Friday, April 26, 2019
18th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars

3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Achieving Safe, Inclusive,

Affordable, Energy Efficient, & Environmentally Responsible, On-Demand 24/7 Mobility for All People ,

especially the Mobility Disadvantaged

evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Register; Sponsor

Latest Draft Program

cid:<a”>Tesla’s autonomy event: Impressive progress with an unrealistic timeline

T. Lee. April 24, "There’s an old joke in the software engineering world, sometimes attributed to Tom Cargill of Bell Labs: "the first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time."…

You can think of self-driving car development as occurring in two stages. Stage one is focused on developing a static understanding of the world. Where is the road? Where are other cars? Are there any pedestrians or bicycles nearby? What are the traffic laws in this particular area?

Once software has mastered this part of the self-driving task, it should be able to drive flawlessly between any two points on empty roads—and it should mostly be able to avoid running into things even on crowded roads. This is the level of autonomy Musk has dubbed "feature complete." Waymo achieved this level of autonomy around 2015, while Tesla is aiming to reach it later this year….

In this second stage, a company also needs to handle a "long tail" of increasingly unusual situations: …Waymo has spent the last three years in the second stage…

Tesla says that’s a 21-fold improvement over the Nvidia chips the company was using before. Of course, Nvidia has produced newer chips since 2016, but Tesla says that its chips are more powerful than even Nvidia’s current Drive Xavier chip—144 TOPS compared to 21 TOPS.

But Nvidia argues that’s not a fair comparison. The company says its Xavier chip delivers 30 TOPS, not 21. More importantly, Nvidia says it typically packages the Xavier on a chip with a powerful GPU chip, yielding 160 TOPS of computing power. And like Tesla, Nvidia packages these systems in pairs for redundancy, producing an overall system with 320 TOPS of computing power…. Regardless, both companies are working on next-generation designs, so any advantage either company achieves is likely to be fleeting….", Read more  Hmmmm… An absolute MUST read.  Alain  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 101

April 26, F. Fishkin, "Tesla shakes up autonomous mobility with a new chip and promises of what’s to come. The assessment from Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin in this edition. Plus…Elon Musk on LiDAR, Via makes an Earth Day statement and the latest on the 3rd annual Princeton Smart Driving Car Summit. Less than 3 weeks away!"  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain


3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Achieving Safe, Inclusive,

Affordable, Energy Efficient, & Environmentally Responsible, On-Demand 24/7 Mobility for All,

especially the Mobility Disadvantaged

evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Register; Sponsor

Latest Draft Program

cid:<a”>   Elon Musk Predicts Tesla Driverless Taxi Fleet Next Year

N. Boudette, April 22, "Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has made plenty of bold predictions. They don’t always come true.

On Monday, Mr. Musk said the company was on the cusp of making cars that could drive themselves safely on any road. He also promised that the company would begin operating a fleet of driverless “robo taxis” by the end of next year.

“I’m very convinced,” Mr. Musk said in a presentation to analysts at the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. “In the future, people will want to outlaw people driving their own cars because they’ll be unsafe” compared with autonomous vehicles….


He said Tesla had developed “the world’s fastest computer” for use in self-driving cars, able to conduct 144 trillion operations per second. Nvidia, a leading maker of chips for automotive use and a former supplier to Tesla, disputed that claim, saying it had a computer that can run 320 trillion operations per second….


Mr. Musk’s lofty prognostications about self-driving cars and the new business of robo-taxis came as investors are bracing for troubling news from the electric carmaker. On Wednesday, Tesla is expected to report a loss for the first quarter amid slumping sales. The company previously said it delivered 63,000 cars in the quarter, down 31 percent from the fourth quarter, despite beginning sales of its Model 3 sedan in Europe and China…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Watch the Tesla Autonomy Day presentations and demo video.  They are very good, especially the video (I assume there was no one else in the car), Alain

cid:<a”>AutonomouStuff April News

B. Hambrick, April 2019, "AutronomouStuff isn’t just part of the autonomy industry, we embody it. That means our company changes quickly and constantly, though one goal remains steadfast: help our customers succeed. Communication is a vital component of that goal, so each month we share what’s new, what’s exciting, and the success of our partnerships…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Interesting Features. See their car @ 3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  Alain

cid:<a”>  ‘Anyone relying on lidar is doomed,’ Elon Musk says

M. Burns, April 22, "…“Lidar is a fool’s errand,” Elon Musk  said. “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed. Doomed! [They are] expensive sensors that are unnecessary. It’s like having a whole bunch of expensive appendices. Like, one appendix is bad, well now you have a whole bunch of them, it’s ridiculous, you’ll see.”

