Friday, February 26, 2021
8th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  March 2021 Issue

M. Sena, Feb 23, ” … There is no way to test a car virtually…

OEMs are still learning that that today’s cars are not your father’s Oldsmobile. 
Vehicle connectivity is not something that is tacked onto a car, like a battery-operated portable TOMTOM or GARMIN (or CoPilot…Michael, How could you forget?… 😁)…navigation system….

Driving Neat: Can U.S. Take Its Cars Without ICE?…”  Read more  Hmmmm… Plus much much more.  Enjoy!!! Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 201, Zoom-Cast Episode 201 w/Michael Sena, Publisher of The Dispatcher

F. Fishkin, Feb. 262, “Smarter cars need smarter assembly…and location matters.   The Dispatcher publisher Michael Sena joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for a look at that, politics, climate and carmakers…plus Tesla, Velodyne, Foxconn and more..” Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 200, Zoom-Cast Episode 200 w/Edwin Olsen, CEO, May Mobility

F. Fishkin, Feb. 22, “How May Mobility is building confidence in autonomous transportation and creating a road map for growth through the pandemic and beyond.   CEO and co-founder Edwin Olson 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


4th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit

10th Live Episode: Live on Zoom

Incentivizing Through Insurance

The Role of Insurance in Encouraging the Purchase of Safely-driven Cars and Enabling the Deployment of Driverless Cars

noon ET, Thursday, March 4

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.

  Level 3 – The Tech Is Here, but the Problem Is Us

K. Pyle, Feb. 27, “For consumers, SAE Level 3 automation could be like “having their cake and eating it too” in that they can either have a traditional hands-on driving experience or sit back and let a Robo-chauffeur lead them on their journey. At the same time, visions of new revenue opportunities associated with Level 3 excite and are prodding car manufacturers to develop the associated hardware and software. With that explanation of the potential benefits, Princeton’s Dr. Alain Kornhauser set the stage for the latest Smart Driving Car Summit Session, Can Level 3 Be Delivered?.

Talking About the Vehicles People Can Buy

The scope of the panel is bound by only those things consumers can buy, not things like Robo-taxis. Or, as panel moderator, Russell Shields, President and CEO RoadDB, calls them SPVs (Series Production Vehicles) with Highly Automated Driving (HAD) that have eyes-off capabilities (which can include products designated Level 2+ by the manufacturer). The major difference between Level 3 and 4 is that both Level 4 never relies on a human to take over in an edge case situation (e.g. the car needs help). The Level 4 car would take a minimum-risk maneuver……” Read more  Hmmmm…Ken, extremely nice summary. Thank you. Alain


Ken Pyle Session Summaries of 4th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit:
8th Session    2/18/21  Who Will Build, Sell and Maintain Driverless Cars?

    Michael Sena’s Slides, Glenn Mercer Slides

7th Session    2/11/21  Finally Doing It
6th Session    2/ 4/21   Safe Enough in the Operational Design Domain
5th Session    1/28/21   At the Tipping Point
4th Session    1/21/21  Why Customers are Buying Them

3rd Session    1/14/21  The SmartDrivingCars We Can Buy Today
2nd Session   1/ 7/21  A Look into the Future
1st Session: 12/17/20  Setting the Stage

  Professors create double sided disc earth map to fix inaccuracies

  F. Fishkin. 23, “Listen to this interviewWatch this interview.  ”  Read more  Hmmmm…Very nice!! Alain

  LIDAR maker Velodyne boots its founder after an investigation into ‘inappropriate’ behavior

A. Hawkins, Feb. 22, “Velodyne, which makes LIDAR sensors crucial for the operation of autonomous vehicles, has removed its founder, David Hall, as chair of the company’s board following an investigation, Reuters reports. Hall’s wife, Marta Thoma Hall, has also stepped down as chief marketing officer.

The investigation, which started in December 2020, concluded that the Halls “each behaved inappropriately with regard to Board and Company processes, and failed to operate with respect, honesty, integrity, and candor in their dealings with Company officers and directors,” the company said in a statement. …

Last summer, Velodyne became the latest mobility technology company to go public via a reverse merger, or SPAC. The company struck a deal to merge with special purpose acquisition company Graf Industrial Corp., with a market value of $1.8 billion.”  Read more  Ouch!!!  I really like and respect David and Marta.  Not surprising that pioneering entrepreneurs wouldn’t blend happily with a SPAC.  What a shame.  Alain

  Wabtec believes full automation for railroads is within reach

A. Litvak, Feb. 22, “At the end of 2020, the U.S. rail system reached a milestone decades in the making and seeded by technology developed at North Shore-based Wabtec Corp….

But safety isn’t the only thing that can be improved by crunching this much data all the time. Fuel savings, equipment maintenance and scheduling can — and already do — benefit from technology developed for positive train control.

