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Who Killed the Electric Car?


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Author Topic: Who Killed the Electric Car?  (Read 181 times)
Lovelee
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« on: May 11, 2009, 07:26:13 pm »

....is a 2006 documentary film that explores the creation, limited commercialization, and subsequent destruction of the battery electric vehicle in the United States, specifically the General Motors EV1 of the 1990s. The film explores the roles of automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, the US government, the Californian government, batteries, hydrogen vehicles, and consumers in limiting the development and adoption of this technology.

The movie deals with the history of the electric car, its development and commercialization, mostly focusing on the General Motors EV1, which was made available for lease in Southern California, after the California Air Resources Board passed the ZEV mandate in 1990, as well as the implications of the events depicted for air pollution, environmentalism, Middle East politics, and global warming.

The film details the California Air Resources Board's reversal of the mandate after suits from automobile manufacturers, the oil industry, and the George W. Bush administration. It points out that Bush's chief influences, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Andrew Card, are all former executives and board members of oil and auto companies. It should be noted that this car was introduced during the Clinton Administration in 1996. They were eliminated from the GM Line in 1999.

A large part of the film accounts for GM's efforts to demonstrate to California that there was no demand for their product, and then to take back every EV1 and dispose of them. A few were disabled and given to museums and universities, but almost all were found to have been crushed; GM never responded to the EV drivers' offer to pay the residual lease value ($1.8 million was offered for the remaining 78 cars in Burbank before they were crushed). Several activists are shown being arrested in the protest that attempted to block the GM car carriers taking the remaining EV1s off to be crushed.

The film explores some of the reasons that the auto and oil industries worked to kill off the electric car. Wally Rippel is shown explaining that the oil companies were afraid of losing out on trillions in potential profit from their transportation fuel monopoly over the coming decades, while the auto companies were afraid of losses over the next six months of EV production. Others explained the killing differently. GM spokesman Dave Barthmuss argued it was lack of consumer interest due to the maximum range of 80–100 miles per charge, and the relatively high price.

The film also showed the failed attempts by electric car enthusiasts trying to combat the cancellation of EV1 and the surviving vehicles. Towards the end of the film, a deactivated EV1 car #99 was found in the garage of Petersen Automotive Museum, with its former owner invited for a visit.

The film also explores the future of automobile technologies including a deeply critical look at hydrogen vehicles and an upbeat discussion of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technologies, with examples such as Tesla Roadster. The end of the film mentioned the upcoming sequel titled Revenge of the Electric Car.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Who_Killed_the_Electric_Car%3F

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sickofpollies
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« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2009, 07:45:57 pm »

Documentary on the Electric car done years ago!
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Lovelee
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« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2009, 07:52:46 pm »

.. nevertheless noteworthy  Grin
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Shef
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« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2009, 12:19:18 am »

I did see a news item at the beginning of last year about how GM had recalled all their electric-run cars and taken them into Nevada and crushed them! They interviewed a few people who had leased them (apparently they wew lease only - no sales) and wanted to buy them, but GM reposessed the lot and crushed them. Apparently they were worried about what the sales would do to their (huge)SUV market.
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« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2009, 05:05:53 am »

Oil Companys put their foot down.

GM know they made a mistake as they couldve been rolling in the dough by now. Big Guzzlers were always going to die a natural death sooner or later.

Chevy Vault or Volt? is the new Car
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« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2009, 11:08:15 am »

Quote
I did see a news item at the beginning of last year about how GM had recalled all their electric-run cars and taken them into Nevada and crushed them! They interviewed a few people who had leased them (apparently they wew lease only - no sales) and wanted to buy them, but GM reposessed the lot and crushed them. Apparently they were worried about what the sales would do to their (huge)SUV market.

I recall seeing that as well. The leasees were upset at not being able to renew their leases. they thought the car was great.
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Lovelee
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« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2009, 11:37:20 am »

It appeared as if aside from the dangers GM saw in regard to this car - they couldnt make enough of them.  They were very popular - for the townie - and getting quite a reputation when GM collected them all up.

Watching the doco yesterday, those who had their cars removed hunted them down and found some brand new vehicles being shredded - along with their EV1s.