The topic was brought up by a question about if Tesla’s  just-revealed self-driving hardware could handle input from lidar. Tesla’s vehicle’s currently uses several sources of data to acquire autonomous driving: radar, GPS, maps, ultrasonic sensors and more. But not lidar like some of Tesla’s chief competitors. Elon Musk previously explained that he views lidar as a crutch for self-driving vehicles. For Tesla, cameras are the keys to the future and its CEO sees a future when cameras will enable Tesla to see through the most adverse weather situations…." Read more  Hmmmm… A clear line in the sand.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Velodyne fires back at Elon Musk’s lidar criticism

C. Schubarth, Pril 26,"…"Anyone relying on lidar is doomed," Musk said at an investor event on Monday, calling the technology — which most of the companies that are working on self-driving vehicles are including in their plans — "expensive" and "unnecessary."

Marta Hall, president of the San Jose-based Velodyne, said Musk’s comments are adding to confusion about autonomous vehicles: "I say this because of my concern for the roll out of the autonomous project without undue tragedy," she said in a statement. "When it comes to Tesla’s claims, ‘consumer beware,’ is advised."  Hall argues that Tesla and Musk have conflated being "almost autonomous" with becoming "fully autonomous."

"Velodyne takes the position that ‘autonomy,’ implies that a car can drive safely and do all functions while a driver takes a nap," she said. "Tesla offers what are really ‘driver features,’ not autonomy. They are cool features that are fun, but not for napping."…"  Read more  Hmmmm… I fully agree, semantics are fundamentally important, especially wrt the need for adult supervision.  Driverless has no adult supervision.  All the other forms of AVs require adult supervision. 

cid:<a”>  New way to ‘see’ objects accelerates the future of self-driving cars

Cornell Univ., April 23, "…Now, Cornell researchers have discovered that a simpler method, using two inexpensive cameras on either side of the windshield, can detect objects with nearly LiDAR’s accuracy and at a fraction of the cost. The researchers found that analyzing the captured images from a bird’s eye view rather than the more traditional frontal view more than tripled their accuracy, making stereo cameras a viable and low-cost alternative to LiDAR…"  Read more  Hmmmm… So which is it, yes/no on LiDAR?  Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla Raises the Bar for Self-Driving Carmakers

R. Csongor, April 23, "First, Tesla is raising the bar for all other carmakers.

Second, Tesla’s self-driving cars will be powered by a computer based on two of its new AI chips, each equipped with a CPU, GPU, and deep-learning accelerators. The computer delivers 144 trillion operations per second (TOPS), enabling it to collect data from a range of surround cameras, radars and ultrasonics and power deep neural network algorithms.

Third, Tesla is working on a next-generation chip, which says 144 TOPS isn’t enough….

That’s why NVIDIA is the standard Musk compares Tesla to—we’re the only other company framing this problem in terms of trillions of operations per second, or TOPS.  But while we agree with him on the big picture—that this is a challenge that can only be tackled with supercomputer-class systems—there are a few inaccuracies in Tesla’s Autonomy Day presentation that we need to correct.."  Read more  Hmmmm… Competition is great.  Actually, Musk’s pronouncements help nVIDIA… Musk’s chips are only for Tesla’s.  nVIDIA’s chips are for everyone else..  There are a lot more of "everyone elses".  And everyone else needs to get going. Little bit like Apple & Microsoft… "OS1" is for Apple, "DOS" is for everyone else. Alain 

cid:<a”>  How the Waymo plant ended up in Detroit

N. Finley, April 25, "Detroit’s landing of a Waymo driverless car plant is billed as a victory by the Motor City over Silicon Valley.  But the real competition for the Google affiliate wasn’t California. It was Wixom.

