The car industry is going through two massive evolutions right now, on one hand you have the electrification of the drive train and on the other hand you have the nascent self-driving car technology.
First fatality of self-driving car tech after 130 million miles driven with Tesla Autopilot
The latter just came in the spotlights as the US announced the first fatality in a wreck involving a self-driving car. According to the latest reports, the Tesla Model S of 40-year old Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky. The Tesla car went underneath the trailer of the truck, which destroyed the windshield, passed through two fences and finally hit a telephone pole about 100 feet south of the road.
Brown's published obituary described him as a member of the Navy SEALs for 11 years and founder of Nexu Innovations, working on wireless Internet networks and camera systems. In Washington, the Pentagon confirmed Brown's work with the SEALs and said he left the service in 2008.Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S and in April credited its sophisticated Autopilot system for avoiding a crash when a commercial truck swerved into his lane on an interstate. He published a video of the incident online. "Hands down the best car I have ever owned and use it to its full extent," Brown wrote.
Tesla offered its condolences for the tragic loss but it appears Brown as testing the limits of the system. The CNBC report mentions a Harry Potter movie was playing in the car at the moment of the crash. Drivers are instructed to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times and need to be prepared to take over control at any time. It is the first known death in over 130 miles of Tesla Autopilot driving and the company claims it happened under extremely rare circumstances:
Following our standard practice, Tesla informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred. What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. The high ride height of the trailer combined with its positioning across the road and the extremely rare circumstances of the impact caused the Model S to pass under the trailer, with the bottom of the trailer impacting the windshield of the Model S. Had the Model S impacted the front or rear of the trailer, even at high speed, its advanced crash safety system would likely have prevented serious injury as it has in numerous other similar incidents.
Just a month ago, Brown shared a video clip in which he praised Autopilot for preventing an accident:
The first fatality is a big blow to the image of self-driving cars but it should be noted that among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. This was supposed to be a short introduction of the main focus of this news post but things got a little out of hand...
Intel and BMW want to deliver fully autonomous driving by 2021
Intel announced it's cooperating with BMW Group and Mobileye to make fully autonomous driving a reality by 2021. The three companies want to make a "level 5" open platform, this means self-driving cars without the need for a human to keep his hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. An early prototype is expected later this year and larger-scale tests are scheduled for 2017.
BMW will implement the technology into its iNEXT vehicle, before before making it the basis of its entire fleet. The platform will be shared with other companies and is intended not only for traditional cars but also for shared vehicles and any industry that can benefit from it.
Intel is a company that powers the cloud and the billions of smart, connected computing devices that connect to it. As we continue our transformation to focus more deeply on the virtuous cycle that has emerged -- the cloud and data center, the Internet of Things, accelerators like memory and FPGAs, all bound together by connectivity and enhanced by the economics of Moore’s Law -- we are seeing more and more experiences that can be transformed by our technology.
The Internet of Things is a collection of smart devices that are connected to the cloud. That connection to the cloud means that everything a “thing” does can be captured as a piece of data, measured in real-time and be accessible from everywhere. These connected things are becoming ubiquitous, transforming every experience in our lives. “Things” can be as small and simple as a connected watch or a smartphone. Or they can be as large and complex as a car.
The driving experience is perfectly positioned for the next wave of technological innovation. Today, driving can be frustrating: Think of the last time you were stuck in a traffic jam or lost on your way to a destination. Driving can also be dangerous. Every year, more than 30,000 people in the U.S. die from preventable automobile accidents. More than 90 percent of all auto accidents are caused by human error. An EU study reports that distracted and drowsy driving are responsible for 13 percent of traffic deaths each year. These frustrations and dangers make the driving experience ripe for disruption and innovation.
Today is an important step in bringing our vision to reinvent the driving experience. To make this vision a reality, cars -- and everything they connect to -- will need super-powerful, secure and reliable electronic brains that make them smart enough to act like human drivers.
Cars are rapidly becoming some of the world’s most intelligent connected devices, using sensor technology and powerful processors to sense and continuously respond to their surroundings. Powering these cars requires a complex set of technology: sensors that pick up LIDAR, sonar, radar and optical signals; a sensor fusion hub that gathers millions of data points; a microprocessor that processes the data; and machine learning algorithms that require an enormous amount of computing power to make the data intelligent and useful. These technologies are complex because the decision-making connected cars must perform in busy urban environments is complex.
Put simply, the connected car must have the intelligence to quickly react to surprises and avoid accidents. This includes:
Evaluating the surrounding environment for reckless drivers or a road detour.
Quickly identifying options, such as swerving, braking, turning or, in the future, communicating directly with another driver’s car.
Making the right decision and acting on it.
Intel is uniquely positioned to bring the end-to-end capability and technology to the future of autonomous driving. Intel offers a broad set of assets to autonomous driving collaborations: in-vehicle computing; a robust cloud and set of machine-learning solutions; a high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity system; powerful memory and FPGA technology; human-machine interfaces; and safety and security technology. These are all technologies Intel is continually investing in to enable the future of autonomous driving.
We believe there is incredible opportunity to reinvent the driving experience. We believe it will take a global ecosystem for this vision to come to fruition. Today we are taking the first step in this reinvention as we announce our partnership with the BMW Group and Mobileye to power the next generation of BMW’s Highly Autonomous Driving and Fully Autonomous Driving products and the collective goal to establish an industry standard for defining an open platform for autonomous driving.
This collaboration marks a significant step for the automotive industry. Intel is bringing end-to-end computing technology to power the connected car from the door locks to the data center; Mobileye is bringing world-leading visual analytics; and BMW is providing the ultimate driving experience.
As Intel continues to invest in providing the world’s most advanced technology for autonomous driving, we believe this is first of many exciting collaborations and partnerships ahead.
The future of highly autonomous driving is promising, but there are significant challenges to solve worldwide. For example, how can you teach an autonomous car to react to unpredictable human drivers who might be drunk, texting or speeding? How and when will there be detailed, accurate maps of all the roads in the world? How do we make the world’s roadways smart so they can communicate with and warn cars about hazards and traffic?
These are challenges that the auto and tech industries and other experts are coming together to solve. It will take significant resources and our best engineering minds -- and it will not be easy.
Solving big problems is what we do at Intel, and it’s what gets me excited. It will take the best engineering minds. We look forward to shaping the future of the connected car with the entire ecosystem.