Thursday, September 22, 2022

34th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  Thor for Autonomous Vehicles, Robotics, Medical Instruments and More

J. Huang, Sept 20, “…In today’s vehicles, active safety, parking, driver monitoring, camera mirrors, cluster and infotainment are driven by different computers. In the future, they’ll be delivered by software that improves over time, running on a centralized computer, Huang said.

To power this, Huang introduced DRIVE Thor, which combines the transformer engine of Hopper, the GPU of Ada, and the amazing CPU of Grace.

The new Thor superchip delivers 2,000 teraflops of performance, replacing Atlan on the DRIVE roadmap, and providing a seamless transition from DRIVE Orin, which has 254 TOPS of performance and is currently in production vehicles…” Read more Hmmmm… Watch Jenmsen’s keynote @ 2022 GTC.  Watch: Nvidia Explains Self-Driving Car Vision at GTC 2022 See how the XPeng G9 utilized nVIDIA Watch the G9’s version of “FSD” called X Alain


SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 284 /PodCast 284 w/Danny Shapiro, VP Automotive, nVIDIA

F. Fishkin, Sept 22, “What will NVIDIA’s DRIVE Thor mean for companies looking to deliver autonomous mobility? VP of Automotive Danny Shapiro joins us for episode 284 of Smart Driving Cars. Plus the Biden administration is funding Smart Transportation Technology, GM Cruise aims to develop chips for self driving and the NTSB pushes tech to combat impaired and reckless driving.”


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

  XPeng to Launch Flagship G9 SUV on September 21, 2022

Press release, Sept. 17, “Xpeng, a leading Chinese smart electric vehicle (“Smart EV”) company, is to launch its fourth production model, the flagship G9 SUV, on September 21, 2022….” Read more Hmmmm…  Watch entire release.  Watch portion about their “Intelligent ADAS”, which they call XNGP.  Very impressive.  Given Tesla’s and XPeng’s “Self-driving (my terminology)” / “Level 2+” / “intelligent ADAS” features suggests that all other car manufacturers are going to need to also offer such advanced features; else, being left in the proverbial dust.  It seems obvious that such advanced driver assist features are becoming as necessary as electric starters, automatic transmissions and anti-lock braking.  Soon they will be standard. Alain

MIT Mobility Forum  Public Transit in the US : Challenges & Opportunities

Sept. 23 @ noon EDT , Jim Aloisi & Fred Salvucci   “The MIT Mobility Forum showcases the groundbreaking transportation research occurring across the Institute. Faculty members and researchers present their latest findings, ideas, and innovations, followed by a lively discussion. The Forum is online and open to all. Please register at Zoom beforehand. ” Read more An Absolutely excellent lineup, every Friday, which started on Friday, Sept. 16th with Prof. Susan Handy’84, UC Davis.  Alain


  Biden-Harris Administration Announces $160 Million Available for Smart Transportation Technology that Helps Americans Get More Out of Their Infrastructure

Press release, Sept. 19, “The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today that it is accepting applications for two programs that will make approximately $160 million available annually for the next five years for projects that use technology to improve our transportation infrastructure and make communities safer.

The first program is the new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program. The SMART Grants Program is made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden on November 15, 2021. The program will offer up to $100 million in grants annually over the next five years and will fund projects that use data and technology to solve real-world challenges facing communities today.

“As we undertake the most ambitious infrastructure investment in generations, thanks to the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we can and must plan for the transportation needs of the future,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “From connected vehicles that make driving safer, to smart traffic signals that reduce congestion, to sensors to detect the quality of pavement to help prioritize repair, our SMART grants will fund technology that makes people’s lives better in communities across America.”…

Achieving our transportation priorities related to safety, economic strength, equity, and climate requires bold investment in new technologies and approaches,” said Dr. Robert C. Hampshire, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and Chief Science Officer at US DOT. “SMART supports a broad portfolio of projects across the country that will serve as beacons as we move toward a transportation system that is data-driven, values-based, and technology-enabled”…”  Read more Hmmmm…   OK  Hopefully some of this can be used to make the vehicles that use the vast infrastructure deliver safe mobility that is substantially more equitable, affordable and sustainable.  

I might argue that our equity, affordability, sustainability and safety challenges in mobility arise from the vehicle and not the infrastructure.  Good transportation infrastructure should be simple and inexpensive.  What makes the difference is the vehicle.  Certainly the case in air travel and boating. 

In rubber tired ground transportation it is the vehicles energy source that’s the focus of addressing sustainability and the automation of its lateral and longitudinal control that can address equity and affordability.  The big affordability challenge of today’s mobility is the living wage deserved by the human that drives the vehicle and affordability is the biggest equity challenge of personal-auto-like high-quality mobility.  Alain

    What are all those taxi and for-hire ride surcharges?

A. Chien, Sept. 15, “There was a time when all New Yorkers had to calculate when riding in a cab in New York City was the base fare (currently $2.50 for yellow taxis) and then the increments (50 cents per one-fifth of a mile when traveling above 12 mph or per minute in slow or stopped traffic).

However, these days the list of fees, taxes, and surcharges for your ride in a taxi, black car, Uber, or Lyft has gotten long and complicated.

Former Taxi and Limousine Commission chair Matthew Daus worries all these charges price out regular New Yorkers.

“If you need to go to the hospital and you need to be driven in and it’s not an emergency, and you’re coming from Maspeth, Queens, or East New York,” Daus said, “and you’re making $50,000 a year, you can’t afford to take a taxi cab or a green cab.”…. ” Read more  Hmmmm… Excellent.  When enacted, these fees it is argued that these fees are similar to hotel surcharges and tolls on Turnpikes: they’ll largely fall onto those passing through and not the local citizenry. Notice the location of the toll booth on I-95 in Delaware.  NYC residents can walk, or take the heavily subsidized and un-“nickel/dimed” bus or the subway to get to and from all the places they need to go.  These are luxury taxes on rich outsiders who spurn our excellent public mass transit system. 

Not so!  Taxis, Uber, and Lyft are not just luxuries compared to walking or taking mass transit, they are lifelines for NYC residents that fill the huge gaps in the MTA service.  A smart way to do these surcharges would be to only impose them on trips that could have readily been taken by walking or using the existing MTA services and not on trips taken for which the MTA doesn’t provide decent service.  This is easy to do, since one knows the origin, destination and time of each trip.  One could even get fancy and determine the “luxuryness” of the taxi/Uber/Lyft alternative to the MTA and “Luxury tax” appropriately. 

Could have taken the subway… Luxury ride…. Very high fees.

Would have had to change 3 times…  Fills an MTA service gap…  No fees and the taxi/Uber/Lyft ride is partially subsidized… all done computationally as easily as the application of the current fees on a trip by trip basis. Alain

  Deere Invests Billions in Self-Driving Tractors, Smart Crop Sprayers

B. Tita, Sept 11, “For decades, Deere DE -2.87%? & Co. has dominated the hardware that powers the American farm industry with tractors, harvesters and other machinery used to plant seeds and reap crops.

