Thursday, July 2, 2020
28th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars


Announcing 2020-2021 Fellow-in-Residence Henry L. Greenidge, Esq.

Press release, June 24, “The McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University has announced transportation policy expert Henry L. Greenidge, Esq. as a 2020-2021 Fellow-in-Residence. …

“As New York City and cities around the nation reopen amid COVID-19, there is an important conversation to be had about the intersection of transportation policy with poverty, race and class. In a field where there are too few thought leaders of color, Henry Greenidge’s industry expertise and distinguished track record of public service make him an invaluable addition to the NYU McSilver team,” says Michael A. Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH, Executive Director of the institute.

“Race and transportation have been inextricably linked since the first slave ship crossed the Americas,” says Henry Greenidge. “As our nation continues to grapple with institutional racism, which serves as the fabric for every facet of the United States, the inequities of transportation policies must be at the center. I am humbled and excited to be working with the McSilver Institute to unpack how transportation, race, and poverty intersect..”  Read more  Hmmm….  In no uncertain terms, we must make sure that inequities and racism are not explicitly nor even implicitly baked into the SmartDrivingCar r/evolution.  We are still at the very beginning, so it shouldn’t be hard nor expensive but so far it doesn’t look good.  The emphasis has been on giving those that already have fantastic ways to get around one more way.  The focus hasn’t been on the mobility disadvantaged and certainly not on the Black community.  Just look where the testing has been taking place and the folks that take part in the focus groups and those that are given rides.  Look at who designs and writes the software and the investors.  Sure, one can and should serve them, but if public policy is going to play a role, then it can’t bake in more inequities.  Moreover, the private sector can also step up and realize that these systems can readily serve everyone.  The technology that makes SmartDrivingCars possible is not inherently racists.  It can respect and serve everyone.  Henry and others can help make sure that the designers and deployers of SmartDrivingCars don’t explicitly nor implicitly bake in racism and bias.   Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 163 – Henry Greenidge

F. Fishkin, July 2, “Transportation, racial injustices and changing the thinking around the future of mobility. NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research fellow Henry Greenidge joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin in an eye and mind opening episode of Smart Driving Cars. Plus Amazon, Zoox, Waymo, Tesla & more.  .”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 163 – Henry Greenidge

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 163.  Alain

   The SmartDrivingCars eLetter, Pod-Casts, Zoom-Casts and Zoom-inars are made possible in part by support from the Smart Transportation and Technology ETF, symbol MOTO.   For more information:  Most funding is supplied by Princeton University’s Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering and Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering (PAVE) research laboratory as part of its research dissemination initiatives.

  Princeton Will Remove Woodrow Wilson’s Name From School

B. Pietsch, June 27, “Princeton University will remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges, the university’s president said on Saturday — a move that comes four years after it decided to keep the name over the objections of student protests.

The university’s board of trustees found that Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” Princeton’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, said in a statement…. ” Read more  Hmmm… Fantastic!  Alain

  We’re acquiring Zoox to help bring their vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality

Amazon, June 26, “Amazon has signed an agreement to acquire Zoox, a California-based company working to design autonomous ride-hailing vehicles from the ground up. Aicha Evans, Zoox CEO, and Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO, will continue to lead the team as they innovate and drive towards their mission….

“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer. “Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead.”…

“Since Zoox’s inception six years ago, we have been singularly focused on our ground-up approach to autonomous mobility,” said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. “Amazon’s support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world.”…”  Read more  Hmmm… OK, but the original path to “world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience” is likely to be changed to first pass through “world-class autonomous package delivery experience”.  Amazon is now not only in control but also THE customer.   Ironically, having the primary customer, package delivery, drive the product development may actually accelerate the successful creation of a world-class affordable mobility-as-a service machines.  Delivering packages from an Amazon distribution center or from Whole Foods or from … to my “front door” has substantially easier quality-of-service and safety challenges, especially, if in the beginning, the delivery service is done between “1am and 5am”.  

Start during those times in your Operational Design Domain (ODD), continue to improve, expand to the rest of the day, enlarge your ODD and then you’ll be really ready to begin providing affordable high-quality mobility to those that need it most and everyone else too.

See also:  CNBC  Amazon to buy self-driving technology company Zoox   Alain

   Amazon Buys Self-Driving Company Zoox For $1.2B And May Rule The World

B. Templeton, June 26, “Reports have emerged that will purchase self-driving startup Zoox for “more than $1.2B” with exact details of the deal not disclosed. Amazon says they plan to have Zoox realize its vision of passenger transport (robotaxi) service, which I will dub “AMAZOOX.” At the same time, it is hard to believe they don’t also have interest in robotic delivery and logistics, since that’s a huge part of their business.

