Saturday August 6, 2022

28th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  Tesla’s 2022 Shareholder Meeting with Elon Musk

E. Musk, Aug. 4, .” Read more Hmmmm… Watch the Q & A portion starting about an hour in from the start.  Watch especially the comments about his vision of the Tesla RoboTaxi (aka driverless cars, what I prefer to call autonomousTaxis or aTaxis, the new “Modern Transit”).  The key visions are: 

@ t=6375 … the issue of how he sees these driverless vehicles being operated (deployed). 

While I don’t agree with the option of owning your own and renting it out “AirB&B -style where B&B = Mobility”.  It is easier and more likely to begin by having a Professional entity managing a fleet of Tesla RoboTaxis that provide mobility to the everyone in the community.  This will be the the “Modern Public Transit”.  An example being Trenton MOVES using a fleet of Tesla RoboTaxis. 

For these RoboTaxis to be attractive to a fleet operator, they will need to be styled differently than consumer versions that are sold to individuals.  The RoboTaxi will need to be easy to get in and out and interface well with wheelchairs.   They’ll need to accommodate ride-sharing (personTrips are the source of the revenue, not vehicle sales).  They should have 4-wheel steering so they will never need to back up in stub-end operation.  He has re imagined the pickup truck.  Certainly, he can re-imagine a car focused on providing safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable high-quality mobility throughout a community. 

At the end of addressing the future of Robotasis he states …” assuming we do all these things, I think, probably, Tesla will be the most valuable company in the world.

@ t=7057 Elon is asked “when will Tesla launch the first pilot city for the RoboTaxi business? 

Elon dodged the question by stating that he is focused on doing driverless everywhere, even in every imaginable simulation of the real world.  Consequently, once achieved, it could be released everywhere al at once. 

While a great vision, this is simply not realistic.  He started selling Teslas in California, not throughout the whole country.  He fully understands that one must crawl before one walks, before one runs. 

As you might suspect, I have the ideal “California” for him to first deploy his RoboTaxis and its not California or Arizona.  It is New Jersey: Trenton, NJ or Perth Amboy, NJ or Patterson, NJ or many other cities in New Jersey where the mobility offered by Tesla RoboTaxis would be life changing to many while becoming an interesting alternative to everyone else.  DoJo can more readily regress the coefficients to deliver safe driverless operation within any one of these Operational Design Domains (ODD) rather than trying to do them all simultaneously.  Coefficients can/should be tied to ODDs rather than having one “magical” set that works in all ODDs.  It is trivial for the Operating system to load the coefficients that work best in theRoboTaxi’s current ODD.  This should allow RoboTaxis to demonstrate their technical, economic and societal virtues much sooner in these communities.  Market success will fuel expansion and replication in the delivery of safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, high-quality mobility so that is spreads beyond New Jersey to California and beyond just like the purchase of the first Teslas spread from California to New Jersey and beyond.

@ t=7417 Elon is asked about the Boring Company. 

True, if one could bore tunnels inexpensively, it would be great for longer distance travel.  Certainly, all of the freeways in and around cities would be placed underground.  High Speed rail on the NorthEast Corridor can only go underground for long stretches.  Bringing the Dinky to a Nassau Street terminus must be done underground.  By the way Washington Road should be underground eradicating the cancer that it is as a surface street severing the Princeton Campus.  Then there is Rt. 29 that devastated Trenton by barricading the western part of Trenton from the Delaware River and Rt. 129 that severed neighborhoods; a scenario that was repeated in essentially every city to accommodate through-moving surface travel.  They should all go underground.  There is much good that could be done.  The challenge is the above if.

@ t=6665  “when disengaging autoPilot with the wheel, the accelerator stays on. Please fix it!”  

Maybe… touching or not touching the steering wheel has little in common with acceleration (and braking) which is (are) controlled by the feet.  The steering control should be readily overcome by input of a torque on the steering wheel; however, the steering control should revert to dominance if the driver ceases to exhort a torque on the wheel.  Moreover, torquing the steering wheel should not disengage the brake or the throttle.  

With respect to the driver actions on the brake and throttle:

Driver input from the throttle should have precedence over “intelligent cruise control (ICC)” input to the throttle and brake and should NOT turn off the system simply because the driver touched the accelerator pedal. 

