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Waymo Self-Driving Taxi Goes Rogue, Blocking Traffic & Evading Capture
YouTuber JJRicks Studios has shared a video of a Waymo self-driving taxi that woke up and chose chaos. The vehicle blocked traffic and evaded capture, and JJ rode in the backseat throughout the whole ordeal. The ride started in the parking lot. As he sat in the back, JJ said, “There’s lots of interesting turns coming up so we see what we get.” Moments after he said this, the vehicle took an unprotected right turn.
As the vehicle continues to drive, he points out a way to get Waymo’s attention on social media — just by mentioning it. Waymo staff reportedly review every mention of Waymo — whether using a tag or hashtag or not.
The vehicle stops at a red light and then takes an unprotected left turn, something that certain critics were convinced it couldn’t do. After merging into the right lane, the vehicle took another unprotected turn, a right turn this time. It takes more unprotected left turns, too.
One thing JJ complains about is that the vehicle often decides to take shortcuts through neighborhoods in an odd way. JJ states, “I hope whatever improvements they make with the 5th gen driver, that it eliminates the need for these weird reroutes and whatnot.”
Waymo Robotaxi Runs Into Dead End
After another unexpected left turn, JJ paused the video to give the following explanation — a warning about the chaos you’re about to see.
“Waymo has provided me with an official statement explaining what you’re about to see. Though, as the videomaker, I retain complete editorial control in order to maintain full transparency, I will not cut or shorten any part of the video leading up to the disengagement. But in order to not waste your time, I have provided timestamps in the description so you can skip through the events as you please.”
Following that is Waymo’s official statement.
“While driving fully autonomously through an extended work zone, the Waymo Driver detected an unusual situation and requested the attention of a remote Fleet Response specialist to provide additional information. During that interaction, the Fleet Response team provided incorrect guidance, which made it challenging for the Waymo Driver to resume its intended route, and required Waymo’s Roadside Assistance team to complete the trip. While the situation was not ideal, the Waymo Driver operated the vehicle safely until Roadside Assistance arrived. Throughout, Waymo’s team was in touch with the rider, who provided thoughtful and helpful feedback that allows us to continue learning and improving the Waymo Driver. Our team has already assessed the event and improved our operational process.”
Returning back to the video, JJ noticed that the right lane was closed off and wondered how the vehicle planned to turn right. The planner, he noted, showed that the vehicle wanted to go into the lane.
“I don’t think it’s gonna take this turn. We might be stuck,” he said while laughing. He called roadside service. He tells the service tech that there’s some funky stuff going on. The roadside service tech noted that the car looked as if it had paused, so they sent Waymo Roadside Assistance to help. “Roadside Assistance is going to be on their way. They’re going to be arriving in a yellow vest,” the tech said while giving him more information on that.
The tech also asked him to remain seated and with his seatbelt on just in case the car decided to start moving again. One notable question she asked JJ was if he’d ever been stranded before, and he said two or three times — then seemingly clarifying two, before this instance. JJ pointed out that he does this expecting something to happen every once in a while.
As he is sitting there waiting on Roadside Assistance to arrive, the vehicle comes back to life and makes the turn … and then does something else. “Oh, now it’s blocking the entire road!” The vehicle notifies him that his arrival is in one minute which is odd since his planned destination was not in the middle of the road.
After more glitches, the tech on the phone realized that she didn’t even have Roadside Assistance assigned as of right then and this was due to the car no longer being stranded. “Now it does look like you’re stranded again,” she said, adding that she would try to get a Roadside Assistance team assigned (again).
Funky Stuff Goin’ On
Finally, Roadside Assistance appears … but then seems to disappear. It should be noted that JJ was under the impression that there was always a Roadside Assistance team following behind the vehicle. The fact that it took so long for them to catch up is curious, indicating that’s not the case.
“Is there one currently always assigned to follow or just trail from a distance — every fully autonomous or are they just kinda hanging around, if you can say that ?” he asked the tech on the phone.
“So, they’re actually not assigned per vehicle. They are going to be in the area so there may be two or three vehicles — we don’t know how many vehicles in the area — so they will be in a centralized area where some of those vehicles will be. So, they’re usually between two and five miles out,” she replied. “It never was assigned one to one.”
