49th edition of the 9th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  TuSimple completes its first driverless autonomous truck run on public roads

What the investment community and potential customers see… R. Bellan, Dec. 29, “Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple has completed its first autonomous truck run on open public roads without a human in the vehicle, according to the company…”

After reality has passed through the smoke & mirrors, one realizes…:  “…As a safety precaution, unmarked police vehicles followed at about a mile behind the truck in the event the truck came to an emergency stop. In addition, TuSimple implemented a survey vehicle to look for anomalies operating five miles ahead, as well as an oversight vehicle a half-mile behind that could put the autonomous truck in a minimal risk condition. …” Read more  Hmmmm…  What TuSimple has demonstrated is totally unaffordable, unprofitable, unscalable, irresponsible, … What do they think that are they selling??? 

This demonstration replaced a human attendant/driver for unmarked police vehicles (plural) each with a police person who likely earns, thus costs, substantially more than a professional attendant/driver.  The plural implies the cost is more than 2x to cover the police.  But there is more… a (supposedly human driven) survey vehicle  and an oversight vehicle was also involved in the entourage.  The labor charge alone for this demo is more than 4x that of a professionally driven goods-movement service.  Plus the accrued cost of all the automated gizmos on the truck, plus the environmental costs of having 4 additional vehicles accompanying this load.  Wow!

TuSimple must not have been demonstrating what they are trying to sell.

The purpose of the demonstration couldn’t have been to demonstrate the RoI of TuSimple’s technology to a potential Trucking company customer.  It’s not easy to make money as a trucking company.  It’s all about service and the cost to deliver that level of service.  If I’m ALK Trucking, I know very well what level of service I can deliver and what the driver is going to cost me to deliver that level of service.  I have three options available to me.  I can use automated technology to help the driver drive, or remove the driver, or walk away from automated technology and stick to what I know works well.  There are substantial advantages in quality of life, driver retention and insurance savings associated with Automated Driver Assistance capabilities are available now, but that’s not what TuSimple is selling.  TuSimple is selling the ability to remove a driver.  To ALK Trucking, the fundamental value of what TuSimple is selling is elimination of the driver’s cost in the delivery of a comparable level of service.  While this demonstration did eliminate the driver’s cost and delivered a comparable level of service, it also incurred a greater than 4x the driver’s cost in ancillary services to deliver that comparable service.  Consequently, the demonstration completely backfired.  ALK Trucking will necessarily say… please come back when you can demonstrate this without the ancillary costs, and please stop wasting my time.  I have a business to run and customers to serve. 

If the purpose of the demonstration was to convince the “SoftBanks” of this world that their investment is being well invested, I can’t imagine that went any better.  You mean you could have done the demonstration using less that 25% of the labor cost if only you would have use an on-board attendant and you announced that “the whole 100% of the trip was done without a single disengagement”.  And, by the way, this was the Nth time, in the “… 1,800 runs to the tune of 150,000 miles on this stretch of highway …” that you’ve done the run without any disengagements, where N is large.  And, N is so large, that TuSimple is now willing to accept all liability associated with any malfunction of its automated driver that is incurred in the normal delivery of transport services in this corridor.  That now means that TuSimple is indeed selling an automated driver that doesn’t need an attendant as a backup.  Then ALK Trucking company, given what TuSimple wants to charge for this automated driver, can readily do the arithmetic to make a buy or walk decision.  And, the “SoftBank investor”, I can readily assess TuSimple’s pricing model, and determine which trucking companies are likely to buy or walk, thus enabling the investors to buy or sell.

Unfortunately, this demonstration clearly tells ALK Trucking to walk and “SoftBank” to sell. 

Finally, by removing the attendant from inside the cab, TuSimple unnecessarily put the public at increased risk, and are thus,acted irresponsibly.  There should be NO testing on public roads without a professional attendant/driver behind the wheel ready and able to safely disengage the automated driver!  This is true for those testing the movement of people and similarly for those testing the moving of goods.  Only when there is societal/economic net-benefit associated with the driverless/attendantless operation should it take place on public roadways. 