For the brake, it is a little different.  Tapping the brake should turn off the acceleration function of the ICC.  Acceleration should remain off until the driver explicitly re-engages it.  Moreover, driver input to the brake, if less than what the ICC calls for, should always be dominated by the ICC’s desire to brake.  Tapping of the brakes should not turn off the braking function of the ICC.  That intelligent brakig function should continue to keep m fro getting to close to the vehicle in front of me.  The acceleration function has been turned off so I won’t accelerate into the back of the car ahead of me and the braking function should continue to do its best to keep a proper separation between me and the vehicle ahead.  Turning the whole system off placing me completely in control should require an explicit action by me that indicates I’m knowingly usurping responsibility. 

I believe ICC should be on all the time.  Driver sets the speed and separation (or it is done automatically relative to the speed limit, weather conditions and road curvatures).  Driver can choose to override the throttle and override the braking at any time; however, in the absence of overrides, the ICC is in charge.   Alain

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 278 / PodCast 278 Tesla 2022 shareholder’s meeting

F. Fishkin, Aug . 7, “Elon Musk talked about his vision for Tesla robo-taxis and more during his Q&A following the 2022 shareholders’ meeting.   Weighing in on that and more is Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser on episode 278 of Smart Driving Cars with co-host Fred Fishkin.  Plus TuSimple, GM Cruise, Lucid, Argo and more.”

Timeining Index:

Technical support provided by:

   The SmartDrivingCars eLetter, Pod-Casts, Zoom-Casts and Zoom-inars are made possible in part by support from the Smart Transportation and Technology ETF, symbol MOTO.   For more information:  Most funding is supplied by Princeton University’s Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering and Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE) research laboratory as part of its research dissemination initiative

  California DMV accuses Tesla of falsely advertising Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features

R. Mitchell, Aug. 5, “The California Department of Motor Vehicles has accused Tesla of false advertising in its promotion of the company’s signature Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies.

The agency alleges the electric-car maker misled customers with advertising language on its website describing Autopilot and Full Self-Driving technologies as more capable than they actually are.

The company “made or disseminated statements that are untrue or misleading, and not based on facts,” the DMV said in a pair of complaints filed with the state Office of Administrative Hearings on July 28.

The DMV complaints point to the very names of the technologies, as well as other “misleading” language such as the following, which appears on the Tesla website’s Autopilot page:…”  Read more Hmmmm… This is welcome news.  We all agree that the names are really misleading and are totally confusing.  We need truth in naming, advertising, politics, … Alain

  TuSimple reportedly tried to pass off a self-driving truck crash as ‘human error

A. Hawkins, Aug. 4, “Last April, a semi-trailer truck operated by the San Diego-based company that was traveling down I-10 in Tucson, Arizona, suddenly lurched left, slamming into a concrete divider, according to dashcam footage leaked to YouTuber Asian Mai. TuSimple blamed “human error,” but a report in The Wall Street Journal says that’s a major oversimplification.

An internal report viewed by the Journal says that the crash occurred because “a person in the cab hadn’t properly rebooted the autonomous driving system before engaging it, causing it to execute an outdated command.” The left-turn command was 2.5 minutes old and should have been erased but wasn’t, according to the internal report.

But autonomous vehicle researchers say that blaming the crash on human error is misleading, arguing that common safeguards would have prevented the autonomous driving system from executing the outdated command and likely would have prevented the crash. AV systems should not respond to commands that are even a couple hundredths of a second old, the researchers told the Journal. And sharp turns at 65mph should also never have been allowed….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Agreed.  Good thing there was a driver and attendant on board.  Moreover, since humans write all the code, all crashes of code-driven vehicles could be called “human error”.  Thus, calling it “human error” doesn’t earn a passing grade.  Alain

  When the Lawyers Come for Autonomous Vehicles

C. Winston, Aug 5.”…  AVs’ social benefits derive from their much safer overall operations compared with nonautonomous vehicles. They would make highway travel much safer, eliminate the stress of driving, maintain economic activity and social distancing during a pandemic, and virtually eliminate traffic stops and violent police-motorist encounters.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Congress have made little progress in fulfilling their responsibilities when it comes to AVs. To usher in this new technology, the government needs to establish a framework for testing and adopting AVs, modernize the highway infrastructure to facilitate safe AV operations, and reform highway policies to encourage efficient operations. Instead, they have conducted themselves in a lawyerly fashion by raising legal and procedural matters. The result is delay and inaction.