Waymo had already decided it wanted to be in Metro Detroit to be closer to the Windsor assembly plant that produces the hybrid Chrysler Pacifica minivans it uses in its self-driving fleet. But Detroit wasn’t on its radar. Waymo’s broker was showing it only suburban sites…." Read more  Hmmmm… Interesting. Waymo has an order for 62,000 Pacificas that it needs to retrofit with its hardware (and then download the software).  It needs to get moving.  Did Elon just LeapFrog Waymo?  Is i all about the LiDAR?  Alain

cid:<a”>  Elon Musk claims a million Teslas will drive themselves in a year. Safety advocates have concerns

R. Mitchell, April 22, "Musk aims to beat the industry to an autonomous taxi ride-hailing fleet, even as Tesla struggles to profitably grow its current business. Consumer Reports warned that Tesla’s safety claims are "not backed up by the data."…"  Read more  Hmmmm… I’ve offered to perform an independent assessment of Tesla’s data and performance.  Alain

cid:<a”>Tesla reports big first quarter loss

T. Lee. April 24, "After two back-to-back quarters of profits, Tesla lost $702 million in the first quarter of 2019, the company announced on Wednesday.

Tesla has been expected to post a loss for the quarter ever since the company admitted earlier his month that it had suffered a big drop in Model S and Model X deliveries. But the quarter’s losses were larger than many Wall Street analysts expected.  …

Cash on hand fell from $3.7 billion at the start of the year to $2.2 billion at the end of March. However, this isn’t as grim as it might look because this primarily reflects Tesla paying off a $920 million loan that came due in March….", Read more  Hmmmm… Not easy.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla returns to losing money as revenue, cash and other key numbers tumble

R. Mitchell, April 24, "Elon Musk envisions a glorious future when fleets of Tesla robo-taxis earn money for Tesla owners and make all other automobiles instantly obsolete. The future, he said in a presentation this week, starts next year.

So far this year, however, Tesla’s financial situation looks bleak.

The company reported Wednesday that automotive revenue in the first quarter fell 41% to $3.7 billion from $6.3 billion in the previous quarter, a far steeper drop than expected for sales of all its electric-cars — the Model S, the Model X and the Model 3.

Total sales, including Tesla energy and battery storage products, fell 38% to $4.5 billion from $7.2 billion.", Read more  Hmmmm… This isn’t easy. Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla, Inc. Q1 2019 Financial Results and Q&A Webcast

April 24, 2:30pm PDT.. Read more  Hmmmm… The details of the call. Alain

cid:<a”>  Boeing 737 Max

R. Stengel, April 23, " Synopsis of 737 Max-8 Accidents…" Read more  Hmmmm… Excellent slide presentation.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Eye-Catching Hidden Message For Uber IPO In Self-Driving Tech Investor Deal

L. Eliot, April 24, "…Perhaps one of the savviest preening acts by Uber so far is the recently announced $1 billion investment by SoftBank Group Corporation, along with Toyota Motor Corporation and Denso Corporation, pumping cash into Uber Technologies Incorporated for the honor of being immersed into Uber’s self-driving driverless car efforts.  A strategically smart move, containing a hidden message that many have not yet detected…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Yup. Actually, when does SoftBank simply take Tesla Private and JDIs it?  Alain  INJURIES FORCE LYFT TO HIT THE BRAKES ON ITS E-BIKE AMBITIONS

A. Marshall, April 17, "…So it was a real disappointment late Sunday when the ride-hail company announced it would remove all of its electric bicycles—at least for the time being—due to reports of injury. “After a small number of reports and out of an abundance of caution, we are proactively pausing our electric bikes from service,” Lyft spokesperson Julie Wood said in a statement. Safety always comes first.” Since Sunday, a number of riders have told reporters that unexpectedly responsive front brakes, made by the Japanese cycling component manufacturer Shimano, had thrown them off the electric bicycles. One rider said he had broken his hip…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Even keeping the human in the loop is NOT easy.  Can you imagine how poorly NJ Transit trains and buses would run if riders were allowed/needed to control them.  Driverless may be the only answer. Alain

cid:<a”>  Tesla needs $2.5 billion in fresh capital, says a top analyst, and it’s causing the stock to drop

M. Sheetz, April 25, "…“Given improvements in efficiency and upcoming expansion plans, Mr. Musk admitted that from today’s perspective there is ‘some merit’ to raising capital,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said in a note to investors…." Read more  Hmmmm… Interesting.  Tesla Stock Price Chart.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Axios AM Deep Dive (Into on-demand economy)

M. Allen, April 26, "Uber has begun pitching investors on an IPO that could make it one of the country’s most valuable companies, further cementing the on-demand economy’s role in our cultural and financial future…" Read more  Hmmmm… Interesting.  Alain 

cid:<a”>  An MIT study found that Tesla Autopilot users were better than expected at taking over before potentially dangerous situations

M. Matousek, April 26, "A study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers found that participants were better than expected at taking control from Tesla’s Autopilot system before potentially dangerous situations, adding a new layer to the debate about semi-autonomous-driving systems… Tesla has presented data that indicates drivers get in fewer accidents when Autopilot is activated, but the data doesn’t provide enough detail to isolate the effect of Autopilot from other factors, like the fact that fewer accidents occur on highways, where it appears Autopilot is most often used, than on residential streets. Fatal accidents involving Autopilot highlight its limitations, but are too anecdotal to draw broad conclusions.