I have already done analysis twice on this deal — first when Zoox started shopping, and then when Amazon was revealed as the suitor. All the analysis in these articles remains similar. Today, two things become fact — the confirmation of the deal and Amazon’s declaration that they wish to support the robotaxi vision…” Read more  Hmmm…  While I would like to think it is about the aTaxi business, to me the main driver is the “free” package delivery business.  A substantial part of Amazon’s success is built on “free” delivery.  Sure, Amazon can internalize the cost of such a service, but this acquisition can enable them to move much of that internalized cost directly down to its bottom line.  That is fundamentally powerful.  Alain

  How Planes, Trains and Automobiles Worsened America’s Racial Divide

S. Gidigbi, June 26, “…But in the larger quest for justice, there’s another bill on the agenda that could also be crucial to rectifying some of the 20th century’s most deeply unfair policies: A transportation funding bill set for a vote in the House next week would help undo the injustice built into our highways, our roads and our sidewalks.

At first glance, transportation might seem like a side issue, but it has been central to the inequality debate in America for generations.

We often gloss over it today, but much of the civil rights struggle centered on access to public transportation. The unfortunate Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision of “separate but equal” came about because Homer Plessy was ejected from a “whites only” train car and then fought for his rights in court. Rosa Parks’ protest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott after she refused to give her seat to a white passenger after a long day of work. Her resolve united leaders to demand systemic changes including that buses stop at each street corner in Black neighborhoods just as they did in white ones. Black residents organized carpools, an early example of ride-share, and made the long treks across segregated neighborhoods to avoid using the city buses, as their yearlong campaign sought broader civil rights such as fair access to jobs and opportunity. Later, the Freedom Riders withstood rogue violence of stunning ferocity to get the Southern states to uphold the law and integrate interstate bus travel.

Transportation spending decisions have also rewritten the story of American communities over the past hundred years—in ways that cost Black communities deeply and benefited white neighborhoods….

It’s time to divest from the racist legacy of our past and invest in a more just and equitable future…. (emphasis added)

Transportation is not a side issue in our national reckoning with race. …”  Read more  Hmmm…   The real opportunity for driverless mobility machines is to deliver high-quality affordable mobility to the mobility disadvantaged… the largest segment of which are the economically disadvantaged.  The Operational Design Domains (ODDs) of these should/must begin by encompassing  these communities.  This is where these technologies can deliver the most improvement in quality-of-life and not those communities where everyone already has “fourteen” other great ways of getting to where they are going when they want to go.  Alain

  Nearly 30 years after the ADA, the nation’s transit agencies report successes and shortfalls

M. Alderton, June 26, “Scott Crawford hasn’t driven a car in 20 years.  A retired clinical neuropsychologist, Crawford relocated from Miami to his hometown of Jackson, Miss., in 2006, seven years after developing primary progressive multiple sclerosis. When his illness put him in a wheelchair, the bus became his lifeline — that is, when it didn’t leave him behind, which happened often and sometimes still does….”  Read more Hmmmm…  I continue to be dumbfounded by Conventional Transit’s complete aversion to autonomousTaxis and conventional ride-hailing (Uber/Lyft).  These are ways for the Transit Industry to  deliver “separate-but-enormously-better” mobility to the mobility disadvantaged.  And do it at a fraction of the cost of its low-quality conventional bus services and its inaccessible low-quality “rail” services. 

Definitions: High-quality mobility takes individuals from where they are to where they want to go when they want to go.  Lo-quality mobility takes individuals between a few (~20) long-ago designated locations (stops) at a few (~20) designated times. Alain  

More Hmmmm…  from Dr. Prashanth Venkataram…..For wheelchair access, subways & buses generally have complementary problems. It is easy to get to the front of a bus without an elevator, but then getting into the bus requires a ramp or lift, which is a point of failure (and note that lifts, being more mechanically complicated, tend to be more prone to failure and consequently harder to operate manually than ramps) and is a substantial cost associated with the vehicle. By contrast, getting to a subway platform typically requires an elevator (unless there is enough land to allow for long gradually-sloped floors), which is a point of failure associated with the infrastructure of a station, but getting from the platform into the train can be done much more easily. Of course, there are exceptions: many light rail trains require ramps or lifts for wheelchair access, many commuter/regional rail trains have gaps that can only be bridged by virtue of conductors on board being able to manually find ramps in stations & deploy them (as the allowable dwell times are long enough), and many subway platforms have gaps to the train that are too large to bridge (and the short dwell times & lack of conductors means the only solution is usually to retrofit level boarding by rebuilding the platform appropriately, which is quite costly & time-consuming), while on the flip side, there are only a few examples (here is one using existing buses but rebuilt sidewalks: ) of buses that allow for level boarding, and even then only at certain stops where the curbs have been built in tandem with the bus design to allow it.

