SmartDrivingCar https://smartdrivingcar.com The latest news in mobility and autonomy Fri, 10 Jul 2020 00:23:20 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://i1.wp.com/smartdrivingcar.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/cropped-SDC-Logo-1.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 SmartDrivingCar https://smartdrivingcar.com 32 32 137852181 8.29-Diamond-070920 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-29-diamond-070920/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-29-diamond-070920/#respond Fri, 10 Jul 2020 00:21:17 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8438   Thursday, July 9, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.29-Diamond-070920 29th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars Fostering Economic Opportunity through Autonomous Vehicle Technology July 8, “SAFE invites you to join us for […]

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Thursday, July 9, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.29-Diamond-070920
29th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

Fostering Economic Opportunity through Autonomous Vehicle Technology

July 8, “SAFE invites you to join us for the release of “Fostering Economic Opportunity through Autonomous Vehicle Technology”, our new paper that addresses how autonomous vehicles (AVs) and autonomous transit can redress imbalances for low-income communities, whose options are limited by inadequacies in today’s transportation.

To mark the launch of the paper, SAFE is holding a panel event on July 16 at 2:00pm ET. Alisyn Malek, SAFE, will be moderating a conversation between:

– Courtney Ehrlichman, CEO, Ehrlichman Group
– Dr. Richard Ezike, Senior Policy Associate, The Urban Institute
– Dr. Alain Kornhauser, Director of the Program in Transportation, Princeton University

SAFE would appreciate you joining us for what we expect will be an illuminating discussing on transportation’s role in limiting economic opportunities for millions of Americans, and how AVs and autonomous transit can be part of the solutio…”  Read more  Hmmm…. Watch today’s PodCast and join in on July 16.  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast 164  w/Robbie Diamond

F. Fishkin, July 9, “Fostering economic opportunity through autonomous technology is the focus of an upcoming report from Security America’s Future Energy. Founder and CEO Robbie Diamond shares details and more in this edition with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. Plus ..are armed police officers really needed for traffic enforcement? And the latest from Tesla, Waymo and more.  …”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 164 w/Robbie Diamond

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 164.  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: 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 initiatives.


  We Don’t Need Cops to Enforce Traffic Laws

A, Gordon, June 11,”… Regardless of which policy you personally prefer, any effort to eliminate racism in American policing must figure out what to do about traffic enforcement, which is the leading cause of interactions between police and the public, according to the Department of Justice. And, by law, it is almost entirely up to the officer whether to let the person go with a warning, give them a ticket, ask to search their vehicle, or escalate the situation even further. It is an interaction intentionally designed to let the officer do virtually whatever he or she wants, reflecting the inherent biases of our legal system.

Police pull over more than 20 million motorists every year, according to the Stanford Policing Project, which undertook a first-of-its-kind large scale study into what happens during more than 100 million traffic stops. It found “police require less suspicion to search Black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers. This double standard is evidence of discrimination.”

But, traffic enforcement is not just the most common way police interact with people. It is also a foundational element to modern policing that encapsulates how things got so bad and why..

The problem, Seo told Motherboard, has to do with the history of the automobile in America itself. Before the car, basic tort law handled street conflict well enough; if your wagon ran into mine and caused damage to me or my property and we couldn’t settle it like reasonable adults, I’d sue you. This stopped being good enough once cars flooded roads, causing all sorts of conflict and crashes, not to mention death…”  Read more  Hmmmm….   Fine, police need to enforce traffic laws, but why do police with guns need to enforce traffic laws?  How many of those 20 million “pull-overs” involve “Bonnie & Clyde”????  Parking tickets are passed out by persons without guns, cars are towed by person’s without guns.  Why are guns needed to give tickets to those speeding or have broken tail lights?  We can then save the well trained individuals that know how to respect and use guns for duties that really need those trained individuals rather than enforcing traffic laws   Alain

  Elon Musk says Tesla is ‘very close’ to level 5 autonomous driving

Reuters, July 9, “U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology, CEO Elon Musk said on Thursday, referring to the capability to navigate roads without any driver input.

“I’m extremely confident that level 5, or essentially complete autonomy, will happen, and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said in remarks made via a video message at the opening of Shanghai’s annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC).

“I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year.”…”  Read more Hmmmm….  “Basic functionality” is only the beginning of the “Level 5”  process.  The “Level 5” business case requires  either:

1. Elon to absorb all responsibilities and their implied liabilities if anything goes bad while you are using the “Level 5 Tesla” that you bought from him.   He doesn’t have enough money implied liability, or

2. He could decide to build and operate a mobility machine that incorporates his automated driving technology but he hasn’t even hinted at that.  So all he is doing is pumping up with hot air the value of his shares.  Alain

  I’ve Seen a Future Without Cars, and It’s Amazing

F. Manjoo. July 9, “As coronavirus lockdowns crept across the globe this winter and spring, an unusual sound fell over the world’s metropolises: the hush of streets that were suddenly, blessedly free of cars. …  Cars took a break from killing people, too. About 10 pedestrians die on New York City’s streets in an ordinary month. Under lockdown, the city went a record two months without a single pedestrian fatality. In California, vehicle collisions plummeted 50 percent, reducing accidents resulting in injuries or death by about 6,000 per month.

As the roads became freer of cars, they grew full of possibility. Rollerblading and skateboarding have come back into fashion. Sales of bicycles and electric bikes have skyrocketed.

But there is a catch: Cities are beginning to cautiously open back up again, and people are wondering how they’re going to get into work. Many are worried about the spread of the virus on public transit. Are cars our only option? How will we find space for all of them?

In much of Manhattan, the average speed of traffic before the pandemic had fallen to 7 miles per hour. In Midtown, it was less than 5 m.p.h. That’s only slightly faster than walking and slower than riding a bike. Will traffic soon be worse than ever?

Not if we choose another path….”   Read more  Hmmm… Correct!  Cars should not be in Manhattan.  It has a subway. Very few other US city centers have the density to warrant an NYC type subway.  For everyone else (at least 300 million of the 328 million Americans) that is fortunate enough, cars are really great and what is proposed here is marginal at best from the perspective of the individual.

Very  nice interactive graphics.  Alain

  Self-Driving Tech Is Becoming a Game of Partnerships

A. Marshall, July 7, “BUILDING A SELF-DRIVING car was never going to be easy. But Karl Iagnemma says he didn’t expect it to be this hard.  “Vehicles are these massively complex systems, and to [build self-driving cars], we need to integrate them with another very complex system and do it in a way that’s reliable and cost-optimized. It’s really, really hard,” says Iagnemma, the president and CEO of a joint venture formed in March between South Korea’s Hyundai and Aptiv, which designs automotive electronic systems. “I think that’s one of the things that most players in the industry underappreciated, myself included.”

That realization has led to a rash of partnerships between established automakers and self-driving startups. Think Aptiv and Hyundai; Waymo and Jaguar; General Motors and Cruise; Argo AI and Ford and Volkswagen. The Covid-19 pandemic has only heightened the need for partners, as venture capitalists tighten the purse strings on big bets like self-driving. “$1 billion is the price of an entry ticket in the autonomous-driving space today,” says Iagnemma.

Last month, Zoox was acquired by Amazon for a reported $1.1 billion, two-thirds less than its 2018 valuation. In self-driving, it’s getting harder to go at it alone.

“The list of independent startups that are tackling [autonomous vehicles] without a mothership continues to get smaller,” says Oliver Cameron, cofounder and CEO of the startup Voyage, which aims to build and then operate self-driving vehicles inside retirement communities. As a result, “every quarter, there’s a casualty,” he says. “Zoox was this quarter.” In May, Voyage announced a partnership with Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles to integrate its tech into a handful of Pacifica minivans….”   Read more  Hmmmm….  Of course, but at this point, the car is produced by many extremely competent and experienced entities.  It is thus the commodity.   A sufficiently good personless driver has yet to emerge as the differentiator and dominant trail blazer.  Alain

  Tesla mocks shortsellers with sale of red satin shorts

H. Jin, July 6, “After surpassing Toyota Motor Corp as the world’s most valuable automaker and stunning with forecast-beating deliveries, Tesla Inc has taken time out to poke fun at the company’s naysayers – with sales of red satin shorts.
“Limited edition short shorts now available,” CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Sunday.
Musk has often taken umbrage at short-sellers and in 2018 sent a box of shorts to hedge fund owner and Tesla short-seller David Einhorn. …

 

The shorts cost $69.420, the last three digits an apparent reference to Musk’s infamous tweet in 2018 that he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 per share, with 420 also a code word for marijuana….

 

The Silicon Valley car maker, however, has reason to crow. Its stock has almost tripled in value this year to just over $1,200 per share and it sold more than 90,000 of its electric vehicles in the second quarter, defying a trend of plummeting sales for other automakers hit by coronavirus-induced lockdowns”.   Run like the wind or entertain like Liberace,” the product description says, adding: “Enjoy exceptional comfort from the closing bell.” It will ship within 2-4 weeks….”   Read more  Hmmm… 🙂 Alain

  Tesla delivers 90,650 vehicles despite pandemic and factory shutdown

A. Hawkins, July 2, “Tesla said on Thursday that it was able to deliver 90,650 vehicles during the last quarter, despite its Fremont, California factory being partially shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Wall Street analysts had expected the electric automaker to only deliver about 72,000 vehicles during the last three months, according to CNBC.

This was the second consecutive quarter of better-than-expected delivery numbers from Tesla. The company delivered 88,400 vehicles in Q1 of 2020, down from the fourth quarter of 2019, when Tesla shipped around 112,000 vehicles…. Tesla said in a press release. ”  Read more  Hmmm… Impressive!  Alain

  How May Mobility’s autonomous shuttle ambitions backfired

K.  Wiggers, July 6, “By all appearances, May Mobility was a scrappy success story. The autonomous transportation startup made its debut at Y Combinator’s demo day in 2017,…But on the inside looking out, it was a different story. May engineers struggled to maintain and upgrade the company’s vehicle platform, at one point spending months attempting to install an air conditioning system in the depths of summer. The leadership’s ambition often outstretched May’s ability to deliver, which upset vendors, some of whom went unpaid for stretches. And not a single one of the company’s commercial routes approached full autonomy.

Conversations with former May employees reveal a startup struggling to stand out in an industry dominated by incumbents like Waymo, Uber, Aurora, Cruise, and Amazon’s Zoox. As one source put it, May’s intent might not have been malicious — executives at the top were convinced it would succeed. But overeagerness and inexperience led to missteps that soured municipal relationships….

After 500 hours of testing at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, humans had to override the GEM’s systems for left-hand turns with traffic, right turns on red, rain, wind, pedestrians standing at crosswalks, construction work zones, certain four-way intersections, speed bumps, potholes, and aggressive drivers. Foliage also caused complications because the preprogrammed route was mapped when trees were bare. Once the leaves and other foliage emerged, it disrupted the camera, radar, and lidar sensors that helped the shuttles to navigate.

One source described May’s autonomy as “all over the map.” While some days saw autonomy rates hit 80% to 90%, performance often dipped “well under” that mark….

.May’s stumbles didn’t end with engineering. Operational challenges resulted in lower-than-anticipated ridership, with most rides — which were free during pilots — falling short of break-even. One source pegs each deployment’s losses at over $1 million a year….

After its pilots in Columbus and Rhode Island came to a close and planned deployments in Florida and Texas fell through, May redoubled its efforts in Grand Rapids and Detroit with Bedrock, the real estate firm associated with Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert. It was recently announced that GHSP, a company developing an ultraviolet-C treatment that automatically disinfects the air and high-touch surfaces within vehicles, would receive $80,000 from the Michigan Economic Development’s PlanetM program to install the treatment in May’s shuttles…. ” Read more  Hmmm…  Yipes!   Unless they can become driverless, there isn’t much value in the automation.  (Driverless doesn’t only enable one to reduce operating costs, it also enable demand-responsive operation… allowing vehicles to sit and wait without incurring a labor charge and taking you to where you want to go.  Many conventional buses move around empty a non-trivial amount of time.  Their operation is heavily biased on the “when” of the driver’s work schedule rather than the”when” of the customer’s deire to travel.  Thus there is no service when some people want to travel and there is serve when very few want to travel.  Replacement of the driver with a computer enables the timing of the service and its spatial scope to be better aligned to customer’s demands.  Alain

Tesla captures bigger chunk of China EV market

F. Lambert, July 8,”Tesla delivered 3,635 made-in-China Model 3 cars in April and in May, and sales jumped to a record 11,095 units.  The electric automaker was helped by an overall quick recovery of the auto market in China following the worst of the pandemic in the market.

Now the China Passenger Car Association has released June numbers, and the market went down again.

However, Tesla is still moving ahead full steam and managed to deliver just shy of 15,000 Model 3 vehicles in the country in June.

With the rest of the market down, overall passenger cars down 6.5% and EVs down 35%, Tesla managed to capture an impressive 23% of the EV market in China.

In Q2, Tesla delivered around 30,000 vehicles in China. It means that the country represented around one-third of Tesla’s entire global deliveries during the second quarter. ….”  Read more Hmmmm… Impressive.  Alain

  Autonomous ridesharing isn’t dead: How Waymo is adapting to the post-COVID era

R. Glon, July 3, “… Ridesharing is undeniably down, but it’s not out. As self-driving car technology continues its steady march forward, ridesharing could very well bounce back as a convenient — and safe — mode of transportation. Autonomous vehicles that hold one fewer warm, breathing body feel more relevant than ever before. To get a glimpse of the road ahead, Digital Trends spoke with Waymo, one of the leaders in the field, to find out how the coronavirus-related lockdowns and stay-at-home orders affected its operations, and what it’s doing to maintain the trust of its growing ridership…. ” Read more  Hmmm…  Not dead, but sedated, strapped and on a ventilator.  Not a good place to be.  I was one of the lucky ones to survive.  I sure hope ridesharing is as fortunate.  Alain

Image removed by sender. CleanTechnica logo  Can Argo.AI Make Ford & Volkswagen Self-Driving Leaders?

Z. Shahan, July 5, “… Perhaps the two most notable players in this field other than Tesla, from my perspective, are Zoox (because it was just bought by Amazon, which has potential to develop its tech at an enormous scale) and Argo.AI (company site here). Why Argo.AI? Well, not being an AI expert and not having much insight into the details of the various startups anyway, it’s not from some analysis of Argo.AI’s competitive advantage. It mostly (but not entirely) comes down to its potential to quickly collect data at a massive scale. (Though, potential is a key word there.)…”  Read more  Hmmm…  What???    If you are still dependent on collecting data, you are way behind.   Whatever???   Alain

Image removed by sender.  Self-Driving Startup Aurora Debuts its New Long-Range Lidar Called ‘FirstLight’

E. Walz, July 8, “… Aurora said that it chose Blackmore because of its pioneering work in Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) lidar, a next generation lidar technology that can improve the perception capabilities of its self-driving vehicles. Aurora also said that Blackmore’s technology will allow it to deliver a more cost-effective autonomous driving platform than even the best systems currently on the market….

 

FMCW lidar however, uses a continuous-wave of laser pulses and changes the frequency of the light at regular intervals, thus the term “frequency-modulated.” This allows developers of self-driving vehicles to better determine the precise location and velocity of objects using the Doppler effect.

FMCW lidar is more accurate for tracking objects that are moving, such as other vehicles on the road. It can even be used to determine if an object is moving closer or moving away, which is especially helpful for autonomous vehicles to navigate. It’s also better at detecting objects in low light situations, including in rain and fog.

FMCW lidar sensors allow the Aurora Driver to see well beyond 300 meters even on targets that don’t reflect much light, such as a pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night. Aurora’s FirstLight lidar is also more powerful since the sensors are single photon sensitive, meaning they can detect the smallest amount of light possible. …”  Read more  Hmmm…  If you are moving, aren’t stationary objects moving relative to you?  300 meters is a very long way.  Is there any safety critical situation in which you need to be able to “see” that far ahead. In all of my lifetime driving experience, I cant recall that one instance that it was advantageous that I could see 300 meters ahead (or any direction).  I guess I’ve never driven really fast.  

 

For the near term, in fact maybe even the long term, we should restrict our Operational Design Domain to include roads that have reasonable speed limits. Technically interesting anyway.  Alain

  cars to Barnard Castle before driverless trains operate on London Underground” – ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan.

Staff, July 8, “People will be using driverless cars to Barnard Castle before driverless trains operate on London Underground, claims ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan.

The leader of the drivers’ union was responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suggestion that driverless LU trains could be a condition of the emergency funding for Transport for London.

Johnson discussed the idea at the launch of construction of Siemens’ Goole factory, where the first tranche of new Deep Tube trains will be built for the Piccadilly Line.

Johnson told ITV News: “You can run these trains without the need for somebody to be sitting in the driver’s cab the whole time….”  Read more  Hmmm…  Just because you can doesn’t mean you will.   One might have thought that private freight railroads might buy out union contracts to help them survive once we stop burning coal and there is no demand for 200 car long coal unit trains.  Unfortunately there are no signs freight railroads are going to change their long unit train business model.  Very small labor cost per car, but very infrequent service between very few places and zero service between most places.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020 (But will likely need to be completely Virtual, possibly in “Second life)

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

Image removed by sender. Webinar                                                           banner

Fostering Economic Opportunity through Autonomous Vehicle Technology

July 16 @ 2pm New York Time
Register Here


SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 005

AV Shark-Tank:

Topic to be Announced

July 21 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, to be Virtual, Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.28-Henry-070220 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-28-henry-070220/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-28-henry-070220/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2020 13:18:00 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8417   Thursday, July 2, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.28-Henry-070220 28th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   Announcing 2020-2021 Fellow-in-Residence Henry L. Greenidge, Esq. Press release, June 24, “The McSilver Institute for […]

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Thursday, July 2, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.28-Henry-070220
28th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

 

Announcing 2020-2021 Fellow-in-Residence Henry L. Greenidge, Esq.

Press release, June 24, “The McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University has announced transportation policy expert Henry L. Greenidge, Esq. as a 2020-2021 Fellow-in-Residence. …

“As New York City and cities around the nation reopen amid COVID-19, there is an important conversation to be had about the intersection of transportation policy with poverty, race and class. In a field where there are too few thought leaders of color, Henry Greenidge’s industry expertise and distinguished track record of public service make him an invaluable addition to the NYU McSilver team,” says Michael A. Lindsey, PhD, MSW, MPH, Executive Director of the institute.

“Race and transportation have been inextricably linked since the first slave ship crossed the Americas,” says Henry Greenidge. “As our nation continues to grapple with institutional racism, which serves as the fabric for every facet of the United States, the inequities of transportation policies must be at the center. I am humbled and excited to be working with the McSilver Institute to unpack how transportation, race, and poverty intersect..”  Read more  Hmmm….  In no uncertain terms, we must make sure that inequities and racism are not explicitly nor even implicitly baked into the SmartDrivingCar r/evolution.  We are still at the very beginning, so it shouldn’t be hard nor expensive but so far it doesn’t look good.  The emphasis has been on giving those that already have fantastic ways to get around one more way.  The focus hasn’t been on the mobility disadvantaged and certainly not on the Black community.  Just look where the testing has been taking place and the folks that take part in the focus groups and those that are given rides.  Look at who designs and writes the software and the investors.  Sure, one can and should serve them, but if public policy is going to play a role, then it can’t bake in more inequities.  Moreover, the private sector can also step up and realize that these systems can readily serve everyone.  The technology that makes SmartDrivingCars possible is not inherently racists.  It can respect and serve everyone.  Henry and others can help make sure that the designers and deployers of SmartDrivingCars don’t explicitly nor implicitly bake in racism and bias.   Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 163 – Henry Greenidge

F. Fishkin, July 2, “Transportation, racial injustices and changing the thinking around the future of mobility. NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy & Research fellow Henry Greenidge joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin in an eye and mind opening episode of Smart Driving Cars. Plus Amazon, Zoox, Waymo, Tesla & more.  .”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 163 – Henry Greenidge

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 163.  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: 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 initiatives.


  Princeton Will Remove Woodrow Wilson’s Name From School

B. Pietsch, June 27, “Princeton University will remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges, the university’s president said on Saturday — a move that comes four years after it decided to keep the name over the objections of student protests.

The university’s board of trustees found that Wilson’s “racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college whose scholars, students and alumni must stand firmly against racism in all its forms,” Princeton’s president, Christopher L. Eisgruber, said in a statement…. ” Read more  Hmmm… Fantastic!  Alain

  We’re acquiring Zoox to help bring their vision of autonomous ride-hailing to reality

Amazon, June 26, “Amazon has signed an agreement to acquire Zoox, a California-based company working to design autonomous ride-hailing vehicles from the ground up. Aicha Evans, Zoox CEO, and Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO, will continue to lead the team as they innovate and drive towards their mission….

“Zoox is working to imagine, invent, and design a world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience,” said Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer. “Like Amazon, Zoox is passionate about innovation and about its customers, and we’re excited to help the talented Zoox team to bring their vision to reality in the years ahead.”…

“Since Zoox’s inception six years ago, we have been singularly focused on our ground-up approach to autonomous mobility,” said Jesse Levinson, Zoox co-founder and CTO. “Amazon’s support will markedly accelerate our path to delivering safe, clean, and enjoyable transportation to the world.”…”  Read more  Hmmm… OK, but the original path to “world-class autonomous ride-hailing experience” is likely to be changed to first pass through “world-class autonomous package delivery experience”.  Amazon is now not only in control but also THE customer.   Ironically, having the primary customer, package delivery, drive the product development may actually accelerate the successful creation of a world-class affordable mobility-as-a service machines.  Delivering packages from an Amazon distribution center or from Whole Foods or from … to my “front door” has substantially easier quality-of-service and safety challenges, especially, if in the beginning, the delivery service is done between “1am and 5am”.  

