Friday, November 1, 2019

 An Update on the Outlook for Automated Vehicle Systems

R. Mudge, A. Kornhauser, October, 2019, "Reality has caught up with the hype/romance of the popular press concerning the future of automated driving. Disappearing is the vision of connected swarms of driverless personal cars flowing effortlessly down our arterials and freeways. The buying public, however, is beginning to absorb the driver-assisted technologies that not only deliver safety, comfort and convenience, but also serve to embolden the traditional consumer-oriented business model. This, in turn, has
helped accelerate private investment and technology partnerships that involve almost every automobile manufacturer.


On the Driverless front, reality has set in that complete removal of human oversight is a nontrivial hurdle. Except for possibly Tesla, all visions of driverless vehicles operating on public roadways involves a business model based on a professional fleet operator managing the vehicles rather than individual vehicles owned by consumers. All demonstrations and tests to date, be they for the movement of people or goods, involve some form of explicit human oversight by a trained on-board attendant or driver, or active remote-control oversight.  Worldwide, only Waymo has indicated that they are about to begin testing driverless mobility services in Arizona, without a safety driver.  That indication only surfaced in October of 2019… "  Read more  Hmmmm…  Summary of the way Dick & I see it. Original Outlook last November. Alain

  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 130 with Dick Mudge & Michael Sena

F. Fishkin, Nov. 1, "An updated outlook for automated vehicles…Tesla, Waymo , Ford, VW and more. Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin are joined by guests Michael Sena and Dick Mudge in the latest edition of Smart Driving Cars!"  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

  Is This the End of the International Motor Show?

M. Sena, November 2019, "… So, why are we now talking about the end of the motor show? I suppose it is in line with discussing the end of car ownership, the end of driving and the beginning of being chauffeured anywhere and at any time you want or need to move. It is sooo 1950s to be interested in cars. Attendance at the motor shows has been falling in recent years, as has the level of participation by the car companies.2 At the 2017 Frankfurt show, cars filled seven of the eleven halls. At this year’s show, they filled only four. OEMs that were no-shows included Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, PSA, Kia, GM, FCA, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, As-ton Martin, Tesla and Volvo (although Polestar was there). Mercedes-Benz/AMG/Smart had down-sized and BMW occupied only a quarter of the space it had in 2017. Something is obviously happening….

Maybe the medium is delivering the wrong message.   Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the mes-sage” in his 1964 book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. The ‘medium’ is the channel through which the ‘message’ is transmitted. McLuhan argued that the medium is more important than the meaning or content of the message. He said that the “medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study since it affects the society in which it plays a role not only by the content it delivers over the medium, but also by the characteristic of the medium itself.” He said that the medium itself “shaped and controlled the scale and form of human association and action.”…  … CES may well be a better medium for the emerging Mobility Industry …   plus many good insights in …
The Hotel California Parking Lot ……………………………….  12 …Ouch!  Details matter…
Who Was Richard Trevithick? …………………………………..  13 …What we can all appreciate about the challenges of being on the leading/bleeding edge…
What WEWORK Has to do With Driverless Cars ………….. 13 …Reset for SoftBank…
Why Musk Must Push (Not So) Smart Summon ………….  15 …What I prefer to call StupidSummon…
A Dispatcher’s Musings: The Will to Charge ……………….  16 …Very insightful… "…Approximately 98% of people who buy new cars are not rushing to purchase BEVs because they are a pain in the neck, and that pain comes from having to plug them in everywhere you go…" Read more  Hmmmm…  Enjoy! Alain

  Elon Musk Warns Tesla “Full Self Driving” Goes Up Tomorrow. Do The Numbers Make Sense?

B. Templeton, Oct 30, "An Elon Musk Tweet on Tuesday confirms past predictions that Tesla will raise the price of the “Full Self Driving” add-on on Nov 1.  This means the price to add it to your car will jump from $6,000 to $7,000. The price of this function has ranged from $2,000 (a short-lived offer to those who paid for the earlier “enhanced autopilot”) to this new price. For a long time, the typical price was around $5,000.

You get very little today if you order this product. It is mostly the promise of future software updates, yet to be released or even yet to be written, that provide more autopilot, and eventually self-driving functionality to the car.

Earlier I wrote a guide to deciding if you should buy this add on. What was written still stands, but the price increase warrants an update and some new numbers….

