7th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, February 16, 2018

Billionaire Bets On a World Without Car Crashes

A. Webb, Feb 12, “It has almost become a refrain: just what is Masayoshi Son up to? After plowing money into companies as diverse as Uber Technologies Inc., office rental specialist WeWork Cos Inc. and fintech lender SoFi, the billionaire chief of Softbank Group Corp. is in talks to buy as much as a third of Swiss Re, a 155-year-old reinsurance giant…. It has almost become a refrain: just what is Masayoshi Son up to? After plowing money into companies as diverse as Uber Technologies Inc., office rental specialist WeWork Cos Inc. and fintech lender SoFi, the billionaire chief of Softbank Group Corp. is in talks to buy as much as a third of Swiss Re, a 155-year-old reinsurance giant…

And it just so happens that the $700 billion motor insurance market is reinsurers’ most important business line, Swiss Re has said. So you can see why it might be useful to make introductions between the insurance folk and the ride-sharing apps, especially as the latter will be at the vanguard of self-driving cars.  ..or what I call Driverless Cars…

There’s the possibility too that SoftBank might be interested in tailoring insurance apps for gig economy workers such as Uber drivers (at least until they’re replaced by robots)….” Read more  Hmmmm…  There’s much more here…  There is an enormous opportunity to be “ahead of the curve” on this one.  By leading rather than following, an insurance entity can both accelerate the adoption of SmartDrivingCars and improve its own bottom line.  It really is that simple.  Alain 

map:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 24

Episode 24 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast with Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and tech journalist Fred Fishkin. Today: Softbank making insurance move that could spur smart driving technology? A gas tax hike for infrastructure funding. Will Amazon surprise again with self driving technology of its own? Waymo’s ride hailing app…and NVIDIA continues to soar.

Hmmmm…. Now you can just say “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!” .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay.  Alain

Real information every week.  Lively discussions with the people who are shaping the future of SmartDrivingCars.  Want to become a sustaining sponsor and help us grow the SmartDrivingCars newsletter and podcast? Contact Alain Kornhauser at!  Alain

map:<a href= 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  map:<a href=

May 16 & 17, 2018

Application NOW OPEN

  Trump says he backs 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure

A. Anapol, Feb 14, “Trump says he backs 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure

President Trump on Wednesday said he in favor of a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for his infrastructure plan.  He told lawmakers and senior White House officials that he endorses a gas tax hike,…”

Sen. Tom Carper (Del.), the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, was in the meeting and confirmed in a statement that the president backed a 25-cent increase. …”  Read more  Hmmmm… Wow,  finally some sanity.  The gas tax is such an elegant (aka simple, parsimonious, … except that it has “tax” as a label) user fee.  It is heart warming to learn that politicians may have finally realized that its elegance outweighs its label.  But why only $0.25/gal?  Even Ross Perot suggested $0.50 back in the day.  Make it a buck (less than the profiteering induced by OPEC and the Goldmine Saskes) or more.  Then it easily pays for the infrastructure and social programs. Gas is one of our most inelastic commodities.  However, the Gizmo makers hoping for VMT and Tolling are going to take a hit.  Very interesting.  Alain

U.S. Road-Death Rates Remain Near 10-Year High

A. Roberts, Feb 15, “U.S. motor-vehicle deaths remained near decade-high levels in 2017, an indication U.S. roadways aren’t getting any safer, even as auto makers equip cars with more safety gear and many other developed countries make notable strides in reducing highway fatalities.

Motor-vehicle deaths had steadily declined in the decade leading to 2016 … not in 2012… But a surge in driver distraction, increased miles driven and other factors have driven the closely watched number up at an alarming rate.

The data, which differs from figures set to be released later this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, comes as cars themselves appear to be getting safer. More than 20% of the 17.5 million vehicles produced for the 2017 model year were equipped with so-called Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, or ADAS, a suite of technology that includes adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping steering aides and autonomous braking that helps avoid collisions, according to

Just two years ago, fewer than 8% of vehicles were equipped with those features, says.

