41st edition of the 5th year of SmartDrivingCars


Saturday, December 2, 2017


  Personal Sedan Sales in Jeopardy as U.S. Auto Market Transitions to “Islands” of Autonomous Mobility: KPMG Research

Nov 27, ” KPMG predicts that self-driving cars and mobility services will provide options that will reduce consumer desire to own cars, particularly sedans. Pushing a button for mobility services competes with the utility of sedans, and both give consumers the freedom to buy the car they really want to own or utilize mobility by the trip. In fact, KPMG projects that sales of personally-owned sedans in the U.S. will drop precipitously – from 5.4 million units sold today to just 2.1 million units by 2030….” Read more Hmmmm…  See video, See full report next, Excellent but they don’t sufficiently differentiate between Self-driving and Driverless (and don’t even bother with Safe-driving which is unfortunate.  But excellent anyway because they approach it from the individual trip demand.  Alain

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 14

Episode 13 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. This edition In this edition Fred and Alain are joined by Bernard Soriano, the Deputy Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles. On the agenda: Waymo’s CEO says real driverless testing is coming soon.; Waymo’s autonomous fleet now has traveled four million miles; Lyft gets the green light from California to test self driving on public roads

Islands of Autonomy

G. Silberg, Nov 27, “…Islands of autonomy identify the segmentation of the market for autonomous vehicles and mobility as a service (AV-MaaS). Knowing how and where these islands develop will make all the difference in understanding how consumer behavior will soon change in them, how vehicle ownership will change, and where and how mobility services will grow. It will be essential for where and how those in the auto industry will find value….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  A must read.  Another in the series of excellent reports on this topic from KPMG. Alain

  The Autonomous Vehicle and Disruption in Automobile Insurance

KPMG, June 2017, “Autonomous vehicle technology could shrink the auto insurance sector by 71 percent or $137 billion by 2050, according to new research by KPMG, titled The Chaotic Middle: The Autonomous Vehicle and Disruption in Automobile Insurance. KPMG has extended its actuarial model by 10 years to 2050, finding that the pace of change has accelerated ( strange sentence structure… and doesn’t make me confident in their model formulation.  Sounds like their model had baked in accelerated pace change and they found that ‘pace of change had accelerated, but who is paying attention anyway?)   , pushing projections that illustrate greater declines to the insurance sector than KPMG’s previous 2015 study. It also shows an increasing need for new types of insurance products….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  KPMG talks about revenue implications, but what about the profitability implications.  Insurance is old-school centered on profitability, not hype, smoke, mirrors, and/or lipstick.  Alain

  When Accidents Weren’t the Drivers’ Fault & Has DSRC Reached the End of the Road? ++

M. Sena, Dec. 2017, “HOW MANY TIMES during the past week have you heard or read that 95% of all vehicular accidents are the result of the drivers and only 5% are caused by some fault with the car or truck?…I’ve done some hunting to find the most important safety improvements, and here is my list in order of the most important:…” “I don’t like Ralph Nader and I didn’t like the book…” …

…I THOUGHT THAT some of my readers might be as much in the dark about hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles as I was, so I decided to help us all out….

…The report of WAVE’s death is an exaggeration. So don’t uncork the champagne if you areamong those who want to  celebrate, and don’t send sympathy cards if you are an admirer. It ain’t over ‘till it’s over…

…Here is a photo of a drone in highway patrol action taken by another drone at a higher elevation. The image is of
a highway in China. The surveilling drone is low enough to read the vehicles’ license plate numbers…” Read more  Hmmmm…  Enjoy!!! Alain

Google’s Waymo: Autonomous Cars With Passengers, No Human Driver ‘Coming Soon’

A. Narayanan, Nov 28, “Waymo, the Alphabet (GOOGL) autonomous-car unit, announced Tuesday at AutoMobility LA that it’s ready to put passengers in self-driving cars — without an accompanying test or backup driver. The change that is “coming soon” would mark a key milestone for Waymo, which already has been testing its autonomous minivans on public roads in Arizona without a safety driver behind the wheel. Putting consumers in those same cars — without a safety driver —suggests a leap of confidence for Alphabet, the technology behemoth that has disrupted the automotive landscape with its car ambitions. Auto giants such as General Motors (GM) and Ford Motor (F) are in a race to catch up… ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  They seem to be saying what I’ve been suggesting…  No driver/attendant, just customers in the cars, if anyone at all.  🙂  Alain

