Monday, January 6, 2020’m_back-010620
1st edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

   Hmmmm…I’m Back

A. Kornhauser, Jan 6,    Hmmmm…   I’m in rehab and hope to go home on Wednesday morning. Thank you to so many of you for all the good wishes and prayers.  They each helped.  I’m looking to making a full recovery.  Remember, if you don’t feel well, get evaluated by a doctor.  I was totally clueless about what hit me from out of nowhere.  Alain

  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 136

F. Fishkin, Jan 6, "He’s back!  Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser…still on the mend …but opinionated as ever…joins co-host Fred Fishkin for a look at the latest from Waymo, Tesla and more in Episode 136 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast.  "  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain


   The Fate of Self-Driving Cars Hangs on a $7 Trillion Design Problem

M. Wilson, Dec. 5, "…. Waymo One service goes live today to the public, and as its service ramps up in the coming weeks, it will allow anyone in the Phoenix area to book a robot taxi for the first time. The news should be either terrifying or terribly exciting. Instead, the transportation revolution starts, not with a gasp, but a yawn."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Seems like it has be a yawn.  I haven’t missed anything.  Fantastic.  Alain

  Google’s Waymo Reaches 20 Million Miles of Autonomous Driving

A. Pressman, Jan. 7, "Autonomous cars from Waymo, owned by Google parent Alphabet, drove 10 million miles on public roads in about the past year, doubling the company’s self-driving record of the prior 10 years, CEO John Krafcik said on Monday.

"We’re now beyond 20 million miles of fully self-driving, like, really self driving," Krafcik said in an interview at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech dinner in Las Vegas during the CES conference. "You need to have a lot of real world experience. There’s no way to avoid that. You must have it."…" Read more  Hmmmm…  What is fundamentally impressive is that Waymo captured the data associated with essentially each foot of those 20M miles of travel (~100B feet). Those data, some/most/essentially all are boring and repetitive; however, can you imagine how many golden nuggets are buried in all that gravel and rock.  It is those nuggets that contain the opportunity that is absolutely necessary for this technology to succeed.  Congratulations and keep mining those nuggets.  It would be very nice of you to share them with everyone else so that they don’t stumble; however, that may be too much to ask.  But remember, if one stumbles, everyone pays.  Alain

  What to expect from autonomous car technology at CES 2020

A. Charlton, Dec 31, "So many vehicle technology companies are exhibiting at the CES technology show in Las Vegas next week, that you’ll count 32 of them before you even get to the letter B.

Many of these are directly involved with the business of autonomous driving, whether they be builders of Lidar sensors, producers of vehicle systems, or car manufacturers themselves.
Daimler suffers ‘reality check’ with reality of autonomous cars…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  Disappointed that I had to cancel my participation, but it is nice that Daimler ‘suffers reality check’ because what they demonstrated several years ago was very much an elitist toy for those 0.1 %ers that already have more mobility choices than they deserve, Instead  they should be working on mobility machines that substantially enhance the quality of life of the so many that Daimler has left behind over the years.   Alain

TP Plus

L. Fabian, Jan. 6, "Only a determined Mode Shift will save us!  Yet nowhere is the US or the rest of the world are officials determined to move cities and society at large away from highway-oriented policies which assume that basic transport and public safety needs are met by gasoline-powered street-running vehicles…."  Read more  Hmmmm… Enjoy reading.  Proper land use and ride-sharing go hand-in-hand. Alain

  Younger persons are still less likely to have a driver’s license than in the 1980s

M. Sivak, Jan 2920, "Since 2011, I have periodically examined changes in the proportion of persons with a driver’s license as a function of age. The previous study compared data for 1983 (as the baseline) with those for 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2017. The results showed that between 1983 and 2014 there was a substantial decrease in the licensing of younger persons, with an increase in the licensing of older persons. That was followed by modest increases in the licensure for all age groups between 2014 and 2017.

