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Tesla
Epic fail. That’s what first crossed my mind as I watched the window break (twice!) during Tesla’s Cybertruck launch. Instead, the unfortunate incident brought immediate worldwide attention to Tesla’s new truck — mainstream press, social media, and (of course) meme makers all gobbled it up. Fast forward, and Elon Musk’s crazy concept for the Cybertruck is now considered genius.

In fact, Elon Musk actually forecasts failure at the beginning of his bold and audacious ventures. According to Marcel Schwantes (via Inc.), Musk demonstrates “a healthy amount of humility” when starting a project. For example, at an interview at an energy conference in Norway, Musk said, “You should take the approach that you’re wrong. Your goal is to be less wrong.”

As Musk points out, “When you first start a company, there’s lots of optimism and things are great. Happiness, at first, is high. Then, you encounter all sorts of issues and happiness will steadily decline and you’ll go through a whole world of hurt.” But, if you take your medicine and learn from your failures, there’s an upside. “Eventually, if you succeed … you will finally get back to happiness,” says Musk.

By acknowledging that failure is a likely outcome, Schwantes says, “you’ll be able to spot impending issues earlier and minimize the inevitable pain and suffering Musk describes.” In fact, Musk has a trick for keeping him abreast of potential pitfalls. He actively seeks out constructive criticism from close friends and confidants.

“A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold. You should seek that from everyone you can but particularly your friends. Usually, your friends know what’s wrong, but they don’t want to tell you because they don’t want to hurt you,” says Musk. Even if you don’t agree with their feedback, Musk says, “You at least want to listen very carefully to what they say.”

In short, Musk believes failure is necessary on the path of success. He says, “Failure is an option here. If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough.” It’s something Elon Musk accepts and embraces. Don’t believe me? Check out this revealing infographic of Musk’s many failures as he built Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX into the trailblazing companies they are today.
Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images
Elon Musk frames his company’s aggressive push into driverless car technology as a moral imperative. Along with sustainable electric transportation, he views autonomy as a core element of Tesla Inc.'s “fundamental goodness.”

Humans will be freed of the tedium of driving, he told Wall Street last year. Millions of lives will be saved.

There is another incentive for Musk to put driverless cars on the road, though. The day he does that, hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of stored-up revenue become eligible for a trip straight to Tesla’s perpetually stressed bottom line.

All Tesla cars built since late 2016 are equipped with sensors and other hardware that allow them to function without a human driver at the wheel, according to the company. Since then, buyers of Tesla Models S, X, and 3 have been able to pay $3,000 to $6,000 to eventually get what Musk calls Full Self-Driving technology, or FSD. (The price will soon rise to $7,000.)

Tesla has sold approximately 500,000 cars over that period. The electric-vehicle website Electrek has estimated that 40% of customers choose the FSD option. Owners who haven’t can buy it when available, albeit at a higher price.

Tesla cars will just need new lines of computer code beamed into the car to go full robot when the software is ready, the company says. Musk is aiming to make that happen by the end of the year.

But is Tesla anywhere close to ready with fully driverless technology? And what would that even mean?

The answers concern many in the auto industry, and not just for reasons of competitiveness. Auto executives worry that premature deployment of driverless technology would result in crashes, injuries and deaths and rile up politicians and regulators. It could also damage public trust in the technology — which surveys show is already low — and set the field back by years, they fear.

On Tesla’s website, where FSD is offered for sale, the company says that automatic driving will be available on city streets by the end of the year. FSD will recognize stop signs and traffic lights, it says. And Musk is aiming to release a self-parking feature by the end of the year. The technology, originally scheduled for a May release, would allow a car to drive itself around a parking lot, find an empty spot and park.

Tesla does not say how a car equipped with FSD might respond to a child crossing the street chasing a ball, or whether it would swerve over a double yellow line to avoid a bicyclist. It is “edge cases” such as these that Waymo — the autonomous-driving unit of Google parent Alphabet, and the acknowledged industry leader — and others say are taking them so much time to perfect.

Asked to provide a timeline for Tesla’s transition to totally driverless cars, a Tesla spokeswoman pointed to the Autopilot section of its website where the company discusses future use of Tesla cars without driver supervision. As for what Tesla means by “full” self-driving, she offered the following quote from a recent presentation by Musk:

“There’s three steps to self-driving. There’s being feature complete, then there’s being feature complete to the degree where we think that the person in the car does not need to pay attention. And then there’s being, at a reliability level, where we also convince regulators that that is true.”

The lack of clarity on FSD’s capabilities and timeline concerns the National Safety Council, a nonprofit health and safety advocacy group. “Most people don’t understand the technology that’s already in their cars,” said council Vice President Kelly Nantel. “It’s confusing to drivers. When you call something Full Self-Driving or Autopilot (Tesla’s driver-assist technology) you give the impression that the vehicle has capabilities it doesn’t have.”

