Saturday, June 1, 2019
24th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars  Uber’s First Earnings Report After I.P.O.: $1 Billion Loss

K. Conger, May 30, "Uber’s start as a publicly traded company has gone from bumpy to bumpier.  In its first earnings report since listing its shares on the stock market this month, the ride-hailing giant on Thursday reported its slowest growth in years and steep losses for the first three months of 2019…"  Read more  Hmmmm…  In its most basic form, the ride hailing business has revenue ($r) and costs ($c) proportional to number of rides (R).  Let $r = A*R and $c = B*R.  So Profitability (P) { P =  ($r -$c) = (A – B) * R } is all about (A – B) .  We know that at today’s ridership, R(now), (A(now) -B(now)) is negative.  We also know that as ridership increases, new drivers will need to be paid more (B gets bigger), simply because the demand for driver services goes up.  We also know that to attract more riders, revenue per ride will necessarily go down (A gets smaller).  Yikes… Ride-hailing faces a double whammy… as it scales (gets more people to ride) it loses even more from the average rider than it does today plus that bigger negative number gets multiplied by a bigger number of rides. 

When each unit incurs a loss,  making up losses by increasing volume is known to not be a viable approach. Increasing volume when unit loses increase wil increasing volume is really not viable!  🙁

The only road to profitability, other than a major pivot, is to be more discriminating in who you serve… Serve fewer riders.  Unfortunately, when you finally get Ridership small enough so that A-B is positive, that number gets multiplied by a smaller number of riders such that the gross amount is nowhere near sufficient to justify valuations greater than that of a lemonade stand.  Uber serves about 1B trips per quarter, which means today, they loses $1/ride.  To be worth $40B they need to make $1 on each of the 4B trips they serve per year.  How Uber gets from a history of losing $1/ride to making $1/ride @ 4B rides/year is an open question.  As is making $10/ride @ 400M rides/year?  As is making $0.10/ride @ 40B rides per year?  Alain   Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 110

F. Fishkin, May 25, " The untold secrets of driverless car videos. Dr. Lance Eliot joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for a liveley discussion. Plus…Waymo brings back self driving trucks, so will Daimler and is the future driverless for Uber and Lyft. Tune in and subscribe!"  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain  Maniv is Reveling in Micromobility

M. Granoff, May 29, "…nd yet kick-scooters, like the one I rode that morning, have well-known drawbacks. The passenger-to-vehicle weight ratio makes them inherently unstable (indeed, on my second scooter trip, a crack in the sidewalk sent me toppling off one, luckily avoiding injury). They are well suited neither for pedestrian-filled sidewalks, where they interfere with foot traffic nor for automobile-clogged streets. There is no obvious place to park them, and no incentive for users to avoid cluttering pedestrian walkways. Their use on-sidewalk annoys and even endangers pedestrians (which has led to vandalism and other revolts in many places). Helmets are not provided, and therefore rarely worn. Under ideal circumstances, such as a protected bike lane, they can be practical for trips of one or two miles but are not comfortable enough to go much further. And while they beat walking, they are still limited to about 15 miles-per-hour at best.

What if we could take the best attributes of scooters — accessibility, cost-efficiency, practicality, and fun — in the form of a vehicle that was street-legal, faster, safer, much more durable, easy-to-park, more comfortable and more practical for somewhat longer journeys?

Enter Revel…Maniv Mobility was proud to lead the seed round of Revel Transit, which this week announces the second phase of its launch with 1,000 mopeds across a wide swath of Brooklyn and Queens, New York.

Mopeds — sometimes referred to as Vespas (or, confusingly, scooters) — are more robust than an electric bicycle, but more refined than a motorcycle. "  Read more  Hmmmm… I can’t wait to see Brooklyn and Queens turned into Taipei, Bangkok or other SouthEast Asia cities.  Yipes!  Alain  Journey Mapping to a New Way of Design

K. Pyle, May 29, "hat does studying baboons have to do with designing the human interface for the autonomous mobility of the future? Find out by watching the above video, filmed at the 2019 SmartDrivingCars Summit, which also provides an overview of:

  • participatory design using journey mapping to help people understand how they use different modes of transport and to help them understand the challenges for those whose abilities do not match the physical or built environments.
  • the workshop featured a wide range of participants from different disciplines, as well as people with different “mismatches” (see Kat Holmes, Mismatch, about the strategic importance of designing for inclusion).
  • the reason that experiential tools will be important in understanding the mobility needs of communities and neighborhoods.