Note also that commitment to wheelchair access in subway systems doesn’t necessarily correlate that strongly with the age of a system. While it’s reasonable that the Chicago L & Boston T aren’t fully accessible because of their ages, they do far better than the NYC Subway despite being of a similar age. Similarly, the BART & Washington Metro do far better than the Montreal Metro, which is of a similar age (that is much less than the Chicago L or Boston T). (On a side note regarding the Montreal Metro: the conscious decision by the designers of the Montreal Metro in the 1960s/1970s to ignore wheelchair access was not restricted to transit at that time. With respect to housing, there is an undergraduate dormitory at MIT, known as New House, which was built in the 1970s: during its design, budget constraints forced a choice between either elevators or air conditioning, and ultimately the latter was chosen without the former. Thankfully, recent renovations have added elevators.)

Taxi regulations typically pushed taxi companies to have a certain percentage of the fleet be wheelchair accessible, but the rise of TNCs has, especially in smaller markets, forced many taxi companies to close entirely, and those that don’t close often first get rid of their wheelchair accessible vehicles, as those tend to be more expensive to operate & requires further training of drivers in their operation, while TNCs have been unwilling to fill the gap in this way; this is especially problematic in exactly these smaller markets where there are few alternatives to driving just to get around for work or normal errands.

You & I already know that while bus services can work in moderately dense areas along certain corridors at high frequency and with good connectivity, far more economic opportunities can be opened up to people marginalized by the current transportation paradigm, including people with disabilities, through on-demand point-to-point service, and this looks to be most promising if the promises of shared driverless mobility can be realized. However, the aforementioned problems with current designs for wheelchair access need to be seriously considered as a core issue with the design of driverless vehicles, and not simply as an afterthought; at least if problems arise, it may be cheaper to take a single relatively cheap car from a large fleet out of service compared to a single relatively expensive bus from a comparatively smaller fleet. In addition to questions of physical ingress/egress, there also needs to be consideration of whether there are certain nontrivial ways that current drivers help wheelchair users enter/exit vehicles (whether cars, vans, or buses) that may not have an obvious replacement if the driver is removed (and this would be especially critical if driverless cars ended up retaining but automating current designs for ramps/lifts), and whether safety regulations for wheelchairs to be secured in vehicles (which is required for cars, vans, and buses, but typically not for trains due to the more centralized nature of control & lack of “other” traffic, and which, when required, is typically performed by the driver) need to be revisited.

Perhaps the issues of ingress/egress from buses, proposed ingress/egress from driverless cars, and general sidewalk access can all be addressed through a concerted effort to simultaneously redesign sidewalks, redesign buses, and propose new standards for driverless vehicles, to allow for level boarding (without ramps or lifts). This would not only ensure that wheelchair users currently using buses and who may in the future use driverless vehicles can access them without any assistance, but it would also improve the experience for pedestrians, speed up entry/exit of passengers from buses which will improve the overall experience, and further mitigate problems for people who may not be in wheelchairs but may have knee pain, may be pushing a stroller, et cetera. The biggest improvements from investing in level boarding would be removing all of the costs associated with ramps/lifts aboard buses and generally metaphorically leveling the playing field for wheelchair users compared to able-bodied riders, such that a wheelchair user will essentially never be in a situation of being unable to ride a bus or driverless car when an able-bodied rider can ride the same vehicle.

All of this focuses on wheelchair users, but there are other disabilities to consider too. Apps or kiosks to summon driverless cars, as well as the interfaces within the cars themselves, will need to be designed to accommodate people with low vision/blindness, as well as people with mild mental disabilities (an example can be found here: ); for example, cars meant for people with mental disabilities may need to have a more “friendly” face on a screen and be able to respond reasonably patiently to people with a reasonably large range of cognitive or speech disabilities to fulfill the role that kind drivers may currently play. People who may not need a wheelchair but may have other medical equipment to transport with assistance, like a portable oxygen tank, may currently require driver assistance as well as accommodation inside of the vehicle, so these things need to be considered for the design of driverless cars. (These points are more speculation from me, as I have been insulated from these issues in my own experience.)