The present study compares data for 2018 (released in late December 2019) with data for 1983 and 2014.   The main findings are as follows:..".   Read more Hmmmm…  Licensing is one thing, the next question is to what extent are they using the driving privilege afforded by the licensing.  Alain

  Should Tesla Take The Initiative To Better Monitor And Manage Driver Behavior With Autopilot?

B. Reimer, Jan. 5, "… The safety of Autopilot continues to be questioned by experts worldwide. A recent letter from Senator Markey to Elon Musk adds to an already heated conversation. In a post earlier this year on the Tesla automation strategy, I raised the question of whether it is appropriate for consumers to be used as test subjects, the need for a well validated measure of risk associated with the use of Autopilot, and the need for camera-based driver monitoring to manage inattention. In the months since, visuals in the media of drivers falling asleep, engrossed in non-driving activities, and otherwise participating in inattentive driving continue to appear. Seemly random, but realistically predictable, crashes keep happening that might be preventable with camera-based driver monitoring and driver management…."  Read more Hmmmm…  The simple answer is .. Sure!  However, some/many of those videos are fake and the fundamental problem is that the automated emergency braking (AEB) system on Teslas, and essentially every other make of cars, simply doesn’t work as well as it should.  It doesn’t deal appropriately with stationary objects in the lane ahead and the false alarm rates are way too high.  Getting the AEB system to actually work throughout the operational design domain of AutoPilot is a much better thing to focus on.  All the Tesla owners that I know are not at all cavalier about their use of Autopilot and treat the system with utmost respect and care.  The very few that mis-use AutoPilot are unlikely to change their ways by what is discussed here, so such policies will have minuscule impact.  Focus on fixing the AEB in Teslas and essentially every other car make and model.  Alain

Watch Tesla Model 3 On Autopilot Avoid Crash With Distracted Driver

G. Ruffo, Jan. 5, "… We just wonder why Autopilot is still a beta after so many saves it has performed. It has even helped to spare wildlife. The one above is just another trophy for the list, but an impressive one…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Good question. Is it the have-nots clawing back the haves?   See video, etc.  Alain  

  Over 730,000 Tesla Vehicles with Autopilot 2 & 3 on the Road

J. Crider, Jan. 5, "In a new report by MIT’s Lex Fridman, we learn that Tesla now has over 730,000 vehicles with Autopilot Hardware 2 and 3 on the world’s roads…."  Read more Hmmmm… This is a non-trivial accomplishment not only in terms of implementation of a safety technology but also in terms of the data/information flow that such a penetration affords Tesla.  Hopefully Tesla will either release or have independent researchers substantively evaluate the safety implication of the system.  The sample size is so large that major safety implications could readily be addressed.  Alain

   Three Crashes, Three Deaths Raise Questions About Tesla’s Autopilot

T. krishner, Jan. 3, "…  On Dec. 29, a Tesla Model S sedan left a freeway in Gardena, Calif., at a high speed, ran a red light and struck a Honda Civic, killing two people inside, police said.   On the same day, a Tesla Model 3 hit a parked firetruck on an Indiana freeway, killing a passenger in the Tesla…."  Read more Hmmmm…Ultimately tragic and my sincere condolences go out to all those touched by these two tragedies.  Unfortunately there is and has been nothing in AutoPilot that keeps Teslas or any other car or truck make and model from running red lights (I agree that there should be ASAP) and I have been pointing out in this eLetter the limitations of Tesla’s, and every other car or truck make or model’s, Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) system with properly addressing the "stationary object in the lane ahead" problem.  NTSB and NHTSA have know (or should have known) about this problem since the Joshua Brown crash. To my knowledge, they’ve done nothing about it.   I suspect that for NTSB/NHTSA to recall one AEB system, they’d have to recall all of them.  I do fault Tesla for not fixing this code and over-the-air updating it to solve it for Teslas.  Apparently, the fix is not so easy because the false alarm issue substantially interacts with "ride-quality".  Seems to me that safety should trump ride-quality.  Alain

  Tesla meets Elon Musk’s sales goal, and stock jumps to record high

R. Mitchell, Jan. 3, "Tesla Inc. said it delivered 367,500 vehicles in 2019, achieving the sales forecast issued by Chief Executive Elon Musk and propelling its stock to a new record high.  The Silicon Valley automaker finished 2019 on an upswing. Last year it opened a new manufacturing plant in China, scored a rare profit in the third quarter, and saw its stock price soar to record highs.