The full $7,000 or more price includes a hoped-for future value of a car that can do “real, true, actual full self-driving,” which is to say it can operate with no driver at all, and even join the Robotaxi fleet Tesla has promised and make big dollars for the owner. My recommendation, however, is that if that is going to happen, you take your $7,000 and buy Tesla shares or options. I suspect that if Tesla actually delivers on that well before anybody else, you will make more than enough on those shares to pay for any price increase. Of course, if they don’t deliver, you might not do so well with the investment."  Read more  Hmmmm…  I agree.  In fact, the chances that they’ll deliver is not so great.  Not because they can’t deliver a software/sensor/actuator package that can drive safely without a driver in an Operational Design Domain that encompasses trips that have a sufficiently robust customer demand that could sustain an autonomousTaxi (aTaxi) service.  Tesla may well can.  Unfortunately what Tesla has yet to start even talking about doing to create a successful aTaxi service is to create the fundamental support infrastructure that an aTaxi service will require beyond just a driverless car that doesn’t crash.  As Michael Sena pointed out in his latest Dispatcher, what has set Tesla apart from other OEMs doing EVs is their investment in addressing EV’s Achilles’ heel… range anxiety… by investing in a supercharging network among other things.  In order to scale, aTaxis are going to need substantial support services (maintenance facilities, customer service kiosks, community relations, ..) that can’t be effectively provided by an over-the-air-gig service. Alain

  Detroit plant now producing self-driving vehicles with Waymo

B. Noble, Oct 28, "John Krafcik, CEO of Google self-driving affiliate Waymo LLC, said Monday that its Detroit plant is operating and outfitting fleets of vehicles with its autonomous driving hardware and software. The milestone allows the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary to put its automated "driver" into vehicles at mass scale. Doing so will help Waymo, an acknowledged leader in the self-driving space, to test its technology and expand its robotaxi service….

Waymo has contracts to buy up to 62,000 Pacifica Hybrids from Fiat Chrysler and 20,000 vehicles from Jaguar. The Silicon Valley company has used Pacifica Hybrid vans the past three years to test its self-driving system…. "  Read more  Hmmmm…  They continue their orderly processes of scaling their technology.  Hopefully they’ll start deploying 10, then 100, then 1,000, then… in Central Jersey.  We’re working on creating a "welcoming environment" for a few of those 82,000 to improve our quality-of-life.  Alain

  Boeing CEO and Government Officials Testify on 737 MAX Safety

Senate Commerce Committee, Oct. 29, "The Boeing CEO and chief engineer as well as government officials testified about the safety of the 737 MAX airplane at a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.".  Watch more  Hmmmm… If anyone working on Driverless mobility is not totally committed to safety and the implications of "short-cuts" and too-early deployments should watch this hearing.   Alain

  Boeing 737 MAX Flight Control System: Observations, Findings, and Recommendations

C. Hart, Oct 11, "Overview. The FAA’s aircraft certification process has played a major role in producing airliners with an exemplary safety record consisting of a five-year worldwide average of only one fatal airliner crash for every 2 V2 to 3 million flights, and a U.S. record of only one airline passenger fatality in more than 10 years. Nonetheless, as with any system that is designed and operated by humans, the certification process can never be perfect, and the two tragic crashes that resulted in the creation of the JATR reveal a critical need to review the process to determine whether improvement and modernization are warranted.  After extensive effort, the JATR members have made many recommendations regarding modernization and improvement of the certification process. Some of the recommendations are very broad in their application and others are more specific.

Broad Recommendations. Some of the broader recommendations derive from the increasing complexity of aircraft systems, particularly automated systems and the interaction and the interrelationship between systems. As aircraft systems become more complex, ensuring that the certification process adequately addresses potential operational and safety ramifications for the entire aircraft that may be caused by the failure or inappropriate operation of any system on the aircraft becomes not only far more important, but also far more difficult."… Read more  Hmmmm… A very detailed investigation of the certification process leading to detailed recommendations.  Chris, thank you for all of the dedicated hard work summarized in this important report and your testimony on Oct. 30, above.  Alain 

  International Regulators Submit Joint Technical Review of 737 MAX Flight Control System to FAA

W. Bellamy, Oct 14, "An international team of civil aviation regulatory authorities from 10 different countries submitted a 71-page technical review of the Boeing 737 MAX flight control system to FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami Friday Oct. 11. JATR’s submission comes as the global fleet of in-service MAX aircraft remains after two fatal accidents involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines killed a combined 346 passengers and crew.