Moving the millions collected from FSD customers onto Tesla’s bottom line could be enough to ensure a profit in the fourth quarter, which Musk told stock analysts last month he’s “pretty confident” Tesla can do. That would be huge for a company that is struggling to prove it’s not a perpetual money loser. Tesla hasn’t produced an annual profit since its founding in 2003. In the second quarter of this year, Tesla sold a record 95,000 cars but lost $389 million.

As of the second quarter, Tesla listed $1.18 billion in deferred revenue. The c
Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
Ford and other companies say the industry overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles, which still struggle to anticipate what other drivers and pedestrians will do.

A year ago, Detroit and Silicon Valley had visions of putting thousands of self-driving taxis on the road in 2019, ushering in an age of driverless cars.

Most of those cars have yet to arrive — and it is likely to be years before they do. Several carmakers and technology companies have concluded that making autonomous vehicles is going to be harder, slower and costlier than they thought.

“We overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, said at the Detroit Economic Club in April.

In the most recent sign of the scramble to regroup, Ford and Volkswagen said Friday that they were teaming up to tackle the self-driving challenge.

The two automakers plan to use autonomous-vehicle technology from a Pittsburgh start-up, Argo AI, in ride-sharing services in a few urban zones as early as 2021. But Argo’s chief executive, Bryan Salesky, said the industry’s bigger promise of creating driverless cars that could go anywhere was “way in the future.”

He and others attribute the delay to something as obvious as it is stubborn: human behavior.

Researchers at Argo say the cars they are testing in Pittsburgh and Miami have to navigate unexpected situations every day. Recently, one of the company’s cars encountered a bicyclist riding the wrong way down a busy street between other vehicles. Another Argo test car came across a street sweeper that suddenly turned a giant circle in an intersection, touching all four corners and crossing lanes of traffic that had the green light.

“You see all kinds of crazy things on the road, and it turns out they’re not all that infrequent, but you have to be able to handle all of them,” Mr. Salesky said. “With radar and high-resolution cameras and all the computing power we have, we can detect and identify the objects on a street. The hard part is anticipating what they’re going to do next.”

Mr. Salesky said Argo and many competitors had developed about 80 percent of the technology needed to put self-driving cars into routine use — the radar, cameras and other sensors that can identify objects far down roads and highways. But the remaining 20 percent, including developing software that can reliably anticipate what other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are going to do, will be much more difficult, he said.

The industry’s unbridled confidence was quickly dented when a self-driving car being tested by Uber hit and killed a woman walking a bicycle across a street last year in Tempe, Ariz. A safety driver was at the wheel of the vehicle, but was watching a TV show on her phone just before the crash, according to the Tempe Police Department.

Since that fatality, “almost everybody has reset their expectations,” Mr. Abuelsamid said. It was believed to be the first pedestrian death involving a self-driving vehicle. Elsewhere in the United States, three Tesla drivers have died in crashes that occurred while the company’s Autopilot driver-assistance system was engaged and both it and the drivers failed to detect and react to hazards.

Companies like Waymo and G.M. now say they still expect to roll out thousands of self-driving cars — but they are much more reluctant to say when that will happen.

Waymo operates a fleet of 600 test vehicles — the same number it had on the road a year ago. A portion of them are the first set of vehicles it will be buying through the agreements with Chrysler and Jaguar. The company said it expected to increase purchases as it expanded its ride service.

“We are able to do the driving task,” Tekedra Mawakana, Waymo’s chief external officer, said in an interview. “But the reason we don’t have a service in 50 states is that we are still validating a host of elements related to offering a service. Offering a service is very different than building a technology.”

G.M. declined to say if it was still on track to start a ride service “at scale” this year, as it originally planned. Its chief executive, Mary Barra, told analysts in June that Cruise was moving “at a very aggressive pace” without saying when commercial operations would begin.

China, which has the world’s largest auto market and is investing heavily in electric vehicles, is trailing in development of self-driving cars, analysts say. The country allows automakers to test such cars on public road
South Jordan Police Department (AP)
Tesla has long lurked in a category of its own in the self-driving car race; where Uber and Google’s Waymo are building fully autonomous vehicles essentially from the ground up, Elon Musk’s electric car company is slouching towards autonomy through a series of increasingly sophisticated updates to its semi-autonomous Autopilot system. Because Teslas are not totally self-driving, and because they are already on the roads, this puts the company in a sort of grey area—even greyer than the already grey area where standard autonomous vehicles dwell—when it comes to regulation and oversight.

This is a problem. Musk is a nonstop booster and font of optimism for Autopilot’s self-driving capabilities, Musk has millions of diehard devotees and customers, and Autopilot has so far been enabled during at least four fatal Tesla crashes. It’s a volatile and increasingly dangerous situation, especially as Musk continues to vouch for its safety, and make claims like the one about how there will be a million autonomous Teslas on the road *next year*.

