Friday, June 28, 2019
28th edition of the 7th year of SmartDrivingCars

cid:part6.CB10CE4E.9A76C630@princeton.eduApple acquires self-driving startup

I. Fried, June 25, "Apple bought, an autonomous driving startup once valued at $200 million, and has hired dozens of engineers, Apple confirmed to Axios on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The deal and hires confirm that Apple hasn’t given up its autonomous driving project.

Details: The deal comes after talked with multiple potential acquirers, but in the end Apple won out. Apple also purchased’s autonomous cars and other assets, sources tell Axios. ceased operations within the last 2 weeks.
Apple’s hires are mostly in engineering and product design, per a source.
The purchase price was not disclosed. Apple was expected to pay less than the $77 million raised in venture capital, to say nothing of the $200 million it was valued at two years ago, after its Series B round, Axios’ Dan Primack reported recently.

The backdrop:’s highlighter-orange vans ferried workers around a business park in Frisco, Tex., and shuttled fans in nearby Arlington to Cowboys games. is laying off 90 workers in California, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. And the company employed many more in Texas."  

Read more  LHmmmm… ooks like a fire sale.  Does this mean that getting to "80% of Driverless" is valued at less than $100m?  Ouch!  It is going to take deep pockets to get to "99.99% Driverless". Alain   Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 114

F. Fishkin, June 28, "With Apple making an autonomous tech acquisition, what plans might it have when it comes to driverless mobility? Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus the latest from Tesla, Ford, Waymo, BMW and more on episode 114 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast! Tune in and subscribe. "  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

cid:part12.2BD0C0FB.8486C091@princeton.eduThe Dispatcher, July 2019

M. Sena, June 26, "The July issue of The Dispatcher contains two articles. The first is about a subject that most car companies have put at the bottom of their ‘need-to-think-about’ list while they figure out how to electrify, how to turn themselves into mobility service providers and how to spin a tale for their investors about when their cars will drive themselves. Unfortunately, if they don’t revise their priorities, their investors will be looking for somewhere else to place their fortunes.

The second article is about FCA and Renault. Oftentimes, the back story is the important one, not the story that is being played out in public. I take a look at Renault’s past to try to understand a little better what is going on with the company today. It was an enlightening investigation and I’m pleased to share the results with you…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Michael, another great Dispatcher.  Enjoy reading.  My take is that the OEMs realize that MaaS and Driverless vehicles may well be a pipe-dream that attracts all the attention of the regulators and keeps them busy, leaving the OEMs alone to monetize their hundred year old business model with cars that require a human attendant/driver:  Sell to consumers cars that now have affordable automation (no need of LiDAR) that makes personally-owned cars safer, easier and more comfortable to drive.  Since these cars are fundamentally no different than conventional cars (a ’55 Chevy), there is no need for any new regulatory oversight.   With an expanding world market of captive customers (best mobility alternative is to walk) all of the OEMs will do just fine, thank you!  Their financial outlook has never looked so good.  Alain

cid:part15.8DAE514D.2D86349D@princeton.eduFlorida’s latest oddity: Semi trucks with nobody inside them

P. Hooey, June 26, " At first glance, the 18-wheeler, white with green lettering crawling down its side, looked like any other heavy-duty truck on the road.  The vehicle merged onto the busy Florida Turnpike earlier this month, smoothly changing lanes and reaching 55 mph before eventually exiting the highway nearly 10 miles later.

The truck didn’t have any cargo, but it was carrying a closely guarded secret: There was nobody in the cab…"   Read more  Hmmmm… We’ll believe Starsky that there was nobody is the cab, so there is some good news.  The not so good news is that there was an entourage of escort vehicles in front and in back just in case anything started to fall apart, than you!  The more not good news is that the whole concept entails a remote driver.  It also requires requires continuous high bandwidth communications with low latency (which is not available today in many stretches of the US Interstate system, but will be OK in the near enough future).    These limitations make the business case for this concept only marginally better than having a driver on-board.  However, this is an accomplishment that was done carefully, not recklessly, and is possible because of Florida’s welcoming of Driverless technology.   We now need 3 categories of Driverless-without-attendant/driver-on- board ("Driverless_w/o") accomplishments : 1.  Driverless_w/o in a highly controlled roadway/guideway  environment (private roads, restricted access by other users, …, example: Olli @ Ft Myer w/o attendant; Morgantown PRT, Airport people movers, rather common), 2.  Driverless_w/o  with remote operator (example: this demo, ~10 VMT (Vehicle Miles traveled) total world-wide), and 3. Driverless w/o in normal traffic conditions on normal roads (example: Waymo’s Firefly driving Steve Mahan around in Austin Texas in 2015, and maybe few Waymo trips in Chandler AZ in 2018. (That’s it for examples from around the world!  My guess… < 1,000 VMT world-wide since Adam & Eve).  So congratulations Starsky.  Alain  Ford’s Argo AI Invests $15 Million For Robocar Research Center At Carnegie Mellon

G. Gardner, June 24, "Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicle tech company, is investing $15 million to establish a Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research at Carnegie Mellon University to improve self-driving technology.