Now, Deere aims to extend its dominance to software to make those machines—and agriculture—more efficient and productive.

The company this year is rolling out self-driving tractors that can plow fields by themselves, and sprayers that distinguish weeds from crops. Deere, which helped make satellite-guided tractors ubiquitous in the U.S. Farm Belt over the past 20 years, is investing billions of dollars to develop smarter machines that the company said will make farming faster and more efficient than it ever could be with just farmers behind the wheel.

“It’s all about doing more with less,” said John May, Deere’s chief executive.

By the end of the decade, Mr. May projects that 10% of Deere’s annual revenue will come from fees for using software….” Read more  Hmmmm…   Yup!  Alain

 PA: Are community colleges accessible enough to students without cars? A national group tracks proximity to public transportation.

S. Snyder, Sept. 13, “Nearly one-third of 118 community college and technical school campuses in Pennsylvania are not within walking distance of a public transit stop, and that could be a problem for students without cars or with car problems, according to new research…” Read more  Hmmmm…   Likely perfect for MOVES-style RoboTaxi deployment. Alain

Taken for a Ride – The U.S. History of the Assault on Public Transport in the Last Century

P. Rebel, July 1, 2014, “…” Watch Documentary  Hmmmm…   A little perspective.  MOVES-style deployment of RoboTaxis would return the streets to the provision of equitable, affordable, sustainable high-quality mobility.Alain

  Upset by high prices, GM’s Cruise develops its own chips for self-driving cars

J. Lanhee, Sept 13, “General Motors’ (GM.N) autonomous driving unit Cruise has developed its own chips for self-driving cars to be deployed by 2025, as they aim to bring down costs and scale up volume, executives said Tuesday.

Cruise is taking a page out of Tesla’s (TSLA.O) playbook, switching from Nvidia Corp’s (NVDA.O) products to customized chips to power their vehicles.

“Two years ago, we were paying a lot of money for a GPU from a famous vendor,” Carl Jenkins, head of Cruise hardware, told Reuters in an apparent reference to Nvidia, a leading maker of graphics processing units, or GPUs.

“There is no negotiation because we’re tiny volume. We couldn’t negotiate at all. So that’s why I said, okay, then we have to take control of our own destiny,” he said during a tour of the Cruise R&D workshop in San Francisco.

Cruise executives this week for the first time have given details about its custom chips that will power its Origin vehicle with no pedals or steering wheel….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Since when is “.. low volume..” an argument for deciding to “make” rather than “buy”.  Chances of a so motivate choice ending well are slim to none.  Driverless is enormously compute intensive and not the place to be “penny wise”; else, one’s likely to end up very “pound foolish”.  


While I don’t know why Tesla decided to develop its own processors, I doubt that it was to save money.  I suspect that it was because they saw the driverless challenge as having special compute needs that could be better addressed through a more application-oriented architecture.  Dojo may well be a uniquely successful bi-product of Tesla’s initiative.  It is likely that Dojo has been very expensive to develop, but its also likely to be fundamentally valuable to Tesla’s desire to massively scale RoboTaxis.   Alain

  Putting Autonomy Eggs in Several Baskets

A. Grant, Sept. 15, “… Another reason to spread out wagers on autonomous driving is geography. In some respects, regional differences are becoming less of a hindrance. The General Motors-backed startup Cruise, for example, announced plans this week to quickly scale up in new areas, deploying its vehicles in Phoenix and Austin, Texas. The company expects to be able to arrive in a new city, record 3D maps and begin offering driverless rides to passengers, all within 90 days. If Cruise is able to achieve this goal, it’ll be a significant development for the industry and a powerful demonstration of how self-driving technology could scale… ”  Read more Hmmmm…  Wow!! Yea!!! Please come to Trenton ASAP.  We have customers.  Our welcome mat is out. This means that we can be capturing substantially improving mobility to many starting New Year’s day.  Who do we call??   ( or is there fine print associated with the word expects.   Alain

  China has a new Tesla clone, and it starts at just $26,000

F. Lambert, Sept. 21, “Tesla has had some issues with Chinese companies getting “inspired” by its designs in the past. Those vehicles are often referred to as “Tesla clones.”

We previously reported on China’s Xpeng copying Tesla’s vehicle user interface and even its website at one point. Tesla is even suing a former employee who the company believes stole information about its Autopilot for Xpeng.

Now Tesla is facing a new major competitor in China that some believe took some inspiration from Tesla. ” Read more Hmmmm… Coming soon for sale at your local WalMart? Alain

Your car should be able to tell if you’re too drunk or impaired to drive, NTSB says

A. Hawkins, Sept. 21, “The National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency responsible for investigating vehicle and aviation crashes, called on the government to require all new vehicles to include technology that would detect drunk or impaired driving.

The recommendation was made in light of a horrific crash that took place in Fresno County, California, on New Year’s Day 2021 that killed nine people, including seven children. The crash was caused by an impaired driver who was speeding.

​“Technology could’ve prevented this heartbreaking crash — just as it can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the US annually,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy in a statement. “We need to implement the technologies we have right here, right now to save lives.”​…” Read more Hmmmm…  Tell us something else we didn’t know.  We can’t even put speed governors on cars that will sell.  Cars are sold for the freedom that they deliver.  Anything that detracts from that freedom is DoA.  Alain

  Tesla’s giant ‘safety recall’ of 1 million vehicles is just another software update

F. Lambert, Sept. 22, ” The media has reported today on Tesla having to recall a massive number of electric vehicles in the US, but the fix for the “safety recall” is again just another software update that Tesla has already started to push.

Earlier this year, NHTSA issued a series of recalls on Tesla vehicles that were highly reported in the media.

What was less reported, though, is that almost all of those recalls were fairly simple software issues that Tesla has been able to fix through over-the-air software updates.” Read more Hmmmm…Over-the-air-updating is just so fundamentally valuable!!! Alain

  Tesla expands its Full Self-Driving Beta to 60,000 more owners

F. Lambert, Sept. 19, ” The FSD Beta program enables Tesla vehicles to drive autonomously to a destination entered in the car’s navigation system, but the driver needs to remain vigilant and ready to take control at all times.