The above video provides a glimpse of the multi-disciplinary approach and the people-centric design approach of the UC San Diego Design Lab. It is no wonder that the SmartDrivingCar Summit organizer, Dr. Alain Kornhauser, was so excited for this session.  Read more  Hmmmm… See video.  Excellent!  Alain

cid:part25.BD506EE0.57F98FF2@princeton.eduWaymo is bringing its self-driving trucks back to Arizona

K. Korosec, May 29, "… Those early Arizona tests were aimed at gathering initial information about driving trucks in the region, according to Waymo. This new round of testing is at a more advanced stage in the program’s development.

Testing will be conducted on freeways around the metro Phoenix area and will expand over time, according to Waymo. The company wouldn’t share details of how many autonomous trucks it has in its total fleet, how many will be in Arizona or when it will broaden its testing area outside of metro Phoenix.

The company said it will be testing with both empty trucks and with freight. However, the freight will be for testing purposes only and not part of a commercial business.

The self-driving trucks have two trained safety drivers who can take over if needed…." Read more  Hmmmm…Arizona’s welcoming environment allows Arizona to actively participate in the proper development of this technology.  New Jersey should pay attention. Alain  If You Won’t Stop Speeding, Your Car Will Do It for You, E.U. Tells Drivers

P. Karasz, March 27, "The European Union plans to require speed-limiting and emergency braking technology in all new car models starting in 2022, along with dozens of other technical features to improve road safety, its Parliament announced Tuesday…"  Read more  Hmmmm…  Sorry that I’m so late on this one.  Nice that this is finally getting some traction.  But OEMs are going to scream "bloody murder".  How can they sell me a car to use in New Jersey whose speedometer reads up to 160mph, yet has gizmos that prohibit me from going over the 65mph speed limit?   Alain  Essential Stats For Justifying And Comparing Self-Driving Cars To Humans At The Wheel

L. Elliot, May 30, "In speaking at various industry events, I am often asked about some of the various statistics frequently mentioned as a form of justification or rationale for the pursuit of autonomous driverless cars. At times, such stats are batted around, and it is hard to know where they came from, nor know whether they are reliable, and often these “magical” numbers are inappropriately utilized.  You might at first thought believe that autonomous cars don’t especially need any kind of numeric or quantitative justification. It would seem obvious to assume that driverless cars are going to be a boon to society, some would assert. In a qualitative manner, self-driving driverless cars will presumably expand mobility throughout society, unlocking the sometimes costly or arduous, some say friction-based, access to daily transportation. That’s enough to convince many that we are on the right path by seeking to develop and field autonomous cars.

There is a rub…"  Read more  Hmmmm…There is a rub! Alain  Daimler ramps up self-driving truck efforts, launches global autonomous group

C. Hawes, May 29, "The newly established organization, called the Autonomous Technology Group, will be led by Peter Vaughan Schmidt, who currently serves as head of strategy of Daimler Trucks, the company said in a release.

“With the Autonomous Technology Group, we are bringing together our global experts and their vast knowledge in automated trucking,” Schmidt said in a statement. “In the first stage, we will focus on use cases of highly automated driving in defined areas and between defined hubs in the U.S.A.”

The group will focus its efforts on Level 4 autonomous driving technology, which means the truck can perform all driving tasks, but has a driver in the cab to take over if needed…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Looking to a B2B solution.  Alain   Commentary: Trying to live car-free? Pritzker’s taxes could slam the brakes on that plan

J. Schwieterman, May 28, "…  However, living without a car is about more than access to efficient transit systems. Staying mobile in a car-free household generally requires semiregular use of ride-hailing services such as Lyft and Uber. But Pritzker’s second punch stands to frustrate those who rely on just such services.

The governor has proposed a $1-per-trip tax on all ride shares in Illinois, regardless of distance or duration; in Chicago, that tax will be added on top of the city’s existing 72-cent tax per trip. That amounts to $3.44 paid in tax alone per round trip within the city, even to travel just a few blocks to the “L.” There are no exceptions. The tax will be the same for midnight trips on Uber Pool (where multiple users share a car) and on long and luxurious Uber Select rides during rush hour.