Meanwhile, no one really has any good data about how and in what circumstances crashes that involve Autopilot happen; states don’t require that kind of data be collected because Teslas aren’t technically autonomous cars. So investigators have access to only small slivers of said data, and Tesla refuses to share any of its own trove.

All of which is why Matt Drange’s epic investigation into Autopilot’s safety record for the Information should absolutely be making a bigger splash than I’ve at least personally seen it making. Perhaps it’s because it’s hard to get anything to stand out these days that does not rise to the level of intrigue of our increasingly Caligula-esque president being deceived into believing he was not walking past an aircraft carrier with his late political rival’s name on it. Perhaps it’s because it literally costs hundreds of dollars to subscribe to the Information and to read stories that serve the public interest like this one. Who knows.

But while the entire piece is full of good reporting and interesting insights about the many, many challenges regulators and safety officers face in coming to grips with the Autopilot situation, one thing stuck out: Tesla’s refusal to even comment on the record in any official capacity about Autopilot’s safety record. Not only will Tesla apparently not make public the Autopilot data itself, or share it with regulators, it wouldn’t even discuss the numbers with Drange.

Musk has in the past been lauded for his transparency—see: his detailing very specific, elaborate plans to bring Tesla to the mainstream, or open-sourcing tossed-off Hyperloop specs—and has also been chastised for being too transparent. See: his Twitter feed, which is perpetually on the brink of a very public and very expensive train wreck.

So the fact that he will not cough up any of the data about Autopilot feels pretty telling. If it put Tesla in a positive light, there seems to be little question Musk would loose it upon the world. That’s what he does.

Instead, Tesla publishes its own quarterly vehicle safety reports that purport to demonstrate how driving with Autopilot is much safer than driving without it. As Drange notes, “the reports only show a rate of collisions on a per-miles-driven basis and don’t disclose what caused the crash and whether the Tesla driver was at fault.” The experts he cites aren’t buying it either. “It’s obviously a misrepresentation,” Hemant Bhargava, a UC Davis professor of technology management told Drange. “You’re only in autonomous mode in the best scenarios, so the number of crashes will be lower.”

(Tesla wouldn’t share any data with me, either—a spokesperson referred me to the same Vehicle Safety Report.)

As such, there is absolutely no conceivable reason to trust the safety record of Tesla’s Autopilot system—and the stakes are only getting higher. Musk continues to all but encourage users to switch on Autopilot and let the software take over in his public appearances. He remains so full-bore bullish on Autopilot, so deeply convinced of its safety, that it can seem at times that his own staff must have pulled a White House-staff-in-Japan and somehow hidden from his feeds news that four people have died while driving with the software enabled. Because at this point, it’s approachin
The Drive
esla's "Autonomy Day" presentation showcased a typically ambitious plan for the electric vehicle maker's future, in which the company would operate fleets of its off-lease vehicles as fully autonomous robotaxis with each car earning an estimated $30,000 in gross profits per year. Though questions remain about Tesla's ability to even develop the self-driving technology needed to make this dream a reality, there are signs of trouble with the plan among companies operating human-driven fleets of Teslas today. Assuming Tesla can develop the technology for unprecedented autonomy using its relatively meager sensor suite, are the more prosaic aspects of Tesla's vehicles in fact well-suited for fleet duty?

There are signs that the brand's premium sports sedans may not be well-suited for high-utilization fleet applications in the news this week, starting with a Chinese ride hailing company's extremely public demand for compensation from Tesla. The Global Times reports that Shenma Zhuanche, a premium ride hailing firm headquartered in Sichuan Province, has rented time on three Times Square billboards with which to air its grievances with Tesla who supplies 278 of the vehicles used in Shenma's fleet of high-end vehicles. According to Shenma, some 20% of its Teslas experienced electromechanical malfunctions that caused the company direct economic losses of nearly $1 million since it started buying Teslas in 2016.

Shenma is demanding that Tesla repair its allegedly defective vehicles, compensate it for associated losses and admit that its cars have quality problems. The company alleges that Tesla's problem is not simply that its cars have quality problems, but that its after-sales service is "unsatisfactory" and that on average each repair keeps vehicles out of the fleet for some 45 days according to Technode. The company says it hopes to give Tesla the opportunity to address these shortcomings.

Another example of a Tesla fleet company experiencing challenges keeping its vehicles operating comes from The Netherlands, which has been a prime market for Tesla fleets due to major tax incentives for electric vehicles. The company EC-Rent, which had crowdfunded a small fleet of Teslas for rent costing between €249 and €349 per day. According to a notice on the company's website (and confirmed in a subsequent tweet), EC-Rent has experienced some of the same issues as Shenma:

Due to increasing technical defects and the lack of a fast delivery of parts from Tesla, we had to halt half of our Teslas in our rental fleet from mid-December. Since this is no longer tenable and a solution does not seem to be within reach, our activities are currently discontinued. We are investigating the possibilities for a restart (possibly in a different form). We will know more within a few weeks. Unfortunately, we cannot accept bookings until that time, not even on models other than the Teslas."

