Friday, February 3, 2023

5th edition of the 11th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter


 SF Officials Describe Chaos From Cruise, Waymo Cars as They Try To Slow Their Rollout

K. Truong, Jan 30, “Firefighters were battling a major house fire near the intersection of Hayes and Divisadero streets early in the morning of Jan. 22 when a Cruise vehicle with no safety driver started to creep its way into the emergency scene. 

Two firefighters stood in front of the car to prevent the vehicle from driving over hoses used to douse the growing inferno, but that didn’t work. As the car continued to inch forward, one firefighter took quick action and smashed the vehicle’s front window, finally bringing the car to a stop. First responders contacted Cruise, who sent workers to move the vehicle out of the way. …


That was just one of 92 unique incidents between May 29 and Dec. 31—mainly from Cruise—cited by San Francisco transit officials, who are strongly urging for tighter oversight as “robotaxi” services look to massively expand their operations…


Alain Kornhauser, …  pinned the companies’ missteps on an effort to grab market share from Lyft and Uber rather than solving for transportation gaps.

“To me, the shame of these companies is that they have a solution, and they are still looking for a problem,” Kornhauser said. “The objective of this is not a selfie in a self-driving car; it’s to provide mobility to folks who don’t have it and ultimately improve their quality of life.”…  Read  more  Hmmmm….  Well said 😊 For a solution (driverless mobility) that could be doing so much good for so many who have so little mobility that even “transit officials” would be sending them high praise ,they instead seem to be singularly focused on providing yet  another alternative to  those that already have too many great mobility options.  Their hammer is simply focused on the wrong nail and this is especially debilitating when the first nail is the wrong nail.  The self-inflicted pain is so much greater when there is little, if anything, gained by hitting, let alone missing,  the wrong nail.  Alain


  Despite mounting opposition, the Bay Area’s robotaxis keep racking up the miles

A. Hawkins, Jan 31, “… .


Cruise reported 2,783 paid passenger rides in its fully driverless vehicles — quadrupling the number of rides from the previous quarter. The company’s ridehailing vehicles traversed a total of 26,838.61 miles during the quarter, which covered September to November 2022….



Cruise’s main rival in the robotaxi space, Waymo, didn’t want to comment on the latest CPUC data, but there was still a lot of parse through.

As previously mentioned, Waymo’s Bay Area operations are split between paid rides in vehicles with safety drivers (aka “drivered rides”) and unpaid trips in driverless vehicles. Waymo has a list of pre-approved members of the public called “Trusted Testers” who ride in these driverless (or “rider-only”) vehicles that sign non-disclosure agreements to test the company’s early technology. But the majority of its trips are in drivered vehicles….


Over three months, Waymo did 183 trips as part of its driverless pilot, ferried 441 passengers, and traversed 3,057 miles. Its drivered vehicles did 6,313 trips,…

Read  more  Hmmmm….  These systems have barely closed the passenger door and have yet to leave the gate.  They aren’t near the runway.  Takeoff is a distant vision.  Andrew is being way too kind.  Alain


  SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 302 / PodCast 302

“F. Fishkin, Feb. 3,  ” Robotaxi chaos in San Francisco? Tesla boosting production in China. Level 3 launch from Mercedes. Layoffs at Rivian. More SpaceX success! Join us for episode 302 of Smart Driving Cars with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser & co-host Fred Fishkin.


0:00 open

0:55 Autonomous chaos in San Francisco?”

6:28 National Safety Council marks anniversary of national roadway safety strategy

9:41 Tesla boosts production at Giga Shanghai & more

11:25 More SpaceX success

14:05 Mercedes launch of level 3 systems in U.S.

19:12 U.K. Unveils First ”Fully” Autonomous Bus Service

23:11 Layoffs at Rivian

24:35 Data Centers on Wheels: Emissions From Computing Onboard Autonomous Vehicles

27:47 Ford boosts production of Mustang Mach E touting 0-60 thrills in press release

30:54 Justice Department urged to look at leaders of TuSimple and alleged transfer of tech to Chinese start-up “  732-928-4691

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


  Save the Date: 

6th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit:

Monday Evening, May 22 -> Wednesday 5pm, May 24, 2023


  Tesla Reportedly Boosting Production, Stock Markets Rise After Fed Comments

R. Maurer, Feb 1, “ ➤ Reuters reports on production plans for Giga Shanghai ➤ Stock markets rise after Federal Open Market Committee meeting ➤ BlackRock increases TSLA position ➤ EV sales in China drop ➤ Warranty reserves increase in Q4 ➤ Musk review Cybertruck prototype ➤ Indonesian president comments on Tesla ➤ Tesla performs well in winter test ➤ Hyundai announces IONIQ 6 EPA range ➤ Rivian plans layoffs ➤ Lotus to go public

0:00 Intro / TSLA 0:44 Fed takeaways 4:28 BlackRock investment 5:09 China production report 7:36 EV sales in China 9:12 Piper Sandler note 12:10 Cybertruck update 13:14 Indonesia update 15:02 EV winter testing 17:10 Hyundai IONIQ 6 range 18:09 Rivian layoffs 18:50 Lotus IPO