The future of autonomous vehicles now depends on a policy making environment where lawyers are the most represented and influential occupation in government and where the legal profession’s strong influence on government policy puts it in a powerful position to affect policies that benefit its members at the expense of other members of society. Accordingly, as AVs are slowly adopted, law firms will exploit opportunities in areas like liability, intellectual property, and privacy to create new business, increase billable hours, and capture a share of the AV industry’s capital. They will face little resistance from policy makers. ..”  Read more   Hmmmm…  Cliff’s comments are even more poignant when one looks at the equity opportunity made available by driverless mobility systems that provide affordable auto-like demand responsive mobility to everyone… the new public transit… available to take anyone at any time 24/7 (less than a 5 minute wait) from any nearby location directly to anywhere within the system’s Operational Design Domain.  Mobility service that is comparable (and in some way better) than that available from one’s personal automobile at a market price that is comparable, if not cheaper, than driving yourself (more productive use of the vehicle and propensity to share rides during peak hours.).  Such a mobility service may well become the most powerful innovation that begins to level the opportunity field between the rich and the poor.   Alain

  Why a safe approach to self-driving deployment is critical to success

M. Reuss, Aug. 4, “Advanced driver assistance technology and fully autonomous vehicles are officially no longer the stuff of fiction. They’re on our roads today. General Motors pioneered this space in 2017 by launching the world’s first truly hands-free driver assistance technology, Super Cruise. Today, we have parallel paths to get hands-free driving to market for individuals with currently available Super Cruise and soon Ultra Cruise, while pursuing fully autonomous driving through our work with Cruise. 

With fully driverless vehicles now available through ridehail services in the city of San Francisco and the continued expansion of advanced driver assistance systems, it’s increasingly important that we continue to keep safety at the forefront in both ongoing developments in hands-free driving and the future availability of retail AVs. We want to help our customers expand their driving experience with exciting, safe technologies….”  Read more   Hmmmm… No disagreement here. Safety is a necessary condition.  It is a floor.  It is a constraint irrespective of the extent of automation.  It is great to have a “… vision of zero crashes… ” , but the objective is to provide mobility.  Alain

Miami New Times  Miami’s First Fleet of Driverless! Cars Hits the Streets

J. Swanson, May 18, “… According to Pittsburgh-based autonomous vehicle technology developer, Argo AI, no sentient beings are required to man its fleet of driverless vehicles, which debuted yesterday on public roads in Miami — and it’s completely safe and legal.

“Elevators used to be a novelty, but today we take them for granted,” Alex Roy, Argo AI’s director of special operations, points out. “The two most common misconceptions about driverless vehicles are that they will never work, or that they will work everywhere overnight. The reality is, driverless vehicles are on the road in several cities right now, and that number will only grow.”…” Read more Hmmmm…  Alex, we love the elevator analogy.  Congratulations.  A shame I can’t get you to come to New Jersey.  Alain

  Lucid (LCID) crashes as it slashes 2022 production guidance and burns through $800M

F. Lambert, Aug. 4, “Electric automaker Lucid Group’s stock (LCID) is crashing this morning after the company slashed its 2022 production guidance and confirmed that it burned through another $800 million during the last quarter.

Yesterday, Lucid reported its Q2 2022 earnings and confirmed small progress in delivering its Air electric sedan.

In Q2, the automaker delivered 679 vehicles for $97.3 million in revenue – up from the previous quarter, but with 1,405 vehicles produced in the first half of 2022, it is still far behind its goal to produce between 12,000 and 14,000 vehicles in 2022.

Therefore, the company announced that it is slashing that goal to just 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles….”  Read more Hmmmm… Yipes.  That’s almost $10M/day.  And I thought Cruise was in trouble @ -$5M/day.  Alain

Trenton & PerthAmboy MOVES: Commencing the Deployment of autonomousTaxis throughout New Jersey

  GM offers Chevy Bo! lt EV owners $6,000 if they promise not to sue over battery fire recall fiasco

F. Lambert, Aug. 2, “General Motors has started offering Chevy Bolt EV owners a $6,000 refund as long as they promise not to sue over the battery fire recall fiasco of last year.

In June, GM announced that the 2023 Chevy Bolt EV and EUV are getting a significant $6,000 price cut – this was surprising at a time when most automakers are raising the prices of electric vehicles.

On the other hand, the Bolt EV and EUV were in a strange situation after the major setback of recalling virtually all vehicles ever produced due to a battery fire risk coming from a defect in the battery cells supplied by LG Energy Solutions…..”  Read more Hmmmm… Yipes.   Alain