Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023

51st edition of the 11th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 

Whew!  We finished the year!J

   Cruise Imploded in 2023. Can the Robotaxi Industry Recover in the New Year?

J. Bote, Dec. 29, “…With this tumultuous year in the rearview and a pall hanging over the industry, what will happen to robotaxis next year? The Standard interviewed four autonomous vehicle experts for their predictions about how the industry will fare in 2024 as it tries to move past Cruise’s screw-ups….

Alain Kornhauser, an operations research and financial engineering professor at Princeton University, expressed wariness about Waymo’s airport ambitions. Instead, he suggested, the company should focus on where it is uniquely positioned to supplement existing transportation systems. 

“There are other people that can get people to the airport,” he scoffed. “The Uber and Lyft drivers can do that, OK?”…

Part of that, Kornhauser said, is heightened transparency from Cruise and Waymo. “They have to be open; they can’t cover stuff up,” he said. “Nothing’s perfect, and … I don’t think anybody’s holding anybody to perfection.”

Beyond safety promises, Kornhauser emphasized that Waymo and other autonomous vehicle firms hoping to roll their products out on San Francisco streets should refocus their community efforts.

“They need to see what business they’re in, who their customers are and what their customers need,” Kornhauser said. “It’s mobility for the folks that really need it, when they need it, to improve the quality of life in San Francisco.”  Read More  Hmmmm…. I guess all of you already know all of that. 😊 Alain



A book cover of a book  Description automatically generatedSmartDrivingCars  ZoomCast 351 / PodCast 351 w/ Michael Sena, Smart Driving Cars: Still trying after a trying year

F. Fishkin,  Dec. 30, “Still trying after a trying year that featured some significant milestones in driverless mobility. Michael Sena joins Alain and Fred for a 2023 wrap up and a look ahead…which will see the publication of the new book from Michael and Alain (and audio book from Fred)…”The Real Case for Driverless Mobility” #Waymo, #Cruise, #Tesla and more. Remember to subscribe.

0:00 Open

1:00 The Real Case for Driverless Mobility coming soon

7:28 2023 Highlights-The start of driverless revenue service

18:50 The demise of the wannabes

24:00 This is a new market

40:00 Lessons learned in 2023

43:40 Lessons learned in San Francisco

51:35 Serve a demand that is sustainable

57:45 Heading into 2024…the expectations? Still some optimism”


   GM, Parent Company of Cruise, Sues San Francisco for $121M, Saying It Was Wrongly Taxed

R.  Scheier, Dec. 27, “General Motors, the parent company of troubled self-driving car firm Cruise, is suing San Francisco, saying the city improperly overcharged the company more than $100 million over seven years by miscalculating its tax bill.

In the complaint filed Friday in California Superior Court—which is an amendment to a lawsuit filed against the city in 2021—GM said it was seeking a refund of nearly $108 million in taxes plus some $13 million in interest and penalties between 2016 and 2022. 

The Detroit automaker contended that San Francisco-based Cruise is run separately from GM. The automaker had average annual gross receipts of approximately $148 billion over the seven-year period at issue, said the company in the lawsuit. But its core automotive business does not employ anyone in San Francisco, has no manufacturing plants there and only sold $677,000 worth of goods in the city in 2022. …” Read More  Hmmmm…. What a mess! GM realizing for years that it is being taken for a ride while trying to offer rides to San Franciscans at no cost to the city, so that monies are available for SF’s Transit Authority to fill an 82% gap between what it charges for the rides that it gives and what it costs them to deliver those rides.  Why in the world would GM want to do business in a community that seems to have no appreciation of GM’s value to the community? 

It must be that GM has no sense of the value that Cruise could deliver to this community and is therefore a chump for such taxing practices. .. … 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.. ….

The unfortunate part of that bullishness is that it doesn’t also state the size of the societal value that those revenues would need to deliver if GM chose to earn those revenues by focusing its automated vehicle services on improving the lives of folks who would really cherish the value proposition to themselves of those mobility services GM was envisioning to offer. 

If you’re going to earn $50B in revenue, you are going to need to generate more than $50B in value and you are going to need to deliver that value to those who don’t otherwise have a better way of achieving that value, if not more, from someone other than GM.  This most fundamental business proposition is well understood even by children trying to operate a lemonade stand. Somehow, this most fundamental business proposition has been overlooked by both San Franciscans and GMians.  Is this Silicon Valley’s legacy?  What a mess! Alain


A red and white logo  Description automatically generatedFSD v12 Progress, Q4 Records, Upgrades, Public Relations

R. Mauer, Dec. 28, “ 0:00 TSLA 0:39 FSD v12 2:23 China sales 3:34 Q4 delivery / production 8:43 Model Y update rumor 10:09 India factory 11:36 Hardware 5 13:14 Uber & Japan 14:10 Cybertruck orders 14:53 Favorability poll 16:25 Public relations 18:52 Robotaxi design 19:47 Union efforts update 21:02 Xiaomi EV 21:54 Calendar” Read More  Hmmmm…. Interesting, especially the FSD v12.1 rollout.  Alain


Safety Implications of Variability in Autonomous Driving Assist Alerting

M. Cummings, Aug. 2022, “ … . SECTION VI.


Small sample size was a limitation of this study. Choosing three cars of the same make and model from one region does not reflect the diversity in performance that would occur across the fleet of vehicles. However, given that this study was designed to determine if and how much variation existed between and within L2+ ADAS alerting systems, it serves as a baseline against which other future studies could be measured…. ” Read More  Hmmmm…. Nice contribution with honesty about limitations.  What a shame that companies don’t simply make available the vast quantities safety data they acquire when doing similar A/B tests to enable researchers to ascertain safety implications based on vast, rather than small, sample sizes. Industry should be working with Universities to ascertain safety implications of various designs. We are all in this together, trying to learn what we don’t know in order to make the world better. Safety is one of those objectives that we should be working together to improve rather than trying to hide, compete, out-smart or otherwise not be collegial about the mission/desire/objective.   Alain


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6th  SmartDrivingCar


May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