specific as to whether it’s what safety, cre, case framework it is. They’re not, I don’t know if they’re adhering to the UL 4,600, but they.
Lay out the fact that’s what they’re using now. I think what we are interested in is seeing the results, seeing the what, the safety performance indicators that are involved in that safety case show. Making a public display of that data would go a long way towards ensuring that people like us aren’t asking stupid questions all the time about your autonomy.
Fred: I don’t think it’s a stupid question. I think that the stupid answers haven’t been provided.
Anthony: Hey, give me a second. I’ll come up with them. Speaking of stupid answers Tesla was caught sharing internal camera footage of their drivers. With the staff. They Teslas, they put in cameras inside the vehicle to do driver monitoring, which we’re all in favor of.
The problem is that footage is being recorded and sent off to Tesla, where they’re sharing not only video footage of you picking your nose while driving and singing karaoke, but other more private, intimate scenes. And not only the internal facing cameras, but the external facing cameras. This is I guess maybe in that long agreement, things that no one’s ever read.
I’m not even sure if lawyers who wrote it read it. You’re agreeing to just give away all of your privacy. I’m
Michael: not even sure if there’s a way to do that, but this is concerning in a lot of ways. For me, the thing that most concerns me about this type of thing is that. We are really going, if we’re gonna be putting these conditionally automated or level three or blue crew, super crews, whatever you want to call them, if we’re gonna be putting those vehicles on the road, you have to ensure that the drivers engaged in the driving task when necessary.
And for a lot of these vehicles, that’s all the time. For some of the ones they say are coming down the road, that may be some of the time. We’re still a little skeptical on that at the moment. So they’re putting this technology, let’s see, I lost myself there for a second. Oh so they’re putting, we’re gonna need driver monitoring vehicles.
But when stories like this come out where you’ve got dumb asses at the manufacturer who are looking at people’s private videos and sharing them, That really sets back the consumer’s perception of this type of technology. Driver monitoring should be something that is sole purpose, is ensuring that the human operator is engaged in the driving task and is not something that’s recorded and used later in lawsuits or to, the next faffing or whatever’s going to happen.
So it’s a, it’s just a, it’s a terrible it shows that there aren’t a lot of controls around what goes on behind the scenes at Tesla. I don’t think that’s very surprising to some of us who have read stories about the way that they operate. But it also shows, I think that when they built these first Teslas with the camera facing the driver, they weren’t really planning to do a whole lot of visual driver monitoring that was set up as more of a video system than a driver monitoring system.
And they’ve the driver monitoring system on top of their other platforms in their vehicles. So that may be part of the issue here, is that those videos were recorded by a system that was never intended to be driver monitoring, but nonetheless, very concerning behavior. And obviously something that no one in America wants is videos of intimate moments in cars involving themselves floating around in Tesla’s
But our drivers in Germany, it’s a different approach. Sorry. Yeah, I don’t understand why this, these systems would ever leave the vehicle itself for driver monitoring. There shouldn’t be any reason why those videos. At all. It should just be a simple system that shouldn’t even record long term is just monitoring.
Okay, are there eyes engaged and whatnot? I don’t even understand why it would record to tell you the truth.
Michael: Yeah, why would you want to spend money on memory to deal with that anyway?
Anthony: Yeah. I’m, I imagine, yeah, Fred, you must have some insight on this. It’s a continuous thing.
It’s like me looking at you right now over the Zoom call. I don’t need to record this. Okay, you just scratched your head. Great. Okay. He passed the head scratching. Move, who cares? I don’t need to store this.
Fred: Interesting part of this is that there’s tremendous bandwidth that is supporting the exchange of information between the vehicle and the and the server somewhere.
And I wonder who’s paying for that? Is that something that’s paid by the consumer? I’m not sure I, again that’s a digression, but. Maturity is not part of the curriculum in engineering degrees. And, if we look at the maturity of the owner of Tesla I think there’s evidence that maturity that maturity is not part of the curriculum for business owners either.
That probably percolates down through the system. In my experience, I, back in the early days of analog cell phones, I witnessed engineers listing in on private conversations just because they could. And there was no one there to enforce it in the room saying, this is a bad idea.
And by the way, if you can do it, other people can do it as well. So maybe you shouldn’t do this. That ethos doesn’t seem to have percolated down through the Tesla engineering ranks. And I think, there are things you can do. In terms of encrypting the data and data permissions and access permissions and all those things that you know a lot more about than I, Anthony, to protect the data that’s coming through.
