2nd edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Monday, January 22, 2018

  Scoop: Read the draft White House infrastructure plan

J. Swan, Jan 22, “Below is a leaked draft document with plans for the White House infrastructure plan, a key campaign priority of President Trump….I.  Infrastructure Incentives Initiative: encourages state, local and private investment in core infrastructure by providing incentives in the form of grants. Federal incentive funds will be conditioned on achieving milestones within an identified timeframe. Accounts for 50% of total appropriation…

II. Transformative Projects Program: makes available federal funding and technical assistance for innovative and transformative infrastructure projects based on competitive basis to viable projects unable to secure financing through private sector due to the uniqueness of the program….Accounts for 10% of total appropriation.

III. Rural Infrastructure Program:…Accounts for 25% of total appropriation…” Read more Hmmmm… Appropriate comment from Alan Pikarsky: “In any event, if this were the base for the legislation what ultimately came out of the Congress would be unrecognizable.”  Nothing for SmartDrivingCars that really only need good paint and conventionally readable signs (see below… 3M). You’d think this would make SDC really attractive to the WH.  Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 19

Episode 19 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. In this edition: The White House Infrastructure Plan, driverless transportation for seniors in Florida, Waymo coming to Metro Atlanta, Uber’s big promise and more. 

Surface Transportation Innovations

R. Poole, Jan 2018,  “In this issue: • RAND guidelines for infrastructure policy, …
A recent article on the forthcoming White House infrastructure plan quoted an Administration spokeswoman as saying it would address “rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.” That frequent characterization is misleading, as pointed out in an excellent new report from the RAND Corporation, “Not Everything Is Broken: The Future of U.S. Transportation and Water Infrastructure Funding and Finance.” (…
After setting the stage, the report goes on to offer guidelines for sound investment in transportation and water infrastructure. Since much of what is wrong with our infrastructure is the result of bad policy, rather than lack of money, “an across-the-board ramp-up of federal spending is unlikely to solve the infrastructure problems…”  In addition, focusing on “shovel-ready” projects is ill-advised; instead, Congress should focus on longer-term projects likely to produce significant national benefits….Whatever the White House proposes will be modified by Congress. The RAND report offers important guidelines for that endeavor.”  Read more Read more Hmmmm… An excellent Rand report and commentary by Bob.  Lots more in the issue on many aspects of transportation.   Alain

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”52″ width=”46″ border=”0″> Plains Region Assessment of aTaxi Ridesharing and Empty Vehicle Management

J. Fu, N. Yang, W. Yuan, Jan 16, “The goal of this report is to examine the feasibility of an autonomous taxi (aTaxi) system throughout the plains region, which encompasses the states of CO, KS, MT, NE, NM, ND, OK, SD, TX, and WY. To accomplish this, we have broken up this task into three components…”  Read more Hmmmm… Really nice Draft Report.  Alain

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”52″ width=”46″ border=”0″> West Region Assessment of aTaxi Ridesharing and Empty Vehicle Management

K. Wu, A. Erkalova, M. Wagner, B. Cakmak, Jan 16, “… Of the nine states that were part of our analysis, the majority of trips originate from California. For the West, the busiest times of day are evening rush, evening, and morning peak, in that order, and the greatest AVO occurs during the morning peak and evening rush.Major metropolises tend to have higher AVO in their regions, but there are also a few scattered rural regions with very high AVOs as well….”  Read more Hmmmm… Another really nice Draft Report.  Also see the interactive graphsNorthEast Report is linked below. Alain

3M Connected Roads aim to make life easier for autonomous vehicles

K. Wyatt, Jan 22, “The idea of “smart roads” isn’t especially new, and in the last couple of years, in particular, we’ve seen a stack of concepts for turning our highways, byways and city streets into something more than flat, stupid concrete. The problem with the bulk of these is that any municipality that chose to implement them would have to spend vast sums of money retrofitting roads with sensors and other gizmos….Another change would involve changing road signs to be more reflective, and more easily readable. This would benefit both human drivers and self-driving cars by allowing each to more quickly and easily identify and process information….” Read more Hmmmm… Wow!  A practical “connected” suggestion!  Alain

Is All This New Automotive Safety Tech Working? Not If Drivers Don’t Understand It

E. Adams, Jan 15, “… Much of the chatter in CES focuses on the arrival (sooner, later, or waaaay later) of autonomous vehicles, while Detroit tends to play up the sheet metal and the performance of new cars and trucks. Both, however, are also reliable showcases of all the not-quite-autonomous safety and convenience tech that’s creeping into our cars and is meant not only to take the stress out of driving, but make us better at it.

But here’s a thought: Is all this stuff doing what it’s really intended to?  Note that we’re not asking does it work, of course, because the innovations do indeed function as advertised.”really NOT SO MUCH unless you read the fine print…”  Which brings us to the concerning question about the newest, most sophisticated, and priciest new ADAS systems: Are they truly being embraced by drivers, thus moving the safety ball farther down the field? Or are they baffling nuisances that are eventually shut down, unused, or avoided out of frustration, annoyance, or uncertainty? Even more interestingly, are they truly paving the way for the semi-autonomous and autonomous cars now in the pipeline, as manufacturers seem to be counting on?…”  Read more Hmmmm… All REALLY GOOD questions!. Alain


A. Marshall, Oct 17 “”WE HAVE NOW self-driving cars.” So declared no less an authority than the United States’ chief of transportation, Secretary Elaine Chao, in a May interview with Fox Business. “They can drive on the highway, follow the white lines on the highway, and there’s really no need for any person to be seated and controlling any of the instruments.”

