Plate and Switch: Google’s Self-Driving Car Is a Transformer Too

Google’s license to test autonomous in-vehicle computer in Nevada was granted to a robotic Prius, so why is a Lexus SUV wearing the plates? It’s all legal, and that might be a problem

In fact, an investigation by IEEE Spectrum uncovered that none of the Priuses that Nevada originally licensed as AU-001, AU-002, or AU-003 were the vehicle evaluated by DMV officials in 2012. This means that none of Google’s self-driving vehicles licensed to drive on Nevada’s roads have actually taken the state’s self-driving test.

Google is not breaking the law. While Nevada’s self-driving test covers many of the same scenarios as in a human exam, such as city driving, highway driving, crosswalks, traffic lights, and roundabouts, it was designed to evaluate the vehicle pc underlying artificial intelligence of autonomous driving rather than specific vehicles, hardware, or versions of software. Thus, once a single Google car had passed the test, the company was free to register other vehicles for its own trials. Google did this again when it renewed its testing license in 2014, transferring the nation’s first “AU” license plates to three Lexus hybrids packed with new or upgraded sensors and software.

Of the few states that have welcomed experimental self-driving vehicles, only Nevada requires a vehicle pc test drive, and there is no suggestion that the Lexus SUVs pose any greater risk to the public than the Priuses. Nevertheless, this casual substitution of complex systems has some experts concerned. Bryant Walker Smith is a law professor at the University of South Carolina and chair of the Emerging Technology Law Committee of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies. He says, “Autonomous vehicles are necessarily a combination of hardware and software. You couldn’t simply take Google’s algorithms for the Prius and apply them to the Lexus SUV. Anything down to the tire pressure can be relevant for how a vehicle will respond in emergency situations. Braking force, the condition of the brakes, and sightlines are all functions of the hardware and can potentially vary from vehicle to in-vehicle computer, even within the same make, model, and year.”

“It shows the disconnect between Google’s thinking about driverless cars and everyone else’s,” says Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in robotics and public policy. “Google’s engineers are thinking, ‘When we model the world, how well does our vehicle respond? The in-vehicle computer physical shell that lives in is less important. What ultimately matters is the quality of that software.’ ”

Google was the driving force behind the Nevada regulations. “The whole set of developments in Nevada have been at the behest of, and working closely with, Google,” says Calo. And there are some very good reasons to allow flexibility in the testing and licensing of autonomous vehicles, especially experimental ones. The software in today’s self-driving vehicles is typically changed frequently, even daily. No one would want a critical safety update, for example, to be delayed by a complex regulatory process. And yet the wholesale grandfathering in of new vehicles, technologies, sensors, and software raises concerns over what exactly is being tested and why.

For its part, Nevada insists that safety is the most important part of its autonomous vehicle testing program. “At this time, the department does not view the changes as justification for Google to provide another demonstration,” says Jude Hurin, the DMV manager who oversees experimental autonomous vehicles in the state.

But that doesn’t mean Nevada isn’t keeping an eye on things. “Google recently reported that they would be testing an autonomous vehicle that has no steering wheel. My opinion is that Nevada would not allow testing of this vehicle without a steering wheel since it does not meet the intent of our existing safety requirements,” says Hurin.

However, given that the license-renewal process does not currently require Google to submit any technical data for new in-vehicle system in cars, it is unclear how Nevada would identify the vehicles it wanted to recertify in the first place.

“The traditional regulatory model simply isn’t prepared to address this technology,” says Smith. “One thing we might see is more states, and even the federal government, moving to embrace process standards. That is, looking not at how something performs but what was the thought that went into it; the processes used to design in-vehicle system, test, and verify it; and what safety protocols were implemented. Realistically, these are the only things that can be well measured.”Until then, Google’s historic AU-001 self-driving car can keep on transforming—and keep driving on Nevada’s roads.

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Learn More About Industry Applications for Acrosser Fanless Mini PC AES-HM76Z1FL!

In this article, acrosser Technology would like to demonstrate 2 benefits of choosing AES-HM76Z1FL as an industrial PC solution. The following introduction and related product film reveal the unimaginable versatility of AES-HM76Z1FL.

Portable and Powerful
With a height of only 20 mm, this ultra-slim embedded computer is an ideal product for mobile use, and can easily handle tasks that require high computing performance; for example, artists, graphic designers, and filmmakers rely on AES-HM76Z1FL’s computing performance for postproduction when creating artwork. The mobility of this machine enables these artists to carry AES-HM76Z1FL from the studio to the job site with ease.