A third example comes from Sweden, where mestmotor.se reports that Umeå Eltaxi has filed for bankruptcy blaming in part the Tesla Model S that it had operated as part of its all-electric fleet. Vice President and marketing manager Mohammed Al-Nasser had some harsh words for the California automaker, which line up with what Shanma and EC-Rent have said and implied about using its vehicles in fleet applications:

"Nothing has worked. Tesla does the worst cars. It has been too much wrong, for poor quality and when the closest workshops are in Stockholm, the costs have become unreasonably high. In the end, we did not see any opportunity to continue with these cars but chose to put the company into bankruptcy at its own request, "

Another small Tesla taxi company also went bankrupt last year due to the challenges of operating a fleet of Teslas, causing its owner to lose the home he had mortgaged to start the "One Hundred Percent Electric Company" or "OHPEC." Though Bernard Brommel of Auckland, New Zealand didn't mention the reliability and repair time issues that other struggling Tesla fleet operators did, he blamed the high cost of Tesla's cars, the challenge of marketing a new company, and issues with charging as the reasons OHPEC went under. With free chargers increasingly busy and others costing a kickback to use, recharging times stretched to some 90 minutes including the time to drive to one that was available to commercial operators like OHPEC. A Quebec-based electric taxi com
Tesla
Tesla is preparing for a wider roll out a more capable and robust version of its “eventual” automated parking feature known as Enhanced Summon next week, CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday.

The tweet comes just days after the company released a new version of Navigate on Autopilot, an advanced driving feature that is viewed as a step towards full automated driving on highways.

In the tweet, Musk writes “Tesla Enhanced Summon coming out in U.S. next week for anyone with Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving option.”

Enhanced Summon is a parking assist feature designed to vehicles to navigate a parking lot autonomously and find its driver — under specific conditions. For instance, the driver, who uses the Tesla app to remotely call the car, must be within a certain distance of the vehicle. At this point, the feature doesn’t park for the driver, only exit the parking spot and find the driver. As one reader noted via Twitter recently, it’s more of an automated come-to-you-from-a-parked-position feature for now.

Using the feature, the vehicle will pull out of a parking space, navigate around objects and come to the owner. Musk has been teasing this feature for some time now and owners in the early access program have used it. It’s started to be available more widely a few weeks ago to some owners. (There are already numerous video demonstrations of Enhance Summon in action) Now it appears it will have a wider release, based on Musk’s tweet.

esla’s vehicles are not self-driving. Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that can be described as a Level 2 system, a designation by the SAE that means partial automation. Level 2 can control two ADAS features simultaneously like adaptive cruise (accelerating and deceleration along with the vehicle ahead) and lane steering in certain conditions. However, the human driver is expected to maintain control at all times.

(Others have referred to it as semi-autonomous system, but that terminology has been recently shunned by industry insiders)

Navigate on Autopilot, which is supposed to guide a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including navigating interchanges and making lane changes, is Tesla’s most advanced driver assistance feature to date. The feature was initially held back when the automaker released the latest version of its in-car software, 9.0. When Navigate on Autopilot was eventually released in late October, Tesla placed some limitations on it, including that it mad a lane change suggestion that required the driver to confirm by tapping the turn signal before it would proceed.

In this newest iteration, drivers will now have the option to use Navigate on Autopilot without having to confirm lane changes via the turn stalk. The new version offers “a more seamless active guidance experience,” the company wrote in a blog post April 3.

For a bit of history, Tesla announced in October 2016 that it would started producing electric vehicles with a more robust suite of sensors, radar, and cameras—called Hardware 2—that would allow higher levels of automated driving. Owners of these Hardware 2 vehicles would be able to opt for one of two advanced driving packages, Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving, the latter of which is supposed to push the automated driving feature to new levels of capability and eventually drive autonomously without human intervention.

Owners with Enhanced Autopilot have vehicles capable of adaptive cruise control, Autosteer (essentially lane keeping), Summon and Navigate on Autopilot. But then in October 2018, the same month it started rolling out Navigate on Autopilot, Tesla removed that “full self-driving” option (FSD).

Then suddenly this year, Tesla changed the terminology and pricing again — and it brought back FSD.

Enhanced Autopilot is no longer available to new owners. Instead, owners can opt for Autopilot or FSD. Autopilot includes the Autosteer and adaptive cruise control features.

Owners who want the more advanced features like Navigate on Autopilot have to buy FSD. Navigate on Autopilot is considered a step towards that still on-met full self-driving promise.

Autopilot costs $3,000 and Full Self-Driving, costs an additional $5,000. So to get FSD owners have to plunk down $8,000.
Arrowstreet
The way people get around is undergoing a revolution—three revolutions, in fact: electrification, automation, and shared mobility. One of the far-reaching implications of this coming change is that a staid, stolid, and largely unloved building type, the multilevel parking garage, will require a radical rethink.