But the, there’s a tremendous amount of data coming through. And why isn’t that data being made available to safety advocates and safety analysts so that they can determine the cause of these collisions that Tesla seems to be particularly fond of driving into flashing lights, compromising situations.
I don’t know. It’s interesting to be the disjointed between the availability of the data and the use of the data by people to try to make these vehicles safer and more private. There’s a lot more that can be done.
Anthony: I agree. And while we wait for more things to be done, have you gone to auto safety.org and become a monthly donor?
Five bucks a month. That’s, or 20 bucks a month. Or $3,000 a month. Oh my God, you’re so generous. $3,000 a month. That’s too much. Too much. Make it $5,000 a month. Or just go to auto safety.org. Click that red donate button. And now speaking of maturity for engineers, let’s go into the towel. Fred, as you discusses the consumer AV bill of rights, number eight, safety inspections,
VO: you’ve now entered the DAO of
Thank you. It’s a burden to be considered the mature part of this trio, but I’ll try to step up the best I can. I’m being aist. So this particular principle is actually very important and it’s a sleeper issue that has received very little attention from my colleagues in the industry regulatory community during safety inspections.
AVS shall automatically confirm the validity of installed software and firmware versions for that vehicle, and assess and report nominal capability and or failures of safety and life critical features that are not visually verifiable. So where does this come from? Do you have a safety inspection or if you’re a state police officer pulling over a heavy truck for safety inspection, you do a visual inspection, you walk around or you know the tire treads deep enough, are things falling off the vehicle or the headlights falling off?
Show me your logbook. Do all these things. There’s a lot of inspection tasks that you do visually in avs. There are at least hundreds and perhaps thousands of safety functions that are built into the automatic system that you cannot visualize and that you cannot inspect visually. All of these are important because they’re either by definition, safety critical, or life critical.
And if the AV is operating completely automatically, essentially every one of them is life critical. Couple examples, the distance between your car and the car ahead that is being used by the adaptive control system. The rate at which your vehicle turns to get into the center of the lane. If you have a lane keeping system put on the valid, the validity of the information coming in from the cameras that’s going into the system to determine whether or not an anti swerve maneuver can be done safely and on.
As you get into the more complex automated vehicles, you just add on more and more safety critical features. If you want to investigate a collision involving one of these vehicles, it’s very important to lock down the configuration and to understand what is in the software that is controlling the vehicle.
This is a fundamental part of every accident investigation I’ve ever been involved with. It’s not included in any of the AV logic that, or regulations that I’ve become familiar with. Has somebody tampered with your vehicle and put in software that you don’t want to be there? One of the news articles this week talked about thieves breaking into a system by removing a headlight and tapping into the what’s called the can bus in your system that integrates all of the electronics.
If you have a configuration map and you can look out and say this is not the configuration that’s supposed to be there. I’ve got an, all of a sudden I’ve got another. Electronic control unit attached to this vehicle, and what the heck is this all about? You are then in a position to reject that intrusion into your vehicle.
But if you’re not tracking the configuration of the vehicle, you’d never know if you do a safety inspection. Do you know that the software that’s driving the vehicle is in fact the software that’s supposed to be driving the vehicle? And if a, if a police officer pulls over a heavy truck and automated trucks we talked about earlier from Aurora, how do they do a safety inspection?
Unless they can have some insight into what the software driving the truck is doing and whether or not all the safety functions and safety performance indicators that we talked about earlier are in fact operating within the environment and within the safety limits that the designer has imposed on this.
This is very complex. It’s a very complex system. N tsb when they investigate a crash or a transportation anomaly, however you want to think about that, needs to lock down the configuration. They need to understand what it is, what are all the causal factors that can be contributing to this crash event, and are there systematic defects that they need to address in order to make sure it doesn’t happen in other vehicles?
It’s fundamental that they need to be able to look at the software configuration and the safety of performance indicators and, how whatever else is associated with the safety case for this vehicle to determine, number one, what it is. Number two, has it been tampered with? Number three, if it’s the original configuration, do they need to address the safety limits within which the software function operates?
This is not easy stuff, but fundamentally, getting back to the, this original issue here that during safety inspections on demand avs have gotta be able to divulge that information and report it out to somebody typically through a can bus that you know, or the O B D that you can use for routine diagnostics on the vehicle so that they know what’s in the vehicle, what’s working properly, and per, and even more importantly, what’s not working properly.
