Friday, October 11, 2019

http://SmartDrivingCar.com/7.42-HereWeGo-101119

  Waymo to customers: “Completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way”

K. Korosec, Oct 9, "Waymo,  the autonomous vehicle business under Alphabet, sent an email to customers of its ride-hailing app that their next trip might not have a human safety driver behind the wheel, according to a copy of the email that was posted on Reddit.

The email entitled “Completely driverless Waymo  cars are on the way” was sent to customers that use its ride-hailing app in the suburbs of Phoenix.

Both the early rider program and Waymo One service use self-driving Chrysler  Pacifica minivans to shuttle Phoenix  residents in a geofenced area that covers several suburbs including Chandler and Tempe. All of these “self-driving rides” have a human safety driver behind the wheel.

TechCrunch was able to confirm from Waymo that the email went out to members of Waymo’s early rider program.  The email is posted below….

    …. Here’s what you can expect:

  • If you get matched with a fully driverless car, you’ll see a notification in your Waymo app that confirms the car won’t have a trained driver up front….
  • you can enjoy having the car all to yourself….

…  While driverless Waymo vehicles have been spotted periodically, they have never been used to shuttle the general public. The introduction of driverless vehicles would be milestone for the company.

And yet, there remains a number of questions. It’s unclear how many of these driverless rides there will be or the what constraints Waymo will place on them. It’s likely that these will operate in more simple, controlled environments for months before it expands to more complex situations."  Read more  Hmmmm… This is VERY big news!!!

 

It is not completely clear because "… the car won’t have a trained driver up front…"  (She could be in the back)  even though it does say:  "…  you can enjoy having the car all to yourself…"   Also meaning… No shared rides!!!  No problem. This is the very beginning… One step at a time.  One hurdle at a time!!! 

 

Fundamentally it means to me that for the past whatever period of time, Waymos, in the Chandler/Phoenix Operational Design Domain (ODD), have been experiencing zero at-fault-crashes and essentially zero "disengagements"  to an extent that Waymo’s lawyers have signed off that the risk of a crash that could have been averted by having an attendant on board is very much smaller than the benefit of being able to provide affordable mobility in the Chandler/Phoenix Operational Design Domain (C/P_ODD). 

I am certain that the Waymo lawyers understand very well that the risk of a crash has an extremely high cost.  The lawyers understand that much, if not all, of Adam Jonas’ $70B reduction in valuation of Waymo and Uber’s $60B reduction in valuation from Goldman’s $120B peg can be attributed to one crash… the Elaine Herzberg crash.  Consequently, Waymo’s staff must have provided the lawyers with credible evidence that the probability of a crash in this ODD is essentially infinitesimal.  (Of course, it would be nice to have that discussion/evidence made public, but I’m not holding my breath.)  Here We go!! Be conservative and be safe!!! Alain 

   Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 128

F. Fishkin, Oct 11, "Waymo advises Arizona riders that completely driverless Waymo cars are on the way. Very big news says Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser in this week’s edition of Smart Driving Cars with co-host Fred Fishkin. He adds…that they’re betting the ranch. Also…Tesla not getting great reviews for Smart Summon, NJ Transit wants to get into the autonomous picture and more. "   Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

  Tesla’s Smart Summon is a glitchy ‘science experiment,’ Consumer Reports says

R. Mitchell, Oct 9, "Consumer Reports tested Tesla’s new Smart Summon feature and found it wanting.

Smart Summon “was glitchy and at times worked intermittently, without a lot of benefit for consumers,” the product and service-testing organization said Wednesday….

Consumer Reports tested Smart Summon on a Tesla Model 3 over several days at its Connecticut test track and in nearby parking lots. Among its findings:…

Smart Summon has drawn criticism from safety officials and some driverless car technology advocates.  Alain Kornhauser, head of Princeton University’s driverless vehicle program, called the feature StupidSummon on his Smart Driving Cars website. Kornhauser is an enthusiastic advocate of driverless transportation, especially for the benefits it could offer to the elderly and the disabled, but he thinks Tesla’s aggressive attempts to deploy the technology could scare the public and slow development.

Tesla’s latest feature “may well cause the public sector to overreact and ruin the opportunity of responsible driverless mobility to substantially enhance the quality-of-life of those who can’t or choose not to drive a car,” Kornhauser wrote…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Yup!.  Alain

  NJ Transit wants to test out self-driving buses to help get you to work

L. Higgs, Oct 9, "The driver of the NJ Transit bus of the future could be no one.

The agency plans to test three tiny buses that drive themselves, with the help of a lot of sensors and computers.