Start during those times in your Operational Design Domain (ODD), continue to improve, expand to the rest of the day, enlarge your ODD and then you’ll be really ready to begin providing affordable high-quality mobility to those that need it most and everyone else too.

See also:  CNBC  Amazon to buy self-driving technology company Zoox   Alain

   Amazon Buys Self-Driving Company Zoox For $1.2B And May Rule The World

B. Templeton, June 26, “Reports have emerged that Amazon.com will purchase self-driving startup Zoox for “more than $1.2B” with exact details of the deal not disclosed. Amazon says they plan to have Zoox realize its vision of passenger transport (robotaxi) service, which I will dub “AMAZOOX.” At the same time, it is hard to believe they don’t also have interest in robotic delivery and logistics, since that’s a huge part of their business.

I have already done analysis twice on this deal — first when Zoox started shopping, and then when Amazon was revealed as the suitor. All the analysis in these articles remains similar. Today, two things become fact — the confirmation of the deal and Amazon’s declaration that they wish to support the robotaxi vision…” Read more  Hmmm…  While I would like to think it is about the aTaxi business, to me the main driver is the “free” package delivery business.  A substantial part of Amazon’s success is built on “free” delivery.  Sure, Amazon can internalize the cost of such a service, but this acquisition can enable them to move much of that internalized cost directly down to its bottom line.  That is fundamentally powerful.  Alain

  How Planes, Trains and Automobiles Worsened America’s Racial Divide

S. Gidigbi, June 26, “…But in the larger quest for justice, there’s another bill on the agenda that could also be crucial to rectifying some of the 20th century’s most deeply unfair policies: A transportation funding bill set for a vote in the House next week would help undo the injustice built into our highways, our roads and our sidewalks.

At first glance, transportation might seem like a side issue, but it has been central to the inequality debate in America for generations.

We often gloss over it today, but much of the civil rights struggle centered on access to public transportation. The unfortunate Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court decision of “separate but equal” came about because Homer Plessy was ejected from a “whites only” train car and then fought for his rights in court. Rosa Parks’ protest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott after she refused to give her seat to a white passenger after a long day of work. Her resolve united leaders to demand systemic changes including that buses stop at each street corner in Black neighborhoods just as they did in white ones. Black residents organized carpools, an early example of ride-share, and made the long treks across segregated neighborhoods to avoid using the city buses, as their yearlong campaign sought broader civil rights such as fair access to jobs and opportunity. Later, the Freedom Riders withstood rogue violence of stunning ferocity to get the Southern states to uphold the law and integrate interstate bus travel.

Transportation spending decisions have also rewritten the story of American communities over the past hundred years—in ways that cost Black communities deeply and benefited white neighborhoods….

It’s time to divest from the racist legacy of our past and invest in a more just and equitable future…. (emphasis added)

Transportation is not a side issue in our national reckoning with race. …”  Read more  Hmmm…   The real opportunity for driverless mobility machines is to deliver high-quality affordable mobility to the mobility disadvantaged… the largest segment of which are the economically disadvantaged.  The Operational Design Domains (ODDs) of these should/must begin by encompassing  these communities.  This is where these technologies can deliver the most improvement in quality-of-life and not those communities where everyone already has “fourteen” other great ways of getting to where they are going when they want to go.  Alain

  Nearly 30 years after the ADA, the nation’s transit agencies report successes and shortfalls

M. Alderton, June 26, “Scott Crawford hasn’t driven a car in 20 years.  A retired clinical neuropsychologist, Crawford relocated from Miami to his hometown of Jackson, Miss., in 2006, seven years after developing primary progressive multiple sclerosis. When his illness put him in a wheelchair, the bus became his lifeline — that is, when it didn’t leave him behind, which happened often and sometimes still does….”  Read more Hmmmm…  I continue to be dumbfounded by Conventional Transit’s complete aversion to autonomousTaxis and conventional ride-hailing (Uber/Lyft).  These are ways for the Transit Industry to  deliver “separate-but-enormously-better” mobility to the mobility disadvantaged.  And do it at a fraction of the cost of its low-quality conventional bus services and its inaccessible low-quality “rail” services. 

Definitions: High-quality mobility takes individuals from where they are to where they want to go when they want to go.  Lo-quality mobility takes individuals between a few (~20) long-ago designated locations (stops) at a few (~20) designated times. Alain  

More Hmmmm…  from Dr. Prashanth Venkataram…..For wheelchair access, subways & buses generally have complementary problems. It is easy to get to the front of a bus without an elevator, but then getting into the bus requires a ramp or lift, which is a point of failure (and note that lifts, being more mechanically complicated, tend to be more prone to failure and consequently harder to operate manually than ramps) and is a substantial cost associated with the vehicle. By contrast, getting to a subway platform typically requires an elevator (unless there is enough land to allow for long gradually-sloped floors), which is a point of failure associated with the infrastructure of a station, but getting from the platform into the train can be done much more easily. Of course, there are exceptions: many light rail trains require ramps or lifts for wheelchair access, many commuter/regional rail trains have gaps that can only be bridged by virtue of conductors on board being able to manually find ramps in stations & deploy them (as the allowable dwell times are long enough), and many subway platforms have gaps to the train that are too large to bridge (and the short dwell times & lack of conductors means the only solution is usually to retrofit level boarding by rebuilding the platform appropriately, which is quite costly & time-consuming), while on the flip side, there are only a few examples (here is one using existing buses but rebuilt sidewalks: http://www.bostonbrt.org/everettbrt ) of buses that allow for level boarding, and even then only at certain stops where the curbs have been built in tandem with the bus design to allow it.

Note also that commitment to wheelchair access in subway systems doesn’t necessarily correlate that strongly with the age of a system. While it’s reasonable that the Chicago L & Boston T aren’t fully accessible because of their ages, they do far better than the NYC Subway despite being of a similar age. Similarly, the BART & Washington Metro do far better than the Montreal Metro, which is of a similar age (that is much less than the Chicago L or Boston T). (On a side note regarding the Montreal Metro: the conscious decision by the designers of the Montreal Metro in the 1960s/1970s to ignore wheelchair access was not restricted to transit at that time. With respect to housing, there is an undergraduate dormitory at MIT, known as New House, which was built in the 1970s: during its design, budget constraints forced a choice between either elevators or air conditioning, and ultimately the latter was chosen without the former. Thankfully, recent renovations have added elevators.)

Taxi regulations typically pushed taxi companies to have a certain percentage of the fleet be wheelchair accessible, but the rise of TNCs has, especially in smaller markets, forced many taxi companies to close entirely, and those that don’t close often first get rid of their wheelchair accessible vehicles, as those tend to be more expensive to operate & requires further training of drivers in their operation, while TNCs have been unwilling to fill the gap in this way; this is especially problematic in exactly these smaller markets where there are few alternatives to driving just to get around for work or normal errands.

You & I already know that while bus services can work in moderately dense areas along certain corridors at high frequency and with good connectivity, far more economic opportunities can be opened up to people marginalized by the current transportation paradigm, including people with disabilities, through on-demand point-to-point service, and this looks to be most promising if the promises of shared driverless mobility can be realized. However, the aforementioned problems with current designs for wheelchair access need to be seriously considered as a core issue with the design of driverless vehicles, and not simply as an afterthought; at least if problems arise, it may be cheaper to take a single relatively cheap car from a large fleet out of service compared to a single relatively expensive bus from a comparatively smaller fleet. In addition to questions of physical ingress/egress, there also needs to be consideration of whether there are certain nontrivial ways that current drivers help wheelchair users enter/exit vehicles (whether cars, vans, or buses) that may not have an obvious replacement if the driver is removed (and this would be especially critical if driverless cars ended up retaining but automating current designs for ramps/lifts), and whether safety regulations for wheelchairs to be secured in vehicles (which is required for cars, vans, and buses, but typically not for trains due to the more centralized nature of control & lack of “other” traffic, and which, when required, is typically performed by the driver) need to be revisited.

Perhaps the issues of ingress/egress from buses, proposed ingress/egress from driverless cars, and general sidewalk access can all be addressed through a concerted effort to simultaneously redesign sidewalks, redesign buses, and propose new standards for driverless vehicles, to allow for level boarding (without ramps or lifts). This would not only ensure that wheelchair users currently using buses and who may in the future use driverless vehicles can access them without any assistance, but it would also improve the experience for pedestrians, speed up entry/exit of passengers from buses which will improve the overall experience, and further mitigate problems for people who may not be in wheelchairs but may have knee pain, may be pushing a stroller, et cetera. The biggest improvements from investing in level boarding would be removing all of the costs associated with ramps/lifts aboard buses and generally metaphorically leveling the playing field for wheelchair users compared to able-bodied riders, such that a wheelchair user will essentially never be in a situation of being unable to ride a bus or driverless car when an able-bodied rider can ride the same vehicle.

All of this focuses on wheelchair users, but there are other disabilities to consider too. Apps or kiosks to summon driverless cars, as well as the interfaces within the cars themselves, will need to be designed to accommodate people with low vision/blindness, as well as people with mild mental disabilities (an example can be found here: https://usa.streetsblog.org/2020/06/25/new-app-makes-mass-transit-accessible-to-people-with-cognitive-disabilities/ ); for example, cars meant for people with mental disabilities may need to have a more “friendly” face on a screen and be able to respond reasonably patiently to people with a reasonably large range of cognitive or speech disabilities to fulfill the role that kind drivers may currently play. People who may not need a wheelchair but may have other medical equipment to transport with assistance, like a portable oxygen tank, may currently require driver assistance as well as accommodation inside of the vehicle, so these things need to be considered for the design of driverless cars. (These points are more speculation from me, as I have been insulated from these issues in my own experience.)

This is my summary for your newsletter, which I have tried to tailor to the context of driverless mobility. “This is a solid summary of the current state of the strengths and weaknesses of public transit and TNCs when it comes to wheelchair access. I’ve been saying that a lot of the problems with fixed-route transit service or expensive & unreliable point-to-point paratransit service can be solved through on-demand point-to-point shared driverless mobility, giving much more mobility & freedom to those currently marginalized from today’s transportation systems at a much lower cost through sharing and through taking the driver out of the equation. However, driverless mobility developers can’t simply take it as given that their products will be a cure-all – we can’t rest on our laurels! Accessibility MUST be a core value, and just like safety, MUST be included as a high minimum constraint in the design process itself, NOT just slapped on as an afterthought which breaks way too often (which was how we got into our current mess). It would be good if there could be more coordination among driverless mobility developers, transit agencies, other city agencies, and disability advocacy groups, preferably with people with disabilities not simply confined to such advocacy groups but actually directly advising developers & agencies, to thoughtfully ensure wheelchair access for current and future mobility, through vehicles, physical infrastructure, and other aspects of the ride. Plus, drivers today do a lot to help people with other disabilities, including those with medical equipment, mental disabilities, and so on, so those riders’ needs have to be considered too – they can’t be an afterthought either just because they don’t have easily-recognizable wheelchairs!”   Prashanth

  Partnering with Volvo Car Group to scale the Waymo Driver

Company News, June 25, “On the path to building the World’s Most Experienced Driver, we partner with some of the world’s largest automakers to realize our mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going. We focus on custom designing our hardware suite, software, and compute. We then collaborate with carmakers, leveraging their expertise in automotive design, engineering, and manufacturing, to help us create vehicles that integrate easily with the Waymo Driver, making them well-suited for ride hailing, local delivery, trucking, and personal car ownership. That’s why we’re pleased to share today our latest automotive partnership.

Waymo is now the exclusive global L4 partner for Volvo Car Group, a global leader in automotive safety, including its strategic affiliates Polestar and Lynk & Co. International. Through our strategic partnership, we will first work together to integrate the Waymo Driver into an all-new mobility-focused electric vehicle platform for ride hailing services.

Adam Frost, Chief Automotive Officer, Waymo: “This key partnership with Volvo Car Group helps pave the path to the deployment of the Waymo Driver globally in years to come, and represents an important milestone in the highly competitive autonomous vehicle industry. Volvo Car Group shares our vision of creating an autonomous future where roads are safer, and transportation is more accessible and greener. We’re thrilled to welcome Volvo Car Group as our latest automotive partner.”…” Read more  Hmmm…  Yes, Waymo is in the Driver building business and not the Car building business.  The Car is the commodity here, not the Driver.    Details certainly matter, but on the surface, this deal seems to benefit Volvo much more than Waymo.  Plus, Waymo may need to be very careful to not get Levandowshied again. 

See and Andrew Hawkin’s take on this...Volvo will use Waymo’s self-driving technology to power a fleet of electric robotaxis Alain

  TuSimple is laying the groundwork for a coast-to-coast autonomous trucking network

A. Hawkins, July 1, “Autonomous trucking startup TuSimple is joining forces with big logistics providers as it seeks to bolster its delivery capabilities. The company announced it will be working with UPS, Xpress Enterprises, Penske Trucking, and Berkshire Hathaway-owned grocery and food-service distributor McLane to lay the foundation for a coast-to-coast autonomous trucking network.

TuSimple aims to be making nearly 100 delivery runs a week, doubling its current number of freight hauls, but the ramp-up will take place over the next four years….

TuSimple is aiming for a fully driverless system, but currently its trucks include a human operator to take over driving when needed. … ”  Read more  Hmmm… See promotional video.  It is a shame that TuSimple does not promote the enhanced driver working conditions that its technology provides today but instead focuses on only the removal of the driver at some distant future.  By that time all the benefits have been discounted to zero. Whatever! :-X  Alain

  Stock surge makes Tesla the world’s most valuable automaker

T. Lee, July 1,  “One share of Tesla stock traded for more than $1,130 on Wednesday, pushing the company’s market capitalization to nearly $210 billion. That sent Tesla’s market cap past Toyota, which is worth either $170 billion or $203 billion, depending on how you count it. Tesla is now the world’s most valuable car company.

It’s a remarkable milestone for a company that sells far fewer cars than its leading rivals. Toyota and its subsidiaries sold 10.7 million vehicles in 2019, while Volkswagen and its subsidiaries sold almost 11 million vehicles. Tesla sold a comparatively tiny 367,500 vehicles last year.

But Wall Street is apparently very optimistic about Tesla’s prospects for future growth and profits…”  Read more  Hmmm…. Whew!!! See Fred Lambert’s Tesla (TSLA) pushes to new all-time high as Q2 is looking better than expected.  Sure am glad I didn’t short @ $400. 🙂  Alain

  Tesla Overtakes Exxon’s Market Value in Symbolic Energy Shift

D. Wethe, June 30, “Tesla Inc.’s market value has surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp.’s in a sign that investors are increasingly betting on a global energy transition away from fossil fuels.

Elon Musk’s Tesla, now at $201 billion in market capitalization, is surging on the billionaire’s optimism that his company can avoid a second-quarter loss. Exxon, which dropped to $185 billion, is reeling from the worst crude-price crash in history. The largest oil company in the Western Hemisphere is preparing to cut some of its U.S. workforce….”  Read more  Hmmm…. Whew!!!  Who would have thought?? You can’t make up this stuff!  Alain

  Waymo to expand autonomous truck testing in the American Southwest

K.  Wiggers, June 30, “Today during a briefing with members of the media, Waymo head of commercialization for trucking Charlie Jatt outlined the company’s go-to-market plans for Waymo Via, its self-driving delivery division. In the future, Waymo will partner with OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers to equip cloud-based trucks manufactured and sold to the market with its autonomous systems. In addition, Waymo will work with fleets to provide its software services and offer support for things like mapping and remote fleet assistance.

As Waymo transitions to this model, Jatt said that Waymo intends to own and offer its own fleet of trucks — at least in the short term. One of the delivery solutions it’s exploring is a transfer-hub model where, rather than an automated truck covering an entire journey, there will be a mix of an automated portion and a portion involving manually driven, human-manned trucks. Automated vehicle transfer hubs close to highways would handle the switch-off and minimize surface street driving.

In a first step toward this vision, Waymo says it will soon expand testing on roads in New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas along the I-10 corridor between Phoenix and Tuscon, as previously announced. This year Waymo mapped routes between Phoenix, El Paso, Dallas, and Houston and ramped up testing in California on freeways in Mountain View, but the focus for the rest of 2020 will be on the American Southwest.  ” Read more  Hmmm…  Once again, Waymo, along with TuSimple may well be missing an THE opportunity to get started by not focusing on the human driving enhancement features that provide real tangible value to any long-haul truck fleet (reduced expected self-insurance expenditures, improve driver retention, create happier workforce, improved driver productivity,  …) and instead focuses on the extraction of the driver from the truck.  No one is ready to have driverless trucks traveling long hauls down interstates.  Every breakdown will be a complete fubar and the first crash will instantly halt everything and substantially devalue the ranch.  Whatever!   Alain

  AutonomouStuff June News

Staff, June 30, “In this issue:

  • Safety Q&A on ISO 26262 and beyond with VP John Buszek
  • University of Illinois expands autonomous safety with AS
  • Highlight: Qumulo Shift for AWS S3
  • In stock: Velodyne Alpha Prime

…” Read more  Hmmm…  Bobby, keep up the good work. 🙂 Alain

  Fatality Facts 2018:  Collisions with fixed objects and animals

Staff, December 2019, “About 20 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths result from a vehicle leaving the roadway and hitting a fixed object alongside the road. Trees, utility poles, and traffic barriers are the most common objects struck. Almost half of the deaths in fixed object crashes occur at night. Alcohol is a frequent contributing factor. Motorists also run off the road because of excessive speeds, falling asleep, inattention or poor visibility.

From 1975 to the mid-2000s there was a general upward trend in deaths from collisions with animals, but this trend has leveled off over the past decade. In 2018, these deaths occurred most often during July-September….”  Read more  Hmmm…  Some interesting facts here that rectify some statements made in our Zoom-inar (Video replay)  Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?  Alain

  Lyft resumes autonomous vehicle testing on public roads

K.  Wiggers, June 30, “Roughly three months after the pandemic halted its autonomous vehicle tests, Lyft today announced its safety operators will resume driving a portion of its cars on public roads. An employee-only autonomous ride-hailing pilot in Palo Alto remains on pause. But in a blog post, Lyft director of product Sameer Qureshi and director of engineering Robert Morgan characterized road testing as a “critical” part of Lyft’s driverless systems development.

In March, Lyft’s safety drivers — along with engineers and developers — were told to stay home until further notice as shelter-in-place orders made public road testing impossible. In the interim, the company has leaned on simulation to further refine its platform. Autonomous vehicle developers agree that simulation supplements but can’t replace real-world experience.

A spokesperson said Lyft would continue to abide by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and work with local governments in deciding whether to pause testing in the future. This week, governors in Washington, California, Florida, and Texas walked back some of their reopening plans as COVID-19 cases rose in more than 30 states across the U.S.

Currently, Lyft safety drivers are using personal protective equipment (including face shields) and taking precautionary steps inside the driverless vehicles. Two drivers will be paired together for two weeks at a time and subject to temperature checks, and separated by partitions installed inside the regularly sanitized cars… ” Read more  Hmmm…  OK, I guess.  :-\ Alain

  Refraction AI’s robots start delivering groceries in Ann Arbor

K.  Wiggers, June 30, “Refraction AI, a company developing semi-autonomous delivery robots, today began handling select customers’ orders from Ann Arbor, Michigan’s Produce Station. This marks the startup’s first foray into grocery delivery after the launch of its restaurant delivery service. The move comes as Refraction reports a 3-4 times uptick in pandemic-related demand….

Refraction says from today customers within a three-mile radius of Produce Station can have orders delivered by its REV-1 robot. After customers order through a dedicated website, Refraction’s employees load the vehicles at the store, and recipients receive text message updates, along with a code to open the robot’s storage compartment when it arrives…. ” Read more  Hmmm…  OK, I guess.  Alain

  Watch Tesla Autopilot swerve at last second to avoid a deer

F. Lambert, July 7, “We are starting to see an increasing number of reports from Tesla owners about Autopilot doing some really aggressive maneuvers to avoid crashes.  In this new example, a Tesla owner shares a video of Autopilot swerving to avoid a deer at the last second….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Impressive.  But I sure hope that it knew another car wasn’t in the on-coming left lane.  I’m sure it did.  (If the choice between a stationary deer or an on-coming ??? I’ll always pick the deer…)

 

Wonder why it waited so long to do the maneuver and why it didn’t seem to slow down.  It must have seen it a full 2 seconds before it passed it.  Seems like Tesla needs to do more work here.  It may well have been really lucky here (No on-coming traffic, dry straight road, …).  See video.   Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020 (But will likely need to be completely Virtual, possibly in “Second life)

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 005

AV Shark-Tank:

Topic to be Announced

Live Monday, July 13 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, to be Virtual, Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.27-What??-062520 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-27-what-062520/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-27-what-062520/#respond Fri, 26 Jun 2020 04:07:42 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8401   Thursday, June 25, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.27-What??-062520 27th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars     Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates Jump 36.6% in April Despite Quarantines, Says National Safety Council […]

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Thursday, June 25, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.27-What??-062520
27th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

 

  Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates Jump 36.6% in April Despite Quarantines, Says National Safety Council

Press release, June 24, ” Preliminary estimates based on April data from all 50 states indicate that for the second straight month, Americans did not reap any safety benefit from having less roadway traffic. In fact, the roads became even more lethal as miles driven plummeted. Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show a year-over-year 36.6% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in April, in spite of an 18% drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to April 2019. The actual number of miles driven dropped 40% compared to the same time period last year. The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.47 in April compared to 1.08 in 2019….

