29th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Saturday, June 30,  2018

cid:<a href=Uber car’s ‘safety’ driver streamed TV show before fatal crash: police

H. Somerville, June 22, “The safety driver behind the wheel of a self-driving Uber car in Tempe, Arizona, was streaming a television show on her phone until about the time of a fatal crash, according to a police report that deemed the March 18 incident “entirely avoidable.” …The report said police concluded the crash, which has dealt Uber Technologies Inc a major setback in its efforts to develop self-driving cars, would have been “entirely avoidable” if Vasquez had been paying attention.

Vasquez could face charges of vehicular manslaughter, according to the report, which was released late on Thursday in response to a public records request….

Police obtained records from Hulu, an online service for streaming TV shows and movies, which showed Vasquez’s account was playing the TV talent show “The Voice” for about 42 minutes on the night of the crash, ending at 9:59 p.m., which “coincides with the approximate time of the collision,” the report said.”  Read more  Hmmmm….  This doesn’t absolve Uber.  Uber’s interest in Automated Vehicles is confined to the “Driverless” variety.  Those that can deliver mobility services without a driver.  Technology that requires human supervision, such as a “Self-driving” car, is of no value to Uber.  What limits Uber is the number of competent drivers that it can engage.   Driverless technology enables Uber to grow beyond being a niche business serving 1% of person trips to being a dominant service providing mobility to greater than 10% of person trips.  Only Driverless will enable then to reliably and effectively provide that amount of mobility.  So why was Uber testing a technology that, by design in that domain (traveling greater than 30 mph) requires a human attendant/driver because the Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system is, by design, turned off (disregarded) at speeds greater than 30mph.  With the AEB turned off, the last line of defense against a crash is a driver.  Thus a driver is required and that domain has no value to Uber.  Uber had no  reason to be testing on public street, outside of its “Drivereless” design domain and thus was reckless and they probably failed to adequately inform its drivers to remain especially alert when testing in domains where its technology is, by design, incapable of providing Driverless operation.  Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 46

F. Fishkin, June 30, “Self driving technology speeds along in China. Uber looks to resume testing this summer. Public transit, the Koch brothers and Nuro’s partnership with Kroger. Join Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for Episode 46 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast!” Listen and subscribe. 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

cid:<a href=How Uber’s Self-Driving Car Unit Plans to Move Forward

A. Efrati, June 28, “Uber plans to resume testing self-driving cars by August, in Pittsburgh and possibly San Francisco, said a person familiar with the decision, five months after an Uber car struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz. …Earlier this week, it announced to employees that it was implementing 16 recommendations for safety changes made by an internal team that reviewed Uber’s operations after the accident. Those include developing emergency braking features to help minimize collisions if the main self-driving system fails….

Uber also plans to publish information about its practices publicly, possibly with academic researchers, to ensure that all autonomous vehicle providers are equally safe, reflecting the unit’s leader Eric Meyhofer’s internal statement that Uber “won’t compete on safety.” That stands in contrast to the approach of one of Uber’s main rivals in autonomous vehicle development, Alphabet’s Waymo….

Uber also has undone the changes it made to its software at the start of the year that resulted in the cars ignoring more objects on the road, a factor that Uber believes contributed to the deadly collision in March…”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Sounds encouraging:  Not competing on Safety, being much more intelligent about stationary objects ahead as well reworking its AEB.  Alain

cid:<a href=Will Driverless Trucks Have a Driver?

K. Pyle, June 28, “Will driverless trucks require an operator and, if so, what will that person do? Where will that person reside, in the truck or in some remote location? These are the types of questions inspired by the recent request for comments issued by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration); the federal agency responsible for regulating and ensuring the safety of the trucking industry [Note, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a similar request for comments on March 29th, 2018) .

Speaking at the 2018 SmartDrivingCar Summit, FMCSA Administrator, Ray Martinez explained that the request for input was part of FMCSA’s effort to understand the regulatory impediments for deploying automation in America’s trucking fleet. He indicated that this process is preparing FMCSA to adjust regulations in a timely manner as the market for automation evolves and new legislative rules are potentially put in place. Bryant Walker Smith pointed out that the SAFE DRIVE Act, which is currently held up in the Senate, does not address Commercial Motor Vehicles.

