Friday, November 20, 2020
48th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Active Driving Assistance Systems: Test Results and Design Recommendations

Staff, Nov. 2020, “In line with Consumer Reports’ mission to create a fair, safe, and consumer-driven marketplace, this report has been written for the industry to provide more explanation and guidance on the state of Active Driving Assistance systems based on our recent evaluation. While the systems are not equally capable, and may be designed with different usage intentions, CR’s evaluation focused on real-world driving experience of consumers, keeping safety at the forefront. Our goals:

● Support the creation of government policies and company practices to ensure that innovation and safety go hand-in-hand
● Use consumer data to inform the industry of best-practices to aid in development
● Influence the safe design, testing, and deployment of systems consumers will like and use
● Advocate for transparency and clarity in marketing and consumer education of systems

In October 2020, Consumer Reports published ratings of Active Driving Assistance Systems, defined as systems that allow the driver to use Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) to simultaneously control both the speed and steering of the vehicle. An industry webinar was also held….”  Read more Hmmmm…. A MUST read along with “Cadillac’s Super Cruise Outperforms Other Driving Assistance Systems“.  Most unfortunately, CR has not picked up on my main complaint about ACC:  Tapping of the brakes by the driver turns off the ACC!  This is BAD!!!  Even the hardest, let alone the slightest, engagement of the brakes should NOT turn off the ACC. It should ONLY disengage the acceleration/throttle function of the ACC! 


Tapping of the brakes by the driver is an indication that the driver no longer wishes to accelerate, NOT that the driver no longer wishes to slow down or stop.  So why do these systems turn off ACC (which disengage both the acceleration and deceleration functions, rather than just turning off the acceleration/throttle function. (I think that I actually know why… it is an SAE “recommendation”.  Just another reason why I don’t like the SAE!)  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 185  w/Dan Smith,

F. Fishkin, Nov 20, “Only Waymo has been transporting customers in driverless vehicles without a safety monitor on board.   What goes into that kind of decision?   Waymo Assistant General Counsel Dan Smith joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin in this special edition of Smart Driving Cars.”  Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars  Zoom-Cast Episode 185  w/Dan Smith,

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 185...  Alain 

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 184  w/Marjory Blumenthal,

F. Fishkin, Nov 20, “So when are driverless vehicles safe enough to be deployed? Senior Rand Corporation policy researcher Marjory Blumenthal joins Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin to examine her latest report and more.”  Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars  Zoom-Cast Episode 184  w/Marjory Blumenthal,

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 184...  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.

  Robotaxi companies get the green light to charge for rides in California

K. Korosec, Nov 19, “Companies that launch robotaxi services in California will be able to charge for and offer shared driverless rides as long as they can navigate a new government approval process that some in the industry argues adds unnecessary bureaucracy that could delay deployments by more than two years.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved Thursday two new programs to allow permitted companies to provide and charge for shared rides in autonomous vehicles.

The nascent automated vehicle technology industry has lobbied the CPUC for months to consider a rule change that would allow for operators to charge a fare and offer shared rides in driverless vehicles. The decision was widely cheered with some cautionary caveats….”  Read more Hmmmm… This is really big.  The CPUC has been the hold up in California by not even having a mechnism in place to apply for permission.  This at least lets Waymo, et. al., apply. See also R. Mitchell, “Robotaxi companies can now win approval to operate in California” Alain

  U.S. agency opens regulatory proceeding to ensure self-driving car safety

Staff, Nov. 19, “U.S. auto safety regulators said Thursday they are opening a formal regulatory proceeding that could eventually result in the adoption of new safety standards for autonomous vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)said it was issuing an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to get public input on how to ensure the safety of future self-driving vehicles. Companies like General Motors Co , Alphabet Inc’s Waymo and Tesla Inc are working on vehicles that can drive themselves.