Public roadways are not the place for smoke&mirror stunts or carnival acts.   Alain

SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 248, Zoom-Cast Episode 248 w/Michael Sena, Editor, The Dispatcher

F. Fishkin, Dec. 29, “With a new book in the works to explain the why behind the push for autonomous, affordable mobility…co-authors Michael Sena and Alain Kornhauser outline where we’ve been and where we are going. And then there’s the tussle over Tesla and Elon Musk. Plus Waymo and more. Tune in to episode 248 of Smart Driving Cars. Or listen.”

Technical support provided by: https://www.cartsmobility.com/

   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: www.motoetf.com.  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

  January 2022 Issue: Taking action when governments cannot or are not

M. Sena, Dec. 28, “In some places in the world, accessibility from anywhere to anywhere is taken for granted. Public transit opportunities are ubiquitous, and if public transit is not sufficient, a ride in a car or a van is subsidized or totally paid for. That is not the case in the U.S. and in many other countries or regions in countries where is a car is the necessary ticket to taking advantage to those opportunities that are on offer. In the first article in this month’s issue, I attempt to provide the background on why that has happened. Hint: It is not because the car was invented.

I was inspired to write the second article by the protesters at the COP26 gathering in Glasgow this past November. Maybe at one time in our lives we sat in the back seat and complained “Aren’t we there yet?”, but then we got to be the drivers and appreciated that you don’t get there by magic. The COP26 protesters want a utopia and they want it now. Utopian and democratic concepts don’t mix well.

Musings is a reflection on the failure of governments to enforce the laws they have made during the past century to ensure that people inside and outside of motorized transport vehicles can coexist. The kids of the kids who thought it was perfectly acceptable to disobey laws we thought were unfair are now in charge of making sure those laws are enforced—and they are not doing their jobs. The result is chaos on the roads.

Below you can find the summary of each of the articles. You can read the entire issue in the PDF attached or online by clicking here.

Enjoy your January issue of The Dispatcher. All comments are welcome, whether you want to take exception to something I have written or just want to let me know that you got something out of reading it. I wish you all the best for the New Year.”  Read more  Hmmmm… Another excellent Dispatcher and I am humbled by Michael’s contributions to “Making Trenton Happen”.  Please also listen or watch this week’s PodCast/ZoomCast featuring Michael and this edition of the Dispatcher.  Alain

Waymo To Use Chinese Geely Robotaxi Body. This Should Send Shivers Into Western OEMs

B. Templeton, Dec.  28, “Waymo announced today it will integrate its technology into a robotaxi base from Chinese manufacturer Geely. Geely owns Volvo and this vehicle was designed in Sweden, it will be under the Geely Zeekr brand and most likely be manufactured in China. China has been, for several years now, the leading car manufacturing country in the world but its cars are not seen very often in western countries and particularly not in the USA.”  Read more  Hmmmm… I was initially discombobulated by Waymo’s initiative here given that Waymo had “ordered” 62,000 Chrysler Pacificas and “up to” 20,000 Jaguars,


I didn’t realize that they were running short and really needed to line up yet another vehicle supplier.  (All we’re looking for here in NJ is about 100 to get us through the next 2 years, or so, to get Trentonians acclimated to this technology.  Many of us are confident that Waymo can deliver Safe, Equitable, Affordable, Sustainable, High-Quality Mobility in “li’l ol’ Trenton”.  Surely, out of the 82,000 cars on order, Waymo can spare 100, about 0.1%, to join with us to successfully deliver life-changing mobility to many residents of the capital of New Jersey. Should be a no-brainer.)


However,  during our PodCast/ZoomCast this morning , Michael Sena reminded me that Geely has made “agreements” with many other technology providers and Waymo has indicated that it will license its Lidar Sensors.   This agreement, as portrayed by Waymo, is that these Waymo-equipped vehicles are to expand Waymo’s Fleet, presumably beyond the 82,000 Pacificas and Jaguars, unless I missed some retrenchment in those announcements, which I may very well have.  My reading of Waymo’s announcement tells me that Waymo will be the consumer/owner of these modified Keekr vehicles, not Geely.  I further assume that the software and firmware aspects the Waymo Driver will not be shared with Geely. 