This is wrong….Read more Hmmmm… How long have I been saying this.  And there seems to be no improvement in sight.  There are 3 VERY different kinds.. SafeDrivingCars (not nearly good enough yet), SelfDrivingCars (barely good enough today, stay alert!!) DriverlessCars (We are still at a KarnhauserScale = 1.0 (Log(DriverlessVMT Worldwide).  Alain

Babcock Ranch Featured On CBS This Morning

 Jan 17, “We’re excited to share that we were featured on CBS This Morning for our sustainability and solar efforts. Take a look at the clip featured on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, January 16, 2018…”  Watch video Hmmmm… Really brings home how early we are in the SmartDrivingCar r-evolution.  The operative comment is : ” If we can’t make it here, we can’t make it anywhere“.  Alain

Florida seniors could hold the future of driverless cars

E. Leedfeldt, Jan 15, “As supporters and critics debate self-driving vehicles, 125,000 senior citizens who live in a central Florida retirement community will take them for a ride in the world’s largest self-driving experiment. They’ll travel 750 miles of roads in The Villages retirement community near Orlando.

Voyage, an autonomous vehicle (AV) startup specializing in a robo-taxi service, will pick them up at their homes and drive them free of charge to and from grocery stores, theaters, pools, golf and tennis with only a “technician” on board to monitor the system — and take the wheel if necessary. Later on, the technician will be dropped and a transportation fee added…”  Read more Hmmmm… As with Babcock Ranch above: ” If we can’t…” Alain

  Argo AI resumes self-driving operations in Pittsburgh after Wednesday’s crash

C. Deppen, Jan 11, “…According to officials, a box truck ran a red light and T-boned a self-driving vehicle with four occupants inside…”  Read more Hmmmm… I wonder how the NTSB is going to blame Argo AI on this one.  Alain


M. Sivak, Jan 2018, “This study analyzed recent changes in the United States in both the ownership of light-duty vehicles (passenger cars and light trucks) and the corresponding distance driven. Of interest were changes in the rates per person and per household. The period examined was 1984 to 2016.
The main findings are as follows:
(1) The vehicle-ownership rates per person and per household both reached their maxima in 2006. The two rates for 2016 are down, on average, 3.3% from their maxima, although they have rebounded, on average, 2.6% from the post-maximum minima reached in 2012 and 2013.
(2) The distance-driven rates per person and per household both reached their maxima in 2004.  The two rates for 2016 are down, on average, 6.2% from their maxima, although they have rebounded, on average, 3.9% from the post-maximum minima reached in 2013….” Read more Hmmmm… These are fundamentally important numbers that basically track the nation’s actual appetite for mobility. We definitely have plateaued in our desire to go places.  To what extent this is due to the waning of more attractive places to go or the decreased attractiveness of getting there or the various combinations,  we’re just not doing going as much and it isn’t because we’ve jumped on mass transit.  Alain

Americans still deeply skeptical about driverless cars: poll

A. Hawkins, Jan 12, “A new poll was released today basically repeats data that we’ve seen in previous surveys: Americans still don’t trust self-driving cars, and are nervous about the coming onslaught. Asked how concerned they’d be to share the road with a driverless car, 31 percent said they’d be “very concerned,” while 33 percent said “somewhat concerned,” according to the poll which was just released by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety…”

Read more Hmmmm… Surprised 110% weren’t “concerned…”  If done in 1898 they would have gotten the same results if asked about the Benz patent .  The study’s 1st page adorns a picture of Joshua Brown’s Tesla post Florida Crash. This Poll had only one answer. Whatever…   Alain

These flying robots can self-assemble in flight

E. Olsen, Jan 13, “Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a series of modular flying robots that can autonomously assemble themselves in midair and fly.  In the video above, the robots can be seen hovering near one another and then slowly moving close until magnets attached to each corner of a vehicle’s cage quickly snaps them together. …” Watch video  Hmmmm… How “autonomous”??? but Just fun!!   Alain

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention 

  On the More Technical Side

Capsule Networks (CapsNets) – Tutorial

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”52″ width=”46″ border=”0″> Assessment of RideSharing, Empty Vehicle Management Needs and ‘Last-Mile’ Ridership Implications on the Existing Rail Transit, Amtrak and Airline Networks Associated with Having autonomousTaxis Efficiently Serve the Billion or so PersonTrips Taken Throughout the US on a Typical Day… Final Project Description

A. Kornhauser, Jan 13, “… What if no one owned a personal car or truck any more?  What operational characteristics would a fleet of autonomousTaxis (aTaxis), operating nation-wide, need to have to deliver a comparable level-of-Service (LoS), in conjunction with existing Rail Transit, AmTrak and Airline networks (with appropriately enhanced LoS between existing stations/airports)?  How many of what size would be needed? How would they need to be managed?  What would be the fundamental economics in order to adequately serve the Billion or so person trips that take place on a typical day across the US?  Because details matter, we synthesized each of the 310 or so, million people in the US.  For each we synthesized their mobility needs throughout a typical day to accomplish their activities such as get to and from work/school/play/shopping/entertainment/…  Preliminary results include…