Read  more  Hmmmm….. Pay particular attention to Reuters reports on production plans for Giga Shanghai Stock markets rise after Federal Open Market Committee meeting \ EV sales in China drop Tesla performs well in winter test  and ➤ Rivian plans layoffs.   Alain


  Mercedes-Benz world’s first automotive company to certify SAE Level 3 system for U.S. market

Press release, Jan 26, “Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first automotive company to bring SAE Level 3 conditionally automated driving to the U.S….”  Read  more  Hmmmm….. Be sure to read all of the fine print.   Alain


  Mercedes Level 3 system

R. Maurer, Jan. 30, “ Mercedes announces US launch of Level 3 system  Read  more  Hmmmm….. Best comments that I’ve seen on the Mercedes “Level 3 System” .   Alain



   Just for fun, in case you haven’t seen these:

1. Stabilized Footage of Falcon Heavy from Launch To Landing! USSF-67

Post-processing stabilization by @TechniquesSpatiales ( ) On Sunday 1/15/23 at 5:56 pm local time, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launched a mission for the Space Force, USSF-67. I was able to track one of the boosters from launch at LC-39A to landing at LZ-1. This was filmed with an 11″ Celestron NexStar GPS using a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K camera at an effective equivalent focal length of 5.6 meters. This used a new, experimental version of my RocketTraker software, adaptively looking through the trajectory prediction published by and seeking the closest point in the trajectory file based on the rocket’s observed position and time. This allowed for greater tolerance of deviations from the expected timing of the booster landing and allowed me to follow it all the way down.


2. Falcon Heavy Launch as seen from Myrtle Beach – 1-15-2023

1:20 – rocket visible on horizon

2:30 – Booster separation

3:30 – Boosters clearly visible as they start their descent

4:15 – Boosters thrusters steering decent

4:50 – Fairing separation

6:20 – Boosters descent burn


3. Apollo 11: The Complete Descent

A detailed account of every second of the Apollo 11 descent and landing. The video combines data from the onboard computer for altitude and pitch angle, 16mm film that was shot throughout the descent at 6 frames per second. The audio recording is from two sources. The air/ground transmissions are on the left stereo channel and the mission control flight director loop is on the right channel. Subtitles are included to aid comprehension.


  National Safety Council Recognizes First Anniversary of U.S. Department of Transportation’s Historic National Roadway Safety Strategy

Press release, Feb. 3, “On Jan. 27, 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the National Roadway Safety Strategy to combat the rising number of traffic fatalities across the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 42,915 people died due to traffic violence on American roads in 2021. In the one year since the rollout of the NRSS, the state of the roads in the U.S. remains bleak.  … “  Read  more  Hmmmm….  Not pretty.  Seems like they’re  upping the rhetoric with “…  traffic violence…” .  Maybe they should also acknowledge that driver misbehavior is a substantial source of the problem and technology exits that can limit driving while impaired, speeding, tailgating and cut-ins.  Plus, more than Elon has to be reined in when it comes to promoting the sale of road vehicles.  See below as to what Ford touts as the reason to drive what is supposed to be an environmentally responsible vehicle for which a public subsidy has been awarded to the buyer to help Ford sell it…0-60 thrills  !!!  What’s wrong with this picture? Ford promoting the use of our public roadways as thrill rides,  C’mon Ford!   Alain  


From A to ZF – An End-to-End Autonomous Mobility Approach

K. Pyle, Feb. 2, ““It’s proven to work, and it works really well, today,” states Tony Sapienza. Speaking in the above interview Sapienza, Head of Communications for North America at ZF Group, is talking about their latest generation autonomous, electric shuttle which made its debut at CES2023. As a proof point, Sapienza points to the 62 million road miles that the underlying autonomous mobility hardware and software stack have already driven…. “  Read  more  Hmmmm….  Be sure to watch Ken’s video. Alain


  Lyft Wants to Reshape Shared Micromobility with Dockable E-Scooter

R. Bellan, Feb 2, “Lyft wants to see a more organized shared micromobility landscape, with fewer free-floating scooters and more dependable, docked vehicles. To help achieve this vision, the company revealed Thursday its next-generation dockable e-scooter and updated docking stations….”  Read  more  Hmmmm….  Sounds like a MOVES-style “kiosk”-based mobility service.  Lyft should do more of this with  its ride-hailing business.  Maybe then it could get some folks to share a ride and not be running around empty as much as it does today. And make it more affordable.   Also a great suggestion for Cruise and Waymo.  Alain


UK unveils first fully autonomous bus service

B.  de Urquia, Jan 24, “…  The trial, which began on Monday (23 January), will start taking passengers in February.

In addition to the vehicles being fitted with autonomous technology including cameras and sensors, the buses will have a safety driver who is able to take over at any point and take full manual control if needed. …” Read  more  Hmmmm….  Nothing fully about this.  No indication that its operation intends to simulate any of the demand responsive operational opportunities afforded by “fully autonomous buses”.  What seems to be being tested here is conventional bus services loaded up with expensive sensors.  How is this justifiable.  I must be missing something??? Alain


  Rivian is laying off 6 percent of its employees — again

A. Hawkins, Feb 1, “Another day, another company announces it’s laying off 6 percent of employees. Today, that company is Rivian, the EV automaker that had one of the biggest IPOs of 2021 but has since struggled to hit its targets as manufacturing and supply chain problems mount.

