Friday, August 9, 2019

  Uber Posts $5.2 Billion Loss and Slowest Ever Growth Rate

K. conger, Aug 7,  "Uber set two dubious quarterly records on Thursday as it reported its results: its largest-ever loss, exceeding $5 billion, and its slowest-ever revenue growth.  The double whammy immediately renewed questions about the prospects for the company, the world’s biggest ride-hailing business. Uber has been dogged by concerns about sluggish sales and whether it can make money, worries that were compounded by a disappointing initial public offering in May.

For the second quarter, Uber said it lost $5.2 billion, the largest loss since it began disclosing limited financial data in 2017. A majority of that — about $3.9 billion — was caused by stock-based compensation that Uber paid its employees after its I.P.O.  Excluding that one-time expense, Uber lost $1.3 billion, or nearly twice the $878 million that it lost a year earlier. On that sariesme basis and excluding other costs, the company said it expected to lose $3 billion to $3.2 billion this year…Lyft has also reported a series of deep losses. This week, it said it lost $644.2 million in the second quarter, though it added that it expected that amount to abate. Several months earlier, Lyft had also posted a particularly steep loss related to stock-based compensation payouts to its employees…"  Read more   Hmmmm….  No wonder Uber looked so good prior to its IPO, it hadn’t "paid" its employees.  So is this really a "one time" expense?? Anyway, Driverless is their only potential savior as a $40 stock. They can’t afford to pay their employee, their gig workers can’t feed families, new customers can’t afford their prices and food delivery generates only chump change.  Uber Stock price, See also…Uber and Lyft keep losing money while driving up the number of cars on our overcrowded streets. Alain

   Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 119

F. Fishkin, Aug 8 , "Uber and Lyft need driverless to have their businesses make sense. So says Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser in the latest edition of Smart Driving Cars with co-host Fred Fishkin. Plus..the latest from Tesla, Waymo and more."  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

Uber CEO: Massive losses from IPO were a once-in-a-lifetime hit

A. Palmer, Aug 9, "Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi called the company’s staggering $5.2 billion loss in the second quarter a “once-in-a-lifetime” hit as he t to steer it toward profitability.

In an interview with CNBC’s David Faber and Jim Cramer on Friday, Khosrowshahi shed light on the company’s second-quarter earnings report, in which Uber fell short of analysts’ expectations for both the top and bottom lines. The stock plunged 6.8%…." Read more   Hmmmm…. Watch the embedded video of the interview!!! Bare mention of the $3.9B bonus (~ $200K/Employee) for the him and his management team (~20K world wide). Yet, he praises with a straight face, the "almost  $300M" bonus (~ $100/Driver) for the ~ 3M gig workers.  (The pie for employees, on average, was 2,000 times bigger than the pie for the gig works that interface with Uber’s customers.  Doesn’t seem fair.) Also, how long can 20% revenue margins continue when the gig workers are struggling and get essentially zero bonus, or health insurance, or vacation, or sick leave or … ???  Alain

Lyft’s stock is a roller coastTesla found to be ‘misleading’ with safety claims, NHTSA sayser after its Q2 earnings release

L. Matney, Aug 6, "In Q2, Lyft beat on revenue with $867 million for the quarter, compared with $505 million in Q2 of last year, but Lyft also had net losses of $644 million for Q2 compared to $179 million in the same period of 2018. The company pinned their adjusted net loss (which accounts for amortization of intangible assets and stock-based compensation expenses among other expenses) even lower, at $197 million versus $177 million in 2018 Q2.

The losses measure in the hundreds of millions, but they still represent a substantial quarter-over-quarter decrease, all while pumping up revenues to their highest yet. Last quarter, the company earned $776 million in revenues but lost $1.14 billion.

What made Wall Street more happy than the individual quarter’s results was Lyft’s optimism for Q3 as well as the full-year 2019. The company updated its outlook for both…."  Read more   Hmmmm….  Good news: it is not as bad as Uber. Lyft Stock price.  Alain

  Lyft pulls e-bikes from San Francisco after battery fires

J. Plautz, Aug 2, "The service suspension comes at a dicey time for Lyft. The company has been arguing that it has exclusive rights to deploy dockless electric bikes, although the city has said the contract covers only docked services (a San Francisco judge sided with Lyft in a preliminary ruling earlier this month). The company’s e-bikes were also recently pulled from service in three cities, including San Francisco, because of a brake issue and were only recently returned.

