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Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024


5th edition of the 12th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 


A red sign with white text    Description automatically generatedNew Jersey High Court to Hear E-Scooter Rider’s Bid for No-Fault Auto Benefits

Andrew Simpson, Oct. 16 “David Goyco says he was like a bicyclist when he was injured while riding his low-speed electric scooter and hit by a car. Thus, he contends, he is entitled to personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from his auto insurer, Progressive Insurance Co., under a New Jersey state law that treats bicyclists like pedestrians.

However, Progressive and New Jersey courts, thus far, disagree with him. They say he was not a bicyclist or pedestrian as defined in state law while riding his scooter and thus is not eligible for the insurance benefits. However, the state’s high court has agreed to hear his latest appeal.

In November 2021, Goyco was operating a Segway Ninebot KickScooter Max when he was struck by an automobile. As a result of the accident, he sustained injuries and incurred medical expenses for his treatments. He filed for PIP benefits.

Under New Jersey law a “low-speed electric scooter” means a scooter with a floorboard that can be stood upon by the operator, with handlebars, and an electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion at a maximum speed of less than 19 miles per hour. His Segway has a maximum speed of 15 mph.

Under New Jersey law, every standard automobile liability insurance policy offers no-fault PIP benefits for bodily injury as a result of an accident “while occupying, entering into, alighting from or using an automobile, or as a pedestrian, caused by an automobile…

Last week the state Supreme Court agreed to hear his final appeal.


Goyco argues that New Jersey law recognizes bicyclists as pedestrians for purpose of no-fault coverage. He maintained that, by extension, a low-speed electric scooter like his Segway should be considered the equivalent of a bicycle under the law that states that most laws and regulations that apply to bicycles should apply to low-speed scooters,…

A trial court found Goyco’s reasoning “misplaced” because the law on low speed scooters is not a part of the no-fault statute and is not controlling. The no-fault insurance statute contains zero reference to “bicycles,” and defines what constitutes a “pedestrian” for purposes of the no-fault benefits. The law clearly excludes from the definition of a pedestrian “any person who is not occupying, entering into, or alighting from a vehicle propelled by other than muscular power and designed primarily for use on highways, rails and tracks.”

The judge said “muscular power’ is the operative phrase in this statute.”…”  Read More  Hmmmm… The NJ Supreme Court is not considering “what is a pedestrian”.  The meter is running. Alain



A book cover of a book  Description automatically generatedJust Published!!!  Go to Amazon.com… Be first on your block to have one J.


SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 356 / PodCast 356   E-scooter insurance, GM Cruise return, Aptiv, Volvo, Tesla.

F. Fishkin,  Feb. 4, An E-Scooter insurance battle in NJ, GM says Cruise will return, Aptiv abandons Motional, Volvo, Tesla, Bill Bradley and… The Real Case for Driverless Mobility. Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for episode 356 Smart Driving Cars.

0:00 open

0:31 The Real Case for Driverless Mobility

3:45 NJ Supreme Court to hear case of injured E-scooter rider seeking no fault auto insurance coverage for injuries

9:45 Princeton University begins confiscated -E-scooters after banning them restricted zones

11:25 Princeton’s Bill Bradley new Rolling Along documentary is streaming on Max

11:44 GM plans for return of Cruise….but… and it is cutting the budget for Cruise

16:25 Aptive pulls support for Motional joint venture

19:49 Geely announces low earth satellites for autonomous naviation

21:19 Volvo is breaking up with Polestar

23:25 Tesla “recall” to fix font size will be over the air update

26:14 Role of dealerships in over the air updates”


A black and white text  Description automatically generatedGM plans to put totally driverless Cruise vehicles back on U.S. roads: Here’s how

J. laReau, Feb. 2, “General Motors President Mark Reuss said Thursday that GM plans for its self-driving subsidiary Cruise to get back on U.S. roads in the next year or two but said it might take longer to win back the trust of the public.

Cruise had been operating a driverless robo-taxi service in California and other states, using modified Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles, when it had to halt U.S. operations and recall those vehicles following an October 2023 incident in California in which a robo-taxi struck and dragged a pedestrian 20 feet, leaving her critically injured. The incident is under multiple investigations.