Since the responsibility lies with the driver and not Tesla’s system, FSD Beta is still considered a level two driver-assist system despite its name. Tesla is basically using its customer fleet to test the feature’s capabilities and gather data to move toward its goals of making the system truly self-driving and shifting responsibility for driving safety to Tesla….” Read more Hmmmm…Crowd testing at this scale is enormously powerful. Amazing how much Tesla is going to learn.  Not only how well FSD works but also how much more work they have yet to do.  At least Tesla will have some idea. Alain

Previous SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast/PodCasts

These editions are sponsored by the SmartETFs Smart Transportation and Technology ETF, symbol MOTO. For more information head to provided technical support

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 283 /PodCast 283

F. Fishkin, Sept 11, “The strategy for survival at Aurora, new Detroit testing for Mobileye, NVIDIA’s coming virtual developer conference and another AI upcoming for Tesla.  Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin share the latest on those stories and more on episode 283 of Smart Driving Cars.” Open Aurora Mobileye NVIDIA MIT Mobility Forum GM BrightDrop GM Cruise Uber Nuro Lucid Nikola Tesla AI Day

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 282 /PodCast 282 w/ Michael Sena, Editor of The Dispatcher

F. Fishkin, Aug. 31, “Is there really a battle over building and maintaining roads?   “The Dispatcher” publisher Michael Sena on the history and outlook on episode 282 of Smart Driving Cars with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin.   Plus… the Saudi linear city plan, GM, #Tesla, Baidu, Waymo and more.”    Michael Sena ..battle over roads   Michael Sena  Saudi linear city plans  Aluminum makes cars…China makes aluminum  Teslas banned from Chinese Communist Party retreat   GM’s mandator OnStar option   Gatik partners with Pitney Bowes   Waymo reported seeks to withhold trip level data in SF  GM president on autonomous vehicle strategy   Baidu says automous EV rides in China have surpassed one million

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast281 /PodCast 281 

F. Fishkin, Aug. 28, “A new step for Tesla FSD with Beta 10 69 release and the company’s “Occupancy Network”.  Princeton’s faculty chair of autonomous vehicle engineering, Alain Kornhauser, weighs in on that plus oversized EVs,  Toyota’s view of autonomous mobility,  Pittsburgh’s Guaranteed Basic Mobility Program and some excitement surround SpaceX and NASA and more.”

00:42 new Tesla FSD Beta 15:37 Tesla AI Day coming 19:07 Space X Launch 21:06 NY Times Essay on oversized EVs 24:18 California to ban gasoline cars by 2035 25:43 Toyota Research Institute says AVs not imminent 31:35 Tesla acts agains Dawn Project and O’Dowd 32:19 Pitssburght Guaranteed Basic Mobility 38:24 Waze shutting carpooling service 41:09 NASA readies Artemis

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 280 /PodCast 280 w/Cade Metz, NY Times

F. Fishkin, Aug . 22, “How can Tesla data help with the understanding of car crashes?   NY Times reporter & author Cade Metz joins Alain and Fred to explore the latest Tesla news, including the new higher price for FSD.  Plus NHTSA reports a continuing rise in traffic deaths, Lyft in Vegas,  Cruise and Waymo.  And Princeton and NBA great Brian Taylor joins us to remember legendary basketball coach Pete Carril.”

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 279 / PodCast 279 w/Scott Painter, CEO Autonomy

F. Fishkin, Aug . 11, “After announcing it will spend 1.2 billion dollars on EVs and rapidly expand its vehicle subscription service, what does the future hold for Autonomy. Serial entrepreneur & CEO Scott Painter joins us for episode 279 of Smart Driving Cars.  Plus Tesla, Argo AI and more …”

Timeining Index:

@t=47 Autonomy CEO Scott Painter 

@t=2485 Tesla, Ralph Nader 
@t=2635  Anti-Tesla ad campaign 
@t=2657 Pittsburgh Post Gazette 
@t=2892 Argo AI  
@t=2967 Congressional push for AV legislation 

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:

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 277/ PodCast 277 w/Michael Sena, Editor of The Dispatcher

F. Fishkin, July 30, “A look at cities & mobility, turmoil at VW, the cash problem at Cruise & more. “The Dispatcher” publisher Michael Sena joins Alain Kornhauser & Fred Fishkin for another spirited discussion on episode 277 of Smart Driving Cars.”

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast Episode 276/ PodCast 276 w/R. Mudge, President, Compass Transportation

F. Fishkin, July 25, “Following the TRB gathering in California, what was accomplished?  Compass Transportation & Technology President Dick Mudge joins us for a look.   Plus the latest on Tesla, Cruise, Baidu, Zoox & more.   Smart Driving Cars episode 276 with Alain Kornhauser & co-host Fred Fishkin.”


Link to 275 previous SDC PodCasts & ZoomCasts

Recent Highlights of:

Saturday September 10, 2022

  Self-Driving Tech Company Floats Possible Sale to Apple or Microsoft

D. Welch, Aug. 30, “Aurora Innovation Inc.’s chief executive officer recently laid out a range of options for the self-driving company to respond to worsening market conditions and partners pushing out timelines, including a possible sale to Apple Inc. or Microsoft Corp., according to a document seen by Bloomberg.

Chris Urmson, who co-founded Aurora after running Google’s self-driving car project, also outlined cost cuts and floated measures including taking the company private, spinning off or selling assets and pursuing a small capital raise in a memo labeled “board discussion pre-read” and dated Aug. 3. Urmson inadvertently sent this to staff and asked them on Aug. 9 not to open it, the document shows.  …” Read more Hmmmm… Realistic but not good news.  With revenue at zero all of these companies are struggling.  The annual addressable market of new class 8 trucks in the US is about 275,000 units.  Given the large number of competitors addressing a limited market that has yet to yield any revenue for any of them  suggests that this is a really tough business, especially if first revenue remains a year or more in the future.  


What may be even more daunting is competition from a TeslaSemi with “FSD.Class8”, not to mention the Waymo Via initiative.  They both can cross subsidize their driverless Class 8 initiatives with their driverless people movement investment.


I still contend that there is a substantial near-term revenue opportunity Advanced Professional Driver Assistance focused on improving Professional Driver workplace.  OSHA should be mandating such technology.  Aurora could be generating revenue from it today. CEOs of trucking companies could be paying for it today and pocketing extremely attractive RoIs.  Professional Drivers would be happier campers.  So much so that the driver shortage might disappear. Alain 

Thursday September 1, 2022

  Funding Roads: Pay for the Effect or Pay for the Cause

M. Sena, Aug. 30, “The September 2022 Issue in Brief

Funding Roads: There was a time when the main problem with roads in the U.S. and Europe was that there were not enough of them to keep drivers from getting stuck in traffic. Then, environmentalism, NIMBYism, anti-feceralism and anybody-with-a-beefism put the breaks on all infrastructure. They shifted the debate to how to pay, rather than what do we need to stay competitive with the countries where the rulers decide what gets built where and how. Is there a way forward for democracies to have a functioning infrastructure, or must we look on with envy at countries where totalitarian governments build infrastructure like it’s the 1950s in the West?

Dispatch Central:  A new city in the desert is an old idea – The de facto head of the Saudia Arabia government has designed a city with one stroke of the pencil. One very long stroke.

Aluminum: Another brick in the Wall of China – Governments required higher fuel efficiency. OEMs lowered car weights to comply. China cornered the market on the material that was needed to make it happen: aluminum. Sound familiar?