It’s still unclear what problem exists with the vehicles, which are designed and manufactured by Lyft. …."  Read more   Hmmmm…. When it rains, it pours!  Is there no good news? Alain

  Dining al fresco? Not at the Peacock Inn

Staff, Aug 7, "One by one, residents approached the microphone at the June 26 Zoning Board meeting and lauded the food, the drinks, and the ambiance at The Peacock Inn. And one by one, each resident voiced vehement opposition to allowing that same restaurant to add outdoor seating.

After nearly two hours of discussion the board voted unanimously to deny The Peacock Inn the variance it sought to allow for outdoor seating. The restaurant had hoped to add an 885-square-foot patio at the side and rear of the property that would accommodate 10 tables, or 40 diners.

The variance was required because the restaurant and hotel is operating in a residential zone, which constitutes a non-conforming use. .."  Read more   Hmmmm…. Can you imagine trying to bring forth a proposal to have Driverless cars use residential streets to provide real Mobility as a Service without first having addressed NIMBY concerns and fears? (An overwhelming majority all trips either start and/or end in residential neighborhoods.) Assuaging NIMBYs may well be the biggest challenge to the successful deployment of Share-ride Driverless mobility as a Service.  Alain

  Elon Musk: “Anyone relying on lidar is doomed.” Experts: Maybe not

T. Lee, Aug 6, "Lots of companies are working to develop self-driving cars. And almost all of them use lidar, a type of sensor that uses lasers to build a three-dimensional map of the world around the car.

But Tesla CEO Elon Musk argues that these companies are making a big mistake.  "They’re all going to dump lidar," Elon Musk said at an April event showcasing Tesla’s self-driving technology. "Anyone relying on lidar is doomed."  "Lidar is really a shortcut," added Tesla AI guru Andrej Karpathy. "It sidesteps the fundamental problems of visual recognition that is necessary for autonomy. It gives a false sense of progress, and is ultimately a crutch."

In recent weeks I asked a number of experts about these claims. And I encountered a lot of skepticism   …"  Read more   Hmmmm….  A very nice article about the issue.  For what Tesla’s AutoPilot actually does, as opposed to what Elon gives the allusion that it does, it doesn’t need, nor could it have justified the expense of, today’s LiDAR.  A driver is supposed to remain alert behind the wheel ready to take over.  Today’s Tesla’s are nowhere near Driverless and will never be unless there is a substantial breakthrough in image processing.  One doesn’t need LiDAR’s precision, nor does one need precision maps for what it does today.  We have all driven very well without LiDAR and without precision maps as long as we paid attention to driving and remained aware of our surroundings.  I suspect that very few of history’s crashes would have been averted if only the driver had LiDAR’s precision and/or "High Definition" maps instead of human vision’s precision of distance.   The big question going forward is will the breakthrough in image processing be achieved prior to LiDAR becoming inexpensive.  Elon has simply made a free hedge bet that the algorithmic breakthrough will come first because that enables backward compatibility to all Tesla’s he’s sold between today and that future.  And he beats the competition. Should LiDAR become cheap first, he simply adds cheap LiDAR from then on.  So he either wins or breaks even.  Not a bad place for him to be.  Alain

  Under the hood of Waymo’s fleet project

P. Bigelo, Aug 5, "…Inside the company’s Phoenix-area operational hub in a nondescript warehouse here, Waymo has been replicating its findings as it operates a fleet of more than 400 vehicles, dozens of which are parked in two neat rows on a recent afternoon.

First lesson: Waymo is not trying to do it alone. Since November 2017, Waymo has partnered with AutoNation, the nation’s largest automotive retailer, which sends technicians to maintain and service Waymo’s Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Now, both companies say their relationship is deepening.  This year, Waymo will open an 85,000- square-foot technical operations center in Mesa, on the opposite end of the company’s service area from the Chandler hub. The center will more than double Waymo’s operational footprint, and technicians from both companies will be based there.