  • In order to deliver a Level-of-Service (LoS) comparable to that offered by today’s conventional automobile in its service of the roughly 1 Billion trips that take place on a typical day across the USA would requite a fleet of approximately 35 million autonomousTaxis (aTaxis). 
  • In serving those trips throughout the day, those aTaxis would travel almost 50% fewer vehicle miles than today’s road vehicles if:
  • people traveling from about the same place at about the same time to about the same place agreeing to ride together, much as they do today in elevators,  (shared-ride),  accounts for more than 50% of the reduced vehicle miles. 
  • The remainder comes from offering a reliable and attrative LoS to/from the existing fixed rail transit systems and, surprisingly, to and from existing AmTrak stations but assuming that the assistance of extremely improved AmTrak frequencies if service. 
  • It is amazing how, across the country,  so many segments of the AmTrak network could be of service to so many 100-400 mile trips that take place on a typical day.  If these trip makers had a reliable, convenient and affordable way to get from their origin to the nearest AmTrak station AND to their destination from that nearest AmTrak station, then the ridership potential on numerous segments of the AmTrak system beyond the NorthEast Corridor (NEC) would justify a LoS that is even better than what exists today on the NEC. 
  • If this preliminary result holds up under closer scrutiny (there isn’t an error someplace), this opportunity may be this study’s most significant finding.  There is little literature on “long auto trips” yet, because they are “long” they log a significant amount of daily VMT on existing highways.  Many of these trips today essentially parallel the AmTrak network. By providing convenient “first 1 – 20+ mile / last 1 – 20+ mile” accessibility to AmTrak’s existing stations AND by having AmTrak provide a high-quality LoS, the a significant percentage of these travelers would become AmTrak customers.  

Very interesting… aTaxis Save AmTrak!!  🙂 More later.  Alain
Read more Hmmmm…  Most interesting!  Draft Initial Report on NE Region Ride Sharing Analysis.  We hope to have a draft of the final report out soon.  Alain

Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time

NTT DoCoMo, Ericsson, Qualcomm to carry out C-V2X trials in Japan

M. Alleven, Jan 12, “While efforts are growing in the U.S. to promote Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) instead of DSRC, a group of companies are getting together to launch C-V2X trials in Japan this year.  NTT DoCoMo, Ericsson, Nissan, OKI, Continental and Qualcomm Technologies plan to carry out their first C-V2X trials in Japan, with the goal of validating the benefits of C-V2X using technology defined by the 3GPP in the Release 14 specifications. The trials will use the 5 GHz band…  “…there is a possibility to provide traffic safety and traffic efficiency services…”Amazing that they’re still trying to ride that horse in Japan.  While there is …a “possibility”…, that “possibility” ~ epsilon! 🙁 This is all about TravelTainment, which is perfectly fine. but just say that.   …”   Read more Hmmmm… Well at least they’ve moved on from DSRC.  Hopefully these private companies are doing this without making the public sector pay for it, or are they?  Alain

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

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2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 16 & 17, 2018
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
Save the Date

Recent PodCasts

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 18

Episode 18 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser, co-host Fred Fishkin and guest research engineer Steven Shladover of UC Berkeley. Topics: General Motors, Waymo, the Transportation Research Board, CES, nVIDIA and how #MeToo may impact ride sharing technology in the future.

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 17

Episode 17 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast! Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser, who is faculty chair of autonomous vehicle engineering and tech journalist Fred Fishkin chat about the latest from Waymo, Velodyne, GM, Lyft and more.

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 16

Episode 16 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast.  The Amtrak crash: who is to blame? Uber’s European problem. Yann LeCun at the Institute for Advanced Study. All this along with the latest on Apple, Volvo and Tesla in Episode 16 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin.  Listen

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 15

Episode 15 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast.  Hosts Fred Fishkin and Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser are joined by leading expert Michael Sena from Sweden in a wide open and most entertaining chat ranging from the impact of Ralph Nader to the insurance industry’s role, to the latest from Ford, Lyft, Uber and China’s Didi.

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 14

Episode 13 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. This edition In this edition Fred and Alain are joined by Bernard Soriano, the Deputy Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. On the agenda: Waymo’s CEO says real driverless testing is coming soon.; Waymo’s autonomous fleet now has traveled four million miles; Lyft gets the green light from California to test self driving on public roads

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 11

Episode 11 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. Fred and Alain are joined by leading expert and Internet pioneer Brad Templeton. Waymo makes some history, Thee tech needed to make it work..cameras…lidar or both? Navya bringing new robotic vehicles to Paris. And an accident…as a self driving shuttle is launched in Las Vegas.

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 9

F. Fishkin, Oct  25, Episode 9 “Host Fred Fishkin with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and guest Fred Payne, council member from Greenville County, South Carolina. Greenville’s autonomous taxis are rolling. Bank of America analysts see big investment opportunities in vehicle technology. The latest from London, China and New York. And on demand pilotless planes?

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”39″ width=”47″ border=”0″>Say hello to Waymo

Jan. 9, T. Papandreou & E. Casson. “… Waymo driverless service…”  Read more Hmmmm…  Tim and Ellie made presentation at the Transportation Research Board’s  Vehicle-Highway Automation (AHB30) Committee meeting on Tuesday in which they gave an update on Waymo’s progress to launch “Waymo’s driverless service” (slide 11), an app-based ride hailing service to the general public in a geo-fenced area of Arizona.  To date Waymo has been testing such a service using volunteer riders in their driverless vehicles in various areas around the country (slide 7): however, to date, except for one ride given to Steve Mahan in Austin, TX, rides on normally operating public streets have always had  trained Waymo-authorized personnel (an attendant) in the vehicle capable to intervene in the driving of the vehicle should the need arise.  Since October, in Arizona, those personnel no longer sit behind the wheel, but are in the back seat so that Waymo can observe the response of the volunteer riders to riding in a vehicle on normal public streets under normal conditions without anyone in the front seats of the vehicle. 

