Thursday, April 15, 2022

15th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  Musk promises ‘dedicated robotaxi’ with futuristic look from Tesla

H. Jin, April 6, “Electric carmaker Tesla (TSLA.O) will make a “dedicated” self-driving taxi that will “look futuristic,” Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Thursday, without giving a timeframe.

The 50-year-old billionaire, wearing a black cowboy hat and sunglasses, made the comments at the opening of Tesla’s $1.1 billion factory in Texas, which is home to its new headquarters.

Massive scale. Full self-driving. There’s going to be a dedicated robotaxi,” Musk told a large crowd at the factory….” Read more 

Hmmmm… Wow! It was brilliant for Elon to begin focusing his EVs on rich Californians who already have a stable full of cars to go all the way to grandma’s house and back and were really looking for a neat toy.

Elon followed the graceful rollout of his Supercharger infrastructure which enabled the upper-middle class that doesn’t have a backup fleet and needs to have a toy and reliably go back and forth to grandma’s house.  Viola!!! No longer just a toy.  Seamless evolution to “Massive Scale” scale and Massive Profitability. 

RoboTaxis’ evolution to “Massive Scale” is turning out to be different.  Starting with rich WesternStaters doesn’t seem to be working sociologically for Waymo.  The rides offered seem to be taken for entertainment and side-show purposes rather than valued enablers of enhanced quality of life.  Nice for selfies, but not much more.

Recall fundamental value is to provide a safe, high-quality ride from A to B.  “Safe” is “safe”,  but “high-quality” is relative to what one now has readily available.  For the rich, that’s where they’ve already put a lot of money to create for themselves something really nice.  The chances someone is going to offer something better to an individual that has crafted something perfect for themselves is slim-to-none.  Consequently, the service is used primarily for taking selfies. 

For those that don’t have their own car for whatever reason  (can’t drive, don’t want to, too young, too old, and/or too poor) their mobility options are simply dreadful.  Absolutely trivial for an aTaxi service to be viewed as the quality winner and used to provide customer accessibility, improved quality of life, endearment, respect, love, appreciation, loyalty, and use. 

Consequently, if Elon is really serious about achieving “Massive Scale” then he should basically flip his Tesla strategy and start by focusing on serving the mobility needs of those that will fully appreciate and gain the most personal value from his market offering;

  • those that don’t already have a stable full of their own personal mobility options.  
  • those for which his aTaxi can substantially change their lives for the better. 

These are the customers of Trenton MOVES; only about 50,000 of Trenton’s 90,000 population; but 50,000 that will really appreciate you.  Start by only serving Trenton’s 8 square mile area with about 100 vehicles and only during the best 350 days out of the year’s 365.25.  

They’ll be so appreciative and you will have provided the spark that will allow your aTaxis to go viral!  You’ll quickly serve Mercer county, Newark, Camden, Atlantic City, New Brunswick, Toms River, Perth Amboy, all of New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania, New York City (except Manhattan), Long Island, ….. 

That’s the natural road to “Massive Scale” for Mobility for all.   Start with those in most need and evolve to convert those that will leave their own cars parked in their driveway.  

Massive Scale” starts with Trenton MOVES Alain



  SmartDrivingCars  ZoomCast Episode 264/ PodCast 264

F. Fishkin, April 15, “Smart Driving Cars episode 264: Massive Robotaxi Move by #Musk and #Tesla?     Elon Musk is saying Tesla will make a massive move into robotaxis.  And what about his attempt to buy Twitter?    Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin weigh in on that…plus Argo AI coming to Greenville, South Carolina and Cruise expands Walmart deliveries in Arizona.   That and more on episode 264 of Smart Driving Cars.   Tune in and subscribe..

Technical support provided by:


  Autonomous vehicle company Argo AI establishing operations in Greenville County

Press release, April 13, ” Argo AI (Argo), a global autonomy products and services company, will establish a test facility in Greenville County. The company’s $2.6 million investment is expected to create 40 new jobs….

