Friday, October 16, 2020
43rd edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars


  Ford Reveals Stake in Newly Public Velodyne Lidar

J. Szczesny, Oct 7, “Ford Motor Co.’s push to broaden its self-driving vehicle technology portfolio, led to it taking a stake in a Silicon Valley company developing lidar systems needed to help guide autonomous vehicles.

The automaker revealed it owns a 7.6% stake, or 13.06 million shares, in Velodyne Lidar, according to a report filed with the Securities Exchange Commission. With the shares trading at $17.40 per share, the stake is worth approximately $227.2 million. Ford filed the report to remain compliant with the SEC….” Read more  Hmmmm….  Interesting, but even more interesting is the SmartDrivingCars PodCast / ZoomCast with John Rich.  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 179  w/John Rich, Ford/Argo

F. Fishkin, Oct. 15, “Which autonomous vehicle platforms will survive? The director of Ford’s Autonomous Vehicle and Technology Development says there may only be two…and Ford /Argo AI will be one of them. John Rich joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that and more.”  Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars  Zoom-Cast Episode 179  w/John Rich, Ford/Argo

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 179...  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.

  It’s Time To Drive Change

D. Ammann, Oct 15, “…Today, Cruise received a permit from the California DMV to remove the human backup drivers from our self-driving cars. We’re not the first company to receive this permit, but we’re going to be the first to put it to use on the streets of a major U.S. city.

Before the end of the year, we’ll be sending cars out onto the streets of SF — without gasoline and without anyone at the wheel. Because safely removing the driver is the true benchmark of a self-driving car, and because burning fossil fuels is no way to build the future of transportation.  It will be a low key, quiet moment. But the echo could be loud….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Congratulations Dan and Kyle.  You are about to take the biggest step towards making all of this real.  Hopefully you’ll consider coming to the Trenton New Jerseys of this world that aren’t already blessed with San Francisco’s excellent existing mobility options.  In Trenton, you can substantially improve quality of life for many rather than just being another good way to go for those that already have several other good options. Alain

  GM’s Cruise plans to test unmanned self-driving cars this year in San Francisco

M. Wayland, Oct 15, “Cruise, a majority-owned subsidiary of GM, plans to begin testing unmanned autonomous vehicles by the end of this year in San Francisco…  ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  CNBC’s take.  Be sure to watch their video interview with Dan.  Alain


J. Link, Oct 13, “…Prior to this, Niedermeyer had always ridden in AVs with a safety driver — Level 3 or below. This was something new, and he felt it.

“You’re not just putting your life in the hands of technology, with a human there just in case things go wrong,” he said. “You are putting your life in the hands of technology,   period.”

Over the last several years, AV companies have come a long way in the capabilities of their systems to drive in congested, tightly gridded cities under extreme conditions. That’s one way to measure the success of the technology, Niedermeyer said…” Read more Hmmmm… Makes all the difference in the world when there isn’t a driver or attendant in the car with you.  Alain

  Functional Requirements for Automated and Autonomous Vehicles (FRAV)

Staff, Oct. 2020, “FRAV 6th Session  Web Conference, 29 October 2020.   Vehicle Regulations Informal Working Groups. ”  Read more Hmmmm…  Thanks go to Russ Sheilds for letting us know about this activity.  Alain

  AV Software Platforms: More Partners & Rivals

 E. Juliussen, Oct. 15, “In my previous column I used a pictorial view of the competition and cooperation among the developers and future users of autonomous vehicle software driver platforms. I also gave information and perspectives on five key suppliers: Waymo, Cruise, Argo, Aurora and Mobileye.

In this column, the second part of my AV Software Platforms analysis, I am discussing a few more AV software suppliers. I use the same figure as before, but this time with some additional relationships called out.

The figure of the AV software driver platforms is complex; by necessity the chart you see below is a simplification, as there are many additional companies participating. The cooperation relationships are primarily drawn to the main auto OEMs. A few relationships that have been cancelled are still marked with a dotted line and a red X…. ”  Read more Hmmmm…  See especially the Figure.  Thanks to Glenn Mercer for pointing me in this direction.  Alain

GM rebrands its Detroit-Hamtramck plant as ‘Factory Zero’ for electric and autonomous vehicles

A. Hawkins, Oct. 16, “…General Motors is rebranding its Detroit-Hamtramck plant for its future in building electric and autonomous vehicles. The automaker has said it would spend $2.2 billion to retool the factory to swap out the production of engines and transmissions for electric motors and battery packs. The new facility will be called “Factory Zero,” GM said — a reference to the automaker’s corporate mantra of “zero emissions, zero crashes, and zero congestion.”

Earlier this year, GM announced that it would spend $2.2 billion to retrofit Detroit-Hamtramck to build electric and autonomous vehicles, like the forthcoming Hummer EV pickup truck and the driverless Cruise Origin shuttle.    …” Read more Hmmmm…Seems somewhat disconcerting to make Hummers and Driverless cars in same factory.  I guess opposites do attract.  Alain

  Lidar used to cost $75,000—here’s how Apple brought it to the iPhone 

T. Lee, Oct. 15, “At Tuesday’s unveiling of the iPhone 12, Apple touted the capabilities of its new lidar sensor. Apple says lidar will enhance the iPhone’s camera by allowing more rapid focus, especially in low-light situations. And it may enable the creation of a new generation of sophisticated augmented reality apps.

Tuesday’s presentation offered little detail about how the iPhone’s lidar actually works, but this isn’t Apple’s first device with lidar. Apple first introduced the technology with the refreshed iPad in March. And while no one has done a teardown of the iPhone 12 yet, we can learn a lot from recent iPad teardowns….   ”  Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  The first GPS receivers also cost about that much.  You’ve got to love Moore’s Law!  Alain

  Monday Motorbikes Presidio unveiled as latest affordable electric moped

M. Toll, Oct. 14, “… But the Monday Motorbikes Presidio seems to strike a balance in performance and price. The components seem definitely middle of the road, which helps prevent the price from creeping up too high.

And with multiple models ranging from $1,499 to $4,500, Monday Motorbikes has now expanded their lineup to offer electric mopeds for a wide range of riders and budgets….”  Read more Hmmmm…  All images with no helmets and no masks.  Totally irresponsible.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Dec. 8 through Dec. 10, 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



Tesla’s Autopilot May Crash Due to ‘Phantom’ Flickering Lights

Jamie P., Oct. 15, “…” Read more Hmmmm… Random flickering lights may make me crash when I’m driving.  And I might even stop if a bilboard has a stop sign on it.  Don’t these people have anyting better to do?  Tricking and Scaming computers and humans is trivial. Look at how easy it has been tricking us into clicking his article.  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

Postponed, to be Virtual, Evening Dec. 8 -> Dec.10.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side