Users of “microtransit,” including Via’s popular corner-to-corner shared-ride service throughout the city, will pay tax rates approaching 50% on short-hop trips. Want to stop at Jewel on your way home from work? You’ll then ante up $3.44 in tax just for that trip home, an amount embedded in the fare with the cost of the service. Those unable to use transit, bike or walk will certainly feel the effects in their wallets…."   Read more  Hmmmm… Unfortunately, Uber & Lyft are rarely ride-shares.  They are usually either chauffeured single passenger rides or too often, chauffeured zero passenger rides.  So the tax may well be appropriate; however, in instances where there is real ride-sharing, defined as in NYC as two or more unrelated travelers (not my wife and me, nor my parents and me, nor my friend and me…), then this is the most regressive tax known to man.  Here we have a system that can provide somewhat affordable mobility to the people of Chicago that the CTA has no hope of serving and Pritzker want to tax the hell out of them.  So bad!  Does anyone really want to live, work or visit Chicago??  Alain  Untold Secrets Of How Driverless Car Videos Are Rigged: Be Wise To The Trickery

L. Elliot, May 14, "Magicians are said to be honor bound not to reveal how magic tricks are performed. The idea is to preserve the illusion that the magic is, well, quite magical. I’m not going to speculate about whether prestidigitators are using the dark-arts or simply clever sleight of hand, but I will tell you that when you watch those now ubiquitous video clips of driverless cars driving around neighborhoods and on our byways, there could very well be some behind-the-scenes skullduggery going on.

In some cases, those enthralling and astounding "sizzle reels" have been carefully staged to provide that oh-so-good feeling that autonomous cars are here-and-now, or that we’re within inches of having them. It is actually pretty easy to portray driverless cars in that kind of light. You, the viewer, aren’t able to look around the corners to see what might be actually happening, similar to being forced to sit still in front of a stage when a magician makes that elephant disappear (spoiler alert: magicians usually don’t want you to get out of your chair and come look anywhere around or underneath the stage)…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Please read carefully so you can watch these videos with a critical eye.  To be fair to the industry, driverless cars will only operate in properly mapped and vetted geo-fenced areas during acceptable weather conditions.  We shouldn’t drive in adverse weather conditions.  Just yesterday, we had torrential rain with tornado warnings and flash floods.  We were warned not to drive our conventional cars and roads were closed! (and we lived though it to see the sun rise this morning.)  Alain

cid:part43.7586B572.DEA33128@princeton.eduMayor launches Ottawa L5 autonomous vehicle test track

D. Symonds, May 31, "The Government of Ontario and economic development agency Invest Ottawa have officially opened the new Ottawa L5 connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) test track and facilities in Kanata North Technology Park, Canada.  “The city recognizes the tremendous opportunity this presents to grow and diversify our local economy,” said Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa. “Not only are we demonstrating that Ottawa is a global leader in autonomous vehicles; we will also capitalize on the facility by testing new technologies that will help improve the lives of our residents.”

The world-class testing grounds enable vehicle-to-everything (V2X) testing in Ottawa’s true four-season weather climate, with temperatures that range from +37°C to -38°C, and harsh winter conditions marked by heavy snow, sleet and ice. Comprising a public and private CAV test track, the Ottawa L5 is equipped with 5G, 4G/LTE, GPS (RTK), dedicated short range communications (DSRC), and wi-fi telecommunications infrastructure, making it the first integrated CAV test environment of its kind in North America…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Nice test facility, but we need some driverless vehicles operating in our neighborhoods where people need mobility.  Alain

Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time  Why New York Can’t Have Nice Things…It costs three times more to build a subway station here than in London or Paris. What if we could change that?

J. Barro, May 30, "Imagine being able to get from the North Bronx to the Financial District in less than half an hour by train. Or being able to take a train straight from Peekskill or Greenwich or White Plains that, instead of terminating at Grand Central, ran straight through the city — stopping in midtown, at Union Square, in the Financial District, in Downtown Brooklyn, and then proceeding on to JFK airport — offering a one-seat ride to most any place you might need to commute to.