And one other item associated with this. If you are in an automated vehicle and you’re driving down the road fat, dumb, and happy reading your book and doing whatever you do in that car, you need to know either quickly, if some part of that safety environment becomes defective, let’s say a bird flies into your camera, or a critical camera, or the many things that can happen in a complex computing environment.
Don’t happen the way they’re supposed to. Network problems, single event upsets, lots and lots of things can happen. You the occupant need to know very quickly that things are not okay, that things are not copacetic, and push yourself in a position to stop the vehicle and get out if that’s what needs to get done.
These are all related issues, addressing the unins inspectable safety critical features that are in a vehicle is something that the industry needs to step up to and something that needs to be available to regulators and to law enforcement so they can verify that these cars in fact, operate the way that they should and they’re operating safely cause of their current configuration.
Does that make
Michael: sense? Yeah. Yeah. I think I would say the status quo right now is that, This type of information is not available to people that are on scene or investigators or safety inspectors. They have to, in many sense, they have to either Work with the automaker, as we’ve seen annisa and TSB have to do with Tesla.
Or they have to re-engineer the system somehow to figure out what’s going on, which is really not an option. So manufacturers are probably not too keen on any changes to this. And I think what we’d like to see is a, a, some type of standardization that allowed investigators, inspectors to access the critical safety.
Items that need to be inspected on a vehicle without all of this manufactured or kind of secrecy. They’re hiding this. There’s a reason to keep these systems safe from a cybersecurity perspective, but there’s also very good reasons to allow interested parties owner and inspectors access to the vehicle data and access to other parts of the vehicle systems to make sure that that, ensure continued safety, through the life of the vehicle.
Ownership changes and
Fred: other things. Privacy and the need to get in and understand the configuration are not exclusive. You can do both. You don’t need to do one or the other. So it’s important to recognize that. And the other complicating issue here is that a lot of the manufacturers now are moving to over the air updates for software.
Every time you change the software configuration you become a different computing environment. There’s no way right now to verify that every vehicle has in fact included the software updates so that what previously could have been tracked using vehicle identification number probably is no longer a means to do that.
If there were only one software configuration associated with every vehicle identification number, that would be great. You could look up the VIN and you’d have the information that you need to determine what the software active in the vehicle is. But that’s not the case anymore, right? So the software can change daily.
These guys accrue said they pushed out a new software configuration 48 hours. Yep. After they ran into the bus. Good for them.
Michael: And we’ve seen Tesla do it in shorter
Fred: time spans. Oh, yeah. Especially when threatened by consumer reports downgrading of their vehicles. Yes. They can move very quickly.
Question is, how extensive is this update and how do you associate that update with the vehicle identification number that the police officer is going to write down at the scene of the crash?
Anthony: Cause the one vehicle that crashed today is a different vehicle with a different software on it.
Fred: And in order, again, getting back to the fundamentals of accident investigation, the first thing you do when you’re doing an accident investigation or an incident investigation is you lock down the configuration, right? So this, to know what you’re dealing with. If you don’t lock down the configuration, you have no idea what the cause of the crash is.
Anthony: A, and I’m just looking at this from a consumer point of view, they could accidentally overwrite things. Okay, my AVS in a crash, but oh, I wanna watch some TikTok video or play a video game and hey, that’s downloading an update all of a sudden, and now my software is changing.
Fred: That gets to active to the software validation, right?
What’s so you, you push out the update, but have you adequately validated that update is safe? Have you done all the regression testing and, yeah. It’s a very complex issue, but the fundamental thing you need to do is understand the configuration so that you can dive into those other issues.
Anthony: I, I imagine the future push for malware protection in your car is going to be extensive. Because a, as you went through this, I realized, oh yeah, of course. My computers are always running malware detection. They’re running some sort of virus detection. The operating system is doing secret updates. I don’t even see happen for malware.
Definition updates, and this is gonna happen in your car. Or, there’s the FBI just a couple days ago put on an announcement like, do not use public phone chargers, right? Because they’re installing malware that now I think, Hey, I drive my ev not even an av, my ev up to a a public charger.
Am I concerned that I’m downloading, malware or something like that? It happens to my phone. It’s a real big annoying inconvenience, but no one’s gonna die. It
Fred: happens. You should be concerned because the first thing that, the first thing that the charging station does is it addresses the status of your batteries because the amount of and rate of electricity that it’s putting in is based upon the charge state of your battery.