Some countries actually do something about Tesla – China (again) seems to be the only country that can tell Tesla to “Heel?”, and Tesla heels. We don’t wonder why this is so.

GM looking for money in all the wrong places – Making something like OnStar a ‘standard option’ is like telling parishoners they need to put money in the collection basket in order to get into mass.  …” Read more Hmmmm… Another fantastic issue.  See ZoomCast 282/PodCast 282 for a discussion of the content.  Alain

Sunday August 28, 2022

  Tesla Releases FSD Beta 10 69 With New Occupancy Network

Tesla Daily, Aug. 22, ” Looking at first impressions from Tesla’s release of FSD Beta 10.69…” Read more  Be sure to watch Ashok Elluswamy’s “Occupancy Networks” keynote presentation  at CVPR on June 20, 2022.  Very impressive, especially the use of training videos and it realization in FSD 10.69

Also pertinent are video demonstrations of:

My takeaway from the above is that FSD 10.69 is impressive but not near “Full” anything, especially if put in the hands of some individual who themselves may well be a menace on the road. 


While not being near “Full” anything, FSD may be nearing the point in which it is FSD within some useful Operational Design Domain. 


It is one thing to be able to safely negotiate a trips segment:  safely drive straight down a well marked lane in clear weather, safely make an unprotected left, safely stop behind a stop line at a stop sign, …  Each is an important achievement.


It is a whole other challenge to be able to safely go from some origin to some destination thus delivering useful mobility to some person or some thing safely without any disengagements.  The ensemble of these origin-destination pairs would define the ODD for FSD.  To date that ODD has been essentially null.  The challenge for subsequent releases of FSD may well be to begin to explicitly identify FSD’s ODD sand assess the extent to which these ODDs have emerged from the null state to begin to safely provide some useful mobility to the general public.  Alain


Asking FSD to be “Full” everything, everywhere to everyone is simply a naive unachievable objective.  To me a better question may well be in which Operational Design Domain is FSD indeed Full Self-Driving?


Once that ODD is determined, restrict FSD to operate ONLY in that ODD. 


Tesla must accept the responsibility allowing FSD to be engaged ONLY when the car is operating in Operational Design Domain where Tesla has certified that FSD drives safely.  Else, FSD safely pull over, stop disengage and turn the responsibility of continuing on to the human driver.  It should be Tesla’s responsibility to allow FSD to be turned on and the determination of when and where it ceases to move because Tesla must be held responsible and liable if it something bad happens when it is driving.  If I’m driving I’m responsible and liable.  Not my passenger who may or may not be paying attention to what is going on.  If FSD is driving it must accept that responsibility and not expect the passenger to help out.  The word “Self” implies “Full”; else the product should be called Partnership-driving or Team-driving or ???   Alain

Monday August 22, 2022

  Can Tesla Data Help Us Understand Car Crashes?

C. Metz, Aug. 18, “Shortly before 2 p.m. on a clear July day in 2020, as Tracy Forth was driving near Tampa, Fla., her white Tesla Model S was hit from behind by another car in the left lane of Interstate 275.

It was the kind of accident that occurs thousands of times a day on American highways. When the vehicles collided, Ms. Forth’s car slid into the median as the other one, a blue Acura sport utility vehicle, spun across the highway and onto the far shoulder.

After the collision, Ms. Forth told police officers that Autopilot — a Tesla driver-assistance system that can steer, brake and accelerate cars — had suddenly activated her brakes for no apparent reason. She was unable to regain control, according to the police report, before the Acura crashed into the back of her car.

But her description is not the only record of the accident. Tesla logged nearly every particular, down to the angle of the steering wheel in the milliseconds before impact. Captured by cameras and other sensors installed on the car, this data provides a startlingly detailed account of what occurred, including video from the front and the rear of Ms. Forth’s car.

It shows that 10 seconds before the accident, Autopilot was in control as the Tesla traveled down the highway at 77 miles per hour. Then she prompted Autopilot to change lanes…” Read more  We’ve been calling for an independent analysis of the Tesla data for some time.  Privacy is easy to protect.  There is no need to know who owns or was operating each Tesla.  Also see ZoomCast 280 Alain

Saturday August 13, 2022

  Tesla, GM Score Biggest Share of $1.2 Billion EV Order From Startup Autonomy

D. Hall, Aug. 9, “Tesla, GM, Volkswagen and Ford are among the automakers set to get big orders from Autonomy, a startup offering drivers the option of subscribing to an electric vehicle instead of buying one outright.

Autonomy plans to announce Tuesday that it’s ordering nearly 23,000 EVs from 17 different automakers for a total outlay of $1.2 billion. With chip shortages limiting production capacity at most automakers, it’s unclear how soon such a fleet could be amassed. The order represents 1.2% of the projected US electric vehicle production through the end of next year… .” Read more Hmmmm… While this is a very interesting play for an individual to acquire a subscription to have a “Drive-it-Yourself” (DiY) electric car that gives the individual anywhere & anytime mobility.  The subscription is acquired using a simple anywhere & anytime mobile phone app (the “autonomy” of the concept) that bundles, insurance, maintenance, taxes, the vehicle,… Essentially everything except the electricity.  Just DiY it and get from where you are to where you want to go when you want to “Just do It” (JdI).  All at an attractive monthly subscription charge when you consider all that is bundled.  This is DiY/MaaSS (Mobility as a SubscriptionService) for those that can DiY.

See the Bloomberg Video and well as SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 279 / PodCast 279 w/Scott Painter, CEO Autonomy

I can readily envision the extension of Autonomy‘s DiY/MaaSS to MOVES/MaaS where “MOVESMobility, Inc.” places a $n.m Billion RoboTaxi order with Tesla, (and/or GM, Toyota, VW, Benteler, Zoox, Baidu, Alibaba, AutoX, …) to deploy safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, high-quality mobility for all 24/7/350+ throughout Trenton, Perth Amboy, Patterson, Newark, Camden, Atlantic City, Edison, New Brunswick, Scranton, Greenville, Newburg, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, .. and their environs’ Operational Design Domains (ODD).  😁  Alain

Saturday August 6, 2022

  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

Saturday July 30, 2022

  GM’s Cruise robotaxi unit drives deeper into the red

Reuters, July 26, “General Motors Co (GM.N) has lost nearly $5 billion since 2018 trying to build a robotaxi business in San Francisco, and now as the automaker’s Cruise unit starts charging for rides, the losses are accelerating.

GM said on Tuesday it lost $500 million on Cruise during the second quarter – more than $5 million a day – as it began charging for rides in a limited area of San Francisco.  … that may be the case for the last quarter, but the chart below from GM’s 6/30/222 10-Q  Shows ($800M) for the last 6 months or $4.38/day when divided by 182.625   Whew!😅

Cruise’s costly effort to transform autonomous driving technology from a long-term research project to a profit-spinning business comes as investors are backing away from riskier bets on technology, and reassessing how soon robot vehicles of any kind will be deployed in large scale on public roads.

