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We Must Fast-Track AV Lighting Research PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 March 2019

The first autonomous vehicles are arriving on the roads—in low volumes so far, but their numbers will only increase at an accelerating pace. Yet we don't see much progress toward worldwide specifications for two AV-specific lights: identification lamps to mark AVs as such, and intention lights to communicate with pedestrians.

At the end of a meeting organised last week by ELS on the progress of their students, I led a round table discussion—experts from PSA, Renault, AL, Valeo, and Vedecom participated—on light communication for safety and acceptance of autonomous vehicles.
The main takeaway conclusion: there is no clear direction to rapidly succeed. More specifically:

  • Stakeholders round the world are working in their own ways, with little apparent regard for apposite research from the likes of Darmstadt and ELS/KIT, also considering it is difficult to find room on the car to fit new lights and there are compliance risks
  • The regulation process is problematically long and slow, whether it's GRE and WP.29 or national administrations outside the UN Regulationsphere and it is difficult to regroup money in this hard time to lead studies.
  • GTB/GRE have to combine in same time regulation simplication and AV regulation
  • Not enough prototypes and samples.

So there's a big risk of having no standard, no regulated specification for new lights important for the safety and acceptance of AVs. That's a problem, because we have this opportunity to develop new lights with the benefit of safety and also styling differentiation—if we do it in a coordinated, thoughtful manner in accord with sensible, appropriate standardisation.

Take the example of the DRL: it was not easy at that time to define specifications then to put them into regulations, but we succeeded, and no stakeholder involved in lighting today regrets it.
We have to take the opportunity of coming DVN Shanghai workshop and ISAL symposium to talk together and accelerate the process.

On other topics: Thanks again to all those who helped DVN during my absence, and to those who sent very kind mails after the publication of last week's announcement that I'm back. These quotes neatly summarise dozens of mails I received: "I am sincerly happy to hear that you finally recovered from your incident and that you are back to your passion." "I really felt the community of lighting really concerned about you. It is great to see you are back." "I'm happy to see you take over Driving Vision News. This is the most beautiful news that DVN has ever broadcast!"

I will do my best to continue helping the lighting community.

Sincerely yours,

DVN President

 

In depth...

Plain Lessons from a Lessened Plane PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 25 March 2019

By Daniel Stern, DVN Chief Editor

Two weeks ago a jet plane just two years old crashed in Ethiopia six minutes after takeoff. Last October a jet plane just two months old crashed into the Java Sea. There were no survivors either time. Both crashes involved the same make and model of plane: the Boeing 737 Max 8, a state-of-the-art version of the well-proven 737. As investigation progresses, it's looking more and more as though both crashes were caused by an advanced pilot-assistant system, a new automation called MCAS, for Manœuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, intended to prevent aerodynamic stall (when the wings no longer generate lift) during low-speed, nose-up flight. MCAS uses sensor data input to detect when that kind of condition has developed. The main input is from an angle-of-attack sensor (AOA)—just one of the plane's two AOAs, for some reason—which is supposed to tell the computer about the plane's nose angle relative to the air rushing past the plane. Then as output, MCAS pushes the plane's nose down to compensate. Boeing put in the system to counter the Max 8's tendency to nose-up more than usual.

Both doomed planes zoomed wildly up and down in the minutes and moments just before crashing, and now it's becoming clear the up-down zigzagging was on account of the pilots' tug-of-war against the MCAS output. MCAS got confused, falsely determining the plane was nose-up and nearing a dangerous aerodynamic stall, and aggressively tried to "correct" the nonexistent condition by forcing the nose down. Every time the pilots manually pulled out of the resultant dive, the recovery lasted only ten seconds before this pilot assistant, this safety system, would once again point the plane down. The pilots fought heroically, but lost their battles with a computer programmed and empowered to act as though it knows best.

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