 

“Even without traffic, our roads were no safer,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “It is heartbreaking to see the carnage on our roadways continue, especially when our medical professionals should be able to focus intently on treating a pandemic rather than preventable car crashes. These numbers underscore our urgent need to change the culture of safety on our roads.” ..”  Read more  Hmmm….  Wow!!! Does COVID-19 have any silver linings??  So highway deaths aren’t as well correlated to VMT as we/I had thought.  what are the other big terms is the relationship?  Alcohol consumption?,  Speed?, all the safe drivers staying home and only the high liability drivers (teenagers and Generation COVIDs out there texting??? Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 162 – Cliff Winston

F. Fishkin, June 17, “From the Brookings Institution, Cliff Winston, co-author of Autonomous Vehicles…The Road to Economic Growth? joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. Plus..why are fatal crash rates rising in the midst of a pandemic…plus NVIDIA, Didi, Tesla and more.”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 162 – Cliff Winston

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 162.  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: 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 initiatives.


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004 Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

F. Fishkin, June 23, “But the debate is not really about technology nor is it about who delivers the best value for the money or the most privacy. It is about …”

Listen/Watch more  Hmmm…   We only scratched the surface. Alain


  INRIX U.S. National Traffic Volume Synopsis Issue #14 (June 13 – June 19, 2020)

R. Schuman, June 22, “This is the 14th edition of a weekly review of changes in road traffic demand in the United States from the COVID-19 virus spread and our collective response.[1]  We will endeavor to publish this Synopsis every Monday for the foreseeable future, providing results through Friday of the previous week. If interested in detailed information with daily updates, we have introduced the INRIX Trip Trends.

Key Findings:…”  Read more  Hmmm… Rick, continued excellent relative (to Saturday, February 29, 2020) measure of travel throughout the US.  Compilation is assembled from an enormously large sample (~10% ) of individual daily trips. 

In the past,  there have been significant recurring seasonal variations in traffic that have been characterized using much less exhaustive datasets that estimate Vehicle Miles Traveled, by not actually  counting miles traveled by vehicles, but by counting number of vehicles passing by a fixed set of locations (i) and “magically” referencing those Counts(i), i = 1, N, to a vmtRate(i), i = 1, N, and summing to get a total VMT measure. 

Does anyone ever actually sample vehicle trips, measure the length of each and “correct for sampling bias while summing” to get an estimate of VMT???  Then again, the value of mobility is derived by individuals (and goods) so the real measure of interest is PMT (Person Miles Traveled) not VMT. 

See also INRIX Onward Blog for other very interesting reports.  Alain

  Autonomous Vehicles: The Road to Economic Growth?

C. Winston, Q. Karpilow, July 2020, “… As this book argues, autonomous vehicles represent a watershed moment in the development of transportation.  If properly encouraged, this innovation promises not only to vastly improve road travel and generate huge benefits to travelers, shippers, delivery companies but also benefit the entire economy by …    In addition …  the negative effects are generally overstated because….

As Bowler (2017) notes i the case of air transportation, as late as the 1920s skeptics still scoffed at the whole of a commercially viable aviation industry…  Similarly, autonomous vehicles ….   And it is plausible that competition among cities, states and even countries will develop and provide plausible incentives for policymakers to expedite the adoption and efficient operation of AVs….

This book draws three primary conclusions…

However, because we take the long-run view… our main focus here is on Level-5 vehicles. ”  Read more  Hmmm… Can’t wait for it to become available. Unfortunately, to me, “Level 5” is a euphemism for consumer owned and managed driverless cars that I’ve claimed don’t have a business case, therefore will “never” happen (just like the Segway???.

 

But read the book thinking Level 4… “Driverless mobility machines”. See also our ZoomCast with Cliff Winston.   Alain

  Nvidia and Mercedes-Benz detail self-driving system with automated routing and parking

K.  Wiggers, June 23, “Nvidia today shed light on an expanded collaboration with Mercedes-Benz to roll out an in-vehicle computing system and AI infrastructure starting in 2024, which was first revealed last January. The two companies say the platform will launch across the fleet of next-generation Mercedes-Benz vehicles, imbuing those vehicles with upgradable automated driving functions.

The efforts build on a longstanding collaboration between Nvidia and Mercedes. At the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, the companies showcased a concept cockpit dubbed the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, which infused AI into car infotainment systems. And in July 2018, Nvidia and Mercedes along with Bosch announced a partnership to operate a robo-taxi service in San Jose.

A headlining feature of the forthcoming Nvidia-designed system for Mercedes vehicles, which will be based on the former’s Drive product, is the ability to automate driving of regular routes from any address to address. In addition, the platform will allow customers to download in-car safety, convenience, entertainment, and subscription apps and services via an over-the-air in-car system akin to Tesla’s.  ” Read more  Hmmm…If one wonders why Tesla is so valuable one need only read   starting in 2024 and akin to Tesla’sAt least they are planning to launch in 2024 and not later.  Plus, while not a fan of Tesla’s StupidSummon and its various copycats, I wonder why they are focusing on parking.  Way too prone to encourage misbehavior by owners. 

Corresponding Press release by nVIDIA:  Mercedes-Benz and NVIDIA to Build Software-Defined Computing Architecture for Automated Driving Across Future Fleet.  and Blog with  and nVIDIA Automotive Media Event. Alain

  Watch Tesla Autopilot drive through green light ‘knowingly’ for the first time

F. Lambert, June 17, “Tesla Autopilot is now knowingly able to drive through green lights, and some owners are starting to test it out.
I emphasize “knowingly” because technically Autopilot has always been able to drive through intersections, but it didn’t really know what it was doing.

It was either trying to stay within a lane or to follow a lead car.  Now Tesla Autopilot has evolved enough that it actually knows what it is doing… ” Read more Hmmmm…  Impressive.  But it really requires you to be paying attention because if it thinks green (green line across lane ahead on display) and you see the light has turned red, you’d better be ready to apply the brakes; else, you are about to be in very deep ca ca.  See video.   Alain

  China’s Didi Aims for 1 Million Robotaxis on Its Platform by 2030

Reuters, June 23, “China’s ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing aims to operate more than 1 million self-driving cars through its platform by 2030, an executive said on Tuesday.  Didi is developing autonomous driving technologies and plans to deploy so-called robotaxis in areas where there is a shortage of ride-hailing car supply, said Meng Xing, the chief operating officer of the company’s autonomous driving unit, at an online conference hosted by South China Morning Post..

 

While some industry insiders said it will take time for the public to trust autonomous vehicles fully, Meng said that Didi, which is developing autonomous cars with China’s BAIC Group [BEJINS.UL], expects autonomous vehicles to be in mass production by 2025.” Read more  Hmmm… Why not.  In some/many situations it may well be more reliable and substantially easier to dispatch a driverless mobility machine to serve trip makers, than convince a human driver that it is in their best interest to provide a high quality level-of-service.   That’s been the role of machines throughout history, especially when machines become cheaper than human blood, sweat and tears.  Alain

   Tesla Autopilot confuses Burger King for stop signs, they turn into ad campaign

F. Lambert, June 25, “Burger King figured out that Tesla Autopilot’s new “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control” feature can confuse Burger King signs for stop signs and they quickly turned it into an ad campaign.
In April, Tesla started to push an Autopilot update with the ability to detect and stop the vehicles at traffic lights and stop signs.

The new feature is called “Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control.”  It is still in beta and it doesn’t always work as intended.

Burger King apparently figured out that sometimes, the new Autopilot feature can confuse its restaurant sign for a stop sign – prompting the car to slow down and stop for it.

They turned it into an interactive ad campaign featuring a Tesla Model 3:… ” Read more Hmmmm…   See video.  Cute plus free advertising for Tesla.  Alain

  New Flyer to deploy first automated heavy-duty transit bus in North America; supporting Connecticut’s pursuit of integrated mobility

Press release, June 22, “New Flyer of America Inc. (“New Flyer”), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (“NFI”), one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, announced it will deploy North America’s first automated heavy-duty transit bus with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (“CTDOT”).

The automated driving demonstration project will include the deployment of three forty-foot battery-electric, Xcelsior CHARGE™ heavy-duty transit buses. The zero-emission deployment supports CTDOT’s demonstration project, funded by the Federal Transit Administration’s (“FTA”) Integrated Mobility Innovation (“IMI”) initiative, which supports projects demonstrating innovative and effective practices to enhance public transportation effectiveness, efficiency, quality, safety and transit rider experience.

This marks the first time an automated heavy-duty transit bus will be deployed in revenue service in North America. The project team is led by the CTDOT and consists of New Flyer, New Flyer’s technology partner Robotic Research, and the Center for Transportation and Environment (“CTE”), a nonprofit with extensive experience supporting FTA projects….”   Read more  Hmmm… All good, especially for improving the driver’s workplace.  Can’t imagine that this automation is focused on replacing the driver, since it is being implemented on a large bus that carries many passengers so that each rider only has to contribute a small amount to pay for the driver.  If it was a small bus carrying only a few people to where they want to go when they want to go, then the automation might have an opportunity to have the transit company affordably and profitably serve those kinds of customers.  Alain

  Segway: End of the road for the much-hyped two-wheeler

Staff, June 24,  “Launched in 2001, the much-hyped self-balancing vehicle promised to revolutionise personal transport.  The Segway, invented by US engineer Dean Kamen, debuted with much fanfare, but struggled to make a profit.  Accidents didn’t help with the Segway’s popularity, and the company was bought by Chinese rival Ninebot in 2015.

Made at a factory in New Hampshire, in the US, production of the Segway Personal Transporter will end on 15 July.

Announcing the news, Segway president Judy Cai said: “Within its first decade, the Segway PT became a staple in security and law enforcement, viewed as an effective and efficient personal vehicle.”  However, in the vehicle’s almost two decade-long hiNew Flyer of America Inc. (“New Flyer”), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (“NFI”), one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, announced it will deploy North America’s first automated heavy-duty transit bus with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (“CTDOT”).

The automated driving demonstration project will include the deployment of three forty-foot battery-electric, Xcelsior CHARGE™ heavy-duty transit buses. The zero-emission deployment supports CTDOT’s demonstration project, funded by the Federal Transit Administration’s (“FTA”) Integrated Mobility Innovation (“IMI”) initiative, which supports projects demonstrating innovative and effective practices to enhance public transportation effectiveness, efficiency, quality, safety and transit rider experience.

This marks the first time an automated heavy-duty transit bus will be deployed in revenue service in North America. The project team is led by the CTDOT and consists of New Flyer, New Flyer’s technology partner Robotic Research, and the Center for Transportation and Environment (“CTE”), a nonprofit with extensive experience supporting FTA projects.story it has also been the subject of mockery and high-profile collisions as well as a tragic death….”   Read more  Hmmm… RIP Segholes and another wrong image for law enforcement.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020 (But will likely need to be completely Virtual, possibly in “Second life)

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 005

AV Shark-Tank:

Topic to be Announced

Live Monday, July 13 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.26-AV_TEST-061820 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-26-av_test-061820/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-26-av_test-061820/#respond Fri, 19 Jun 2020 17:32:46 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8376   Thursday, June 18, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.26-AV_TEST-061820 26th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces First Participants in New Automated Vehicle Initiative to […]

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Thursday, June 18, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.26-AV_TEST-061820
26th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces First Participants in New Automated Vehicle Initiative to Improve Safety, Testing, and Public Engagement 

Press release, June 15, “The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced nine companies and eight States that have signed on as the first participants in a new Department initiative to improve the safety and testing transparency of automated driving systems, the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) Initiative.  The participating companies are Beep, Cruise, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Local Motors, Navya, Nuro, Toyota, Uber, and Waymo.  The States are California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah.

“Through this initiative, the Department is creating a formal platform for Federal, State, and local government to coordinate and share information in a standard way,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. …

This initiative aligns with the Department’s leadership on automated driving system vehicles, including AV 4.0:  Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies.”  Read more  Hmmm…  Excellent. This is really good because it is promotes and organizes the open sharing of safety information assoiated with automated driving.   This is extremely important because safety of these systems is a necessary condition for their adoption. 

Unfortunately, a few things seem to be missing from the announcement. 

  1. a budget (Washington may not have any money left after COVID-19),
  2. any mention of mobility for people or for goods.  The testing of safety is conducted without doing any useful mobility, but the value of testing is derived from the delivery of that mobility.  Safety in that context requires the active engagement the entities that are being transported.  It is very important that this initiative include potential customers and neighborhoods whose streets such automation might use, and
  3. the whole Northeast including New Jersey seems to have not “signed on”, nor is Ford/Argo, Zooks, Aurore, Voyage Amazon, Apple…. 🙁  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 161 – Alberto Stochino

F. Fishkin, June 17, “Is less data sometimes more when it comes to driverless vehicle technology? Perceptive Founder and CEO Alberto Stochino joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus the DOT’s new plan for sharing autonomous safety information, the latest from Tesla, EVs from China and more.”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 161 – Alberto Stochino

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 161  .  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: 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 initiatives.


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004 Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

Live:  Tuesday, June 23, 2:00pm New York Time

Free Pre-registration is required


  Michigan, Fiat Chrysler join federal self-driving car initiative

K. Laing, June 15, “… But safety advocates sharply criticized the transportation department for sticking with an voluntary approach to self-driving regulation that critics have described as toothless, citing fatal accidents involving partially autonomous cars that have been operated in recent years by companies such as Tesla and Uber. Read more  Hmmm… How much more “teeth” could regulations and US DoT contribute that make a dent in the “teeth” that the economy sink into Uber’s bottom for its pathetic system design and implementation that disregarded stationary objects in the lane ahead.  That caused $60B in valuation to evaporate. 

Tesla has somewhat of an excuse to disregard stationary objects in the lane ahead.  It explicitly puts that responsibility on the human driver.  If bad things happen, it is the driver’s misbehavior that’s the root cause. AutoPilots have always required driver supervision whether they be in Boeings or Teslas.  Alain

  The Plan to Merge Geely Auto and Volvo Cars, plus more

M. Sena, July, 2020 issue, “The July issue of The Dispatcher continues the theme of the impact of China on the global automotive industry by looking at the proposal of Volvo Car’s parent company, Geely, to merge Volvo Cars and Geely Auto and take the combined company public. In Musings I discuss the issue of vehicle connectivity again, and in Dispatch Central I review current attempts to promote electrification through incentives that are also aimed at helping the automobile industry get through the COVID-19 pandemic….” Read more  Hmmm…  Another excellent issue.   See especially the whole section:  Musings of a Dispatcher: Vehicle Connectivity
We’re all speaking different languages.
  … a follow-up to the most interesting Zoom-tank Zoom-inar 003 on Connectivity in which Michael was the provacteur.  Alain

  Renault Rattled by Threat From Chinese Electric Cars Imports

T. Patel, June 12, “A flood of Chinese electric cars coming ashore in Norway — one of the biggest markets for battery-powered vehicles in Europe — is a sign of the “ferocious competition” awaiting the region’s automakers.

That warning by Jean-Dominique Senard, chairman of struggling French carmaker Renault SA, comes as European manufacturers roll out more electric cars in the midst of a deep slump brought on by the coronavirus.

Tighter emissions rules across the European Union have prodded automakers to lean into the transition to electric powertrains or face big fines this year. To further spur electric-car sales, the governments of France and Germany have included extra incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles in economic stimulus packages.

As a result, the Chinese models are arriving in a market that’s becoming increasingly crowded with new EVs, including Renault’s updated and best-selling Zoe subcompact and Volkswagen AG’s coming ID.3….” Read more  Hmmm… Will this look like the Electric Scooter invassion  Re-read Michael Sena’s Dispatchers from March, May and June for more background.  Alain

  FORD CO-PILOT360™ TECHNOLOGY ADDS HANDS-FREE DRIVING, OVER-THE-AIR UPDATES AND MORE TO HELP FORD CUSTOMERS FEEL MORE RELAXED AND CONFIDENT

Press release, June 18, “Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology – a comprehensive collection of available driver-assist features – adds new offerings including Active Drive Assist, allowing for hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of divided highways in all 50 states and Canada.

“The stress of long highway drives remains a huge issue for drivers around the world,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development and purchasing officer. “By introducing driver-assist technologies like Active Drive Assist, Ford’s version of hands-free driving, we’re allowing our customers to feel more confident whenever they’re behind the wheel.”

Active Drive Assist is the next evolution of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Lane Centering from Ford, adding a first-for-Ford Hands-Free Mode with the potential for more enhancements in the future.1…”  Read more Hmmmm…. Excellent… Active Drive Assist sounds very much like GM’s Super Cruise  and their TM Co-Pilot360 may well infringe on ALK’s CoPilot wich was trademarked last century.  Alain

  Cadillac Super Cruise vs. Tesla Autopilot

R. Glon, June 10, “Tesla’s Autopilot technology is one of the most-hyped and best-known suites of electronic driving aids, but it’s not the only (or the best) system of its kind on the market. Cadillac’s Super Cruise isn’t as well known, yet it’s outstandingly safe and, in some ways, smarter than Autopilot. Join us for a look at how these rivaling systems work, the ways they’re similar, and the areas where they differ….” Read more Hmmmm…. Informative.  Alain

  We’re never going to get meaningful data on self-driving car testing

A. Hawkins, June 15, “The US Department of Transportation launched a new voluntary program to collect and share data from autonomous vehicle operators. Companies testing AVs on public roads are invited to submit information to the government, which will then publicize it online. But given the voluntary nature of the program, safety advocates say the effort is likely to fall short of providing useful data to the public.

There is currently no federal rule requiring AV companies to submit information about their testing activities to the government. Instead, a patchwork of state-by-state regulations govern what is and isn’t disclosed. California has the most stringent rules, requiring companies to obtain a license for different types of testing, disclose vehicle crashes, list the number of miles driven, and the frequency at which human safety drivers were forced to take control of their autonomous vehicles (also known as a “disengagement”). Unsurprisingly, AV companies hate California’s requirements…. “. Read more Hmmmm….Testing with “safety drivers” behind the wheel is really just like driving a Tesla with autoPilot.  No need for the Feds or States to require anything. 

More importnt is the understanding of the decision process and the evidence that a company will use to offer mobility services without a driver or attendant on-board.  Those data and evidence should be captured in a certification process, not a testing process.  What process will convince a community, a State, a Federal government, a …  to welcome such driverless mobility services in its prescribed Operational Design Domain (ODD). Alain

   Tesla admits its approach to self-driving is harder but might be only way to scale

F. Lambert, June 18, “Tesla’s head of AI admitted that the automaker’s approach to self-driving is harder than what most companies in the industry are doing, but he says it’s the only way to scale.

There are dozens of high-profile companies working on solving self-driving and virtually as many different approaches, but there are two main differences: those who rely mainly if not entirely on computer vision and those who rely on HD mapping.  Tesla falls in the former category of relying on computer vision.

Andrej Karpathy, Tesla’s head of AI and computer vision, is leading this effort.  Earlier this week, he participated in a CVPR’20 workshop on “Scalability in Autonomous Driving” during which he gave an update on the status of Tesla’s program and talked about the scalability challenges:… ” Read more Hmmmm…   Must  Watch video! At 2:30 in, does AutoPlot actually know the clearance in the lane ahead under the 2nd overpass?   I sure hope so.

 

The problem with “relying” on HD maps is that they contain zero information about the objects moving in the scene ahead,  You need something else (vision) to  “see” these objects and to tag their location, velocit, acceleration relative to you so you can avoid hitting them or them hitting you. Since vision can also deal with the stationary objects, the HD aspects of digital maps are not necessary and tough to justify even as a redundancy. Alain

  New method makes more data available for training self-driving cars

CMU, June 17, “…In the past, state-of-the-art methods for training such a system have required the use of labeled datasetssensor data that has been annotated to track each 3-D point over time. Manually labeling these datasets is laborious and expensive, so, not surprisingly, little labeled data exists. As a result, scene flow training is instead often performed with simulated data, which is less effective, and then fine-tuned with the small amount of labeled real-world data that exists.

Mittal, Held and robotics Ph.D. student Brian Okorn took a different approach, using unlabeled data to perform scene flow training. Because unlabeled data is relatively easy to generate by mounting a lidar on a car and driving around, there’s no shortage of it.

The key to their approach was to develop a way for the system to detect its own errors in scene flow. At each instant, the system tries to predict where each 3-D point is going and how fast it’s moving. In the next instant, it measures the distance between the point’s predicted location and the actual location of the point nearest that predicted location. This distance forms one type of error to be minimized… ”   Read more Hmmmm….  I don’t understand… “the actual location of the point nearest that predicted location” is a label.  Something had to classify/label that “actual” point.  LiDAR doesn’t classify each point.  If it did, you wouldn’t need any “method”, new or not.  ???? Alain   

   Tesla deliveries unsurprisingly crash in US amid pandemic but it’s not that bad

F. Lambert, June 17, “Tesla deliveries have fallen ~37% in California and ~30% in the US based on registration data, but it’s not surprising amid the pandemic and actually not even that bad of a drop.   Due to the pandemic, Tesla had to shut down its Fremont factory for just over a month in March and April.