Shares of autonomous vehicle technology company Aurora Innovation Inc (AUR.O), for example, are down 80% for the year to date. Shares of robo-trucking company TuSimple Holdings Inc (TSP.O) have lost more than 70% of their value. Some automakers, including Ford Motor Co (F.N), have scaled back investments in automated vehicle units, or taken on partners to share the costs….

Cruise’s losses for the first six months of the year deepened to $900 million from $600 million during the same period in 2021 – when Cruise was not charging for rides. Higher compensation costs to keep staff on board after putting aside plans for an IPO were one factor in the results, GM executives said.

Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Tuesday she is still bullish on Cruise, and reaffirmed a forecast that the unit could generate $50 billion a year in revenue from automated vehicle services and technology by 2030.  .” Read more Hmmmm… Nice optimism.  The source of the reality check above comes from GM’s 6/30/222 10-Q.  Start reading from page 41.  then on page 43:

Whoa!  The only nice thing that can be imagined is by assuming that they’ve had essentially zero revenue, the operating costs have “only” been $800M for the last 6 months.  That is non-small. 

I’d like to suggest that the strategy of trying to create a profitable driverless mobility service for folks that already have 2 or more cars in their garage, have excellent public transit service or travel on expense accounts when wanting to go to between the airport and “downtown” may not be the wisest way to launch such a mobility service.  There is little opportunity to be substantially better or even equivalent to what those potential customers already have.  Little opportunity to get loyal and repeat customers.  The focus to date has been too heavily weighted on getting the technology to work for folks who already have more mobility options than they know what to do with.  Great for click-bait;  challenging for the 10-Q.  What must Waymo’s 10-Q Cash Flow chart look like? 

Capturing loyal and repeat customers is really tough when the competition is excellent and entrenched.  While pricing can be high, volume is almost non-existent even with nominal pricing.  Except for the novelty, the marketplace in the Chandlers and SFs is essentially non-existent.  To date those markets have been quiet, at best.  What must Waymo’s 10-Q Cash Flow chart look like? 

It astonishes me that to date none of the leading driverless companies have spent any money trying to serve the needs of folks that don’t own cars, aren’t traveling using someone else’s money, nor have access to a good public transit system focused on their mobility needs. 

These folks definitely can’t pay as much for a ride as those that are being chased by Cruise & Waymo, but there are more of them.  Moreover, its almost trivial to provide them with a mobility option that is substantially better than what they have today for many, if not most, of their daily personTrips. 

This is the market that we’ve found in New Jersey; in Trenton & Mercer County, Perth Amboy & Middlesex County and Patterson & Passaic County.  We haven’t even begun looking in Newark, Camden, Atlantic City and the rest of New Jersey.

The excuse seems to have been that it would be too expensive to deal with NJ’s bad weather, even though, we’ve made it clear that New jersey is not interested in a 365.25 days/yr.  mobility solution.  We’d be more than pleased with a 350 days/yr. operation.  New Jersey has more than 350 good days a year.  We aren’t so entitled that we can’t wait for the hurricane to blow through, the snow to be shoveled or the fog to lift before we go about our normal business.  We enjoy the “snow day” at home.  We are convinced that is actually easier and cheaper to capture recurring and loyal NJ customers.

The rule-of-thumb for a Trenton-MOVES style operation is: a vehicle needs to serve at least 100 personTrips/day.  With slightly better ride-sharing and time-of-day pricing, one might be able to get to 150 personTrips/day.  To cover a fleet of 100 vehicles, ridership needs to be about 10k to 15k personTrips/day.  This kind of utilization leads to per personTrip capitalization costs of less that $1/personTrip for vehicles costing upwards of $150k @ interest rates upward of 7.5%.  That is to say, $1/personTrip readily covers the vehicle capital costs even at moderate scales. 

Given that trips on-average are less than five miles, vehicle operating costs are less than $1/personTrip. 

Management costs are largely fixed. With volume the per personTrip burden decrease enormously, and can’t be more than $0.50/personTrip. 

Break-even fare is thus roughly  $2.50/personTrip. 

An average market fare of $3.50/personTrip delivers a profit of >$1.00/personTrip, >$100/vehicle-day.

A fleet of 100 vehicles delivers a profit >$10k/day, >$3.0M/yr. in the Trenton ODD serving 10k personTrips/day.

From where do these 10k personTrips/day materialize?

Essentially all the riders of NJ Transit rail would love a simple reliable convenient way to get to & from the train.  By on-demand service within the community around the train station, loyalty upwards of 80% could be achieved for anyone wanting to go to NYC or within walking distance to any other NJ train station.  For Trenton that represents a marketplace of 8,000 personTrips/day that currently drive to & from the station every day and those that currently don’t use the train that would if it was easy and reliable to them to get to AND from the station, when they wanted to get to and from there. Half of the 10k would easily come from serving the Trenton Train Station.

Trenton Central HS has 1,800 students.  More than 1,500 live more than a 10 minute walk to the TCHS.  Truancy is proportional to how far a student has to walk to school.  Trenton MOVES could readily serve 1,250 of these students every day.  That’s 1/4 of the needed 10k.

We only need another 2.5k personTrips and we haven’t even begun dealing with getting people to & from work in Trenton, doctors, shopping visiting friends, etc. needed by the 70% of Trenton households who have access to one or zero cars.  100 vehicles serving 10k personTrips/day making >3.0M/year @ an average fare of $3.50/personTrip is just the start of a profitable business.  Employing 200 vehicles costing at most $100k at interest rates of less than 7.5% serving 150 personTrips/day at fares of $3.00/personTrip makes way more than $5M per year. 

Expanding Trenton MOVES throughout Mercer County giving the opportunity to increase average fare (because of the longer personTrips) to maybe $5/personTrip keeping utilization @ 150 personTrips/vehicle-day of a fleet of 1,000 vehicles and doing a little better on interest rates and cap costs can lead to profits of >$10M/year for Trenton/Mercer MOVES.  There are at least 10 replications of Trenton/Mercer MOVES that could be done in NJ by 2030 utilizing a fleet of at least 10,000 vehicles leading to a profit of >$100M/year. 

This kind of success leads to having many more people leave their cars at home and frequenting NJ-MOVES as their mobility system.  This could lead to a NJ-Moves fleet of >100,000 vehicles is generating a profit of >$1B. 

If Mary expects this to be achieved by 2030 and replicated in the 50 other states (on average) as the Universe she expects to exist in 2030, I’m hopeful but skeptical.  My point is, that starting with Trenton MOVES as the big bang that achieved her vision seems to me to be a lot clearer that where Cruise/Waymo have chosen to try to create a Big Bang.  Seems as if she and Kyle should be taking Trenton and New Jersey much more seriously. Please call me! Alain

Monday July 25, 2022

  Baidu unveils autonomous vehicle without steering wheel

Reuters, July 16, “China’s search engine giant Baidu Inc on Thursday unveiled its new autonomous vehicle (AV) with a detachable steering wheel, with plans to put it to use for its robotaxi service in China next year.