This is my summary for your newsletter, which I have tried to tailor to the context of driverless mobility. “This is a solid summary of the current state of the strengths and weaknesses of public transit and TNCs when it comes to wheelchair access. I’ve been saying that a lot of the problems with fixed-route transit service or expensive & unreliable point-to-point paratransit service can be solved through on-demand point-to-point shared driverless mobility, giving much more mobility & freedom to those currently marginalized from today’s transportation systems at a much lower cost through sharing and through taking the driver out of the equation. However, driverless mobility developers can’t simply take it as given that their products will be a cure-all – we can’t rest on our laurels! Accessibility MUST be a core value, and just like safety, MUST be included as a high minimum constraint in the design process itself, NOT just slapped on as an afterthought which breaks way too often (which was how we got into our current mess). It would be good if there could be more coordination among driverless mobility developers, transit agencies, other city agencies, and disability advocacy groups, preferably with people with disabilities not simply confined to such advocacy groups but actually directly advising developers & agencies, to thoughtfully ensure wheelchair access for current and future mobility, through vehicles, physical infrastructure, and other aspects of the ride. Plus, drivers today do a lot to help people with other disabilities, including those with medical equipment, mental disabilities, and so on, so those riders’ needs have to be considered too – they can’t be an afterthought either just because they don’t have easily-recognizable wheelchairs!”   Prashanth

  Partnering with Volvo Car Group to scale the Waymo Driver

Company News, June 25, “On the path to building the World’s Most Experienced Driver, we partner with some of the world’s largest automakers to realize our mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going. We focus on custom designing our hardware suite, software, and compute. We then collaborate with carmakers, leveraging their expertise in automotive design, engineering, and manufacturing, to help us create vehicles that integrate easily with the Waymo Driver, making them well-suited for ride hailing, local delivery, trucking, and personal car ownership. That’s why we’re pleased to share today our latest automotive partnership.

Waymo is now the exclusive global L4 partner for Volvo Car Group, a global leader in automotive safety, including its strategic affiliates Polestar and Lynk & Co. International. Through our strategic partnership, we will first work together to integrate the Waymo Driver into an all-new mobility-focused electric vehicle platform for ride hailing services.

Adam Frost, Chief Automotive Officer, Waymo: “This key partnership with Volvo Car Group helps pave the path to the deployment of the Waymo Driver globally in years to come, and represents an important milestone in the highly competitive autonomous vehicle industry. Volvo Car Group shares our vision of creating an autonomous future where roads are safer, and transportation is more accessible and greener. We’re thrilled to welcome Volvo Car Group as our latest automotive partner.”…” Read more  Hmmm…  Yes, Waymo is in the Driver building business and not the Car building business.  The Car is the commodity here, not the Driver.    Details certainly matter, but on the surface, this deal seems to benefit Volvo much more than Waymo.  Plus, Waymo may need to be very careful to not get Levandowshied again. 

See and Andrew Hawkin’s take on this...Volvo will use Waymo’s self-driving technology to power a fleet of electric robotaxis Alain

  TuSimple is laying the groundwork for a coast-to-coast autonomous trucking network

A. Hawkins, July 1, “Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple is joining forces with big logistics providers as it seeks to bolster its delivery capabilities. The company announced it will be working with UPS, Xpress Enterprises, Penske Trucking, and Berkshire Hathaway-owned grocery and food-service distributor McLane to lay the foundation for a coast-to-coast autonomous trucking network.

TuSimple aims to be making nearly 100 delivery runs a week, doubling its current number of freight hauls, but the ramp-up will take place over the next four years….

TuSimple is aiming for a fully driverless system, but currently its trucks include a human operator to take over driving when needed. … ”  Read more  Hmmm… See promotional video.  It is a shame that TuSimple does not promote the enhanced driver working conditions that its technology provides today but instead focuses on only the removal of the driver at some distant future.  By that time all the benefits have been discounted to zero. Whatever! :-X  Alain

  Stock surge makes Tesla the world’s most valuable automaker

T. Lee, July 1,  “One share of Tesla stock traded for more than $1,130 on Wednesday, pushing the company’s market capitalization to nearly $210 billion. That sent Tesla’s market cap past Toyota, which is worth either $170 billion or $203 billion, depending on how you count it. Tesla is now the world’s most valuable car company.