The companies also have connected their information technology departments to provide more insightful data about maintenance across the fleet, and AutoNation is developing a customized digital platform for Waymo that will speed vehicle repairs in Arizona and California. A pilot project involving the new platform will begin in weeks…." Read more   Hmmmm…. Hints at the nitty gritty of trying to do this at scale.  Alain

  Elon Musk hypes Tesla V10 software with in-car video streaming and ‘Caraoke’, early access ‘soon’

F. Lambert, Aug 9,  "… In September 2018, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its Tesla Model 3 crash test results, and the EV got five-star safety ratings in every category.


Tesla interpreted the data from the test and claimed that Model 3 achieved “the lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by NHTSA“:  Based on …."  Read more   Hmmmm….  As Fred points out, this may be just semantics.   . Alain

  Our Cars Are Trying to Keep Us Safe. Here’s How.

T. Voelk, Aug 7, "…A few years ago, breathless analysts predicted we’d now be napping behind the wheel while commuting. Nope. Rip Van Winkle may find it popular in 20 years, but full Level Five autonomy is still a dream.

Autonomy has been trickling into cars since the 1958 Chrysler Imperial introduced cruise control. It took nearly 40 years before the Mercedes-Benz S-Class ushered in basic Level One autonomy with Distronic adaptive cruise control that sensed slowing traffic braked to avoid impact.

I have been reviewing cars since 2012, have done more than 200 of them for The Times and also produce a YouTube channel of reviews. That has given me a lot of seat time, and I can see that the pace of autonomy is picking up to the point that Levels One and Two have become ubiquitous; beyond that, not so much…. For all of these systems, drivers must be fully present. No posting on social media. Volvo, which has Pilot Assist, said its City Safety automatic braking is intentionally harsh to discourage people from relying on it.d re… What??? Volvo can’t be serious??? The system knew it should be slowing down, but it waited until the very last second so that it could punish you???  Why doesn’t it want to be relied upon if it knows better? (Unless, of course, it isn’t confident enough that it does know better.)… Read more   Hmmmm….   A really good review on what is available today. (except for its reference to "Levels".  Instead, it should have simply focused on what systems address: safety (automated emergency baking, automated lane keeping, .. . versus those focused on comfort and convenience (intelligent cruise control, automated lane change, …).  Alain

  Elon Musk hints at Tesla’s secret project ‘Dojo’ making the difference in race to full self-driving

F. Lambert, Aug 5,  "…Elon Musk set an aggressive deadline for Tesla to achieve full self-driving capability, but the electric automaker might have an ace up its sleeve that mostly went under the radar: project ‘Dojo’.

This weekend, Musk hinted that it could make the difference.During Autonomy Day, Musk briefly mentioned the project ‘Dojo’:

“We do have a major program at Tesla which we don’t have enough time to talk about today called “Dojo”. That’s a super powerful training computer. The goal of Dojo will be to be able to take in vast amounts of data and train at a video level and do unsupervised massive training of vast amounts of video with the Dojo program – or Dojo computer.”

Currently, labeling visual data is a difficult task and most neural net systems are using image frame processing to feed its network, but it sounds like Dojo would instead be able to handle videos on its own, which would give a lot more context to the data and could train the network in different and more complexed contexts faster….."  Read more   Hmmmm….  One of the big inefficiencies of current "Deep Learning" systems is that they process one image at a time.  Each image is a new situation, even though little has changed over such a small time span (~1/20th of a second).  We’re doing all of this as if the world is a series of flash cards.  Evolving and enhancing an answer over a series of frames/images is how we understand, grasp and evolve our view world view.  This is, of course, how these algorithms should work. Alain



A. Marshall, Aug 8, ".But when the pair went looking for a place to operate the self-driving trucks they’re building through their year-old startup, Kodiak Robotics, Silicon Valley—really, all of California—was never on the table. For a simple reason: It’s not legal to operate an autonomous truck there, though the state is working on regulations. “For now, we don’t see an immediate, short-term path forward in California, and that’s why we’re looking elsewhere,” says Burnette.