I would imagine the US govt knew what they were up to also.
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« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2009, 11:43:33 am »

From memory, part of the news item was the fact that the US govt had given GM a substantial R & D payment to build these cars.
I suppose it can be argued that GM did fulfill their obligations, but I think the govt and public expected them to keep making them, not destroy them to safeguard their other products.
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2009, 06:31:55 pm »


Council's futuristic spark

City's transportation to be electric

By DAVE BURGESS - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 16 May 2009

The future of the capital's transport is electric, according to Wellington City Council.

The council is reviewing its policies to make sure they do not impede the installation of kerbside electric-car charging stations. It also expects vehicle recharging facilities to be installed in car parking buildings and in residents' own garages.

The council is also moving to protect the city from missing out on emerging technology that allows electric buses to be recharged from underground pads at bus stops.

If implemented, it could lead to the removal of Wellington's overhead trolley bus wire system.

Council papers show that kerbside car-charging points would be of a similar size to the old-style parking meters.

The council holds some concern that footpaths could become cluttered should the charging points be rolled out.

It would weigh this against the environmental benefits that the programme would bring from the associated reduction of fossil fuel when deciding how many should be installed.

The council's urban transport and development portfolio leader, Andy Foster, said Wellington's hilly nature meant many potential electric-car owners would be unable to charge their cars at home, let alone overnight, because they did not have vehicle access.

"Therefore, we might want some charging points in the city. I would have thought that if it is as simple as that, then it is really just a minor plan change amendment to allow those sorts of things as of right, as opposed to requiring resource consent.

"I would not have thought there would be any significant effect from allowing charging points and it will require a minor wording tweak to allow it."

The council expects that parking buildings would also provide a recharging service to let vehicles be charged while people are at work during the day.

It is also preparing for under-road bus inductive charging technology that would enable buses to be charged as they paused at bus stops.

It is unclear whether utility boxes would be required on the kerbside to support the inductive charging plates.

"But we need to be ready for that technology no matter what shape or form it takes," Mr Foster said.

The Government's energy strategy plans for electric cars to reach 5 per cent of market share by 2020, and 60 per cent by 2040.

Conductive charging for buses is cutting edge but the charging method is not new. One of the most common devices to utilise it is the sealed electric toothbrush.

Essentially, the toothbrush and the base form a two-part transformer with the base holding one part and the toothbrush the other.

When the two parts are put together, the complete transformer is created and the charge can leap a small gap into the battery.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/wellington/2415769/Councils-futuristic-spark
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« Reply #9 on: April 09, 2015, 03:44:15 pm »


from the Los Angeles Times....

Formula E racing opens a road to a world without oil

By DAVID HORSEY | 5:00AM PDT - Wednesday, April 08, 2015



REMEMBER not so long ago when hybrid and electric cars were all stumpy little vehicles with tiny wheels? Designers seemed to be saying, “If you hate cars, hug trees and feel guilty about not being on a city bus, this is the vehicle for you!”

If those early attempts to steer away from gasoline-powered automobiles had to be small in size, why couldn’t they at least look as frisky as a Miata? Why did they have to look like potatoes on wheels? Well, things have changed. Auto manufacturers are offering a wide array of choices, from the Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf that still have a bit of that chubby eco-friendly look, to the BMW i8 and Porsche Panamera that are the farthest thing from frumpy. The king of them all, right now, is the Tesla Model S that keeps topping every competitor in Consumer Reports rankings.

Still, no matter how cool some of the newest alternative-power vehicles look and no matter how advanced their technology, the market for hybrids and electrics remains narrow. Low gas prices have kept most people from seeing any economic advantage to switching from internal combustion engines. The ultra-luxury price of the Teslas and BMWs also limits the number of buyers. And, with visions of long, cross-country road trips locked in the American imagination, even those who commute only a few miles a day are worried the limited range of electrics will cramp their style.

Change is coming down the road, though, and, if you were in Long Beach, California, on Saturday, you could have heard what that change sounds like.

Imagine the shriek of a flock of birds overlaid with a referee’s whistle. That is the sound of a Formula E race car tearing by and careening into a hairpin turn. Yes, the assumption is that electric cars are nearly silent, but not when they are traveling at 140 miles an hour with 20 of them jockeying for advantage in a 39-lap race.