The review includes an in-depth analysis of the certification process, considerations for human factors in pilot response to unexpected scenarios and a focus on the aircraft systems level integration and the design and performance of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).  A total of 12 different recommendations were submitted that include the following:…." Read more  Hmmmm… A good summary of the above.  Alain

Florida Claims to be a Driverless Car Paradise. Critics Call It a Lawless Mess

D. Furness, Oct 29, "In August 2012, just days before Floridians were set to vote in the primaries, Republican state house representative Jeff Brandes became the target of a peculiar attack ad.  “Technology is great, but driverless cars? Is this really a priority for our state?” an incredulous narrator asks in the 30-second ad. …

Despite the ad, Brandes won the primary a few days later, and secured the general election in November. He still won’t stop talking about AVs….


Fueled by advocates like Brandes, Florida is racing to overtake states like Arizona and Nevada as the training ground for tomorrow’s self-driving vehicles. Over the past seven years, the Sunshine State has quietly passed legislation that is friendly to AV research and development, luring companies with prospects of lax regulation, perennial fair weather, and the seemingly endless increase in tourists and retirees. AV startups from Pittsburgh to Silicon Valley have launched operations in Florida, lobbying lawmakers and claiming valuable real estate. With Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently signing a landmark bill explicitly permitting self-driving vehicles to operate without a human on board, Florida is giving AV companies the green light.  … Fantastic.  What we should be doing in New Jersey… .


The public response to AV companies in Florida has been mixed. The driver of the Ford and Argo AV told me that pedestrians in Miami pose for selfies with the car and even toss money at it as if it was a dancer. But other drivers are quick to lay on their horns when the AV obeys explicit traffic laws, such as stopping for yellow lights, and hesitates when taking unprotected left turns at green lights. If AVs and humans are going to safely share the road, vehicles might first need to drive more like people…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Hard to believe someone actually said that…  make these vehicles explicitly disobey traffic laws because some selfishly misbehave in exercising their privilege, not right, to drive.  Note: Florida’s 7th AV Summit, November 20, 22, 2019.    Alain

  Aurora CEO Chris Urmson Says There’ll Be Hundreds Of Self-Driving Cars On The Road In Five Years 

A. Knapp, Oct 29, "Chris Urmson, CEO of self-driving car company Aurora, predicts there will be hundreds or maybe thousands of self-driving vehicles on the road within five years, “delivering packages or moving people around.”

Rather than crowd your driveway, these robot vehicles will be parts of large taxi fleets and cargo delivery services, he said. “I think both economically, it’s going to make much more sense as part of a fleet, and socially I think it’s better that these are shared resources,” he told attendees at the Forbes Under 30 Summit…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Yup (Driverless, not Self-driving in our terminology.  There are already hundreds/thousands of Self-driving Teslas with AutoPilot on New Jersey roads) !  And hopefully some/many of those Driverless cars will be in New Jersey as part of a fleet delivering to all, especially the mobility marginalized (those who can’t or wish not to drive a car), affordable, on-demand, 24/7 mobility throughout many of our communities.  Alain

  U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Nearly $50 Million to Improve Access and Mobility for All Americans

Press release, Oct 27, "U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao today announced nearly $50 million in new initiatives to expand access to transportation for people with disabilities, older adults, and individuals of low income.  At the Access and Mobility for All Summit, Secretary Chao announced her intent to fund new programs to develop and deploy innovations in technology and further interagency partnerships to improve mobility….

“The purpose of this $50 million new initiative is to identify ways to provide more efficient, affordable, and accessible transportation services for people with disabilities, older adults and other underserved communities that often face greater challenges in accessing essential services,” said Secretary Chao. …

As part of her keynote address, Secretary Chao announced:

  • A planned Complete Trip Deployment solicitation, which will make up to $40 million available to enable communities to showcase innovative business partnerships, technologies, and practices that promote independent mobility for all. …

  • A planned Inclusive Design Challenge, which will make up to $5 million in cash prizes available to innovators who design solutions to enable accessible automated vehicles.  …
  • A Notice of Funding Opportunity for FTA’s FY 2020 Mobility for All Pilot Program.  The program seeks to improve mobility options and access to community services for older adults, individuals with disabilities, and people with low incomes.  The $3.5 million initiative will fund projects that enhance transportation connections to jobs, education, and health services.

