Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023

SmartDrivingCar.com/11.46- Such_a_Shame -11/21/23

46th edition of the 11th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 



A white text on a black background    Description automatically generatedCruise CEO Kyle Vogt Resigns After Weeks Of Crisis

C. Farivar, Nov.20, “Cruise CEO and co-founder Kyle Vogt resigned Sunday night less than a month after the struggling robotaxi company lost its license to operate in California and paused operations of its autonomous fleet across the country. The subsidiary of General Motors has been widely criticized for an aggressive expansion plan that did not adequately consider safety.…” Read More  Hmmmm…. Such a shame! How is it that a totally misbehaving hit and run driver begins a chain reaction that so changes the lives of so many innocent by-standers  by creating such a bizarre previously unimaginable situation, when everyone else is trying to do the right thing? We’d better learn as much as possible so that this situation is not repeated ever again.


Some takeaways:

  1. No real system is perfectly safe, or even comes close to being perfectly safe.  Elevators “kill” about 25 people per year in the US.


  1. This industry has to stop selling itself as the cure to the human-driven automobile’s safety challenge as the justification for not only its existence, but more importantly, as viability that is required to achieve market dominant and worthy of investment.

1.        GM without Cruise has a better chance of making substantive progress in addressing today’s safety challenge by not allowing the cars that it sells in its showrooms to even start  if the driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol, or, if lucid, enabled to speed excessively, run red lights or stop signs, or text or otherwise get distracted with Apple CarPlay or other add-on distractions.  GM (and their competitors) has had these capabilities for years.  We know why they haven’t made changes to improve safety along these lines: they wouldn’t be able to sell those cars.

2.       This reality tells us that in this democratic society where the customer, who is also the voter, is king, the positive attributes of the car’s conventional technology overwhelmingly outweigh its safety challenges to such an extent that it is still able to completely dominate today’s rides market, both the ‘give myself a ride’, as well as the ‘give someone else a ride’ markets.  It achieved this market dominance even  in competition with other mobility systems whose safety record is substantially better.   Unfortunately for the also-rans is that their appeal in giving of rides nets out to be so poor in comparison, that whatever great advantage they might have in safety isn’t sufficient to make them anything more than a niche player in the ‘giving people rides’ marketplace.  That’s what Joe Shumpeter might try to teach us as we observe the reality of today’s mobility marketplace.  

3.       Furthermore,  Shumpeter might suggest that for a new technology to become successful disruptive, it needs to have a cost and/or quality advantage that is substantially better that of  today’s technology.  In the past, GM’s original  technology did it well over the horse and buggy, the electric trolley, and the bus.  It was their superior service qualities with comparable safety that enabled them to poach most of the customers of all of the competitors, existing or imagined, to achieve ultimate market dominance.  It was a service disruption while remaining sufficiently safe and not a safety disruption while offering comparable service.  Similarly today, Waymo, Cruise and maybe others in the driverless mobility space can deliver vastly superior service at comparable safety levels to many who today need a ride.  If only they focused their deployment strategies on serving those customers who would most appreciate those superior services, they might have a chance at disrupting the rides market place and earning success.


  1. Today, about 50% of people who need a ride get a ride from someone else, be it a parent, sibling, relative, friend or stranger.

4.       For some of these rides, all is fine and current ride providers can’t be disrupted.  A business professional traveling on an expense account where  affordability is not an issue, Uber/Lyft/taxis really can’t be beaten.   Coming home from going almost anyplace when affordability is a personal issue, the availability of an affordable driverless ride makes all the difference in deciding to go in the first place.  That’s life-changing.  That’s disruptive.  Focus should be on deployments that learning and then serving the mobility needs these folks where these systems have a golden opportunity to actually earn their glory.


  1. For the other 50% that have a car that they can and do drive themselves converting them to be substantial customers will be challenging except in situations that involve parking and affordability.  Parking, other than at home, is rarely convenient and becoming less free.  Providing somewhat convenient accessibility and having the certainty of a return-home service because of on-demand comparably safe 24/7 operation can become a disruptive concept that can convince many to leave their cars at home.  It ca get really expensive to ensure oneself that a return home will be available which ends up justifying an individual to drive themselves in the first place.  If one looks back to what really made turn-by-turn navigation so disruptive to using paper maps and even to those who stayed home was the fact that it could get you home from wherever it ended up taking you.   


My point here is that safety is important, but being safer is NOT and should NOT be paramount for this system any more than it has not been paramount for NHTSA to make GM and other car makers install speed governors, breathalyzers, etc.  Driverless systems can deliver so much value to those who need rides from someone else as well as even those that can and do dive themselves rides while being safe that they shouldn’t be unfairly burdened by unattainable safety hurdles.


The other enormous lesson that we all must learn, or re-learn, is that “the cover up ends up being worse than the crime”.  Alain



A white text on a black background    Description automatically generatedCruise Cofounder Dan Kan Resigns Following CEO’s Departure

C. Farivar, Nov.20, “On Monday morning, Cruise’s cofounder and chief product officer Dan Kan resigned from the company, less than 24 hours after his fellow cofounder and CEO Kyle Vogt announced his resignation. …” Read More  Hmmmm…. Final thought on this: wonder what he and Kyle will do next!  Alain




SmartDrivingCars  ZoomCast 346 / PodCast 346  w/ Cyrus Farivar Forbes senior staff writer

F. Fishkin,  Nov. 21, With the two co-founders having resigned, where does GM’s Cruise go from here? GM CEO Mary Barra spoke to employees Monday. Forbes Senior Staff Writer Cyrus Farivar has had a listen and written about it. He joins Alain and Fred on episode 346 of Smart Driving Cars. Plus we add thoughts from The Dispatcher publisher Michael Sena. Tune in and subscribe. 


SpaceX Starship Launch 2 (IFT2) Explained!

Marcus House, Nov 19, “ Here we have the colossal SpaceX Starship Launch 2 (IFT2) Explained! The day arrived where SpaceX has proved that all those improvements to the launch site and launch vehicle have paid off! Yes, on Saturday the 18th of November, 2023! That day my friends, the newest record breaking Starship full stack flew for the second time ever! Oh boy was this one improved from the last, yet still a nail biting spectacle..”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Excellent recap! Marcus is always outstanding J Alain





San Jose, CA
Nov. 30 -> Dec. 1, 2023



6th  SmartDrivingCar


May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