This is the first season of racing for the all-electric version of the fabled Formula 1 race cars. The competition on the streets of Long Beach was the sixth in a 10-race series that began in Beijing in September and ends in London in June. When the all-electric circuit was first proposed, many people in the Formula 1 world considered it a dumb idea. Formula 1, after all, has a certain mystique. It is the playground of daring drivers with movie-star looks, sleek super models in six-inch Jimmy Choo heels and European aristocrats with champagne chilling in their private tents by the race course. Creating an alternative version of the race without gas fumes and the deep roar of massive engines and with distances limited by the charge of a battery seemed about as glamorous as building a school science project.

But some of the big names of Formula 1 got engaged; the Andretti family as team owners and, as drivers, several young men who are following in the footsteps of champion fathers — a Senna, a Piquet, a Prost and an Andretti among them. So far, the Formula E experience has pleased the crowds. Packed with excitement, the race in Long Beach with its screaming state-of-the-art cars and new generation of drivers felt like a fresh start for an old sport that could explode in popularity among auto racing enthusiasts.

This year, the circuit’s 10 teams are all driving duplicate cars supplied by Renault. Next year, the rules will loosen, allowing each team to tune and tweak their power systems. When that happens, things will get interesting, not just for the sport, but for all of us.

Competitive auto racing has always played a significant role in the advancement of motoring technology. Formula E will expand the development of electric vehicles outside the legacy auto manufacturers in Detroit, Munich and Tokyo with their burdens of tradition and market demands and will give a new source of inspiration to the brainy beehive of Tesla engineers in Palo Alto. The racing teams will be working aggressively on one big challenge: to go farther and faster on a battery charge.

That, of course, is exactly what the electric car industry needs and what consumers of the future will demand. As an alternative to fracking for ever-more-elusive sources of oil and the dumping of more CO2 into the atmosphere, the race to build a better electric car will not be just good sport, it could be a winner for the planet.


Related stories:

 • Long Beach ePrix, for Formula E electric cars, hits streets Saturday

 • Nelson Piquet Jr. wins first Formula E race in Long Beach


http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-formula-e-world-without-oil-20150408-story.html
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« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2016, 02:21:09 pm »


Mark Morford

All the reasons I pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist | 1:10PM PDT - Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The experiment begins…
The experiment begins…

The old ways must die

On this single point the entire universe agrees: Few events in human life match the soul-cringing unpleasantness of buying a new car in America. Only root canals, Adam Sandler movie marathons and being eaten alive by intestinal parasites come close.

And why? Because the fundamental process of buying a car hasn't been improved upon in 100 years — because evil, because profits, because bitchy state laws and relentless industry lobbyists and because Big Auto doesn't have to care about your simpering discomfort. What are you gonna do, buy your wheels some other, more enjoyable way? Like hell you are.


The BMW i3. Cute, strange, moderately geeky-cool, underpowered, and starts at 42 grand.
The BMW i3. Cute, strange, moderately geeky-cool, underpowered, and starts at 42 grand.

Feel less soiled

Behold Tesla, with its friendly, dead-simple, direct-sales model — no haggling, no giant, overlit mega-dealerships down by the airport, no smarm, all cars built-to-order — easily freaking out and/or infuriating the Old Guard — because that's what happens when the Old Guard doesn't bother to innovate anything truly interesting since the Taft administration.

Ride the lightning

Tesla is, of course, an extremely minor player in the car biz. Even so, they just pre-sold $10 billion worth of sleek, futuristic sheetmetal, all for a car that's still just a prototype and which won't actually be built for at least another year. Eat those electrons, Bob Lutz.

What does this tell you? That people — lots of them — are eager for change, innovation, a move away from Big Auto's death grip on how cars are powered, built, sold? Obviously.


Porsche's all-electric supercar is coming for sure… sometime after 2020.
Porsche's all-electric supercar is coming for sure… sometime after 2020.

Screw your bitumen

But it's more than that. It's sort of ridiculously appealing, when dealing with Tesla, to feel like you're flipping a giant middle finger to Saudi Arabia, Exxon, Keystone XL, Canada’s vile tar sands, Big Auto and inbred Republican corporate cronyism, all at once. There's a hint of anarchy and insurrection involved in buying a Tesla. Fun to be part of a new paradigm, right? Support innovative thinking? Send a signal to the PTB? Help the environment? No question.