The MIT study, titled, "Human Side of Tesla Autopilot: Exploration of Functional Vigilance in Real-World Human-Machine Collaboration" sought to observe how well Autopilot users were able to remain aware of their surroundings and take over from the system when necessary. The researchers looked at 8,729 instances in which Autopilot was deactivated, either by the driver or the system itself, before encountering a potentially dangerous situation, and how quickly the driver reacted to it. (Each of the 21 vehicles included in the study had cameras filming the driver, the vehicle’s interior, and the area in front of the vehicle.)

If the driver took more than one second to react to the potentially dangerous situation, the researchers designated the response as being late. Drivers responded late in none of the 8,729 instances in which Autopilot was deactivated before a potentially dangerous situation, a result that surprised the study’s authors…."  Read more  Hmmmm… This is an impressive finding. All previous thoughts/comments have been anecdotal or conducted in simulators.  This looks real. It is really not surprising that drivers take the responsibility of driving seriously and recognize that if they are not attentive, they could die.  Read the paper: "Human Side of Tesla Autopilot: Exploration of Functional Vigilance in Real-World Human-Machine Collaboration"  Alain 

cid:<a”>  Ambarella and Momenta unveil HD mapping platform for autonomous vehicles

April 22, "Ambarella, Inc., a developer of high-resolution video processing and computer vision semiconductors, and Momenta, an autonomous driving technology company based in Suzhou, China, announced a collaborative HD mapping platform for autonomous vehicles.

The combined solution leverages Ambarella’s CV22AQ CVflow computer vision system-on-chip (SoC) and Momenta’s deep learning algorithms to provide HD map solutions, including mapping, localization for autonomous vehicles, and map updates through crowdsourcing.

Momenta’s vision-based HD semantic mapping solution is highly scalable and production-ready. Through crowdsourcing, the solution can create a closed feedback loop of big data, AI, and HD map updates. Based on localization, Momenta discovers changes in the map elements and provides frequent updates to the cloud…."  Read more  Hmmmm..

cid:<a”>  Ride-hailing company Via deactivates private rides for Earth Day

S. Edelstein, April 21, "or Earth Day, ride-hailing company Via is asking customers to share their rides. The service will disable the private-ride option in its app for Earth Day, April 22, in an effort to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion by putting more passengers into each vehicle.  Via claims that 95 percent of its rides already place multiple passengers in one vehicle. The company has been more aggressive in promoting shared rides than larger rivals Uber and Lyft, operating fleets of vans alongside passenger cars and using a special algorithm to group multiple passengers in one vehicle. If one person switches a single-occupancy vehicle to a shared one for their daily round trip commute, it can reduce their carbon footprint by the same amount as planting 17 trees, Via claims…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Thank you Via. As we all know, ride-sharing is the answer.  Alain

cid:<a”>Tesla Versus the World: First Musk Takes on Chips, Now Insurers

D. Hull, April, "…Tesla’s chief executive officer said during Tesla’s earnings call Wednesday that the company is creating its own insurance product and hoped to launch it in about a month. ..“It will be much more compelling than anything else out there,” Musk said of Tesla’s insurance product. “We have direct knowledge of the risk profile of customers, and based on the car, and then if they want to buy a Tesla insurance, they would have to agree to not drive the car in a crazy way. Or they can, but then their insurance rates are higher.”…" Read more  Hmmmm…  Seems perfectly clear to me.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Intel lays off dozens from autonomous vehicle program, acquires LiDAR startup

M. Campbell, April 24, "In a claimed effort to streamline operations, Intel recently shaved "several dozen" people from its roster of employees working on autonomous vehicles at the company’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center in Palo Alto….

It appears that Intel is consolidating efforts in the sector around Mobileye, an Israel-based autonomous vehicle solutions company the chip maker purchased in 2017 for $15.3 billion. Mobileye was estimated to have around 600 employees at the time it was acquired, a figure that has since more than doubled, the report said.   "  Read more  Hmmmm… Not surprising after such a fast ramp up.  Alain