“This rulemaking will help address legitimate public concerns about safety, security and privacy without hampering innovation in the development of automated driving systems,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in a statement…..”  Read more Hmmmm… Must read the details at …  DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 49 CFR Part 571, [Docket No. NHTSA-2020-0106], RIN 2127-AM15,  Framework for Automated Driving System Safety  It is VERY IMPORTANT that NHTSA establish separate Safety Standard for Automated Driving Systems for consumer products (owned/maintained/operated by individuals)  that may well be different than those owned/maintained/operated by an entity delivering mobility to the general public (what so might call a “transit company”).   Safety is all about: who is responsible for what.  As we have witnessed over more than 100 years of conventional cars that are owned/maintained/operated by individuals, those individuals have a propensity to misbehave way too often and end up being the source of the problem.  It may well be impossible to make AVs “Safe Enough” if they are placed in the hands of consumers, but not so if limited to responsible fleet mobility entities.   See also   U.S. lays groundwork for self-driving car standards Alain

  Velodyne Lidar Announces Multi-Year Sales Agreement With Local Motors

Staff, Nov. 19, “Velodyne Lidar, Inc. (Nasdaq: VLDR) today announced a multi-year sales agreement with Local Motors, a leading digital vehicle manufacturer that develops sustainable mobility solutions to empower communities around the world. Local Motors uses Velodyne’s lidar sensors to enable safe, reliable operation of Olli, the company’s 3D-printed, electric, self-driving shuttle.  This press release features multimedia….” Read more Hmmmm…Congratulations Jay.  Alain

  S&P 500 adds Tesla, sending stock price soaring

T. Lee, Nov. 17,  “Tesla will finally be added to the S&P 500 Index, the committee responsible for the index announced after markets closed on Monday. The change will take effect on December 21.  Tesla’s stock price jumped 13 percent in after-hours trading on Monday. As I write this just before noon on Tuesday, Tesla’s stock has given back some of those gains and is up about 7 percent from Monday’s close.

People have trillions of dollars in index funds that track the S&P 500 index. This means that when a stock is added to the S&P 500, fund managers have to add it to their portfolios, pushing up the stock price……”   Read more Hmmmm… “Elon Musk set to be world’s third-richest person as Tesla shares soar“!   Alain

  GM to leverage driver data as it jumps back into the insurance business

K. Korosec, Nov 18, “General Motors is launching an insurance service, returning to a business that it abandoned more than a decade ago, but this time more in step with the connected-car era.

The service, called On Star Insurance, will offer bundled auto, home and renters’ insurance, starting this year with GM employees in Arizona. GM’s new insurance agency, OnStar Insurance Services, will be the exclusive agent for OnStar Insurance. Homesite Insurance Group, an affiliate of American Family Insurance, will underwrite the program…..”  Read more Hmmmm… The better reason for GM to get back into the insurance business is that GM knows better and earlier how much better GM cars are at collision avoidance than traditional insurance actuaries.  Thus they can better price their insurance taking into account the expected liabilities due to expected reductions in collisions for individual driver risk category in GM cars.  Finally, insurance rates may incentivize a bad driver to buy a GM car with really good Automated Driver Assistance features and GM may finally make those features so that bad drivers that they insure can’t turn them off.  Alain

Green Car Congress  Monthly changes in key transportation indexes

M. Sivak, Nov. 20 “The changes are in percent relative to the corresponding month in 2019. They are adjusted for both population and 2020 being a leap year (all but price of gasoline) and for inflation (price of gasoline)…. ”  Read more Hmmmm…Very interesting.  Alain

  Hyundai-backed Motional to launch fully driverless cars in Las Vegas

A. Hawkinns, Nov. 17, “Motional, the self-driving car operator backed by Hyundai and Aptiv, has received the green light to roll out a test fleet of fully driverless cars in Las Vegas. The state of Nevada has granted the company permission to operate its autonomous vehicles without a human safety driver behind the wheel.

Currently, only a small handful of AV operators have actually deployed fully driverless vehicles, also known as Level 4 autonomous vehicles, on public roads. Waymo, the self-driving unit of Alphabet, has been operating its Level 4 vehicles in the suburbs outside of Phoenix for several years now, and it recently began offering rides to paying customers.  …” Read more Hmmmm… So far ONLY Waymo has done it anywhere, all others, including this one, are still in the “gonna do it” stage.  It is a BIG deal to drop the “gonna” and jump from “gonna do it” to “doing it”.  Alain

  Nikola soars as clueless investors mistake month-old GM website for new

T. Lee, Nov. 18, “….”  Read more Hmmmm… Is there a difference between Nikola & BitCoin…

  Bitcoin price soars above $18,000, the highest level since 2017

T. Lee, Nov. 18, “….”  Read more Hmmmm… I don’t see any.   Crazy!  I guess that is why I’m poor.  Alain

  China built the first electric car designed exclusively for ride-hailing

A. Hawkinns, Nov. 17, “Two of China’s top companies have joined forces to design, develop, and build an electric car for the express purpose of ride-hailing.