The layoffs also come amid a looming EV price war, in which Tesla and Ford have lowered prices on their flagships vehicles. Other automakers have said they are not ready to slash prices on their own EVs, but analysts predict that more companies will follow. Rivian currently sells three models: the R1T truck and the R1S SUV, as well as the EDV, which stands for electric delivery van…. “ Read  more  Hmmmm….  Not so easy to build a car/truck company from scratch even if you have a deal with Amazon.  Alain


Self-driving cars create new opportunities for terrorist attacks, says FBI Director Chris Wray

 P. Kasperowicz, Jan 19, “…” Read  more  Hmmmm….  Total crap from Fox news.  What would you expect.  Alain


  Data Centers on Wheels: Emissions From Computing Onboard Autonomous Vehicles

S. Sudhakar, Jan-Feb 2023, “Abstract: While much attention has been paid to data centers’ greenhouse gas emissions, less attention has been paid to autonomous vehicles’ (AVs) potential emissions. In this work, we introduce a framework to probabilistically model the emissions from computing onboard a global fleet of AVs and show that the emissions have the potential to make a nonnegligible impact on global emissions, comparable to that of all data centers today. Based on current trends, a widespread AV adoption scenario where approximately 95% of all vehicles are autonomous requires computer power to be less than 1.2 kW for emissions from computing on AVs to be less than emissions from all data centers in 2018 in 90% of modeled scenarios….”  Read  more  Hmmmm….  Maybe??  however,  basing an asymptotic future (95% of all vehicles) on “current trends” when essentially no such vehicles exist is enormously questionable.  Also, comparing emission sources based on instantaneous rates rather than total productions over fixed time periods can be a difficult comparison since the duty cycles of AVs and data centers differ substantially.  Yes, AVs require compute power as do data centers.  Both need to become more efficient at producing its value proposition. Producing emissions to create bitcoins may or may not be socially relevant.  Producing safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, high-quality mobility may or may not be sufficiently socially relevant to warrant the emissions that might be produced.  One thing is clear, less is better .   Alain



Press release, Jan 30, “ With its new EV supply chain coming online, Ford is significantly increasing production of the Mustang Mach-E this year to help reduce customer wait times and to take advantage of streamlined costs to reduce prices across the board, making Mustang Mach-E even more accessible to customers and keeping it competitive in the marketplace.

The production increase is a key part of the Ford+ Plan, underscoring the company’s commitment to lead the EV revolution by increasing the value of its EVs for customers, continuing to position Mustang Mach-E as a compelling option for those looking for an electric SUV, and growing market share. Ford already offers EV customers a full-size truck, SUV and van – and has secured the batteries and raw material to scale production of all these models in 2023.

Mustang Mach-E delivers the 0-60 thrills with an available EPA-estimated 300+ mile range1 and zero tailpipe emissions…. “  Read  more  Hmmmm….  Amazing that Mustang Mach-E delivers the 0-60 thrills is the #1 attribute of this mobility product that is intended to be used on public roadways.  What extent of driver misbehavior is this feature going to engender?  Is the media going to hold Ford’s CEO accountable for each crash that results from drivers attempting to get 0-60 thrills ?  Alain


  Leaders of Self-Driving-Truck Company Face Espionage Concerns Over China Ties

K. O’Keeffe, Feb 1, “The Justice Department has been urged by representatives of a U.S. national-security panel to consider economic-espionage charges against leaders of TuSimple Holdings Inc., an American self-driving-truck company with ties to China, according to people familiar with the matter.

The recommendation for criminal charges, made late last year, stemmed from concerns that two founders and the current chief executive of the San Diego-based company were improperly transferring technology to a Chinese startup, the people said. The concerns were based on material gathered as part of a national-security review of TuSimple launched earlier last year….” Read  more  Hmmmm….  Not pretty!. Alain


  Cash-strapped EV startup Arrival is laying off half its workforce

A. Hawkins, Jan 30, : Arrival, an electric vehicle startup based in the UK, said it was laying off 50 percent of its employees in a bid to reduce costs. The company also named a new CEO, Igor Torgov, who previously served as executive vice president of digital at the company.

Arrival, which announced last year that it was winding down its UK operations in favor of refocusing its business in the US, became a publicly traded company in March 2021 after merging with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. Founded in 2015, Arrival was developing electric delivery vans for UPS as a customer, as well as ridehailing cars for Uber and public buses. It also has backing from Hyundai and Kia….” Read  more  Hmmmm….  No hope?.  Alain