transportation

‘To him who looks upon the world rationally, the world in its turn presents a rational aspect.’ –Hegel

4.jpg

Google started testing their cars on public roads back in 2009, long before any regulations were even dreamed of. An examination of the California Vehicle Code indicated there was nothing in there prohibiting testing.

For testing purposes, Google has a trained safety driver sitting behind the wheel, ready to take it at any moment. Any attempt to take the wheel or use the pedals disables the automatic systems and the safety driver is in control. The safety drivers took special driving safety courses and were instructed to take control if they have any doubt about safe operation. For example, if a vehicle is not braking as expected when approaching a cross walk, take the controls immediately, do not wait to see if it will detect the pedestrians and stop.

The safety drivers are accompanied by a second person in the passenger seat. Known as the software operator, this person monitors diagnostic screens showing what the system is perceiving and planning, and tells the safety driver if something appeared to be going wrong. The software operator is also an extra set of eyes on the road from time to time.

Many other developers have taken this approach, and some of the regulations written have coded something similar to it into law.

This style of testing makes sense if you consider how we train teen-agers to drive. We allow them to get behind the wheel with almost no skill at all, and a driving instructor sits in the passenger seat. While not required, professional driving instructors tend to have their own brake pedal, and know how and when to grab the wheel if need be. They let the student learn and make minor mistakes, and correct the major ones.

The law doesn’t require that, of course. After taking a simple written test, a teen is allowed to drive with a learner’s permit as long as almost any licenced adult is in the car with them. While it varies from country to country, we let these young drivers get full solo licences after only a fairly simple written test and a short road test which covers only a tiny fraction of situations we will encounter on the road. They then get their paperwork and become the most dangerous drivers on the road.

In contrast, robocar testing procedures have been much more strict, with more oversight by highly trained supervisors. With regulations, there have been requirements for high insurance bonds and special permits to go even further. Both software systems and teens will make mistakes, but the reality is the teens are more dangerous.

{ Brad Templeton | Continue reading }

related { Will You Need a New License to Operate a Self-Driving Car? }

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.

51.jpg

Using data from an online hotel reservation site, the authors jointly examine consumers’ quality choice decision at the time of purchase and subsequent satisfaction with the hotel stay.

They identify three circumstantial variables at the time of purchase that are likely to influence both the choice decisions and the postpurchase satisfaction: the time gap between purchase and consumption, distance between purchase and consumption, and time of purchase (business/nonbusiness hours).

The authors incorporate these three circumstantial variables into a formal two-stage economic model and find that consumers who travel farther and make reservations during business hours are more likely to select higher-quality hotels but are less satisfied.

{ JAMA | Continue reading }

photo { Philip Lorca-diCorcia, Roy, ‘in his 20s’, Los Angeles, California, $50 (Hustlers series), 1990-1992 }

‘The future of humanity is uncertain.’ –Primo Levi

2.jpg

{ How MH17 Came Apart Over Ukraine }

It was Me, L Boogs and Yan Yan, YG, Lucky ride down Rosecrans

341.jpg

Commercial drone flights are set to become a widespread reality in the United States, starting next year, under a 2012 law passed by Congress. […]

Military drones have slammed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in midair. […]

Several military drones have simply disappeared while at cruising altitudes, never to be seen again. […]

The documents describe a multitude of costly mistakes by remote-control pilots. A $3.8 million Predator carrying a Hellfire missile cratered near Kandahar in January 2010 because the pilot did not realize she had been flying the aircraft upside-down.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

‘Against boredom even gods struggle in vain.’ –Nietzsche

312.jpg

Darius McCollum has been arrested 29 times over the past 30 years for a series of transit-related crimes ranging from impersonating subway workers to stealing buses. […]

He first drew notice in 1981, when as a 15-year-old he operated an E train six stops from 34th Street to the World Trade Center without the conductor or passengers reporting anything amiss.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

photo { Thomas Hoepker, Lover’s Lane, New Jersey, 1983 }

Terminator X packs the jams

512.jpg

Scientists on Long Island are preparing to move a 50-foot-wide electromagnet 3,200 miles over land and sea to its new home at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. The trip is expected to take more than a month. […]

The electromagnet, which weighs at least 15 tons, was the largest in the world when it was built by scientists at Brookhaven in the 1990s, Morse said. Brookhaven scientists no longer have a need for the electromagnet, so it is being moved to the Fermi laboratory, where it will be used in a new experiment called Muon g-2.