It's (mostly) an illusion, of course. For one thing, all that electricity still comes at a hefty environmental cost. And Elon Musk might be a lot of things, but a socialist ain't one of them. And to be honest, Big Auto still makes some extraordinarily appealing, top-quality product, and many companies are taking some real (small, tentative) steps toward the all-electric future (see Bolt, Volt, Leaf, i3, et al). Major car manufacturers may be slow to adapt and wail like banshees when they have to, but they're not completely stupid.


The good kind of virgin

But Tesla offers a very different experience. There's a certain purity here — of purpose, of vision, of mission. Tesla isn't tainted by what came before. It's not beholden to dealerships, politicians, oil conglomerates, pre-existing infrastructures everyone hates and no one trusts in the slightest. They're refreshing in a uniquely empowering way.

And when the day comes — maybe much sooner than predicted — when we can all plug our badass electric hot rods into our rooftop solar arrays and pay not a dime for electricity or gasoline? Well… there will still be a thousand other terrible problems to attend to. But it's a damn nice bit of progress, nonetheless.


Like nothing else that exists so far. And that's the gist of it, really.
Like nothing else that exists so far. And that's the gist of it, really.

David flicks Goliath

Remember what the iPhone did to grumpy old Blackberry? Remember when RIM's milquetoast executives all scoffed at Steve Jobs' gorgeous new gizmo mere minutes after its unveiling, mocking its cutesy “apps” and silly, all-digital keyboard no serious professional would ever use? Remember when Apple absolutely annihilated those pretentious twerps in about six months flat?

This is exactly like that, except completely different. Which is to say: The enormous, entrenched auto industry isn't exactly going anywhere. Tiny little Tesla poses no immediate financial threat — yet.

But it feels similar. There's a sense of overdue comeuppance, of smacking Big Auto upside its thick, reluctant ego. There's simply no denying those incredible numbers: Tesla’s innocuous, much-maligned electric invention just made an staggering end-run around one of the most powerful industries in the world, and the industry can only gape, blink hard and say “Gosh, maybe we should have thought of that!”

Don't feel too bad for them. They had three decades of warnings and pent-up consumer demand, and yet not a single automaker has had the nerve to challenge the status quo and explode the antiquated business model. Visionaries they ain't.


The Prius! Not exactly known for driving dynamics, beauty, sex appeal, power, handling, or open road joy. But as a then-radical, moderately revolutionary step toward what Tesla is now, AND a sweet, eco-friendly fetish object for eager environmental activists in Portland and Berkeley? Mad kudos, Toyota.
The Prius! Not exactly known for driving dynamics, beauty, sex appeal, power, handling, or open road joy.
But as a then-radical, moderately revolutionary step toward what Tesla is now, AND a sweet, eco-friendly
fetish object for eager environmental activists in Portland and Berkeley? Mad kudos, Toyota.


Farewell sweet jellybeans

Maybe that's not completely true. Plenty of credit goes to Toyota, for taking such a strange and unexpected risk, way back in 1999, with its efficient, weird, extraordinarily ugly hybrid car-like thing, that quickly became a phenomenon.

The Prius remains, even now, a marvel of innovative engineering and bold corporate decision-making. And, despite being about as pretty as an albino pumpkin and exactly as fun to drive, Toyota has sold close to two million of the sweet, slow-lane jellybeans. And it only took them 17 years to do it.

Then again, Tesla, a company a fraction the size of Toyota, just pre-sold a quarter million cars… in two days.

Translation: The well-loved Prius is over-ripe for pasture. Electric is the future. Or rather, it's the now, the transition technology that will ease us off oil and make driving interesting again and usher in the new age of… who the hell knows? Autonomous vehicles? Hyperloops? Solar-regenerative electrified pavement?

Whatever comes next, it's going to be fascinating to watch. And in the meantime, it's damn fun to support a visionary company that almost singlehandedly kicked the industry into (much) higher gear. Did I mention there's a $7,500 rebate/tax incentive to help with that? That'll buy a lot of extension cords.


Nothing more needs to be said!
Nothing more needs to be said!