Tim said, without providing a specific date, that Waymo will soon launch “Waymo’s driverless service” providing mobility to the general public on public roads in a geo-fenced area of Arizona.  I asked Tim “Will that service be offered with vehicles that have an attendant in the vehicle?”.  Tim’s answer was “No!”.  I asked a follow-up question: “Will these vehicle’s have telemetry capabilities that enable these vehicles to be closely monitored from a “situation room” or “control center” that would enable remote operation of the vehicle, should the need arise?”.  Tim’s answer was  “No!”.  Another questioner asked if the geo-fenced area included special “connected vehicle” road infrastructure improvement that Waymo’s system will be relying on?”  Tim’s answer was “No!”.

While the definition of “soon” was not given, I’ve taken this as a really big pronouncement that Waymo is actually going to go to launch commercially-viable on-demand mobility to the general public on conventional public roads.  This is really big news because this is finally going to enable us to begin to evolve on the “Kornhauser Scale” ( log of (world-wide VMT of Driverless (VMT-D) vehicles without a human attendant/driver on board accumulated while providing mobility to the general public on conventional roadways).  So far we are beyond the “undefined value” associated with VMT-D = 0 and are at KS = 1 only by virtue of the one Steve Mahan ride in Austin).  🙂 Alain

Sunday, December 31, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”18″ width=”101″ border=”0″>Riders in Waymo’s self-driving cars will now be insured

A. Hawkins, Dec 19, “…Trov, a five-year-old insurance tech startup based in Danville, Calif., said it would work with Waymo to insure passengers for lost and damaged property and trip-related medical expenses. In other words, if your driverless Waymo is involved in a fender bender — or, god forbid, something worse — your robot-induced whiplash treatment will be covered.
Importantly, passengers won’t have to pay for the coverage, nor will they know that Trov is the insurer. Moreover, Waymo is Trov’s first corporate client. The startup is underwritten by an affiliate of reinsurer Munich Re, whose venture-capital arm also led a $45 million fundraising round for the startup earlier this year. The reinsurer was willing to take a risk, given the lack of data on pricing and claims history surrounding self-driving cars…”  Read more Hmmmm…  This is significant!!! This is essentially re-Insurance of Waymo’s operation of an autonomousTaxi (aTaxi) service.  It would be interesting to know the details of the deal as to deductibles, coverage of “the other guy”, etc. to understand how much Waymo is confident in its extensive test results and thus largely self-insuring versus risk-aversion due diligence for its investors.  Alain

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”21″ width=”126″ border=”0″>Overspeed cause of Amtrak Cascades fatal derailment

S. Chirls, Dec. 20, “Three people were killed and more than 70 were injured as an Amtrak Cascades train derailed early Dec. 18 while traversing a curve leading into an overpass at Interstate 5 southwest of Tacoma, Wash., sending a locomotive and passenger cars crashing onto the highway below. The National Transportation Safety Board has identified the cause of the wreck as an overspeed condition, citing a lapse in situational awareness as a potential contributing factor…

Preliminary information indicated that the emergency brakes deployed automatically … pretty worthless automated emergency brakes, Siemens.  They must be of the same design that the SAE designed for cars… applied for crash mitigation purposes, not crash avoidance.  And how good was the mitigation this time?!  So bad!!… and were not manually activated by the engineer, NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said, citing data from the locomotive’s event recorder.  Positive Train Control had been installed on the right-of-way, but wasn’t operational, said Geoff Patrick, spokesman for Sound Transit, which owns the right-of-way. The target date for having  PTC up and running for the segment of the track where the derailment occurred is the second quarter of 2018. Locomotives and cab-control cars also need to be equipped with PTC… Read more Hmmmm… So once again the NTSB will throw the engineer “under the bus” rather than senior management that didn’t implement PTC in a timely manner. The same thing is happening in the SafeDriving car world where the mentality remains at SAE, NHTSA and the OEMs that the driver is in control, the automated systems are warnings and the mentality is crash mitigation instead of crash avoidance as I’ve commented previously. Maybe this is another wake-up call although there have been many and everyone just hits the snooze button.  And then there is the NYTimes with their typical “email server” and “flu symptoms”  reporting….

Friday, December 8, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”24″ width=”79″ border=”0″>Insurance Companies Are Now Offering Discounts if You Let Your Tesla Drive Itself

B. Jones, Dec. 6, “Self-driving cars are expected to make our roads safer. Now, UK insurance company Direct Line is offering a discount to customers who use Tesla Autopilot to facilitate research into its effects…..” Read more Hmmmm… Guess what.. I bet the discount is substantially less than the expected reduction in LOSS!  Win-Win!! Why is this not happening in the US?  Alain

Saturday, December 2, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”29″ width=”63″ border=”0″>  Personal Sedan Sales in Jeopardy as U.S. Auto Market Transitions to “Islands” of Autonomous Mobility: KPMG Research

Nov 27, ” KPMG predicts that self-driving cars and mobility services will provide options that will reduce consumer desire to own cars, particularly sedans. Pushing a button for mobility services competes with the utility of sedans, and both give consumers the freedom to buy the car they really want to own or utilize mobility by the trip. In fact, KPMG projects that sales of personally-owned sedans in the U.S. will drop precipitously – from 5.4 million units sold today to just 2.1 million units by 2030….” Read more Hmmmm…  See video, See full report next, Excellent but they don’t sufficiently differentiate between Self-driving and Driverless (and don’t even bother with Safe-driving which is unfortunate.  But excellent anyway because they approach it from the individual trip demand.  Alain

Sunday, November 26, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”24″ width=”156″ border=”0″>Volvo to supply Uber with up to 24,000 self-driving SUVs for taxi fleet

S. Masunaga & R. Mitchell, Nov. 20, ” fleet of self-driving Volvo vehicles operated by Uber Technologies Inc. could be ready for the road as early as 2019, marking the ride-hailing firm’s biggest push yet to roll out autonomous cars.  Volvo said Monday that it would sell Uber tens of thousands of luxury sport utility vehicles between 2019 and 2021 outfitted with the Swedish automaker’s safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies. Uber will then add its own self-driving technology to the autonomous taxi fleet…”  Read more Hmmmm…  This is a significant announcement and recognizes that it is going to take another year-plus for the Uber/Volvo existing ‘Self-driving‘ technology stack (which now requires an Uber attendant in the car)  to become ‘Driverless’ (can operate safely without an Uber attendant in each car).   If these cars don’t become Driverless, their cost per ride will be so prohibitively high that their use will not be sustainable. 

