Thursday, July 30, 2020
32nd edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars


Press release, July 28, “For more than 50 years, CES® has been the global stage for innovation. And the all-digital CES 2021 will continue to be a platform to launch products, engage with global brands and define the future of the tech industry.

An all-digital CES 2021 will allow the entire tech community to safely share ideas and introduce the products that will shape our future. You’ll be able to participate in all the awe-inspiring moments of CES wherever you are in the world. We are designing a unique experience for the tech industry….”  Read more  Hmmm…. Wow!   Thank you CES this is exceedingly responsible of you.  Hope to be back in Las Vegas in 2022.   Fred and I will help however we can to make 2021 very successful.  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars PodCast 167  “Ride-sharing” w/Robin Chase, Carlos Pardo & Daniel Sperling

F. Fishkin July 29, “In the midst of a pandemic, what is the future of ride sharing and mobility? Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin are joined by Robin Chase and Carlos Pardo of the New Urban Mobility Alliance and the director of the Institute for Transportation Studies at U C Davis, Daniel Sperling to dig into the challenges ahead.”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast Episode167  “Ride-sharing” w/Robin Chase, Carlos Pardo & Daniel Sperling

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 167.  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.

  U.S. prosecutors seek 27 months imprisonment for former Uber self-driving head

Reuters, July 29, “U.S. prosecutors are seeking 27 months of imprisonment for the former head of Uber’s self-driving technology unit, Anthony Levandowski, who agreed to plead guilty in March for taking sensitive documents from his former employer Google before joining Uber.

Federal prosecutors are also seeking three years of supervised release and an agreed-upon restitution payment of nearly $756,500 to Alphabet Inc’s self-driving car company Waymo, according to the court papers filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California….”  Read more  Hmmm….  What???   Did he insult Trump or something???  Are they treating him like they treated Martha Stewart???  Yes, what he did was wrong.  Yes, a clear signal needs to be sent to all the Silicon Valley Bros.  But more than a year in jail???  Seems extremely harsh and likely not very effective …  and not because he’s white.  We need to find better ways to help people rather than incarcerate them.  Take a lot of his money and put him in community service to help rehabilitate those who are now in prison.   Alain

  Revel suspends its electric moped service in NYC after two people are killed

A. Hawkins, July 20, “Revel is suspending its service in New York City after a man was killed riding one of the shared electric mopeds in Queens, making him the second customer to die while using the service in recent weeks.

According to the New York Post, Jeremy Malave, 32, was heading north on Woodhaven Boulevard in Middle Village at 3:15AM ET on Tuesday when he lost control of the Revel moped, slammed into a streetlight on a median, and was thrown from the vehicle. He was found by police at the scene with severe head trauma and was transported to North Shore Forest Hills Hospital where he was pronounced dead. It was unclear whether he was wearing a helmet, which is provided by Revel.

On Tuesday, Revel said it would pause its service in New York City “until further notice” while it assesses the safety of its fleet of electric mopeds. The company also operates in Austin, Miami, and Washington, DC, and it recently announced plans to launch soon in San Francisco. A spokesperson for Revel declined to respond to questions about which safety measures the company would be reviewing, or whether it would be suspending service in other cities. “At this time, we will not be providing any further comments on this matter,” the company said.

The moped company has proven to be enormously popular since first launching in New York City in 2018. Since then, the company has seen its ridership grow to 300,000 people. Those customers have taken 3 million rides on Revel’s mopeds for a total of 10 million miles. The service has grown even more popular this year, with the coronavirus pandemic deterring many people from using subways and buses and seeking alternative modes of getting transportation.

It costs $19 to sign up for the app-based service. Tap a scooter on the map to reserve it (up to 15 minutes ahead of time) or book it right away. Each ride costs $1 to start ($2 if you have someone tagging along with you) and then $0.25 per minute. Each motor scooter also comes with two helmets, one big and one small, which are locked away in a cargo compartment at the back.

But the company has also drawn some harsh scrutiny. The company has been hit by at least a dozen lawsuits alleging that its mopeds are poorly serviced and dangerous to ride, according to NY1. Revel claims that all of its mopeds are inspected by trained mechanics before they are allowed on the road. On Monday, Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a Manhattan Democrat, called on New York City’s government to shut down the service.

Following Kapur’s death, CBS This Morning broadcast a story showcasing footage of Revel customers misusing the company’s scooters by riding down crowded sidewalks, running red lights, or engaging in other dangerous behavior.

The company responded by noting that its mopeds are speed-capped at 30 mph, and customers are required to have valid drivers’ licenses (but notably, not motorcycle licenses) to ride. The mopeds are confined to local streets and are not allowed on sidewalks, highways, or bridges. Revel users are supposed to watch a short instructional video in the app. They also have the option of taking a 30-minute, in-person lesson. “We take reports of safety violations very seriously, and we work closely with city officials to address any violations,” Revel said in a statement to CBS.