With enough sensors and computing power, it may be possible to remove humans from the equation within the next decade, Mr. Nalin predicted.

In fact, full automation is the top goal of a technology ladder that Wabtec has made part of its investor presentation. At the bottom is the foundation on which it all rests: positive train control, or PTC…

The Federal Railroad Administration doesn’t mandate a two-person crew in the cab of a train. When legislation was introduced to require that, the American Association of Railroad opposed it, arguing it would stifle innovation.

Crew size has traditionally been a topic for collective bargaining negotiations, Mr. Rush said….”  Read more  Hmmmm…   At some point both Unions and RR CEOs will realize that the service opportunities available from many frequent small consists between many rail locations employs more members and yields higher profits than what was once the norm when a market existed to run unit-coal-trains long distances, some of which ran lloaded downhill.  Unfortunately, those days are numbered and railroads may well need to pivot to survive.  One potential pivot is to frequent very short train services that can pay for themselves only if they are engineer-less.  There may well be such a high demand for such services that employment throughout the railroad industry would actually increase while the profitability of railroads would be sustained.  What a Country! Alain

  Toyota Develops Packaged Fuel Cell System Module to Promote the Hydrogen Utilization toward the Achievement of Carbon Neutrality

Press release, Feb 26, “Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) has developed a product that packages a fuel cell (FC) system into a compact module and plans to begin selling it in the spring of 2021 or later. The new module will be easily utilized by companies that are developing and manufacturing FC products for wide variety of applications, including mobility such as trucks, buses, trains and ships, as well as stationary generators (referred to hereafter as “FC product companies”)….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Notice, product list doesn’t include cars… It isn’t small.  That’s OK, need to start somewhere. Alain

  Trends in Socioeconomic Inequalities in Motor Vehicle Accident Deaths in the  United States, 1995–2010

S. Harper, April 7, 2015, “…Although overall MVA death rates declined during this period, socioeconomic differences in MVA mortality have persisted or worsened over time. … ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Very relevant  Alain

   Apple supplier Foxconn reaches tentative agreement to build Fisker’s next electric car

K. Karosec, Feb. 24, “Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Group has reached a tentative agreement with electric vehicle startup-turned-SPAC Fisker to develop and eventually manufacture an EV that will be sold in North America, Europe, China and India.

Fisker and Foxconn said Wednesday that a memorandum of understanding agreement has been signed. Discussions between the two companies will continue with the expectation that a formal partnership agreement will be reached during the second quarter of this year. …”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Very interesting.   Alain

  An Extraordinarily Ordinary Moment: Motional Operates Driverless Vehicles on Public Roads

K. Iagnemma, Feb, 22, “An Extraordinarily Ordinary Moment: Motional Operates Driverless Vehicles on Public Roads…”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Maybe don’t bother Reading more…

Most unfortunately, what Karl doesn’t write here is extraordinary. NOT what he claims to have done operating cars with automated driving technology on public roads.  What he doesn’t write is that there were attendants in each ready to “disengage” the automated driver should something go wrong or seem on the verge of going wrong.  Many have operated and continue to operate “Driverless vehicles on public roads” in this manner (with well-trained professional attendants on-board overseeing the operation). 

Consequently, the only thing “Extraordinary” about this is the deliberate misrepresentation of Motional’s Operation in Las Vegas. 

Had Motional really operated without on-board attendants, Karl would have praised the achievement as unleashing the opportunity to provide high-quality affordable mobility to all who live in Las Vegas and elsewhere. 

Rather he promotes Safety (and doesn’t do that very well.  Driverless technology can dramatically reduce human misbehavior.)

Driverless technology will struggle to be better than a well-trained, professional driver that strictly adheres to the rules of the road.  It has likely no chance of being safer than driverless technology overseen by an alert well-trained professional driver.

Un-supervised driverless technology can be “extraordinary” in delivering is high-quality, affordable mobility to “ordinary” people.  Once Karl does this on some public roads then it will really be worth Reading more

Sorry to be so harsh, but we don’t need another “Elon Musk” egregiously over-representing the capabilities of their consumer products for their own personal gain.  See also Andrew Hawkin’s take and Timothy Lee’s on this. Alain

  Automated Machine Learning (AutoML) Is Hot In AI, But Getting A Cooler Reception For Self-Driving Cars

L. Elliot,Feb 23, “Suppose you could develop an AI application without having to lift a finger.

To some degree that is the goal of Automated Machine Learning, known as AutoML, which consists of an automated means to build on your behalf a Machine Learning application, requiring minimal by-hand effort on your part.”  …  Hopefully that isn’t the goal for the obvious reasons unless a free lunch comes with it…

moving along… “… Perhaps in college, you had to do a multiple regression”  … If AutoML is like this, then we are really in trouble!…”