  Waymo’s fleet reaches 4 million self-driven miles

Nov 27, “When it comes to developing self-driving cars, experience is key to making the technology safe and ready for the road. That’s why we’ve been working to make Waymo the world’s most experienced driver. Now, Waymo’s fleet of vehicles has officially reached more than 4 million self-driving miles on public roads (for comparison, that would take the average American driver nearly 300 years to complete). These millions of miles of experience have been crucial to reaching our latest milestone: putting the world’s first fully self-driving cars on public roads without anyone in the driver’s seat….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  What is most impressive is that they’ve been (maybe) “at fault/responsible” for only one crash and that one at a crash velocity of 2mph.  That’s impressive!! Most importantly it demonstrates how totally responsible they have been ion this process.  Alain

SoftBank offers to buy Uber shares at 30 percent discount

L. Baker, Nov 27, “Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp is offering to purchase shares of Uber Technologies Inc at a valuation of $48 billion, a 30 percent discount to its most recent valuation of $68.5 billion, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  How desperate do you have to be to accept a 30% discount offer?  I guess some of the lipstick is wearing off. Alain

Rebuking Uber Lawyers, Judge Delays Trade Secrets Trial

C. Metz, Nov 28, “… “I can no longer trust the words of the lawyers for Uber in this case,” Judge Alsup said. “If even half of what is in that letter is true, it would be an injustice for Waymo to go to trial.”… Read more  Hmmmm…  It won’t go away. also Uber’s Year of Backfires . Alain

Self-driving cars from Uber-like services could cut demand for sedans in half by 2030, study says

Nov 27, “Ride services using self-driving vehicles could slash by more than half demand for owner-driven sedans in the United States by 2030, according to a study released Monday by consulting firm KPMG that used cellphone data to map commuter travel in three large U.S. cities. Read more  Hmmmm…  Of course they are talking about Driverless, not Self-driving.  They can’t be Uber-like, because Uber has drivers/attendants in all their self-driving cars… but basically…Yes, if they are Driverless; otherwise, only the 1%ers can afford them ( but they’ve always had their chauffeured ‘BlackCars’ paid by their corporations so they aren’t even a member of the existing community of owner-driven sedans)!!!  Alain

Volvo wants to sell cars like Verizon sells phones

A. Tarantola, Nov 29, “At the 2017 LA Auto Show on Wednesday, Volvo revealed a monumental new means of owning and operating their vehicles. For $600 a month, the car company will sell customers an XC40 crossover SUV. That figure includes not only the cost of the car, tax and delivery, but also insurance (regardless of your age or location) and access to Volvo’s new “concierge” service. All you have to pay for is the gas you use. They’re calling it Care by Volvo…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting!! Unfortunately this is least attractive to Volvo’s most traditional customers, safe drivers (or by design to broaden its appeal to a new customer demographic) .  Unsafe drivers that would otherwise need to pay exorbitant insurance premiums would benefit most.  But those guys won’t go near an XC40.  Now if there was a similar offer on a Dodge Deamon … (but Fiat-Chrysler wouldn’t be able to find a dumb enough underwriter)!!! Alain


G.M. Unveils Its Driverless Cars, Aiming to Lead the Pack

B. Vlasc, Nov 29, “…For G.M., the self-driving program is a cornerstone to long-term growth that is not dependent on simply selling vehicles to individual drivers…The car traveled more slowly than driver-operated vehicles on the road, and seemed to exercise extreme caution rounding corners or avoiding obstacles. Yet it covered more than two miles without a hitch, despite encountering what its onboard computer said were 265 people, 49 bicycles and 489 cars..”  Read more  Hmmmm….  They are trying but are they really?  If the ‘Pack’ includes Waymo, then they are aiming very high.   Alain

GM could launch its own autonomous ride-hailing service as early as 2019

P. Holley,  Dec 1, “A General Motors executive said Friday that the company is rushing to launch autonomous vehicles for a ride-hailing service that could compete with Uber and Lyft, the latest example of how aggressively the legacy carmaker is pushing to stay at the forefront of automotive innovation….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Sounds too much like: Blockbuster could launch a movie streaming service by as early as…”  This is not their 110 year old business model.  Alain