It is where Tesla produces most of its vehicles and therefore, the shutdown is expected to have a major impact on Tesla’s sales and ultimately its financial results during the second quarter.

The Wall Street Journal now reports data registration for Tesla in California, Tesla’s biggest market in the US, and it shows a 37% drop in April and Ma:… ” Read more Hmmmm…  Impressive.  Need to wait for China deliveries in those months.  Could be really impressive.  Alain

   Driver free but virus free? Robo cars hit new speed bump

T. Krisher, June 17, “… An executive with self-driving car company Waymo said Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic forced it to put its limited ride service in the Phoenix area on hold to make sure human backup drivers and passengers were safe.

The passenger-carrying service hasn’t resumed yet, but testing restarted on May 8. Some of the rides were shifted toward delivery, Patrick Cadariu, Waymo’s head of supply chain operations, said on a webinar….”  Read more Hmmmm….  On the positive side, the coders continue to imprve the code  Making these driverless cars safe,remains  to be the “critical path” to driverless mobility services.  This may not have hit a speed bump, but instead has accelerated because the coders may have actually become more productive.  Just a thought.  Alain

  Watch This Stopped Tesla Model 3 Get Violently Rear Ended By A Chevy SUV

S. Loveday,  June 11, “Watch This Stopped Tesla Model 3 Get Violently Rear Ended By A Chevy SUV…”   Read more  Hmmm…  See video.  So much for the automated emergency braking system on the Chevy SUV.. It either didn’t have one or the one it had didn’t work.   Alain

  Toyota Looks Pretty Smart Right Now On Autonomous Vehicles

T. Davenport, June 10, “…All of which makes Toyota’s strategy on smart cars the smartest one around. For years it’s been pursuing Guardian—a project at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) focused on making human driving smarter and safer. …”  Read more  Hmmm… What I’ve been calling Safe-driving cars.   Nice that Toyota continue to work on these.  It would be nice if they were available in showrooms.  It would be pretty smart if they were in showrooms now.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020 (Maybe???)

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004

AV Shark-Tank:

Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

Live Tuesday, June 23 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.25-Birthday-0612420 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-25-birthday-0612420/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-25-birthday-0612420/#respond Sat, 13 Jun 2020 14:32:18 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8358   Friday, June 12, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.25-Birthday-061220 25th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   Society of Actuaries Research Brief Impact of COVID-19, June 12, 2020 R. Dale Hall, June […]

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Friday, June 12, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.25-Birthday-061220
25th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Society of Actuaries Research Brief Impact of COVID-19, June 12, 2020

R. Dale Hall, June 12, “…By June 10, 2020, 7.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, and the count continues to climb with general agreement that the number is actually higher due to delays in full testing and reporting in many countries. Approximately 188 countries have reported at least one confirmed case and about 416,000 deaths from COVID-19.6 It is important to recognize that the number of reported confirmed cases for any disease typically lags the number of actual confirmed cases. As a result, the number of reported confirmed cases typically continues to rise after the actual number of new confirmed cases declines….”  Read more  Hmmm… Excellent!  An enormous amount here.   See especially FIg 11 and 17.  These are trully non-uniform distributions.  Also Table 1, Figures 21, 22, 24, 25, Table 3, …  An enormous amount to digest here.  Excellent.  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 160 – Jessica Cicchino

F. Fishkin, June 12, “Insurance Institute for Highway Safety  Research VP Jessica Cicchino co-authored a new study saying self driving vehicles could struggle to eliminate most crashes.   She joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin to discuss the study.  Plus the latest on Tesla, Ford & VW, Covid-19 and more.  “   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 160 – Jessica Cicchino

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 160  .  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: 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 initiatives.


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004 Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

Live:  Tuesday, June 23, 2:00pm New York Time

Free Pre-registration is required


  Self-driving vehicles could struggle to eliminate most crashes

Press release, June 2, “Driver mistakes play a role in virtually all crashes. That’s why automation has been held up as a potential game changer for safety. But autonomous vehicles might prevent only around a third of all crashes if automated systems drive too much like people, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety….

But the Institute’s analysis suggests that only about a third of those crashes were the result of mistakes that automated vehicles would be expected to avoid simply because they have more accurate perception than human drivers and aren’t vulnerable to incapacitation. To avoid the other two-thirds, they would need to be specifically programmed to prioritize safety over speed and convenience…”  Read more  Hmmm…   Repeat of  nsertion that was in SDC 8.24 last week.  As I noted, this is NOT good news.  However, as is often the case, details matter.  After reading the Report: “What humanlike errors do autonomous vehicles need toavoid to maximize safety?” by A. Mueller, J.Cicchono and D. Zuby, the fundamental assumption is that the AV system functions only make the best out of driver misbehavior rather than being pro-active and precluding the driver from  misbehaving.  Baically the assumption is “let drivers be drivers and have the AV system clean up the mess as best it can.  Drivers can continue to misbehave by tailgating, speeding, running red lights, crossing double lines when traffic is on-coming, driving into fog, hurricanes, ice covered roads, un-plowed deep knee-deep snow-covered lanes, get too close to bikers,  etc. 

 

The “AV system” considered in this study is basically limited to driver warnings and some automated collision avoidance.  It’s “Tesla’s AutoPilot” improved with an automated collison avoidance system that doesn’t disregard stationary objects ahead.  Sure!  Under these circumstances, reducing at-fault crashes for the average driver by 30% is actually doing really well!   But that’s not a “Safe-driving Car”!  

 

A Safe-driving Car is one that has enough perception of the road ahead to enable it to over-ride driver misbehaviors.  It doesn’t let the driver tailgate, speed excessively, run red lights, cross double lines when there is on-coming traffic, …. .   Such an AV system has an opportunity to reduce at-fault crashes much more substantially.  These capabilities are absolutely necessary in Driverless cars with the added avantage that they don’t have a human driver working against the safe operation of the system.

 

Of course, Safe-driving cars and Driverless cars are not immune from being T-boned by a conventional car running a red light, or having a bicyclist run into them, or … .  Some folks will prefer to not own a Safe-driving car or not use driverless mobility.  For them, it is important that at least their insurance premiums reflect the carnage and expected liability of their at-fault driver behavior.   Their insurance premiums should be very expensive. These issues and others will likely come up during our next Zoom-Tank Zoom-inar now scheduled for 2:00pm, Tuesday, June 23 focused on Insurance and SmartDrivingCars.  Alain

  Are Tesla Vehicles The Most Dangerous Cars On The Road?

S. Loveday,  June 10, Due to the selective nature of reports in the media, as well as the focus on negative and bad news over positive reports, some people may be concerned about buying a Tesla. It will catch fire, it accelerates on its own when you least expect it, and its Autopilot system might cause a crash.

While all of these things “could” happen, they’re arguably not likely to happen any more often in a Tesla or any electric car than they are in a gas car. In fact, there’s plenty of research that suggests EVs are less likely to catch fire, driver-assist systems save many more lives than they take, and sudden unintended acceleration is much more unlikely than driver error.

Over the years, we’ve seen news of Tesla fires. Now, as more electric cars come to market, we’re getting reports of other automaker’s EVs catching fire….

Just like the fires, we’ve seen our fair share of Tesla crashes involving Autopilot….

‘More recently, there have been plenty of claims of sudden unintended acceleration in Tesla’s vehicles. Thus far, none have been proven….

According to official crash tests and car fire statistics, the answer is very much the opposite. In order to put all the information in one place and set the record straight, Electric Future produced the above video with all the numbers….”   Read more  Hmmm…  Again, Tesla has the fundamental user data that can go a very long way to characterize even the nuances of Tesla’s safety.  I can understand the many reasons that Tesla doesn’t want to release the data. A major one beng that comparable data doesn’t exist for any of the other cars on the road. 

Since safety is realy a relative perception, rather than an absolute fact, fighting relative perception with facts is ususally futile and often counter productive.   Never the less, and especially since Tesla is close to being the most valuable auto OEM, I call on Tesla to lead.  Bring real transparancy to safety.  Release your undelying safety data to independent scholarly investigators.    Short of that, I recommend whatching InsideEV’s video.  While watchng, also please think “driver misbehavior” every time you hear “driver error“.  Alain

Tesla stock soars above $1,000 as Musk vows to “go all out” for Semi

T. Lee, June 10, “Tesla’s stock price soared above $1,000 on Wednesday. The rise pushed the company’s valuation to around $190 billion—within striking distance of the world’s most valuable car company, Toyota, at $215 billion.

Tesla’s stock surge comes a week after one of Tesla’s leading electric vehicle rivals, Nikola, debuted its stock on public markets. Like Tesla, Nikola is building all-electric vehicles. But there are a couple of big differences. First, while Tesla initially focused on passenger cars, Nikola will initially sell trucks along with off-road vehicles and a jet ski. Second, while Tesla cars run on batteries, Nikola is focusing on fuel cells—though some vehicles will have a battery option.

Nikola’s first week on the stock market has been strong, with the stock price nearly doubling to reach Wednesday’s closing price of $65. This makes Nikola worth nearly $30 billion—on par with Ford—before it has shipped its first vehicle.

Nikola’s debut on the stock market apparently got Elon Musk’s attention. In a Wednesday email to staff, Musk reportedly wrote that it was “time to go all out” and bring the long-delayed Tesla Semi to market. The Semi was initially planned for production in 2019, but Tesla recently admitted that the ship date would slip to 2021. Two years ago, Nikola sued Tesla, arguing that Tesla’s design for the semi was too similar to Nikola’s own semitruck design. That legal battle continues to this day….”  Read more  Hmmm…  Who knew that the truck business was incrementally worth that much.   Wow!  Alan

    Transportation lab predicts “extreme traffic” for some cities following COVID-19

M. Shapiro, June 5, “As communities and cities across America embark on paths for reopening, a transportation group at Vanderbilt is asking the question: What will traffic look like if transit riders become car drivers?

A new article, published online by the Work Research Group at Vanderbilt, takes a hard look at transportation modes during and after the COVID-19 pandemic using mathematical analysis and basic laws of traffic to explore scenarios of increased car commuting. Through their work, the researchers predict a sweeping switch to single-occupancy vehicle commuting and resulting risk for extreme traffic in large metro areas.

The article, titled “The Rebound,” is available online: https://lab-work.github.io/therebound/…”  Read more  Hmmm…Be sure to read the paper.  Many caveats and assumptions (as always when looking into the future), but really good.  Alain

  Temple Grandin, Elon Musk And The Interesting Parallels Between Autonomous Vehicles And Autism

R. Razdan, June 7, “:…”For the last decade, autonomous vehicles have been attempting to become operational with great fanfare with companies such as Waymo(Google) and Musk’s Tesla TSLArolling out solutions. Interestingly, in a similar period of time, an increasing number of people with autism have wanted to join the driving public, and this has prompted research studies on their effectiveness in the driving task. This is reported in an excellent and fascinating New York Times NYT article “The Challenge of Driving With Asperger’s.” Several comments in the article are directly on-point relative to autonomous vehicles:…  

 

Finally, the commonality brings up a more basic question: Shouldn’t AVs pass at least the same tests as outlined in the guideline from the autism institute ? It seems somehow illogical that one would allow an AV on the road in a situation where there was a determination that a human should not drive.”  Read more  Hmmm…   Very interesting!! Alain

   Watch Tesla’s latest Autopilot software handle a roundabout

F. Lambert, June 11, “A new video shows Tesla’s latest Autopilot software handling the steering automatically in a full roundabout.   As we previously reported, Tesla is going through “a significant foundational rewrite in the Tesla Autopilot.” As part of the rewrite, CEO Elon Musk says that the “neural net is absorbing more and more of the problem.”

It will also include a more in-depth labeling system.  Musk described 3D labeling as a game-changer:… ” Read more Hmmmm…     Watch video.  Alain

Image removed by sender. Ford Logo    Ford, Volkswagen Sign Agreements for Joint Projects On Commercial Vehicles, EVs, Autonomous Driving

Press release, June 10, “Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG today signed agreements that expand their global alliance to meet rapidly evolving needs of their respective customers in Europe and other regions by leveraging complementary strengths in midsize pickup trucks and commercial and electric vehicles.  Plans for the agreements were first announced by Ford and Volkswagen last July…”  Read more Hmmmm…  More official details about the agreement that we’ve been follwoing for a while.  Alain

Vw Logo                                                   transparent PNG -                                                   StickPNGVolkswagen’s Trailer Assist Video

2016??? “VW faking it to promote their “Trailer Assist capability”  See video  Hmmm…   Cute but given Dieselgate, VW should be careful in its efforts to fool the public.  They must have better things to do.  Alain

  Top Tesla investor bets flying taxis are the future, taking a stake in German start-up Lilium

R. Browne, June 8, “Baillie Gifford, Tesla’s top external investor, has invested $35 million in Lilium, a German start-up vying to become a major player in the emerging “air taxi” space.

Munich-headquartered Lilium made waves last year with the maiden flight of its five-seater electric aircraft, the Lilium Jet. The vehicle takes off and lands vertically, similar to a helicopter, but is powered by 36 electric jet engines placed in two sets of wings.

The firm has now secured a valuation of more than $1 billion thanks to an extension of a $240 million investment round announced earlier this year, raising it into the ranks of Europe’s unicorn companies. Baillie Gifford has taken a less than 5% stake in Lilium.  The fresh funding takes Lilium’s total investment to date to more than $375 million. The company’s other backers include Tencent, Atomico, Freigeist and LGT….” Read more Hmmmm…  I’m still not a fan of toys for the 1%ers. I doubt that its value is CBD2CBD, but instead Village2Village (Hamptons2SuburbanOffice).  CBD office towers are doomed in the NewNormal. Has good videos. Alain 

SPACEX MARS CITY: ELON MUSK CONFIRMS HE’S STICKING TO AMBITIOUS LAUNCH DATE

M. Brown, June 5, “SpaceX wants to build a city on Mars, and it’s not waiting around to get started.  On Friday, CEO Elon Musk confirmed via Twitter that he’s still aiming to launch the first ships to Mars by 2022. These ships will hold cargo designed to support a future manned mission. That mission will come in 2024, the next time when the Earth and Mars are close again…”  Read more Hmmmm… While much crazier, I’m a fan of this.  A dream that died 50 years ago, not seems almost doable.  If you haen’t seen Musk’s 2017 vision, see it here.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020 (Maybe???)

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


Half-Baked

Samsung AR glasses patent shows off turn-by-turn navigation function

S. Szymkowski, June 3, “… In a patent filed in South Korea, Samsung partially describes a pair of glasses with AR functions that can provide turn-by-turn navigation right in front of the driver’s eyes. Essentially, it sounds a bit like a head-up display of the kind some cars provide in the windshield, but in this case, it’s directly ahead of the driver, thanks to the glasses….”  Read more Hmmmm…As if heads up displays weren’t annoying enough, last thing one needs are turn-by-turn directions in your face which ever way you turn your head.  Yipes!!! So bad!  So annoying!! Alain


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004

AV Shark-Tank:

Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

Live Tuesday, June 23 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.24-Everyone-060420 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-24-everyone-060420/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-24-everyone-060420/#respond Fri, 05 Jun 2020 13:43:46 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8338   Thursday, June 4, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.24-Everyone-060420 24th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   Two-way Vehicle Connectivity is a Three-sided Coin That Everyone Wants to Own M. Sena, May […]

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Thursday, June 4, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.24-Everyone-060420
24th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Two-way Vehicle Connectivity is a Three-sided Coin That Everyone Wants to Own

M. Sena, May 26, “Two-way vehicle connectivity has three facets. Two of them are mainly of interest to vehicle OEMs and their suppliers. They are vehicle-centric and customer-centric. Vehicle-centric connectivity includes functions such emergency notification, logistics tracking and over-the-air updating. Customer centric connectivity includes many services that are also provided by mobile apps outside of the vehicle, such as music streaming, workshop service booking, traffic notifications and car sharing applications. Two-way vehicle connectivity today is a major competitive factor for the OEMs.

The third vehicle connectivity facet is principally of interest to public sector traffic management authorities. It is focused on communicating warnings to vehicles and providing guidance on which roads to use in case of traffic congestion or emergencies. The public authorities view these roadway-centric functions as their domain, and vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication as the tools to accomplish the job. They are grouped together under the term V2X. This third facet is not a competitive factor for the OEMs. If it is legislated, V2X will not distinguish one OEM from another since every OEM will have to include it….

But the debate is not really about technology nor is it about who delivers the best value for the money or the most privacy. It is about…”  Read more  Hmmmm… The provacateur’s lead at the beginning of our 3rd Shark-Tank Zoom-inar (Video, Audio)  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 159 – Kara Kockelman

F. Fishkin, May 28, “Prof. Kara Kockelman’s focus on smart transportation to save lives, money and the environment has made her a sought after global expert.  The U. of Texas Transportation Engineering Professor joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin on the impact of Covid-19 and much more.  Plus Tesla, Uber, Argo AI and the top smart driving headlines.  For more on Dr. Kockelman’s work….please visit…  http://www.caee.utexas.edu/prof/kockelman.”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 159 – Kara Kockelman

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 159 – Kara Kockelman  .  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: 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 initiatives.


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004 Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

Live:  Monday, June 15, 2:00pm New York Time

Free Pre-registration is required


  SmartDrivingCars Zoom-inar 003  Everyone’s for Connectivity; but…

F. Fishkin, June 2, “But the debate is not really about technology nor is it about who delivers the best value for the money or the most privacy. It is about …”

Listen/Watch more  Hmmm…   We only scratched the surface. Alain

  Self-driving vehicles could struggle to eliminate most crashes

Press release, June 2, “Driver mistakes play a role in virtually all crashes. That’s why automation has been held up as a potential game changer for safety. But autonomous vehicles might prevent only around a third of all crashes if automated systems drive too much like people, according to a new study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“It’s likely that fully self-driving cars will eventually identify hazards better than people, but we found that this alone would not prevent the bulk of crashes,” says Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research and a coauthor of the study.

Conventional thinking has it that self-driving vehicles could one day make crashes a thing of the past. The reality is not that simple. According to a national survey of police-reported crashes, driver error is the final failure in the chain of events leading to more than 9 out of 10 crashes.

But the Institute’s analysis suggests that only about a third of those crashes were the result of mistakes that automated vehicles would be expected to avoid simply because they have more accurate perception than human drivers and aren’t vulnerable to incapacitation. To avoid the other two-thirds, they would need to be specifically programmed to prioritize safety over speed and convenience…”  Read more  Hmmm…   This is NOT good news.  My perception has been that “9 out of 10 crashes” involved human mis-behavior.  The real value of automation is its near elimination of “mis-behavior”; NOT that it be technically better than people when they are not mis-behaving. 

 

If “being as good as humans when they are not mis-behaving” only reduces the probability of a so-equipped car being responsible for a crash, then the automation is going to need to be a lot better than a human in order to deliver substantial safety.  A third isn’t bad, except when it is the asymptotic value.   If the major value proposition for SmartDrivingCars is saftety, then we have much much more work to do.  I contend that delivering affordable mobility to many/most of the mobility disadvantaged is a more than a sufficiently worthwhile proposition, even if safety is not improved.    I need to spend a lot more time looking at this report.  More later. Alain

  What Volkswagen’s Investment in Argo AI Means for Ford’s Self-Driving Vehicle Business

John Lawler, Jun 2, “Last July, Ford and Volkswagen announced a collaboration with Argo AI to introduce autonomous vehicle technology in the U.S. and Europe. As part of this collaboration, Volkswagen would join Ford in investing in Argo AI. Working together with Argo AI positions both Ford and Volkswagen to better serve our future customers while improving cost and capital efficiencies. While the uncertainty of today’s business environment has created challenges for partnerships and investments in the self-driving space, this collaboration remains on track and will be a positive development for everyone involved. As a result, Volkswagen’s investment in Argo AI was finalized June 1.
In my previous role as vice president of Ford corporate strategy, I can tell you firsthand the moment our teams started talking, all three parties could see the value of working together. Here’s what we saw and why we believe it works for everyone involved — including our future customers….”  Read more  Hmmm…   The right partneship for the right reasons that now has gone through any reglatory hurdles and can proceed in high gear. Alain

  Tesla In Taiwan Crashes Directly Into Overturned Truck, Ignores Pedestrian, With Autopilot  On

B. Templeton, June 2, “Video from Taiwan reveals a disturbing Tesla TSLA crash, where the vehicle plows directly into the top of a large truck lying on its side, straddling two lanes of a freeway. The driver states the vehicle was in Autopilot mode. The driver did not hit the brakes himself until far too late, indicating he was probably not paying attention. The road has light traffic and visibility is very good. Nobody was injured.  The video shows the event from several angles, and raises several questions:…”  Read more  Hmmm…   See video.  Working backwards from Brad’s 5 questions. I agree with 5 and 4.

 

I disagree with 3.  Given that Tesla’s Peception Stack must be explicitly disregarding Radar Data of stationary objuects on the lane ahead when traveling at speeds greater than ??? MPH, suggests that it would also disregard LiDAR data.  Maps don’t help because they can’t be relied upon because they can only contain information about what was in the driving environment, not what is in the driving environment.  Collision avoidance must deal with what is in the driving environment and not rely on the assumption:  “since it was/wasn’t it is/isn’t”.  Plus, Tesla has “tons” of data about this highway location that indicates that a stionary object does not exist in this lane at this location at any height above the lane.  No sign, no overpass, no tree canopy.  Tesla has the data but has chosen not to rely on it in its algorithmic loop that decides to disregard “the radar data suggesting there is a stationary object in the lane ahead”. 