On Thursday, Reuss spoke about Cruise at the J.D. Power Auto Summit in Las Vegas, ahead of the National Auto Dealers Association convention, to a crowd of mostly car dealers. In a video of the event provided to the Detroit Free Press by J.D. Power, Reuss said it will likely take Cruise four to five years to earn back the trust of the public…”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Actually they could do it more quickly with a much higher probability of success if they read “The Real Case for Driverless Mobility: Putting Driverless Vehicles to Use for Those Who Really Need a Ride” by Kornhauser & Sena. (instead of what they were doing in SF… chasing after customers who, at best, find the novelty as Cruise’s only value-add over what they use today.  Our book is now available so no excuses!  Seriously!  Alain


A white text on a black background  Description automatically generatedAptiv Pulls Support From Motional Robotaxi Joint Venture

B. Templeton,  Jan. 31, “Aptiv, the top-tier automotive supplier which, together with Hyundai, formed the Motional robotaxi project, based on the nuTonomy startup Aptiv had previously acquired, announced today it will no longer provide additional capital for Motional, and seeks to sell some of their stake so that Motional’s losses do not feed up into their books.

Motional has been developing robotaxis, based on Hyundai platforms, and performing tests and live operations with safety drivers in Las Vegas and some other cities, with plans for live service in Miami. After Waymo, Cruise and Zoox, they were the main other U.S. company expected to progress to a pilot robotaxi service without safety drivers. (Cruise has temporarily suspended such service, and Zoox has announced it will open such service this year.)

Motional began from nuTonomy, a Singapore/MIT based startup which was acquired for $450M by Delphi. Delphi spun off Aptiv (including nuTonomy) to handle the electronic systems, ADAS, software and autonomy parts of its business. Over time close to $4B has been invested.


The prize is still huge—dominance of the $7 trillion global ground mobility industry—or even just a decent piece of it, is enough to dwarf the value of Google and Amazon and Apple (and Toyota and Ford and Daimler too.) The ride, however, just got bumpier.  Read More  Hmmmm…. Again, these folks have been working on giving rides to the wrong people.  They’ve been focusing on those who already have good rides for which the ride they are offering is not substantially better, if better at all.  As our book clearly states, they should be focusing to give rides to people who really need a ride and will find them substantially better than all of their other ride opportunities.  Seems like such a fundamental business proposition that even the neophyte investor would appreciate. And yet they spent “close to $4B” on the wrong business case.  Ouch!!! Alain


A white and green logo  Description automatically generatedPrinceton University confiscates e-scooters after banning them from ‘restricted zones’

N. Marshall, Jan. 31, “ Since implementing an outright ban on e-scooters, e-bikes and other personal electric vehicles last week, Princeton University officials have confiscated at least 80 e-scooters on campus, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

In December, Princeton University sent out an email notifying students and faculty that starting Jan. 25 all personal electric vehicles would be prohibited from being stored, charged and used in the university’s “restricted zone,” which includes nearly the entire campus.

The crackdown was initiated in response to concerns about safety and a lack of compliance with the previous policy implemented in August, which restricted the use of these personal vehicles during “peak hours.” .….”  Read More  Hmmmm… Good news. Way too many electric scooter/ebike riders operate dangerously in pedestrian areas. And you know how I feel about driver misbehavior! J  Alain


A white text on a black background  Description automatically generated Bill Bradley: Rolling Along

B. Bradley, Jan. 30, “About This Movie:

Rolling Along is Bill Bradley’s American story. Both funny and deeply moving, it is more about the human journey of the former NBA star, US Senator and presidential candidate than about the hero’s journey….”  Read More  Hmmmm… Worth watching.    Alain


A black text on a white background  Description automatically generated  GM to cut spending by $1 billion on robotaxi unit Cruise in 2024 

D. Shepardson, Jan. 30, “General Motors (GM.N), opens new tab said Tuesday it is cutting spending by about $1 billion on troubled robotaxi unit Cruise in 2024, but said it remains committed to the self-driving project.

Last week, Cruise disclosed probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission stemming from an Oct. 2 accident in San Francisco in which one of its robotaxis struck a pedestrian and dragged her 20 feet (6.1 m). Cruise and GM came under heavy criticism after the accident, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked its permit to operate driverless vehicles. …”  Read More  Hmmmm…. At least it is just a cut, and if they read our book and focus on folks who really need a ride, they’ll be able to get off the ground and make GM shareholders very happy.  Alain


A black and white text  Description automatically generatedTesla Recalls About 2.2 Million Electric Vehicles Over Warning Light Font Size

J. Gross, Feb. 2, “ Tesla is recalling about 2.2 million vehicles because the font on the warning lights panel was too small to comply with safety standards, U.S. regulators said on Friday.

“Warning lights with a smaller font size can make critical safety information on the instrument panel difficult to read, increasing the risk of a crash,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a notice.

The recall is one of several that Tesla has made in recent years, a setback for the company, the dominant maker of electric vehicles in the United States. In another hurdle for Tesla, the safety administration said in a separate notice that a U.S. government investigation into steering issues that may have affected 334,000 Tesla vehicles was escalated to an engineering analysis….”  Read More  Hmmmm… It seems strange to have these recalls characterized as “a setback”. They are really a healthy cooperative engagement between the public safety regulator and the manufacturer of the public good in the evolution of a product to be even better and safer at essentially zero cost to the manufacturer.

Had this been any other manufacturer that had to physically replace a physical light by its dealer network, the cost of time and inconvenience to the car owner and the cost of labor and the new light by the dealer would be non-trivial and likely overwhelm any safety value that might be achieved by such a safety improvement.  But since the cost of an OtA update is essentially zero, it is a no-briner to JDI!

 Given that cars are becoming increasingly software defined the opportunities for safety regulators and manufacturers to work together to achieve improved safety are a substantial value add for manufacturers that embrace Over-the-Air updating.

Ten (10) years ago in 2014 I “ran down to my Mercedes dealer” to be the first on my block to have an “S-class” with intelligent cruise control and automated lane keeping.  I’m now on my 2nd “S-class” and the software enabling those features has never been updated from what was originally installed on the assembly line.  The lane keeping on the 2014 didn’t really work.  The 2018’s is better, but … It is baffling to me that Daimler hasn’t taken pride in the software derived improvements in the performance of these comfort & convenience systems, let alone the Automated Emergency Braking aspects of these systems in the past 10 years such that they’d say… “hey Alain, next time you bring the car in for one of those expensive services, we’ll update your software the way Apple updates the software on your iPhone.  Since it is so trivial for us, we’ll just do it to retain you as a loyal customer.  Hasn’t happened!  Unbelievable and my brand loyalty is on the fence.  Alain


  Volvo breaks up with Polestar and sees its shares soar 

J. Mossalgue, Feb. 1, “More bad news for Polestar. The struggling luxury EV maker just lost its funding from Volvo, which is handing full responsibility for the brand over to China’s Geely. However, Volvo is letting them down easy, saying it’s a “natural evolution” for the two brands.

After announcing the split yesterday, Volvo saw as much as a 30% jump in its shares, according to Bloomberg. And that is exactly what analysts were expecting. Volvo, which owns about 48% of Polestar’s shares, has been criticized by analysts for its involvement in the brand, which they say has been dragging down its resources. After EV startup Polestar was listed in the US in 2022, it has continually relied on Volvo and Geely for funding to stay in the game. 

.….”  Read More  Hmmmm … We’ll get Michael Sena to provide real insight into this.  Stay tuned.  Alain


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   China’s Geely launches 11 low-orbit satellites for autonomous cars

Reuters, Feb. 3, “Chinese automaker Geely Holding Group said on Saturday it has launched 11 low-earth orbit satellites, its second dispatch, as it expands its capacity to provide more accurate navigation for autonomous vehicles….”  Read More  Hmmmm … Really???  For navigation ???   GPS isn’t more than good enough?  240 LEOs are better??  Really??? I don’t believe it. Something else is going on here.  Alain


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6th  SmartDrivingCar


May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ

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