Saturday, May 22, 2021
20th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter


  Why I Ride with Waymo: Mike

Waymo One, May 13, “… I started taking it to work, and after crunching the numbers for gas, maintenance, insurance, upkeep, and owning a depreciating investment, it was pretty much a no-brainer that we really didn’t need two cars. I sold off my car and made Waymo my choice for commuting to and from work and for trips my wife and I need to take when the other is using our car…” Read more  Hmmmm…This is really great that he “crunched the numbers” and found it to be “pretty much a no-brainer”, which is what every real Waymo customer in chandler has to do to becoame a Waymo customer.  One “doesn’t move to Chandler” unless one has “two cars”.  See slide 5: 70% of the households have 2 or more cars in Chandler, so most of the folks have had to do the mathto become a customer.  If Waymo offered the same service in Trenton, where 70% of the households have at most one car and 30% don’t have any, then it doesn’t take much number crunching to appreciate Waymo when walking is the next best way to go.

The Chandler Operational Design Domain may be a great place to get the technology working.  It may well be the “easiest” ODD in the world.  A Trenton ODD may well not be all that much more difficult technologically.  What Trenton does have are customers for whom what Waymo can deliver is truly a no-brainer.  Alain


SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 214, Zoom-Cast Episode 214 

F. Fishkin, May 23 , “An interview with the chief engineer behind Ford’s F150 Lightning EV truck…Waymo shares rider stories and the AFL-CIO tells Congress autonomous vehicles should be required to have human operators. Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for those stories and more.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 initiative

   U.S. labor leader calls for human drivers in automated vehicles

D. shepardson, may 18, “A senior American labor union leader will tell U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that the government should require human operators in all self-driving passenger services to take over in the event of an emergency.

Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department for the AFL-CIO, will tell a U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce subcommittee that autonomous vehicles place “millions of jobs at risk” and any legislation to speed deployment of self-driving cars should not apply to commercial trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more, according to his written testimony released by the panel on Monday.

“We do not allow passenger airplanes to operate without pilots or passenger rail to run without engineers, and we should use a similar approach with AVs that operate on our often-congested roadways and in complex transit networks,” Regan says in his testimony….”   Read more  Hmmmm… OK for commercia trucks weighing 10,000 pounds or more nd there are about 2M Commercial truck drivers; however, … if such legislation is enacted, the sweet spot for trucks will be those weighing 9,999 pounds.  While some might think that it would then take 8 of these to do what today’s class 8 can do… maybe not!   Many shipments today “cube out” before they “weigh out” and trucks today are big so as to better distribute the cost of the driver.  No driver enables more frequent, more spatially diffuse logistics.  So one should be carefullwhat one wishes for.


Also, without coal to run in “200 car unit trains”, railroads may return to where they were 50 years ago.  it wasn’t pretty.  the only thing that might save them is to buy out the last 2 jobs in the 5-man crew the same way they bout out 3 of those jobs 45 years ago.  That action gave the industry 50 good years.  Buying out those last two could give them 50 more good years.


With respect ot the airlines, one can readily pay pilot wages on the routes that have 200  passengers in the seats.  But if your trip is to some out of the way place, then hope that there is a driverless car to take you there because you’ll likely not be able to afford to have a pilot fly you there.  Alain

  Traffic Control Devices: Considerations to Support Automated Vehicle Deployment P. Carlson, April 2021, “… This report is focused on the physical aspects of the TCD infrastructure and does not include connected vehicle topics such as digital infrastructure, roadside communication devices, or other aspects of connected vehicle operation…”  Read more  Hmmmm…This is fantastic. because it does deal with what can be seen in the road infrastructure by human eyes.  Thus it applies to both cnventionally (humand) -driven vehicles and computer-driven vehicles.  “Since the beginning” SmartDrivingCar developers have asked for only 2 things from the road infrastructure community… smooth roads (no or few pot holes) and good paint (well marked lanes and signs).  Things fundamental to any good highway department.
Unfortunately, that “ask” was highjacked by the “…digital infrastructure, roadside communication devices, or other aspects of connected vehicle operation… “, the “ITS guys”, and the “pot holes and paint aspects”, were implicitly deemes as too mundane.

In fact, they are the key aspects.

  • The “pot holes” because, it is “involved” in a lare number of the “6%” of the crashes that don’t involve human human misbehavior. (The primary opportunity of SmartDrivingCars is mitigating human misbehavior in driving.)
  • The “paint” because it is fundamentally important in Safe-driving Cars… SAE levels 1 & 2. 

Wha was involved in the Huang Tesla crash occur… 

  California places Tesla’s ‘Full Self-Driving’ under review

AP, May 18, “California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is reviewing whether Tesla is violating a state regulation by advertising its vehicles as being fully autonomous without meeting the legal definition of self-driving.

The department confirmed the review Monday in an email to The Associated Press. State regulation prohibits advertising vehicles for sale or lease as autonomous if they can’t comply with the regulatory definition, it said…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  seems to me that Elon is calling them “Full Self-Driving” and not “autonomous” (and certainly not Level ??? and not SmartDrivingAnything. 

