Sunday, October 23, 2022

38th edition of the 10th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter

  Waymo says it’s bringing robotaxis to L.A.

Russ Mitchell, Oct 19, 2022 “The company, owned by Google parent Alphabet, said Wednesday that it plans to make L.A. its next market. “L.A. is in the top three ride-hailing markets in the United States and globally,” said Saswat Panigrahi, the company’s chief product officer. “The commercial opportunity is huge.”

But Waymo offered scant information about its plans, including when the commercial service will begin and how extensive the service’s coverage will be….”    Read more Hmmmm…  or what the service will be?   Ride-hailing???  Compete with Uber/Lyft… good luck! After leading the “testing phase” for the last 13 years, this is their plan for the “deployment phase”.  So disappointing!  Doesn’t come close to meeting Schumpeter’s Disruptive Technology Threshold …: “… [I]n capitalist reality…, it is not [price] competition which counts but the competition from the new commodity, the new technology…- competition which commands a decisive cost or quality advantage and which strikes not at the margins of the profits and the outputs of the existing firms but at their foundations and their very lives.” Joseph A Shumpeter  (1883-1950)”.  Alain

  Waymo to launch robotaxi service in Los Angeles

K. Karosec, Oct. 19, “…The announcement Wednesday has a decidedly more commercial aim. Initially, more than a dozen Waymo autonomous vehicles will be in Los Angeles and scale from there, according to Waymo’s new chief product officer Saswat Panigrahi, who most recently was vice president of strategy, product management and data science.

The intent, he added, is that this will be a driverless robotaxi service that will operate 24 hours a day. In the run up to its eventual launch, Waymo is partnering with local groups MADD California and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition…”  Read more Hmmmm… “.. more than a dozen …” to do What? Why?? For bike riders???  That’s a “Big Fissile” and certainly not a “Big Bang”.  So disappointing!  Alain

  Waymo eyes traffic-choked Los Angeles for its next robotaxi service

A. Hawkins, Oct. 19, “Waymo is bringing its Waymo One robotaxi service to Los Angeles, a city of endless freeways, legendary traffic jams, and many pressing transportation needs that are unlikely to be addressed by adding more cars….”  Read more Hmmmm… “…  You would think that the last thing that LAians want to see is a bunch of Waymos “repositioning themselves empty” as they go directly to the ride-hailer who will be in the vehicles by himself (It will most likely be a “him”).  At least Uber/Lyft look like they are doing some good by having a driver on-board and can use the HOV lanes because they have 2 people on-board (the driver and the passenger).  Waymo won’t even be able to use the HOV lanes. 

Notice… zero mention of “ride-sharing”.  The silence is deafening.  So disappointing.  Alain

SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 288 /PodCast 288 So Disappointing!

F. Fishkin, Oct. 23,  “Waymo is bringing Robotaxi service to L.A..   But Princeton’s faculty chair of autonomous vehicle engineering is concerned the focus may not be in the right places.   Alan Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin zero in on Waymo, Lyft, Tesla and a test drive in the Ford F-150 Lightning on episode 288 of Smart Driving Cars.


Technical support provided by:  a 501c3 dedicated to Safe & High-Quality Mobility for All

  Elon Musk’s frisky earnings call touched on the Cybertruck, Twitter, and the future of Tesla

A. Hawkins, Oct. 20, “For a guy who once said he wasn’t going to be on many future earnings calls, Elon Musk has a hard time staying away.

Last night, Tesla reported its third quarter earnings, and Musk was front and center, making boastful claims about his company’s future (bigger than Apple and Saudi Aramco), dropping hints about Tesla’s next vehicle platform, hyping the much-delayed Cybertruck, and even offering some commentary on his on-again, off-again deal to buy Twitter.

Musk defended the company’s performance despite missing delivery and revenue expectations amid fears of softening demand for Tesla’s vehicles.

“We have excellent demand for Q4 and we expect to sell every car that we make for as far as the future as we can see,” Musk said defiantly. “So the factories are running at full speed and we’re delivering every car we make and keeping operating margins strong.”

But forgot these Wall Street-centric platitudes. Let’s talk about cars! And trucks! And robot cars! Yeehaw!…”  Read more Hmmmm… As with everything that looks into the future, all needs to be taken “with a grain of salt”, but the fundamental goals remain solid… My view.  Alain

  Lyft co-founder says autonomous vehicles won’t replace drivers for at least a decade

T. DeChant, Oct 20, “Human drivers on the Lyft platform aren’t going to be replaced by autonomous vehicles anytime soon, company co-founder and president John Zimmer told the audience today at TechCrunch Disrupt.

“I can’t imagine anytime in the next decade-plus where we would need any less drivers,” he said, noting that he envisions autonomous vehicles handling anywhere from 1% to 10% of rides in the future.