… An AI application based on a sour or poorly crafted ML core can contain inherent biases”…  Not only do we all know with any process:  Garbage in yields Garbage out, and a garbageProcess yields Garbage with Flawless in and Garbage  square with Garbage in.”  …

…Understanding The Levels Of Self-Driving Cars….  There is not yet a true self-driving car at Level 5, which we don’t yet even know if this will be possible to achieve, and nor how long it will take to get there..” ..  Perfect (or close enough… of course we don’t yet have something that we don’t know is possible.)… “.  Read more  Hmmmm…   All these terms… Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, AutoML are all self-aggrandizing. There is No AI, Machines don’t learn and thoughts of them learning all by themselves is preposterous.  All of this is really serious and has the opportunity to deliver real value to society.  It is really hard to do any of this well, let alone really well.  I’m of the opinion that tossing these terms around doesn’t help, except our own narcissistic needs.  Alain

  Mobileye teams up with French firms to develop self-driving shuttles by 2023

S. Solomon, Feb. 25, “Fleets of autonomous 16-passenger vehicles for public transportation to roll out first in France, then rest of Europe, then beyond.

Intel Corp’s Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based maker of self-driving technologies, has set up a strategic collaboration with two French-based firms to jointly develop and deploy commercial autonomous shuttles for public transportation services in Europe in 2023 and then globally.

The agreement is with France’s Transdev Autonomous Transport System (ATS), part of the Transdev Group, a private-sector public-transport operator, and the Lohr Group, a maker of car-transport and other vehicles. The companies will integrate Mobileye’s self-driving system into the i-Cristal electric shuttle, manufactured by Lohr Group, with plans to integrate it into public transportation services powered by fleets of self-driving shuttles across the globe, starting in Europe….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Good luck!!!  16 passenger … chances these will be driverless/attendantless is “zero-to-none”.  Likely relegated to “private facilities/roads, thus unlikely to gain any traction.  Sounds like another unaffordable public mobility system for a mostly non-existent market.  Alain

  Buttigieg sets goals for electric, automated freight vehicles

A. Gangitano,  Feb. 17, “….Buttigieg’s plans for automated and electric commercial vehicles come on the heels of a report from his predecessor, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who released a National Freight Strategic Plan in September that included supporting the development and adoption of automation and connectivity.

“There are significant technological and institutional barriers to the widespread adoption of highly automated trucks,” the plan said.

But proponents say that the costs to overcoming those barriers are outweighed by enhanced safety on the other end….”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Amazing how we’ve evolved from “Connected road vehicles”, to “Connected & Automated  road vehicles”  to “Automated and Electric road vehicles”.  Note: “Connected” has disappeared.   Alain

  Chevrolet Will Pay The Level 2 Installation Cost For Bolt EV and Bolt EUV Customers

T. Montgomery, Feb 15, “From now through June, Chevrolet will cover the basic installation costs of level 2 home charging equipment for new Bolt EV and Bolt EUV customers.

That’s a nice perk, and not only helps out financially but also takes away one potential pain point in purchasing your first EV. That’s figuring out what you need to do at home to get your garage ready to charge the vehicle.

Chevrolet, through its partner Qmerit, will install a NEMA 14-50 outlet and supply all of the materials including a new 40-amp circuit breaker. The one caveat is this is only for what is determined a “standard installation”, and additional costs could be the customer’s responsibility if the installation is more difficult than normal. …”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting!! Alain

 Analysis: Will intelligent roads finally move self-driving cars into fast lane?

W. Trinkwon, Feb 22, “…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  NO!!!  Don’t bother reading this.  Automated highways were wrong in 1939, wrong again i the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. 

Call it the “Kornhauser Law of Transportation” or whatever you want to call it… “Intelligence” needs to be in the vehicles.  The ways (roadways in this case) need to be a simple, “dumb” and as cheap as possible to build and maintain… consider air transportation… air is the “way”, consider maritime… water is the “way”, consider railroads… A couple of pieces of metal, some wood and gravel is the “way”, consider pipelines, a pipe is the “way”, and finally roadways..  a reasonably smooth hard surface with some paint is the “way”.  We can barely afford o keep the hard surface somewhat smooth and the paint situation is really bad.  There is zero money available to pay for and maintain a lot of gizmos along it to make it “intelligent”.  Note above, the word “connected” seems to have disappeared from the Washington lexicon.  We were closer qt the 1939 World’s Fair.  Alain

   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  10th Episode at noon on March 4, 2021 TO BE followed by 8 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  SmartDrivingCar Summit

10th Live Episode: Live on Zoom

Incentivizing Through Insurance

The Role of Insurance in Encouraging the Purchase of Safely-driven Cars and Enabling the Deployment of Driverless Cars

noon ET, Thursday, March 4

Video Summary of 1st Session:  Setting the Stage



On the More Technical Side

K. Kockelman’s AV Research Group at U of Texas