Police Report Untangles Uber Crash Mystery (EETimes)

"EE Times has obtained from the Tempe (Ariz.) Police Department the report of a traffic collision involving an Uber vehicle on March 24. The full report tells a story different from earlier, sketchy accounts of the crash. It also reveals details that might prompt more questions about Uber’s actions — or inaction — at the intersection where the accident occurred. EE Times got the help of Mike Demler, senior analyst at The Linley Group, to decipher the police report.
Before getting into detail, here’s a recap what we reported before:
Until police info became public, the prevailing press narrative, including this publication, was that the crash resulted when the driver of a second vehicle “failed to yield” to the Uber car while making a left turn.
Observers were quick to conclude that this was an accident caused by a reckless “human” driver. Uber — which was in self-driving mode — was not at fault.
When we put together statements by drivers and an eyewitness included in the police report, we begin to see a different picture.
First, the driver who hit Uber’s Volvo was in the intersection waiting to turn left and was therefore moving slowly. She wasn’t exactly making a sudden, reckless move.
Second, Uber’s Volvo, in self-driving mode, was moving at 38 mph in a 40 mph zone and failed to detect the left-turning vehicle. Further, although the Uber’s driver remembers the traffic light changing to yellow when his car entered the intersection, the Uber Volvo didn’t react, neither hurrying nor hesitating.”

30/03/2017

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Elektrobit rolls four more software modules for autonomous driving (Smart2Zero)

"In its venture to devise a middleware layer for automated driving applications, Elektrobit (EB) is making progress: The company has completed four new software modules for its EB robinos product line. They enable automakers and automotive suppliers to add critical functionalities including automated parking, highway driving and lane keeping.
Announced in 2016, EB robinos is the first comprehensive, hardware-agnostic framework that enables carmakers and automotive suppliers to develop and bring to market increasingly automated driving features and manage the complexity of advanced in-car systems. The new modules are: […]

  • EB robinos Safety Management - This module ensures that HAD features work perfectly by ensuring flawless safety and error management. It provides supervision of data streams of EB robinos data structures, monitoring processes and identifying potential failures.”
    23/03/2017

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Semiconductor industry is moving towards automotive business (Smart2Zero)

"Microprocessor design and IP company ARM intends to put more emphasis on the requirements of the automotive industry. The reason is that the mutual interdependency of semiconductor and automotive industry is rapidly growing.
Wolfgang Helfricht, director of platform marketing from ARM’s Physical Design Group, puts the figures onto the table: Vehicles currently consume about 10 percent of the world’s semiconductor production, Helfricht wrote in a recent blog post. Given the demand of computing power, sensing capabilities and connectivity in tomorrow’s self-driving cars, this percentage will grow rapidly – experts like Helfricht estimate that it will multiply at a factor of 100 within the next ten years. And ARM processor cores are in most of today’s microprocessors, microcontrollers or SoCs of all types.
The specific requirements of automotive applications – advanced safety and security features, robustness, quick booting and, to an increasing extend, high number crunching capabilities – motivated ARM to adjust its product strategy to take this clientele more into account. “More of ARM’s products are being developed from the ground up with automotive applications in mind”, Helfricht wrote in his blog post.
[…]
In this business environment, ARM has announced the developed of a platform of dedicated automotive ARM Artisan Physical IP with features custom-made for the automotive market and taking into account functional safety standard ISO 26262 and AEC-Q100 as well as the TSMC 9000A quality requirements of ARM’s foundry partner TSMC.”

17/03/2017

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2017 Automotive Trends: The future will be rocky for auto companies unable to improve returns on capital (Strategy&)

"Innovative software developments may make tomorrow’s vehicles exceptionally expensive: OEMs and suppliers must earmark resources for acquiring new technology and recruiting experienced technical talent. Many of the new features going into cars require the expertise of software engineers, who by and large prefer the ostensibly more dynamic work environments of Silicon Valley startups to those of the automotive industry. As a result, some of the recent mergers and acquisitions in the automobile sector were undertaken to augment in-house technical knowledge and capabilities. For instance, German supplier ZF Group, which paid US$12.4 billion in 2015 to acquire TRW in order to expand into the electronic safety and connectivity market, took a 40 percent stake in vehicle radar supplier Ibeo Automotive Systems in 2016.
[…]
The rising cost of safety and environmental regulations is also a concern for the industry. In the U.S., potential regulatory relaxation under the new administration has stirred at least some hope that higher costs associated with tightened emissions standards might arrive more slowly or even be avoided. However, there is a question whether a change in federal U.S. regulations would make a significant difference because individual U.S. states — and the whole of Europe — can continue to push for stricter standards. In addition, the regulatory requirements in other parts of the world are quickly catching up to those in the more regulated countries. For instance, China now has emissions standards for large cities similar to Europe’s, with only a brief (one- or two-year) grace period for smaller cities. Moreover, the real environmental challenges that underlie these trends are not going away and will ultimately have to be confronted.”

22/03/2017

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A rogue robot is blamed for a human colleague’s gruesome death (QuartzMedia)

"In July 2015, Wanda Holbrook, a maintenance technician performing routine duties on an assembly line at Ventra Ionia Main, an auto-parts maker in Ionia, Michigan, was “trapped by robotic machinery” and crushed to death. On March 7, her husband, William Holbrook, filed a wrongful death complaint (pdf) in Michigan federal court, naming five North American robotics companies involved in engineering and integrating the machines and parts used at the plant: Prodomax, Flex-N-Gate, FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric.
Holbrook’s job involved keeping robots in working order. She routinely inspected and adjusted processes on the assembly line at Ventra, which makes bumpers and trailer hitches. One day, Holbrook was performing her regular duties when a machine acted very irregularly, according to the lawsuit reported in Courthouse News.
Holbrook was in the plant’s six-cell “100 section” when a robot unexpectedly activated, taking her by surprise. The cells are separated by safety doors and the robot should not have been able to move. But it somehow reached Holbrook, and was intent on loading a trailer-hitch assembly part right where she stood over a similar part in another cell.
The machine loaded the hardware onto Holbrook’s head. She was unable to escape, and her skull was crushed. Co-workers who eventually noticed that something seemed amiss found Holbrook dead.
“The robot from section 130 should have never entered section 140, and should have never attempted to load a hitch assembly within a fixture that was already loaded with a hitch assembly. A failure of one or more of defendants’ safety systems or devices had taken place, causing Wanda’s death,” the lawsuit alleges.
William Holbrook seeks an unspecified amount of damages, arguing that before her gruesome death, his wife “suffered tremendous fright, shock and conscious pain and suffering.” He also names three of the defendants—FANUC, Nachi, and Lincoln Electric—in two additional claims of product liability and breach of implied warranty. He argues that the robots, tools, controllers, and associated parts were not properly designed, manufactured or tested, and not fit for use. “At all relevant times, technically feasible alternative design and engineering practices were available that could have prevented the harm without significantly impairing the usefulness or desirability of the automation system to users and without creating equal or greater risk of harm to others,” Holbrook’s family argues.
According to the US Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration, robots are “generally used to perform unsafe, hazardous, highly repetitive, and unpleasant tasks.” But despite any potential safety advantages, OSHA writes, “studies indicate that many robot accidents occur during non-routine operating conditions, such as programming, maintenance, testing, setup, or adjustment. During many of these operations the worker may temporarily be within the robot’s working envelope where unintended operations could result in injuries.” There are currently no specific workplace safety standards for the robotics industry, according to OSHA. As of 2014, the agency reported about 30 robotics-related deaths over a period of 30 years. ”

13/03/2017

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