Officials unveiled the tiny shuttle buses in Edison on Tuesday, but their real test will come later as they maneuver the grounds of the former Fort Monmouth in Eatontown and Oceanport.

The shuttle buses and multi-year testing program would be financed by a $950,000 Federal Transit Administration grant that the agency has applied for. A decision could be made this winter, a spokesman said.

The first part of the testing would be operating self-driving buses on a closed 40-acre test course in Fort Monmouth. The former Army base has internal streets and a road network that are similar to residential streets and boulevards…"  Read more  Hmmmm…  This is a major advancement for New Jersey.  I tried and completely failed for more than 5 years promoting Fort Monmouth as an ideal test site for this technology.  Fort Monmouth remains an ideal test site.  Kudos to Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit CEO and president, for putting forth such a proposal.  Given that the proposal has the blessing of NJ Transit, it should be a shoo-in to win approval from the Federal Transit Administration.   Alain

  Editorial: Tesla’s Smart Summon is a potential self-driving nightmare, and regulators are ignoring the risk

Editorial Board, Oct 8, "Here we go again. In the rush to roll out driverless cars, Tesla is playing fast and loose with public safety by putting untested, uncontrolled autonomous vehicles on city streets.

Last month the car company released Smart Summon, a software update that allows Tesla owners who have purchased a “full self-driving” package to use a smartphone app to command their vehicle to turn itself on, pull out of a parking space and drive to the smartphone holder’s location. The app works on Teslas parked up to 200 feet away.

Tesla beamed Smart Summon to customers with instructions to use only in private parking lots and driveways, and only if the app user can see the car at all times “because it may not detect all obstacles.” Oh and yes, “be especially careful around quick moving people, bicycles and cars.” You think?…"  Read more  Hmmmm… You think???  Alain

  Roadshow explains the SAE’s new self-driving testing guidelines

K. Hyatt, Oct 6, "… To help steer the auto and tech industries towards safer testing practices and safer vehicles, the SAE recently released a substantially updated version of its original J3018 document in September. We got our hands on a copy, and we’re going to simplify some of the language and shine a light on what the SAE believes AV testing should look like. … 

Operational Design Domain (ODD): This is a big one. ODD is the SAE’s term for the total  operating conditions (e.g. geographic location plus weather conditions plus time of day, plus state of traffic, plus road condition, etc.)  in which an automated vehicle is meant to operate…. 

If you’re curious about the SAE’s guidelines for self-driving car testing, you can visit their website and purchase the updated version of J3018 for yourself."  …"  Read more  Hmmmm…  Most unfortunately, this document continues to have as its fundamental premise is that these vehicles are owned and operated by individuals/consumers and rather than be vehicles managed by a fleet operator providing Mobility-as-a-Service.  SAE should just state that at the beginning and be dealing with those vehicles and set out on a completely different agenda with respect to driverless vehicles providing Mobility-as-a-Service.  These are such different "animals" that they deserve their own "SAE J3018" and I’ll repeat my suggestion tht the difference is so great that Driverless vehicles providing Mobility-as-a-Service deserve to have their own modal designation and their own regulatory/legislative/policy oversight within the US Department of Transportation.  Commercial Vehicles do (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), Airplanes do (Federal Aviation Administration), Railroads do (Federal Railroad Administration), … We need a Federal Driverless/Affordable Mobility-as-a-Service Administration. Alain

  Letters to the Editor: LAX figured out how to make itself an even worse airport

Editorial Board, Oct. 8, "Here we go again. In the rush to roll out driverless cars, Tesla is playing fast and loose with public safety by putting untested, uncontrolled autonomous vehicles on city streets.

Last month the car company released Smart Summon, a software update that allows Tesla owners who have purchased a “full self-driving” package to use a smartphone app to command their vehicle to turn itself on, pull out of a parking space and drive to the smartphone holder’s location. The app works on Teslas parked up to 200 feet away.

Tesla beamed Smart Summon to customers with instructions to use only in private parking lots and driveways, and only if the app user can see the car at all times “because it may not detect all obstacles.” Oh and yes, “be especially careful around quick moving people, bicycles and cars.” You think? …"  Read more  Hmmmm…. Amen!  Alain

  Is Johnson County getting greener? Uber-like transit system, bike lanes

S. Ritter, Oct 4, "… But over the past nine months, the county and RideKC have been testing a project aimed at changing that. Johnson County is paying $500,000 to pilot the microtransit program, which allows users to summon a cheap ride in a small van via a smartphone app. At just $1.50 per ride, the program has been called a cheaper alternative to Uber or Lyft.