Tuesday, Kodiak is announcing its elsewhere: Dallas, where the startup has opened an eight-employee office, from which it will oversee its first commercial route. Someone—it won’t say who yet—is paying Kodiak to carry its goods between Dallas and Houston, more than 400 miles roundtrip.


For now, there will be a “safety driver” at the wheel to monitor the 18-wheeler, and make sure it doesn’t do anything wonky. (These drivers also guide the trucks on and off the highways, and into distribution terminals; most companies working on automated trucks have focused on simple highway driving, and plan to leave urban driving to humans for the foreseeable future.)


And above all, the truck developers come for the regulations. In 2017, the Texas legislature passed a pair of bills legalizing both driverless vehicles and platooning trucks. Since then, automated vehicles have been legal to operate on the state’s highways, provided they can follow traffic laws. (The US still has no firm regulations guiding the testing or development of self-driving vehicles, including trucks.) Unlike in California, self-driving-vehicle developers don’t need special permits to test in Texas, and don’t have to tell authorities where they’re testing, or for how long—or even that they’re doing it.


Those limited rules are way better for self-driving truck developers than legal silence, says Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, the founder of the startup Starsky Robotics. States with no self-driving laws on the books open the issue to case-by-case interpretation, he says, leaving those working on experimental technology in a legalized limbo. “If you’re a schmuck and piss people off, they’ll figure out how to make you illegal,” he says…."  Read more   Hmmmm…. Since there is a driver behind the wheel, these are noting more than Teslas and Cadillac SCT6s so they could do it in California and essentially everywhere else.  Why the talk about "testing"?  Teslas, CT6s and the other systems discussed above in Our Cars Are Trying to Keep Us Safe. Here’s How are collecting data and "observing" the performance of their systems in order to improve them, but are not calling their activity "testing".  So why is Kodiak calling what they are doing "testing"???  What they should be promoting is the enhanced workplace environment and safety of these Self-driving systems.  Making drivers safer and more comfortable as the Self-driving systems do their job has an attractive RoI for trucking companies.  Alain

  China’s Didi Chuxing learns from Google to spin off self-driving unit

C. Lee, Aug 7, "Didi Chuxing, China’s leading car-hailing platform, has made its autonomous driving unit into an independent company to take advantage of the country’s driverless vehicle market, which is expected to be worth billions of dollars.

DiDi’s CTO Zhang Bo will head the new autonomous driving company. The company will integrate the resources and technological advantages of DiDi’s platform into the new standalone company to further drive the development of its self-driving capabilities, the company announced this week, according to a Chinese media report.  …."  Read more   Hmmmm….Sure, why not?  Alain

Thinking Logically About The Risks Of Self-Driving Cars

L. Elliot, Aug 6, "…First to clarify: there are not as yet any true self-driving driverless cars, none certainly at the Level 5 stature. When I refer to your going for a ride in a self-driving car of today it would be one that might barely be considered at Level 4, which are being trial tested on our roadways  in mini-sized fleets. Level 4 and Level 5 would be considered in the autonomous realm, while a Level 3 car is semi-autonomous, and conventional everyday cars that we all routinely use today would be rated as a Level 2.

The Level 4 is a constrained or limited variant of what you might imagine a truly autonomous car to consist of and allows for the automaker or tech firm to stipulate that the driverless capabilities will only be viable in particular circumstances (those circumstances are more formerly known as ODD’s or Operational Design Domains).…The ODD is VERY a very important caveat/"fine print" in all of nomenclature…

For public roadway tryouts, most of the Level 4 driverless cars include a human back-up driver. The purpose of the human back-up driver is to closely monitor the actions of the self-driving car and intervene as needed to aid in promoting safety during a driving journey. …and today still necessary safety layer…

What beguiles many critics is that the risk is not just for the riders in those self-driving cars on our public roadway.

