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Drinking the Self-driving Car Kool-aid

By Othello | Dissident Voice | January 27, 2018

Recently, a Tesla on autopilot slammed into a parked fire engine at 65 mph. It turns out that there was no malfunction. According to Tesla’s manual:

Traffic-Aware Cruise Control cannot detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles, especially in situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and a vehicle you are following moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you instead.

So whereas any half way decent human driver would have braked and/or swerved to avoid the collision, Tesla’s “smart” car proceeded full-speed ahead.

Even if you choose not to buy a self-driving car, you or your loved ones could have been in that parked vehicle struck by a stupid “smart” car. This is not just about technophiles who want to be able to play World of Warcraft while speeding down the highway… this technology is potentially dangerous to all road users and any deaths, injuries or property damage caused by this flawed technology should see the drivers, manufacturers and approving authorities prosecuted or sued… no high-tech exemption!

It is not only Tesla; according to the Wired article referred at the start of this article:

Volvo’s semi-autonomous system, Pilot Assist, has the same shortcoming. Say the car in front of the Volvo changes lanes or turns off the road, leaving nothing between the Volvo and a stopped car. Pilot Assist will ignore the stationary vehicle and instead accelerate to the stored speed.

The article explains why these self-driving systems are engineered that way but blithely promises that in the future LIDAR (Light Identification Detection and ranging, which uses lasers) will replace and/or augment radar and cameras to solve this problem. However, one can discern the real agenda when it informs us that:

Lidar’s price and reliability problems are less of an issue when it comes to a taxi-like service, where a provider can amortize the cost over time and perform regular maintenance. But in today’s cars, meant for average or modestly wealthy consumers, it’s a no-go.

Self-driving cars are a promising new profit center for auto and technology companies. They want to own personal and commercial road transportation which they will provide as a service (at a tidy profit, of course). They repeatedly argue that the technology is safer that using human drivers using flawed statistics while self driving cars cause fatal accidents because the car’s cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky or knock over motorcyclists.

There is a general love-fest for things regarded as cool technology. However, unlike the great innovations that have made driving safer like ABS, ESP, collision avoidance systems, air bags etc. the real intent of self-driving cars seems to be creating a new industry that will be dominated by auto and tech giants who would ultimately control all road traffic…a truly huge potential market.

You probably didn’t hear about the conclusions of Germany’s Highway Research Institute (BASt) that:

After many thousands of kilometers of testing, BASt reportedly concluded that Autopilot represents a significant traffic hazard. Judging that is was not designed for complex urban traffic situations, the report declared that the car’s sensors are too short-sighted to cope with the reality of German motorways.

Or that:

American research conducted by John F. Lenkeit of Dynamic Research, which concludes that forward collision warning systems for automobiles fail dramatically to detect motorcycles.

Before concluding that self-driving cars are an inevitable part of a rosy future one should read an article like The “Self-Driving” Car is only an Oxymoron. In it you might learn that:

… in the first week of March, Uber’s 43 test cars in three states logged some 20,000 miles on public roads. Their drivers had to intervene and take control away from the software, an average of once every mile. Critical interventions, required to save lives and property, were counted separately; they occurred every 200 miles.

In a world where millions would love to have the job of driver and where training and technology geared towards supporting safe driving provide accessible solutions to improving road safety, self-driving cars seem to be of dubious value and downright dangerous as well.

January 27, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

African children pay the price for “clean green” electric car battery technology

Tall Bloke’s Talk Shop | August 6, 2017

Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.

Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.

Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.

Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.

No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.

Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death.

Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.

The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.

The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).

Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.

The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.

Full story

August 6, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

Musk defends receiving $4.9 billion in government support for Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX

RT | June 1, 2015

Tesla CEO Elon Musk defended the backing his companies get from state and federal sources as legitimate business practices, blasting a newspaper report about government subsidies as “inexcusable” and inaccurate.

According to the report published by the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, Musk’s companies – Tesla, SolarCity and SpaceX – have received an estimated $4.9 billion in government support in total over the years.

The electric entrepreneur didn’t deny the company gets the incentives, however he went on CNBC’s Power Lunch show on Monday, blasting the report as “incredibly misleading and deceptive to the reader.”

“Musk and his companies’ investors enjoy most of the financial upside of the government support, while taxpayers shoulder the cost,” wrote the LA Times, adding that public records show “a common theme running through his emerging empire: a public-private financing model underpinning long-shot start-ups.”

“The article makes it seem as though my company is getting some huge check, which is fundamentally false,” said Musk.

The subsidies have been disclosed in the companies’ filings and public records, but no one has tallied all the various forms of public assistance over time, the paper said. Its estimates of subsidies are based on state and federal records, interviews with local and state officials, credit analysts, and watchdog groups.

According to the LA Times, Tesla Motors has received $2.391 billion in government subsidies, while SolarCity has received $2.516 billion. Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), a private company that does not publicly report financial performance, received $20 million in local incentives and rebates for a space launch facility in Texas.

Among the examples cited by the paper was a $750 million solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, which Musk’s SolarCity leased for $1 a year. The company will also not pay property taxes for a decade, amounting to $260 million in savings.

Tesla is getting $1.3 million from Nevada to build a battery factory near Reno, and has received more than $517 million from other automakers by selling environmental credits, known as carbon offsets.

Though after ten years in business Tesla and SolarCity still operate at a net loss, the stocks of both companies are riding high on future potential, the LA Times reported. … Full article

June 1, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment