9th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter
The Evolving Business of Powering Our Vehicles
M. Sena, March 1, “To all in Ukraine, continue to have courage against the aggressor. Everyone who supports democracy and freedom against tyranny stands with you. At such a time, when a free country has been invaded by a dictatorial power, discussions about automobiles and electricity seem trivial. But, in many ways, the issues of how we obtain our energy and how we use it are central to what is occurring now in the southeastern edge of Europe.
The U.S. federal government, along with many of the States, and the European Union, along with many of its member countries, are throwing money at battery electric cars. They believe the reason everyone isn’t rushing out to buy one of these types of cars is because there aren’t enough charging stations that drivers who normally charge at their place of residence can use when they are on long trips, or drivers who live in cities and don’t have an off-street parking spot can use for their daily charging needs. I disagree. The biggest problem is that those running charging stations have to convince people to pay two-to-four times what they would pay if they plugged their car into their own electric outlet. It’s less convenient and more expensive.
There is more in this issue. You can see a brief summary of the contents below. You can read the entire issue in the PDF attached or online by clicking here. Also below is a link to the program for the Symposium on the Future Networked Car 2022 to be held as a virtual event on the 22nd to the 25th of March. Plan on setting aside time to attend.
Enjoy your March issue of The Dispatcher. All comments are welcome, whether you want to take exception to something I have written or you just want to let me know that you got something out of reading it. Horses run on feed; writers run on feedback….” Read more Hmmmm… I’ve linked Michael’s email. I also need feedback.. Check out the Pod/ZoomCasts below with Michael. Alain
SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast Episode 258/ PodCast 258 w/ Michael Sena, Publisher, The Dispatcher
F. Fishkin, March 3, “How will electric vehicle charging stations make money? The Dispatcher publisher Michael Sena poses that question and many more on episode 258 of Smart Driving Cars with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. Plus Ford creates a distinct EV car business, an update on NJ progress and more. Tune in and subscribe….”
Technical support provided by: https://www.cartsmobility.com/
The SmartDrivingCars eLetter, Pod-Casts, Zoom-Casts and Zoom-inars are made possible in part by support from the Smart Transportation and Technology ETF, symbol MOTO. For more information: www.motoetf.com. Most funding is supplied by Princeton University’s Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering and Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE) research laboratory as part of its research dissemination initiative
REQUEST FOR EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST: Trenton MOVES
Staff, Dec 6, “The New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”), an instrumentality of the State of New
Jersey, has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (“RFEI”) to identify experienced firms
capable of introducing a safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, and efficient on-demand
automated vehicle mobility systems in and beyond Trenton, NJ.
NJDOT is soliciting written expressions of interest from qualified and experienced vendors to gain
valuable insight from the private industry regarding the goals set forth in the Trenton MOVES
(Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System) potential project and assess its viability.
If and when NJDOT elects to proceed with a potential project, NJDOT may issue formal
Request(s) for Qualifications or Proposals.
The RFEI is available to be downloaded at https://www.nj.gov/transportation/business/procurement/ems/current.shtm…”
Staff, March 2, “…” Read more Hmmmm… Links to the 20 responses to NJ DoT’s Trenton MOVES RfEI. Lots of very encouraging and enthusiastic respondents. Thanks to NJ DoT for making the replies available to the public at large on a very timely basis allowing everyone to learn a lot and showing that there is broad and competent interest in deploying Safe, Equitable, Affordable, Sustainable, High-quality Mobility throughout Trenton and beyond. Alain
Waymo to start charging money for its robotaxi rides in San Francisco
A. Hawkins, March 1, “… .In a statement, Waymo said it would start charging for rides within “the next few weeks.” The company has been providing free rides around San Francisco to a select group of “trusted testers” since last August. These are members of the public, who are not Waymo employees, who sign non-disclosure agreements as a precursor before getting to ride in the company’s autonomous vehicles. Waymo says it has “hundreds” of people involved in its trusted tester program.
The vehicles will be available “24/7,” Waymo spokesperson Nicholas Smith wrote in an email….” Read more Hmmmm… This is very exciting, … especially the 24/7 part. I sure hope Waymo finds the bandwidth to pursue the opportunity to provide this kind of safe, equitable, high-quality mobility to the residents of Trenton and the rest of New Jersey by participating in my 5th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit now scheduled for June 2 -> 4.
A major thrust of this year’s summit is to provide the residents of Trenton and the rest of New Jersey a convenient opportunity to get a first exposure to the kind of mobility that Waymo and GM/Cruise are beginning to offer in San Fransisco, and others that are preparing to offer in a few other places around the world.
The other major purpose is to enable those who might be inclined to offer such mobility services in Trenton and other parts of New Jersey, to have a convenient opportunity to meet the New Jersey customers that initiatives like Trenton MOVES are focused on serving. Luckily, we are still at the very beginning of the deployment of these mobility technologies. It is still somewhat trivial to tune these systems to best serve the needs and desires of the customers of Trenton MOVES. These customer may be different than the target customers in San Francisco or other places. This year’s summit is seriously focused on the serious engagement and a “meeting of the minds” of the technology of the service provider and the sociology of the target customers.
We in New Jersey know essentially zero about this technology. We certainly can learn from the active participation in the Summit by Waymo, GM/Cruise, … .
It may also be the case, that the sociology of us in Trenton and New Jersey is not exact replicas of the mobility needs of the target customers of San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Arizona, Las Vegas or other places that these mobility systems are attempting to serve.
The purpose of the Summit is to provide the technology companies wanting to serve the mobility needs of Trentonians, and other New Jerseyians, to readily acquire an improved understanding of the mobility needs that the Trenton MOVES initiative is serving. Alain
Bringing Autonomous Shuttles to Buffalo
S. Still, Feb 26, “As I mentioned, I am involved in a project, ITS4US, sponsored by the USDOT to bring autonomous shuttles to downtown Buffalo to serve the large BNMC medical campus and some low-income surrounding neighborhoods. The initial scale is much smaller than what you have envisioned – but we are all hopeful this concept can expand with its success.
We are in the early stages of identifying vehicle options – and that is not an easy undertaking. As you’ve mentioned the big players like Waymo (Google), Ford, GM are more focused on the robo-taxi business (think Uber without a driver). I dont see evidence that the big players are serious about accessible shuttles that can effectively provide “mobility for all” in cities like Buffalo.
We are working on two parallel tracks. One is going with smaller vendors that have ready-made solutions. There aren’t many of those to begin with, but we are finding their vehicles aren’t ideal particularly those with mobility challenges. There is always a risk with smaller companies that they meet the fate of Local Motors/Olli (e.g. cease operations). …” Read more Hmmmm… Steve, as you cans see above, the Trenton MOVES RfEI was also ignored by “the big players”. However, since the RfEI was , “issued for planning purposes and does not constitute a commitment, implied or otherwise, that a Request for Proposal(s) or other solicitation will be issued.”…, it is not surprising that they would ignore it.
What will be more disconcerting is if they pass on participating in the 5th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit on June 1 -> 4.
A major thrust of the Summit is to provide both the large players and the small players a convenient opportunity for Trenton’s mobility customers to get their first glimpse at these mobility systems and for these big and little guys to better understand the needs and expectations of Trentonians, especially the mobility disadvantaged. I suspect that Buffalo’s mobility needs and expectations are closer to that of Trenton than Silicon Valle, San Francisco or Phoenix. I certainly welcome our collaboration. Maybe together they’ll take us more seriously. Trenton has about 250,000 daily person trips that are the market opportunity set for one of these systems. Mercer county brings that number up to a million a day. Buffalo’s region is about 2.5x. Combined we create a substantial market opportunity for them. Let’s see who chooses to participate in the Summit. Those that do are truly interested in improving the lives of our residents and its worth us working with them. Those that don’t tell us loud and clear that we shouldn’t be wasting our time with them. 😎
Steve, nice to be working together this. Alain
Pennsylvania’s First Automated Shuttle Coming to the Philadelphia Navy Yard
Press release, Feb. 24, “Pennsylvania’s first automated vehicle (AV) shuttle is coming to Philadelphia this summer. The zero-emissions shuttle will provide visitors and employees with transportation services within the Philadelphia Navy Yard and to SEPTA’s NRG Station located at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue.
The project took a step forward this week when PIDC, Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation, awarded Perrone Robotics, Inc. a two-phased AV shuttle and services contract. The pilot AV shuttle is funded by the Travel Options Program, a grant program of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC). The Travel Options Program is an ongoing regional initiative that awards funds for innovative projects to provide better access to more travel options, while meeting the goals of climate action and air quality improvement, equity, reliability, freedom of choice, and affordability…” Read more Hmmmm… Very nice, but doesn’t seem to be focused on affordability… aka driversless. Why is the term driverless nowhere in this Press release? (or can’t I read???). If the objective is not driverless operation, how is it going to become affordable? Smoke & mirrors? I’m missing something really important here. Will someone @ DVRPC please clue me in. I desperately need help. Alain
Transportation Supply Chain Indicators
R. Schmitt, March 1, “As a result of the strength of the recovery under President Biden, which helped create more than 6 million jobs, and the fastest quarter of economic growth since the mid-1980s, increases in cargo volume mean that our supply chains – particularly our ports, rail, and trucking that move goods throughout the country – have been stressed like never before. A shift from services to goods consumption as a result of the pandemic paired with both pandemic-induced supply and labor challenges and our aging infrastructure have caused disruptions across our supply chains. Over the course of the past year, as part of the President’s Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, the Department of Transportation (USDOT), along with the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, have been part of an administration-wide effort to improve the flow of goods, make our supply chains more resilient, and lower prices for Americans. … ” Read more Hmmmm… Rolf, substantial contribution here. Amazing how much better transportation data is becoming. Thank you. Alain
Ford’s ‘radical’ move to split the company won’t come easy
A. Hawkins, March 2, “Ford’s decision to divide its business into two separate entities — one focused on electric vehicles and the other on gas-powered ones — may complicate the automaker’s efforts to recruit top-tier talent and could risk upsetting dealers already chafing under the shift to electrification, auto analysts and experts said Wednesday.
Ford also isn’t going so far as to spin off its EV divisions entirely as a separate business, as some major Wall Street banks advised. The automaker’s share price could suffer as a result. By keeping both divisions within the same company, Ford is entwining their fates. Ford Model E won’t succeed without the profits and efficiencies created under Ford Blue.
On Wednesday, Ford announced the creation of two separate entities: Ford Model E, focused on electric vehicles and advanced software projects; and Ford Blue, dedicated to the automaker’s much larger and profitable internal combustion engine vehicles. It’s a bold move — one analyst called it “radical” — but will come with some serious risks….” Read more Hmmmm… What about driverless Fords? Is that a 3rd “Ford” company (Argo.ai) or part of Ford Model E? Alain
The Polestar O2 is a sleek electric roadster with an integrated drone for aerial filming
A. Hawkins, March 2, “Polestar, the Swedish electric automaker, announced a new roadster concept called the Polestar O2. The hardtop convertible, which made its debut in Los Angeles today, is designed to showcase the automaker’s bonded aluminum platform, which it produces in-house, as well as some quirkier innovations, like an integrated drone for aerial filming….” Read more Hmmmm… Now that’s serious click-bait! Alain
AUVSI GENDER-NEUTRAL REBRAND DITCHES ‘UNMANNED’
S. French, Feb. 22, “AUVSI is still AUVSI, but the acronym is a bit different these days. Formerly short for “Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International,” the autonomous robotics industry association is getting a slight rename. In the AUVSI gender-neutral rebrand — which was announced at the end of February 2022 — the word ‘unmanned’ has been replaced with ‘uncrewed.’… ” Read more Hmmmm… I can’t believe it finally happened. What took so long? I really don’t care why it took so long. I’m thrilled that it was done and this can help the uncrewed industry to move on from its entrenched gender bias. Everyone in the industry may need to repeat out loud a thousand times. “Uncrewed Vehicle System, Uncrewed Vehicle Systems , …”. Alain
Elon Musk: Tesla could have made a 600-mile-range electric car a year ago
F. Lambert, March 2, “….”We could’ve made a 600 mile Model S 12 months ago, but that would’ve made the product worse in my opinion, as 99.9% of time you’d be carrying unneeded battery mass, which makes acceleration, handling and efficiency worse. Even our 400+ mile range car is more than almost…” Read more Hmmmm… I love Elon! He is so right. Unlike a gas tank which weighs much less empty than it does full, batteries weight is proportional to the max range, and is constant charged or uncharged. Alain
Rivian buyers are canceling at alarming rates after price increases
F. Lambert, March 2, “A poll shows that Rivian buyers are canceling their reservations at an alarming rate after significant price increases for the R1T electric pickup truck and R1S electric SUV.
As we reported yesterday, Rivian announced significant price increases across its lineup that are resulting in some configurations going up by more than $12,000, and some by as much as $20,000 – these price increases also apply to people who had reservations for years, and they are not happy…..” Read more Hmmmm… Wow, price elasticity in the electric truck market. Be careful Ford. Alain