The rest of this lengthy post summarizes highlights from some of the 93 comments submitted to the FMCSA, split into the following categories:… ”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Do read the very nice summary as well as watch the video from the Summit. Alain

cid:part21.207D7F45.83212A72@princeton.eduLearning from GM’s OnStar Experiment

M. Sena, July 2018, “… it is not certain that there is a secure future for ON-STAR within the GM fold….” Read more  Hmmmm….  Another excellent issue with a number of excellent articles including “Over-the-Air Updating Becoming Absolutely Indispensable” and comments on the EU Strategy for Mobility of the Future. 

cid:<a href= Insurance, Mobility Providers & Innovators #SmartDrivingCars  

K. Pyle, June 25, “he 2018 SmartDrivingCar Summit featured a robust discussion on how automated safety features can save human and financial costs today, even prior to achieving the promises of driverless automation.”  Read more  Hmmmm….watch all 9 videos.  Plus the playlist for all 2018 SmartDrivingCar Summit Videos Alain

cid:<a href=Apple poaches senior self-driving engineer from Waymo

S, Nellis, “Apple hired Jaime Waydo, previously a systems engineer at Waymo, Apple said, confirming a report by tech news website The Information…  ” Read more  Hmmmm….  Apple better up its game because it is way behind.  Alain

cid:<a href=How Driverless Cars Are Going to Change Cities

T. Higgins, June 26, “As the arrival of driverless cars gets closer, cities are scrambling to get ready. And for good reason: The driverless car promises to reshape the urban landscape as we know it.

Little wonder, then, that the potential changes are creating excitement—and fear—among city planners. As they host test fleets of robot vehicles and figure out how to rework ordinances to prepare for the autonomous future, they’re imagining what life is going to be like when the streets are filled with cars that can largely think for themselves.  Some see an opportunity to create on-demand public transit that gets people where they’re going faster and reaches more of the population. Or open up streets for more green space and greater walkability. Or redirect traffic to make it easier to hold functions like farmers markets.

But, even as they acknowledge the promise, others see possible problems….”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Actually pretty good.  The land use implications are tough to forecast, but at least there is a view of these being fleet managed “transit” vehicles offering mobility to all.  Alain

cid:<a href= Windsor Locks Becomes First In State To Apply For Self-Driving Car Tests

B. Leukhardt, June 26, “As of this week, Windsor Locks appeared to be the only town or city in Connecticut applying to be one of four communities where the state will put remote-controlled vehicles on local streets as part of a pilot road test program.  “We’re considering having an autonomous shuttle from Bradley Airport and the new passenger train,” First Selectman Chris Kervick said. “We decided to apply to be part of the pilot for a chance to see how the technology works. It doesn’t mean we will definitely have a driverless shuttle. But being a pilot study community would give us a close look at autonomous vehicles.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Not the sharpest vision, but at least some naive interest in Connecticut.  Alain


A. Marshall, June 21, “…So it feels significant that today, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and 14 towns and cities in the Greater Boston area signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will open up their roads to autonomous vehicle testing. Indeed, this is one of the first major expansions of self-driving car testing since the Arizona crash. (Ohio’s governor signed an executive order authorizing more autonomous vehicle testing in the state in May.) “We see this as a vote of confidence,” says Karl Iagnemma, whose company, Aptiv, tests in Boston’s Seaport neighborhood….”  Read more  Hmmmm….  A little clearer picture from Massachusetts. Alain

cid:<a href=Kroger Plans to Introduce Driverless Grocery Deliveries

H. Haddon, June 28, “Kroger Co. is betting driverless cars can speed up the adoption of grocery delivery in the U.S.

The largest U.S. supermarket chain by sales and stores on Thursday said it would work with electric-vehicle startup Nuro Inc. to test what they called the world’s first driverless grocery deliveries.

Kroger and Nuro executives said delivering groceries without drivers—while still years away—would make such services cheaper and easier to introduce in less densely populated parts of the country. Nearly a third of 4,504 adults surveyed by Forrester Analytics earlier this year said they didn’t do more grocery shopping online because of costs including delivery charges…”
Read more  Hmmmm….  Interesting. Alain

cid:<a href=Toyota donates $100,000 for open-source self-driving simulator

 A. Krok, June 24, “…Toyota Research Institute (TRI) announced this week that it will donate $100,000 to the Computer Vision Center to further development of CARLA (Car Learning to Act), an open-source simulator for autonomous driving. CARLA’s code is hosted on Github, in case you’re interested in poking around….” Read more  Hmmmm….  Nice, but TRI could add a zero.   Alain

cid:<a href=How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country

H. Tabuchi. June 19, “…Early polling here had suggested that the $5.4 billion transit plan would easily pass. It was backed by the city’s popular mayor and a coalition of businesses. Its supporters had outspent the opposition, and Nashville was choking on cars.