Cost per unit will drop to 250,000 yuan ($37,031.55) for the new model, compared with 480,000 yuan for the previous generation, Baidu said in a statement.

“This massive cost reduction will enable us to deploy tens of thousands of AVs across China,” Baidu’s chief executive Robin Li said at the Baidu World conference. “We are moving towards a future where taking a robotaxi will be half the cost of taking a taxi today.” Read more Hmmmm… Really?? See video.  Where do I buy 10 for immediate delivery to New Jersey with option to buy 100 more by EoY’22 and 1st inline to buy 1,000 more by EoY’23.  eMail me!!!

While the design is certainly not ideal for “Trenton MOVES” or “Perth Amboy MOVES”  they would be good enough to get started with addressing the “Sociology Challenges” of MOVES-style deployments.  And the price is right if this isn’t total click-bait.  But… that is a really big if . 🙁  Alain

Saturday July 16, 2022


Press release, July 12,”May Mobility, a leader in the development and deployment of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology, today closed a $111 million Series C round of funding. Additionally, the company plans to continue to pursue its deployment programs using the Toyota Sienna Autono-MaaS vehicle platform while beginning development on another vehicle design centered around mobility, Toyota’s e-Palette, signaling the next potential milestone as it seeks new ways to bring equitable mobility solutions to the masses….”    Read more Hmmmm…  Hopefully this will enable May Mobility to take seriously Trenton MOVES and other MOVES-style deployment initiatives in New Jersey and beyond.  Alain

Saturday July 9, 2022

  U.S. agency probing self-driving Cruise car crash in California

D.Shepardson, July 7, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a special investigation into a recent crash of a Cruise self-driving vehicle in California that resulted in minor injuries, the agency said on Thursday.

The auto safety agency did not identify the specific crash, but a Cruise vehicle operating in driverless autonomous mode was involved in a crash involving minor injuries on June 3 in San Francisco, according to a report filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. … ”  Read more Hmmmm… The police report indicates that the Cruise vehicle stopped while making a protected left turn, yielding to avoid being T-boned by a speeding Prius that might run its red. Instead the Prius changed to its left turn lane and broadsided the Cruise vehicle.  I can’t wait to see the Cruise 360 video of that crash.  Hopefully the Prius’ insurance company will reimburse the Federal Government for its expenses incurred in its special investigation of the crash that it caused.  Alain

Saturday June 11, 2022


  Princeton Fifth Annual SmartDrivingCars Summit

June 24, M. Sena “THE DISPATCHER, July 2022
Princeton Fifth Annual SmartDrivingCars Summit ………..
Safe, Equitable, Affordable, Sustainable, High-quality
Mobility for Everyone ……………………………………………….2
Dispatch Central……………………………………………………….9
Someone lit a fire under NHTSA …………………………………9
The Economist: Right analysis, wrong solution …………..12
Musings of a Dispatcher: Eyes on the Back Story………..15
The evolution of digital maps and ADAS ……………………15
Digital Maps for the Vehicle – 1970-2022 ………………….24  …

Read more Hmmmm… Another great edition and very well written summary of the 5th Summit.  Alain

Saturday June 18, 2022

 NHTSA Releases Initial Data on Safety Performance of Advanced Vehicle Technologies

June 15, Press release, “Today, as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s efforts to increase roadway safety and encourage innovation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the initial round of data it has collected through its Standing General Order issued last year and initial accompanying reports summarizing this data.

The SAE Level 2 advanced driver assistance systems summary report is available here, while the SAE Levels 3-5 automated driving systems summary report is available here. Going forward, NHTSA will release data updates monthly…”   Read more Hmmmm… This is a good start; however, as NHTSA repeats many times, this is just a start and there are many “data limitations”. The most severe may well be the possibility of substantial “sampling bias“, the most severe of which is that each OEM sourced the reported data very differently.  That makes the data between OEMs incomparable.

Also un reported is any measure that would enable a “crash rate” for an OEM to be determined.  One only has a numerator value but no denominator value.

Finally, 392 crashes of “Level 2” cars were reported during the “10” month period of July 2021 and May 15, 2022.  About 12 million vehicles are involved in traffic crashes every year among the 283 million vehicles that operate in the US.  Assuming any one vehicle is unlikely to be involved in more than one crash per yer, it means that each vehicle, on average is involved in 12M/283M =  0.0424 crashes per year.  Thus, if these ADAS cars were involved in crashes at the average rate, and had their ADAS on all the time, the 500 vehicle crashes per year contained in these data would expect to be generated from a fleet of only about 11,800 vehicles (or 0.0042% of the vehicles (“everything being equal”, ADAS on all the time.). 

Consequently, either, …

  • These system outrageously reduce crash probabilities, and/or
    • maybe some, but we’re probably not much luckier.
  • very few of the cars in use during that “10” month period had Level 2 capabilities, and/or
    • unfortunately, the VIN number doesn’t identify these cars and only Tesla announces how many sold (I may have missed the reportings)
  • very few of the drivers of those cars rarely engaged the Level 2 features, and/or
    • likely.  Only Tesla releases data on the utilization of its level 2 features but does so only in aggregate terms that don’t allow for correction of sampling bias associated with engagement in “easy” driving conditions versus “challenging” driving conditions.
  • enormous under counting
      • likely, only Tesla has the opportunity to either “know all” or sample effectively because of their OtA monitoring of its vehicles.  Everyone else has conveniently kept their heads in the sand. Mercedes didn’t report any; however, during that period I think my Intelligent Cruise Control and Lane Centering were engaged when I hit a deer.  Mercedes must not have been watching me, I didn’t report it and I didn’t get the memo that informed me to do anything. 

Anyway.  It is a start and at least to me the numbers are not startling.

What needs improvement is sourcing of the incidents.  Maybe OtA should be mandated.  At minimum, the VIN should specify the existence of theses capabilities.  Then normal police reportings can begin to “automatically” access the “black box event recorders” (see also Accident data recorder and NHTSA) that are in most cars today.  Unfortunately, privacy concerns makes this not-easy.  So here we are.  It wont be easy to do much better, but we should continue to try. 

What the data do point out is that a substantial number of the crashes involved the rear ending of a stationary object.  I have pointed out repeatedly that the source code of these systems explicitly disregard stationary objects in the lane ahead. Justifying this explicit process is that current sensors  incur unacceptable false positives when trying to determine if sufficient headroom exists under detected stationary object in the lane ahead.  Thus, to avoid braking in response to these rare false positives, stationary objects in the lane ahead are all assumed to be “pass under-able”. 