“What we do in our industry represents maybe 1% of vehicle miles traveled,” he said. “There’s much more room for growth of our overall business.”… ”  Read more Hmmmm… All very true! Alain

  The driverless car revolution is stuck in the slow lane

E. Moore, Oct.22, “The hype cycle of driverless cars is on yet another depressing downswing. Last week, Tesla boss Elon Musk admitted that full self-driving software was not yet ready to be used without someone sitting behind the wheel. Mobileye, Intel’s autonomous driving unit, cut its valuation expectation from $50bn down to $16bn. Multiple media outlets have published stories mocking the sector for its failings after billions of dollars of investment.

The peculiar thing is that this has all happened just as robotaxis arrive on the streets of San Francisco. For $10 or so, you can catch a driverless car from the famous Painted Ladies on Alamo Square to the bars of Nob Hill, watching from the back seat as the wheel turns itself to manoeuvre the car through traffic….”  Read more Hmmmm… All of this to enhance bar hopping? This reality isn’t pretty.   Alain

  Locomation furloughs staffers amid continuing national tech downturn 

N. Doughty, Oct. 12, “Lawrenceville-based autonomous trucking startup Locomation Inc. has issued a series of furloughs for some of its workers amid the tech-driven downturn seen across the country over the better part of this year….”  Read more Hmmmm… Not pretty.  This is a rough time for small players without revenue.  Alain

The Day I Stood in the Path of a Driverless Bus

J. Barron, Oct 20, “….The Port Authority sees possibilities in autonomous vehicles like the little shuttles, which can carry about a dozen passengers. Someday you could get on a driverless bus in an airport parking lot and say “take me to my car,” and the bus would thread its way up and down the lanes until it found the space where you had parked….”  Read more Hmmmm…  Sure! Alain

MIT Mobility Forum  VISTA 2.0: An Open, Data-driven Simulator for Multimodal Sensing and Policy Learning for Autonomous Vehicles

Oct.28 @ noon EDT, D. Russ, “VISTA 2.0: An Open, Data-driven Simulator for Multimodal Sensing and Policy Learning for Autonomous Vehicles”.   Please register at Zoom beforehand. ” Read more  Hmmmm… An absolutely excellent lineup, every Friday, which started on Friday, Sept. 16th with Prof. Susan Handy’84, UC Davis.  Alain

  Elon Musk’s language about Tesla’s self-driving is changing

F. Lambert, Oct 21, “…Electrek’s Take: Musk is obviously being more careful in his choice of words, but he is still talking about Tesla achieving level 4 or 5 next year.

The most frustrating part is that he obviously doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to this timeline anymore, but he keeps justifying this prediction by saying “you just have to look at the performance of Tesla FSD beta.”

My experience with FSD Beta certainly doesn’t suggest that, but some have had better experiences, especially in California, where there are more owners to train the system.

However, talking to the more unbiased FSD Beta testers, I found it hard to see a clear path to Tesla achieving level 4 or 5 autonomy within the next year.” Read more  Hmmmm… Hmmmm… There is an enormous difference between “Level 4” and “Level 5”.  “Level 4” is within a precisely constrained Operational Design Domain (ODD).  “Level 5” is essentially “everywhere”.  Level 5 is like “Vizion Zeros” or “nuclear fusion” … don’t expect to get there within your lifetime.  “Level 4” in very constrained ODDs is achievable in the near term.  The challenge is to find very constrained Level 4 ODDs that also, just happen to do some real good for at least some in our society. 


That’s what we are trying to do in New Jersey.  We’re working the problem backwards.  We’re trying to find the ODDs where this does work and getting started in the ODD that delivers the most societal value.  We think we have that in Trenton and Perth Amboy.  Alain

  Tesla is aiming to ramp up to 50,000 Tesla Semi electric trucks per year

F. Lambert, Oct 21, “Tesla is aiming to ramp up Tesla Semi production to 50,000 electric trucks per year – as soon as 2024. It would make Tesla one of the largest class 8 truck manufacturers.

After five years of waiting, Tesla is now finally in early production with the Tesla Semi electric truck.

Electrek exclusively reported that Tesla was building a production line for the Tesla Semi in a new building near Gigafactory Nevada. At the time, we were told that the production equipment installed would be for about five electric trucks per week.

That would be only 250 trucks per year.

However, Tesla always planned to move to higher volume production at Gigafactory Texas.

During the conference call that followed the release of Tesla’s Q3 2022 financial results, CEO Elon Musk announced that Tesla is “tentatively” aiming for 50,000 Tesla Semi electric trucks in 2024:…” Read more Hmmmm…   A grand vision… What happens in the trucking industry if these all have AutoPilot/FSD?   Alain