By 2040, more than half of the miles traveled in the U.S. could occur in shared autonomous vehicles (AVs), which would rarely need to park, according to a 2016 study by Deloitte, a financial and risk-management consultant. Dense urban areas in particular—likely to be well served by public transit, AV fleets, ride-sharing, and other transportation options—can expect to see demand for parking plummet while the need for new kinds of spaces, such as pickup and drop-off zones, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and AV hubs, emerges. The question for architects, says Amy Korte, a principal with Boston-based Arrowstreet, “is how quickly can we, as design professionals, run through the possible scenarios to help cities and municipalities plan for them?”

Prominent among these scenarios is the potential blight of surplus parking structures. “The prediction that garages aren’t going to exist anymore isn’t quite accurate,” says Korte. Some may transform into docking hubs where AVs can be charged, cleaned, and serviced. City planners typically advocate for locating these stations on the outskirts of the city. However, Korte says entrepreneurs exploring the business model want such garages located centrally. That way, travel time while empty is minimized, and the vehicles are able to return more quickly for servicing.

For garages that don’t find new life as transport hubs, the municipalities that are often the owners of these hulking, low-ceilinged, slope-floored structures may be hard-pressed to know what to do with them. Peckham Levels, a multistory, split-level, early 1980s garage located in a bustling area in southeast London, offers one promising example.

Winner of a 2018 New London Award for best “meanwhile” project (one intended for interim use, in this case 15 years, pending development of a long-term plan), “Peckham Levels has taken a disused carpark that, for decades, was a site of antisocial behavior and made it a popular town-center venue,” says Paul O’Brien, an associate at London-based Carl Turner Architects (CTA), designers of the project.

The transformation of 95,000 square feet of the garage’s midlevels (the upper levels are leased seasonally as a bar and patio, while the ground floor is a multiscreen cinema), completed in 2017, provides the neighborhood with much-needed community space and affordable workplaces. Public program elements include a play area, event and gallery space, food and drink outlets, and a yoga studio and hair salon, while the workspaces include various sizes of customizable shells, with shared service areas, that have enabled local artists, makers, and entrepreneurs to create their own jobs.

The design brings a light touch to the conversion. “There was no point trying to cover everything up and make it feel as though you weren’t in a carpark anymore,” says O’Brien. “That was the charm of it.” The approach also suited the budget, about $42 per square foot. Major interventions are limited to enclosing the open-sided building, with new windows and insulation, and installing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Concrete structure and services are exposed overhead. Parking spaces are still marked on the floors. Partitions of oriented strand board on wood studs separate the perimeter workspaces, and translucent polycarbonate panels admit daylight to the former drive aisles, which are now corridors.

The main difficulty of converting the garage revolved around the low ceiling height (7½ feet to the underside of beams) and floors sloped to drain. Locating partitions beneath beams, a
Alberto Cosi. ImageBamboo Sports Hall for Panyaden International School / Chiangmai Life Construction
It is, once again, the time of year where we look towards the future to define the goals and approaches that we will take for our careers throughout the upcoming year. To help the millions of architects who visit ArchDaily every day from all over the world, we compiled a list of the most popular ideas of 2018, which will continue to be developed and consolidated throughout 2019.

Over 130 million users discovered new references, materials, and tools in 2018 alone, infusing their practice of architecture with the means to improve the quality of life for our cities and built spaces. As users demonstrated certain affinities and/or demonstrated greater interest in particular topics, these emerged as trends.

Below, we present the trends that will influence urban and architectural discussions in 2019, with the year-over-year growth rates (YoY) that compare to the statistics of searches from 2017 to 2018.

1. Ways of Living: Greater Interest in Small Scale Homes

The Tiny Houses (+75% YoY) concept emerged strongly at the beginning of 2018. Whether it is a movement in response to ideological or financial situations, architects have become more involved in the development of practical and innovative solutions for small spaces. We can also include the interest for- living in dense urban centers, leading to the challenge of designing basic housing programs for spaces under 40 m2. (Searches related to Small Apartments increased by 121% in 2018).

2. Inclusive Architecture: First-Rate Design for Diverse Populations

Accessibility (+108% YoY), Universal Design (+116%) and Inclusive Architecture (+132%) were some of the most searched concepts on ArchDaily in 2018. In previous years the focus was mostly on architecture for children and reduced mobility, whereas this year we saw more searches related to Architecture for the Elderly (+78% YoY) and different capacities related to mental health (Architecture & Mental Health +101% YoY; Space Psychology +210% YoY) and visual impairments (Architecture for the Blind +250% YoY).