As one drives, one encounters many stationary objects in the lane ahead.  These are readily sensed and precisely located ahead.  Readily sensed are overpasses, signs, tree canopies, traffic lights, …  all of which can usually be readily passed under.  (As can vehicles ahead that come to rest in vehicle-follower mode.  These are not disregarded because one is in vehicle-follower mode.)

But when one is in vehicle-leader mode and one encounters a stationary object ahead, I believe, most, if not all “Level 2” systems disregard that object and assume the car can pass underneath.  So if you are in vehicle leader mode and come over the crest of a hill to be confronted with a stopped object ahead, your system will disregard that object.  Similarly, if the vehicle that you are following changes lanes forcing you to become a leader, any stationary object ahead will be disregarded.    Alain

Saturday June 11, 2022

3 minute Promo:

The 5th Summit:

Summit Preview Tour

  Dr. Steve Still’s Tribute to Heywood Patterson

S. Still, June 3, “… Heywood Patterson, 67, He often drove members of his church to Tops, helping them load their groceries into his car and then taking them home. “That’s what eh did all the time,” Deborah Patterson said. “That’s what the loved to do”.  …” Watch Video Hmmmm… A principal reason for “Trenton MOVES”-like deployments is to do what Heywood Patterson “loved to do” for the many.  Alain

Saturday May 28, 2022

The Evolving Business of Powering Our Vehicles

M. Sena, May 24, “New Car Assessment Programs (NCAPs) all around the world have created a separate and unequal set of standards for vehicle safety operating in parallel with the Type Approval processes in most countries and the U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and their equivalents in other countries. One standard is enough. In this month’s the lead article, I look at why this has happened, why it is not a good idea, and what should be done to correct the situation. 

There is no Musings in this month’s issue. Instead, I have put my musings energies to work in Dispatch Central. You can see the topics below. The section ends with a notable quote from the CEO of Stellantis on the topic of battery electric vehicles.

Enjoy your June issue of The Dispatcher. All comments are welcome, whether you want to take exception to something I have written or you just want to let me know that you got something out of reading it. …” Read more Hmmmm…  Every month, great reading.  Enjoy!  Alain

Sunday May 15, 2022

  From pricing carbon to fighting opioid abuse, ORFE showcased top senior projects

A. Nathans, May 11, “When Serena Ren presented her senior thesis on using machine learning for art appraisals last month, she hoped to see her friend, Joyce Luo, present her thesis on fighting opioid addiction. But since all students in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering present their theses in parallel sessions, this was impossible.

But on May 4, Ren and Luo finally got to see each other’s presentations in a classroom in Sherrerd Hall, thanks to the department’s first-ever event in which selected students present their thesis work to the whole department…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  I’m so proud!  Hopefully we’ll be able to release the video so you can enjoy. Keep trying the link:

  Princeton ORFE Class of 2022 Senior Thesis Symposium “Best 8”

Saturday May 7, 2022


PAVE, May 4, “Autonomous vehicle technologies offer incredible potential: they could make our highways safer, they could offer new mobility options for people who can’t drive, and they could help create a more equitable transportation system for those who are not well-served by our current system.

During the month of May, we are highlighting places where AVs are in use — today — being deployed, tested, and used for public good. We want to look at examples of the technology being used to serve food deserts, to expand access to rural communities, to offer new accessibility options, and more.

We are starting with the Trenton MOVES initiative, which is the first large-scale urban transit system in America based entirely on self-driving shuttles. The shuttles, which carry four to eight passengers, serve traditionally underserved Trenton neighborhoods, where 70% of households have limited access to a single automobile, or no access at all. Our panelists will detail the program, describing how it works, the results it has achieved, and their vision for the future……”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Very nice.  Be sure to watch video 😁 and see ZoomCast 267 Alain

Friday, April 30, 2022

  NJDOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti and the Trenton NJ MOVES Program

P. Keller, April 29, “New Jersey recently announced a $5 million grant for the Trenton Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System or MOVES Project. The grant to the City of Trenton will support the planned start up and eventual deployment of 100 Autonomous Vehicles that will provide an on-demand automated transit system to serve the 90,000 residents of Trenton…..”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Very nice.  😁 AlainSaturday, April 23, 2022

  Knight Foundation 

April 21, “CARTS Executive Director Jerry He explains to the audience at #CoMotionMiami that:


Hmmmm…   Yup!  See ZoomCast265 Alain

Thursday, April 15, 2022

  Musk promises ‘dedicated robotaxi’ with futuristic look from Tesla

H. Jin, April 6, “Electric carmaker Tesla (TSLA.O) will make a “dedicated” self-driving taxi that will “look futuristic,” Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Thursday, without giving a timeframe.

The 50-year-old billionaire, wearing a black cowboy hat and sunglasses, made the comments at the opening of Tesla’s $1.1 billion factory in Texas, which is home to its new headquarters.

Massive scale. Full self-driving. There’s going to be a dedicated robotaxi,” Musk told a large crowd at the factory….” Read more 

Hmmmm… Wow! It was brilliant for Elon to begin focusing his EVs on rich Californians who already have a stable full of cars to go all the way to grandma’s house and back and were really looking for a neat toy.

Elon followed the graceful rollout of his Supercharger infrastructure which enabled the upper-middle class that doesn’t have a backup fleet and needs to have a toy and reliably go back and forth to grandma’s house.  Viola!!! No longer just a toy.  Seamless evolution to “Massive Scale” scale and Massive Profitability. 

RoboTaxis’ evolution to “Massive Scale” is turning out to be different.  Starting with rich WesternStaters doesn’t seem to be working sociologically for Waymo.  The rides offered seem to be taken for entertainment and side-show purposes rather than valued enablers of enhanced quality of life.  Nice for selfies, but not much more.

Recall fundamental value is to provide a safe, high-quality ride from A to B.  “Safe” is “safe”,  but “high-quality” is relative to what one now has readily available.  For the rich, that’s where they’ve already put a lot of money to create for themselves something really nice.  The chances someone is going to offer something better to an individual that has crafted something perfect for themselves is slim-to-none.  Consequently, the service is used primarily for taking selfies. 

For those that don’t have their own car for whatever reason  (can’t drive, don’t want to, too young, too old, and/or too poor) their mobility options are simply dreadful.  Absolutely trivial for an aTaxi service to be viewed as the quality winner and used to provide customer accessibility, improved quality of life, endearment, respect, love, appreciation, loyalty, and use. 

Consequently, if Elon is really serious about achieving “Massive Scale” then he should basically flip his Tesla strategy and start by focusing on serving the mobility needs of those that will fully appreciate and gain the most personal value from his market offering;

  • those that don’t already have a stable full of their own personal mobility options.  
  • those for which his aTaxi can substantially change their lives for the better. 

These are the customers of Trenton MOVES; only about 50,000 of Trenton’s 90,000 population; but 50,000 that will really appreciate you.  Start by only serving Trenton’s 8 square mile area with about 100 vehicles and only during the best 350 days out of the year’s 365.25.  