Thank you Michael.  I can relax now. All is good. Just another of many vehicle combinations to come.  The vehicle is now a commodity for Waymo Driver, just like the many cars that I can safely drive .  Nice!!! 


Happy New Year!!!   All the best for 2022!!!   Alain


Saturday, December 11, 2021


P, Murphy, Dec. 6, “The New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”), an instrumentality of the State of New Jersey, has issued a Request for Expression of Interest (“RFEI”) to identify experienced firms capable of introducing a safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, and efficient on-demand
automated vehicle mobility systems in and beyond Trenton, NJ.

NJDOT is soliciting written Expression of interest from qualified and experienced vendors to gain valuable insight from the private industry regarding the goals set forth in the Trenton MOVES (Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System) potential project and assess its viability.

If and when NJDOT elects to proceed with a potential project, NJDOT may issue formal Request(s) for Qualifications or Proposals.
The RFEI is available to be downloaded at https://www.nj.gov/transportation/business/procurement/ems/current.shtm…

1. Potential Project Summary
The State of New Jersey is exploring a transportation equity and sustainable energy opportunity within the capital city of Trenton. Trenton MOVES (Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System) will be led by the Governor’s Office, NJ Department of Transportation, the City of Trenton, and one or more institutions of higher education.

Trenton MOVES is exploring the feasibility of deploying ~100 AVs to serve as lowcapacity (4-8 passenger), high-quality (on-demand, kiosk-to-kiosk) shuttles to serve the 90,000 residents who live in the City of Trenton’s 8 square miles. The effort will be phased in over two (2) years and will serve the population of New Jersey’s capital city, a population where 70% of households have one or fewer cars. A proof-of-concept Operational Design
Domain (“ODD”) is described in Section 3.1. …  “Read more  Hmmmm… How fantastic is this!  Plus, Governor Phil Murphy’s Press Release announcing Trenton MOVES.  All substance!!  I also presented relevant testimony to NJ’s Assembly Transportation Committee Thursday morning.  An ALK trifecta this week😁.  The “welcoming environment” now exists in New Jersey.  We are no longer tied for last with Mississippi as was reported at last week’s Florida AV Conference. We’re looking like “first in the world” focused on substantive deployment to real customers.  We’ve built the “Field of Dreams” and awaiting the technology “to come”.  We only need one!  Or we’ll assemble volunteers (and not hostages as Mike Tomlin would put it) and build a winning team ourselves.😎 Alain

  Orf 467F21 Symposium: Evolutionary Deployment of a State-wide aTaxis system starting from MyVillage

J. Woll’22, A. Lau’23, M. Wasserman’22, C. Larson’22, J. Sun’23, Dec. 10, “Slides of: Making It Happen”: Hawaii – California – Washington – Florida – Connecticut” Read more  Hmmmm…  Video of Presentation, Slides, Report Format.  I couldn’t be more proud. Also check out Pod-Cast Episode 246, Zoom-Cast Episode 246 w/Jack Woll’22, Jason Sun’232, and Connor Larson’22😁  Alain

Trenton MOVES: Community Engagement Update

J. He, Dec. 15, “Vignettes from Community Engagement “focus groups”.  Read more  Hmmmm… Why Trenton!  Alain

5th Annual SmartDrivingCars Summit:  Deployment of Equitable Affordable, High Quality Mobility throughout New Jersey

Date Change:   Thursday evening, May 5, through Saturday May 7, 2022.  Live in Trenton, New Jersey. 

“Everything” was going well wrt the 5th Summit Nov 18->20; however…

Time is very short, we must focus on the election and the realities of where we remain with Covid really put cold water on some aspects of our vision for November.

Consequently. I’ve become convinced that it is very much better, that we take our time and reschedule for the first week on May 2022 rather than rush for what isn’t as good as could be. 

By May we will have received responses to our upcoming https://www.cartsmobility.com/ for “Equitable … Mobility in Trenton”.  We will thus have a better idea on “Who”,  from the “What & How” communities, “Want & Can” Deploy “Equitable … Mobility” starting in Trenton with real expectations of scaling throughout New Jersey.