The experiment will study the properties of muons, subatomic particles that live only 2.2 millionths of a second.

{ AP | Continue reading }

Persistent vegetative state

34.jpg

These new robot-painting machines can wash, apply solvent to remove dirt, rinse and then spray two different paint types. […]

Manually, it takes a team of painters 4.5 hours to do the first coat. The robots do it in 24 minutes with perfect quality. Boeing began using the machine in February. By midsummer, all 777 wings will be painted this way. […]

Half the 777 wing-painting team has been redeployed to other roles, such as programming the machines, painting the airline liveries on the fuselage or working on the sophisticated paint job needed for the 787-9 tails, which have a special smooth aerodynamic finish, Clark said.

{ Seattle Times | Continue reading }

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading

22.jpg

On April 7, 1994, Federal Express Flight 705, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30 cargo jet ferrying electronics across the United States from Memphis, Tennessee to San Jose, California, experienced an attempted hijacking for the purpose of a suicide attack.

Auburn Calloway, a FedEx employee facing possible dismissal for lying about his previous flying experience, boarded the scheduled flight as a deadheading passenger with a guitar case carrying several hammers and a speargun. He intended to disable the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder before take-off and, once airborne, kill the crew using the blunt force of the hammers so their injuries would appear consistent with an accident rather than a hijacking. The speargun would be a last resort. He would then crash the aircraft while just appearing to be an employee killed in an accident. This would make his family eligible for a $2.5 million life insurance policy paid by Federal Express.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

art { Caleb Brown }

See you on the road, skag. See you like we saw your friend, The Nightrider.

imp-kerr-walk.jpg

A subtle, but significant tweak to Florida’s rules regarding traffic signals has allowed local cities and counties to shorten yellow light intervals, resulting in millions of dollars in additional red light camera fines.

{ 10 News | Continue reading }

Some men just want to watch the world burn

310.jpg

Hijacking airplanes with an Android phone

By taking advantage of two new technologies for the discovery, information gathering and exploitation phases of the attack, and by creating an exploit framework (SIMON) and an Android app (PlaneSploit) that delivers attack messages to the airplanes’ Flight Management Systems (computer unit + control display unit), he demonstrated the terrifying ability to take complete control of aircrafts by making virtual planes “dance to his tune.”

{ Net Security | Continue reading }

art { Cy Twombly, Untitled, 1971 }

Stands forth, his loins and genitals tightened into a pair of black bathing bagslops

312.jpg

The average bicycle police officer spends 24 hours a week on his bicycle and previous studies have shown riding a bicycle with a traditional (nosed) saddle has been associated with urogenital paresthesia and sexual dysfunction. […]

The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of the no-nose bicycle saddle as an ergonomic intervention and their acceptance among male bicycle police officers. Bicycle police officers from five U.S. metropolitan areas were recruited for this study. […]

After 6 months, 90 men were reassessed. Only three men had returned to a traditional saddle.

{ International Society for Sexual Medicine | PDF | via Improbable }

images { 1. Charles Ray | 2. Dietmar Busse }

It is a colossal edifice, with crystal roof built in the shape of a huge pork kidney

24.jpg

As a gateway to the city, Los Angeles International Airport could hardly be more dispiriting. A jumble of mismatched, outdated terminals, LAX gives visitors a resounding first impression of civic dysfunction.

The city, which owns the airport, has tried several times to remake LAX. The latest attempt is a master plan by Fentress Architects, which is also designing the nearly $2-billion Tom Bradley International Terminal.

But the truth is that the airport’s biggest liability is not simply architectural. Somehow Los Angeles built a major rail route, the Green Line, past LAX 20 years ago without adding a stop at the airport.

And guess what? We are about to build another light-rail route — this time the $1.7-billion Crenshaw Line — near the airport and make precisely the same mistake again.

{ LA Times | Continue reading }

photo { Garry Winogrand }