Friday, January 08, 2021
1st edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter


  Automatic braking is now on most new cars. But not GM or Fiat Chrysler vehicles

C. Isidore, Dec 17, “Automatic braking, once a feature available exclusively to high-end cars, is becoming common across the industry, according to analysis from Consumer Reports and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

But the industry has some notable exceptions, including General Motors (GM) and Fiat Chrysler (FCAU), which badly trail rivals in offering automatic braking as standard equipment, according to the safety groups.
Automatic braking uses sensors to apply brakes when a vehicle ahead is stopped, and the car’s onboard computer can avoid or lessen the impact of an accident. It’s an increasingly popular feature with car buyers. Many automakers are emphasizing the feature in their advertising and sales pitches.
Four higher-end brands already had the feature on 99% or better of their vehicles before this past year: Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo and Tesla (TSLA).
Six more have the feature on at least 96% of the vehicles they sold in the United States between September 2019 and September 2020: BMW, Hyundai, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota (TM) and Volkswagen (VLKAF). Three more automakers — Ford (F), Honda (HMC) and Nissan (NSANF), had automatic braking on more than 90% of their US vehicles…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm… Set up for the 3rd session of the SDC Summit. Alain

   SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 193 Zoom-Cast Episode 193  w/Bobby Hambrick, AutonomousStuff

F. Fishkin, Jan. 8, “Bobby Hambrick started AutuonomouStuff in a barn in Morton, Illinois….and has pioneered much of the technology moving the autonomous industry forward, now as part of Hexagon. Bobby joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin to look back and look ahead. Plus…Apple, Hyundai, Waymo, Tesla and more! ”  Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

    4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCars Summit

3rd Live Episode on Zoom

The SmartDrivingCars We Can Buy Today

What an Automated Driver Assistance System Can and Cannot Do

noon ET, Thursday, Jan 14

Video Summary of 1st Session  Setting the Stage

   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.

  Waymo says it’s ditching the term ‘self-driving’ in dig at Tesla

A. Hawkins, Jan. 6, “Waymo is saying so long to “self-driving.”  The Google sister company says it is through using the term “self-driving cars” to describe its fleet of autonomous vehicles. And it is subtly pointing fingers at Elon Musk’s Tesla as the reason why.

Waymo says it is committing to “using more deliberate language” in its marketing, educational, and promotional materials going forward. This means the company will no longer refer to its vehicles as “self-driving,” Waymo says. For example, the company is changing the name of its three-year-old public education campaign from “Let’s Talk Self-Driving” to “Let’s Talk Autonomous Driving.”…”  Read more Hmmmm…  Certainly, “Self-driving”, is not the right term for Waymo, since they are intent on replacing the human driver with its technology stack; whereas, Tesla sells its cars to human drivers, so except for vanity, the human driver will always be an integral part of a Tesla.  No Tesla owner is ever going to accept the responsibility that their Tesla will safely chauffeur someone else..  Insurance premiums for such activities will be enormous and Elon, as the richest man in the world, isn’t rich enough, nor is he stupid enough, to accept He doesn’t need to because the fine print says the owner i responsible and must remain vigilant. 


The question for Waymo: Is Autonomous Driving the right term?  it sounds good, it is nebulous and, unlike “Driverless”, it doesn’t focus on the negative.  So, just like “Google” is a nebulous word that has evolved to take on the fundamental meaning of the what & how Google does best, so may “autonomous” evolve to mean the what & how Waymo does best.  Alain

  AutonomouStuff December 2020 News: Letter from Chief Autonomous Officer Bobby Hambrick

Dec. 28, “As the founder of AutonomouStuff and the Chief Autonomous Officer of Hexagon’s Autonomy and Positioning division, I am honored to take part in one of the most invigorating challenges undertaken by mankind. It’s also incredibly humbling to witness firsthand the scale of the task and the ingenuity unleashed to solve it. …”  Read more Hmmmm…  Bobby, congratulations on faring well in 2020.  All the best for 2021! Alain

From Space to Personal Rapid Transit – Part 2 of a Conversation with Dr. Kornhauser

K. Pyle, Dec. 21, “For those old enough to view it on television, the July 20th, 1969 landing of Apollo 11 on the moon is a “once in a lifetime moment.” Relatively few people were at the actual launch, but, as we learn in the above interview, Dr. Alain Kornhauser was able to share the moment with his parents at Cape Kennedy.

Kornhauser’s Ph.D. dissertation, Optimal Astronautical Guidance, was foundational in understanding trajectory and rendezvous points for the Apollo program. The moon was just the beginning, as the goal was Mars (hard not to think of Elon Musk). Unfortunately, for an aerospace major, like Kornhauser, funding for space travel had dried up by the time he received his Ph.D…..” Read more  Hmmmm… We had a nice conversation.  Thank you Ken.  Alain

  Rolling out driverless cars is ‘extraordinary grind’, says Waymo boss

P. McGeee, Jan. 4, “… “It’s an extraordinary grind,” said John Krafcik, Waymo chief executive, in an interview with the Financial Times. “I would say it’s a bigger challenge than launching a rocket and putting it in orbit around the Earth . . . because it has to be done safely over and over and over again.”