Proven badassery

None of this would matter — and the Model 3 would never have seen such extraordinary pre-sale numbers — if that other Tesla wasn't gorgeous, beautifully designed and a wonder to drive. I tested a $75,000 Model S last year and it was exactly as powerful and sumptuous as you've heard, notable as much for its stunning technology and ridiculous torque as for its shocking… normalcy. Tesla's innovations aside, the Model S still drives like a true luxury sports sedan should. Which is to say, flawlessly.

(Also worth noting: I just sighted my first Model X, Tesla's ultra-lux SUV, down in — where else? — Beverly Hills. It's a marvelous creation, an exotic, refined supermodel amidst a sea of lumpy Botox).

The Model 3 is being touted as a “baby” S, which hopefully translates into premium materials, dead-classy refinement, otherworldly tech and heart-rattling Ludicrous Mode performance, all in a smaller, urban-ready package and all at half the price. What's not to like?


The Chevy Bolt, a cute, modestly innovative all-electric, ready for sale this year. Great! Of course, Chevy is to Tesla what Microsoft is to Apple. There's just no comparison. The Model 3 is in a different class entirely.
The Chevy Bolt, a cute, modestly innovative all-electric, ready for sale this year. Great! Of course, Chevy is to Tesla
what Microsoft is to Apple. There's just no comparison. The Model 3 is in a different class entirely.


Apocalypse ready

And if it's a flop? If after all this hype and hubris, the Model 3 fails, due to any number of potential issues between now and late next year — indefinite delays, flawed build quality, weak performance reviews, nationwide socio-economic collapse should Trump or Cruz become president?

That's easy. My $1,000 deposit is fully refundable, anytime. At which point I march straight over to Jaguar, pick up a new F-Type and drive it straight into the Rapture. It's a win-win all around, really.


Email: Mark Morford

Mark Morford on Twitter and Facebook.

http://blog.sfgate.com/morford/2016/04/06/all-the-reasons-i-pre-ordered-a-tesla-model-3
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2016, 10:31:17 pm »


from Fairfax NZ....

Electric car drives itself along Wellington motorway using autopilot download

7:25PM - Friday, 15 April 2016



from The Washington Post....

Tesla driver using autopilot killed in crash

By JACOB BOGAGE | 5:32PM EDT - Thursday, June 30, 2016

The interior of a Tesla Model S is shown in autopilot mode. — Photograph: Alexandria Sage.
The interior of a Tesla Model S is shown in autopilot mode. — Photograph: Alexandria Sage.

A TESLA DRIVER was killed in a collision in Florida with a tractor trailer while the vehicle was in “Autopilot” mode, the car maker announced on Thursday.

It is the first known fatality in more than 130 million miles driven with autopilot activated, Tesla said in a statement which also expressed condolences to the driver's family.

Bryan Thomas, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said it was investigating the fatality to see if the autopilot system was to blame. But Tesla acknowledged that the accident might have been the fault of the computer.

The crash occurred on May 7th when Joshua David Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was behind the wheel of his black 2015 Model S Tesla, while in Autopilot mode on U.S. Route-27 in Williston, Florida, and hit the side of a tractor trailer that was crossing the road to make a turn.

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla said in a blog post entitled “A Tragic Loss”.

The Model S passed under the trailer, crushing the top of the car and the windshield. “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,” Tesla said.

The company stressed the rare nature of the crash.

“This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated,” Tesla said. “Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.”


Diagram courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Diagram courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol.

But Michelle Krebbs, a senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, called for a recall of cars with Autopilot. And Karl Brauer, another senior analyst at KBB, added: “I'd like to say I didn't see this coming, but it was inevitable based on the documented abuses of driver-assist technology we've been seeing on sites like YouTube.”

“This will be a big hit to Tesla's reputation because the automaker has been seen as a leader in both passenger safety and advanced technology,” Brauer added.

Tesla said Brown had a “loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss. He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community.”

The company added that Brown had a “loving family and we are beyond saddened by their loss. He was a friend to Tesla and the broader EV community.”

Brown had a YouTube channel where he posted videos of himself driving his Model S, nicknamed “Tessy”, in different road conditions. In April, he posted a video of the car in Autopilot mode that successfully swerved to avoid an incoming boom lift truck that moved into his lane.