The company also tracks its mopeds using GPS technology and suspends customers caught breaking its rules. Earlier this month, Revel suspended over 1,000 customers for safety violations.

At a press conference on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Revel’s approach to safety “unsatisfactory and unacceptable,” according to The New York Times. Still, the company’s decision to suspend service was its own, not a result of a city order.

It’s unclear what the future has in store for Revel. Many of the problems it is now facing were also faced by its counterparts in the shared electric scooter industry. Scooter startups like Bird and Lime were hit with dozens of lawsuits alleging safety infractions. And as the number of people injured or killed while riding scooters mounted, there were many predictions made about the imminent demise of scooter sharing. Yet, shared scooters are still around and still being ridden by thousands of customers all over the US, Asia, and Europe.”…. ”  Read more  Hmmm… How long after a “Revel” started selling a “Level 3” car to consumers would they “pause their sales” because of comparable business dynamics???  Alain

  County Transportation Profiles

Staff, July 2020, “Welcome to the County Transportation Profiles dashboard!  Explore different transportation topics including Airports, Bridges, Demographics, Marine, Railroad and Person Trips at the county level….”  Read more  Hmmm….Very informative. Thank you Rolf.  Alain

  The Week in Transportation


  Annual Rise in U.S. Airlines May Domestic Cargo (Almost 5%) Largest Increase Since July 2019

Staff, July 23, “U.S. airlines carried 4.7% more domestic cargo by weight in May 2020 than in May 2019, the largest annual gain since July 2019 while the 8.4% decline in international cargo was the smallest annual loss since February, according to preliminary data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 15 of the leading cargo airlines.  The 15 airlines carry more than 95% of the total cargo by weight on U.S. airlines. Cargo data consists of freight and mail carried within the U.S. and between the U.S. and foreign points…”  Read more  Hmmm….Very informative. Thank you Rolf.  Alain

  Continental puts its own supercomputer for vehicle AI system training, powered by NVIDIA DGX, into operation

Press release, July 28, ” The automotive industry is changing and development cycles are becoming shorter. In order to develop innovative technologies even more efficiently and quickly, Continental has invested in setting up its own supercomputer for Artificial Intelligence (AI), powered by NVIDIA InfiniBand-connected DGX systems. It has been operating from a datacenter in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, since the beginning of 2020 and is offering computing power as well as storage to developers in locations worldwide. AI enhances advanced driver assistance systems, makes mobility smarter and safer and accelerates the development of systems for autonomous driving….”  Read more  Hmmm…. Congratulations Danni Shapiro.  Alain

  Tesla rival will offer semi-automated Lucid Air sedan in early 2021

P. Lienert, July 28, “Tesla rival Lucid Motors plans to equip its new Air luxury electric sedan with a semi-automated driver assistance system when the first cars roll off an Arizona assembly line in early 2021, Lucid said on Tuesday.

The Lucid Air, which will compete with the Tesla Model S, will come standard with such features as adaptive cruise control, lane centering, automatic emergency brakes and automated parking.

It will also be one of the first production vehicles to be equipped with standard lidar, a laser-based sensor that detects obstacles and objects, including pedestrians, as part of the vehicle’s collision avoidance system.

Tesla chief Elon Musk has said Teslas do not need lidar because their other sensors – mainly camera and radar – provide sufficient object detection when the vehicle is in semi-automated Autopilot mode. He has derided the use of lidar, which is far more costly than other sensors, as “a fool’s errand.”

Lucid CEO Peter Rawlinson is the former chief engineer of the Tesla Model S.

Unlike the General Motors Super Cruise system offered on some Cadillacs, the Lucid Air’s new DreamDrive assistance system will not be capable of hands-free driving, at least not initially. But Lucid has said it will be able to add more advanced features in the future through wireless over-the-air updates….”  Read more  Hmmm….It is obvious (at least to me) that AutoPilot’s attributes are very important factors fueling Tesla’s success.  Maybe more important than the electric motor.  Lucid’s decision here reinforces that thought.  What we’ll learn from Lucid’s market performance is if LiDAR’s click-bait adds any traction to sales.  Alain

  Northern Virginia’s 1st self-driving shuttle starts testing on Fairfax Co. streets

N. Augenstein, July 28, “, July 23, “The first electric autonomous shuttle to run on public streets in Northern Virginia is being programmed and tested in the Mosaic District of Fairfax County.  The Relay vehicle will carry a dozen passengers — riding for free — on a loop between the Dunn Loring Metro station to the popular shopping and living community in Merrifield, just outside the Capital Beltway.