Tesla needed to deliver 104,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter to meet Musk’s 2019 forecast of between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles.

Tesla delivered 112,000 vehicles in the fourth quarter. Of those, 92,550 were Model 3s, a growth rate of 16.3% over the previous quarter and 46% above the fourth quarter of 2018. The more expensive and aging Model S sedan and Model X SUV models saw a combined 19,450 deliveries for the quarter. That’s 11.8% higher than the previous quarter, but 37% below the fourth quarter of 2018…."  Read more Hmmmm…  A non-trivial accomplishment in the market place.  Alain

  How Tesla proved the haters wrong

T. lee, Dec. 19, "On Thursday, Tesla stock rose above $400 for the first time in the company’s history. The record price caps a year—and a decade—when Tesla proved its doubters wrong.

At the start of 2010, Tesla had produced fewer than 1,000 units of the high-priced Roadster. The Model S was years away. The firm’s finances were still precarious, having narrowly escaped bankruptcy in the final days of 2008. Few would have guessed that Tesla was poised to become a major automaker.  Indeed, over the last decade, people repeatedly predicted that the company would run out of money and be unable to raise more. They doubted that Tesla could deliver new car models on time—or at all. They said that quality problems and missed deadlines would sour customers on the Tesla brand.

But Tesla has proved these critics wrong. It’s true that the company has repeatedly missed deadlines and has sometimes shipped cars with quality problems. But those setbacks have had little impact on its customers’ enthusiasm for the company. Compelling features like instant acceleration, over-the-air software updates, and Tesla’s vast supercharger network have been enough to convince hundreds of thousands of fans to overlook the company’s flaws and open their wallets…." Read more Hmmmm…  Yup!

  This is why Tesla drivers need to keep their hands on the wheel on Autopilot

F. Lambert, Dec 30, "…  A Model 3 driver going by Dougal Vlogs on YouTube was driving on Autopilot while filming from inside his car with a handheld camera.  While filming, he crashed his car, which he described in the video description…"  Read more Hmmmm…  In the performance of any safety analysis one must discount the "15 seconds of famers" and the fakes.  The fact that he lived demonstrates the efficacy of the Model 3’s structural design.  Tesla, thank you for that contribution.  Alain  

  Researchers: Driverless cars can’t just be safe. They also need to be nice.

K. Wells, Dec. 25, "... So these researchers recruited more than 400 drivers and had them fill out a personality test based on the “Big 5” traits in social science: extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to experience…"  Read more Hmmmm…  So unfortunate that UofM still believes that Driverless cars will be sold to ‘drivers’ rather than be used as mobility machines to provide mobility to all.  They should have recruited 400 trip makers (outside of Michigan, not everyone drives) and found out what qualities these Driverless cars should have to encourage those folks to use these mobility machines rather than continue the unsustainable single-occupant selfish, self-centered. entitled mobility of the 2nd half of the 20th century.  Alain

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


  A Wave of AV Safety Standards to Hit in 2020

J. Yoshida, Dec 26, "In 2020, a host of new industry standardization initiatives for artificial intelligence will roll out in earnest. Their common mission is to develop safety standards for AI-driven systems in autonomous vehicles and robotics…."  Read more Hmmmm… Wait  a minute…  You still don’t have Automated Emergency Braking systems that actually work throughout the normal driving operational domain…  brake the car before it hits something in the lane ahead and whose false alarm rate is essentially zero.  No need to move onto other AV "Safety Standards" until you’ve fixed this one which is less than half-baked.   Alain



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Calendar of Upcoming Events:


4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

evening May 19 through May 21, 2020

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side