Viodi View – 05/22/15

IPv6 – Is There a Better Way? by Abraham Chen 

A diagram of what it would take to extend IPv4 , as an alternative to IPv6.
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Late last year, we published an article that drew parallels between the early days of broadband and where we stand today with the autonomous vehicle. That article triggered Abraham Chen to ponder the similarities between Internet Protocol addressing and telephone network numbering. Since then, this MIT graduate and Avinta CTO has been researching, refining and evaluating with industry peers an idea for extending the existing IPv4 protocol to solve for the explosion of “things” in the so-called Internet of Things.

Click here to read his abstract.

Highlights of 2015 TiECon Grand Keynotes by Alan Weissberger

The lobby of CenturyLink's technology center in Monroe, LA.
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Alan Weissberger provides an excellent summary of the Grand Keynotes at the 2015 TiECon, which featured corporate icon Jack Welch among others. Telecom providers will find Weissberger’s summary of comments from Gary Gauba’s of CenturyLink Cognilytics. Cognilytics was acquired by CenturyLink and Gauba provides insight into CenturyLink’s transformation into a major cloud player and how they are proving out their ideas in places like their Technology Center of Excellence.

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A Cooperative Form of Crowd Sourcing

Corey McCarthy of the NCTC talks how  cooperation between independent companies can help them provide better solutions to their customers.
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“It’s what a cooperative is about; sharing ideas and bringing a community together,” said Corey McCarthy, CFO and SVP of Business Development of the National Cable Television Cooperative. He was referring to the NCTC’s efforts to crowdsource ideas from its members, as well as bringing together members to devise technology solutions that would be impossible for an individual member to undertake.

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Technology Facilitates Outside Plant Construction – Part 2

A typical scene in cattle country  located in the middle of Florida.
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Brian Nordtvedt of FARR Technologies discusses some of the techniques he and his group uses to more efficiently design outside plant for their clients. Additionally, he talks about the nuances of building in rural areas versus relatively urban areas. He also provides insight on relatively recent state legislation that has eased the cost of railroad crossing easements and rights of way. Nordtvedt emphasizes the importance of planning for all the contingencies and including these in the project schedule.

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Something That Can Transform Transportation

Cars talking to each other in a V2V world of tomorrow.
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The biggest challenge we face right now is a proposed [FCC] rule-making that would potentially open up that spectrum to other users that might, through their operations, effectively jam the safety messages,” according to Ken Leonard, Director of the ITS Joint Program Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The proposed FCC rule making Leonard refers to would expand the spectrum available for WiFi and encroach into the 75 MHz (5.85-5.925GHz) band that the FCC allocated in 1999 for Intelligent Transportation Service. This FCC rule making, which has been open since 2013, made the national news this week in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

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The Korner – Open Architecture, Mobile Laboratory in Silicon Valley

Am image of Michael Robinson talking to Doug Davenport at the ProspectSV event.
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Most people would think that self-driving and race car are terms that do not go together, according to Michael Robinson, Creative Director and CEO of ED Design. Robinson points out that in the early days, the race track was a petri dish of sorts for testing and stretching innovation in the automobile field. In the above video, he explains that ED Design’s announcement of the TORQ, autonomous race car is part of a bigger project to test and refine autonomous vehicle concepts into real-world prototypes and products.

The MAAL (Mobile Autonomous Automobile Laboratory) approach Robinson is advocating is an open architecture environment for multiple disciplines and organizations to understand the impact of autonomy on mobility. As he mentions in the above interview, he believes Silicon Valley has an important role in the development of his unique vision for the revolutionary changes we will experience over the coming decades.

Click here to view.

Something That Can Transform Transportation

The biggest challenge we face right now is a proposed [FCC] rule-making that would potentially open up that spectrum to other users that might, through their operations, effectively jam the safety messages,” according to Ken Leonard, Director of the ITS Joint Program Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The proposed FCC rule making Leonard refers to would expand the spectrum available for WiFi and encroach into the 75 MHz (5.85-5.925GHz) band that the FCC allocated in 1999 for Intelligent Transportation Service. The safety messages refer to the Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) communications that would occur using Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC); radios that essentially act as mouths and ears for vehicles and associated fixed infrastructure, such as traffic signals.

This FCC rule making, which has been open since 2013, made the national news this week in an article in the Wall Street Journal. That article emphasized the friction between telecommunications providers and the automobile industry as to how this spectrum should be used.