Auto makers, seeking to boost safety ratings …  NHTSA’s needs to be even more aggressive about AEBs preventing crashes rather than simply reducing the impact speed.  The impact speed has to be reduced to ZERO! NHTSA/US DoT have a bunch of “ZERO” initiatives. Why can’t one of them be for AEBs to achieve ZERO impact speeds?  … or grab a competitive advantage, also are building more vehicles with more semi-autonomous driving features as standard equipment. And the price of optional ADAS packages has been declining.
.. Some good news, anyway.  But these systems have to be designed to work , defined as: make it essentially impossible for us to crash them. …
The NSC’s fatality numbers are higher because the organization counts deaths that don’t take place on public roadways, such as a rollover incident in a driveway or a crash in a parking lot; and it includes deaths occurring within a year of an accident.”…”
  Read more  Hard to find good news.  Alain

Motor Vehicle Deaths in 2016 Estimated to be Highest in Nine Years

Press release, Feb 15, “For the first time in nearly a decade, preliminary 2016 data from the National Safety Council estimates that as many as 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes last year. That marks a 6% increase over 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014 – the most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 – 53 years. The preliminary estimate means 2016 may have been the deadliest year on the nation’s roads since 2007. An estimated 4.6 million roadway users were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in 2016, and estimated cost to society was $432 billion….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Numbers are nothing but UGLY.  NSC’s list of recommendations could use some improvement:  Automated enforcement techniques are fine, but why not advocate for the introduction of “speed governors” that won’t enable the driver to speed excessively.  The speedometer in my car goes up to 160mph.  I drive in New Jersey.  C’mon Man!  That’s totally irresponsible of a car company to even hint that I can go 160 mph. How about advocating for Automated Emergency Braking systems that actually focused on avoiding crashes rather than to simply mitigate them.  How about advocating that NHTSA evolve its agenda to focus on technology development and regulations that avoided crashes as its top priority while maintaining as a last resort a “Crash Mitigation” mind set.See also Driver Safety Public Opinion Poll  and NSC Motor Vehicle Fatality Estimates Alain

  Nvidia’s Cryptic Road Ahead

D. Gallagher, Feb 11, “Nvidia may have only high-quality problems these days, but it still needs to solve them.

One problem the chip maker has is that it seems to be selling all the chips it can make. Nvidia’s graphics processors, also called GPUs, are in hot demand by everyone… Nvidia is a “fabless” chip company that outsources the actual manufacturing of its chips to others. …

The recently ended fiscal year was the company’s best ever. Sales jumped 41% to a record $9.7 billion, while operating income surged 66% to $3.2 billion—another record. The company’s operating margin for the year was also at a record high 33%, compared with 28% the previous year….

That means Nvidia’s main “problem” for the year ahead is how to improve on perfection. Chances are that it can. …”  Read more  Hmmmm… Whew!! That is a lot of good news. Alain 

Amazon Takes On UPS, FedEX Hints That Driverless Car Program Is Further Along Than Many Believe

S. Dudash, Feb 13, “… Still, limiting its driverless goals to delivery seems like an uncharacteristically narrow objective for a company that tends to take on new industries and technologies much more boldly. Or does it? There’s certainly a perception that Amazon tends to plunge forcefully into different industries in the hopes of gathering market share and making a big splash, but the reality is different. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn’t….
Over the years, Amazon has been known to take on new opportunities in one of two ways. One is to go in first, spend aggressively and overwhelm the competition. This is what it has done in e-commerce. The other is hang back, see what works (and what doesn’t), and then use its tremendous scale and resources to develop what it believes is a better product or approach. This is what it did with the Kindle, Amazon Echo and even Amazon Web Services…
In our view, though, it’s most likely the company is playing its cards close to the vest: Its driverless car program, behind the scenes, is further along than anyone realizes, and while a delivery business to compete with FedEx and UPS is the immediate goal, it has much grander ambitions….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Yup!  Alain

  Nissan Offers Cash to Get People to Carpool

D. Newcomb, Feb 5, “…Now a new app called Hytch is paying people to share rides by partnering with companies and organizations that want to promote carpooling for reasons such reducing traffic congestion, fuel usage, and tailpipe emissions. Hytch partners pony up cash rewards (and other incentives, such as preferred parking) to get employees and others to carpool…..

After confirming that users have carpooled with at least one other person running the app, everyone gets paid per mile traveled via a PayPal account or bank transfer in $10 increments.. 

Nissan North America will pay Hytch users $0.01 per mile anywhere in Tennessee and $0.05 per mile within the 10-county Middle Tennessee area. With other sponsors adding their own rewards to Nissan’s, Hytch said users can earn up $0.12 or more per mile in some areas. If you have a 20-mile roundtrip commute and drive 100 miles a week, this means you can earn $12 a week for using Hytch or $48 a month.

Nissan gets corporate responsibility points out of the deal—and valuable data….”  Read more  See also Nissan Press Release  Hmmmm… If Groupon can survive, then maybe this can.  Fundamentally how much behavior (creation of new ridesharers) is this going to change versus how many are simply riding together anyway.  This is part of the problem with carpool lanes… how many of the cars in the lane are actually taking another car off the road?  Or is it just a family who would have traveled together anyway or, worse yet, a single person that is being chauffeured… cases in which no congestion relief is being delivered.  Moreover, how long will it take for a developer to write an app to scam this.  Explicitly paying people to do something that they really don’t want to do is not sustainable.  We need to find better ways to either change the negative perception of ridesharing and/or address the elements that make ride-sharing unattractive.  Alain

  A driverless future may upend the time-tested real estate law: Location, location, location

 “…“Real estate might be the industry that is most transformed by autonomous vehicles,” said David Silver, who teaches self-driving engineering at Udacity, an online university that has enrolled more than 10,000 students who want in on the transport of the future. “It could change real estate from a business that is all about location, location, location.”
It may take a while: The earliest examples of driverless services-buses, taxis and delivery vans-have already arrived, but widespread consumer adoption might not be here for a decade. And almost half a century passed from Henry Ford’s 1908 Model T, the first car for the masses, before suburbs designed for drivers took hold…”  Read more  Land-use implications, the new places we choose to live, work and play enabled by this technoloy will engender the biggest impact.  Alain

  Have Self-Driving Cars Stopped Getting Better

M. Harris, Feb 2, “Every January, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) releases data from companies that operated highly automated vehicles on the state’s public roads the previous year. By law, each company must report how many times a safety driver took control from an autonomous vehicle, either because the system had failed or because the human was worried it had.

Companies get to decide how to record these so-called disengagements. In 2017, for instance, relative newcomer Nvidia logged every single time a human touched the steering wheel of its test vehicle, even at the planned end of a test. Waymo, on the other hand, ran complex computer simulations after each disengagement, and only reported to the DMV those where it believed the driver was correct to take charge, rather than being overly-cautious. GM chose not to report at least one instance where an autonomous car was about to block an intersection. …

The disengagement reports are thus probably best viewed as marketing documents, indicative of neither the safety of a company’s technology nor its readiness for real-world deployment….”  Read more  Unfortunately, these are essentially the only data that exist on how well, or not well, each of these technologies are performing.  As with any real data, details are important, especially as to how the data are going to become information.  That conversion involves the proper interpretation of the carefully written regulations that CADMV has promulgated and the complexity of the conditions that were actually encountered in the logged vehicle miles.  Conditions could have been extraordinarily difficult in an attempt to “stress-test” the technology, or extremely simple in an attempt to “game the system”.  One is hoping that those involved  in the testing are really trying to make their systems better and are thus “stress testing”, rather than “gaming the system” for who knows what inappropriate reason.  (And, of course, the hope is that no one has gotten to the point of chasing those inappropriate reasons to the point of cheating a la VW.) So, in the end, without the details, the numbers are only an indication and not precisely comparable.  Alain

The High Toll of Traffic Injuries : Unacceptable and Preventable

World Bank, Jan 2018, “Road safety is a challenge of epidemic proportions. With 1.25 million people killed on the world’s roads each year and another 20-50 million seriously injured, road traffic injuries have become a public health priority whose social and economic implications extend well beyond the transport sector.

Reducing road traffic injuries in half could translate into an additional 15% to 22% of GDP per capita income growth over 24 years. This means in practice that failing to meet the UN Sustaina ble Development Goal target to halving road deaths by 2020—this is, the cost of inaction—accrues to about 2-3 percent points in unrealized per capita GDP growth for low- and middle- income countries.

But the effect on the national income tells us only part of the story. Aside from their direct impact on the national product of a country, road traffic injuries also cause individual and social welfare losses that cannot be ignored….Once again, the results are quite significant: … over a 24- year period, society would be willing to pay the equivalent of 6% to 32% of the national GDP to avoid the mortality and morbidity consequences
of road traffic injures.

…Road traffic injury prevention is not a transport challenge, it is a development challenge with strong impact on health, wellbeing and economic growth. Read more  A high toll exisits and it is worth doing something about it.  Alain

Why the Rise of Self-Driving Vehicles Will Actually Increase Car Ownership

M. Kurman & H. Lipson, Feb 14, “…When people predict the demise of car ownership, they are overlooking the reality that the new autonomous automotive industry is not going to be just a re-hash of today’s car industry with driverless vehicles. Instead, the automotive industry of the future will be selling what could be considered an entirely new product: a wide variety of intelligent, self-guiding transportation robots. When cars become a widely used type of transportation robot, they will be cheap, ubiquitous, and versatile. 

Several unique characteristics of autonomous vehicles will ensure that people will continue to buy their own cars. 1. Cost …maybe…   2. Please belongings …really??? C’mon Man…3.  Frequent upgrades  …for software, not hardware, therefore No… 4. Instant accessibility  …at most constant., Not decreasing for rural (~20% of households).  For suburban/urban (~80% of households) substantial decrease in family ownership rates and each with longer replacement cycle.p…   5. Diversity …What?  No… …”  Read more  Sorry Melba and Hod, Driverless cars may not even be sold or leased to consumers .  Their maintenance requirement, because of scale, may be something that is trivial for a fleet owner but a nightmare for consumers.  If there is no ride-sharing, then VMT Driverless = VMT today so “sales” will be about the same.  If there is ridesharing, then “sales” decrease proportionally.  The only aspect of SmartDrivingCars that increases “sales” is Self-driving.  The added comfort & convenience substantially increases VMT, people live in ex-urbans rather than cities and “sales” to them go through the roof. Alain

Ford Realigns Mobility Group; Acquiring Autonomic, TransLoc to Accelerate Growth

Press release, Jan 25, “The Ford Mobility team is accelerating and expanding its activities in 2018 to deliver a broad suite of mobility products and services to personal vehicle owners, fleet owners and cities globally, …Autonomic …Transloc…”  Read more  Interesting.  Alain

Ford Autonomy Chief Outlines Plan for Self-Driving Commercial Van

 R. ZumMallen, Feb 15, “…To develop the futuristic technology Ford looked inward to Chris Brewer, an engineer who was previously responsible for the Explorer SUV, F-Series pickups and Transit commercial van. Brewer sat down with during the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to discuss the automaker’s plan for its autonomous vehicle program. Here is an edited version of the conversation…”  Read more  Maybe the last thing to be replaced by a Driverless vehicle is the Ford F-150. It will be a long time before hauling your stuff will be done by a fleet-owned Driverless Van.   What may well be just around the corner may be a Self-driving F-150. That’s a totally different animal but it has little to do with “autonomy”.  Alain