It’s a remarkable milestone for a company that sells far fewer cars than its leading rivals. Toyota and its subsidiaries sold 10.7 million vehicles in 2019, while Volkswagen and its subsidiaries sold almost 11 million vehicles. Tesla sold a comparatively tiny 367,500 vehicles last year.

But Wall Street is apparently very optimistic about Tesla’s prospects for future growth and profits…”  Read more  Hmmm…. Whew!!! See Fred Lambert’s Tesla (TSLA) pushes to new all-time high as Q2 is looking better than expected.  Sure am glad I didn’t short @ $400. 🙂  Alain

  Tesla Overtakes Exxon’s Market Value in Symbolic Energy Shift

D. Wethe, June 30, “Tesla Inc.’s market value has surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp.’s in a sign that investors are increasingly betting on a global energy transition away from fossil fuels.

Elon Musk’s Tesla, now at $201 billion in market capitalization, is surging on the billionaire’s optimism that his company can avoid a second-quarter loss. Exxon, which dropped to $185 billion, is reeling from the worst crude-price crash in history. The largest oil company in the Western Hemisphere is preparing to cut some of its U.S. workforce….”  Read more  Hmmm…. Whew!!!  Who would have thought?? You can’t make up this stuff!  Alain

  Waymo to expand autonomous truck testing in the American Southwest

K.  Wiggers, June 30, “Today during a briefing with members of the media, Waymo head of commercialization for trucking Charlie Jatt outlined the company’s go-to-market plans for Waymo Via, its self-driving delivery division. In the future, Waymo will partner with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to equip cloud-based trucks manufactured and sold to the market with its autonomous systems. In addition, Waymo will work with fleets to provide its software services and offer support for things like mapping and remote fleet assistance.

As Waymo transitions to this model, Jatt said that Waymo intends to own and offer its own fleet of trucks — at least in the short term. One of the delivery solutions it’s exploring is a transfer-hub model where, rather than an automated truck covering an entire journey, there will be a mix of an automated portion and a portion involving manually driven, human-manned trucks. Automated vehicle transfer hubs close to highways would handle the switch-off and minimize surface street driving.

In a first step toward this vision, Waymo says it will soon expand testing on roads in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas along the I-10 corridor between Phoenix and Tuscon, as previously announced. This year Waymo mapped routes between Phoenix, El Paso, Dallas, and Houston and ramped up testing in California on freeways in Mountain View, but the focus for the rest of 2020 will be on the American Southwest.  ” Read more  Hmmm…  Once again, Waymo, along with TuSimple may well be missing an THE opportunity to get started by not focusing on the human driving enhancement features that provide real tangible value to any long-haul truck fleet (reduced expected self-insurance expenditures, improve driver retention, create happier workforce, improved driver productivity,  …) and instead focuses on the extraction of the driver from the truck.  No one is ready to have driverless trucks traveling long hauls down interstates.  Every breakdown will be a complete fubar and the first crash will instantly halt everything and substantially devalue the ranch.  Whatever!   Alain

  AutonomouStuff June News

Staff, June 30, “In this issue:

  • Safety Q&A on ISO 26262 and beyond with VP John Buszek
  • University of Illinois expands autonomous safety with AS
  • Highlight: Qumulo Shift for AWS S3
  • In stock: Velodyne Alpha Prime

…” Read more  Hmmm…  Bobby, keep up the good work. 🙂 Alain

  Fatality Facts 2018:  Collisions with fixed objects and animals

Staff, December 2019, “About 20 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths result from a vehicle leaving the roadway and hitting a fixed object alongside the road. Trees, utility poles, and traffic barriers are the most common objects struck. Almost half of the deaths in fixed object crashes occur at night. Alcohol is a frequent contributing factor. Motorists also run off the road because of excessive speeds, falling asleep, inattention or poor visibility.

From 1975 to the mid-2000s there was a general upward trend in deaths from collisions with animals, but this trend has leveled off over the past decade. In 2018, these deaths occurred most often during July-September….”  Read more  Hmmm…  Some interesting facts here that rectify some statements made in our Zoom-inar (Video replay)  Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?  Alain

  Lyft resumes autonomous vehicle testing on public roads

K.  Wiggers, June 30, “Roughly three months after the pandemic halted its autonomous vehicle tests, Lyft today announced its safety operators will resume driving a portion of its cars on public roads. An employee-only autonomous ride-hailing pilot in Palo Alto remains on pause. But in a blog post, Lyft director of product Sameer Qureshi and director of engineering Robert Morgan characterized road testing as a “critical” part of Lyft’s driverless systems development.