 

Wrt #2, it seems as if the brakes may have been applied just as the car passes the driver, but immediately released.  The system likely worked perfectly, as designed, since the driver is not in the lane ahead and is not moving to enter the lane, but just basically waving his arms.  The system likely recognized the stationary object and since it was not close enough to the lane ahead until the very last second, nor a velocity vector indicating it was moving into the lane ahead, there was no need to brake to avoid hitting that object.  Once passed without collision, the pedestrian presented no need to continue applying the brakes 

 

The likelihood that the Tesla software has any clue about the intention of objects waving around on the side of a lane is slim to none; else, every wind gust that disturbs shrubery lining a road would apply the brakes. 

 

At the speed that the Tesla was traveling, the likelihood that the Tesla software is able to reliably recognize that this individual’s actions were intended to get the Tesla to slow down and stop is even slimmer and as close to zero as one can get.  The challenge here is geetting both false positives and false negatives associated with what one is trying to recognize to be “small enough”. Very unlikely that such capabilities are going to be available anytime soon. When, of course, depends on the size of “small enough”.

 

The answer to #1 is the same answer as to the Joshua Brown crash and the Firetruck crashes and AutoPilot is simply not reliable enough (defined as “sufficiently small false positives and false negatives”) in being able to determine if there is enough room to safely pass under the stationary objects it senses ahead.  In essentially all instances of detecting a stationary object in the lane ahead, the answer is yes… there is enoughclearance under the overpass, the sign is suffiiently high above the lane, trucks that have passed by here have sufficiently chopped the tree canopy so that there is no problem for a Tesla to pass under without scraping its roof paint.  So disregard stationary objects in the lane ahead… except the minicule number of times when its a truck laying broadside, or a fire trusck stopped in the lane ahead or its a Jersey Barrier butt-end in the center of was perceived to be the lane ahead because the paint was so bad, or non-existant.  This is Deja vu all over again.   This needs to get fixed (although, I thought that it had.  Did this car have the update?  was AutoPilot really on??  ????).  Alain

 

  Uber’s Ex-CTO Reflects on a Rift With Travis Kalanick and How to Fix Autonomous Cars

L. Chapman, June 2, “… In his first interview since stepping down, Pham described “battle scars” from his time at Uber. He said his decision to stay at the company after Kalanick’s exit drove a wedge between them that remains to this day. Pham, 52, now walks away from Uber with concern over the company’s autonomous-driving strategy….

In a video call from his home in San Jose, California, Pham said he’s relieved to no longer be responsible for the technology that powered some 18 million trips a day before the pandemic. “It is a very heavy burden,” he said. “I have a little PTSD setting in right now.”…

One area he doesn’t support is the autonomous-vehicle division. Pham urged Khosrowshahi to abandon the effort and instead team up with other companies whose projects are more advanced. He likens his proposal to the strategy Google pursued with Android by teaming up with hardware makers to counter Apple Inc. in phones. In self-driving cars, it’s the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Waymo that’s the one to beat. “Individually, none of the companies can go it alone and compete with Waymo,” Pham said…” Read more  Hmmmm…  Pham is likely right.  But he needs both a technology company and an auto OEM that isn’t alread in it themselves (because those that are can readily do the Uber part.) How about Voyage/Chrysler or Aurora/Hyundai? Watch video. Alain

   Tesla announces massive Supercharger expansion in China to support growth

F. Lambert, June 3, “Tesla announced plans to install 4,000 Superchargers in China this year alone in order to support its growth in the market.  Over the last five years, Tesla has deployed over 2,500 Supercharger stalls in over 150 cities in China.

At their Shanghai office last week, the automaker announced its plan to deploy 4,000 Superchargers in the country in 2020 alone.   This is a massive acceleration of Supercharger deployment for Tesla in China…. ” Read more Hmmmm…    If you’re going to do it, this is the way to do it.  Why does it seem to be so easy to do over there?  I guess I know the reason.  I’ve always prefered hard over easy. Hard does have advantages. Alain

  National Safety Council Applauds Transportation Reauthorization Bill

Press release, June 3, “The National Safety Council applauds House lawmakers for the INVEST in America Act, the reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. For too long, the United States has consistently avoided the hard choices needed to save lives on the roadways. This proposal is an opportunity for us to start making the right choices so we can save lives, because we know that all traffic deaths are preventable.

In the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in April 2019, NSC called for the House to double down on what works, accelerate technology and embrace a culture of safety that mitigates common roadway risks and accounts for driver error and promotes safe systems…”  Read more Hmmmm…     Is it driver “error” or driver “misbehavior” that needs to be addressed.  Speeding, under the influence, textng, not paying attention, … are misbehaviors, not errors.  Alain

  SoftBank led $500M investment in Didi in China’s biggest autonomous driving round

R. Liao, May 29, “The race to automate vehicles on China’s roads is heating up. Didi, the Uber  of China, announced on Friday an outsized investment of over $500 million in its freshly minted autonomous driving subsidiary. Leading the round — the single largest fundraising round in China’s autonomous driving sector — is its existing investor Softbank, the Japanese telecom giant and startup benefactor that has also backed Uber.

The proceeds came through SoftBank’s  second Vision Fund, which was reportedly lagging in fundraising as its Fund I recorded massive losses in part due to the collapsing valuation of WeWork.

As China’s largest ride-hailing provider with mountains of traffic data, Didi clearly has an upper hand in developing robotaxis, which could help address driver shortages in the long term. But it was relatively late to the field. In 2018, Didi ranked eighth in kilometers of autonomous driving tests carried out in Beijing, far behind search giant Baidu, which accounted for over 90% of the total mileage that year…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm… In case anyone thought differently, it looks like SoftBank and DiDi are still in it and “doubling down” . When does DiDi team with a Chinese automobile OEM?   Or is everyone already on one team in China?  Alain

  AutonomouStuff May News

Staff, May 28, “In this issue:  Safety Q&A with Hexagon A&P’s functional safety expert and Upcoming webinar: Integration of Functional Safety and Cybersecurity…”   Read more  Hmmmm… Bobby… Keep up the good work!  All the best.  Alain

  Torc Robotics continues growth, recruiting during pandemic

Press release, May 28, “Torc Robotics, a leader in self-driving vehicle systems, continues its strong recruiting efforts even under social distancing and safer-at-home orders. Torc has steadily added new employees since January and plans to increase the company size by more than 50 percent before year end.

Torc’s recruiting process has changed to accommodate personal safety during the pandemic. “We are very fortunate that most of us can work from home – and our team has been using this time to scale up our virtual testing and future fleet infrastructure,” said Michael Fleming, Torc’s CEO.

“Over the past 10 years, we’ve built our culture on winning teams and find that Torc’rs are great at solving problems – including bringing on new team members during a pandemic,” he said. …”  Read more  Hmmm…   Congratulations Michael.  Keep up the great work!  All the best.  Alain

  Electric truck maker Nikola looks like Tesla 2.0 — except even riskier

R. Mitchell, June 2, “It’s a week before Nikola, the electric truck start-up, debuts its shares on the public market. Time to spin up the hype machine. For some reason its founder and chief executive, Trevor Milton, wants to talk about how much he loves Tesla.

You’d think he’d count Tesla as a rival, if not an enemy. Each aims to capture the market for long-haul diesel trucks. Each seeks to claim the mantle of brilliant inventor Nikola Tesla, who helped bring electricity to the masses by championing alternating current technology. Whenever the subject comes up, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk dumps on Nikola’s core technology, electric fuel cells, deemed by Musk as irredeemably inferior to Tesla’s own lithium ion battery power systems. “Fool cells,” he calls them….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Alain

Locus Robotics raises $40 million to take its warehouse robots global

K. Wiggers, June 2, “Warehouse robotics startup Locus Robotics today announced it has raised $40 million, the bulk of which will be put toward accelerating R&D and the company’s expansion into new markets, including in the EU, where it opened a new headquarters. CEO Rich Faulk says Locus also intends to launch strategic reseller partnerships throughout 2020, following a year in which its number of customer deployments passed 50.

Worker shortages attributable to the pandemic have accelerated the adoption of automation. According to ABI Research, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses around the world by 2025, up from under 4,000 warehouses as of 2018. In China, Oxford Economics anticipates 12.5 million manufacturing jobs will become automated, while in the U.S., McKinsey projects machines will take upwards of 30% of such jobs…  ”  Read more Hmmmm….   It is nice to be in the controlled environment of a warehouse.  Almost everything is deterministic, but it is still nor easy.  Alain

Otto Motors raises $29 million to staff warehouses with autonomous mobile robots

K. Wiggers, June 1, “Otto Motors, a company providing self-driving robot technology and services for research and industrial clients, this week announced it closed a $29 million financing round. Matthew Rendall, CEO of Otto parent company Clearpath Robotics, says the proceeds will enable the company to meet the needs of its customers both during and after the pandemic.

Worker shortages caused by the spread of coronavirus have prompted some retailer, fulfillment, and logistics companies to accelerate the rollout of mobile robots. For instance, Gap more than tripled the number of item-picking machines it uses to 106 in total, while Amazon says it’s relying more heavily on automation for product sorting. According to ABI Research, more than 4 million commercial robots will be installed in over 50,000 warehouses around the world by 2025, up from just under 4,000 warehouses in 2018…. ”  Read more Hmmmm….   Ditto.  Alain

  Waymo’s robot minivans are ready to roll in the Bay Area for the first time since COVID-19 outbreak

A. Hawkins, May 30, “Waymo’s self-driving cars are returning to Bay Area roads for the first time since the company halted its public testing in early March because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Alphabet-owned company plans to return its fleet of autonomous minivans to service starting June 8th, according to an email obtained by The Verge.

Waymo’s self-driving cars will be put to use delivering packages for two Bay Area non-profits: illustrator Wendy McNaughton’s #DrawTogether, which provides art kits to Bay Area kids; and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The company is the latest autonomous vehicle operator to discover that doing deliveries allows it to sidestep restrictions that would otherwise require them to keep their autonomous vehicles off the road. Waymo, along with the rest of California’s AV companies, paused on-road testing in mid-March after the city issued a “shelter-in-place” order banning all nonessential travel. That order does not have a set end date….. “. Read more Hmmmm….Good. Alain

   Tesla going into software subscription service could become big business

F. Lambert, May 28, “Tesla has started to indicate that it is going to expand its software offering, including a subscription to its full self-driving package, and analysts are starting to consider this new revenue stream as a massive opportunity.

 Over the last year, Tesla has made several moves to start generating revenue from software.  The automaker started charging $10 a month for its ‘premium connectivity’ features….. ” Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting.  Look at what happened to Msft once it did this with Office.  Brilliant for everyone.  Keep the improvements coming and I’ll continue to not be able to live without it.  Plus, it’s so cheap, to start, get hooked and continue to ante up. Brilliant!  Alain

   2021 is going to be the year for electric revolution – 10 new EVs coming next year

F. Lambert, June 2, “2021 is going to be the year for all-electric cars and should greatly accelerate the electric revolution. There are so many new models hitting the market that it should shift the entire industry.

Here we look at 10 new electric vehicles coming next year: First off, it is going to be the year for the electric pickup truck.

Several electric pickup trucks are scheduled to hit the market in 2021 and it’s the first time that this highly important segment in North America is going to get all-electric options.  To be fair, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these vehicle programs slip to 2022, but for now, they are scheduled for 2021…… ” Read more Hmmmm…  The substantial latent/pent-up demand out there post-COVID-19 should really help this segment. Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 004

AV Shark-Tank:

Insurance: For or Against SmartDrivingCars?

Live Monday, June 15 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.23-A+Zoox-052820 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-23-azoox-052820/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-23-azoox-052820/#respond Fri, 29 May 2020 14:48:49 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8320   Thursday, May 28, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.23-A+Zoox-052820 23rd edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars Amazon in Advanced Talks to Buy Self-Driving-Car Tech Company Zoox C. Lombardo & T. Higgins, , […]

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Thursday, May 28, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.23-A+Zoox-052820
23rd edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

Amazon in Advanced Talks to Buy Self-Driving-Car Tech Company Zoox

C. Lombardo & T. Higgins, , May 26, “Amazon.com Inc. is in advanced talks to buy Zoox Inc. in a move that would expand the e-commerce giant’s reach in autonomous-vehicle technology.   The companies are discussing a deal that would value Zoox at less than the $3.2B it achieved in a funding round in 2018…”  Read more  Hmmmm…  This would be a real bargain for Amazon and bring on some real talent to focus on the algorithmic side of driverless delivery while leveraging Rivian on the vehicle side.   See also Financial Times  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 158 – Chunka Mui

F. Fishkin, May 28, “In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, what are the smartest ways to re-build and plan for the future? Futurist and author Chunka Mui joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus Amazon, Zoox, Intel Mobileye, Tesla, Uber and more.”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 158 – Chunka Mui

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 158 – Chunka Mui  .  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: 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 initiatives.


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 003 Everyone’s for Connectivity, but …

Live:  Tuesday, June 2, 2:00pm New York Time

Free Pre-registration is required


  5 Ways Our Coronavirus Recovery Strategies Might Make Or Break The Future: Part 1

Chumka Mui, May 7, “When you’re fighting a fire, it’s easy to forget that the water can cause more damage than the fire itself. When you rebuild after a fire, the desire to rebuild quickly can trump the inclination to rebuild smartly. During a disaster, focusing on anything other than getting back to normal as fast as possible can sound impractical or even tone deaf.

Well, we’re in the midst of one of the biggest global disasters in centuries, and, at the risk of appearing impractical or even tone deaf, I’ll ask you to bear with me as I argue that we need to be laser-focused not only on how we fight the pandemic but, even now, on how we rebuild from it. …

I’ve been working with Paul Carroll for some time on a plan for 2050 that we call the Future Perfect and that, while it is as hopeful as the name suggests, is technologically feasible based on six Laws of Zero. The basic idea is that, in six areas, key resources are headed toward zero cost, which means that infinite amounts can be imagined as available for the future…

Most of the costs of transportation will also disappear once driverless cars hit scale….

Zero cost, however, does not necessarily lead to good outcomes. Technology is a double-edged sword….

Too cheap transportation, for example, can worsen sprawl, congestion and pollution. Worse yet, technology can amplify evil and stoke our tendencies toward narcissism, parochialism and tribalism….

Below is a preview of five ways that smart recovery strategies can create more hopeful futures for our children and their children. We want to leave them a Future Perfect, not a Future Pathetic. I will elaborate on each of the five in later parts of this series….”  Read more  Hmmmm… . Very interesting!!  From my perspective, everything physical begins with transportation/mobility; however, there are a couple of really key phrases here…

  • What unjust pain might be caused by inaccurate or biased data and algorithms? ” One might argue that we’ve been here before… Hillary’s chances of winning are greater than 99% and where we were in January, February, … and maybe even today with Covid-19?
  • Or, we can rebuild smartly“… Of course, but what agreement is there on the definition of “smartly”?

As seems to always happen, the old and the poor have been devastated, while the rich have once again barely missed a beat; they’ve learned and worked from home, propped up the stock market and managed to not kill each other while awaiting free deliveries at home.   All is so unfair.  Alain

  Who Will Own the Cars That Drive Themselves?

J. Motavalli, May 29, “…The question about the long-term future for the world’s cars is far from settled, and the experts (some of whom see disaster for the planet if people own autonomous cars as we own our cars now) differ sharply in their perception of where we’re heading…”  Read more  Hmmmm… Many good sharply different points here; however, there are a couple that are missed.  The first “Level 5 is not only more difficult encompasses the concept of everywhere which is unachievable by anything.  The conventional car ecosystem isn’t at its “level 5” today after more than 130 years of development.  Commenting that achievable is not going to be achieved is not achieving anything. 

Next, hopefully, it has been realized for a while now, that driverless cars are a bad idea as a consumer product.  While many/most consumers would be responsible enough to use and take proper care of driverless vehicles, it would take just a very few to ruin it for everyone.  In fact “Level 3” will likely never make it to the market because of the product liability implications of poor consumer maintenance and irresponsible use of that product description.  Every OEM would be dragged into essentially every litigation of every failure of a product over which they have very insufficient oversight about how it is maintained and how it is used.

With respect to the use of driverless cars to provide high-quality affordable mobility to a segment of the population that would appreciate such a service, to me, that’s the future for this technology.  Offer this as an alternative to those whose next best option is what’s offered by its conventional transit operator, is a no-brainer.  To those those that have the where with all to enclose themselves in their own cocoon, while they scorn global warming, well, we’ll see.  One thing may be obvious… the cocoon buyers should not be subsidized by the those that choose/can’t buy their own cocoons.  Alain

  AUTOMATED VEHICLE TESTING IN VERMONT

Staff, May 2020, In an effort to hear from affected parties and the public, the Agency of Transportation is seeking comments on the Draft of the Automated Vehicle Testing Permit Guidance and Application. The Guide implements the AV Testing Act and describes the process and requirements to obtain a permit to test automated vehicles on state and town highways in Vermont. The Guide is intended for use by applicants who are seeking a permit to test automated vehicles on public roads in Vermont and municipalities that are considering allowing testing on town highways under their jurisdiction. It also serves as a guide to the Vermont Traffic Committee, whose approval is required for all automated vehicle test permits in the state, in its deliberations over specific permit applications.  Click Here to for the Automated Vehicle Testing Permit Guidance and Application….”  Read more  Hmmmm… Nice to have Vermont in the game.  However, presumably the automated vehicles being tested will always have an attendant behind the wheel. This is “testing” not “operations”.  Are these vehicles really any different than a car with an automatic transmission?  Going beyond testing  by operating without a competent and alert licensed driver behind the wheel is an entirely different issue.   Alain

Autonomous car company Aurora increases hiring amid industry struggles

K. Wiggers, May, 27, “Autonomous vehicle (AV) startup Aurora today announced it has roughly doubled its workforce to 500 people (up from 250 as of May 2019) and committed to hiring workers across the company as it welcomes 22 remote interns and a trio of executives.

Aurora’s hiring spree — which has a specific focus on mid- to senior-level engineers in software and infrastructure, robotics, hardware, cloud, and firmware — comes at a particularly fraught time for AV companies. The economic fallout from the pandemic has begun to take its toll, with even well-funded ventures like Cruise, Kodiak Robotics, and Ike shedding hundreds of employees collectively. …Against this backdrop, Aurora CEO Chris Urmson says the company remains in a “solid position” with enough runway to employ its existing team members (including its full-time vehicle operators) and to continue hiring as it advances the development of its full-stack autonomous platform…

Toyota Research Institute alumnus Sagar Behere will direct systems and safety engineering at Aurora, while former Google and eBay executive Tara Green will head up people operations, recruiting, and IT. As for Autonomous GmbH cofounder Raul Rojas, he’ll lead the recently launched Aurora Academy, where he’ll design and facilitate expert-level classes for Aurora employees on visualization, sensor development, mathematical foundations, machine learning, and more.”  Read more Hmmmm….  Congratulations Chris!  Take advantage of this opportunity.  Alain

  The Challenge of Supporting AV at Scale

A. Shashua, , May 26, “At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, we presented an unedited 25 minute-long video of a Mobileye self-driving car navigating the busy streets of Jerusalem. The video was published, first and foremost, for the sake of promoting transparency. We wanted to demonstrate the exceptional capabilities of our technology, but more importantly, to show the world how autonomous vehicles (AVs) operate so that society will come to trust them.
Continuing this effort, we are introducing today a new 40-minute unedited video of a drive comprising a small section from 160 miles of Jerusalem streets we use for our AV development. We chose to follow the drive with a drone to properly provide context for the decision-making logic of the robotic agent, and the only intervention during the drive was to replace the drone’s battery after 20 minutes or so. We have also added narration to explain where and how our technology is handling the wide variety of situations encountered during the drive. The full-length clip is inserted below and a number of short sections from the drive are highlighted at the end of this editorial. …

To appreciate what we are dealing with let’s do a simple “back of the envelope” calculation.”  Read more  Hmmmm… I like the Back of the envelope calculation.    A crash a day in a fleet of 100,000 delivering 5M person trips logging 10M vehicle miles is actually pretty darn good!  (What crash rate did Hertz experience before chapter 11 with its fleet that was moving much less than 5 hours per day?)  AV at scale is not only the goal, it is the necessity.  Else, this is all at best a nice academic exercise.  See video   Impressive but it is only 160 vehicle miles  (One assumes that there were no disengagements.)  Alain 

  Tesla Crashes Into Tree On Human Pilot: Owner Wishes Autopilot Was On

S. Loveday, May 26, “Tesla owner Martin Grefte admits he wasn’t paying enough attention when he recently drove his Tesla Model 3 into a tree. He had just received bad news about a sick family member, his thoughts wandered, and that was all it took to lead to the crash. Fortunately, Grefte is okay, but his Model 3 is not.

Looking back, he says he wishes he had engaged Autopilot. If he had, there’s a really good chance the crash would have never happened. Cameras and radars are always paying attention, they’re not impacted by emotion, and computers work much faster than humans. While there’s no way to know for sure, it can be assumed that Autopilot, and more specifically, Tesla’s standard active safety systems, wouldn’t have let the Model 3 run into a tree so easily….”  Read more Hmmmm….  Yup!  Alain

  Uber is scrapping tens of thousands of Jump bikes during a nationwide bike shortage

A. Hawkins, May 27, “”Uber is sending tens of thousands of its electric Jump bikes to the scrap yard, weeks after offloading the money-losing bike-share division on Lime. The news of the scrapped bikes has incensed bike enthusiasts on social media, one of whom decried the act as “unconscionable.”