Runaway Autonomous Car
The vehicle starts to move again by backing out and starts blocking just the entire lane instead of half of it. People start honking at JJ in the Waymo vehicle. During all of this, there is a bit of construction going on and the vehicle is kind of in the way of their work. JJ rolls his window down and assured one of the workers that Waymo’s assistant team is on the way to fix the issue and apologized.
“They can’t move it out the way?” the construction workers asked, to which JJ replied that they will in a second. As they are conversing, the vehicle starts to move. The vehicle takes off and JJ thinks that it fixed itself. “We are rolling,” he confirmed to the tech.
However, all is not well, as the car is actually running away from Roadside Assistance and ends up getting stuck again. JJ had to call Roadside Assistance again, and when they finally arrive (for real this time), the car runs away again. Finally, the car doors unlock and it stops for good. JJ takes a screenshot of the app and Roadside Assistance is able to catch up and board the vehicle; disengaging it and continuing the trip manually.
Eviation Is Closer To Launching Commercial Electric Airplane Service — Alice Gets An EPU
Eviation Aircraft, which is developing and manufacturing efficient electric aircraft with the goal of making electric aviation a competitive and sustainable alternative to the current aircraft we have today, is one step closer to launching commercial electric flights. I has taken delivery of its first EPU (electric propulsion unit) for its first aircraft, Alice.
The Alice is an all-electric aircraft that is able to fly 9 passengers for up to 440 nautical miles. The Alice uses an EPU from magniX, a company that is on a mission to lead the commercial aerospace and defense industries. How it’s doing this is by providing high-performance, reliable, and environmentally friendly propulsion solutions. The EPU used by Alice is one such solution. These magniX EPU systems have been powering aircraft in flight since December of 2019, and are currently in the process of gaining FAA Part 33 certification in 2022.
Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay shared his thoughts about the milestone. “The magniX delivery is one of the key milestones in getting emission-free, low-cost, all-electric aviation off the ground with the first flight of Alice,” he said. “After many successful flights and tests of the magniX EPUs, we’re confident the system will propel us to bringing Alice to market and delivering a sustainable, scalable mobility solution that will revolutionize passenger and cargo flights.”
Roei Ganzarski, CEO of magniX, also added his thoughts. “The Alice is the epitome of the future of air transportation. All-electric by design, taking advantage of light-weight powerful and reliable propulsion systems,” said Ganzarski. “Together, we will enable a great flying experience – zero emissions, quieter, lower cost, all from and to airports closer to more communities.”
Eviation has plans to start a robust flight testing and certification program. Currently, the company operates in the U.S. and Israel and is a member of the General Aviation Manufacturer’s Association (GAMA).
What Will Tesla’s Cybertruck User Interface Look Like?
Some pretty interesting Cybertruck center touchscreen user interface visuals were leaked recently when former Tesla Head of UI Design, Pawel Pietryka, uploaded them on his new company’s website.
Pawel joined Tesla as an Art Director and Designer in 2016. Later on, he became the Head of UI Design and left the Silicon Valley automaker this year in March — after 4 years and 6 months. It appears he (perhaps mistakenly) uploaded the secretive Cybertruck UI as part of his portfolio to promote his new company’s* website and his prior work. (*Modern Grafik Anstalt, Inc. (MGA))
However, when this footage was discovered by the Tesla community on social media, Pawel deleted these UI graphics, most likely at the request of Tesla.
This prototype early version of the Cybertruck UI is darker-themed, different from the brighter UI in the Model S, 3, X, Y. Some of the Cybertruck’s newly-designed maps were also seen in the test drive videos from the unveiling back in 2019.
These leaked UI screens look like mockup designs themselves — as opposed to being captured on a real Cybertruck. This Cybertruck center touchscreen UI might not be the final design that we’ll (eventually) see after production starts at Gigafactory Texas later this year. The design language of the Cybertruck UI also mirrors the futuristic electric pickup truck’s sharp-edged design — some refer to it as origami with stainless steel. The fonts, icons, and UI elements are all in line with the Cyberpunk design aesthetic.
Tesla has moved the control navigation icons to the left in a vertical setting in this new Cybertruck UI, diverging from the bottom-horizontal setting in the existing vehicles.
The following short video from these leaks showcases the Cybertruck rendering on the center screen as the truck is turned on and the functions load up. Looks like a time-lapse video of the animation of screen elements. That said, we might end of getting a faster GPU in the Cybertruck.