U.S. transportation agency calls March 1 ‘summit’ on autonomous cars

D. Stapelton, Feb 9, “Auto manufacturers, technology companies, road safety advocates and policy makers will attend a March 1 conference over potential government actions that could speed the rollout of autonomous cars, the U.S. Transportation Department said on Friday…”  Read more  Excellent. Hopefully they’ll pay some attention to what supposedly works, but doesn’t well enough… AEB.  I know that’s boring, not visionary, not … but it is one of the key elements that MUST work essentially perfectly if 1.  Improved SAFETY is going to be achieved, 2.  Self-driving is going to be tolerable, and 3.  Driverless gets to a “Kornhauser Scale” (K = log(VMT-Driverless)) greater than 4.  Cars crashing into things should be a thing of the past!  Let’s have a ZERO_ImpactSpeed Vision.  Alain



Some other thoughts that deserve your attention

map:<a href=How Artificial Intelligence Is Edging Its Way Into Our Lives

C. Metz, Feb 12, “In Phoenix, cars are self-navigating the streets. In many homes, people are barking commands at tiny machines, with the machines responding. On our smartphones, apps can now recognize faces in photos and translate from one language to another.

Artificial intelligence is here — and it’s bringing new possibilities, while also raising questions. Do these gadgets and services really behave as advertised? How will they evolve in the years ahead? How quickly will they overhaul the way we live and change the way we do business?  The Times is exploring these matters this week at our annual New Work Summit, featuring technology executives, A.I. researchers, investors and others. Here are some of the key moments coming out of the conference, plus a rundown of some of our recent A.I. stories.
Read more  Very good overviews.  We have an enormous amount of work to do and progress to make before much of this becomes more than a toy.  But the opportunities are unbounded.  Alain

Pilots’ error may be to blame for deadly Russia plane crash

V. Isachienkov, Feb. 13, “Human error may be to blame for the Russian plane crash that killed 71 people, Russian investigators said Tuesday, noting that the plane’s pilots failed to turn on the heating unit for its measuring equipment, resulting in flawed speed data. …” Read more  Hmmmm… We know that airspeed is the key to flight and Pitot tubes  are a very elegant way to measure speed.  Understood, but these planes also have GPS, which, while it has its flaws, effectively measures “ground speed”.  Don’t pilots look at their GPS speed?   Also if you haven’t seen this animation, it is really informative!  Alain

  USDOT at 50: The Early YearsCompiled for the 50th anniversary, April 1, 2017

A. Pizarski, Jan 17,  “…These are their thoughts in their words. You will find some very skilled writers here addressing some very important events in transportation history, and many authors who went on to brilliant careers beyond their early DOT days. It is a tribute to the amazing collection of people assembled there in the formative years of the agency….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Thank you Alan for this compilation.  Alain

  Blockchain  – The New Technology of Trust

Feb. 2018, “…Blockchain has the potential to change the way we buy and sell, interact with government and verify the authenticity of everything from property titles to organic vegetables.

It combines the openness of the internet with the security of cryptography to give everyone a faster, safer way to verify key information and establish trust…”  Read more  A reasonable, very basic intro tutorial.  Issue may still be the secure hand-off of the “key” and is it really tough to counterfeit? Alain   See next… 

  What Blockchains Could Mean for Government and Transportation Operations

DOT-VNTSC-18-03, Jan 2018, ” …The freight logistics sector could benefit greatly from
blockchains. Data transfers can be made more secure,and intermediaries can be removed from transactions.  Accident records, GPS and accelerometer tracking, weather information, crew information, inspection and certificate data, and mileage could all be stored on a blockchain. For a specific example, how people buy and
sell used trucks could change. Members of a blockchain network could access previous ownership, maintenance, and tire records, speeding up transactions and ensuring
equal information among participants.  There is also the potential for digital, interconnected proof-of-delivery processes. …” 
Read more  Maybe. Alain 





Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time


N.  Stockton, Feb 11, “…Drivers …that’s roughly everyone, so Drivers = Society…travel at will, as long as they have money for gas and road snacks. But what they pay for that privilege, in the form of gas and other taxes, doesn’t come close …simply NOT true… road maintenance is paid for and that money doesn’t come from anywhere but gas tax… to covering the costs of maintaining the roads on which they travel—let alone recoup all the productivity lost in congestion  …we should repay ourselves?? It is our productivity that is lost by our congestion… and the damage that tailpipe emissions do to our health …well, you have me here, except again it is our own health that we are damaging … . Compared to what society pays, driving is practically a free ride    …What??? Society = drivers (Nick, don’t you drive?) so drivers are paying!…  .