If you live in London, you won’t have to imagine it for long: London is nearly finished with work on Crossrail, a megaproject that will funnel commuter trains from London’s eastern and western suburbs into a new, 14-mile underground line that will serve seven stations across London’s urban core. Crossrail is not arriving quite as soon as expected — like many megaprojects, it has suffered some delays and cost overruns — but it should open in 2020 or 2021 or so. When it does, it will enable a new service, to be called the Elizabeth line, which will increase the capacity of London’s rail-transit system by 10 percent. It will shorten and simplify commutes, letting workers get off their suburban trains at stops near their offices instead of changing from commuter trains to the subway…." Read more  Hmmmm… Should the title of this be… Why do people want to live in NYC?  or Why do some companies insist on gathering large groups of employees in tall and tight works spaces only to have them look at screens and be on the phones all day long?  Isn’t this cruel and unusual punishment?  To me , NYC seems like a Stupid Citiy rather than Smart City.  I like Camelot/Princeton smart villages.🙂  Alain  Uber and Lyft are betting on self-driving cars to become profitable. But that may not happen, new research from MIT suggests.

G. Rapier, May 30, "… Although the cost proposition of autonomous taxis (ATs) may be improved by more closely matching supply with demand, we demonstrate that achieving maximum utilization would still leave ATs fiscally uncompetitive with conventionally driven vehicles (CDVs)," authors Ashley Nunes and Kristen Hernandez write in their paper.

Specifically, their findings — based on data from San Francisco, a single market — point to a cost between $1.58 and $6.01 per mile to operate autonomous vehicles with single occupants. …"  Read more  Hmmmm… What???, This isn’t what the paper says..(Read the paper (maybe)).  The paper says (p22): $0.51 per mile plus "safety oversight" (whatever that is, which can range (according to the paper) from $0.05 (essentially nothing) to $2.35 (more than 4x everything else).  The paper then fails to focus on this elephant in the room ("safety oversight") yet waxes eloquently about discount factors, wages of blue collar workers and vehicle utilization rates that are more like "fuzz on a tick’s ear" compared to the elephant.  Peer review would have had the authors change the title to "The economics of autonomousTaxis is dominated by the cost of ‘Safety oversight" and ask that 90%  be rewritten.  Back to the Business Insider article…  everyone knows that Self-driving cars won’t help Lyft/Uber and Driverless cars will, if "safety oversight" (whatever that is) is cheap.  Or, another way to summarize this article is:  "Uber and Lyft are betting on self-driving cars to become profitable. But that may not happen if some unknown really expensive whatever thing shows up, new research from MIT suggests".  Alain  My Infant Daughter’s Life Shouldn’t Be a Variable In Tesla Autopilot’s Public Beta

J. Klein, May 30, "I spotted the crimson Tesla Model 3 immediately as it began merging onto the 101 highway; years of riding motorcycles in Los Angeles has made my peripheral vision razor-sharp. With my infant daughter sitting in the back, singing along with my wife and brother to some kid tune, time slowed as the Model 3 failed to heed our presence in the right lane and aimed straight for our passenger doors. With inches to spare, I swerved into the unoccupied left lane and narrowly avoided an accident. Concurrently, in that split second, I saw the Model 3’s driver’s hands jump from his lap to the wheel and yank it to the right. The car was on Autopilot.

It’s time to regulate this technology…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Fine, I agree, but half-baked because you are not also advocating for strict enforcement of traffic laws that keep human drivers from being an even greater menace to you and your daughter because of their flagrant disrespect of traffic laws by speeding, tailgating, running red lights, passing on the right, rolling through stop signs disregarding pedestrians in cross walks, cutting off motor and pedal cyclists, road rage and general bad behavior.  This despicable behavior  has been going on for 100 years.  Strictly enforce existing traffic laws and regulations.  Alain

 C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)  Why It’s Time To Think About Self-Driving Cars In Regards To Parking

S. Vedantan, May 28, "Self-driving cars may be great for those who don’t want to own a car or get behind the wheel, but they promise to be a nightmare for parking enforcement….

Well, on the surface, Rachel, we don’t think of self-driving cars in the context of parking. But that’s part of the problem. When we think about self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles, we usually think about using them to get someplace. We don’t think about what happens once we get there…." Read more  Hmmmm… What??? If it is a Self-driving car, then you do what you do now with your conventional car.  If it is a driverless car, you get out when you get there, just like you do in an elevator.  You forget about the elevator and it goes provide mobility to the next customer.  All very simple.  C’mon NPR!  Alain

Simply Click Bait

 Calendar of Upcoming Events:

September 4-6, 2019
Pocono Manor, PA


4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

evening May 19 through May 21, 2020

On the More Technical Side