Space-compensating and Environmental-adaptive
Limited space for embedded PCs has always been a problem for our system integrators. With its ultra slim form factor (274 mm x 183 mm x 20 mm), AES-HM76Z1FL is truly a space-saving piece of hardware that fits almost anywhere, including meeting rooms, offices, classrooms, retail locations, and even at home for home automation. In addition, this model can be used as a digital signage device, providing 24/7 display, or as a smart classroom device, supporting interactive teaching or e-learning functions.

Vulnerable “Smart” Devices Make an Internet of Insecure Things

According to recent research, 70 percent of Americans plan to own, in the next five years, at least one smart appliance like an internet-connected refrigerator or thermostat. That’s a skyrocketing adoption rate considering the number of smart appliance owners in the United States today is just four percent.

Yet backdoors and other insecure channels have been found in many such devices, opening them to possible hacks, botnets, and other cyber mischief. Although the widely touted hack of smart refrigerators earlier this year has since been debunked, there’s still no shortage of vulnerabilities in the emerging network appliance so-called Internet of Things.

Enter, then, one of the world’s top research centers devoted to IT security, boasting 700 students in this growing field, the Horst Gortz Institute for IT Security at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany. A research group at HGI, led by Christof Paar—professor and chair for embedded system at the Institute—has been discovering and helping manufacturers patch security holes in Internet-of-Things devices like appliances, cars, and the wireless routers they connect with.

Paar, who is also adjunct professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, says there are good engineering, technological, and even cultural reasons why industrial computer security of the Internet of Things is a very hard problem.

For starters, it’s hard enough to get people to update their laptops and smartphones with the latest security patches. Imagine, then, a world where everything from your garage door opener, your coffeemaker, your eyeglasses, and even your running shoes have possible vulnerabilities. And the onus is entirely on you to download and install firmware updates—if there are any.

Of the network appliance scores of papers and research reports the Embedded System group publishes, Paar says one of the most often overlooked factors behind hacking is not technological vulnerabilities but economic ones.

“There’s a reason that a lot of this hacking happens in countries that are economically not that well off,” Paar says. “I think most people would way prefer having a good job in Silicon Valley or in a well-paying European company—rather than doing illegal stuff and trying to sell their services.”

But as long as there are industrial computer hackers, whatever their circumstances and countries of origin, Paar says smart engineering and present-day technology can stop most of them in their tracks.

“Our premise is that it’s not that easy to do embedded system right, and that essentially has been confirmed,” he says. “There are very few systems we looked at that we couldn’t break. The shocking thing is the technology is there to get the security right. If you use state of the art technology, you can build systems that are very secure for practical applications.”

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Calculating SSD useable life in embedded medical equipment applications

Embedded systems demand some of the toughest storage requirements embedded designers must fulfill. Solid-State Drive (SSD) technology has advanced to meet high end-user and embedded system OEM expectations for storage in terms of capacity, performance, reliability, longevity, and low total cost of ownership. Gary presents a new metric to measure SSD technology and emphasizes the importance of using SSDs with drive useage monitoring to prevent medical device failure.

SSDs have evolved to become a viable option to replace rotating Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) in many Embedded Systems, including medical equipment. This is because SSDs eliminate the single largest industrial computer mechanism in most medical systems – the moving parts of HDDs.

Medical devices have long product test and network appliance qualification cycles and are subject to rigorous regulatory approval processes. These processes are necessary given that primary hard drive failure is an unfortunate reality in all devices, not just medical devices; it is not “if” but “when” an HDD will fail because it has moving parts that at some point will wear out and stop functioning. When failure occurs, it can be a regulatory nightmare.

The Safe Medical Device Act of 1990 authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate medical devices. Hospitals and health care organizations must report all network appliance failure causing serious illness, injury, or death. This can result in costly lawsuits, product recalls, and untold ill will. Even if there is no fatality, at the very least, the Industrial computer device will have to be requalified through the FDA, which could take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Storage solutions must be rugged and able to perform in critical applications without failure. A small footprint is often required, as well as tolerance to high shock and vibration and protection against drive corruption from power disturbances caused by user error or environmental conditions.

In addition to these requirements, medical equipment designers face continued pressure to reduce overall system costs in medical equipment. NAND flash components have advanced to deliver lower cost per bit, but in doing so, have sacrificed reliability and endurance. This has led many OEMs to question how long an SSD will last in their critical medical applications.

To help industrial computer designers address this significant industry concern, the following discussion provides a brief overview of recent changes in NAND flash technology and some of the algorithms SSD vendors use to manage those changes. Using this common data, a new network appliance methodology can help designers predict useful life by outlining the parameters that SSD manufacturers control (such as the type of NAND used, write performance, and write amplification) and those that system OEMs can control (usage model, capacity, and write duty cycle).

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