3. The Middle-East: Underrepresented Territories in Evidence

Just as we saw increasing interest in emerging practices in Latin America (+103.82% YoY) in the last two years, in 2018 we also saw an increase in searches related to the Middle East (+124% YoY). The conflict in Syria (+93% YoY) placed architects’ focus on Rebuilding (+102% YoY). In addition, global events peaked the interest of architects due to the magnitude of the structures involved. Both the city of Dubai (+104% YoY), which will be the host of World Expo 2020, and Qatar (+220% YoY), which will host the next soccer 2022 World Cup, increased considerably in search queries. Hashim Sarkis (+236% YoY), the Lebanese architect who was appointed curator of the Architecture Exhibition for the next Venice Biennial (2020), was one of the most searched persons during 2018.
Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle
It's the not-so-far-away future in San Francisco. One-Wheels and e-scooters litter the road. Your self-driving car has just deposited you at Union Square, and you've instructed it to return in an hour, after you've purchased the latest it-smartphone, the iPhone Z.

Your autonomous vehicle, intelligent as it is, knows finding a parking spot downtown is nearly impossible at this hour, plus parking lots are known to charge flat rates of $15 and up. Instead of parking, your car decides to cruise. It figures the gas required to circle the neighborhood a few times costs far less than a parking spot.

Your smart car is right on this point, but what it doesn't know — or care to learn — is that cruising causes major congestion. At least that's the prediction of transportation planner Adam Millard-Ball, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In the latest issue of Transport Policy, Millard-Ball explores "The Autonomous Vehicle Parking Problem": traffic. Autonomous vehicles, he hypothesizes, will become commonplace in cities over the next five to 20 years. When this happens, road congestion will invariably increase, he says.

"Even when you factor in electricity, depreciation, wear and tear, and maintenance, cruising costs about 50 cents an hour—that's cheaper than parking even in a small town," Millard-Ball said in a press release. "Unless it's free or cheaper than cruising, why would anyone use a remote lot?"

Using a traffic microsimulation model and data from downtown San Francisco, Millard-Ball estimated that autonomous vehicles stand to more than double the current amount of traffic in cities. The model focused on scenarios in which a vehicle is primarily used for transportation of a single owner.

Parking policies, he writes in the paper, "have allowed dense, urban centers to flourish" by taking cars of the road and thereby reducing traffic. In an autonomous vehicle world, all bets are off. "It just takes a minority to gum things up," he said.

Millard-Ball proposes a solution in the form of congestion pricing, which charges drivers a fee for a variety of pre-set factors, including miles driven, the use of particular streets, and so on. In London, drivers pay about $15 to enter the city center, for example.

The professor argues that a congestion pricing policy for autonomous vehicles should be implemented now. "The public never wants to
Lauren Nassef
It's not a matter of if the architecture profession will feel the impacts of artificial intelligence—it's a matter of when.

“Self-driving cars can identify objects as they drive,” a video from the company Smartvid.io proclaims. “What if we could bring this ability to the industrial world?” The Cambridge, Mass.–based outfit has developed technology to do just that: It offers software that analyzes huge amounts of data—in the form of photos and videos from construction sites—to identify safety risks that might not be evident to a human observer. It tags, for example, workers who are missing hard hats and types of ladders considered risky, promising to help “reinforce safety culture.”

“The risks might not be obvious right away, but when you look at the total data, it emerges,” says Imdat As, an expert in the rise of artificial intelligence in the field of architecture and founder of Arcbazar, a competition platform for architectural design projects. As notes that this type of artificial intelligence used by Smartvid.io—called deep learning—is an early application of what we’ll see from AI in architecture more broadly, such as computer tools that will offer alternative design solutions.

Many architects are excited about these opportunities, and some large firms are exploring the latest technology. But what about smaller firms? According to the AIA's 2018 Firm Survey Report, 75.8 percent of firms have one to nine employees. How will these smaller outfits, with smaller budgets, confront the rise of AI? Though smaller firms may face resource challenges, as artificial intelligence tools become more widespread and less expensive, they perhaps stand to benefit the most.

From Automation to Artificial Intelligence

Already, architects are increasingly using technology to automate the quantifiable aspects of architecture, such as apps that give a designer almost instant access to zoning rules or building codes in a certain area. But this isn’t AI, explains As, noting that the way we think about AI today stems from work that began accelerating in 2011 because of better and cheaper computers, as well as increasing amounts of available data. “Ninety percent of all data available in the world has been produced in the last two years,” he says.

Artificial intelligence thus doesn’t merely automate a task by serving as an efficient clearinghouse of data; rather, it analyzes data and generates new ideas or solutions, similar to how a human mind would approach a problem. Hence, there is a need for more and better data from which machines can learn.

While most of the currently popular AI applications involve the processing of text, audio, and images—such as what self-driving cars and Smartvid.io’s construction software does—As says new forms of AI tools that can learn from different data sources, such as drawings, are on their way for architects. (Other forms of AI research that are not datadriven, such as evolutionary algorithms, also might someday provide alternative solutions to architectural issues.)