Also, as widely reported in the past week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx committed that by the end of 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will provide the OMB with proposed rules requiring V2V communications on new vehicles. In that same speech, Secretary Foxx indicated that,

“The Department is committing to complete a preliminary test plan [testing whether the 5.9 GHz can be shared with unlicensed users] within 12 months after industry makes production-ready devices available for testing.”

In the above interview, filmed April 9th, 2015, Leonard provides an important overview and brief history of V2V communications and how the Department of Transportation, the automobile industry and academia have been working together to understand what is needed to for a successful implementation; success being measured in accidents avoided and lives saved. Leonard points to the 3,000 vehicle pilot performed in Ann Arbor, Michigan that provided a proof-point that the technology can work in the real-world. Still, this testing just scratches the surface in terms of understanding how the technology works at scale.

Thus, the next tranche of testing is a two-phase, Connected Vehicle Pilot Deployment Program, that will be larger scale and will continue to 2020. It has parallels to the FCC’s Rural Broadband Experiments program in the sense that multiple organizations are submitting proposals and the DOT has a pool of money that will be award to an estimated 2 to 5 groups with the proposals that will give the best return. The awards are expected to be between $2 to $20M. This testing will occur in parallel with the commercial roll out of DSRC, as, at least one manufacturer, Cadillac, is planning on introducing this technology in the 2017 model year.

The potential benefit of DSRC goes beyond safety and includes a range of application categories according to the DOT’s website:

  • Agency data (e.g. road maintenance)
  • Environment (e.g. eco-traffic signal timing)
  • Mobility (e.g. dynamic ridesharing)
  • Road Weather (motorist advisories)
  • Smart Roadside (wireless inspection)

Leonard is excited about the new applications that DSRC potentially will enable. Similarly, he explains that the DOT is supportive of the greater use of WiFi and is open to proposals that would share the spectrum between WiFi and DSRC.

Still, Leonard reminds that reliability and latency are critical for V2V to be effective and to save lives and that stakeholders should keep that as the priority.

“We need to make sure that this portion of the spectrum that is used for life saving technologies and life saving communications, that, if there is additional uses of that WiFi that they don’t interfere with the safety messages of cars talking to each other.”

He indicates the DOT is working across the government, as well as industry, to reconcile this need for more broadband with the need for reliable V2V and V2I communications. He is optimistic that there is a tremendous opportunity and synergy between the once disparate automotive and communications industries.

Opportunity Across the Silos

A take-away from TIA’s Connected Car Workshop is that opportunity exists for those who manage to shatter the silos of once disparate disciplines surrounding the transport of people and goods. That is, the transportation industry is on a cusp of a major revolution that will be manifested through connected vehicles, combined with increasing automation that eventually leads to elimination of the driver.

In the above interview, TIA CEO, Scott Belcher, provides highlights of this one day conference held in conjunction with the Contra Costa Transit Authority’s (CCTA) unveiling of its GoMentum Station Connected Vehicle / Autonomous Vehicle Program test facility. With a size of approximately 1/5 that of San Francisco, and with real world obstacles, like train crossings and streetlights, GoMentum provides a real-world testing platform in what was the Concord Naval Weapons Test Station.

Belcher also discusses why the Telecommunications Industry Association would organize a conference that is ostensibly about autonomous automobiles. As Andreas Mai of Cisco pointed out, even though telecommunications will account for a small portion of the physical footprint, it will be a critical part of the operation for both connected and autonomous cars. Mai suggests the bandwidth demands will go from 1.5 to 300 Gbytes per car (stay tuned for a future issue with an exclusive interview with Mai).

Although automobiles can potentially work as stand-alone entities, to get the most system benefit (e.g. traffic throughput, pollution reduction, cost savings), V2X (Vehicle to Vehicle, Vehicle to Pedestrian and Vehicle to Infrastructure) will be an important element. This raises questions of what entities will create the last-mile backhaul (e.g. municipal entities, private communications providers).

Another serious issue is spectrum. Comcast and others are vying for and claim that 5.9 GHz spectrum, earmarked originally for DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications), can be shared for extended WiFi application. Conference speakers, both from private and government entities, doubted whether this spectrum can be shared without harming the mission-critical nature and low-latency requirements of connected vehicles (e.g. imagine the tragedy that would result from an interrupted “brake” signal from a platoon of closely spaced cars).