So Elon is getting a lot of free noteriety a la our past president.  Remember… Caveat emptor    Alain

  Tour the Ford F-150 Lightning with Chief Engineer Linda Zhang

F. Fishkin, May 20, Listen to this interview:  Watch this interview:  Hmmmm…  The Frunk may well be one of its top differentiators.  Very nice Fred, Congratulations!  Alain

  Ford unveils the F-150 Lightning. Will truck buyers take to electric pickups?

R. Mitchell, May 20, “Ford Motor Co.’s new all-electric pickup truck will arrive next year having already secured one notable admirer. “This sucker’s quick,” President Biden said from behind the wheel in Dearborn, Mich., on Tuesday after a high-torque off-the-line blast in a pre-production F-150 Lightning.

Although a classic car lover, Biden is a climate hawk whose aggressive goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions will require large-scale electrification of U.S. transportation. So count him as receptive. The company also expects young, tech-savvy buyers to be early customers of the Lightning, set to go on sale in mid-2022.

But for Ford to achieve long-term success with its new electric line, it must eventually win over customers who think like Stan Nixon and Scott David, loyal F-series customers for decades, who must be persuaded to trade in their internal combustion engines when it’s time to buy their next truck….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Ford may well beat Tesla with this one.  Alain

  ADAS adoption is worth exploring for safety’s sake

J. Evangelist, May 11, “…during a session at the recent Technology & Maintenance Council meeting, we learned that fleets have been slow to adopt ADAS. During the session, the American Transportation Research Institute’s senior vice president Dan Murray explained that fleets and drivers say they are concerned that driver control will be compromised if ADAS is installed on a vehicle. Murray believes this is a result of a misunderstanding of how the systems work. There is also concern over cost and maintenance of the systems….”  Read more  Hmmmm… hard to believe that ADAS isn’t a complete no-brainer by fleet owners.  Most fleet owners slef-insre, so they know all too well the crash implications on their pocketbook.  ADAS is all about safety.  Fleet owners should be insisting on it.  drivers should be insisting on it so that they can live longer.  OSHA should be demanding it to substantially improve workplace safety for truck drivers and Truck OEMs should be selling it because of its extremely attractive RoI.   lain

  Aerion Supersonic shuts down, ending plans to build silent high speed business jets

M.Sheetz, May 22, ”
Aerion Supersonic, the Nevada-based company that planned to build business jets capable of silently flying nearly twice as fast as commercial aircraft, is shutting down, the company confirmed to CNBC on Friday.

“In the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements” to begin production of its AS2 supersonic jet, the company said in a statement….” Read more  Hmmmm…  Cold fusion, Quiet Supersonic, Nikola, Hyperloop, GameStop, BitCoin, … FOMO.  Alain

  Germany takes step toward autonomous driving on public roads

Bloomberg, May 23, “German lawmakers agreed to allow some driver-less vehicles on public roads, a first step toward enabling autonomous driving in Europe’s biggest economy.

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament adopted legislation enabling automated driving under some conditions.

The bill cites scenarios including small buses and logistics vehicles that can shuttle passengers and goods along pre-determined routes…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Wow!  Germans are suggesting that Driverless be done on public roads where I’ve been told that it snows sometimes and maybe een more often than in Trenton.  maybe Trenton can indeed be next.  😁 Alain

  Chinese startup gets approval to test driverless vehicles in California

K. Lyons, May 22, “Chinese autonomous vehicle startup has received a permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to test its driverless cars without human safety drivers behind the wheel on specified streets in three cities.

Pony has been authorized to test autonomous vehicles with safety drivers in California since 2017, but the new permit will let it test six autonomous vehicles without safety drivers on specific streets in Fremont, Alameda County; Milpitas, Santa Clara County; and Irvine, Orange County. According to the DMV, the vehicles are designed to be driven on roads with speed limits of 45 miles per hour or less, in clear weather and light precipitation. The first testing will be in Fremont and Milpitas on weekdays between 10AM and 3PM….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Congratulations! However, just because you are permitted to do something, it doesn’t mean that you should. 


During “testing”, there is no positive value in driving around an empty car.  at best someone will give  you a “participant” trophy for doing so.  You can just as easily “test” with our without someone inside.  So, when “testing”, please have someone inside.


If you are sufficiently confident that your system works, then “testing” is over and it is time to make what you’ve tested into a scalable business and begin delivering some societal value.   that’s when you’ll need to pull the driver because you’ve provven that the driver is unnecessary and you can deliver any substantial societal value unless you pull the driver.   Note, if you could have delivered scalable societal value with a driver/attendant inside, then you would have done it long ago and you would have made all of your investors tons of money.  Alain

Self-driving cars might never be able to drive themselves

M. wood, May 21, “Meanwhile, no cars are fully self-driving yet. I spoke with Missy Cummings, the director of the Humans and Autonomy Laboratory at Duke University. She says the so-called deep learning that cars need to see the road around them doesn’t actually learn. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation…”   Read more  Hmmmm… Guess what, if a tree limb grows in front of a stop sign, I can’t see it either.  True… computers don’t actually learn, and many of us are fooled by images.  escher made a living off of that truth and no one has claimed to be “fully” anything. But .. in the interest of full disclosure, read on.  Alain


More On….

See (confidential)  from yesterday (5/15/21).  Then Re-see:

  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

   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

The 2021 TRB Annual

Automated Road Transportation Symposium

Virtual on July 12-15, 2021



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