In the future, for instance, architects will likely be able to tell a program that they want a house for a family with two children and a dog that must also be handicapped-accessible. Though the system can theoretically generate millions of examples, it will narrow them down to the dozens that it “thinks” are best, and the designer can further develop one or more of those.
Bosch
at CES 2019 bosch presents the future of transportation with its concept shuttle, an all electric, self-driving pod. the shuttle comprises a light, airy, minimalistic design, with a futuristic outer shell made of display screens and glass, and a spacious interior.

whilst traditionally bosch doesn’t actually build cars itself, it is one of the biggest suppliers to other manufacturers of cars. with this expertise, it believes that by 2020 there could be up to a million on-demand shuttles on the road, and up to 2.5 million by 2025. bosch presents this concept at time where autonomous road vehicles are in abundance so what sets this concept aside from the others? there isn’t a huge deal.

users can book a shuttle via smartphone, accessing a system which uses an algorithm that identifies the vehicle closest to the requested location and finds other users who wish to travel a similar route. the more passengers a single shuttle can transport, the cheaper the journey for everyone. this approach hopes to reduce the amount of traffic in cities and mitigates the impact on the environment.

bosch is developing the necessary software platforms to make this a reality with some special attention to the experience of the individual consumer. when the shuttle pulls up to the requested pick-up point, users again use their smartphones to identify themselves – thanks to bosch’s perfectly keyless digital access service. it recognizes the owner’s smartphone as unmistakably as a digital fingerprint and opens the vehicle only for them. every passenger always gets the seat that they reserved. bosch services don’t just end when a rideshare journey is over: the company’s camera-based system for the vehicle interior checks whether anyone has forgotten something and informs them directly via smartphone (unless they’ve forgotten that). the camera can also detect gum on the seat or an overturned coffee cup – in other words, whether the shuttle needs cleaning – and can make the necessary arrangements immediately.

bosch has designed the interior of its concept vehicle to provide space for four passengers, seating them across from one another to maximize legroom and comfort. infotainment is provided on screens that can be used either by each passenger individually or in groups; for example, a family can watch a movie together as they travel somewhere for the weekend, or colleagues can work on a presentation on their way to the office.
Bloomberg Philanthropies. Reproduced with permission by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
The Road Ahead, a new Cooper Hewitt exhibition, frames conversations around equity, street design, UX, freight, and more

Stand at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 90th Street for a couple minutes and you’ll notice that, like many other New York City street corners, it’s loud. Cars and buses zoom by and horns blare. The occasional bike jockeys for space. Waves of pedestrians cross the three-lanes to enter Central Park.

That same intersection also welcomes visitors to The Road Ahead, a new exhibition on the future of mobility at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, on view through March 2019. The sound engineers at ARUP created a 3D-audio installation that offers a tantalizing glimpse of what the intersection could be like in the future, if new modes of transportation featured in the exhibition—such as autonomous vehicles, scooters, and drones—become widespread.

“We don’t know what the future is going to hold,” says curator Cynthia E. Smith, who organized the exhibition with curatorial director Cara McCarty and curatorial assistant Julie Pastor. “It could be a utopia or dystopia. It could be more congestion or less congestion. We’re trying to help people see how design can play a really important role [in the future] and understand what’s possible through design.”

As the rumble of gas engines fades, lightsaber-like whooshes of electric cars and bike bells enter into ear shot. The street narrows, and a lane of parked cars becomes a patch of greenery. Clinking utensils and laughter from a sidewalk cafe enter the soundscape.

“Livable streets, a place to be,” the video reads.
Jesse Rieser for Fast Company
So is it everyday troublemaking, or is this a meaningful protest to automation?

When I landed in Phoenix, Arizona, last month, to be one of the first members of the public to ride in a Waymo One driverless minivan, a funny thing happened on the way to the demo from the airport. My driver explained, with a guilty laugh, how you could screw with Waymo cars on the road: stopping in front of them abruptly, or merging into their lane to run them off to the shoulder.

It wasn’t a confession, per se, but it was pretty clear from the conversation that he was speaking from experience. And it was only in that moment that I realized, while I was visiting Phoenix to get a taste of the future, this local had already been confronted by it here in the present. He was offended by the very presence of robotic vehicles on the road, perhaps because his own livelihood was at stake.

So it came as no surprise to learn that over the past two years, 21 police reports have been filed by Waymo drivers (the humans who sit in the robot cars as an additional safety measure) to local authorities in Chandler, Arizona, where the majority of Waymo’s fleet is based. A new report from the Arizona Republic describes how Waymo drivers have reported everything from a case of slashed tires, to thrown rocks, to a drunken man stopping a Waymo van by standing unflinchingly in the middle of the street. In one case, a Waymo driver even saw a 69-year-old man waving a gun at their vehicle. Police apprehended the suspect–whose wife said he had age-related cognitive impairment.

Some of these reports actually have some overlap, too: The same Jeep was found running Waymo vehicles off the road six separate times.

