Saturday, May 1, 2021
17th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  May 2021 Issue: To Ban or Not to Ban: Should That Be the Question?

M. Sena, May 1, ” They banned spray cans with chloro-fluorocarbons, didn’t they? Why not ICE?
TAKING THE PLEDGE to stop selling cars with internalcombustion engines (ICE). That’s what cities and states and provinces and countries are doing all around the world. It’s become a competition: Who will ban them
sooner and who are the most credible in making their bans stick? Gas stations and car repair workshops like Pee Wee’s Texaco Service Center pictured left are already relics of a bygone era. How long will it take for gas pumps to disappear?…”  Read more  Hmmmm… Another great issue discussed in Pod/Zoom-Cast Episodes 211 below.  As well as two excellent articles on V2X and the continuing discussions about spectrum allocation, DSRC and Cellular V2x.  Read these two sections thoroughly and carefully.  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 211, Zoom-Cast Episode 211  w/ Michael Sena, Editor of The Dispatcher

F. Fishkin, May 1 , “There’s plenty of combustion around the issue of banning internal combustion engines (ICE). Consultant and The Dispatcher publisher Michael Sena joins us for a look at what makes sense…and what doesn’t. Plus #Tesla, #Toyota, #Volkswagen, #Baidu and progress in Florida. …” Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 210, Zoom-Cast Episode 210  w/Ken Pyle & Louis Aaron’23

F. Fishkin, April 26 , “Passengers at the Las Vegas Convention Center are about to get their first taste of the new underground mobility service from #Elon​ Musk’s The Boring Company.    Princeton student Louis Aaron has been working there and he joins Viodi View Managing Editor Ken Pyle, Princeton’s Alain ..” Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  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.

Get a close look at shuttle system 40 feet beneath the convention center

R. Velotta, April 8, “After construction crews spent months drilling, digging, mucking, paving, lining and electrifying tunnels, representatives of Las Vegas media were invited underground to get their first look at The Boring Co.’s $52.5 million people-mover system Thursday.

Trips through the tunnels are an “only in Las Vegas” experience with LED lighting that cycles through a rainbow of colors from second to second lining the tunnel walls.

Cars have enough clearance in the tunnels that riders can open doors and get out in an emergency.

Drivers hit maximum speeds of about 35 mph on the straightaways of the tunnels. The electric vehicles run silently on the underground paved surfaces. At the ends of the tunnel, the Model X and Model 3 Teslas climb a ramp to reach the surface….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Discussed above in Pod/Zoom-Cast Episodes 210.  Alain

  NJ Transit considers potential alternatives to the Dinky

A. Ciceu, April 28, “The Princeton Dinky, the shortest scheduled commuter rail line in the nation, might have its days numbered. NJ Transit recently commenced a year-long study of the Princeton transit system, with an emphasis on the Princeton Branch transit corridor that unites Princeton with Princeton Junction.

The study’s ultimate objective is to examine potential alternatives for the weathered Dinky in accordance with the transit system’s future population demand and certain planned developments, including the expansion of the University’s campus. In addition to these considerations, emergent modes of transportation are constantly changing the way many people imagine travel.

According to NJ Transit, the avenues for alternative transportation currently under consideration include “a roadway with embedded rail that can support rail and rubber-tired transit vehicles; a stand-alone rail corridor with a parallel roadway for rubber-tired tram and/or bus service” and “a roadway with a guideway that could support a rubber-tired tram and buses.”

Another option, also outlined in the NJ Transit study’s plans, extends the possibility of the Dinky ultimately remaining a fixture of Princeton transit: “A no-build option that continues to use the existing Arrow III cars or similar rail vehicle.”

However, this latter possibility seems unlikely to some involved in the decision-making process because of the desire to implement transit technology that is more accessible and of higher quality than the current Dinky….

“Any future service that .. is more accessible by walk … whether future transit vehicles have rubber tires, steel wheels, magnetic cushions, or something else,” Bottigheimer wrote…”.  Read more  Hmmmm… I offered a guest opinion:

“If the University was really interested in “… more accessible by walk…” it would never have fought so intensely a few years ago to move the Dink to its current location.  It might instead say…”Sorry, what were we thinking??? We’ll put it back where it was.”  A study wouldn’t be needed. 

But no… There is a purpose to this study.  It is the first move in the end-game of the University’s long run “land-grab” of property that is deed-restricted to be used exclusively for transportation purposes. 

The first land-grab moved the Dinky from Blair Arch in order to create a “rail-crossing-less” dormitory complex.  The latest move was to create a rail-crossing-less secondary access road to a parking garage.  The purpose of this study is to finally create an entirely rail-crossing-less campus.  Thus the ultimate land grab. 