Transportation economists …Who?   Dick Mudge??… have long sought to make drivers pay their fair share without raising the federal gas tax—a political nonstarter…Now there’s the supreme concept that we need to cow-tow to.  Because the politicians are brain dead, “economists” have to jump through hoops…The fact is that the gas tax is an enormously elegant user fee.  Its is actually assessed and collected at the Wholesale end not the Retail end, so there are few points of collection/audit.  Its elegance comes from its fundamental simplicity which makes it fundamentally effective:  You drive a Gas Guzzler that causes even more health problems, you pay more.  You get your Jollies by driving fast, you pay more. You drive more, you pay more.  All without all the gizmos that the Gizmo industry is trying to  peddle to the folks who buy with other people’s money.    Please… just raise the car-user-fee-that’s-buried-in-the-price-that-you-readily-pay-using-your-credit-card-so-you-don’t-really-notice-what-it-costs-everytime-you-fill-er-up.  Every Transportation economist knows that the price elasticity of gas is essentially zero.  So, if you are willing to put up with a little B&M, you can raise it $1/gal or even more.  Use the excess to do something good like solve our social problems.  The amount is less than the excess profiteering inposed by the OPEC cartel & GoldMine Saches of this world.  And please, don’t tell me about the self-serving “D” offered up every year by the ASCE so don’t read any more of the article.  Alain

map:<a href=The Autonomous Selfie Drone Is Here. Is Society Ready for It?

“…The drone chasing me, the R1, was created by a start-up called Skydio; it sells for $2,499 and will begin sipping to customers in two to three weeks, the company says. It is the closest thing to a fully autonomous drone you can buy today…Skydio’s basic goal was a drone that requires no pilot. When you launch the R1 using a smartphone app, you have your subject stand in front of the drone, then tap that person on the screen — now it’s locked on. You can also select one of several “cinematic modes,” which specify the direction from which the drone will try to record its subject…”  Read more  Maybe not so Half-baked???  Goodby GoPro??  Alain

map:<a href=His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming

K. Rose, Feb 10, “All you need is self-driving cars to destabilize society,” Mr. Yang, 43, said over lunch at a Thai restaurant in Manhattan last month, in his first interview about his campaign. In just a few years, he said, “we’re going to have a million truck drivers out of work who are 94 percent male, with an average level of education of high school or one year of college.”
“That one innovation,” he continued, “will be enough to create riots in the street. And we’re about to do the same thing to retail workers, call center workers, fast-food workers, insurance companies, accounting firms.”…”
Read more  Really half-baked.  1.  It will take many more than “a few years” to even replace a few truckers. 2. The “workplace improvement” achieved by the evolving technology will solve the current driver shortage by making truck driving a much more attractive occupation. If “hours of service” regulations are relaxed, the occupation will become even more attractive and the driver even more valuable to the logistics companies.  The driver’s productivity improvement reduces the cost of the driver.   More importantly, the driver becomes a more valuable asset in the logistics chain by having the ability to deliver more valuable services to ensure that the goods are safely and efficiently transported rather than needing to be totally focused on making sure the truck stays between the white lines and doesn’t run into anything.  The quality and efficiency improvement captured by better using the driver harmoniously with the technology will create an even greater demand for good be moved, creating more job.  Sorry Andrew, that scare tactic has no clothes.  Alain

