Sunday, November 6, 2022

40th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

   A Deployment Framework for  MOVES-style Driverless Transit Networks

A. Kornhauser, Nov. 1, “So much has been happening lately on the AV scene. With all these recent changes in mind, it seems a good moment for me to reiterate the basic fundamentals of mobility and then to restate the context with which I see the potential value of AV technology. In the following presentation, I will identify some pertinent societal challenges where mobility might have an opportunity to substantially improve quality-of-life. Fundamental to this concept is the deployment of technology that disrupts consumer choice, thus allowing the marketplace to deliver both the economic return on the investment in the technology and to unleash the societal benefits of the improved quality-of-life.”   Read more Hmmmm… View slides, listen to PodCast and/or watch a repeat of the presentation that I made at the 2022 UBC International Road Safety Symposium. Alain

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 290 /PodCast 290  A New Deployment Framework for Autonomous Vehicles 

F. Fishkin, Nov.. 6, “On episode 290 of Smart Driving Cars, Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser shares a presentation just delivered in Vancouver titled…A New Deployment Framework for Autonomous Vehicles. Plus..he chats with co-host Fred Fishkin about Waymo, Lyft, Aurora, Tesla and more.  


0:00 open 01:00 A New Deployment Framework for Autonomous Vehicles presentation 01:04:20 Waymo making passenger trips to Phoenix airport 01:06:30 Layoffs at Lyft 01:09:30 Aurora reaffirms enough cash until commercial deployment 01:10:30 New FSD Beta from Tesla


Technical support provided by:  a 501c3 dedicated to Safe & High-Quality Mobility for All

   Replaying real life: how the Waymo Driver avoids fatal human crashes

T Victor, March 2021, “…But while we often hear that autonomous driving technology could make a dramatic difference, before today there has not been a published scenario-based study that we’re aware of that looks into how autonomous technology performs in scenarios that led to fatal crashes by human drivers. Read more Hmmmm… John Carlson from Waymo’s safety team gave an excellent presentation at the 2022 UBC International Road Safety Symposium showing how the improved perception contained in Waymo Driver could have readily sensed (it is on all the time with a 360 degree view) and then simply avoided what otherwise was horrible crashes.  The 107MPH red-light runner who T-boned a left turner is really sobering).  The Waymo Driver would have seen it coming and simply braked a little to “let him pass”.  No crash! No deaths! 


It is great that this system is on Waymo One Driverless cars, but it would be even greater if it was on the cars that we buy in showrooms and that we drive every day.  While we can turn our heads and have mirrors, our field of view during any short span of time is extremely limited, even if we are paying attention (if we’re texting, it is really small and often zero). I hope that Waymo (and others) will sell these perception systems to OEM so that they’ll start appearing on the cars that we drive.  If US DoT and NHTSA were really interested in Safety, they would insist (mandate) that such systems be standard in the cars that we buy and drive. Alain


 Waymo’s robotaxis are now making passenger trips to the Phoenix airport

A. Hawkins, Nov. 3, “Waymo is ready to tackle the chaos of airport drop-offs and pickups in Phoenix. The Alphabet company says it is the first autonomous vehicle company to include a busy metropolitan airport in its service area. The company had previously only offered airport trips to its employees with safety drivers behind the wheel.


Expanding its service area to include Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport represents a potential moneymaking opportunity for Waymo, with the company noting that airport trips account for an estimated 20 percent of manually driven ride-hail cars.   … ” Read more Hmmmm  … “… potential moneymaking opportunity…”  Wait, really? I must be missing something here…. Waymo is going after the market that is the proverbial “bread and butter” of Uber/Lyft/taxis?  While the first trip may have the added benefit of a selfie, the 2nd and future trips will be at best “as good as” Uber/Lyft/taxi and nowhere near as good as Limo/BlackCar.  Chances for repeat customers seem slim2none,.  Most of those customers are traveling on expense accounts.  They are all about high-quality service and are totally price insensitive. These characteristics are antithesis to “moneymaking”  for a Driverless system whose biggest strength is affordability and has no chance in beating a chauffeur in delivering high-quality service. 