With hundreds of riders hailing the vans each week, officials said the service is filling in the gaps in Johnson County’s public transportation system — dropping riders off at bus stops or anywhere in the service area….

Read more  Hmmmm…. Looks like it is 3 vans that are serving 110 rides per day.  One would hope that the 110 rides could be served with 2 vans if they were driverless with ride-sharing.  The revenue would be $165/day.

If AVO = 2.0 and average trip length is say 5 miles (which may be high) adds up to 275 van miles per day.  That’s probably 20 gallons, of gas  or $65/day.  That leaves $100./day for depreciation, maintenance and management.  $50/day for depreciation yield $15k/year and the other $50 can easily cover Maintenance and Management at scale or maybe for a fleet as small as 10 or 20 vehicles ($150k -> $300k/year).  With 100 vehicles ($1.5M/yr) you could begin to turn a profit.  With 1,000 ($15M/yr) you can do quite well thank you.  With 10,000…    

 

Note that driverless van/car with an Operational Design Domain (ODD) that is "large" can, with existing mass transit (NJ Transit trains) services, serve the daily travel needs of about 12.5 people per day.  Mercer County, New Jersey has a population of about 375,000.  To serve 10% of the population it would require about 3,000 vehicles.  50%…  15,000. Nice business, nice improvement in quality-of-life, nice contribution to sustainability. 

Keep in mind that the above requires driverless and ride-sharing:

  •     Without ride-sharing and without an attendant: This requires twice as many vans, which doubles the vehicle miles, which doubles the amount of gas, and the maintenance and depreciation costs.
  •     With an attendant, and with ridesharing: This is the operation as it exists today, which looses $12.50 on each ride.   Alain

  Toyota’s autonomous pod to transport athletes around Tokyo 2020 Olympics

P. Ridden, Oct 9, "The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo look set to be a showcase for technology as well as human sporting achievement….  Now the company has confirmed that its e-Palette people mover will be transporting athletes throughout the Olympic and Paralympic villages. ….

The e-Palettes will have a safety operator aboard, but the vehicles will be controlled by an automated driving system that makes use of cameras and LiDAR, 3D mapping and control software so they can trundle along at up to 19 km/h (12 mph)…"  Read more  Hmmmm…. 12 mph and safety operator aboard.  Just another in a long series of "Olympic showcases" that fades into nothing more than memory as fast as the Olympic events.  Alain

 

  Letters to the Editor: LAX figured out how to make itself an even worse airport

Oct. 8, "Moving taxi and rideshare pickups at Los Angeles International Airport to an off-site location accessed only by shuttle buses is worst plan ever devised. You try landing at LAX with three kids, a stroller and six bags to wait for a shuttle, load onto the shuttle and then load off, all with no help.

Why not consider alternatives? … Why not consider allowing 90 minutes of free parking in the terminal-adjacent garages so no one has to drive around while waiting to pick up passengers? Why not consider clearing out the ground floor of each parking garage to use as staging areas for taxis and rideshare cars?

LAX is one of the least passenger-friendly airports in the world. …"  Read more  Hmmmm…. Excellent ideas especially wrt to the use of the parking garages.   Using them as staging area with free WiFi for cars waiting to pick up people is the easy solution.  Cars dropping off departing passengers is easy because no waiting is involved.  Cars picking up arriving passengers are quagmired in waiting. Having it free, convenient and located at the entrance to LAX passenger arrival would eliminate the circling and make the pickup as efficient as the drop off.  Everyone now has a Cell phone can coordinate the pickup so as to minimize delay which no one wants to incur.  Problem is that using part of the parking for this purpose fro free might be seen as reducing revenue.  Seems like a small price to pay to bring some sanity to the LAX experience, especially during time of construction.  Alain


 C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)


Simply ClickBait


 

Corrections

In http://SmartDrivingCar.com/7.40-PrincetonFuture-092819 comments on Alphabet’s Waymo valuation cut 40% by Morgan Stanley to $105 billion amid challenges in self-driving car market   I Hmmmmed…. "$105B is still not bad for an entity that has yet to generate its first dollar of revenue." 

That is not true.  Riders/users of Waymo One in Arizona pay for the rides.  So Waymo has and is continuing to generated revenue. Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

evening May 19 through May 21, 2020


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


 

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