Here is the video pic.twitter.com/pBW3xyCpS3
— Tesla_Adri (@tesla_adri) May 1, 2021
As a reference point, this futuristic UI layout actually reminds me of one of my favorite websites back in the early 2000s — the inspirational 2Advanced Studios V2. Coincidentally, 2Advanced Studios was the one who designed the first SpaceX website in 2002:
In any event, whatever the Cybertruck UI final design turns out to be, these early spy shots look pretty cool.
Congress’s Chance to Protect Our Coasts
Congress holds hearings this week on offshore drilling in both the House and the Senate. Offshore oil and gas leasing poses a threat to our coastal economies and the health of our ocean. Citizens, local communities, and elected officials from both parties recognize this danger and have been vocal in their opposition to new leasing off their coasts. The Biden Administration placed a one-year moratorium on new oil and gas lease sales because it recognizes that continuing to sell off our public lands and waters for fossil fuel development is incompatible with our goal of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster killed 11 workers, gushed millions of barrels of toxic crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, threw tens of thousands of fishermen, oystermen, shrimpers, and others out of work, led to widespread health problems, and killed large numbers of birds, marine mammals, and other animals. Federal safety measures put in place in the wake of the disaster were rolled back in the previous administration and a disaster of this scale could easily happen again if we continue drilling offshore.
Here’s what we can expect:
In the House:
The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing called Protecting Coastal Communities and Ocean Resources from Offshore Drilling in the subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, chaired by Rep. Lowenthal of California. The House has traditionally led on offshore drilling and continues to do so with discussion of the following six bills:
- Rep. McEachin’s Offshore Accountability Act H.R. 570 requires offshore drilling operators to report failures of critical safety systems directly to the Secretary of the Interior among other things;
- Rep. Brownley’s Offshore Pipeline Safety Act H.R. 2643 addresses the lack of proper oversight of active and decommissioned offshore oil and gas pipelines to ensure the decommissioned pipelines are cleaned up properly;
- Rep. Castor’s Florida Coastal Protection Act H.R. 2836 would ban oil and gas leasing off the Florida coast and in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico;
- Rep Pallone’s COAST Anti-Drilling Act H.R. 3116 would ban oil and gas leasing and pre-leasing in the Atlantic;
- Rep. Levin’s American Coasts and Oceans Protection Act H.R. 3053 would ban oil and gas leasing and pre-leasing off of Southern California; and
- Rep. Huffman’s North Pacific Ocean Protection Act H.R. 3048 would ban oil and gas leasing and pre-leasing off of Central California, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.
We expect to hear from scientists, Gulf of Mexico communities, local municipalities, along with surfing and other business stakeholders about the importance of protecting our coasts for health, climate, social, and economic reasons. This diverse panel has the opportunity to speak to the myriad of reasons so many communities are against new offshore drilling.
Now is the time to act on climate, listen to coastal communities, and protect our coasts. Congress is taking action with these bills, but we can’t stop here. We have to protect the Arctic from drilling and begin an offshore oil and gas production ramp down and just transition in the Gulf toward a cleaner energy future. We’re excited to work with Congress and the Biden Administration to act boldly and work toward eliminating all new leasing.
We strongly support this slate of legislation on offshore drilling as an important first step in protecting our coasts. We also want to acknowledge that these representatives’ very ability to work on legislation like this is an essential feature of our democracy. And yet certain cosponsors participated in an unprecedented attack on our democratic process. Until those members take responsibility for that anti-democratic vote, we believe their legislative work will always come with an asterisk.
In the Senate:
The Senate will take up offshore energy in its own hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to examine offshore energy development, including testimony from Director Amanda Lefton of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the agency charged with administering the offshore leasing program. We anticipate learning more about her agency’s role in fixing our federal leasing program in accordance with the Biden Administration’s recent moves to address the climate crisis, ensure equitable access to our public resources, and protect local communities.
The House has typically played a larger role in the fight against offshore drilling in past years. We hope that this congress, the Senate recognizes its new opportunity to step up and meet the moment by addressing the issues ahead of us: the climate crisis and the risks offshore drilling pose to communities. With overwhelming bipartisan support for protecting our coasts from offshore drilling, now is the time to end new offshore leasing.
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