A total of 21 reports amassed over the course of nearly two years across hundreds of vehicles operating 24/7 doesn’t necessarily sound like an epidemic by any means. For a point of comparison, I asked the region’s public bus service about its own damage reports. Local police were contacted to deal with damage and other incidents on Valley Metro’s public bus service 15 times in the last quarter alone. That’s not a perfect comparison, though. The 350 buses in that data set ultimately serve hundreds of thousands of people, while Waymo’s Early Rider program served just hundreds.
Waymo
Don’t believe me? Listen to the CEO of Waymo.

How quickly perceptions can change. It may seem hard to remember now, but a year ago the hype machine was still full steam ahead on self-driving cars and their presumed future dominance of the transportation system. Cars weren’t going anywhere, many presumed, but drivers would be liberated as software took over their role, making everyone a passenger.

The fatal Uber crash hadn’t happened. People still believed that Tesla’s Autopilot system was safe and that Full Self-Driving was on the horizon. There was little question in the reporting on autonomous vehicles that they were safer than human drivers, despite the complete lack of evidence. The tech visionaries had spoken, and as is too often the case, the media fell in line.

However, around the turn of the new year, criticism of the previous optimism was emerging. In January, I was among those pointing to the delayed timelines, growing number of collisions, and the slowing progress in reducing the number of times that human test drivers had to take over from the computers. As the year has played out, critics have been proven right, and a much more inspiring vision for the future of transportation has emerged.

The Decline of the Self-Driving Car
Waymo, a division of Alphabet, has long been acknowledged as the leader in autonomous vehicle technology. Based on the limited data that’s been released, its vehicles are acknowledged as having driven the most miles in self-driving mode and have the lowest rate of disengagements (when humans have to take over).

However, even Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik, now admits that the self-driving car that can drive in any condition, on any road, without ever needing a human to take control — what’s usually called a “level 5” autonomous vehicle — will never exist. At the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference on November 13, Krafcik said that “autonomy will always have constraints.” It will take decades for self-driving cars to become common on roads, and even then they will not be able to drive in certain conditions, at certain times of the year, or in any weather. In short, sensors on autonomous vehicles don’t work well in snow or rain — and that may never change.

It’s still surprising to hear such a statement by someone leading a self-driving vehicle company, but given what has happened throughout 2018, it shouldn’t be. There were a number of negative stories about self-driving
VIATechnik
The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is ripe for disruption, and emerging technologies are poised to usher in a new era of increased design and construction productivity, quality, and efficiency. While many members of the industry have been slow to embrace change, firms like The Lamar Johnson Collaborative (LJC) are setting a stellar example of what a forward-thinking AEC firm should look like.

LJC may only be just over five months old, but as founder Lamar Johnson says: “It’s been 20 years in the making.” Johnson launched his new firm with the idea of bringing together the very best people he’s worked with over the past two decades. This people-first philosophy endowed the firm with a depth of experience and range of capabilities that allowed them to hit the ground running and tackle large-scale, complex projects right out of the gate. Moreover, it gives them a unique perspective into the changes caused by recent technological advances.

Last month Anton Dy Buncio (COO, VIATechnik) and Gregg Young (Board of Advisors, VIATechnik) sat down with Johnson, Tod Desmarais (Managing Director at LJC), and Mariusz Klemens (Associate, Architect and Urban Designer at LJC) to talk innovation, tech, and the future of the AEC industry — here’s what they all had to say.

Anton Dy Buncio (ADB): These days, everyone is talking about autonomous vehicles, coworking/coliving, prefabrication, machine learning/AI…what do these technologies bring to the table, and what are the limitations?

Lamar Johnson (LJ): We built our firm around the idea of integrating technology into the architecture and design process in a holistic and authentic way. Of course, technology allows us to implement a vision and respond to issues more efficiently, but it doesn’t necessarily compel us to think differently. We still have to do that ourselves. Technology can empower us; it can supplement our thinking; it can make us more nimble; it can help us deliver our ideas in a more complete and effective manner. At the end of the day, however, it’s the energy, effort, and brain power that people put into projects that really make the difference.

When you combine that mindset with the power of cutting-edge technology, you can achieve really great things. It requires a lot of confidence — in both yourself and your technology — to raise unasked questions or suggest unexpected or innovative solutions, but we’re not afraid of presenting something unbelievable, because we know that what we’re doing works.

ADB: To that end, AEC has a reputation as a generally risk-averse industry, and yet you guys seem to be very comfortable with taking risks. Why is that?

LJ: I’d say that there are two sides to risk. In some situations, you take on much greater risk by doing nothing. Inactivity is a decision, and it can create a lot of risk in and of itself. If you fail to adapt or react to a changing environment, that’s taking the worst risk of all.

But it’s also important to note that “risk” is not a gamble. A gamble involves unknown odds; it’s taking a chance or a guess. Proper risk assessment entails a careful review of a situation, an analysis you then use to make an informed judgement. We do take risks — and so do our clients — but we thoroughly evaluate them beforehand.