In the interest of full disclosure: I am and have been part of an initiative to acquire the Dinky from NJ Transit and operate it in perpetuity starting with this rail equipment.


Alain Kornhauser*71
Half-century+ Princeton Resident and Long time supporter of Save The Dinky.” 

For more information see “Tiger Train: A Community-Based Transit Solution For Princeton Township

   VivaRail: Pop-Up Metro

Press Release, April 2021, “Pop-Up Metro is an initiative intended to expand the size of the rail transit market by allowing metropolitan areas with existing light-density rail freight lines to establish demonstration operations of a rail transit system on a rapid timeline and for the cost that they might otherwise pay for a consulting study.

Pop-Up Metro will lease trains, platforms, battery charging kit and an integration package, including operating and maintenance regimes.

A Pop-Up Metro demonstration operation, based on Vivarail battery trains, is in the process of being established in the USA and will be operational and available to demonstrate proof-of-concept in early 2021.

An additional benefit of Pop-Up Metro is proof-of-market in addition to proof-of-concept, thus substantially reducing the risk of the traditional approach of building the system first and then seeing if the market exists….”Read more  Hmmmm… Affordable approach to do “Proof-of-Market”, going well beyond “Proof-of-Concept”.   Alain

  Pop Up Metro USA Intro 09 2020

H. Posner’77, Sept 13, 2020.  “Creating Value for Light Density Urban Rail Lines”  . See slidesSee video Hmmmm… Simply Brilliant.  Alain

Autonomous vehicle delivery bill drifts through House, next stop — Governor’s desk

K. Hayes, April 30, ” bill that would set the course for driverless delivery in Florida glided through the House Thursday.

The House took up the revised version of the bill (HB 1289) after the Senate hitched on a pair of amendments to the original, House-approved proposal. The bill, which once again passed unanimously in the lower chamber, was presented by sponsor Rep. Fiona McFarland, a Sarasota Republican.

The bill authorizes the operation of low-speed autonomous delivery vehicles as defined by the federal government. The empty vehicles would be limited to roads with speed limits of 45 mph or less, though the vehicles will only move at speeds of 35 mph or less.

The bill also provides minimum insurance requirements — at least $1 million —  the same as those currently in law for autonomous vehicles.

The bill also changes other regulations that don’t make sense for driverless cars. The way St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, the Senate sponsor, described the statute, the driverless vehicles might not even look like regular cars….” Read more  Hmmmm… This is really good legislation.  Congratulations Jeff! Great leadership. Alain

  Mobileye Drive™ Self-Driving System

Press release, April 12, “— Mobileye, an Intel Company, today announced that its self-driving system has reached commercial availability. Purpose-built for the future of autonomy, the full-stack solution —branded Mobileye Drive™ — is designed to drive a range of autonomous vehicle (AV) applications, including robotaxis, consumer passenger cars and commercial delivery vehicles…”  Read more  Hmmmm… There are more buzz words in this press release than Carter has little liver pills. It is very much a “Self-driving” meaning that it requires continuous human oversight and humans capable of taking over without crashing whenever this system is not able to drive safely.  Comfort & Convenience only.

Like the Musk systems, this system should carry a warning: “Intel’s Mobile Drive will NOT accept responsibility or liability should a crash occur on a vehicle using the Mobileye Drive System.”   For SAE fans, this is a “Level 2” system.  Alain

Volkswagen to design chips for autonomous vehicles, says CEO

Staff, April 30, “Volkswagen plans to design and develop its own high-powered chips for autonomous vehicles, along with the required software, Chief Executive Herbert Diess told a German newspaper.

“To achieve optimal performance in light of the high demands that exist for cars, software and hardware have to come out of one hand,” Diess told Handelsblatt.

Volkswagen did not plan to build semiconductors but wanted to own patents if possible, Diess said, adding that the group’s software unit Cariad would develop the expertise and expand…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Just because Henry Ford and Elon Musk did/do everything for themselves doesn’t necessarily mean everybody should.  The takeoff is focus v scale economies.  There are a lot of gamers, Machine Learning and Crypto gals and guys around that can underwrite vast sums to be spent at nVidias of this world.  Can one really make a VW-specific chip better and cheaper than an nVIDIA chip?  Alain

  Baidu To Launch Autonomous Ride-Hailing Services In Beijing

N. Gupta, “April 30, “Baidu (BIDU) has set May 2, 2021 as the date it will launch its fully autonomous robotaxi services, called Apollo Go Robotaxi, in Shougang Park, Beijing.