Read more  Hmmmm…  Sounds exactly like the focus on our 3rd Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit last May and our Princeton Future Community Mobility for All  Workshop, and Trenton Mobility for All Initiative (Slides, Kiosk Concepts).  Alain

  Waymo Says More Of Its Self-Driving Cars Operating ‘Rider Only’ With No One At Wheel

A. Knapp, Oct 29,"… Krafcik isn’t ready to say when will Waymo finally be able to offer rider-only all the time and scale up its commercial service.   “I don’t know precisely when everything will be ready but I am supremely confident that it will be.”"  Read more  Hmmmm… To ‘scale up’ there is a lot more to do than just get the car to not crash.   Waymo seems to be orchestrating all of the pieces to actually begin to scale-up to deliver Driverless on-demand Mobility-as-a-Service within an Operational Design Domain that encompasses trip demand that actually would improve the quality-of-life for those living in  many communities.  Alain

How we are testing an automated collision avoidance and emergency braking system for buses and what we have learned so far

J. Lutin, Oct 28, "…" Read more  Hmmmm…Excellent slide presentation describing the effort to demonstrate an Automated Emergency Braking adaptation on Transit Buses.  Alain

AutonomouStuff October News

Staff, Oct 31, "Accelerating AI with Lambda Labs  AutonomouStuff recently acquired a new tool built by one of our partners to significantly expand our machine learning capabilities and deliver mature autonomy software at a faster pace.

The Lambda Labs Quad workstation with four GPUs provides an enhanced environment for algorithm training using convolutional neural networks. The Lambda workstation reduces training time for machine learning and opens new avenues for software development, particularly those using annotated images for object detection and classification. …" Read more  Hmmmm…  Bobby, keep up the good work. Alain


A. Grossman, Nov. 7. Following six years of consecutive decline, bus ridership in the United States attained its lowest level ever recorded in history last year. In this webinar, Dr. Berrebi will explain reasons and potential solutions to this decline through analysis of passenger count data between 2012 and 2018 at 50,000 bus stops in four cities: Portland, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Atlanta. Data show that in all four cities, neighborhoods with high proportions of white residents lost ridership at the fastest rate. In Miami and Atlanta, places with high concentrations of college-graduates also correlate with ridership decline. These results suggest that changes in the travel behavior of choice riders may explain the bulk of the decline.  Following six years of consecutive decline, bus ridership in the United States attained its lowest level ever recorded in history last year. In this webinar, Dr. Berrebi will explain reasons and potential solutions to this decline through analysis of passenger count data between 2012 and 2018 at 50,000 bus stops in four cities: Portland, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and Atlanta. Data show that in all four cities, neighborhoods with high proportions of white residents lost ridership at the fastest rate. In Miami and Atlanta, places with high concentrations of college-graduates also correlate with ridership decline. These results suggest that changes in the travel behavior of choice riders may explain the bulk of the decline. Dr. Berrebi will discuss the inelasticity between frequency and ridership and recommend service, policy, and infrastructure solutions for transit agencies."  Register  Hmmmm… What???  …  less white  and less educated people are the suggestions to improve bus ridership??  Why not make bus service more attractive.. on-demand (or at the times when people want to go) between places that people want to come from and go  to.  That means forgetting about fixed schedules and fixed routes and, except between very few places at very few times, forget about the current sized buses.  They are rarely full, usually almost empty, extremely inefficient and environmentally bad.  You should realize that your only hope is for driverless operation.  (Skyscrapers of DumbCities won’t save the industry since those folks will just ride elevators up&down in their multi-purpose glass dungeons.) Amazing that the transit industry isn’t "all-in" for driverless technology since it is the only hope it has to offer affordable mobility that can begin to competitively serve the broad array of freely chosen lifestyles in North America (and many other places around the world.).  Alain

  The Primordial Soup of On-Demand Mobility

E Simoudis, Sept 19, "hen taxis began to appear on New York streets in 1897, car ownership was rare. A century later, a resurgence of technology-enabled ride-hailing, ridesharing, micromobility and carsharing businesses are disrupting more traditional transportation. The popularity of on-demand mobility suggests a bright future for the industry, but few of these businesses are reliably profitable today.  Working feverishly in search of profit and customer retention, and fighting against evolving competitors and regulations, these companies are quickly iterating their business models. Long-term success is far from guaranteed, but many of the ingredients (phone-hailing, cashless transactions, mapping, vehicle tracking, time/cost prediction) are identifiable as necessary components in today’s primordial soup of on-demand mobility….

In order to create on-demand mobility services businesses with long-term profitability, companies must increase what customers are willing to pay for each service and each customer’s “share of wallet,” and/or reduce the cost of providing each service. There are at least two ways to increase revenue and four ways to reduce costs. In particular, revenues can be increased by providing:..