The approximately 1-mile route includes navigating a traffic light on busy U.S. Route 29.  “This won’t ever get distracted,” said engineer Nathan Ramsey. “Anytime there’s chaos all around, the vehicle is still observing its environment, it’s focused on that environment, and it’s reacting to that in real time.”  “…engineers are mapping and programming the electric vehicle.  Testing will continue for about a week before passengers will be accepted on the driverless shuttle….”  Read more  Hmmm…. Yes, self-driving, not Driverless. There is an attendant onboard at all times.  Hopefully these become so common that they aren’t news anymore, but what is news:  they are operating without an attendant on-board.  Then these systems will have an opportunity to become permanent affordable mobility providers rather than just flash-in-the-pan tests and then, poof, disappear.  Alain

   Tesla Network ride-hailing app would quickly undercut Uber and Lyft, analyst says

F. Lambert, July 27,”Tesla has been working on its own ride-hailing app, Tesla Network, and now analysts are starting to figure out how to factor it into the automaker’s valuation.  Ark Research has been by far the most bullish firm on Tesla.

Its investment arm is a Tesla shareholder and its research has an insanely ambitious $15,000 price target on Tesla’s stock.  In a new note, analyst Tasha Keeney is now looking at the impact of Tesla launching its own ride-hailing service:

“Based on our research, Tesla could launch its ride-hailing service at a premium price of $4 per mile, slightly more than Uber’s average price in New York City, and could lower prices over time to penetrate more price-sensitive markets. ARK estimates that Tesla’s ride-hailing service could deliver roughly 50% EBITDA margins, a premium to Uber’s in cities it dominates and, that at global scale and an average of $1 per mile, its addressable market would be roughly $50 billion.”

For years now, Tesla has taunted a ride-hailing app to be powered by its self-driving system. At first, the automaker has been linking the launch of the app with its Autopilot system reaching full self-driving capability, but CEO Elon Musk recently said that he was open to releasing the app, which he has called the “Tesla Network,” ahead of achieving full autonomy…..”  Read more Hmmmm…   My view is that this app could be used by Tesla owners to have others hop into their cars and share rides with them when they are going someplace.  The Tesla app and its over-the-air connectivity could provide the necessary mental comfort that nothing bad is going to happen to any of the individuals sharing the ride… the Tesla owner or the ride-sharing customers.  With adoption by a substantial percent of Tesla owners, any ride-sharer can feel comfortable that they’ll be able to “find a ride back home”.  This app could then provide the connected information mechanism to actually have the opportunity to add extensive ride-sharing to the normal use of Tesla cars by their owners.  Interesting!!! Alain

  Google will keep 200,000 workers home through next summer

T. Lee, July 27, “Google will keep “nearly all” of its workforce—around 200,000 employees and contractors—working from home for another year, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Google CEO Sundar Pichai reportedly made the decision last week.

The long timeline gives more certainty for Googlers who are making school and housing decisions for the coming academic year. Previously Google workers were due back in the office in January.

Companies across Silicon Valley—and across the broader US economy—have been keeping their offices closed longer as the severity of the coronavirus pandemic becomes more clear.”…”  Read more Hmmmm….  No more rush-hour congestion around Mountain View and the rest of the Valley???  😁.  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




July 21, “Global Level 3 Autonomous Vehicle Market 2020 : Covering both the industrial and the commercial aspects of the Global Level 3 Autonomous Vehicle Market, the report encircles several crucial chapters that give the report an extra edge. The Global Level 3 Autonomous Vehicle Market report deep dives into the several parts of the report that plays a crucial role in getting the holistic view of the report. The list of such crucial aspects of the report includes company profile, industry analysis, competitive dashboard, comparative analysis of the key players, regional analysis with further analysis country wise. Moreover, one of the uniqueness in the report is that it also covers the country-level analysis of the regulatory scenario, technology penetration, predictive trends, and prescriptive trends. This not only gives the readers of the report the actual real-time insights but also gives country-wise analysis, that plays a vital role in decision making. The inclusion of the report is not limited to the above mention key pointers. The report also emphasizes on the market opportunities, porters five forces, and analysis of the different types of products and application of the Global Level 3 Autonomous Vehicle Market.

Get Free Sample Report of Level 3 Autonomous Vehicle Market (Based on 2020 COVID-19 Worldwide Spread) @…” Read more Hmmmm… Don’t bother… In my view, there is zero market for “Level 3”.  Not in 2020, 2025 or anytime in anyone’s current lifetime.  Was there any product ever sold to a consumer that can readily cause death if it malfunctions and was designed to operate on its own, without the owner’s supervision???  Talk about a product liability nightmare and train wreck!  Such products are fundamentally non-viable.  C’mon Man!!   Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

 DrivingTheDebate Episode 006

AV Shark-Tank:

Topic to be announced

August 10 @ 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