Columbus delegation impressed by visit to Hyperloop One testing grounds

C. Ghose, Feb 12, “After a visit to the desert testing grounds of Virgin Hyperloop One, Smart Columbus and Central Ohio planning officials say they’re more optimistic about the chances of building an ultra-high-speed tube transportation system connecting Columbus to Chicago and Pittsburgh…”   Read more  This is really half-baked.  Is Hyperloop really “low hanging fruit” for Smart Cities .  There must be 100 better things to pursue in Columbus.  Alain



  On the More Technical Side

Capsule Networks (CapsNets) – Tutorial

map:<a href=//”>Assessment of RideSharing, Empty Vehicle Management Needs and ‘Last-Mile’ Ridership Implications on the Existing Rail Transit, Amtrak and Airline Networks Associated with Having autonomousTaxis Efficiently Serve the Billion or so PersonTrips Taken Throughout the US on a Typical Day… Final Project Description

·     NorthEast Region Assessment of aTaxi Ridesharing and Empty Vehicle Management  (Draft) 

    South Region Assessment of aTaxi Ridesharing and Empty Vehicle Management  (Draft) 

·      Plains Region Assessment of aTaxi Ridesharing and Empty Vehicle Management  (Draft)

       West Region Assessment of aTaxi Ridesharing and Empty Vehicle Management  (Draft)

A. Kornhauser, Jan 13, “… What if no one owned a personal car or truck any more?  What operational characteristics would a fleet of autonomousTaxis (aTaxis), operating nation-wide, need to have to deliver a comparable level-of-Service (LoS), in conjunction with existing Rail Transit, AmTrak and Airline networks (with appropriately enhanced LoS between existing stations/airports)?  How many of what size would be needed? How would they need to be managed?  What would be the fundamental economics in order to adequately serve the Billion or so person trips that take place on a typical day across the US?  Because details matter, we synthesized each of the 310 or so, million people in the US.  For each we synthesized their mobility needs throughout a typical day to accomplish their activities such as get to and from work/school/play/shopping/entertainment/…  Preliminary results include…

  • In order to deliver a Level-of-Service (LoS) comparable to that offered by today’s conventional automobile in its service of the roughly 1 Billion trips that take place on a typical day across the USA would requite a fleet of approximately 35 million autonomousTaxis (aTaxis). 
  • In serving those trips throughout the day, those aTaxis would travel almost 50% fewer vehicle miles than today’s road vehicles if:
  • people traveling from about the same place at about the same time to about the same place agreeing to ride together, much as they do today in elevators,  (shared-ride),  accounts for more than 50% of the reduced vehicle miles. 
  • The remainder comes from offering a reliable and attrative LoS to/from the existing fixed rail transit systems and, surprisingly, to and from existing AmTrak stations but assuming that the assistance of extremely improved AmTrak frequencies if service. 
  • It is amazing how, across the country,  so many segments of the AmTrak network could be of service to so many 100-400 mile trips that take place on a typical day.  If these trip makers had a reliable, convenient and affordable way to get from their origin to the nearest AmTrak station AND to their destination from that nearest AmTrak station, then the ridership potential on numerous segments of the AmTrak system beyond the NorthEast Corridor (NEC) would justify a LoS that is even better than what exists today on the NEC. 
  • If this preliminary result holds up under closer scrutiny (there isn’t an error someplace), this opportunity may be this study’s most significant finding.  There is little literature on “long auto trips” yet, because they are “long” they log a significant amount of daily VMT on existing highways.  Many of these trips today essentially parallel the AmTrak network. By providing convenient “first 1 – 20+ mile / last 1 – 20+ mile” accessibility to AmTrak’s existing stations AND by having AmTrak provide a high-quality LoS, the a significant percentage of these travelers would become AmTrak customers.  

Very interesting… aTaxis Save AmTrak!!  🙂 More later.  Alain
Read more Hmmmm…  Most interesting!   We hope to have a draft of the final report for all of USA out soon.  Alain



Calendar of Upcoming Events:

March 26-29, 2018
San Jose, CA



Self Racing Cars
March 24-25, 2018

Thunderhill Raceway

Willows, CA



map:<a href=

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

Application NOW OPEN