The vehicle is an adorable green hatchback called the D1, and it was developed by Didi Chuxing, the top ride-hailing company in China that notoriously defeated Uber in 2016, and BYD, one of the leading electric vehicle manufacturers. The D1 will have a range of 418 km (260 miles) as judged by NEDC (New European Driving Cycle). They also explained some of the more interesting design touches that make this vehicle particularly well-suited for app-based ride-hailing..  …” Read more Hmmmm… I guess this is an important milestone; however, this is not designed as an autonomousTaxi.  Alain

   Safe Enough:  Approaches to Assessing Acceptable Safety for Automated Vehicles

Marjory Blumenthal, November, 2020,  “Automated vehicles (AVs) are coming to America’s roadways. They are not coming as quickly as was forecast five years ago—partly because the people developing them now have a clearer understanding of how difficult it is to make them safe—but incremental progress continues to be made in improving AV safety. This progress adds urgency to the need to understand when AVs can be considered acceptably safe—that is, safe enough to operate on public roads without the oversight of a human, professional safety driver.
In this report, we examine different approaches for appraising whether AVs are acceptably safe. Our analysis draws from three data sources: interviews with a diverse group of AV stakeholders, a survey of the general public, and a review of relevant literature. We also consider areas of agreement and disagreement among different groups of stakeholders about the value of different approaches. Finally, we examine the importance of communicating to public audiences about AV safety.

Approaches to Assessing AV Safety

We developed the following categorization of approaches for assessing AV safety:
• safety as a measurement
• safety as a process
• safety as a threshold. …

Read more Hmmmm…. See ZoomCast 184 or PodCast 184.   This is a most laudable report prepared by one of the most respect institutions. The “Approaches” are totally solid; however, what doesn’t seem to be addressed, (and my most sincere apologies if I missed it,) is the decision process that the entity, that will be held responsible should something bad happen (which will almost assuredly happen, since nothing is perfectly safe), will need to go through to trade off the the expected benefits against the expected fallout in order to finally decide to pull the driver.   

To me, “the buck” stops with the individual(s) that will reap the net benefits of driverless operation.  Without those benefits, there is no incentive to forgo the driver.   That action reaps the rewards and unleashes the risks of driverless.   Those risks need to be fully embraced by those capturing the benefits.  The key question centers on how small do the risks need to become in order for the benefits to be viewed as worth removing the driver.  This is fundamental decision science.  It clearly points out that any approach to safety MUST also include a serious discussion of the benefits side.  This report seems to only look at one side of the process; the risks,   Moreover, it doesn’t seem to fully address the human entities that will eventually bear the responsibility of implementation of these safety approaches.   Alain

  Boeing 737 Max Is Cleared by F.A.A. to Fly Again

N. Chokshi. Nov. 18, “The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday cleared the way for Boeing’s 737 Max to resume flying, 20 months after it was grounded following two fatal crashes blamed on faulty software and a host of company and government failures.

The decision ends a devastating saga for Boeing, which had predicted billions of dollars in losses stemming from the Max crisis even before the coronavirus pandemic dealt a ruinous blow to global aviation. The agency’s chief, Stephen Dickson, signed an order Wednesday formally lifting the grounding….”  Read more Hmmmm…. Good news!  But bad news… Don’t need them nor want to take delivery on any new ones.  No customers wanting to fly on any airplanes.  Can’t these just go away for a little while longer?  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until  1st Episode at noon on Dec. 10, 2020  and followed by 14 more weekly episodes  through to March 18, 2021.  Each episode starting Live on Zoom @ noon Eastern (Princeton Time) and lasting for 1.5 hours or until Discussion with audience ends. 

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

The Autonomous Vehicle Policy Forum

November 17 & 18


4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Postponed, to be a Virtual Series

1st Live Episode noon ET Thursday, Dec.10

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side