Hand-in-hand with the importance of reliability, there was consensus of the importance of integrating security from the beginning and not as an after-thought; this can’t be like a SPAM filter that prevents most, but not all, of the bad messages from a user’s inbox.

The transition from Level 0 to Level 4 autonomy will be a decades-long evolution, but automobile manufacturers and entrepreneurs are making the investments now for changes that will be seen in three or four years. Several speakers suggested that the tipping point for autonomy could occur as early as the year 2020.

In his first speaking appearance since launching the TORQ, a windowless and autonomous race car at the Geneva Auto Show, ED Design’s Creative Director and CEO, Michael Robinson, reiterated his mission that the automobile industry has to stop killing people. He emphasized that there needs to be a multi-discipline, cross-industry effort to speed the research to achieve that objective (more on that in a future interview with Robinson).

Along these lines of the future of automobiles and the decision-making that is an implicit part of autonomy, one panelist suggested that it is time to start inviting ethicists to events such as this one. It will take both a wide and deep view for society and individuals to get the most out of autonomous vehicles and this event was an excellent step forward in knocking down the silos that could be hurdles to an autonomous vehicle future.

Autonomous Vehicle View – 10/05/14

[Note: This is a biweekly round-up of some of the articles on autonomous vehicles that elicited commentary from this author. Note, with all the buzz about autonomous vehicles, this list isn’t comprehensive.]

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti: We Will Be the First City to Do Autonomous Vehicles Right

Los Angeles, the city that grew up around the automobile, may be the first major city to embrace the autonomous automobile. This article summarizes some of the ideas that Eric Garcetti, the mayor of the nation’s 2nd largest city, has for making his burg the capital of the autonomous transport. He suggests that the autonomous vehicle could provide a good public transportation alternative, particularly in LA’s urban core. Silicon Valley  leaders, are you listening?

Click here to read.

Iowa City Region Aims to be the Center of Autonomous Vehicle Testing

Meanwhile, in the heartland, the Iowa City Area Development Group, is inviting those involved in the development of autonomous vehicles to do their testing in this seven county of East Iowa known as Iowa’s creative corridor. Viewers of ViodiTV should be familiar with this area, as this region features South Slope Cooperative Communications, a Communications Service Provider with an extensive Fiber to the Home network serving much of this area (click here to watch a video about they work with the town of North Liberty, IA to spur economic development). This region is also home to the University of Iowa and the National Advanced Driving Simulator. In addition, ICAD president, Mark Nolte, points to favorable state regulation and local community proclamations that welcome the testing of autonomous vehicles as signs that this part of Iowa is a good fit for companies wishing to prove their technology in real-world conditions.

Click here to learn more.

6 Clues That Google Will Turn Uber Into a Self-Driving Home Delivery Service 

This is the first I heard of the term “Goober” to describe the resulting product that would come from a Google/Uber integration. A subscription “Transport as a Service” seems viable and would make it easy for a Google to take care of the insurance questions by “self-insuring”. Simple modeling I outlined here suggests a net savings in transport for consumers across the board, as well as a revenue significant revenue opportunity; the losers, today’s automotive ecosystem.

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Do self-driving cars have more ‘green’ potential than plugins?

This article summarizes the views of a Michigan research professor and former Environmental Defense Fund Fellow regarding how autonomous vehicles have the potential to provide great environmental benefits than automobile electrification. Not that the autonomy and electrification are mutually exclusive, but things like reduction in traffic, number of cars required per capita (from a Transport as a Service model, where sharing is the norm) offer the potential for a greater reduction in total resources required to move a given number of people.

Click here to read more.

Viodi View – 08/22/14

Image of a future car  courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design.
Image courtesy of Michael Robinson and ED Design.

It’s obvious by the look on their faces, that people could be thinking that this guy is from another planet. This is the feeling I have when talking about my latest obsession, the autonomous vehicle. The obsession first manifested itself in the fictional story of what life will be like for today’s youth in the year 2040 thanks to self-driving vehicles. That story has been a spring-board to various discussions with experts on the topic, such as the recent discussion we had with someone who is an expert in both the legal and engineering aspects of vehicle autonomy. Read his thoughts on the winding road to vehicle autonomy in The Korner, below.