In May the 5th Summit can better achieve its fundamental purpose by allowing all of us in New Jersey to better learn from others around the world  the “Whats & Hows” and have the possible “Whos” get a better appreciation of the “Equitable … Mobility” desires of Trentonians and other New Jersians. 

Rescheduling the Summit to be between the RfI and the RfP steps of our Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Deployment Process, will better enable our Community Engagement initiative to shape our ultimate  deployment.  We’ll thus deliver even better mobility equitably and best improve quality-of-life in Trenton and throughout New Jersey.   

Please pencil into your calendar the new dates of  May 5 (Thursday evening) though May 7 (Trenton Mobility Festival Saturday). 😎   Please let me know if these dates work for you.

Sorry about the delay, but many will be relieved by this change. Plus, early May is really nice in NJ.😁


This 5th Summit is inspired by the many levels of public-sector, community and neighborhood welcoming and support that now exists in New Jersey for the deployment of equitable, affordable, high-quality mobility. This is now made possible by automated driving technology that is especially targeted to serve those who, for whatever reason, don’t have access to their own personal car.  

The Princeton SDC Summits were initiated in 2017 to provide a venue for the open discussion of how technology, in particular automation, can be shaped to improve mobility of people and goods between and within cities. Early on, we realized that this form of mobility could easily provide yet another alternative to those who are fortunate enough to enjoy one or many high quality mobility options.

But, more importantly, it became obvious that substantial improvement in quality-of-life and equitable mobility can readily be made available to the un-served and under-served.  Those who cannot drive themselves, cannot afford the transport alternatives that exist for them, or who live in areas where, for either economic or other reasons, neither public nor private desirable forms of transport are offered.  Furthermore, such initial Operational Design Domains (OODs) can be readily expanded and replicated to allow the vast investments continuing to be made in this technology to actually yield their envisioned societal and financial benefits. 

The recently completed 4th Summit set the groundwork for these initial deployments to benefit under-served communities. Communities with many households having access to one or fewer cars and with challenged transit alternatives. We concluded the 4th Summit by envisioning a deployment throughout Trenton, NJ, a community where 70% of the households have access to one or fewer cars.

We believe that Trenton is a perfect ODD to begin to deliver Equitable, Affordable, High-quality Mobility, in addition to being environmentally responsible, safe and comfortable.

The opportunity to expand throughout Mercer County and replicate this deployment scenario throughout the State exists.  This deployment will  serves as a blueprint for the future for many other “Trentons” of this world. 

The groundwork set by the 4th Summit and the NJ Autonomous Vehicle Task Force has enabled us to create a “most welcoming environment”  in New Jersey for creating a Public-Private Partnership to deliver this enhanced mobility to the residents of Trenton and all New Jersians. The 5th Summit will focus directly on deployment in Trenton and will take place in Trenton. We also envision its expansion throughout Mercer County and its replication in and around New Jersey’s other major cities.  

The Technical portion of the summit will be in the morning, through lunch, of Friday, May 6 and Saturday, May 7. 

Sessions will be free of charge but will require advance registration, as seating will be limited. 


The Societal portion focused on engaging the customers of this form of mobility, featuring descriptions, discussions, interactions, exhibits and  technology demonstrations, will be free and open to the public, with preference given to Trenton residents on Friday and residents of Mercer County and the rest of New Jersey on Saturday.  Link to Sponsorship Opportunities Link to Draft Program  Link to Registration

   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 SlidesGlenn 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

Re-see:    Pop Up Metro USA Intro 09 2020

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events

5th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit 

Spring 2022

Thursday (evening), May 5, Welcome Reception (Registration required)

Friday, May 6, Equitable Mobility Innovation Forum (Registration required)

Saturday, May 7, Equitable Mobility Festival (Open to All)

Trenton, NJ
Live in Person

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): https://youtu.be/UcDC8gXiUFk
Session 2: (Cybersecurity): https://youtu.be/ppp2hxlvebY
Session 3: (Automated Driving Systems): https://youtu.be/uL2dRHuX2Cc
Session 4: (Communications for ADS) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFQcL6yfBso

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