Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023 -11/29/23

47th edition of the 11th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 



Cruise is taking a bruising  

M. Sena, Nov.26, “IT HAS BEEN a rough couple of months for CRUISE LLC after it reached a high point in August this year. That was when CRUISE, along with WAYMO LLC, received approval from the CALIFORNIA DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES to operate round-the-clock paid ride-supplying services in the state with their driverless vehicles, that is, with no human primary or back-up driver in the vehicle. CRUISE’s license was for 300 vehicles. Then the wheels began to come off the cart, figuratively speaking. On Sunday evening, the 19th of November, CRUISE founder and CEO, Kyle Vogt, announced that he was throwing in the towel. Is this the beginning of the end for CRUISE? Or is this just the end of the beginning, as most of the Pollyannaish opinion pieces on the subject have opined?


Spoiler: It’s not the end for CRUISE, but it should be the end for GM’s skunkworks project with CRUISE, and the start of a more serious approach toward driverless vehicles by the automobile industry and investors.  How it began to unravel.…” Read More  Hmmmm…. Read on and watch ZoomCast 347 and let’s start picking up the pieces.  Alain



A book cover of a book  Description automatically generatedSmartDrivingCars  ZoomCast 347 / PodCast 347  w/ Michael Sena, Editor, The Dispatcher

F. Fishkin,  Nov. 29, “With GM Cruise “substantially” cutting spending on Cruise autonomous mobility, should GM turn the keys over to someone else? What is Google’s real business with Waymo? The Dispatcher Publisher Michael Sena joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. Plus…Tesla’s big truck week and troubles in Sweden, the upcoming book, The Real Case for Driverless Mobility…and more!

0:00 open

1:13 GM cutting Cruise spending

7:09 What is Google’s Waymo business really about?

30:00 Tesla’s big truck event and troubles in Sweden

42:24 The Real Case for Driverless Mobility book coming soon



A black text on a white background  Description automatically generated Elon Musk on Power, Influence and the “Wild Storm” in His Mind | DealBook Summit 2023

R. Sorkin, Nov. 29, “ The tech billionaire Elon Musk has come to define innovation, but he can also be a lightning rod for controversy; he recently endorsed antisemitic remarks on X, formerly known as Twitter, which prompted companies to pull their advertising. In his interview, Musk discusses his emotional state and why he has “no problem being hated.” This interview was with Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times at the annual DealBook Summit and recorded live in front of an audience at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Read more highlights from the day at…”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Please don’t read the click-bait highlights and or watch the tabloid video clips.  Watch the whole interview!  J Alain


A black text on a white background  Description automatically generatedCardinals LB Jesse Luketa got a flat tire before Sunday’s game — a family was there to help

D. Haller, Nov. 28, “ …“You guys going to the stadium?” Luketa asked the man.

J.W. Phillips, 31, had been running late when he had pulled over for gas. His family was excited. At halftime of the Cardinals game, son Brody was scheduled to play flag football on the stadium field. He looked at Luketa and noticed the bad tire.

“Yeah,” Phillips said.

“I’m a player,” Luketa said. “I got a flat tire. Can you guys help me out? I need a ride to the stadium.”…”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Everybody needs a ride sometimes.  Easy to get if you are football star.  Would be just as easy to get if we could all focus on MOVES-style deployment of autonomousTaxis.. J Alain


A black text on a white background  Description automatically generated  GM to cut spending on Cruise after accident – FT


Reuters, Nov. 28, “General Motors (GM.N) is to scale back spending on its self-driving unit Cruise after a pedestrian accident last month, Financial Times reported on Tuesday.

GM and Cruise did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

In October, one of Cruise’s driverless cabs was not able to stop in time from hitting a pedestrian who had been struck by a hit-and-run driver, raising safety concerns around the use of robotaxis….” Read More  Hmmmm…. Really?? Cruise does essentially everything right with its automation in dealing with a situation that is as rare as rare can get and because its public relations department failed to be completely forthright, it is “cutting spending”.  I hope the cut is limited to closing its public relations department.  You would have thought that GM would have learned that the coverup is worse than the crime 10 years ago with their “Ignition Switch cover up”. So sad!  Alain

  How self-driving cars can gain the public’s trust

J. Muller, Nov. 27, “Better transparency and tighter rules could improve public trust in self-driving cars amid safety concerns involving Cruise robotaxis, experts tell Axios.

Why it matters: The big promise of autonomous vehicles (AVs) is that they could make transportation safer and more accessible for everyone.

….” Read More  Hmmmm…. Even more… we need complete transparency (but is that even possible given all the smoke and mirrors by the many wannabes?).  With complete transparency, we don’t need tighter rules.  We don’t even know what to tighten  if we don’t have the transparency.


Most importantly: “Why it Matters” is NOT to “make transportation safer.” Roads are unsafe because HUMAN drivers misbehave.  If we really wanted to make transportation safer, we wouldn’t tolerate driver misbehavior.  We wouldn’t let HUMAN DRIVERS speed, text, or operate their vehicles while under the influence. We wouldn’t allow car companies to install allow huge entertainment screens that distract drivers and make automated emergency braking systems that had essentially zero false positives.  That’s what “Safe-driving Cars” ae all about.  Driverless cars are about giving high quality affordable  rides to people who can’t drive themselves, thus giving them the same access to opportunities as those who can drive themselves.  Mass transit is able to give high-quality rides at affordable prices  for only a very few that live in a very few places in the US.  For them the public cost in the form of public subsidies is non-trivial.  Driverless cars can substantially outperform even the best public transit in a vast majority of places people live and deliver it at an affordable cost that can return a sustainable profit to the driverless service provider without public subsidy all the while being as, if not more,  environmentally responsible, equitable and safe those who drive themselves. 


A black text on a white background  Description automatically generated  ‘Lost Time for No Reason’: How Driverless Taxis Are Stressing Cities

Y. Lu, “Around 2 a.m. on March 19, Adam Wood, a San Francisco firefighter on duty, received a 911 call and raced to the city’s Mission neighborhood to help a male who was having a medical emergency. After loading the patient into an ambulance, a black-and-white car pulled up and blocked the path….”  Read More  Hmmmm…. And so starts a really bad tabloid article.  C’mon NYT! Alain



Staff, Nov 29, “Starship returned to integrated flight testing with its second launch from Starbase in Texas. While it didn’t happen in a lab or on a test stand, it was absolutely a test. What we did with this second flight will provide invaluable data to continue rapidly developing Starship.

On November 18, 2023, Starship successfully lifted off at 7:02 a.m. CT from Starbase in Texas and achieved a number of major milestones:…” Read More  Hmmmm…. Very impressive.  Can’t wait for StarShip IFT3.  Hope to be there. J Alain



6th  SmartDrivingCar


May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