V2V & Spectrum Auction Round-Up

Depiction of V2V in urban area - image courtesy of U.S. D.O.T.
Depiction of V2V in urban area – image courtesy of U.S. D.O.T.

As written,  Implementation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Begin Implementation of Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications Technology could have an impact on service providers, as it asks about the FCC’s proposal to share the 5.85 to 5.925 GHz band between Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) radios (which are projected to be embedded in V2V-enabled vehicles, starting as early as the 2015 model year) and other WiFi devices. The NHTSA’s report on the topic outlines some of the potential safety benefits from such a network and, starting on page 92, goes into depth on spectrum utilization.

At the same time that the NHTSA is proposing rules of the road for vehicle to vehicle communications and potentially paving the way for an autonomous transport future, the FCC issued rules on how the broadcast auction spectrum will work. In an article in CED Magazine, respected telecom policy expert Jeffrey Krause suggests TV White Spaces and wireless microphone users will be the losers based on the FCC’s almost 500 page ruling.

As  was suggested in the article accompanying our interview with SocialMesh advocates, Devabhaktuni Srikrishna and Rajeev Krishnamoorthy, it  is not too late for Congress to step in and take a holistic view of spectrum to ensure maximum value for this public good; which might not mean direct dollars into the U.S. Treasury. This will require a big picture view  that embraces seemingly disparate use-cases, such as V2V and wireless broadband access. More on the bigger picture in the next issue of the Viodi View.

Better Driving Through Metadata

A picture of the 2015 Corvette Stingray along with  the metadata of its drive.
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Great racing athletes are able to visualize their every move giving them a mental picture for how they should perform. For the rest of us, Chevrolet may have the answer in the form of its Performance Data Recorder (PDR) in the 2015 Corvette Stingray, which is notable as it is the first telematics system to be included in a production car. Although not available in this version, the transmission of real-time metadata to other vehicles is the very sort of thing that would be at the heart of an aforementioned V2V network.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

Building Blocks – Adding Value to the Internet of Things

A demonstration of the Mobile Internet of Things is provided by CableLabs at their booth at The Cable Show 2014.
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Cable companies as value-add providers of data from the disparate Internet of Things is on display in CableLabs’ demonstration at The Cable Show 2014. Clarke Stevens explains how the prototype they created allows consumers to view the location of public transit buses on an app; an app that can live on multiple devices, including TVs, smart phones and tablets.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

The Heat Is On & Helping Monitor the House

Ken Pyle interviews Rob Riordan at the International CES 2014.
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Heat sensing with personal devices is about to take off, according to an articlethis week’s in the Wall Street Journal. Rob Riordan, EVP and director of corporate development for Nsight, talks about using thermal technology to add more accurate detection to their home monitoring service. We caught up with Riordan at International CES 2014, where he talks about the success Nsight has had in offering home monitoring services to its Wisconsin customers.

Click here to read more and to view the video.

Video Editing Challenges

One must click on the "About" option to see this menu. Although this shows only the "Disable GPU for this product" box marked, it may be that "Disable GPU Option for all products" may need to be selected as well.
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Anyone interested in video editing; particularly with the latest release of Sony’s Vegas software, should read this 3-part series on the challenges faced by this author in editing with the latest version of this professional video editing software package. To read the rest of the story, click on the following links.

Click here to read more.

Some Tweets and Short Thoughts:

The Korner – Autonomous Vehicles and the Law

Ken Pyle interviews autonomous car expert, Brian Walker Smith.
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The advent of self-driving vehicles will have a profound impact on the way communities develop; particularly if the service model, as already coming into play with companies like Uber, Lyft and others, turns out to be the predominate way of transporting people.

As one MIT study suggests, a shared, self-driving vehicle approach could mean only 1/3 as many vehicles would be needed as compared to one where humans are behind the wheel; which has huge implications for the way cities are designed. And the autonomous vehicle’s reach won’t be limited to the urban areas, as fully autonomous vehicles are already operating in various mining operations.

In this interview, legal and transportation professor, Bryant Walker Smith, talks about the challenges as we transition from human directed vehicles to fully autonomous vehicles. As he points out, there will be tensions between local and national interests. He likens it to the early days of broadband and implies that the road from here to fully autonomous vehicles will be a one with some potential forks and paths not yet imagined.

Click here to read more and to view the interview.