In March, Lyft’s safety drivers — along with engineers and developers — were told to stay home until further notice as shelter-in-place orders made public road testing impossible. In the interim, the company has leaned on simulation to further refine its platform. Autonomous vehicle developers agree that simulation supplements but can’t replace real-world experience.

A spokesperson said Lyft would continue to abide by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and work with local governments in deciding whether to pause testing in the future. This week, governors in Washington, California, Florida, and Texas walked back some of their reopening plans as COVID-19 cases rose in more than 30 states across the U.S.

Currently, Lyft safety drivers are using personal protective equipment (including face shields) and taking precautionary steps inside the driverless vehicles. Two drivers will be paired together for two weeks at a time and subject to temperature checks, and separated by partitions installed inside the regularly sanitized cars… ” Read more  Hmmm…  OK, I guess.  :-\ Alain

  Refraction AI’s robots start delivering groceries in Ann Arbor

K.  Wiggers, June 30, “Refraction AI, a company developing semi-autonomous delivery robots, today began handling select customers’ orders from Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Produce Station. This marks the startup’s first foray into grocery delivery after the launch of its restaurant delivery service. The move comes as Refraction reports a 3-4 times uptick in pandemic-related demand….

Refraction says from today customers within a three-mile radius of Produce Station can have orders delivered by its REV-1 robot. After customers order through a dedicated website, Refraction’s employees load the vehicles at the store, and recipients receive text message updates, along with a code to open the robot’s storage compartment when it arrives…. ” Read more  Hmmm…  OK, I guess.  Alain

  Watch Tesla Autopilot swerve at last second to avoid a deer

F. Lambert, July 7, “We are starting to see an increasing number of reports from Tesla owners about Autopilot doing some really aggressive maneuvers to avoid crashes.  In this new example, a Tesla owner shares a video of Autopilot swerving to avoid a deer at the last second….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Impressive.  But I sure hope that it knew another car wasn’t in the on-coming left lane.  I’m sure it did.  (If the choice between a stationary deer or an on-coming ??? I’ll always pick the deer…)


Wonder why it waited so long to do the maneuver and why it didn’t seem to slow down.  It must have seen it a full 2 seconds before it passed it.  Seems like Tesla needs to do more work here.  It may well have been really lucky here (No on-coming traffic, dry straight road, …).  See video.   Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020 (But will likely need to be completely Virtual, possibly in “Second life)

A. Kornhauser, Feb 6, “The focus of the Summit this year will be moving beyond the AI and the Sensors to addressing the challenges of Commercialization and  the delivery of tangible value to communities.  We’ve made enormous progress with the technology. We’re doing the investment; however, this investment delivers value only if is commercialized: made available and is used by consumers in large numbers.  Demos and one-offs are “great”, but to deliver value that is anywhere near commensurate with the magnitude of the investment made to date, initial deployments need to scale.  We can’t just have “Morgantown PRT Systems” whose initial deployment has been nothing but enormously successful for 45 years (an essentially perfect safety record, an excellent availability record and customer valued mobility).  Unfortunately, the system was never expanded or duplicated anywhere.  It didn’t scale.  It is a one-off. 


Tests, demos and one-offs are nice niche deployments; however, what one really needs are initial deployments that have the opportunity to grow, be replicated and scale.  In 1888, Frank Sprague, successfully deployed a small electric street railway system in Richmond, Va.  which became the reference for many other cites.  “… By 1889 110 electric railways incorporating Sprague’s equipment had been begun or planned on several continents…” Substantial scaled societal benefits emerged virally from this technology.  It was eventually supplanted by the conventional automobile but for more than 30 years it delivered substantial improvements to the quality-of-life for many. 


In part, the 4th Summit will focus on defining the “Richmond” of Affordable Shared-ride On-demand Mobility-as-a-Service.  The initial Operational Design Domain (ODD) that safely accommodates Driverless Mobility Machines that people actually choose to use and becomes the envy of communities throughout the country. ” Read more Hmmmm… Draft Program is in flux.  Consider all named individuals as “Invited yet to be confirmed”. Alain

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

Sunday Supplement



Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 005

AV Shark-Tank:

Topic to be Announced

Live Monday, July 13 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here

Postponed, to be Virtual, Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side