Brown tweeted the video and elicited a response from Tesla founder Elon Musk, who tweeted the video himself.

Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com, said that the incident shows no “single technology on the market today can make a vehicle 100 percent safe” — and that “there is not a true ‘Autopilot’.”

“This tragic accident is a sobering reminder that while automated vehicle technology has come a long way, it still has a long way to go,” Montoya said. “You will never be able to predict all the risks out there.”


• Jacob Bogage covers business, technology and finance for The Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/06/30/tesla-owner-killed-in-fatal-crash-while-car-was-on-autopilot
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2016, 04:52:30 pm »


from The Washington Post....

The technology behind the Tesla crash, explained

By BRIAN FUNG | 2:49PM EDT - Friday, July 01, 2016

Tesla's Autopilot mode allows the car to essentially drive itself for long periods of time. — Photograph: Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post.
Tesla's Autopilot mode allows the car to essentially drive itself for long periods of time.
 — Photograph: Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post.


THE CRASH that killed a Tesla driver in Florida when his car struck a tractor-trailer may mark the world's first fatal accident in which a computer was at the wheel. The crash occurred when the truck turned left across the 2015 Model S Tesla's path and the car's autopilot failed to slow down.

The deadly accident, which took the life of 40-year-old Joshua David Brown of Ohio and is the subject of a federal safety investigation that Tesla disclosed on Thursday, is bound to raise a lot of questions about vehicle automation and the future of car travel.

It may be tempting to describe this as a driverless car crash, but don't give in. There's a big difference between assisted driving technologies and full automation, and what we have here is the former. We'll get into that below, but let's start first with the nuts and bolts of the autopilot technology at the center of the crash.


How does Tesla's autopilot work?

The autopilot consists of a forward-facing camera and radar system, as well as a dozen ultrasonic sensors mounted around the car for situational awareness. The camera can read speed limit signs and watch lane markings to prevent a driver from drifting. The ultrasonic sensors detect when other cars get too close and have a range of 16 feet.

Tesla's embedded sensors track what's going on in all directions for up to 16 feet. — Image: Tesla.
Tesla's embedded sensors track what's going on in all
directions for up to 16 feet. — Image: Tesla.


Most important, the autopilot has digital control over some of the most basic parts of the car, such as the brakes and steering wheel.

Tesla's approach to autopilot is a lot like the rest of the auto industry's: It's only an incremental step toward full driverless cars. In that respect, Tesla's autopilot is similar to other automated features already in vehicles today, such as assisted parking and automatic collision avoidance. Tesla has described its autopilot as a kind of advanced cruise control, with drivers being able to take over when they want. Tesla has said in the past that the feature is designed to make driving more comfortable “when conditions are clear.”


And conditions weren't clear during the time of this latest crash?

Apparently not. Here's how Tesla said the crash occurred: As the truck turned left, crossing the Tesla's path, neither the human nor the machine could distinguish the white-colored body of the truck from the sky, Tesla said. As a result, the Model S never slowed down, punching through the gap between the truck's wheels and getting crushed.

Diagram courtesy of the Florida Highway Patrol.

The cameras couldn't pick up the side of the trailer?

No, although we don't know precisely why. Tesla merely said in its blog post that “neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky,” suggesting there could have been a lighting or other imaging issue that prevented the computer from detecting an obstruction ahead. Indeed, Tesla's owners' manual highlights “bright light (oncoming headlights or direct sunlight)” as a factor that can affect the autopilot system. Here are some other things that can confuse the system, according to the manual:

  • Poor visibility (due to heavy rain, snow, fog, etc.).

  • Damage or obstructions caused by mud, ice, snow, etc.

  • Interference or obstruction by object(s) mounted onto Model S (such as a bike rack or a sticker).

  • Narrow or winding roads.

  • A damaged or misaligned bumper.

  • Interference from other equipment that generates ultrasonic waves.

  • Extremely hot or cold temperatures.

Even if the cameras were defeated by the bright light, one wonders why the radar system failed to interpret an obstacle. Tesla did mention the “high ride height of the trailer,” which might have played a role in preventing the radar from reporting correctly if the system was looking for things closer to the ground.

