Saturday, December 17, 2022

46th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

    Once You See the Truth About Cars, You Can’t Unsee It

Guest Opinion: A. Ross & J. Livingston,Dec. 15, “ In American consumer lore, the automobile has always been a “freedom machine” and liberty lies on the open road. “Americans are a race of independent people” whose “ancestors came to this country for the sake of freedom and adventure,” the National Automobile Chamber of Commerce’s soon-to-be-president, Roy Chapin, declared in 1924. “The automobile satisfies these instincts.” During the Cold War, vehicles with baroque tail fins and oodles of surplus chrome rolled off the assembly line, with Native American names like Pontiac, Apache, Dakota, Cherokee, Thunderbird and Winnebago — the ultimate expressions of capitalist triumph and Manifest Destiny.

But for many low-income and minority Americans, automobiles have been turbo-boosted engines of inequality, immobilizing their owners with debt, increasing their exposure to hostile law enforcement, and in general accelerating the forces that drive apart haves and have-nots.  ….”  Read  more  Hmmmm….. The fundamentals of our MOVES approach to the deployment is focused directly on providing a high-quality affordable alternative to this community.  Moreover, the comment that the NYT posted with the article.   Alain

  SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 296 / PodCast296 w/ Jeff Brandes, term-limited Florida State Senator & visionary of all 10 annual Florida Automated Vehicle Summits

“F. Fishkin, Dec. 17, “The driving force behind Florida’s 10th annual Automated Vehicle Summit, former State Senator Jeff Brandes, joins Alain and Fred for a dive into the progress to date and what’s to come. Plus Waymo, Uber Eats, TuSimple and more. 0:00 open 1:00 Jeff Brandes background 5:50 Is technology being used to provide some societal good 7:51 Highlights from 10th annual Florida Automated Vehicle Summit 24:24 Brandes on what is next for him 34:34 NY Times: Once You See the Truth About Cars 37:13 Waymo doing airport transportation in Phoenix 39:11 Uber Eats will use sidewalk deliver robots in Miami 40:30 TuSimple reportedly will lay off many in coming week”  732-928-4691

Technical support provided by:  a 501c3 dedicated to Safe & High-Quality Mobility for All.  Tax-deductible donations accepted @ Support CARTS’ mission to provide safe & high-quality mobility for all



  The 2022 FAV Summit at Omni Amelia Island Resort

  Autonomous Transit Networks in Florida – Jacksonville MOVES and Tallahassee MOVES

J. He, Dec 13, “On the occasion of the 10th Florida Automated Vehicles Summit ’22, CARTS released our study for the Total Addressable Market (TAM) for a MOVES-type, city-wide deployment of autonomous transit network (ATN) for Jacksonville, FL and Tallahassee, FL.….”  Read  more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting!  Alain


Exclusive: PepsiCo to roll out 100 Tesla Semis in 2023, exec says

J. DiNapoli, Dec. 16,” PepsiCo plans to roll out 100 heavy-duty Tesla Semis in 2023, when it will start using the electric trucks to make deliveries to customers like Walmart and Kroger, the soda maker’s top fleet official told Reuters on Friday.

PepsiCo Inc (PEP.O), which ordered the big trucks in 2017, is purchasing them “outright” and is also upgrading its plants, including installing four 750-kilowatt Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) charging stalls at both its Modesto and Sacramento locations in California, PepsiCo Vice President Mike O’Connell said in an interview. A $15.4 million state grant and $40,000 federal subsidy per vehicle helps offset part of the costs…”  Read  more  Hmmmm… ~$200k subsidy per truck,  I realize that this is new technology, this seems excessive given that we have yet to come close to weening ourselves out of burning coal to have enough electricity to continue our current life styles, let alone  needing to power new electrified products that relied on natural gas or petroleum.


Before we get too excited about changing fuel sources we should make sure that the source of the electricity that we are switching to isn’t more environmentally toxic than the fuel that we are currently using; else, we are being environmentally irresponsible.  See the Lawrence Livermore Energy Flow Charts


For a more in-depth analysis of this article, see Rob Maurer’s Tesla Daily: “New Tesla Semi Details, Inventory Discounts, Morgan Stanley Note”,  Alain


  Why GM’s happy to keep spending billions on self-driving while rivals like Ford abandon ship

N. Naughton, Dec. 5 “

  • GM’s Cruise is still pushing forward after Ford’s Argo called it quits.
  • Cruise is embarking on a commercialization push after years of R&D.
  • Profitability is not yet the marker of success for Cruise, GM president Mark Reuss said.