So it’s not, it, it is intrinsically tied to the data system in your vehicle to do something that’s, fundamental to bvs, which is to just recharge the stinking batteries. This is a, I think this is a huge and vitally important sleeper issue that has received very little attention and needs, needs a lot of attention for our friends in the press.
Give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk about this ad nauseum, but the time forces me to end my ranch right now and
Anthony: for everybody else. Don’t go outside. It’s just not safe. Okay? Don’t go near cars. Not safe. Don’t do anything. I’m kidding. Slightly. I wanna let’s end on a more positive upbeat.
Let’s, actually let’s do a quick recall roundup and then we’ll go into some lighter stuff
VO: strapped in time for the recall wound
Anthony: up. So our friends over at Porsche they had to recall potentially 489 vehicles. This is the 2000 Ford to 2005 Porsche Carrera gt. Hey, if you’ve got the grand touring package, you might need a recall.
Oh. This is in the event of a wishbone or spherical joint breakage vehicle, controllability could be effective, which could increase the risk of crash. Oh, how would you, how would your wishbone break? Oh.
Michael: It looks like it’s related to a corrosion issue in the vehicles, but I will say this on this recall, you won’t see another manufacturer recall almost in these vehicles were built and designed 20 years ago.
You won’t see too many other manufacturers recall vehicles that are that old because they’re not required to under the safety Act.
Anthony: Oh how far back do they have to go for a recall?
Michael: 15 years. And so good on you, Porsche. This says they, these cars don’t meet Porsche’s service life durability expectations, which apparently are.
20 years or so. Pat on the back for Porsche, they need to get Ed EDRs into their vehicles and a few other things that we’re not always that happy about. But, this is good to give owners of these vehicles aix 20 years
Anthony: later almost, Hey, I, this is reason for my next vehicle to be a Porsche.
Fred: Porsche Volkswagen the same company now? Because I’ve, yeah. Seems like they’ve got a very different philosophy for the different brands, which is somewhat surprising.
Michael: They are different for the purposes of their American distributors. They’re, it’s so hard to keep up with every car company that EV owns every car company these days that I keep up primarily with, who they register as their American ranch.
But I think Porsche BW have been together for quite some
Anthony: time. Yeah, a long time. Porsche VW, Audi.
Michael: And I’m not sure Audi and VW obviously use the same platforms, but Porsche is from what I see and understand a separate operator, you’re
Anthony: being humble. We know you’re a member of the North American Porsche Motor Club.
You’re out there all the time with your 1968 Porsche nine 11. I have no idea if
Michael: a nine 11 against, I’ve, I, as the owner of the base VW Jetta model for about 20 years now I’m doing my best to get there someday.
Anthony: All right we’re rooting for you. And to help Michael get there someday, go to auto safety.org g click on donate.
Donate him a Porsche. Oh yeah, here’s a good one. This is a letter from the US Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, otherwise known as nitsa. And it is dated March 21st, 2023. And the big bold headline is Motor Vehicle Defect Petition. To recall all Tesla cars produced from 2013 to the present.
Oh, Due to a missing critical interlock feature and specific autopilot features that contribute to increased likelihood of driver errors in the form of pedal misapplication wait. Pedal misapplication.
Michael: Pedal misapplication. That is when you hit the accelerator pedal rather than the brake as intended, which is.
It happens a lot and it’s been behind some of claim sudden acceleration events over the years. I, this petition was not interesting to me because of that. We talked about defect petitions with Joanna Johnson a couple of weeks back. So I wanted to highlight this one as an example of, what looks like an average consumer from Greece apparently, who is petitioning nitsa to look into Tesla’s because the, he’s alleging that they violate the federal motor vehicle’s safety standard around brake shift interlock.
Basically, before you’re able to go from park to drive or park to reverse, you have to hit your brake. And apparently Tesla has enabled some vehicles to get around this for driver convenience and He’s, this is a pretty significant, it’s 10 years worth of Teslas that are being alleged don’t comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle safety standards.
So I imagine, NHTSA will have a pretty quick answer to that part of the problem. As to the, what it makes up the bulk of the petition, which is, a, it goes into neuroscience and neuroplasticity and how drivers hit pedals, subconscious movements and other things, which are way beyond my expertise.
So we’ll let the folks over at nitsa evaluate that one.
Anthony: Okay. So this was not a letter from d o T and Nitsa, or was
Michael: No, this was actually a defect petition filed by a
Anthony: consumer. Got it. Okay. Oh, this is interesting. We’ll keep you updated as we go. And now let’s, you know we’ve used about an hour of your life, and we thank you for joining us.