On Friday, Mobileye, one of the companies that works with Tesla to produce the autopilot system, said that the technology is only designed to prevent rear-enders, not side collisions.


Okay. So how safe is this technology, really?

Well, Tesla says you should always be prepared to take over, and theoretically if you're paying attention you should be able to avoid any incidents.

But that raises questions about reaction time. What if you're paying attention to the road but lack the ability to do anything about an impending accident? We do have some anecdotal cases of autopilot appearing to prevent crashes, so the system seems to do a better job than human drivers at least some of the time.




Statistically, Tesla's autopilot may even be better than humans most of the time. Tesla claims this is the first time such a crash has happened in about 130 million total miles of autopilot driving. The United States suffers a death on the roads about once every 100 million vehicle miles traveled, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. So cars that are driven exclusively by humans tend to cause road deaths more often. We'd need more data on crashes involving partly autonomous vehicles, though, to confirm this. But it's a start.

Finally, remember that the technology will get better. Computing power will increase, detection methods will advance, and communications between vehicles will soon be possible. All these things will likely make high-tech cars safer.


How similar is Tesla's autopilot to Google's self-driving cars?

We should be careful not to conflate Tesla's autopilot with full self-driving capability. Tesla's autopilot is markedly different from Google's self-driving car, which uses not only radar and cameras but also laser beams and sophisticated map models to pinpoint your exact location relative to the world around you.

Regulators have developed a classification system to help distinguish how advanced a car is on the automation scale. Level 0 means your car is totally dumb, while level 4 automation (the highest level) means the car is entirely robotic.

Google's self-driving car would be an example of level 4 automation. Tesla's autopilot falls somewhere lower on the scale, a level 2 or level 3, because it helps make driving a little easier and, as we saw in the video above, can take over “safety-critical functions” from the human.

Because this technology is still being developed, we will almost certainly see future crashes involving partial or fully automated vehicles. It's how we respond to them that counts.


What's next for Tesla, policymakers and regulators in this space?

The task for policymakers, analysts say, is to square our legitimate technology jitters with the societal benefits that vehicle automation could bring — and that's not going to be easy. The government recently declared that Google's driverless car can be viewed as a driver in the eyes of the law, a move that will have repercussions for state governments, insurance companies, as well as automakers. Federal highway officials are also devising policies for automated vehicles; some of that work can be viewed online.

Whatever they come up with will likely affect Tesla in one way or another — and shape the future of this driving technology.


• Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post, focusing on telecommunications and the Internet. Before joining the Post, he was the technology correspondent for National Journal and an associate editor at The Atlantic.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related story:

 • Tesla driver using autopilot killed in crash


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/07/01/the-technology-behind-the-tesla-crash-explained
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« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2016, 04:46:10 pm »


from Reuters....

DVD player found in Tesla car in fatal May crash

By BARBARA LISTON and BERNIE WOODALL | 11:40PM EDT - Friday, July 01, 2016

Robert VanKavelaar shows a piece of the Tesla found in his property where the Tesla came to rest when its driver was killed in a collision with a truck in May in Williston, Florida. — Photograph: Barbara Liston/Reuters.
Robert VanKavelaar shows a piece of the Tesla found in his property where the Tesla came to rest when its driver
was killed in a collision with a truck in May in Williston, Florida. — Photograph: Barbara Liston/Reuters.


WILLISTON, FLORIDA — A digital video disc player was found in the Tesla car that was on autopilot when its driver was killed in a May 7th collision with a truck, Florida Highway Patrol officials said on Friday.

Whether the portable DVD player was operating at the time of the crash has not been determined, however, and witnesses who came upon the wreckage of the 2015 Model S sedan gave differing accounts on Friday about whether the player was showing a movie.

Questions of why the car did not stop for a turning truck, and whether the victim, Joshua Brown, was watching the road are critical for Tesla Motors Incorporated. The Palo Alto luxury electric car maker is facing a preliminary inquiry by federal regulators over the safety of the Model S Autopilot system that was engaged at the time of the crash in Williston, Florida.