24,000 is a reasonable number with which to start   These vehicles would become Uber’s work horses.  They’ll operate ~20 hours a day and could serve ~5 short trips per hour when concentrated in Uber’s highest demand areas.  With some ride sharing they could serve 100 person trips per day,  allowing them to serve nearly half of Uber’s current 5.5 million trips a day.  Unfortunately, this is the short-trip half. The half remaining is dominated by long trips.  Vehicles serve these at only about 1.5 trips per hour.  Vehicle (driver)  productivity is consequently limited to about 30 trips per day.  That means that each day Uber will still need two shifts of 100,000 gig workers each to show up and deliver the mobility services needed to serve their 3 million daily longer trips.  To really scale, Uber will need to order many more of these Volvos and and get them to operate Driverlessly in much larger geographic areas so that they can serve some of these long trips.

In the US there are about 1 Billion vehicular trips per day. Many are short, some are long, very few are very long.  It is doubtful that a Driverless car could serve more than 2.5 person trips per hour or 50 blended-length trips per day.  Thus, to serve 10% of the Billion trips per day would require a fleet of about 2 million Driverless cars.  In 2016, 17.5 Million cars & light trucks were sold in the US.  By devoting about 10% of the car & light duty truck manufacturing capacity to the production of Driverless vehicles, enough Driverless cars are produced in a year to serve 10% of all US vehicular trips.  So the manufacturing capacity exists to enable an Uber or Lyft or Didi or Waymo or … to in a few years serve many/most trips in the US. 

This suggests to me that Waymo must have already established a deal/arrangement with a manufacturer to begin very soon to produce thousands of cars that can accept Waymo’s Driverless stack of hardware and software and aggressively begin to serve pockets of those 1Billion daily person trips.  Alain

Friday, November 17, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”23″ width=”222″ border=”0″>THE TECH & DESIGN ISSUE: LIFE AFTER DRIVING

Friday, November 10, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”24″ width=”156″ border=”0″>Waymo will now put self-driving vans on public roads with nobody at the wheel

AP, Nov. 7, 2017 “Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google, is pulling the human backup driver from behind the steering wheel and will test vehicles on public roads with only an employee in the back seat.

The company’s move — which started Oct. 19 with an automated Chrysler Pacifica minivan in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler, Ariz. — is a major step toward vehicles driving themselves on public roads without human backup drivers. …” Read more Hmmmm…  Not to be too critical, but Waymo is still just ‘Self-driving’ .  While they moved the ‘engineer’ with the ability to ‘take over and drive the vehicle’ from behind the wheel to the back seat, this is just a step along the broad ‘Self-driving’ continuum which is a vehicle that, under certain circumstance, can drive itself, but does that only if there is a person ready and able to take over if the unexpected appears. 

The big-leap/major-step will come when Waymo removes the ‘engineer’ entirely from the vehicle and it is human-less when it arrives to pick up a passenger and drives away human-less after the last passenger(s) disembark.  That enormous leap-of-faith in the technology will mark Waymo’s inception of the Driverless Era. (or what Waymo prefers to call ‘Fully Self-driving’ era.) 

Just to be clear, when that time comes, I’m sure that Waymo will have telemetry throughout that Driverless vehicle and there will be a room full of engineers in Waymo’s ‘Situation Room‘ ready to take over the driving should the need arise.  However,  until that time, Waymo is just like all the other wanabes, they are just ‘Self-driving’ without the ‘Fully’.

The reason why ‘remote emergency driving’ is ‘Driverless’ is because it scales.  By that I mean that it takes the provision of horizontal mobility on our public streets from needing at least one human per vehicle to needing less than one human per vehicle.  Initially the remote driver will monitor one car.  Before you know it that person will be monitoring two, four, eight, … vehicles and truly Driverless with zero remote human oversee-ers will be approached asymptotically.  But just like the old saw between the engineer and the mathematician: engineer and mathematician were sitting on a bench recalling their youth… Engineer said “Long ago, I was sitting on this very bench with my girl.  We wanted to kiss but we were too far apart.  So we agreed to move towards each other by halving the distance between us on each move.  The mathematician blared ” You’re so stupid!  If you did that, you never came together!”  The engineer just smiled: “we got close enough!”.  Alain

Saturday, November 4, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”31″ width=”86″ border=”0″>APNewsBreak: Gov’t won’t pursue talking car mandate

Friday, October 27 , 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”34″ width=”35″ border=”0″>Strategic Plan for FY 2018 -2022