Let’s let’s end on some on a nice upbeat note. There’s a great article you can see linked from msn.com about seatbelt myths. So I believe this is actually out of Nitsa, right? Where seatbelt myth number one. Airbags are good enough. Hey, my car is an airbag. I don’t need a seatbelt. I thought maybe that was a possibility.
I always wear my seatbelt. But then I h s has these amazing videos of the crash Dust Dummies flying around when there’s no seatbelt on, and oh my God, s airbags are you, they’re just there to punch you in the face and throw you around the car if you don’t have a seatbelt on. Yeah,
Michael: Airbags are designed.
In anticipation of you wearing your seatbelt. So if you aren’t wearing a seatbelt, you’re outside you’re outside of what they were designing them to do. And they’re not going, while they might be protective in certain types of crashes you’re, seat belts have saved more lives than airbags and continue to save more lives than airbags every year.
Seat belts are the number one undisputed champ of lifesaving, and it’s not really even close when you look at all the vehicle technologies that have come out in the last 50 years or more. Airbags are great and they’re awesome, but, keep your seatbelt on and then you’re doubly protected and you’re also ensuring that, you’re protected in the way that the manufacturer designed the vehicle to protect you, which is.
Buckled in a position where the airbags, if you’re not in a seatbelt, you can become out of position, which is something that happened. Something we talked about a lot, maybe 20 years ago, where, children are small women can be harmed by airbags when they’re not protected from the force of the airbag coming out of the dashboard or whatever it was back then.
So it’s really important, to understand that, that seat belts are necessary
Fred: if you, your car probably has an airbag, but it absolutely must have a supplemental restraint system. And the key word in that is supplemental. It’s never intended to be used without the seatbelt. And so the seatbelt compliments, or the supplemental re restraint system compliments the seatbelt, the physical restraints that you got there.
That’s why it says SRS. On the dashboard doesn’t say, use this alone.
Anthony: SRS is much shorter. They’re e every penny they can save. Myth number two, I like this one. Seat belts can hurt you in the event of a crash. And the response to this is, yeah, anything can hurt you in the event of a crash, but the seat belt’s gonna keep you in a locked position.
It’s, it, no, it’s there to restrain you so you don’t fly out again. Watch crash desk videos of no seat belts, no airbags, and humans just become
Michael: bullets. Yeah, we’ve, you look, there are certainly, probably often minor injuries, abrasions and things that are caused by seat belts. There may be some, in lap belt only and in some other types of seat belts, there may be some pelvic injuries and very high speed crashes and other things, but, Those type of injuries pale in comparison to what we see in ejection.
Crashes that involve ejection are particularly deadly. They’re one of the driving forces behind the rise in fatalities on America’s road in the last few years. And they’re just horrific scenarios that play out when people are thrown, any number of feet from the vehicle.
Fred: I had a friend who was a plastic surgeon who said that he had never stitched up anybody who was wearing a seatbelt.
I think that’s a dramatic statement. Maybe we should get a plastic surgeon on here.
Michael: That’s it. We’re really hurting Anthony’s good vibes on this segment as well.
Anthony: No, this is good. I remember, I don’t think I’ve been in a car with anybody who refuses a seatbelt. They’re just like, ah, I’m not gonna do it in a long time.
So I think we’ve made a lot of good progress as a peoples. As humans of people wearing seat belts. Number three, this is one that I’m a huge fan of because I think everybody’s had this nightmare. Seat belts can trap you underwater or in a fire. And basically the statistics show that people who drown or die by fire in a vehicle are half of 1%, which I look at as being, there’s still a chance they can get me.
And they sell devices like these these special knives that will cut through the seat belts. And so this isn’t really a thing. So I get into a crash and I go off the George Washington Bridge into the Hudson River below. Somehow off of that drop I survive. But
Michael: my, the only reason you survive that is because you’re wearing the seatbelt in the first place.
But my air
Anthony: ankle goes off probably knocking,
Michael: drown. And then and most fires the occupant is typically unconscious. And never. They’re never going to remove their seatbelt because they’re unconscious. So I, those num, I don’t think there’s a lot to that. I think that, the vast, the great, 99.99% of the time when there’s a crash involving, fire, or water, that the belt isn’t what’s preventing the escape of the occupant.
It’s typically they’re unconscious or the water poses its own set of challenges that require some advanced knowledge to, to know how to exit the car properly, to wait for the water to fill the vehicle up. There was a, I think there was a woman this morning and I forget what state it was in, but it looked like she drove off.