Uber confirmed in a statement that it was “recycling” many of Jump’s older bikes and scooters after transferring “tens of thousands” of the newer models to Lime. But the scrap job comes at a time when many people are avoiding public transportation because of the coronavirus pandemic and looking for alternate forms of transportation. Bike sales (and especially electric bike sales) are booming. And the destruction of tens of thousands of viable bikes and scooters during a crisis is striking many on social media as incredibly wasteful…. “. Read more Hmmmm…. Nothing is easy for Uber.  Whew! Alain

BOEING  Boeing Resumes 737 MAX Production

Press release, May 27, “Boeing [NYSE: BA] has resumed production of the 737 MAX at the company’s Renton, Washington factory. The 737 program began building airplanes at a low rate as it implements more than a dozen initiatives focused on enhancing workplace safety and product quality.

“We’ve been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger,” said Walt Odisho, vice president and general manager of the 737 program. “These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 MAX.””. Read more Hmmmm…. This lapse may have substantially improved the manufacturing process such that the lapse is not a complete loss.   The bigger question is… When will the customers come back and want to take delivery of the planes that are now being produced?  Alain

   All eyes on Tesla’s recovery in China — rumors of massive backlog

F. Lambert, May 26, “Tesla, like many other automakers, is struggling to get operations to something resembling normal within the next month in order to save its second quarter financially.  For the California-based automaker, China is going to be very important this quarter, and there are rumors that Tesla is enjoying a massive backlog of orders in that market.

According to local registration numbers, Tesla only delivered more than 3,000 cars in China in April.

That’s despite its Shanghai Gigafactory reportedly producing 3,000 vehicles per week and the Chinese car market recovering nicely after the pandemic.

However, Tesla’s sales in China were negatively affected in April due to the country modifying its EV incentives, which made the Model 3 ineligible due to its starting price.  In May, the automaker managed to reduce the price of Model 3 in order to be again eligible for the country’s EV incentives.

Furthermore, it’s likely that many customers decided to wait for the longer-range version of the Model 3, which Tesla announced in early April.  Tesla just started deliveries of the new version of the made-in-China Model 3 last week.

There are reports coming out of China stating that Tesla has accumulated a massive backlog of 15,000 orders for the Model 3 Long Range RWD….. ” Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting. Tesla may well become the new Apple… Boeing.  Alain

  The story of cheaper batteries, from smartphones to Teslas

T. Lee, May 22, “In 2010, a lithium-ion battery pack with 1 kWh of capacity—enough to power an electric car for three or four miles—cost more than $1,000. By 2019, the figure had fallen to $156, according to data compiled by BloombergNEF. That’s a massive drop, and experts expect continued—though perhaps not as rapid—progress in the coming decade. Several forecasters project the average cost of a kilowatt-hour of lithium-ion battery capacity to fall below $100 by the mid-2020s.

That’s the result of a virtuous circle where better, cheaper batteries expand the market, which in turn drives investments that produce further improvements in cost and performance. The trend is hugely significant because cheap batteries will be essential to shifting the world economy away from carbon-intensive energy sources like coal and gasoline…”  Read more Hmmmm…  This is indeed impressive progress in a sector that has defied substantial improvement since Thomas Davenport in 1837.  Cheap, light weight, effective energy storage is a fundamental enabler of mobility.  Alain

   Watch Tesla Cybertruck drive into The Boring Company’s tunnel

F. Lambert, May 28, “The Tesla Cybertruck may not be getting any smaller, but at least it fits inside The Boring Company’s test tunnel under Los Angeles.   CNBC and Jay Leno’s Garage have been teasing an episode of the latter’s show featuring Elon Musk and the Tesla Cybertruck prototype for a month now.  We have seen several teasers, but now the full segment has launched…. ” Read more Hmmmm… See video.  What can I say?!? Enjoy!  Alain

  China’s Baidu finishes building ‘world’s largest’ test ground for autonomous vehicle, smart driving systems

C. Pan, May 28, “Chinese search engine giant and artificial intelligence (AI) champion Baidu said on Tuesday that it has completed construction of what it claims to be the world’s largest testing ground for autonomous driving and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication.
The 13,500 square meter (145,300 sq ft) Apollo Park in Beijing’s Yizhuang Economic Development Zone houses more than 200 self-driving vehicles and is equipped with facilities to support the full autonomous vehicle development process from research to testing, Baidu said in a statement on Tuesday….

Last month, competing Chinese self-driving start-up AutoX launched an 80,000 sq ft “gigafactory” in Shanghai, which it said was the largest data hub for self-driving car data in China … Whatever that means???…and the biggest robotaxi operations centre in Asia. … Whatever that means???…  Read more Hmmmm…  Test grounds are only the beginning and may not even complement simulation.  Real testing needs to be out on in the real world with human supervision until human supervision is a waste of time or more harmful than helpful.  Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 003

AV Shark-Tank:

Everyone’s for Connectivity; but:

  • What’s it for (Comfort/Safety/Control), 
  • Who owns/controls the data/information (The individual/The OEM/The Government),
  • How far does Privacy extend (individual controls/judicial oversight (court order)/rescindable through “Patriot Acts“)

Live Tuesday, June 2 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here


Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.22-NetworkCar-052120 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-22-networkcar-052120/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-22-networkcar-052120/#respond Sat, 23 May 2020 01:11:02 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8301   Thursday, May 21, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.22-NetworkCar-052120 22nd edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   Technology driving safer transport H. Zhao, May 1, “This edition of ITU News Magazine discusses […]

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Thursday, May 21, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.22-NetworkCar-052120
22nd edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Technology driving safer transport

H. Zhao, May 1, “This edition of ITU News Magazine discusses the latest trends in connected cars, new
ITU initiatives to improve smart transportation — and key insights from the annual Symposium
on the Future Networked Car (FNC‑2020), a gathering of top experts hosted by ITU and UNECE. Participants at the 5 March event discussed the technical, business and regulatory actions required to build public trust in connected, automated vehicles.

They highlighted the state of the art in automotive cybersecurity. Together, they explored the status
and future of safety-critical radio‑ communications for the road, and they presented the latest developments in the review of regulations governing road transport.

FNC‑2020 participants also had the opportunity to consider the crucial role of the latest 5G connectivity technologies in delivering safer and more effective transport.  Read on to learn about the experts’ insightful discussions at the event, how ITU’s work is supporting the development of Intelligent Transport Systems —
and what key industry players are doing to leverage the power of ICTs for better transport.”  Read more  Hmmmm… This topic will be at the heart on the next Zoom-Tank Zoom-inar on June 1 (or June 15??)@ 2PM.  An eloquent summary of this topic/symposium was presented by Michael Sena in his April 2020 edition of The Dispatcher.     Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 157 – Grayson Brulte

F. Fishkin, May 21, “Global auto makers must completely re-think their autonomous mobility strategy as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. So says innovation strategist Grayson Brulte of Brulte & Company….who joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin. Plus…Waymo, Tesla, Uber and more.”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 157 – Grayson Brulte

Video version of SmartDrivingCars PodCast 157 –  .  Alain


   The Smart Driving Cars podcast is made possible in part by support from the Smart Transportation and Technology ETF, symbol MOTO.   For more information: www.motoetf.com.


 

  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 002  The Future of Public Roadway Transit

(Will the Bus be Thrown Under the Bus?)


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 003 Connected Cars:  Maximizing Society’s Welfare (aka  Communism) or Maximizing the Individual’s Welfare (aka Capitalism) 

Live:  Monday, June 1, 2:00pm New York Time

Free Pre-registration is required


  Motor Vehicle Fatality Rates Jump 14% in March Despite Quarantines, Says National Safety Council

Press release, May 20, “Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council show that as Americans began driving less and covering fewer miles, the emptier roads became more lethal. Early data indicate a year-over-year 14% jump in fatality rates per miles driven in March, in spite of an 8% drop in the total number of roadway deaths compared to March 2019. The actual number of miles driven dropped 18.6% compared to the same time period last year. The mileage death rate per 100 million vehicle miles driven was 1.22 in March compared to 1.07 in March 2019.

Through the first three months of 2020, the following states have experienced notable increases in the number of roadway deaths: Arkansas (16%), California (8%), Connecticut (42%), Illinois (11%), Louisiana (23%), Nevada (10%), New York (17%), North Carolina (10%), Oklahoma (9%), Tennessee (6%) and Texas (6%).

States with notable decreases include Arizona (-4%), Hawaii (-32%), Idaho (-28%), Iowa (-13%), Maryland (-13%), Michigan (-12%), Oregon (-24%) and South Carolina (-12%)….”    Read more  Hmmmm…I  didn’t expect that… the fatalityRate increasing so much.  14% is a big number.   What will it be April ’20 v April ’19?   Are alcohol sales responsible?  Anxiety/stress??

The naive policy implications of this is that congestion is good if your primary policy objective is Safety.  However, in “2008” VMT went down, but no where near as much as it has gone down in March (and April, and …)  I’m surprised that VMT was down only 18.6, but, of course, I’m sitting here in a bubble in New Jersey and driverless cars are everywhere…   just sitting in people’s driveways and garages all day long with no place to go 🙂.  Alain

  Waymo CEO on how the Covid-19 pandemic could affect ride sharing long-term

P. LeBeau, May 22,”John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, joins CNBC’s Phil LeBeau and “Squawk Box” to discuss how ride sharing services and autonomous vehicle development could be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.”  See video  Hmmmm…  Well worth watching.  While safety is indeed a  fundamental necessity of this technology, it is a shame that he doesn’t emphasize the mobility opportunities that this technology can deliver to the mobility disadvantaged.  That may be because Waymo today is focused on operating in communities where there are few mobility disadvantaged .  It seems as if those on the margin are not their current customer set.  They should really think about serving diverse communities such as Trenton NJ rather than just those that today are dominated by upper end overly entitled individuals that already have more than enough great ways to get from where they are to where they want to go.  Alain

  Top safety official at Waymo self-driving unit stepping down

D. Shepardson, May 21, “Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving unit said on Thursday that its chief safety officer, Debbie Hersman, was stepping down but would remain as a consultant to the company.  Hersman, the former chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), joined the company in 2019 to oversee its product safety program.

“We can confirm that Debbie has decided to return to her family home on the east coast and will continue on as a consultant to Waymo,” the company said in a statement….”   Read more  Hmmmm… Given Waymo’s  essentially perfect safety record, Debbie and everyone else at Waymo has done a great job.  Again, safety is absolutely necessary in the roll out of this technology.  Without it being perceived to be safe, the technology is DoA!  Perception of safety is actually tougher than safety because it needs to not only be safe, but overcome fears, anxiety and the “made-up stuff”. Alain

  GM Super Cruise is evolving into Ultra Cruise, for hands-off city driving

Reuters, May 19, “GM has a “big team” working on an advanced version of its hands-free driving assistance system, Super Cruise, that will expand its capability beyond highways and apply it to city streets, the automaker’s vice president of global product development Doug Parks said Tuesday.

GM is also continuing to improve its existing Super Cruise product, Parks said during a webcasted interview at Citi’s 2020 Car of the Future Symposium.   “As we continue to ratchet up Super Cruise, we continue to add capability and not just highway roads,” Parks said, adding that a separate team is working on the hands-free city driving product known internally as “Ultra Cruise.”

“We’re trying to take that same capability off the highway,” he said. “Ultra cruise would be all of the Super Cruise plus the neighborhoods, city streets and subdivisions. So Ultra Cruise’s domain would be  essentially all driving, all the time.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm…Keep reading.  There is no doubt GM is working on this, but given the caution exhibited by a Pre-Covid-19 GM,  this may be largely Click-Bait.  But given the pressure of Tesla and the Covid-19 Pause, a more progressive GM may emerge to save itself.  Why isn’t plain old Super-cruise not “standard” across all models???  It is a very good system.  Alain  

  Waymo’s AI uses vectors to predict pedestrian, cyclist, and driver behavior

K. Wiggers, May 14, “Called VectorNet, it ostensibly provides more accurate projections while requiring less compute compared with previous approaches.

Anticipating road agents’ future positions is table stakes for driverless cars, which by definition must navigate challenging environments without any human supervision. As tragically illustrated by the March 2018 collision involving an autonomous Uber vehicle and a bicyclist, perception is critical.   … Wait a minute… Uber’s code explicitly disregarded stationary objects in the lane ahead (because of false positives). …  Without it, self-driving cars can’t reliably make decisions about how to respond in familiar — or unfamiliar — scenarios. 

 

That’s where VectorNet comes in. Unlike the convolutional neural networks it replaced, which operated on computationally expensive pixel renderings of maps, VectorNet ingests each map and sensor input in the form of vectors (sketches made up of points, lines, and curves based on mathematical equations)…”  Read more  Hmmmm… Wasn’t Waymo using “Vectors” to describe the road and objects ahead before they went to CNNs?   Also, Aren’t the vectors in a coordinate system relative to the nose of the vehicle rather than in some fixed global system,  Thus “centimeter accuracy” is “overkill” since the vector control points are not and don’t need to be that precise. “10 centimeter accuracy is just fine thank you. No????    Alain    

  Here’s how NYC is using powerful UV light to kill the coronavirus on subways and buses

A. Hawkins, May 20, “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched its pilot to use powerful ultraviolet lamps to disinfect New York City’s subways and buses.

The agency says it will deploy 150 mobile devices to clean subways, buses, and subway stations as part of the first phase of the pilot. The second phase will focus on MetroNorth and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains. The MTA says it will spend $1 million on the project, according to NY1.

The effort is part of a partnership between the MTA and Columbia University, which theorizes that UV light can be used to kill diseases on the transit system. The MTA is using the devices during its nightly cleaning procedures, for which it took the unprecedented step of shutting down the entire subway system for four hours every evening….

The dual-headed lamps were purchased from a Denver-based startup Puro Lighting, which says its UV lights “have efficacy against Class 2 and 3 viruses, including coronaviruses, SARS, Influenza and Ebola.”… “. Read more Hmmmm….  Let’s hope it works. If it does, then I suspect that it will “easy” to arrays of these lights in vehicles.  Likely “easier/cheaper” than putting all the airbags in cars.  50 years ago, who would have thought that airbags would proliferate the interior of all cars? Alain

  How Covid-19 preselects the winners in the race for autonomous vehicles

C. Lichtmannecker, May 11, “…  But what kind of OEM board is now willing to allocate lots of its resources to a futuristic, complex robotaxi vision — a decade away before becoming relevant in market size and not yet proven to be viable? Who is opting for high technological, regulatory and competitive risks — when at the same time being responsible for hundreds of thousands of employees and their respective families? In his book, Clayton Christensen concludes that great, well-managed firms don’t miss out to stay ahead of the game because they made ‘bad’ decisions during crisis, but because making logical decisions may turn out to be the wrong thing to do after all — hence dilemma.

Even being aware of this Covid-19 quandary, it is now harder than ever for OEMs to uphold an ambidextrous business management which not only focuses on the core business but takes into account the long-term transition of the industry. A lot of these tough decisions must be made in the next weeks and months in OEM board rooms. In the context of AVs, they now run the risk of slowing down and waiting until market, technology and regulation are more mature — a strategy that gives way for other players to push them aside. …

Why is time advantage in AV development and roll-out important? And why can losing time now — by delaying and stretching investments for a couple of years — determine winners and losers?

There is evidence that companies rolling-out their technology earlier will have significant first-mover advantages over later entrants. This is due to the fact that network-effects are at work when it comes to learning and increasing autonomous driving functionality (there is a brilliant article on this topic). In the next years, this may not be too critical since most driverless vehicles will only be deployed in pilot environments with limited operational design domain (meaning designed to only properly operate on certain roads and in a very limited service area) and without facing real competition… ”  Read more  Hmmmm… Thoughtful presentation.   The “Gartner Expectation” curve is somewhat useful but doesn’t map into sales/revenue/adoption/marketPenetration/… ??   Alain 

  Grayson Btulte @gbrult

G. Brulte, May 20, “As the global auto industry prepares for a significant uptick in car sales, auto companies must completely rethink their autonomous mobility strategy….” Listen to PodCast,    Hmmmm…  Put in more Safe-driving Car technology. Alain

  Here’s how NYC is using powerful UV light to kill the coronavirus on subways and buses

A. Hawkins, May 20, “The Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched its pilot to use powerful ultraviolet lamps to disinfect New York City’s subways and buses.

The agency says it will deploy 150 mobile devices to clean subways, buses, and subway stations as part of the first phase of the pilot. The second phase will focus on MetroNorth and Long Island Rail Road commuter trains. The MTA says it will spend $1 million on the project, according to NY1.

The effort is part of a partnership between the MTA and Columbia University, which theorizes that UV light can be used to kill diseases on the transit system. The MTA is using the devices during its nightly cleaning procedures, for which it took the unprecedented step of shutting down the entire subway system for four hours every evening….

The dual-headed lamps were purchased from a Denver-based startup Puro Lighting, which says its UV lights “have efficacy against Class 2 and 3 viruses, including coronaviruses, SARS, Influenza and Ebola.”… “. Read more Hmmmm….  Let’s hope it works.  Alain

   Tesla installs more production robots at Fremont factory

F. Lambert, May 14, “Tesla is installing more production robots at its Fremont factory in order to increase capacity, according to new construction permits.:.

 

What I am really curious about is Tesla’s annual production capacity by the end of next year with Fremont, Berlin, Shanghai, and Austin.  It will be such a different landscape for Tesla’s production than the current situation.  My own guess is Tesla will have an overall annualized production capacity of 1 million cars by the end of 2021… ” Read more Hmmmm… If you can’t be using the facility, you might as well update it. Alain

  Americans still don’t trust self-driving cars

A. Hawkins, May 19, “Self-driving cars are having a really rough time gaining our trust.

This is not a total shock considering autonomous vehicles remain theoretical and elusive for most people. The limited number of self-driving cars on the road today are mostly test vehicles that aren’t available to the riding public. Combine that with Americans’ very, shall we say, complicated feelings toward concepts like “freedom” and “control,” and you can see where this is going. Digging on technology in the streets, control freaks in the sheets…. “. Read more Hmmmm….  Actually, the more surprising number is that 25% think that AV tech is ready for prime time, since few of that 25% has ever seen one or ridden in one (unless the survey was extremely biases).  Alain

  CLEARING THE CONFUSION:  Recommended Common Naming for Advanced Driver Assistance Technologies

May 2020, “Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have become increasingly prevalent on new vehicles, but the terminology used by automakers to describe them varies widely and so far has focused on marketing
strategies.

The common naming outlined is simple, specific and based on system functionality. The list is meant to aid in
reducing driver confusion and define the functions of ADAS in a consistent manner. This is critical to ensure
that drivers are aware these systems are designed to assist, not replace an engaged driver. …Fantastic…

The list is not meant to replace automaker proprietary system or package names, but rather help identify key
functions within those packages and provide clarity to consumers. The list will be continually refined as we
work with other stakeholders and as new systems are developed. …”  Read more  Hmmmm…What???  OEMs get to use whatever name they wish for whatever!?  Who is going to use these names and who is going to do the translation between the OEM names and this terminology?  Am I still going to need a PhD in Linguistics to understand what is in the car that someone is trying to sell to me?   Is there a VIN code associated with each of these so that the customer knows which one of these features is in a particular car?  (I know the answer.  I’m just being nasty.) 

Since this is only for ADAS (although the headline is … ADAT (Can’t even use consistent terminology throughout this fundamental document  ), it must only apply to SAE “Level 2” vehicles.  While this may help the naming, it doesn’t suggest performance measures for the features.   Engines have horsepower, torque and fuel consumption measures.  These systems seem to have no measures.  Alain

  Transportation Leaders Across the Country Report 50-to-90% Reduction in Traffic and Revenues Due to COVID-19

B. Cramer, May 21, “…During the briefing, national, state and regional transportation leaders discussed how COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home measures have led to the reduction in traffic and revenues of upwards of 90 percent, impacting the industry, the American driving public, our roads and bridges, and the future of transportation in the country. 

“If this were any other year, we would be talking about Memorial Day traffic, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Instead, we are talking about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation’s economy and our daily lives. Since the middle of March our members’ toll facilities have seen traffic and revenue declines of 50 to 90 percent,” said Patrick D. Jones, executive director and CEO of IBTTA….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  No places to go, Stay-cation!  Alain

  How coronavirus is accelerating a future with autonomous vehicles

Baidu, May 18, “…“Having been through the pandemic and supported the front line, we realize ‘automation’ and ‘intelligence’ are the best solutions for humans to respond to large-scale emergencies,” said Zhenyu Li, corporate vice president and general manager of the Baidu Intelligent Driving Group.

Baidu, one of the leaders in autonomous vehicle technology, has released 104 driverless vehicles in 17 cities across the country. These autonomous vehicles are helping carry out frontline anti-epidemic work such as cleaning, disinfecting, logistics, and transportation with support from partner companies. …”  Read more Hmmmm… .  How much did Baidu pay MIT Tech for this paid placement/advertisement ? Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020

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


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 003

AV Shark-Tank:

Connected Vehicles: System-Optimum v Use-Optimum?