Draft for Public Comment, October 19, 2017, “This Strategic Plan establishes the strategic goals and objectives for the DOT for FY2018 through FY2022. The GPRA Modernization Act of 2010 (GPRA) aligns strategic planning with the beginning of each new term of an Administration, requiring every Federal agency to produce a new Strategic Plan by the first Monday in February following the year in which the term of the President commences. The Strategic Plan, therefore, presents the long-term objectives an agency hopes to accomplish at the beginning of each new term of an Administration by describing general and long-term goals the agency aims to achieve, what actions the agency will take to realize those goals, and how the agency will deal with challenges and risks that may hinder achieving results….” Read more Hmmmm… Nice…seems to be void of all references to Connected Vehicles (CV), V2V and V2I that were in the previous FY 2014-2018 strategic plan (Gone is any reference like  footnote 13, p.24: “Transforming Transportation through Connectivity: ITS Strategic Research Plan, 2010-2014- Program Update, 2012 (even the link is 404)

This may finally be a realization by US DoT that the Connected Vehicle (CV) program was a fatally flawed concept, especially in light of having viable Automated Vehicles.  CV was a grandiose plan to have the public sector (Washington, States & Municipalities) pay to deploy electronic Gizmos everywhere and have all of our vehicular mobility be centrally controlled (think 1984).  It was part of the America’s National ITS Architecture  which ITS America has been promoting for years in support of its Gizmo manufacturing members.  Unfortunately, the fatal flaw in Architecture is that the benefits (Safety) would not begin to really kick-in until the Architecture was largely deployed throughout the highway infrastructure and installed in most vehicles.  It is essentially all-or-nothing, and “all” need to be so ubiquitous, consequentially so expensive, that the public sector was was the only potential financier.

However, along came the private sector and said…”maybe we can address this Safety thing by automating the vehicle so that it is much less likely to Crash while it shares the existing infrastructure without asking for any improvements (except maybe better paint and readable signs; both of which are really needed anyway for all existing users) “.

Sure, safe automation is hard and expensive, but nowhere near as expensive, especially in its early commitments,  as the CV approach.   And if successful, at least one vehicle and its occupants are safer.  PLUS, the cost of the automated vehicle technology is likely get cheaper (it scales) as we replicate for the 2nd, 4th, 8th, 16th… vehicles and likely to become very affordable very quickly (Moore’s Law) AND the cost of replicating the software is essentially zero and … So, with what amounts to a little bit of money we can get started with one vehicle and it is likely to scale very nicely to  initiate viral adoption.  Wow!  (Deja vu all over again Steve Jobs’ garage).

So.. it is very nice that US DoT has finally recognized through its strategic planning process that it is time to pivot from its fundamentally flawed CV concept to the SmartDrivingCar/Automated Vehicle (SDC/AV) concept, even though historically US DoT has been all about the infrastructure (roads) and not-so-much about vehicles (cars).

Moreover, this frees US DoT from an enormous future financial obligation.  Congratulations for making the pivot.  We are all anxious to help you succeed.  Alain

Sunday, October 22 , 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”24″ width=”87″ border=”0″>Automotive Industry: The Big Bang – the Second Coming … could it even be the next Amazon?

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”22″ width=”86″ border=”0″>Automated Driving Systems Public Workshop Readout

Washington DC, Oct 20, “The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is committed to the safe deployment of automated vehicles. NHTSA hosted a public workshop today to get feedback on the Voluntary Safety Self-Assessments discussed in the Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety guidance released last month.    …The workshop , overall, was a productive, open forum, where manufacturers, suppliers, safety advocates, and other entities shared the types of information that could be made available, and opportunities for making that information public. There were over 100 attendees present, and many more who participated via a LIVE Webcast. A full transcript will be available in the coming weeks.  ” Read more Hmmmm… Congratulations Nat, I agree that it was productive.  The comments the by Global Automakers, AAMVA, MEMA Waymo and AAM were positive and helpful. 

The opening remarks by NHTSA Acting Administrator Heidi King: “… At DOT and NHTSA, of course, our central focus is always on safety. NHTSA’s mission remains to help Americans drive, ride and walk safely…” Given that Safety is central, It is unfortunate that Automated Driving systems 2.0 skips over ‘Safe-driving‘ (ADAS or Level1/2 or whatever) and jumps right into Self-driving (Level 3/4/5 or whatever) to address Safety.  Essentially all of the Automated Vehicle Safety achievements (crash avoidance, lane departure avoidance, etc..) will be achieved by Safe-driving vehicles that always over-ride our failures and do the right thing even if they don’t let us take our hands off the wheel or feet off the pedals.  These systems are beginning to be made available today and it is not an understatement to say that they don’t work as well as they should/could and there is essentially total confusion in the marketplace/showroom about the capabilities/consumer-expectations about these systems.  NHTSA’s  5-Star Safety Ratings program doesn’t even consider any of these systems.  Since ‘Safe-driving‘ has the greatest and nearest term potential impact on Safety, why is it NOT part of this AV program?  These systems are being tested; shouldn’t NHTSA be calling for a Self-assessment of these systems.  Safe-driving systems are beginning to be here now and I contend the public is totally confused. 

“…Public trust is essential to the advancement of automated technology….”  I wholeheartedly agree!! That trust needs to be earned and its first exposure is mixed. Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Stability Control are automated systems that have earned public trust event though they automatically detect erroneous driver behavior and automatically over-ride those actions in order to do the best that they can to keep the driver safe.  But what about these Safe-driving (Level 1/2, …) systems.  These are automated systems focused on Safety, yet NHTSA hasn’t even bothered to include any of these systems in its 5-Star Safety Ratings program.  The public is totally confused about what is being offered and there seems to be no public trust evernthough these systems are the very foundations of Self-driving and Driverless systems.  It is necessary that Safety and public trust be established first in Safe-driving systems.  This forms the basis on which to expand that public trust to the  downstream systems that deliver other societal benefits, comfort & convenience for Self-driving and affordable mobility for all for Driverless, while providing very little, if any incremental Safety benefits over Safe-driving technology.  So… NHTSA’s 1st order of business should be to ensure that Safe-driving technology actually works and is valued by car buyers.