I don’t know if it was a G p s error, but she drove off of a, Boat ramp and was out about 40 feet into a lake and just the top of her Jeep remained up and exposed. And I’m assuming she was able to breathe in that space for, I think it was 12 plus hours before. If someone saw the Jeep and called emergency responders and saved her, she was alive, which is amazing.
You don’t hear about that. But that’s I’m gonna bet she was wearing her seatbelt and that’s why she survived or wasn’t, debilitated to the point after the initial after the initial crash that she was able to survive that long and escape ultimately.
Anthony: So the seatbelt re release mechanism, it doesn’t fail, it doesn’t lock into place or anything.
Michael: Cause I think, I’m sure there are cases, look, everything’s gonna fail at some point, right? There’s some cases of that, I’m certain. But that is incredibly rare. And in those cases, if you are conscious and able to, there are seatbelt cutters, which are very helpful, but usually come in a tool that also breaks your side window if your side window is not laminated.
Anthony: Okay. So that was the thing I mentioned earlier. But I’ve generally seen where the seatbelt, the, it’s not that the mechanism locks and you cannot undo it, it’s more that I won’t click in the place. That’s a more common thing where
Michael: it Yeah. And that’s really bad. That’s, there have been recalls in the past based on that.
Some very large ones. In fact, back in the, I think nineties and early two thousands for buckles that were f false latching and other things there, sometimes people think it’s. Connected and latched. And then when there’s a collision, the belt simply releases and they don’t have a seatbelt on. So there’s a lot of things that can go wrong with seat belts, but this type of thing where you’re trapped by your seatbelt, I think is more of a, more of something that, that people who don’t wanna wear their seat belts used to tell themselves to make an excuse.
Really I don’t think there’s really a very good chance at all of those circumstances actually occurring.
Fred: I had Joan Claybrook in the passenger seat of my car, headed for a restaurant, and we got to the restaurant and the seat belt stuck. I couldn’t get the damn thing open to work. That was a little embarrassing, but, after about five minutes of banging on it, we finally got it open and I discovered that the seat belts have a lifetime warranty.
That’s Subaru. And so I brought it in and they fixed it. So that was nice. But that’s, and
Michael: that’s good too because some manufacturers do not, you have people who have seatbelt that is, has a buckle issue after a few years, or the retracts not working. I’m sure everyone’s had an issue with one of those, and manufacturers are hesitant to replace them if the vehicle’s not under warranty, even though it is a critical safety component.
That’s something that I’d love to see put into legislation and law ultimately requiring seatbelt repairs when there’s, when it’s obvious they haven’t been cut out and stolen by criminals wanting to resell them. It would be great to know that all the vehicles on the road are have seat belts that are
And for listeners, Joan Claybrook was the first administrator of NHTSA Wrong? No, she, I’m wrong. She wasn’t the first administrator, wasn’t it?
Michael: No, she was, but she was the administrator, I believe from around 1976 to 1979 or 80. She wasn’t the under the Carter administration. She was the
She was the best. The
Michael: first, yeah. We gotta make sure to say that she was the best. William Hadden, I believe is the first administrator ever did. No one ever talks about him. They do. They even have a matrix named after him. You should look
Anthony: it up now. Fred’s never taken him to a restaurant. And then the last one, cause we’ve taken way too much of your time.
I don’t wear a seatbelt because I’m not going that far. Famous last words.
Michael: Yeah. I think everyone’s aware by now that most crashes happen close to your home versus awake. Whether it’s, that’s because you’re always close to your home or other reasons. We’re not sure that statistics been batted around for years, but, Cutting to the chase.
Just put on your seatbelt before you leave your driveway. And all these problems were solved.
Anthony: Put on your seatbelt, Brad.
Fred: What? I was sleeping.
Anthony: What? He was on level three driving right now and hey, shocked that he had a takeover. Hey listeners, thank you so much. Send feedback on the consumer AV bill of rights.
If you donate, we’ll pay attention to your feedback. If you don’t donate, we’ll still pay attention to it, just slightly less.
Fred: Hey, Anthony do we have to tell the tank
Anthony: story today? No, I’m, we’re not. Okay. So yeah the tank story’s still up in the air, folks. I’m looking at five monthly recurring donors.
You do that and we will get Fred’s tank story. We are so out of time right now. Thank you so much, listeners. Till next week, Fred’s tank story become a monthly. Thanks everybody.
Fred: Bye-bye. Thank you.