They’ll be so appreciative and you will have provided the spark that will allow your aTaxis to go viral!  You’ll quickly serve Mercer county, Newark, Camden, Atlantic City, New Brunswick, Toms River, Perth Amboy, all of New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, New York City (except Manhattan), Long Island, ….. 

That’s the natural road to “Massive Scale” for Mobility for all.   Start with those in most need and evolve to convert those that will leave their own cars parked in their driveway.  

Massive Scale” starts with Trenton MOVES Alain

Thursday, March 31, 2022

  Taking our next step in the City by the Bay

The Waymo Team, March 30, “This morning in San Francisco, a fully autonomous all-electric Jaguar I-PACE, with no human driver behind the wheel, picked up a Waymo engineer to get their morning coffee and go to work. Since sharing that we were ready to take the next step and begin testing fully autonomous operations in the city, we’ve begun fully autonomous rides with our San Francisco employees. They now join the thousands of Waymo One riders we’ve been serving in Arizona, making fully autonomous driving technology part of their daily lives….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Congratulations!  Enormous accomplishment and fundamental expression of confidence in your technology.  Please come to New Jersey where we are certain that you can actually delier “Safe, Equitable, Affordable, Sustainable, HIgh-quality Mobility” that will substantially improve the quality-of-life of many by transforming affordable housing into affordable living and more.

Let’s look at the back-of-the-envelope numbers…
Population: 90,000.

PersonTrips/Day (non-walking): 300,000

    IntraTrenton: 150,000

PersonTripLength (90%tile): 10 miles

    intraTrenton (100%tile) 5 miles

Operational Productivity:

    VehicleTrips/Day: 50

    Average Vehicle Occupancy (AVO): 2

    PersontTrips/VehicleDay: 100

    PersonTrips/VehicleYear: 35,000

    100 vehicle fleet productivity: 10,000 PersonTrips/day (1/15th market penetration)

    50% market penetration Fleet requirements:  500 vehicles (AVO =2.5) for 60 PersonTrips/VehicleDay). 


    Depreciation/PersonTrip @ $200k/vehicle, 4 year life = $200,000/(4*35,000) = $10/7 = $1.43/PersonTrip

    Electricity + maintenance + management + … = $0.57/PersonTrip

    Cost = $2.00/PersonTrip


New Jersey:   
Population: 9+ Million

PersonTrips/Day (non-walking): >30 Million

    IntraNJ + NJT/Septa to/from NYC & PHL: 30 Million

PersonTripLength (90%tile): 10 miles

Operational Productivity

    VehicleTrips/Day: 60

    Average Vehicle Occupancy (AVO): 2.5

    PersontTrips/VehicleDay: 150

    PersonTrips/VehicleYear: 50,000

    10% market penetration (3 Million PersonTrips/Day: Fleet requirements:  20,000 vehicles (AVO =2.5) for 60 PersonTrips/VehicleDay). 


    Depreciation/PersonTrip @ $200k/vehicle, 4 year life = 200,000/(4*35,000)= $10/7 = $1.43

    Electricity + maintenance + management … = $0.57

    Cost per PersonTrip = $2.00

Revenue:  (10% market penetration: 3M personTrips/Day)

    10% @ cost + 90% market pricing: 

        10% @ $2.00/PersonTrip (300,000*$2.00 = $600,000/day; $200M/year

        90% @ $3.70/personTrip (2.7M*3.70 = $10M/day; 3.5B/year (value poposition could hae the average market price even higher than $3.70/personTrip (+$1.70 over cost)

Profit:  $1.70 *2.7M = $4.6M/day = $1.5B/year


Seems to me that Waymo should have responded to the NJ DoT RfEI and shouldn’t be completely ignoring me.  I guess I’m missing something.  Maybe someone else will call me? 😎  Alain

  Moving Forward with Trenton MOVES

K. Pyle, Feb. 9, “Dr. Alain Kornhauser’s vision of bringing equitable, sustainable, and affordable mobility to the people of Trenton took another step forward with the February 9th, 2022 announcement (Facebook) of a $5 million NJDOT Local Transportation Planning Fund Grant for the Trenton Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System (MOVES) Project (PDF). The significance of this event goes beyond the grant announcement…”  Read more  Hmmmm… Ken, thank you for the kind words.  Alain

    Smart Driving Cars Extra: Trenton MOVES gets moving 

Feb. 11, “The New Jersey DOT is providing 5 million dollars to get Trenton MOVES moving.  The goal..autonomous, affordable, safe mobility for all.   This is a video of the event held on February 9th.”  Read more  Hmmmm… Fantastic even with challenging audio.  Turn on Closed Caption. The substance is in the quality of the words from the Mayor, Commissioner and Superintendent.  All from the heart. Very worth absorbing.  Alain.

Friday, February 4, 2022

   Trenton MOVES

W. Skaggs, Feb. 3,”We are excited to invite you to join Mayor Gusciora, N.J. Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, and Trenton Public Schools Superintendent James Earle to celebrate a $5 million award from the NJDOT Local Transportation Projects Fund for an unprecedented public transportation project right here in the Capital City. The project is called the Trenton Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicular Equity System (MOVES) initiative.

Originally announced by Governor Murphy and Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti in December, TrentonMOVES seeks to provide a safe, equitable, and affordable high-quality on-demand mobility service to Trenton residents. The effort is a collaboration between the Governor’s Office, NJDOT, the City of Trenton, and Princeton University.

The $5 million award is a huge milestone for the project. This will be the first large-scale urban transit system in America to be based entirely on self-driving shuttles. Each vehicle will carry four to eight passengers at a time. The AVs will be low-cost to users in underserved neighborhoods. The high school will be one of the central destinations on the first routes.

The event will take place at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022 in the Trenton Central High School auditorium. Members of the press will be invited to attend. ….” Read more  Hmmmm… Another real milestone.  

The Trenton MOVES RfEI closed February 25, with 20 submittals.  Next comes the 5thPrinceton  SmartDrivingCar Summit June 2 -> 4, 2022 in Princeton & Trenton, NJ.  The Summit will be  focused on enabling Trentonians to get a first glimpse at technology and mobility systems that can deliver Trenton MOVES’ mobility objectives (Safety, Equity, Affordability, Sustainability,..) and, very importantly, enabling technology and mobility companies to learn the market opportunities available to be captured in Trenton, the rest of Mercer County, and throughout New Jersey. 

Trenton MOVES is a win-win opportunity for the citizens of New Jersey (The Public) and the shareholders of mobility provider(s) (The Private), who can come together in a Trenton MOVES Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) that will be created through a Request for Proposal (RfP) process commencing shortly after the close of the Summit.  😁  Alain

Alain L. Kornhauser, PhD
Professor, Operations Research & Financial Engineering
Director of Undergraduate Studies, ORFE
Director, Transportation Program
Faculty Chair, Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering

229 Sherrerd Hall
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
609-980-1427 (c)

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