The first of its kind, the autonomous vehicle service will allow users to enjoy a ride without a driver behind the wheel. The robotaxis should come in handy for people commuting across the city and will be used to transport athletes during the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Baidu is to become the first Chinese company offering fully driverless robotaxi service for commercial operations. The service will allow users of the Apollo Go App to book a robotaxi through a system of unmanned self-service processes….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Not to be picky here, but will it have an attendant on board with a joy stick?  I hope they do and I can’t wait until they announce that the attendant is no longer needed because there were no “disengagements” for more than a month and all but a few could have disengaged safely.  Then this will be a big thing.

See also, T. Lee’s “A Chinese company has started charging for fully driverless rides”. Alain

  The (near) future of driving: Cars that watch you watch them steer

R. Mitchell, April 29, “It’s a 21st century riddt review without a legal order..Full self-driving cars are taking longer to arrive than techno-optimists predicted a few years ago. In fact, in a financial filing Wednesday, Tesla acknowledged it may never be able to deliver a full self-driving car at all.

But with features such as automated cruise control, steering assist and automatic highway lane changing, new cars come loaded with driver-assist options. As they proliferate, the task of a human driver is beginning to shift from operating the vehicle to supervising the systems that do so…”   Read more  Hmmmm… OK, As long as you are watching acarefully.  Alain

  Lyft is getting out of the self-driving business

T. Lee, April 16, “Lyft has sold its self-driving division to a Toyota subsidiary called Woven Planet for $550 million—the latest sign that it takes deep pockets to compete in the self-driving arena. Lyft’s main competitor, Uber, sold its own self-driving unit to the well-financed startup Aurora back in December.

Lyft announced its self-driving project back in 2017, a time of extreme optimism about self-driving technology. A few months earlier, in late 2016, Lyft President John Zimmer predicted that a majority of Lyft rides would be handled by self-driving vehicles by 2021…”  Read more  Hmmmm… Wise move on their part.  Driverless is their only way to earn a net return on ride-hailing.  Unfortunately, Driverless is too expensive to achieve when you are still just trying to give someone a ride. Alain

   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit  It is over!!!  Now time to actually do something in the Trentons of this world.  

  Making Driverless Happen – The Road Forward (Updated)

K. Pyle, April 18, ““It’s time to hit the start button,” is Fred Fishkin’s succinct way of summarizing the next steps in the Smart Driving Car journey. Fiskin, along with the LA Times’ Russ Mitchell co-produced the final session of the 2021 Smart Driving Car Summit, Making It Happen – Part 2. This 16th and final session in this multi-month online conference not only provided a summary of the thought-provoking speakers, but also provided food for thought on a way forward to bring mobility to “the Trentons of the World.”

Setting the stage for this final session, Michael Sena provided highlights of the Smart Driving Car journey that started in late December 2020.  Safety, high-quality, and affordable mobility, particularly for those who do not have many options, was a common theme to the 2021 Smart Driving Car Summit. As Princeton Professor Kornhauser, the conference organizer put it,…..” Read more  Hmmmm…. We had another excellent Session.  Thank you for the summary, Ken!  Alain


Ken Pyle‘s Session Summaries of 4th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit:
15th Session    Making it Happen – Part One: Elected Officials’ Role in Creating a Welcoming Environment in the Trentons of this World

14th Session    What Will Power Safely-driven Cars

13th Session    Improving the Moving of Goods

12th Session    3/18/21 Human-centered Design of Safe and Affordable Driverless Mobility

11th Session    3/11/21  Incentivizing Through Regulation

10th Session    3/04/21  Incentivizing Through Insurance

9th Session    2/25/21  Can Level 3 be Delivered?

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

Kornhauser & He, April 2021 “Making it Happen:  A Proposal for Providing Affordable, High-quality, On-demand Mobility for All in the “Trentons” of this World”

Orf467F20_FinalReport “Analyzing Ride-Share Potential and Empty Repositioning Requirements of a Nationwide aTaxi System

Kornhauser & He, March 2021 AV 101 + Trenton Affordable HQ Mobility Initiative

 C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)

Sunday Supplement



Calendar of Upcoming Events


5th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit

Fall 2021

Live in Person

To be Announced



June 9, 2021, Fully virtual

On the More Technical Side

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


 R. Shields, 22 – 25 March, “Recordings from the conference:

Session 1 plus opening: (Regulatory):
Session 2: (
Session 3:
(Automated Driving Systems):
Session 4:
(Communications for ADS) :

Read more  Hmmmm…  Russ, thank you for sharing!  Alain