It could be weeks if not months before officials make a final determination of the cause of the crash, the first known fatality of a Model S driver while using Autopilot. Meanwhile, the accident is stoking the debate on whether drivers are being lulled into a false sense of security by such technology. A man who lives on the property where Brown's car came to rest some 900 feet from the intersection where the crash occurred said when he approached the wreckage 15 minutes after the crash, he could hear the DVD player. An FHP trooper on the scene told the property owner, Robert VanKavelaar, that a “Harry Potter” movie was showing on the DVD player, VanKavelaar told Reuters on Friday.

Another witness, Terence Mulligan, said he arrived at the scene before the first Florida state trooper and found “there was no movie playing.”

“There was no music. I was at the car. Right at the car,” Mulligan told Reuters on Friday.

Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said on Friday that “there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle,” but wouldn't elaborate further on it. She also said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage.


CAR ROOF SHEARED OFF

Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was the lone occupant of the Tesla and was killed in the crash that sheared off the roof of the car. He was a Tesla enthusiast and a former Navy SEAL who ran a technology company, according to his family and his company's website.

Mulligan said he was driving in the same westbound direction as the truck before it attempted to make a left turn across the eastbound lanes of U.S. Highway 27 Alternate when he spotted the Tesla traveling east.

Mulligan said the Tesla did not appear to be speeding on the road, which has a speed limit of 65 miles per hour, according to the FHP.

But the car never slowed down, and the remainder of the car, without a roof, kept the same speed after going under the trailer, Mulligan said.

Lawyers for Brown's family released a statement on Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations “and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways.”

The statement describes the accident as having been “caused by a semi tractor-trailer which crossed a divided highway and caused the fatal collision with Josh's Tesla.”


A Tesla Model S with version 7.0 software update containing Autopilot features is seen during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, California on October 14th, 2015. — Photograph: Beck Diefenbach/Reuters.
A Tesla Model S with version 7.0 software update containing Autopilot features is seen during a Tesla event
in Palo Alto, California on October 14th, 2015. — Photograph: Beck Diefenbach/Reuters.


No citations have been issued, but the initial accident report from the FHP indicates the truck driver “failed to yield right-of-way.”

The Tesla Autopilot system allows the car to keep itself in a lane, maintain speed and operate for a limited time without a driver doing the steering.

Tesla said in a statement Friday, said Autopilot “does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility.”

Tesla said on Thursday that the white trailer was not easy for the car's cameras to distinguish from the bright Florida sky. A Florida Highway Patrol report said the crash occurred on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Tesla shares fell in after hours trading on Thursday after the fatality was disclosed, but rebounded to close up nearly 2 percent in trading on Friday.


INFORMATION FROM ‘BLACK BOX’

The Florida Highway Patrol's Sergeant Montes said a Tesla engineer downloaded the information from the “black box” and shared it with Florida Highway Patrol investigators.

Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were alerted by Tesla about the crash, and NHTSA officials first contacted the Florida Highway Patrol last week, Montes said.

Paul Weekley, the lawyer for the truck driver, Frank Baressi, 62, of Palm Harbor near St. Petersburg, said the Tesla's data recorder had been removed before his investigators were able to see it.

Baressi, an independent owner-operator, said he saw the Tesla approaching in the left, eastbound lane. Then it crossed to the right lane and struck his trailer. “I don’t know why he went over to the slow lane when he had to have seen me,” he said.

VanKavelaar, a Walgreen's photo technician, said the car that came to rest in his yard next to a sycamore tree looked like a metal sardine can whose lid had been rolled back with a key.

After the collision, he said, the car ran off the road, broke through a wire fence guarding a county pond and then through another fence onto VanKavelaar's land, threaded itself between two trees, hit and broke a wooden utility pole, crossed his driveway and stopped in his large front yard where his three daughters used to practice softball. They were at a game that day and now won't go in the yard.

His wife, Chrissy VanKavelaar, said they continue to find parts of the car in their yard eight weeks after the crash.

“Every time it rains or we mow we find another piece of that car,” she said.


Reporting by Barbara Liston in Williston, Florida and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Mary Milliken.

__________________________________________________________________________

Related story:

 • Sleeping driver, terrified granny among Tesla Autopilot users on YouTube


http://www.reuters.com/article/us-tesla-autopilot-dvd-idUSKCN0ZH5BW
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« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2018, 01:02:45 pm »



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