A substantial part of the problem here is that the terminology that is being used is totally confusing.  NHTSA’s decision to give up on its original 4-Level nomenclature was good, they just chose to adopt an even worse one, SAE’s.  It focuses entirely on the details of the technology, rather than on the value that is to be derived from the technology.  The Levels invoke no fundamental cognitive relationships; nothing that would inspire…”tell me more”. Thus, engineers might eventually pay attention long enough to absorb the more than 7+/-2 chunks of cognitive information needed to understand the differences in the “Levels”.   Unfortunately, corporate buyers, journalists, planning, policy and/or legislative officials and the general public/consumers remain totally confused. 

I’ve suggested three categories: Safe-driving…, Self-driving… and Driverless…  Not necessarily perfect, because the leader of Driverless chose long ago (~8 years) to call itself Self-driving.  Unfortunately, the term Self-driving with human supervision, reinforces the auto industry’s 100-year old business model of selling personal comfort and convenience to consumers.  The auto industry doesn’t bother emphasizing the partial nature of its Self-driving.  Waymo has chosen to add the  prefix “Fully” in an effort to differentiate itself as really Driverless that is  fundamentally attractive to a different business model focused on Fleets delivering mobility services to a public that doesn’t own cars. But few are aware of the enormous difference implied by the the existence of the prefix.   

In its efforts to engender public trust, NHTSA needs to rethink what it calls these things.  An opportunity exists in the re-framing of its Star Ratings, Or maybe,  this crash-avoidance technology is so different from the crash-mitigation technology that is NHTSA’s sweet-spot, that a new agency or a new division of NHTSA should be created to provide the crash-avoidance safety oversight.  Alain


Sunday, October 15 , 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”27″ width=”38″ border=”0″>Proposed Driverless Testing and Deployment Regulations – Released October 11, 2017

 Rulemaking Actions, Oct 1The following 3 PDFs are important:
1. Autonomous Vehicles Notice of Modification (PDF)  Act

2. Autonomous Vehicles Statement of Reasons (PDF)  Act

3. Autonomous Vehicles 15 Day Express Terms (PDF)   Act  Hmmmm..This is all about Driverless!  Thank you California, and especially Dr. Bernard Soriano, for leading this noble effort and for continuing to distinguish this technology from Self-driving and all of the various other names seemingly meant to confuse.  Alain

Friday, October 6 , 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”34″ width=”35″ border=”0″>FHWA Awards $4 Million Grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for Automated Taxi Shuttles

Press Release, Oct 4, “Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials today awarded a $4 million Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment (ATCMTD) grant to South Carolina’s Greenville County for its automated taxis.

“Technology is the future of U.S. transportation,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Brandye L. Hendrickson. “These funds will help Greenville County lead the nation into a future with more driverless vehicles, which will improve mobility for some and reduce traffic congestion for all.”

County officials will use the funds to deploy an integrated system of “taxi-shuttles,” known locally as “A-Taxis,” on public roads. These are driverless taxis providing shuttle service to and from employment centers–expected to improve access to transportation for disadvantaged and mobility-impaired residents…” Read more Hmmmm… Wow!! FHWA is actually going to fund aTaxis!!!  Congratulations, Fred Payne!  This is a non-trivial achievement.  Alain technology, much as trucks and airlines have with their own ‘Administration’.  Alain

Friday, September 1, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”21″ width=”133″ border=”0″>Automated Vehicles: Are We Moving Too Fast or Too Slow?

Friday, August 25, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”19″ width=”61″ border=”0″>Inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self-Driving Cars

Monday, August 21, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”39″ width=”50″ border=”0″>Driverless-Car Outlook Shifts as Intel Takes Over Mobileye

Monday, August 7, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”27″ width=”52″ border=”0″>Cadillac’s Super Cruise ‘autopilot’ is ready for the expressway

M Burns, Aug 3, “Cadillac is about to start selling vehicles with an autonomous driving mode …Once the light bar on top of the steering wheel turns green, the driver can let go…

“Wait for the green light and let go,” the Cadillac engineer instructed. That’s it. The car was driving itself. I, the person behind the steering wheel, was no longer the driver. Cadillac’s Super Cruise system was driving.  The 2018 Cadillac CT6 sped along US-23 under the direction of Super Cruise. Traffic was light and the weather was perfect. The system held the Cadillac sedan in lane and responded appropriately to traffic. I spent an hour on the expressway and touched the steering wheel and pedals only a few times.  Super Cruise made the drive boring. I think that’s the point….

When active, Super Cruise controls the steering and speed, but again, only on an expressway. This is done through on board sensors and using GPS and mapping data. GM employed GeoDigital, a startup in GM Venture’s portfolio, to map 160,000 miles of expressways in the U.S. and Canada. The car company then used Super Cruise-equipped vehicles to test each mile.

Cadillac’s system also lacks several autonomous features found on Autopilot including the ability to pull the car out of a garage and change lanes by using the turn signals. Hmmmm…  fluff features with little value.

Super Cruise’s IR sensors tracks eye location and head movements. As long as the driver looks at the road every seven to 20 seconds, the system works as expected.  Hmmmm… Fantastic!

General Motors will have to rely on independently owned dealerships to correctly position this product and train buyers on its capabilities. Hmmmm… Yup!