At a time when self-driving taxi services like Ford’s Argo are calling it quits, GM’s Cruise is in the autonomous vehicle business for the long haul, the automaker’s president, Mark Reuss, told Insider.

…  Read more  Hmmmm… Come to New Jersey and deploy MOVES-style.  Alain


  TuSimple Plans Layoffs That Could Cut at Least Half Its Workforce Next Week

H. Somerville, Dec. 17, “Self-driving trucking company TuSimple Holdings Inc. TSP -3.75%decrease; red down pointing triangle plans to cut potentially at least half of its workforce next week, people familiar with the matter said, as it scales back efforts to build and test autonomous truck-driving systems.


A staff reduction of that size would likely affect at least 700 employees, and the people said the cuts could go deeper. As of June, TuSimple had 1,430 full-time employees globally. It has operations in San Diego, Arizona, Texas and China.

The retrenchment follows a dramatic series of events, including the removal of the chief executive in October after a board investigation concluded that TuSimple had shared confidential information with a Chinese startup. TuSimple faces multiple federal investigations into its relationship with the Chinese startup, Hydron Inc…


TuSimple is cutting costs and scaling back its ambitions as it reels from a string of crises this year, including a crash of one of its self-driving trucks in April, the loss of key business partnerships, two CEO changes, a plummeting stock price and concurrent government investigations. Federal authorities are probing whether TuSimple improperly financed and transferred technology to Hydron, the Journal reported in October…. ”  Read  more  Hmmmm… Yipes! It’s not that in the past we haven’t wondered  “where’s the beef” wrt TuSimple.  Alain       


   G.M. Unit’s Self-Driving Taxis Are Subject of U.S. Safety Investigation

N. Boudette, Dec. 16, “The main federal auto safety agency disclosed on Friday that it has begun a preliminary investigation into cars that a division of General Motors has been testing as driverless taxis in San Francisco.  The agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said in a filing posted on its website that it had received reports that autonomous taxis operated by G.M.’s Cruise division had become immobilized on roadways, creating obstacles for other vehicles. The agency also said G.M. reported three incidents in which Cruise vehicles slowed suddenly and were hit from behind.


The agency said its Office of Defects Investigation would try to determine the scope and severity of the two types of incidents.


Regulators are increasingly scrutinizing autonomous and semiautonomous cars, and the claims automakers have made about them. The auto safety agency’s most high profile investigation in this area involves Tesla’s self-driving technology. Regulators are looking into at least 14 crashes involving Tesla cars driving on Autopilot that resulted in 19 deaths…”  Read  more  Hmmmm…  OK, I’m biased…  I thought that rear-ending someone is always the fault of the rear enderer.  Either tailgating, not paying attention, texting, having bad brakes, having bad tires, …   


The misbehavior of human drivers is THE safety problem in the US.  The “>90% of crashes” is a result of human driver misbehavior!!  (drinking,, texting, speeding, tail gaiting, road rage, …)    It is NOT simply ” human involvement” or “recognition errors” as NHTSA likes to put it C’mon NHTSA, do something about the real problem here.  Where are the speed limiters, the breathalyzers, the ADAS systems that are on all the time that prohibit tailgating, the systems that disable cell phones in the area near the steering wheel, …. 


If NHTSA was really interested in improving safety of our roadways, it would be singularly focused on eradicating the “zeroth order term of this Safety Taylor Series” … human driver misbehavior.  Alain


   Tesla Full Self-Driving data looks awful: We challenge Elon Musk to prove otherwise

F. Lambert, Dec. 14, “The little data that is coming out of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta looks awful, and that’s putting it mildly.


We challenge Elon Musk to prove otherwise by releasing disengagement and driver intervention data.  To be clear, the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta data in this article is very minimal, and therefore, it could not be fully representative of the actual capacity.