The grant is for five years. The Autonomous Vehicle Research center will focus on improving sensors’ perception and algorithms designed to improve safety and reliability in a range of conditions including winter weather, especially snow, and construction zones.

“We are thrilled to deepen our partnership with Argo AI to shape the future of self-driving technologies,” Carnegie Mellon President Farnam Jahanian said in a statement. “This investment allows our researchers to continue to lead at the nexus of technology and society, and solve society’s most pressing problems.”…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Congratulations CMU!  Great call Argo! Alain  Tesla’s millions of cameras are capturing some crazy things – videos

F. Lambert, June 24, "When Tesla deployed its new TeslaCam and Sentry Mode features, it basically enabled millions of cameras (8 per car) installed on its vehicles to capture videos of their surroundings.

Those cameras are now capturing some crazy things. Here are some of the videos:  In September of last year, Tesla released a software update to enable owners of vehicles with Autopilot hardware to use the Autopilot cameras to record footage when needed – like a dashcam – hence why they called the feature: “TeslaCam“.

Building on its previously released dashcam feature, Tesla enabled the use of more cameras around the vehicle and activated a “stand-by” parking mode earlier this year.  The feature became Sentry Mode, which also includes an alarm and notification system to deter thieves even more — efficiently creating a system to watch over Tesla vehicles when their owners are not around…."  Read more   Hmmmm….  See videos  All should be placed in the public domain so that all of us can learn from them.  Alain  BMW Vision M Next: An autonomous car for people who love driving

R. Baldwin, June 25, "There’s a fear from some that when cars drive themselves, that’ll be the end of the joy of driving. Why even get behind the wheel if your vehicle can get you to your destination while you sit back and relax? BMW — which boasts the tag line "the ultimate driving machine" — has a concept that’ll appease the future-looking owner that doesn’t want to deal with the horrors of gridlock but needs to feel like they’re in control while carving up mountain passes.

To help shore up its bona fides as a "driver’s car" the low-slung concept offers drivers the choice between all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive. The turbocharged four-cylinder hybrid powertrain outputs 600 horsepower and has a top speed of 186 miles an hour. You know, just in case the carpool lane ever gets supercharged…" Read more   Hmmmm…  So much for the ultimate riding machine.  Alain  June AStuff Newsletter

B. hambrick, June 26, " We formally launched the Open Autonomy Pilot at the beginning of June in downtown Peoria, Illinois, with the help of Mayor Jim Ardis and a host of other community-minded folks from the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.

Our automated research and development vehicles are now circulating on a defined route through downtown to gather data and test software with the goal of refining the autonomous capabilities for partners and other research and development organizations. …"  Read more   Hmmmm… AutonomuStuff keeps getting better.  Alain  For Mass-Market Cars, Forget L3-L5 Autonomy

C. Barnden, June 24, "Mass-market car OEMs are heading for extinction, right? We all know that they will be killed by Tesla and robo-taxi companies like Cruise, Uber and Waymo, who are just quarters away from deploying perfect “self-driving” technology — aren’t they?  Let’s take a look at the 2018 production volumes for an indication of where the power really lies here:
       Tesla: about 250,000
       Robo-taxis: 0
       Traditional mass-market car OEMs: about 95 million
Does anyone seriously believe the traditional OEMs will supply robo-taxi companies in sufficient quantity to bring about their own demise? No, me neither.

The threat from Tesla and mobility startups has been massively overstated these last five years — media hype and ambitious timescales cannot disguise the fact that “self-driving” technology remains firmly in the R&D phase and is nowhere close to commercial deployment…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  This has been obvious for a very long time and one doesn’t need the SAE Level mumbo jumbo to make it obvious to the most casual observer. There are only two types:  cars that need a human driver to be used safely within itsoperational domain and those that have an automated system that can drive safely just as well or better without a human driver/attendant within its operational domain.  Detroit will "design/build/assemble/market/sell2consumers"  the former; Silicon Valley will "design/specOut{build/assemble/operate} the latter"  Alain  2019 SmartDrivingCar Summit Videos – Wednesday Morning Before Break

K. Pyle June, 2019, "The Wednesday morning sessions covered changing demographics, equal opportunity of driverless mobility, ADAS update, TNCs, serving the mobility disadvantaged from the beginning, inclusive design and the Washington perspective on driverless.
See more  Hmmmm… Thank you Ken!  Alain  2019 SDC – Wednesday Morning After Break

K. Pyle June, 2019, " This playlist captures the Wednesday morning comments about ridesharing, its potential impact on greenhouse gas emissions, the effectiveness of existing electronic safety measures, testing of early autonomous vehicles at the University at Buffalo and the important elements required to create AI that people can trust.  See more  Hmmmm… Thank you Ken!  Alain  Mathematics of Transportation

Webinar, June 11, "Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck and Alain Komhauser will discuss mathematical approaches that inform transportation policies and improve transportation networks."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Slides, video to be posted soon. We had only 15 minutes each so hardly enough time to even begin to scratch the surface. Alain

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

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

Simply ClickBait

 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