Argo will establish a closed-course track in the SC Technology and Aviation Center for development and testing of its self-driving vehicle technology. The Greenville County track will be Argo’s third closed-course facility in addition to locations in western Pennsylvania and Munich, Germany. It will be dedicated to highway-speed testing as the company advances toward commercial autonomous operations across multiple cities.

Operations are expected to begin later this year. Individuals interested in joining the Argo team should visit the company’s …” Read more  Hmmmm… Wow Fred Payne!!! This is fantastic.  Congratulations.  I can’t even get them to talk to me.  You got them to come.  Fantastic!  Alain

Full Symposium Program: ICT 2022  Driving Accessibility Together

WORKSHOP A: Driving Autonomous Vehicles Through the Accessibility Testing Field

Why users from the disability community must be included in your accessibility testing program for mobile website and app accessibility


May 16 -> May 19, 2022.

Venue:  ICT 2022 will take place at the National Federation of the Blind, Jernigan Institute, Baltimore, MD with the option of simultaneous online participation of the two day symposium

Read more  Hmmmm… A most important element associated with addressing the Sociology of SmartDrivingCar Technology.  Alain

  CoMotion Miami – Meeting in the Middle: How Community and Autonomy Work Together

April 21, 2:40 pm Autonomous vehicle technology is commonly understood as the playground for pushing the edge of efficient, connected and automated ways to get around. But transportation moves people through the places they live, work, and play, so what are the implications for those using this autonomous technology? How is the community incorporated into the vision for a hyper-connected future?  What can autonomous, vehicle-based urban transit systems do for travellers? How do we build trust among citizens to make automated transport more accessible and attractive? Read more  Hmmmm…More on addressing the Sociology of SmartDrivingCar Technology. Alain


Making it Happen:  Trenton MOVES… a Framework for the Deployment of Safe, Equitable, Affordable, Sustainable, High-quality Mobility

A. Kornhauser, Jan 11, 2022 TRB, ” A slide deck describing the framework fora phased deployment of high-quality mobility in Trenton New Jersey that is envisioned to have wherewithall to naturally scale beyond Trenton in a fashion that can be replicated the more than 100 communities across the US that have similar demographic and travel demand characteristics.”  Read more  Hmmmm… Go through the slides in presentation mode to take advantage of the animations. See ZoomCast 251 Alain

Highlights from the 4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit (2020-2021)

  Making Driverless Happen: The Road Forward (Updated)

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

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


Ken Pyle‘s Session Summaries of 4th Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit:

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


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


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


Staff, Dec 6, “The New Jersey Department of Transportation (“NJDOT”), an instrumentality of the State of New Jersey, has issued a Request for Expressions of Interest (“RFEI”) to identify experienced firms capable of introducing a safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, and efficient on-demand automated vehicle mobility systems in and beyond Trenton, NJ.
NJDOT is soliciting written expressions of interest from qualified and experienced vendors to gain valuable insight from the private industry regarding the goals set forth in the Trenton MOVES (Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System) potential project and assess its viability.  If and when NJDOT elects to proceed with a potential project, NJDOT may issue formal
Request(s) for Qualifications or Proposals.

The RFEI is available to be downloaded at…”

Staff, March 2, “…” Read more  Hmmmm…   Lots of very encouraging and enthusiastic respondents.  Thanks to NJ DoT for making the replies available to the public at large on a very timely basis allowing everyone to learn a lot and showing that there is broad and competent interest in deploying Safe, Equitable, Affordable, Sustainable, High-quality Mobility throughout Trenton and beyond.  Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events

5th Annual Princeton  SmartDrivingCar Summit 


Thursday (evening), June 2, Welcome Reception @ Alain’s home (Registration required)

Friday, June 3, Equitable Mobility Innovation Forum @ Princeton University (Registration required)

June 4, Equitable Mobility Festival @ Mayor Donnely Homes, Trenton, NJ (Open to All)

Live in Person

On the More Technical Side

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