But that’s the point of the article. It’s unfortunately the best data available because Tesla has gone out of its way to not release disengagement data that other companies developing self-driving systems are making available.


A disengagement consists of the system disengaging whether by itself or by the driver in order to either avoid danger or comply with the rules of the road. Miles between disengagement have been useful data to track the progress of self-driving programs.

It’s not a perfect metric to track progress, but it’s one of the only ones we have right now and we should see improvements in it over time with more miles between disengagement or driver intervention.


While Tesla doesn’t release the data, a group of Tesla FSD Beta testers has been self-reporting data for a while now, and Taylor Ogan of Snow Bull Capital has tracked it to see the progress.According to the data, miles driven per disengagement have gone down by 54% since March, and it currently sits around the same level it was around this time last year::…” Read more  Hmmmm… This is not pretty!!    Alain


  Waymo’s driverless robotaxis are now doing airport trips in Phoenix

A. Hawkins, Dec. 16, “Waymo is sending its fully driverless cars to handle some of the trickiest types of passenger pickups you can muster: airport trips. The company announced that customers flying in and out of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport will now be able to hail one of the company’s “rider only” vehicles, a sign that the Alphabet company is willing to take on more risk as it seeks to bolster the case for a fully autonomous taxi service. …”   Read more  Hmmmm… I sure hope that Waymo’s making a lot of money serving these customers , most of whom are traveling using OPM as payment for the service and are largely price insensitive. Unfortunately, they tend to be very entitled, so the service will need to be pristine. 


trickiest types of passenger pickups????    Why is Waymo looking for such challenges rather than deploying what they’ve achieved … the ability to safely deliver reasonably good demand-responsive mobility 24/7/350 , without incurring the expense of an attendant to wait around, drive, reposition, wait around some more. 

If Waymo adds ride-sharing, trips will be even more affordable, 

The quality and affordability will have repeat customers lining up for this service that improves quality-of-life.


Such deployments would give Waymo a chance to be “life-changing” to some and even many.  Rides from downtown to the airport aren’t  going to change anyone’s life beyond their one & done  selfieAlain


  Uber Eats will use sidewalk robots to make food deliveries in Miami

A. Hawkins, Dec. 15“Uber is expanding its use of autonomous delivery vehicles with the announcement that it will soon deploy sidewalk robots developed in Miami, Florida.  The six-wheeled delivery robots will come from Cartken, an Oakland-based AI company founded by a team of ex-Google engineers known mostly for deploying its vehicles on college campuses. …”  Read more  Hmmmm… While we lost Argo.AI and may be losing TuSimple, we’ll be able to get our takeout delivered if only we can afford the enormous increase in the cost of takeout meals.  The return of lunch paisl and brown bags may put a damper on the future of these robots.  Alain


   Pepsi talks Tesla Semi; exec makes strange comments about the electric truck’s range

F. Lambert, Dec. 16, “Pepsi, the first customer to use Tesla Semi, has commented on the deployment of the electric truck in its fleet and made some strange remarks about its range.


When Tesla started deliveries of the Tesla Semi earlier this month, its first customer to take delivery was PepsiCo.


Now the company is commenting on the integration of the electric truck in its fleet for the first time in a Reuters article based on an interview with PepsiCo Vice President Mike O’Connell, but the article glosses over some very strange comments about the Tesla Semi’s range.:…” Read more  Hmmmm… ?????????  Alain


  How Amazon put Ukraine’s ‘government in a box’ — and saved its economy from Russia

R. Mitchell, Dec. 15, “Since Februrary, Amazon has been playing Santa Claus to Ukraine, delivering planeloads of goods, including blankets, hygiene kits, diapers, food and toys, for the war-torn nation and refugees in Poland and other parts of Europe.

But long term, what’s more important to Ukrainians than the gifts coming in is what’s going out: massive amounts of government, tax, banking and property data vulnerable to destruction and abuse should Russian invaders get their hands on it.

Since the day Russia launched its invasion Feb. 24, Amazon has been working closely with the Ukrainian government to download essential data and ferry it out of the country in suitcase-sized solid-state computer storage units called Snowball Edge, then funneling the data into Amazon’s cloud computing system….. “ Read  more  Hmmmm…  Thank You Amazon!    Alain