For better or worse, Super Cruise is built into the CT6 like a standard system and not something a driver must use every time they’re on an expressway. This should help timid buyers.  Super Cruise feels like a feature ready for the masses. The system is deeply integrated into the vehicle and using it is akin to using cruise control or turning on the lights. There’s a button for Super Cruise on the steering wheel. Press the button when the system is available and it works. It’s that easy to turn a driver into a passenger. Read more Hmmmm…  Over the air updates?  See also Motor Trend’s view: “… a stand-alone option (as yet unpriced) on CT6 models with the premium luxury trim package and as standard equipment on top Platinum models (the price of which went up $500 for 2018, if that’s any indication)….”  Finally, I guess that I’ll have to go test drive one.  Alain

Monday, July 31, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”21″ width=”133″ border=”0″>What the World and Transport May Be Like in 2030

Monday, July 24, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”27″ width=”132″ border=”0″>Introducing Level 5 and Our Self-Driving Team

Sunday, June 25, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”53″ width=”51″ border=”0″>NTSB Opens Docket on Tesla Crash

The docket material is available at: Read more  Hmmmm… A few comments…
1.  Since lateral control (swerving) couldn’t have avoided this crash (the truck is almost 70 ft long (6 lanes wide) stretching broadside across the highway) , it doesn’t matter if Josh Brown ever had his hands on the steering wheel. That’s totally irrelevant. 
2.  Why didn’t autobrake kick in when the tractor part of the tractor-trailer passed in front of the Tesla?
3.  How fast was the truck going when it cut off the Tesla.  I couldn’t find the answer in 500 pages.   
4.  With sight distances of greater than 1,000 feet, why didn’t the truck driver see the Tesla?  Was it the drugs?
5.  This intersection invites “left-turn run-throughs” (no stop or yield and a 53 foot median and turn lane need to be crossed before one slips through a gap in two traffic lanes.  So you certainly roll into it, (plenty of room to stop if you see something coming) and if you don’t see anything, you hit it.  If you’re in the Tesla, you think you’ve been clearly seem, you expect the truck to stop, it doesn’t, you can’t believe it, BAM!  All in probably a second or so.
6.  The head injury description (Table 1 p2 of 3) certainly suggests that Joshua Brown was seated upright facing forward at impact.  The bilateral lacerations on the lower arm from the elbow to the wrist may indicate that he saw it coming in the last second and raised his arms in an attempt to protect his head.   The evidence reported doesn’t seem to suggest he saw this early enough to bend toward the passenger seat and try to pass underneath. 
7.  About 40 feet of tractor and trailer passed directly in front of the Tesla prior to impact.   Depending on how fast the truck was traveling, that takes some time.  Has NTSB run Virtual Reality simulations of various truck turn trajectories and analyzed what the truck driver and the Tesla driver could/should have seen?  Seems like a relatively simple thing to do.  We know what the Tesla was doing prior to the crash (going 74 mph straight down the road.) and we know where it hit the truck.  How fast the truck was traveling doesn’t seem to be known.
8. Why wasn’t there any video captured from the Tesla.  Didn’t that version of the MobilEye system store the video; I guess not, 🙁 
Anyway, lots to read in the 500 pages, but there is also a lot missing.  I’m not linking the many articles reporting on this because I disagree with many of their interpretations of the facts reported by NTSB.   Please reach your own conclusions.   Alain

Monday, June 19, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”39″ width=”50″ border=”0″>Amazon Deal for Whole Foods Starts a Supermarket War

Sunday, May 28, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”27″ width=”52″ border=”0″>Rethinking Mobility: The ‘pay-as-you-go’ ca: Ride hailing, just the start

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”52″ width=”46″ border=”0″>Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

May 18, Enormously successful inaugural Summit starting with the Adam Jonas video and finishing with Fred Fishkin’s live interview with Wm. C Ford III.  In between, serious engagement among over 150 leaders from Communities at the bleeding edge of deployment, Insurance struggling with how to properly promote the adoption of technology that may well force them to re-invent themselves and AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various technologies that are rapidly advancing so that we can actually deliver the safety, environmental, mobility and quality of life opportunities envisioned by these “Ultimate Shared-Riding Machines”.

Save the Date for the 2nd Annual… May 16 & 17, 2018, Princeton NJ  Read Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Fishkin Interview of Summit Summary and Interview of Yann LeCunRead Inaugural Program with links to Slides. Hmmmm… Enormous thank you to all who participated.  Well done!  Alain

Sunday, May 14, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”18″ width=”109″ border=”0″>  Exploring the Bear Case: Distracted Driving + ADAS = $7 Trillion of Used Values at Risk

Tuesday, April 17, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”22″ width=”60″ border=”0″>  Don’t Worry, Driverless Cars Are Learning From Grand Theft Auto

Friday, March 10, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”24″ width=”156″ border=”0″>Robot cars — with no human driver — could hit California roads next year

Friday, February 24, 2017

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”22″ width=”60″ border=”0″>Alphabet’s Waymo Alleges Uber Stole Self-Driving Secrets

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”21″ width=”113″ border=”0″>May 7 Crash

Hmmm…What we know now (and don’t know):

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”50″ width=”44″ border=”0″>Extracting Cognition out of Images for the Purpose of Autonomous Driving

Thursday, March 17, 2016

U.S. DOT and IIHS announce historic commitment of 20 automakers to make automatic emergency braking standard on new vehicles

Sunday, December 19, 2015

imap:<a href=//” class=”” height=”63″ width=”96″ border=”0″>Adam Jonas’ View on Autonomous Cars

Video similar to part of Adam’s Luncheon talk @ 2015 Florida Automated Vehicle Symposium on Dec 1.  Hmmm … Watch Video  especially at the 13:12 mark.  Compelling; especially after the 60 Minutes segment above!  Also see his TipRanks.  Alain

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