All that great work and investment to be an “also ran.” Someone please explain to me how this makes sense.


Technologically Waymo is way out in front. Sociologically and commercially, it has failed “Lemonade Stand 101”.  Alain

   Volkswagen to work with Mobileye on automated driving after Argo exit – sources

J. Schcartz, Oct 27, “Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) plans to expand its cooperation with Intel’s Mobileye (MBLY.O) to include its automated driving program after Wednesday’s decision to no longer invest in self-driving startup Argo AI, two sources familiar with the plan told Reuters on Thursday.


Mobileye, which develops autonomous driving technologies, already cooperates with VW’s software unit Cariad.


“If you have obtained good results with one partner, it makes sense to work with them in other fields as well,” said one of the sources.

…”  Read more Hmmmm… Interesting perspective. Alain


 FSD Release Notes Leaked, Cybertruck Report, Twitter Crossover

R. Maure, Nov. 1, ” 

 Release notes for FSD Beta 10.69.3 leaked ahead of broader rollout

Tesla China insured units for October

Report on Cybertruck production timeline

Tesla employees reportedly help out at Twitter

Panasonic to begin battery factory construction

Toyota reports earnings

SpaceX launches Falcon Heavy

Read more Hmmmm… Worth reading.  Alain


N. Doughty, Nov. 2, “Strip District-based autonomous vehicle company Aurora Innovation Inc. is reaffirming that it has enough cash on-hand to keep it running until the commercial deployment of its self-driving technology for long-haul trucking in 2024. It’s a message that’s being signaled after last month’s shuttering of Pittsburgh-based AV startup Argo AI, which likely ran out of money after its main backers — Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG — announced they would no longer fund the firm following its inability to attract new investors.


On Wednesday during the company’s Q3 earnings call — its fourth since becoming a public company almost a year ago to the day — Aurora (NASDAQ: AUR) Chief Financial Officer Richard Tame said the company has over $1.2 billion in cash and short-term investment reserves, almost all of which came from its IPO. Its operating expenses in Q3 reached $203 million when including stock-based compensation awards of $37 million. Aurora spent the bulk of its operating expenses, about $139 million, on research and development-related costs, which Tame said is primarily a figure that is comprised of personnel costs….”  Read more Hmmmm… They also do movement of people with Toyota. They should seriously consider coming to Trenton, but, likely, can’t absorb the up-front cash drain.  Alain

 Mobileye Files For An IPO (again!)- How Will Other Autonomy Companies React?

S. Rangwalla, Oct 2, “Mobileye started a computer vision revolution in 1999 when Amnon Shashua, a leading AI researcher at Hebrew University, founded the company to focus on camera-based perception for ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) and autonomous vehicles (AV). The company filed for an IPO in 2014 and was acquired by IntelINTC +4.3% in 2017 for $15B. Today, it is the leading player in the computer vision and Autonomous Vehicle (AV) domain and recently announced its intention to file for an IPO and become an independent entity. …


How will other technology companies with minimal or no revenues compete in the AV space going forward? Cruise , Aurora, Waymo (part of the “other bets” investments of parent company Alphabet) and Argo (with investments from Ford and Volkswagen) recently made announcements about their AV capabilities – either coincidental with Mobileye’s press release or in response to it. Zoox (acquired by Amazon in 2020 for $1B, likely a survival sale) recently announced significant progress in L5 autonomy (complete autonomy anywhere), which is confusing since they have only demonstrated operations in San Francisco. These companies have plans to expand their efforts – but the Mobileye competition is likely to be intense. AV adoption has been delayed significantly due to technology, regulatory and customer acceptance issues, and providing safe, profitable and autonomous L4 cars and services is an expensive endeavor. The stock market, unfortunately, is not a friend anymore. AV-related equities have suffered up to 90% reductions in market capitalization since 2019….”  Read more Hmmmm… Interesting perspective. Alain


  Falcon Heavy USSF-44 Mission

Nov. 1, “On Tuesday, November 1 at 9:41 a.m. ET, Falcon Heavy launched the USSF-44 mission to a geosynchronous Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.