Live June 1 or 15 @ 2pm New York Time

Register Here

____________________________

Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


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8.21-Shapiro2-051420 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-21-shapiro2-051420/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-21-shapiro2-051420/#respond Fri, 15 May 2020 13:37:59 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8282   Thursday, May 14, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.21-Shapiro2-051420 21st edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   Fiat Chrysler and AV startup Voyage partner on self-driving minivans K. Korosec,  May 11, “Self-driving […]

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Thursday, May 14, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.21-Shapiro2-051420
21st edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  Fiat Chrysler and AV startup Voyage partner on self-driving minivans

K. Korosec,  May 11, “Self-driving vehicle startup Voyage said Monday that it has inked a deal with Fiat Chrysler  to supply purpose-built vehicles, a partnership that will help accelerate its plan to launch a fully driverless ride-hailing service.

Voyage, a three-year-old startup that tests and operates a self-driving vehicle service (with human safety operators) in retirement communities in California and Florida, started by modifying Ford Fusion vehicles. The company then began modifying FCA’s  Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans with its autonomous vehicle technology.

This new deal, which was nearly two years in the making, marks a critical step in Voyage’s plan to deploy fully driverless vehicles as a ride-hailing service. It also illustrates FCA’s increasingly large role as a supplier to AV developers. The automaker already has a deal with autonomous vehicle company Waymo to provide thousands of purpose-built Chrysler Pacifica minivans. FCA also has a partnership with Aurora to develop self-driving commercial vehicles…

Under this deal with Voyage, Fiat Chrysler is supplying Voyage with purpose-built Pacific Hybrids that have been developed for integration of automated technology. These vehicles come with customizations such as redundant braking and steering that are necessary to safely deploy driverless vehicles, Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron  told TechCrunch.

FCA characterized the deal as more than just a supply contract, noting that it will provide support to Voyage to understand the features, operation and technology of the vehicle.”  Read more Hmmmm… This is very good for both Voyage and Fiat/Chrysler in that it makes them into a serious competitor with Waymo, Ford/Argo and GM/Cruise.  Congratulations Oliver.  Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 156 – Danny Shapiro2

F. Fishkin, May 14, “With new hardware and software capabilities NVIDIA is expanding into new areas of driver assistance technology. Sr. Director of Automotive Danny Shapiro joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that…plus the latest on Waymo, Voyage, Ford and more. listen and subscribe!”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 156- Danny Shapiro2

Video version… Watch Zoom-Cast 156 – Danny Shapiro2  .  Alain


  SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 002 The Future of Public Roadway Transit

(Will the Bus be Thrown Under the Bus?)
Live:  Monday, May 18, 2:00pm New York Time
Free Pre-registration is required


   Nvidia turns to driver-assistance market as robo-taxis stall

J. Lee, May 14, “Nvidia Corp, whose semiconductors power data centers, autonomous cars and robots, said on Thursday it plans to enter the market for technology that helps cars with automated lane-keeping, cruise control and other driver-assistance features.

The move, announced as part of the chip company’s annual conference, which was held online this year, represents a change in direction for Nvidia. Until now, the Santa Clara, California-based company has supplied key technology aimed at making autonomous vehicles that require much more sophisticated computers.

But such vehicles, some of which are known as “robo-taxis,” remain years away from mass adoption. Even before the coronavirus pandemic hammered the world economy, automakers such as General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co were dialing down their expectations for self-driving cars.

Many of the driver-assistance features that the new Nvidia system will enable, by contrast, are already available on high-end vehicles with technology from providers such as Mobileye, the Israeli firm owned by Nvidia data center rival Intel Corp.

Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at Nvidia, said the shift in strategy is aimed at meeting the existing needs of automakers that struggle with maintaining two systems – one for the driver assistance available today, and one for more advanced self-driving technology for the future.  The new Nvidia system means automakers will be able to use one system for both, saving engineering efforts and using some of the self-driving technology to improve the driver assistance functions, Shapiro said….”  Read more  Hmmmm… The near-term opportunity has been in the Safe- & Self-driving car category.  Aspiration to achieve Driverless capabilities have motivated the development of Safe and Self driving systems so that they might actually work.  Before the industry became focused on Driverless, only driver warning systems were available.  The Driver was king!  A system couldn’t/shouldn’t over-ride what a driver wanted to do seemed to be the over-arching concept.   It was the vision of Driverless that motivated OEMs to look beyond passive warning systems to active collision avoidance systems whose false positive/negative performance requirements, rare please,  need the computing power offered by nVIDIA.  Watch Jensen Huang’s GTC 2020 keynote, especially Segment 8 Autonomous Vehicles.   Alain

  Competing in a World Full of Electric Skateboards, plus more…

M. Sena, June 2020, “Covered are three topics:

  1. How will car companies compete when China is delivering all of the BEV skateboards, either as finished cars or as the platform? This is where I discuss connectivity as a major competitive factor. See Page 4 sidebar: Connectivity is a Three-sided Coin.
  2. Travel during and after COVID-19: As with most problems in life, they create opportunities. This pandemic provides us with an opportunity to study the relationships between transport options and transport needs in a way that we have not been able to do it before. We don’t need conjecture or articles by armchair experts promoting their pet theories; we need rigorous analyses of facts gathered from the field in all types of contexts, not just Manhattan or London or Stockholm. We need serious discussion of the facts amongst both politicians and business representatives to determine whether there are ways to address both congestion on our roads and harmful emissions in our air. We need more evidenced-based decision-making.
  3. Do we need driverless cars: The moral of this story, and the ultimate answer to whether we need driverless cars, is that you can’t always keep what you want, and someone else may decide what you need….”

Read more Hmmmm… Another excellent The Dispatcher.  Enjoy! Plus, enjoy Michael’s views as expressed in the SmartdrivingCar Zoom-inas.  Alain

  Resuming our driving operations in Phoenix

Press release, May 7, “Back in March, we decided to suspend our driving operations in response to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of everyone involved in our services and local communities. Starting this coming Monday, May 11, Arizonans will begin to see some Waymo vehicles back on the road. The first part of our tiered approach to safely resume our operations begins with our test fleet and responsibly progresses to serving Waymo One riders again.

Even under the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, we’ve continued to advance our technology and mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going. Our continued focus on hardware and software development, driving in simulated environments, and ongoing investment in advanced algorithms, machine learning, and evaluation means we have not taken our foot off the pedal during these unprecedented times.

We’re beginning to restart our driving operations in the Metro Phoenix area after careful consideration and active conversations with our teams, partners, and local and state authorities. The health and safety of our riders, team, and partners is our number one priority as we begin driving again.

How we’re moving forward safely: …” Read more Hmmmm… Happy to have them back out on the road.  It would be really nice if they released some basic “disengagement reports” on their testing in Phoenix.  They’ve captured enough demand data (individual trips) to rerun any set of trips with an attendant on-board but not need any passenger on-board.  That is, operate as if those individuals actually got on the vehicles and went to their destinations, picking up and discharging shared riders along the way, if any.  Doing that with the current software/hardware stack, what is the time duration between “disengagements” for the fleet?  How many vehicle hours of operation and how many person-trips were served within this ODD between the time-stamp of each disengagement? Once the vehicle hours between attendant intervention becomes north of 2,500 hours and the number of “virtual” trips served becomes north of 5,000 personTrips, then one may have a system that is safe and reliable enough in that ODD and can be used to “convince”   everyone to perceive that the system is reliable/safe enough to begin mobility services in this ODD with no attendant on-board.  To me, these kinds of numbers make sense.  A fleet of 10 vehicles operating in Trenton for 12.5 hours a day could demonstrate that in 20 days.  A fleet of 100 in 2 days. (No disengagements in those durations.  I like “back of the envelope” analyses so that I can I have a perspective.) I wonder what metrics Waymo and others have decided to use internally to decide that they are “good to go”?  Alain

  After 274 Years, Princeton Will Have Its First Black Valedictorian

C. Kilgannon, May 11, “Princeton University has announced its first black valedictorian in its 274-year history.

Nicholas Johnson, who was named valedictorian of Princeton’s Class of 2020, called the achievement especially significant, given the school’s struggle in recent years to confront its troubled history with slavery….

Mr. Johnson, who is from Montreal, majored in operations research and financial engineering.   He wrote his senior thesis on developing algorithms to design a community-based preventive health intervention to decrease obesity in Canada. The research also included applications to help impose strict social distancing to stop the spread of the coronavirus….”  Read more Hmmmm…Personally, I am so proud of Nicholas as a person and what he has accomplished at Princeton.  As Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering (ORFE), he is one of my students, even though he isn’t singularly focused on SmartDrivingCars (yet !)  Congratulations! You are indeed most deserving of this highest Princeton honor.  He is ORFE’s 1st valedictorian; however, Jamie Iannone, recently named eBay CEO, was Princeton’s Pyne Prize Scholar.  Alain

  Waymo And Others Resume Self-Driving Testing And Rides

B. Templeton, May 13, “Waymo, the world’s leading self-driving car company, has resumed on-road testing and some delivery services, after shutting these down due to Covid-19. Baidu BIDU, Pony.AI and Aurora have also resumed, and Zoox says it will restart soon in Las Vegas. Uber UBER resumed some testing in California (a big step after they were shut down for a very long time after running over a pedestrian in Arizona) on March 11, just a short time before lockdowns ended that. Some other companies have been doing Covid-19 related operations like delivering food or medicine, such as Nuro and Cruise. (Nuro vehicles never have a driver in them.) Starship, which operates delivery robots on sidewalks, has increased its city operations due to high demand for delivery in the Covid era. 

Companies are being diligent. Some, like Waymo, are operating with only one safety driver — more on that later. They are all cleaning vehicles frequently and having safety drivers follow sanitary protocols, and telling them not to work if they have symptoms. Unless drivers are alone in vehicles all the time, they will wear masks at most companies.

When providing passenger or delivery service, the companies qualify as “essential services.” Slightly more complex is whether vehicle testing qualifies. It certainly should, since as I have repeatedly pointed out, any delay in the development of self-driving vehicles which save lives costs a huge number of lives down the road….” Read more Hmmmm… I certainly agree that delay results in lives lost; however, that is not the foremost reason to continue forward.  Safety is a floor, not an objective.  These systems must be perceived as safe by manufacturers, regulators, operators and, most importantly, the customers and the residents along the streets on which these vehicles operate.  Required is unanimous perception by all of these entities throughout the Operational Design Domain (ODD) that these systems are SAFE!   Once deemed SAFE by all, then these systems can begin to maximize mobility, affordability, and improvement in the quality-of-life of the mobility disadvantaged… those that for whatever reason can’t or choose not to drive a car.  That’s the fundamental motivation here (as far as I’m concerned).  Alain

  Online to Offline: Turning real-world experience into virtual tests

Aurora Team, Mat 12, “At Aurora, we’ve adopted a “smarter, not farther” approach to on-road testing. That is, instead of blindly pushing to drive more and more miles, we’ve continued to focus on collecting quality real-world data and on getting the most value out of every data point. For example, we amplify the impact of real-world experience by flagging interesting or novel events and incorporating them into our Virtual Testing Suite.

While they aren’t valuable as a measure of progress, on-road events can be incredibly valuable as learning opportunities. Our triage team reviews flagged events and then works with our engineering teams to identify which ones offer opportunities to improve the Aurora Driver….”  Read more Hmmmm… A very valuable capability.  Certainly the data surrounding disengagements is really important.  Additionally, folks like Tesla must have tons of data about many/most/all their crashes.  How valuable are those image sequences!  How about the crazy Russian crash videos. Seriously!  The world has no shortage interesting and novel events.  Each event is a novel event.  We really need good ways to extract to set of representative events that span and define the system’s Operational Design Domain. That set can easily become NP complete so we need some elegance here. Alain

   Exclusive: Tesla’s secret batteries aim to rework the math for electric cars and the grid

N. Shirouzu, May 14,”Electric car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) plans to introduce a new low-cost, long-life battery in its Model 3 sedan in China later this year or early next that it expects will bring the cost of electric vehicles in line with gasoline models, and allow EV batteries to have second and third lives in the electric power grid…

New, low-cost batteries designed to last for a million miles of use and enable electric Teslas to sell profitably for the same price or less than a gasoline vehicle are just part of Musk’s agenda, people familiar with the plans told Reuters….

Tesla’s new batteries will rely on innovations such as low-cobalt and cobalt-free battery chemistries, and the use of chemical additives, materials and coatings that will reduce internal stress and enable batteries to store more energy for longer periods, sources said.

Tesla also plans to implement new high-speed, heavily automated battery manufacturing processes designed to reduce labor costs and increase production in massive “terafactories” about 30 times the size of the company’s sprawling Nevada “gigafactory” — a strategy telegraphed in late April to analysts by Musk….

The cost of CATL’s cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate battery packs has fallen below $80 per kilowatt-hour, with the cost of the battery cells dropping below $60/kWh, the sources said. CATL’s low-cobalt NMC battery packs are close to $100/kWh.
Auto industry executives have said $100/kWh for battery packs is the level at which electric vehicles reach rough parity with internal combustion competitors….” Read more Hmmmm…Ever since Thomas Davenport in 1837, through the Apollo Program (“Houston, we have a problem“), through to the iPhone today,  batteries have been a nothing but difficult, expensive and limiting.  No Moore’s Law here, but maybe Elon is moving the needle.  Very interesting.  Alain

  Cruise Lays Off Staff in Pivot From Self-Driving Hiring Spree

D. Welsh, May 14, “Cruise, the self-driving car unit majority owned by General Motors Co., is laying off almost 8% of full-time employees to cut costs in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Th company, which gets about $1 billion a year in funding from GM, went on a hiring spree in 2019 to bring in software-development talent and launch an autonomous ride-hailing service. But Cruise backed off plans to deploy robotaxis by the end of last year and had not set a new target date before the public-health crisis set in and forced companies in the space to slow their testing efforts on public roads.  ‘…

 

The cuts mostly fall outside of the company’s engineering and core development teams.
“These are very difficult decisions to make, and we do not make them lightly,” Amman wrote. “These changes are the right choice for the mission.” Cruise has close to 2,000 employees, meaning roughly 160 people will be dismissed. The company will keep hiring tech talent, spokesman Ray Wert said.” Read more Hmmmm… Not surprising given the inability of so many to work remotely which requires a different support functions and capabilities.  Covid-19 has unfortunately made this a good time to clean house not only literately but also figuratively.  Alain

This Was Supposed to Be the Year Driverless Cars Went Mainstream

C. Metz, March 12, “Tech companies once promised that fully functional, self-driving cars would be on the road by 2020 and on the path to remaking transportation and transforming the economy.

But a decade after Google unveiled an autonomous car prototype with global fanfare, the technology is still far from ready, and many investors are wary of dumping more money into it — just when the world could benefit from cars that ferry people and deliver packages without a human driver.

The companies that made these promises are now in a jam: To perfect their technology, they need to test it on roads. But they need at least two people in the cars to avoid accidents. Because of social distancing rules meant to keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic, that is often not possible. So many cars are sitting in lots.

“This is a difficult time for everyone,” said Bryan Salesky, the chief executive of the start-up Argo AI, which is backed by $1 billion from Ford and another $1 billion in promised funding from Volkswagen. “We want to get back on the road as soon as it is safe to do so. There is no substitute for on-road testing.”….

Many self-driving car companies have no revenue, ” … None have any significant revenue from this segment of their business.  It is all investment ($$$ out) up to this point.  “None” are supported by government/public-sector contracts because government didn’t have enough money before Covid-19, and most certainly has better places to spend what little money it may have/print post Covid-19…. “and the operating costs are unusually high. Autonomous vehicle start-ups spend $1.6 million a month on average — four times the rate at financial tech or health care companies, according to PitchBook, which tracks financial activity across the industry.” Read more Hmmmm… The rest of the article summarizes some of the articles that appear herein (Zoox, Voyage, Waymo); however, I believe that Covid-19 is being used as a “My dog ate my homework” excuse (delays in the global supply chain and suspension of on-the-road testing). This has been and continues to be an excellent opportunity for these companies to cleanup and optimize their algorithms and software.  Plus, the real challenge facing these companies is not technological, but sociological… can one define an Operational Design Domain in which these systems are perceived to drive safely and deliver a service that is desired by “all” in similar Operational Design Domains around the country. That’s what is needed to get the process started in the first place.  

In order to expand and scale,  similar Operational Design Domains need to be numerous and expandable without degradation of perceived SAFETY and continued improvement of affordability, mobility and quality-of-life.  Alain

Zoox Shows An Hour Long Driving Video, Impressive And Unimpressive

B. Templeton, May 4, “Zoox has released a video showing an hour long drive through Las Vegas, a follow-up to their video of an hour-long drive in San Francisco. The video is sped up 2x to make it a little more interesting. The car does an hour long drive, including driving through the pickup areas of two hotels, along various Las Vegas streets and through the airport. It needs no interventions and handles a number of complex road situations.

What this video tells us is that Zoox has a high quality project, ahead of many other teams, but at the same time, it doesn’t tell us that it’s anywhere close to being ready for release, and in fact shows ways that suggest this could be some time in the future.

Demo rides and videos for robocars are tricky. It is hard to do an hour of complex driving with no interventions. Many less mature teams can’t pull that off at all. But it’s still very far from doing 2,500 hours (around 100,000 mixed miles at an average of 40mph) with only a minor intervention needed, or 6,000 hours without a major one, which is what it takes to be around the same as an average human. To be better than human, even more hours are required. (This number is a rough one, and varies based on the driving circumstances. It’s longer on the highway and less hours on city streets.)….” Read more Hmmmm… This is very true.   Before one has the confidence to remove the attendant, one has had to have the attendants not intervene something like a combined 2,500 hours.  Such an achievement can only be done in a finite amount of time in any Operational Design Domain with a fleet of vehicles.  10 vehicles could do it (would need to do it) over a 20 day span  in a Trenton, NJ ODD encompassing about 25% of the city’s streets.  Such an ODD would serve essentially all intra-Trenton trip, plus, of course, “last mile” access to NJ Transit. Until one can successfully complete and repeat such a demonstration in a comparable ODD, all of this isn’t ready for prime-time.  Alain

  HOW THE NOVEL CORONAVIRUS IS SPEEDING THE SCOOTER APOCALYPSE

A. Hawkins, May 13, “Public transportation is on life support, as the pandemic makes people less inclined to want to cram themselves into underground metal tubes with poor air circulation and nonexistent social distancing. The weather is getting nicer and some states are taking tentative steps toward reopening, even shutting down certain streets to car traffic to make more room for walking, biking, and scootering. So why isn’t the micromobility industry — shared electric bikes and scooters — thriving right now?

The novel coronavirus has brought the shared scooter and bike business to the brink of financial collapse. Demand has evaporated — an analysis of credit card data by The New York Times found that spending on scooter rentals had fallen the most of all transportation modes, by nearly 100 percent — companies are laying off employees en masse, and their previously sky-high valuations have been almost wiped out. Rather than basking in the sun and delighting in the reduced car traffic, the scooter industry is looking at end times.

There are some early signs that shared mobility could survive the crisis, even come out looking better than before; one of those “it’s always darkest before dawn” kind of things. But before that happens, the scooter industry as a whole will need to shrink, as it already was doing before COVID-19. And a lot of people will probably lose their jobs.,,,

Even so, many cities probably won’t be in the position to waive fees or offer public funding of scooter operations in the near future.  …”. Read more Hmmmm….  What??? Public funding for those that should be walking and can readily walk???  Is anybody awake here???  If there is any “mode” that needs to make it on their own bottom, its scooters.  The fundamental problem with scooters is the “empty scooter repositioning challenge” and the “entitlement attitude” of its clientele.  The Segway looked good but was a bust.  Scooters, while cheaper, has caught the “scooter-hole” syndrome.    “Coolness”, if it ever existed outside of the mind of the user, has worn off very quickly.  Alain

  Waymo’s first external fundraising round just grew to $3 billion

A. Hawkins, May 12, “Waymo’s first external fundraising round, initially expected to bring in $2.25 billion for the self-driving company, just grew to $3 billion, thanks to the addition of some new investors.

On March 2nd, Waymo announced its first outside investment round, with investors including Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Mubadala Investment Company, Magna International, Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, and Waymo’s parent company Alphabet.

That round was extended to include a new crop of investors: funds managed by T. Rowe Price Associates, Perry Creek Capital, and Fidelity Management and Research Company.

To date, Waymo has been an outlier in the world of self-driving cars, relying almost exclusively on the largesse of its corporate parent. With these new funds, the company says it will speed up its plans to commercialize its revolutionary self-driving technology, which it believes will be even more crucial in a world changed by the coronavirus pandemic.,,,

One of Waymo’s new investors is no stranger to the world of electric and autonomous vehicles. T. Rowe Price Associates is a major investor in Waymo’s main rival, Cruise, as well as EV startup Rivian.”. Read more Hmmmm….  Waymo is a no-brainer for anyone interested in participating in this sector, especially if you believe that there is a fundamental advantage in being first-in. They are by far the leader.  If they can be first to demonstrate safe operation in a relevant ODD, (see above comment Brad’s article about Zoox),  then why trust someone else?  If they don’t stumble, then they may be un-leap-frogable.  Alain

  NO MORE FOMO: NEW FORD OVER-THE-AIR UPDATES HELP MUSTANG MACH-E GET EVEN BETTER WITH TIME — WITHOUT LEAVING HOME

Press release,  May 12, “Owners of the all-new all-electric Mustang Mach-E won’t need to worry about keeping up with the Joneses, thanks to over-the-air updates that work to continuously improve the SUV over the vehicle’s life without leaving home.

And unlike some vehicles that require owners to wait while a software update takes place, Ford has developed a way to allow secure updates to download in the background, and in some cases, be completed in under two minutes1.