  New legislation allows for the testing of cars with remote drivers (Netherlands)

Nov 24, “…The new law also allows for the testing of vehicles with a remote driver. …” Read more  Hmmmm…  Hard to tell if this is only for remotely operated vehicles or is a mechanism for more carefully enabling Driverless cars to be tested as long as there is a ‘remote driver’ ready to take over the driving of the car should the ‘Self-driving’ aspects begin to fail.  Is the ‘remote driver’ replacing the needed/mandated ‘person behind the wheel ready to take over control’ of Self-driving (aka Level 3)?  Alain

Velodyne Unveils Monster Lidar With 128 Laser Beams

P. Ross, Nov 28, “Velodyne re-asserted its dominance of the lidar market today by announcing a product with 128 laser beams, twice as many as its previous top-of-the-line model.  “The VLS-128 is the best LiDAR sensor on the planet, delivering the most advanced real-time 3D vision for safe driving,” Mike Jellen, the president of Velodyne LiDAR, said in a statement….” Read more  Hmmmm…  Interesting.  Alain

Yandex takes its self-driving test cars out for a spin in the snow

N. Lomas, Nov 28, “Russian software giant Yandex took its prototype self-driving taxi out for its first real-world snow test last weekend. It says the Prius model prototypes clocked up 300km in total during the test. It’s put out the above video demoing the two cars in action…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Its Russia!  That’s all they have most of the year. What else could they do!? 😉 Alain


A. Marshall, Dec 1, “IN THE REARVIEW mirror, innovation tends to look smooth, a clean progression from there to here. Living through that change is bit more herky-jerky. …” Read more  Hmmmm…  Another summary.  Alain

Recent PodCasts

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 13

Episode 13 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. This edition: Volvo gets a self driving fleet order from Uber, fighting motion sickness in self driving vehicles, Fisker’s battery break through? And the latest from Tesla, Bill Gates, Apple and the Pope!

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 12

Episode 12 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. This edition: Tesla unveils a truck, the media focuses on the future of driving, Uber’s Express Pool, remembering the DARPA challenge, Jaguar Land Rover testing self driving vehicles in the UK and public acceptance.
w far all of this has come:  The first skit of the Yale Band at half-time of the Princeton-Yale football game last Saturday centered on the Driverless Car “Trolley Problem“.  Talk about almost mainstream! Alain

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 11

Episode 11 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with host Fred Fishkin and Princeton University Professor Alain Kornhauser. Fred and Alain are joined by leading expert and Internet pioneer Brad Templeton. Waymo makes some history, Thee tech needed to make it work..cameras…lidar or both? Navya bringing new robotic vehicles to Paris. And an accident…as a self driving shuttle is launched in Las Vegas.

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 10

F. Fishkin, Nov 2, Episode10 “Host Fred Fishkin along with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser are joined by internationally recognized expert Michael Sena from Sweden. The latest from Washington D. C., the ITS World Congress in Montreal and headlines from Nvidia, Waymo, GM, Elon Musk and Sony!

Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 9

F. Fishkin, Oct  25, Episode 9 “Host Fred Fishkin with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and guest Fred Payne, council member from Greenville County, South Carolina. Greenville’s autonomous taxis are rolling. Bank of America analysts see big investment opportunities in vehicle technology. The latest from London, China and New York. And on demand pilotless planes?

Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

China’s Next Potential Boom Spot: The Places People Overlook

M. Schuman, Dec 1, “…In the past, delivery drivers like Mr. Han would have had little reason to travel so far. China’s boom over the past four decades made its crowded metropolises wealthy. Much of the rest of the country, especially farming communities like those surrounding Liangduo, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, remained relatively poor.  But more and more, the benefits of China’s economic miracle are penetrating into smaller cities and countryside hamlets…

Such opportunity has attracted Over the past three years, has more than doubled its army of deliverymen, many aimed at reaching into rural towns and villages….” Read more  Hmmmm…  Its all about mobility.  Interstate highways did it for us.  … Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
May 16 & 17, 2018
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ
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