1.  Additional Services:
2.  Additional Modalities:…


Costs can be reduced by:
1.  Pooling:
2.  Automation: While today’s automated vehicles are expensive prototypes, there is hope that future automated vehicles would be reliable enough to deliver large-scale commercial ride-hailing services without the cost of a driver.
3.  Vehicle fleets:…

4.  Full-time employee drivers:… What???  No chance!! … 

Read more  Hmmmm… without Automation,  On-demand will remain to be a very small niche service as it has been.  Automation is the only new opportunity in the mix offered above.  Each other has been available for over 100 years and, for whatever reasons, have been totally unsuccessful at enabling on-demand mobility beyond conventional taxis, black cars and chauffeured limos to the rich and famous. All else is totally niche! Alain

  Future As We Move: Shaping solutions for mobility

September, 2019, "This document provides a vision of the future of mobility. It captures the diverse views of the European automotive supplier community as the industry undergoes one of the biggest transformations in its 125 year history. 

Our vision outlines how European suppliers, in close cooperation with car and truck manufacturers, high-tech companies, regulators and other stakeholders, expect to shape tomorrow’s mobility landscape…." Read more  Hmmmm…  View from the European Association of Automotive Suppliers.  Thank you Jacques. Alain 

  Uber announces independent self-driving safety and responsibility board

K. Wiggers, Oct 29, "In the aftermath of a March 2018 accident involving an autonomous Uber vehicle that killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, Uber retained law firm LeClairRyan to compile a report focusing on the safety culture and safety practices of the Advanced Technologies Group, or ATG. (That’s the division responsible for Uber’s autonomous vehicle development.) One of the recommendations it gave was the creation of an independent external review board that would examine Uber’s policies, processes, and procedures. And today, roughly a year after the report’s publication, Uber says it’s established such a board.

Uber’s new self-driving safety and responsibility advisory (SARA) board is charged with reviewing, advising, and suggesting changes to ATG’s policies. It’s made up of six members who will provide input on organization-wide goals and priorities, and suggest improvements to the way Uber ATG develops driverless technology and brings it to market…"  Read more  Hmmmm… A fine way for Uber to obtain independent advice; however, this board in no way helps "certify" that Uber’s autonomous vehicles are safe or improves the public’s image of Uber’s technology.  In order to begin to achieve public trust in its technology, Uber will need to become much more transparent.  They will need to release unaltered performance data to the public and hope that the academic research community takes the time and effort to independently assess Uber’s worthiness.  Alain   

  Rats are capable of driving tiny cars, researchers found. It eases their anxiety.

L.  Beachum, Oct 24, "Scientists say they successfully taught rats to drive tiny cars, which has more potential for human research than you might think.

Researchers at the University of Richmond in Virginia trained lab rats to drive the makeshift cars, which they say proves the little rat brains are much more capable of performing complicated tasks than previously realized. And, surprisingly, learning to drive appeared to reduce the rats’ stress. The results of this research could help scientists understand anxiety and depression in humans…."  Read more  Hmmmm… We all get to have fun with our research!    Alain


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

  Oak trees, creeks and the Internet of Things

Martorell, Oct 10, "…drones and IoT technology. SEAT, Telefónica, DGT, Ficosa and Aeorum have rolled out a pilot project featuring a drone and a connected car that can detect cyclists and obstacles on the road. The feature needed to carry out this project included cellular mobile connectivity with the primary characteristics of the future 5G network, and the aim is to provide drivers with a "sixth sense" so they can prevent accidents…"  Read more  Hmmmm..  How about … just drive slowly.   Please stop trying to sell technology that, at best will end up in a drawer.  See another video for the unworthy entitled.  You can’t make up this stuff. C’mon Man!  Alain

Simply ClickBait


  Why Are Parking Lots So Tricky for Self-Driving Cars?

A. Marshall, Oct. 20, "…In fact, parking lots are one of the most human places you could put a car that doesn’t need a human to drive. … What??? does!!!…   Their rules are not always consistent, and drivers, moreover, don’t always follow them. They’re full of little people-to-people interactions: a wave to let the dad behind the stroller that that you’re going to stop and let him cross; a nod to tell the other driver to inform him that you’re waiting for this woman fiddling with her keys to finally pull out of her spot. These are very complicated things for computer systems to learn, even if they’re trained on tons and tons of real-life parking lot data…

One thing would make self-driving in parking lots much easier, experts say: vehicle-to-vehicle communication.  … What???  Do we now need even more gizmos to do something that we should be doing??  This is so bad!!…  Read more  Hmmmm…  These are reasons why it is probably the last place you want to release this feature.  Elon, Please recall it!!! All this risk for essentially zero benefit.  Alain 


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

Opportunities for Automated Public Transport

November 5 & 6, 2019
The Stage
490 S. 1st Street
San Jose, CA


7th Annual Florida Automated Vehicles Summit

November 20th-22nd, 2019
MIAMI, FL 33132

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

evening May 19 through May 21, 2020

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side