This was the first launch and landing of these Falcon Heavy side boosters, which will be prepared for re-flight on a future U.S. Space Force mission later this year.” Read more Hmmmm… Impressive! watch landing @ Alain



 Lyft to lay off 13 percent of its workforce as economic outlook darkens   

A. Hawkins, Nov. 1, “Lyft is laying off 13 percent of its workforce in the second round of major cuts to hit the ride-hailing company this year. The layoffs, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, are expected to affect hundreds of roles. Lyft has more than 4,000 employees, which does not include its drivers.


In an email posted on the company’s website, Lyft CEO Logan Green and president John Zimmer cited “a probable recession sometime in the next year” and rising ride-share insurance costs as among the reasons for the layoffs…..”Read more   Hmmmm… The challenge for the ride-hailing companies is, without being able to jump to driverless, the marginal cost of providing a ride gets more expensive because the marginal driver seeks to earn more than its predecessor.  The driver is the dominant cost, and it doesn’t have any scale economy.  Other than those who are stuck and those traveling on someone else’s “nickel” (price insensitive), the market for ride-hailing is capped not far above where the taxi & limo market has been capped for 100 years or more. Ride sharing would allow it to become affordable to many more customers; however, the whole ride-hailing/taxi/limo industry hasn’t figured out how to embrace ride-sharing in any meaningful way. They should hire me! Alain



F. Lambert, Nov. 1, “Tesla is starting to release a new Full Self-Driving (FSD) Beta software update that includes many high-level changes that should positively impact performance.


FSD Beta 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, it is still considered a level two driver-assist system despite its name. It has been sort of a “two steps forward, one step back” type of program, as some updates have seen regressions in terms of driving capabilities…..” Read more  Hmmmm…  Please just call it NfSD, where nF stands for “NOT full”.  Alain


  The Hummer EV e-bike is just as over the top and ridiculous as the electric truck it’s based on

A. Hawkins, Oct. 31, ” GMC joined forces with the world’s largest supplier of e-bikes for law enforcement to produce an over-the-top, dual-motor, fat tire electric bike to complement its equally over-the-top, dual-motor, fat tire Hummer EV truck. It’s the latest sign that automakers are trying to seize on the popularity of e-bikes to help promote the shift to electric vehicles.


The Hummer EV all-wheel drive e-bike (as it’s referred to in its press release) features twin 750W hub motors with a peak output of 2,400W, a 48-volt / 17 amp-hour LG-made battery (with an option to upgrade to a 21Ah version) and will be available to purchase either online at or at GMC dealerships for the price of $3,999. (A little expensive for an e-bike, but significantly cheaper than the $112,595 Hummer EV Edition 1.)….”  Read more Hmmmm… And I thought that one of the really good things that GM did was kill the original Hummer.  Given that today, every EV uses electricity that would have resulted in the burning of less coal had the electricity not been needed for that EV.  Today, EVs cause more coal; to be burned to satisfy their needs for electricity.  See Laurence Livermore’s Energy Flow Charts.  So not only is GM’s new hummer the return of GM’s “Sherman tank” on the road, but this one has the added detriment of running on coal.   Does GM have zero social conscience?   Alain


 Elon Musk’s first Hyperloop tunnel in California is gone   

A. Hawkins, Nov. 3, “Elon Musk’s first prototype Hyperloop tunnel is no more. Bloomberg reports that the roughly one-mile-long white steel tunnel running along Jack Northrop Avenue near SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, has been removed and will be replaced with parking spaces for employees….”  Read more Hmmmm…These things were a challenge in NYC in1870  (Beach pneumatic transit) and remain a challenge with the pluses being substantially dominated by the minuses.   Alain