“The beauty of the Mustang Mach-E is that what our customers experience on day one is just the beginning – it will evolve to add even more features and capabilities over time,” said John Vangelov, connected services manager, Ford Motor Company. “Our clever over-the-air updates also minimize downtime through incredibly fast activation and ensure your Mustang Mach-E is always getting better, even when you’re asleep.”…”   Read more Hmmmm….  Can AutoPilot for the Mach-E be far behind? Alain

 

  Speeding Isn’t the Only Dangerous Driving Behavior On the Rise During COVID-19

K. Wilson, May 7, “rivers aren’t just speeding up on our empty roads — they’re also braking harder, scrolling cell phones longer, and crashing more, new data show.

In the five weeks after many states announced lockdown orders on March 16, the data company Zendrive said drivers’ use of cell phones behind the wheel is up 38 percent over pre-lockdown numbers. The number of drivers who exceeded speed limits was also up 27 percent, as was hard braking (25 percent) and collisions per million miles (20 percent.)

“As a result, every minute spent on the road is riskier; every mile driven is riskier,” a rep for the company said. (Full report here.), …” Read more Hmmmm… We really need to get to Driverless because people simply misbehave too frequently to maintain their “privilege to drive”.  Remember, it is supposed to be a privilege, not a right. Alain

Check Tesla’s impressive chart of pandemic’s impact on Supercharger use

F. Lambert, May 14, “With stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions being put in place in many markets, gasoline sales are way down.  Unsurprisingly, electric car charging station usage is also way down.

Musk decided to release an interesting chart of the usage of Tesla’s Supercharger network in different regions over the pandemic.  The chart shows that Tesla’s Supercharger network in China saw a massive reduction in use in late January through February::… ” Read more Hmmmm… Very interesting.  It would be nice to see the chart for different regions of the US. He4 also has GPS Tracks for each car so he knows what the changes are on every road segment in the US!!!   Alain 

 

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020

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

  Will the pandemic map a new course for autonomous cars?

> Fulton, May 4, “From where we sit, it looks much less like an economy that could benefit from autonomous, self-driving cars that wheel their snoozing occupants safely from place to place, than just three months ago. For that matter, we can probably scratch our heads now about whether that moon shot by 2024 is a great idea. Our priorities have been shifted for us….”  Read more Hmmmm…Mostly 1950s Sunday Supplement with a dash of current click-Bait.   This vision died shortly after Daimler’s introduction of their F 015 Luxury in Motion at the CES in January 2015 (5 years ago!!).  Way too difficult/expensive to bring to reality as just another toy for the super entitled, super rich.  Much more attractive as mobility machines for the masses. A concept that has zero traction in Sunday Supplements.  But that’s OK… that’s a real market that can also deliver substantial value to society.  Alain


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 002

AV Shark-Tank:

The Future of Public Roadway Transit

“Is it the Best or times… or Is it the Worst of times ???? 
Live May 18, 2pm New York Time

Register Here

____________________________

Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/

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8.20-Alex2-050720 https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-20-alex2-050720/ https://smartdrivingcar.com/8-20-alex2-050720/#respond Thu, 07 May 2020 17:56:47 +0000 https://smartdrivingcar.com/?p=8262   Thursday, May 7, 2020  SmartDrivingCar.com/8.20-Alex2-050720 20th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars   While COVID-19 Batters The Airlines, Driverless Car Technology Marches On S. Rice, May 4, “A […]

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Thursday, May 7, 2020 

SmartDrivingCar.com/8.20-Alex2-050720
20th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  While COVID-19 Batters The Airlines, Driverless Car Technology Marches On

S. Rice, May 4, “A while back, my colleague and I wrote an article about how driverless cars will disrupt the airline industry. We were not the first ones to say this, but we were the first to publish consumer opinion data to back up our claims. This is particularly true for short haul flights, as the majority of respondents said they preferred a driverless car for road trips up to eight hours over the hassles of flying commercial—even when the flight might take less time. Their reasons included wanting to avoid long security lines, delayed flights, lost baggage, small seats, and crowded airplanes.

Dr. Mattie Milner recently defended her dissertation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which focused on what type of person would prefer a driverless car over flying commercial. Her findings showed people prefer driverless cars over commercial flight for short and midrange drives. …”  Read more Hmmmm…  Many/most prefer driving their own conventional cars rather than flying commercial on short haul routes (500 miles or less).  This has been true for years.   Driverless cars would simply offer the same opportunity for those that for whatever reason don’t have access to drive their own car.   Airlines have struggled serving short-haul flights since 9-11 because of the time overhead introduced by the additional security.  Physical distancing may well be the nail in the coffin for local airports and short-haul flights. Cargo flights could provide some respite.  If Amtrak ever went “engineerless” (how trivial is that compared to driverless cars!?!) it could run frequent 1 (or 2) car “trains” between most cities.   That would really be the nail in the short-haul airline coffin.  Heavens… the freight railroads could run frequent inter-modal freight services.   Whew!!! Alain

  SmartDrivingCars Pod-Cast Episode 155 – Alex Roy2

F. Fishkin, April 29, “The continuing impact of Covid-19 on autonomous vehicle progress. But it may not be all bad news. Alex Roy…host of the No Parking Podcast and Director of Special Operations at Argo AI….joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus Tesla, Intel, Lyft, Uber and more. Listen and subscribe!”   “Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!“.  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

SmartDrivingCars Zoom-Cast Episode 155- Alex Roy2

Video version… Watch Zoom-Cast 155 – Alex Roy2  .  Alain

SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 001 The Driverless New Normal Debate


Note:… SmartDrivingCar Zoom-inar 002 – Transit in the New Normal…Will the Bus be Thrown Under the Bus?… Tentatively set for Monday, May 18, 2:00pm New York Time


  The Relentless Startup Fast-Tracking Ford’s Self-Driving Cars

Alex Davis, May 5, “Meet Bryan Salesky and the team of resourceful engineers at Argo, the little company trying to crack a big problem: safe autonomous driving….

Given his early career trajectory, you might be surprised that Bryan Salesky now finds himself at the forefront of the race to deliver the self-driving car. Red-haired and blue-eyed, he was born in the Detroit suburb of Woodhaven, Michigan, where his father did factory work in a steel mill. As the steel industry cratered in the 1990s, his mother remarried and the family moved around, winding up in Pittsburgh.

Salesky earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh in 2002 and, uninterested in continuing the kind of education that meant writing papers for professors, decided against grad school. Instead, he took a job at Union Switch & Signal, the company George Westinghouse founded in 1881. There, Salesky worked on software that kept trains from colliding while traversing “dark territory,” the long stretches of track ungoverned by signal systems…

Salesky was slotted in as Urmson’s lieutenant. The man who had kept real trains on their tracks would now keep the metaphorical ones on schedule….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Alex, very nice article!! Both of you, keep up the good work.  Alain

  Do Autonomous Vehicles Need LiDAR??

S. Rangwalla, April 30, “… Typically, the argument for not needing LiDAR as an obstacle avoidance and safety sensor goes as follows – “humans do not have a LiDAR and they drive reasonably well, so why should a computer need LiDAR?” The answer seems pretty obvious – computers today do not replicate human intelligence – they do not think like humans, from a perception and decision-making perspective. And they need other crutches as stated eloquently by my fellow Forbes author, Brad Templeton. Additionally, LiDARs for AVs are also used to develop 3D maps and provide vehicle localization (which could be achieved through other means like cameras and GPS)….” Read more Hmmmm….  Very good presentation of the yeas and nays.  Localization (SLAM) was the original motivator for LiDAR; however, I argue that 3D maps and precise localization are neither necessary nor justifiable.  Maps (paper, digital or HD) have no information about objects moving near the car being controlled.  Collision avoidance is all about locations and motions of nearby object relative  to the car being controlled.  That’s why I can drive pretty well, actually really well if I’m paying attention to driving the car, with only a vague notion of “where am I”.  All I need to know is “just ahead turn right, left or keep going straight.  By recognizing where I am relative to the lane markings and signs along the road, I end up usually making good decisions and, so far, not making any catastrophic decision.  I don’t need LiDAR nor HD maps    Alain

  Volvo bucks the industry, will sell LIDAR-equipped self-driving cars to customers by 2022

A. Hawkins, May 6, “In 2018, Volvo made a “strategic investment” in a little-known Florida-based LIDAR company called Luminar to use the startup’s high-resolution long-range sensor to build self-driving cars. Today, Volvo is announcing that new LIDAR-equipped cars, which the Swedish automaker says will be able to drive themselves on highways with no human intervention, will start rolling off the production line in 2022.

It’s an ambitious plan that carries its own risks and sets Volvo apart from its competitors, many of which are planning to launch self-driving technology as part of fleets of robotaxis rather than production cars for personal ownership. They argue this will help amortize the costs of not just the LIDAR, but also the high-powered computing power needed to enable self-driving cars. But Volvo believes that by limiting the operational domain — or conditions under which the car can drive autonomously — to just highways, it is creating vehicle technology that is not only safer, but less costly as well.

“We are saying that for a particular stretch of highway, we are aiming for an unsupervised experience,” Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer, told The Verge. “Our view is that by isolating the domain to particular sets of highways, which we can control and verify, we believe that’s the safe entry into autonomous technology and autonomous experience for users.” …”. Read more Hmmmm….  Big step here.  If this enables Volvo’s Emergency Braking System to reliably determine if a stationary object ahead can be safely passed under and, thus, not be assumed to be a “false positive” then this is great news.  (One silver lining in our Covid-19 new normal is that “false positives” and “false negatives” are concepts whose implications are much better appreciated.)  See also Timothy Lee’s reporting…  Volvo plans cars with lidar and “eyes off” highway driving by 2022.  Alain

 Tesla achieves record safety with Autopilot — more than 50% improvement

F. Lambert, May 2, “Tesla achieved a record level of safety with Autopilot with more than 50% improvement during the last quarter, according to its safety report.

Since 2018, Tesla has been trying to create a benchmark for its improvement in Autopilot safety by releasing a quarterly report that compares the number of miles per accident on Autopilot versus off of Autopilot….

In October 2018, we reported on Tesla’s first safety report, which was for the third quarter 2018.  At the time, Tesla said that it registered “one accident per 3.34 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged.”

For miles driven without Autopilot, Tesla said that registered “one accident or crash-like event for every 1.92 million miles driven.”

Over 2019, Tesla’s results were up and down, but the new data for the first quarter 2020 shows a significant improvement:

In the first quarter, we registered one accident for every 4.68 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. For those driving without Autopilot but with our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.99 million miles driven. For those driving without Autopilot and without our active safety features, we registered one accident for every 1.42 million miles driven. By comparison, NHTSA’s most recent data shows that in the United States there is an automobile crash every 479,000 miles.

That’s a 50% improvement over the previous quarter and the most significant improvement yet.:… ” Read more Hmmmm… There are, of course caveats, some reported by Fred.  The fundamental problem here is that there is no “peer review” of these claims.  Once again, I offer to do the peer review if Tesla releases the underlying data.  Until an independent entity, such as myself, has access to those data and performs a similar analysis these safety claims are going to be heavily discounted by even the most loyal to Tesla.    Alain

    Let’s Get Technical: Ford Offers Self-Driving Dataset to Spark Research and Development

T. Lockwood,  May 5, “Every second a self-driving vehicle is operating, it’s gathering information about the world around it. Cameras and LiDAR help it identify vehicles, pedestrians, signs and anything else that might be out in or near the streets. Radar helps the vehicle keep track of how fast things are moving around it.
Without all this data, self-driving cars wouldn’t even be able to leave a parking lot. These vehicles need to process a constant stream of information to safely navigate their surroundings, but even before they can do that, high-quality data is needed to help engineers and researchers create software that can properly teach self-driving vehicles how to analyze their environments.
To further spur innovation in this exciting field, Ford is releasing a comprehensive self-driving vehicle dataset to the academic and research community. There’s no better way of promoting research and development than ensuring the academic community has the data it needs to create effective self-driving vehicle algorithms….”   Read more Hmmmm….   Very nice; however… 1. Personally, I would prefer if Tesla released its data, see above article…  2.  Others have released similar data sets including those that are part of the Waymo Challenge… and 3.  What bothers me most is that so much of the data that is being released/processed is useless.  LiDAR point clouds of the trees and buildings outside the roadway cross-section … why aren’t they immediately discarded as irrelevant???? One of the things that our brain does really well, mine especially, is to forget and disregard irrelevant data.  LiDAR point clouds make for nice pictures, but an extremely large percentage of those data points are totally irrelevant.  I need to be educated as to why they would be included in the distribution of any released data set except to tune some algorithm to purge then ASAP. 

 

There is also a misleading comment about information sharing between neighboring vehicles. …” Most datasets only offer data from a single vehicle, but sensor information from two vehicles can help researchers explore entirely new scenarios, especially when the two encounter each other at different points along their respective routes….”  Such information is at a completely higher level of abstraction than the sensor data that is being released.  To me, even thinking about merging raw sensor data from two or more vehicles in real-time to perform scene cognition is a luxury not even Ford can justify.  My daughter Michelle always reminds me that she only tries to get involved with things that are good idea!  Are they trying to send everyone else down the wrong track with this suggestion??? Alain

Lyft lays off almost 1,000 staffers as Uber weighs big layoffs

T. Lee, April 29, “Lyft is laying of 982 people, the company said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday. That represents 17 percent of the company’s official workforce (the company considers its thousands of drivers to be independent contractors).

An additional 288 employees will be furloughed, Lyft said. Most of the remaining salaried employees will take 10 percent pay cuts, while executives will face pay cuts of 20 to 30 percent.

The cuts reflect the dire state of Lyft’s business during the coronavirus lockdown. Demand for on-demand passenger rides has plummeted. Lyft didn’t disclose booking figures in its filing, but The Information’s Amir Efrati reported last week that Uber’s global bookings for ride hailing were down 80 percent. Lyft has presumably suffered similarly large losses….”  Read more Hmmmm….   Not a pretty sight. In a sense, since it can’t scale without Driverless, it might as well scale back the overhead that is commensurate with a dollar stock. Note… The market absolutely disagrees with me!  If you lose less, price goes up, irrespective of the probability of achieving a price/earnings ratio that might justify such a price.  Lyft stock, Uber stock prices.  Alain

  Lyft says its ride-hailing business is down 70 percent because of COVID-19

A. Hawkins, May 6, “Lyft’s ride-hailing business is down 70 percent, year over year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s chief executives said in an earnings call with investors Wednesday. The company’s ride volume hit a bottom in the second week of April, plummeting 75 percent year-over-year, and has since gradually risen in the final weeks of the month. …

But Lyft’s earnings report for the first quarter of 2020 was slightly less grim than it’s ride-hailing business.”. Read more Hmmmm….  Is it really less grim… Way towards better earnings is serving many fewer customers.  Isn’t that really bad for a business that promised big rewards for big scale?  Alain

  Uber lays off 14 percent of its workforce in COVID-19-related cost-cutting

A. Hawkins, May 6, “Uber will lay off 3,700 full-time employees, or around 14 percent of its global workforce, the company said in filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will forgo his salary for the rest of the year as the company continues to struggle in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Uber’s ride-hailing business has dried up as a result of widespread shutdown orders due to the pandemic. In a call with investors in March, Khosrowshahi said its gross bookings in most major cities were down by as much as 70 percent. The Information recently reported that the company’s overall business was down 80 percent year over year. Recent gains in its food delivery Uber Eats division have failed to make up for big losses in its core ride-hailing product. The company will report its first quarter earnings on Thursday.”. Read more Hmmmm….  Whew!  Didn’t Uber claim not long ago, that Uber Eats was going to save it and isn’t it “the best of times” for food delivery???  Alain

  Can a Pandemic Stop the Apocalypse?

R. Lanctot, April 2, “The negative impacts of the coronavirus, COVID-19, on the automotive industry continue to radiate out from the closure of factories and dealerships (for vehicle sales, while service operations continue) to employee furloughs and plunging stock prices. At the same time, the global pandemic has begun to undermine the investment rationale behind four core industry-wide initiatives collectively described as “CASE” or “ACES:” i.e. Connected, Autonomous, Shared, and Electrified driving. ..

The last horseman standing is connectivity. It may well be that connectivity is the sole surviving core automotive technology iniitiative that survives the COVID-19 scourge. The industry may abandon autonomous vehicles, shared vehicles, and electrification – but connectivity seems bound to endure….

Not even COVID-19 can stand in the way of the movement to connect cars. For the foreseeable future, the pandemic will continue to wreak havoc with autonomous, electrification, and sharing. Car connections will survive even this apocalypse.”. Read more Hmmmm…. Unfortunately, Connectivity died before Covid-19 simply because it needs to achieve significant market adoption before it can begin to deliver any meaningful value to anyone beyond those peddling gizmos.  And even then it is a stretch.  The only way Covid-19 brings back the C is if the central politburo needs it to control the masses.   Alain

 Elon Musk talks Tesla cars playing augmented reality games while driving

F. Lambert, May 4, “In a new Twitter comment, Elon Musk talks about possibly developing a game for Tesla cars using augmented reality game while driving… or Minecraft.
 
For the last two years, Tesla has been devoting some resources to integrate video games into its user experience. It plans to do more of that in the future, as Musk says that Tesla’s goal is to increase owners’ happiness and make the ownership experience more fun:… ” Read more Hmmmm… This is so totally irresponsible.  Drivers should be paying attention to driving and not ever playing video games at the same time.  People will die!!    Alain

  Intel to buy smart urban transit startup Moovit for $1B to boost its autonomous car division

I. Lunden, May 3, “Some big M&A is afoot in Israel in the world of smart transportation. According to multiple reports and sources that have contacted TechCrunch, chip giant Intel is in the final stages of a deal to acquire Moovit, a startup that applies AI and big data analytics to track traffic and provide transit recommendations to some 800 million people globally. The deal is expected to close in the coming days at a price believed to be in the region of $1 billion.

We have contacted Nir Erez, the founder and CEO of Moovit, as well as Intel spokespeople for a comment on the reports and will update this story as we learn more. For now, Moovit’s spokesperson has not denied the reports and what we have been told directly…..”  Read more Hmmmm… Given that Intel Capital is already a strategic investor, they must know what they are doing.  But… are there “800M people” who even use transit around the world, let alone ask Moovit for recommendations???? Are the many Intel stock holders providing a nice payday for the few Intel Capital insiders???  Alain 

Tesla researchers publish work on hybrid battery enabling all-electric car range extender

F. Lambert, May 4, “Tesla, through its research arm in Canada, has published the results of research on Hybrid Lithium-Ion/Lithium Metal Cells, which can be used to create what can be best described as all-electric cars with a range extender.

Typically, when we talk about electric vehicles with a range extender, we are talking about a battery-powered electric car with a small gasoline combustion engine that acts as a generator to recharge the battery when the user wants to have more range.

The BMW i3 Rex is a good example. It was equipped with a battery pack enabling 126 miles (203 km) of all-electric range, which could be extended to 200 miles (320 km) with its combustion engine.

Now in a new paper, Tesla’s battery research group comes up with a similar concept – but it remains all-electric. How?.:… ” Read more Hmmmm… ???? Not at all like the BMW i3 Rex or the  Chevy Volt or a modern railroad locomotive.  Each have ICE charging “batteries” that power electric traction motors.  This is just a “better” battery, maybe… if by “better” we mean higher power density.   If better also includes cost of materials, external environmental cost and geo=political costs, then …???? Alain

  Google Cars Drive Themselves, in Traffic

J. Markoff, Oct 9, 2010 (essentially 10 years ago…) “Anyone driving the twists of Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles recently may have glimpsed a Toyota Prius with a curious funnel-like cylinder on the roof. Harder to notice was that the person at the wheel was not actually driving.

The car is a project of Google, which has been working in secret but in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, using artificial-intelligence software that can sense anything near the car and mimic the decisions made by a human driver.

With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes awry and a technician in the passenger seat to monitor the navigation system, seven test cars have driven 1,000 miles without human intervention and more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control. One even drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation. The only accident, engineers said, was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light.

Autonomous cars are years from mass production, but technologists who have long dreamed of them believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has….” Read more Hmmmm…We knew the first 80% was going to be easy.  The next 19% are really hard, the next 0.9% is really really hard, ….   But I remain confident that we’ll soon become substantially better than good enough.   Alain

    Draft Program   4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   Postponed until Evening Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2020

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

  Will the pandemic map a new course for autonomous cars?

> Fulton, May 4, “From where we sit, it looks much less like an economy that could benefit from autonomous, self-driving cars that wheel their snoozing occupants safely from place to place, than just three months ago. For that matter, we can probably scratch our heads now about whether that moon shot by 2024 is a great idea. Our priorities have been shifted for us….”  Read more Hmmmm…Mostly 1950s Sunday Supplement with a dash of current click-Bait.   This vision died shortly after Daimler’s introduction of their F 015 Luxury in Motion at the CES in January 2015 (5 years ago!!).  Way too difficult/expensive to bring to reality as just another toy for the super entitled, super rich.  Much more attractive as mobility machines for the masses. A concept that has zero traction in Sunday Supplements.  But that’s OK… that’s a real market that can also deliver substantial value to society.  Alain


Half-Baked


Click-Bait


Calendar of Upcoming Events:s

Postponed, until Evening Oct. 20 -> Oct 22.

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ


On the More Technical Side

http://orfe.princeton.edu/~alaink/SmartDrivingCars/Papers/


 

 

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