Gone is the optimism of just a couple of years ago. In March 2018, Waymo confidently forecast that “up to 20,000” electric Jaguars “will be built in the first two years of production and be available for riders of Waymo’s driverless service, serving a potential 1m trips per day”.

Two months later, it added that “up to 62,000” Chrysler minivans would join its driverless fleet, “starting in late 2018”.

Today, there is little sign that any of these vehicles have been ordered and Waymo’s official fleet size remains just 600….

Long-term, he remained adamant the technology will disrupt personal car ownership and had no hesitation forecasting that children born today will have little reason to learn how to drive….”  Read more  Hmmmm… A very good read.  Alain

  Hyundai stock soars on news of Apple car partnership, report says

K. Hyatt, Jan. 7, “Hyundai Motor’s stock prices are marching upward by as much as 17.5 percent, according to a report published Thursday by Reuters.

The increase is likely due to the announcement of a partnership between the South Korean automaker and Apple to develop the Apple car, aka Project Titan. Specifically, it’s said that Hyundai will be leading the battery design for the electric vehicle….” Read more  Hmmmm… Maybe Apple will try to re-invent the car? Alain

  Elon Musk is the world’s richest person

T. Lee, Jan. 7, “Elon Musk has become the world’s richest man, surpassing previous record-holder Jeff Bezos, according to CNBC. Musk is now worth more than $180 billion.

Musk’s rising wealth reflects the meteoric rise of Tesla’s stock. The company’s share price closed at $816 on Thursday, up almost 8 percent for the day. That share price values Tesla at almost $800 billion—several times more than any other car company.

CNBC says that Musk’s rise to become the richest man in the world is the fastest in history. At the start of 2020, just over a year ago, Musk was worth only $27 billion. At the time, Tesla stock traded for less than $100 (adjusting for a 2020 stock split).

The stock increased to more than $700 over the course of 2020. Then, in the first week of 2021, it rose above $800…..”  Read more Hmmmm… Wow!!! Alain

  Amazon just bought a bunch of used commercial jets for the first time

A. Hawkins, Jan. 5, “Amazon announced it purchased 11 used Boeing 767-300 jets from Delta and WestJet, a first for the e-commerce giant. The company has been steadily building up its air cargo capacity over the years through leasing agreements, but this is the first time Amazon has ever owned its own aircraft.

The deal comes as airplane prices have dropped due to the coronavirus pandemic. Airlines have been rushing to shrink their fleets as passenger demand plummets amid lockdown orders across the globe. The purchases include seven aircraft from Delta and four aircraft from WestJet, which will join Amazon’s network by 2022, the company says.”…”  Read more Hmmmm…  Why not.  It’s not as if they are going out of business anytime soon.  Alain

  Tesla delivers nearly 500,000 vehicles in 2020

K. Korosec, Jan. 2, “Tesla delivered 499,550 vehicles in 2020, a 36% increase over the previous year and just a few hundred short of hitting an historic and long-awaited milestone that CEO Elon Musk has been targeting for more than five years.

Tesla  reported Saturday that it produced 509,737 electric vehicles in 2020. …” Read more Hmmmm… Impressive.  Even more impressive is that Tesla captured 16% of the world market of EV sales in November 2020 See next article).  Alain

EV Company News For The Month Of December 2020

M. Bohlsen, Dec. 31, “December saw November electric car sales hit many “incredible new records,” including a record month for China, Europe, and global sales. Wow!

Western and Northern Europe are leading the world with the EV disruption in full force. In November France achieved 15% electric car market share, Germany achieved 21%, Netherlands 30%, Sweden 37%, and Norway a staggering 80% market share. China hit 8.6% share. Wow!

With regards to EV companies it appears that many companies are now accelerating their EV plans as they see Tesla surge ahead with their EV plans for 20 million EVs pa by 2030 and a US$25,000 electric car by about late 2023. H2 2020 looks like being the start of the real EV boom that should last for at least a decade!…” Read more Hmmmm… Beginning to be Impressive. Alain

Actual fuel economy of cars and light trucks: 1966-2019

M. Sivak, Jan. 7, “This is the latest of my occasional updates on long-term trends in U.S. vehicle fuel economy. Specifically, this study examines actual fuel economy of cars and light trucks (pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans) from 1966 through 2019. (My previous update included data through 2017.)

Calculated vehicle fuel economy is available going back to 1923. However, the starting year of this analysis is 1966 because (1) for 1923 through 1935, fuel-economy information is available only for the entire fleet of all vehicles, and (2) from 1936 through 1965, light trucks were included with other trucks in the relevant statistics….”   Read more  Hmmmm… Given from where we came, reaching an actual fleet fuel economy above 22 mpg is pretty spectacular.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  3rd Episode at noon on Jan. 14, 2021 TO BE followed by 13 more weekly episodes  through to April15, 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

4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCars Summit

3rd Live Episode on Zoom

The SmartDrivingCars We Can Buy Today

What an Automated Driver Assistance System Can and Cannot Do

noon ET, Thursday, Jan 14

Video Summary of 1st Session  Setting the Stage

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side