But the outcome of the May 1 ballot stunned the city: a landslide victory for the anti-transit camp, which attacked the plan as a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money….

Supporters of transit investments point to research that shows that they reduce traffic, spur economic development and fight global warming by reducing emissions.  Americans for Prosperity counters that public transit plans waste taxpayer money on unpopular, outdated technology like trains and buses  just as the world is moving toward cleaner, driverless vehicles….”   Read more  Hmmmm….You decide!  What is important is that by operating a fleet of autonomousTaxis with slightly reduced level-of-service (operating from designated aTaxi stands no more than a 5 minute walk from essentially anywhere in a city and delaying any departure for at most 10 minutes) so as to accommodate ride-sharing, affordable (less than $0.50/passengerMile) high-quality 24/7 mobility from anywhere to anywhere can be offered to essentially everyone throughout cities such as Nashville.  While such aTaxi technology isn’t yet available, what Waymo has operating in Phoenix today is close and is likely to scale sooner than Nashville can build any proposed light rail system. Properly invested, $5.4B can provide a life-time annuity of roughly $250M/year which can easily support the capitalization of a continuing fleet of 10,000 aTaxis.  Such a fleet would serve roughly 0.5 million trips per day or about 5% of all trips generated by a regional population of 3 million.  Alain    

cid:<a href=The SmartDrivingCar R/Evolution: Some Comments/Questions

A. Kornhauser, June 21, “Presentation made from China on Go2Meeting to SAE AV Conference in Greenville SC”  Similar to four (4) other presentations made across China during 3rd week of June.  “.   Read more  Hmmmm….FYI. Alain

cid:<a href=Driverless testing in NJ? Phil Murphy aide wants to move in that direction

J. Cichowski, June 6, “…“Finally, somebody in power recognizes that New Jersey is a microcosm of the nation that has everything necessary for a grand experiment,” he said, citing the state’s limited mass-transit options and its balance of urban, suburban and rural roads and population demographics. “And the weather isn’t always great,” he added, “but that makes it ideal for testing under all conditions.”…” Read more  Hmmmm…. See video.  New Jersey may finally start trying to be a player.   


Interested in working in Toronto?   Have a good background and interest in working on safety and security for autonomous driving vehicles and fleets?  Contact Dr. Fengmin Gong, DiDi Labs

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

cid:<a href=Uber, Waymo and others to study the ‘human impact’ of self-driving cars

M. Locklear, June 19, “A group of companies have just formed a new organization that will study the impact self-driving cars could have on humans, like the millions that stand to lose their jobs to autonomous vehicles in the future. The Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity (PTIO) is being formed as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit and includes Ford, Toyota, Daimler, Waymo, Uber, Lyft, FedEx and the American Trucking Association among its members. The Verge reports that in its first six months, PTIO wants to start developing a “well-rounded and data-based understanding of the impact and implications of autonomous vehicles on the future of work,” collect expertise, goals and concerns from interested parties and “foster awareness of existing and near-term career opportunities for workers during the transition to a new autonomous vehicle-enabled economy.”… In 2016, some of these same companies formed another group, the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, which advocates for self-driving technology. Ford, Waymo, Lyft, Uber and Volvo make up its members. Westphal told The Verge that though the coalition is doing important work, “the Partnership for Transportation Innovation and Opportunity believes that while society prepares for the practical impact of autonomous vehicles, we must also focus our efforts on the human impact as it relates to Americans’ careers and jobs.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm…. Self-driving cars/trucks wont cause anyone to lose any job because “Self-driving” requires an alert driver ready to take over.  Driverless may be another story.  Can’t this group make the distinction between “Self ” and “Driverless” fundamentally clear from the beginning?  Alain

 C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

imap:<a href=

3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Save the Date; Reserve your Sponsorship
Photos from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Program & Links to slides from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

  On the More Technical Side