Wherever the self-driving car roams or goes, it is opting to radiate out the risk to any nearby pedestrians and any nearby human-driven cars. You don’t see this imaginary radiation with your eyes, and instead it just perchance occurs because you just so happen to end-up near to one of the experimental self-driving cars on our public streets…."  Read more   Hmmmm….   Nice article article that includes some important details.  Alain

  Paris ends two year self-driving bus trial

Staff, Aug, 8, "City administration is reported to have said that the reason for ending the test was due to the overall outcomes of the trial being unsatisfactory.  Innovation Origins reports that the tests were carried out in collaboration with transport company île -de-France Mobilités (IDFM) and the transport company Keolis.

Since 2017 french manufacturer Navya’s busses had been trialled in the La Défense district and according to Innovation Origins the first six months were considered a success, transporting more than 30,000 passengers. In a September 2017 survey, 97% said they were satisfied with the service and 88% said they wanted to use the minibus again.  However only 11,865 passengers used the bus from June 2018 to May 2019, which the city administration deemed was too few as the goal was to find a solution for mobility in the neighborhood….",  Read more   Hmmmm….  This isn’t easy and the LoS was not good.  Plus ran fixed route on a schedule with no opportunity to eliminate the driver/attendant.  Deserves to be terminated since it didn’t generate a clientele. This has really nothing to do with Driverless mobility except that Driverless mobility wasn’t available nor demonstrated in this trial.  Alain


A. Hawkins, Aug 6,The service, which is run by an MIT spinoff called Optimus Ride, consists of a half-dozen six-seater electric vehicles operating within a 300-acre walled-off industrial space called the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Much like other autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle services that have cropped up in recent years across the country, it is extremely slow and restricted only to a single route: 1.1 miles from the entrance of the Navy Yard to the New York City Ferry dock on the East River. The service will operate on a continuous loop between 7AM and 10:30PM on weekdays.

Each car has two safety drivers: one behind the wheel and one in the passenger seat monitoring the vehicle’s sensors from a laptop. Engineers at Optimus Ride’s offices in Boston will be monitoring the vehicles when they eventually go fully driverless, ready to issue commands if anything goes awry…..",  Read more   Hmmmm….  Very god, but it sounds a lot like the Paris demo above.  Unless they get to Driverless and beyond just a slow loop, this looks like Paris. Alain


S. O’Kane, Aug 9, "The Trump administration quietly terminated an Obama-era federal committee on automation in transportation earlier this year, the Department of Transportation confirmed to The Verge this week. What’s more, the DOT never informed some members that the advisory group didn’t exist anymore, including Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, Zipcar founder Robin Chase, Apple vice president Lisa Jackson, and even the committee’s own vice chair, The Verge has learned….


The Advisory Committee on Automation in Transportation was announced in early January 2017 as part of Barack Obama’s larger federal automated vehicle policy. It consisted of an all-star cast of 25 executives, professors, and politicians from across (and even outside) the transportation world, like General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Waymo CEO John Krafcik, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer, and oft-cited industry experts like Duke’s Mary “Missy” Cummings, and the University of South Carolina’s Bryant Walker Smith. Some have continued to give interviews under the banner of the group, while at least one still mentions it as a current position on their LinkedIn profile.

…J. Christian Gerdes, the director of the Center for Automotive Research at Stanford University, was the vice chair of the committee (as well as the DOT’s former chief innovation officer). Gerdes said in an email to The Verge that he was not told the committee had been terminated. “My interpretation was that the Advisory Committee was not a mechanism that the current Administration chose to use but I did not receive any communication to that effect,” he said…  Read more   Hmmmm….An enormous shame, and missed opportunity by the Trump administration.  Everyone at the one & only meeting must have discussed the political reality made that made the committee DoA.  Alain 



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

  Elon Musk hypes Tesla V10 software with in-car video streaming and ‘Caraoke’, early access ‘soon’

F. Lambert, Aug 9,  "… The CEO previously hyped the video streaming as being “amazingly immersive” with a “cinematic feel due to the comfy seats and surround sound audio.”  As for ‘Caraoke’, it is expected to be a feature that enables you to play karaoke on the vehicle’s center screen – not unlike the popular segment on The Late Late Show with James Corden."  Read more   Hmmmm….   This is exceedingly dangerous.  Even when using autoPilot,the driver MUST continue to pay attention to the road ahead and NOT watch videos. Alain

 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