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Saturday, March 9, 2024


  10th edition of the 12th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 


  Driverless car company Waymo makes pit stop at UB

UBNOW Staff, March 7, “The Jaguar SUV idled in a parking lot between Hayes and Crosby halls.

Motionless? Yes.

But idle? Not in the sense that the vehicle’s more than two dozen exterior cameras, and radar and lidar systems, were closely watching its surroundings. It soon spied roughly 30 people — mostly engineering and transportation planning students — who quickly gathered around the self-driving car.

Stephen Still, professor of practice in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, explored the car last Thursday with his class.

“What we’re looking at is a means to provide mobility to those that don’t have it,” he said following the class. “Those with the physical ability and enough income to own a car already have mobility. What about older adults, low-income individuals and those with physical or mental disabilities? This technology has the potential to greatly improve their lives.”…” Read More  Hmmmm… Wow!!! How jealous am I?  Steve got Waymo to come not only to Buffalo, but to his class.  I’m so jealous  J  

I’m even more blown away by his vision of this technology’s fundamental Societal Value for improving Quality-of-Life (QoL) of its customers.

 I put Waymo’s opportunity this way:

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The key aspect of the above is “Sum ‘all trips served’ “.  That’s where Total Addressable market (TAM) comes in.  If one is competing with Uber one must realize that its Total Addressable Market (TAM = rides/day) is small ~ < 1M/day in USA.   It is not cheap or affordable and for many is down right expensive except in “mission-critical” situations.  While not a Limo or a chauffeur, Uber is actually a luxury in the Rides business. It survives only because many/most? of its trips are paid by expense accounts and therefore, affordability is not much of an issue.


However, by being driverless, one has the opportunity to become affordable. The flexibility and substantial productivity opportunities of Driverless should be able to cut cost/ride by 80% and be as safe as Uber while otherwise delivering a comparable level-of-service.  Focusing that driverless capability into a safe and affordable mobility option for those who can’t afford Uber should enable Total Addressable Market (TAM= rides/day) to become ~100x  bigger than Uber’s TAM.


Plus ‘safe & affordable” can still compete to serve those using Uber, but affordability won’t convert many more Uber-users because their rides tend to be paid by expense accounts so their QoL is weakly-affected by affordability.)     I hope that it is not the attractiveness of putting 80% Uber’s “Luxury brand fares” in one’s pocket  that has kept anyone  from putting forward an affordable (~75% cheaper than Uber) safe, high-quality Rides business. I admit, margins on luxury goods are very nice and many luxury brands do very well indeed.  However, this is the Rides business that has many customers that would use you repeatedly, with probability approaching 1.0, because you are safe and provide fantastic demand responsive service, if only you could also be affordable.  My educated guess tells me that this rides market is 100x Uber’s luxury market.  Pricing @ 75% off Uber allows one to pocket 5% over one’s 20% Cost-of-Service for 100x rides.  This daily profit from affordable offering is substantially more than pocketing 80% of 1x luxury-priced rides. Affordability pricing really serves one’s fiduciary responsibility to one’s investors.  


Moreover, by focusing on providing safe, high-quality, affordable service to those who really need a ride, one not only serves one’s fiduciary responsibility to one’s investors, one enormously improves Societal Value.   

This is not ‘rocket science’.  It is just elementary win-win-win for those have driverless technology.  Plus, you do this, and the “proof-of-politics” is icing on the cake in the form of making 100x folks happier campers. 


Steve… boy, am I jealous of you!!  And I couldn’t be more proud of you.  Congrats!!  Alain


A book cover of a book  Description automatically generatedJust Published!!!  Go to Amazon.com… You can still be first on your block to have one J.


SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 361 / PodCast 361 Waymo in Buffalo, NVIDIA GTC, Apple, Cruise, Tesla & more

F. Fishkin, March 9, Waymo brings driverless vehicle to the University of Buffalo, NVIDIA GTC coming soon, Apple’s Doomed Car Project, GM Cruise, Tesla and more. Episode 361 of Smart Driving Cars with Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin.

0:00 open

0:23 The Real Case for Driverless Mobility and upcoming Smart Driving Cars Summit

1:30 Waymo self driving vehicle pays visit to the University of Buffalo

15:15 NVIDIA GTC coming up soon 17:30 NY Times report-Behind Apple’s Doomed Car Project

31:30 Motley Fool headline…Things Have Gone From Bad to Worse for GM’s Cruise and Tesla may benefit

32:33 Jalopnik column… We’ve Wasted Nearly 50 Billioin Dollars on Self Driving Cars

36:36 Self Driving vehicle bill nears final passage in Kentucky





6th Princeton SmartDrivingCars Summit May 29 -> 31, 2024, Princeton NJ   6th  SmartDrivingCars Summit

Alain Kornhauser, March 8, “We promise civil and lively discussions as to how to improve the Quality-of-Life (QoL) for many while disrupting the QoL to as few as possible.  Focus will be on…

Giving Oneself a Ride

  • Latest on ADAS Safety, Functionality, Regulation and potential Collaboration (given anti-trust relaxation)   

Getting a Driverless Ride

  • By people and goods using public roads
    • “Proof-of-Concept” (Safety Update and Last “50 feet” delivery concepts )
    • “Proof-of-Market” (Arizona, California, Texas, …  rural & beyond)
    • “Proof-of-Politics” (Regulation + Opportunities for Collaboration (given anti-trust relaxation.))
  • By people and goods on private property.
    • “Proof-of-Concept” (Safety Update)
    • “Proof-of-Market” ( Return-on-Investment (RoI) focus on: Private “ways”, Manufacturing, Ports, Terminals, Warehouses, Mining, Farms)
    • “Proof-of-Politics” (OSHA, Unions )


  • MOVES – Style Deployments “anywhere”.  (See Example)
  • Design, Analysis, Simulation, Animation & Business Case

….” Read More  Hmmmm… Please pencil in the dates. We are putting together the sponsorship and registration pages.  Given the success that we’ve had with the past Summits and the quality of the program that we’ve been able to assemble to date, we fully expect to be sold out. Some sponsorship opportunities remain available. If interested, please simply contact me via email for now while we allow those that have “penciled-in commitments” complete their opportunity to fully commit. Hope you’ll be able to join in with us. Alain


  AI’s Hottest Ticket: NVIDIA GTC Brings Together Automotive Leaders and Visionaries Transforming the Future of Transportation

M. Labrie, Feb. 16, “Generative AI and software-defined computing are transforming the automotive landscape — making the journey behind the wheel safer, smarter and more enjoyable.

Dozens of automakers and NVIDIA DRIVE ecosystem partners will be demonstrating their developments in mobility, along with showcasing their next-gen vehicles at GTC, the conference for the era of AI, running from March 18-21 in San Jose, Calif., and online. These include the Mercedes-Benz Concept CLA Class, the new Volvo EX90, Polestar 3, WeRide Robobus, Nuro R3 autonomous delivery vehicle and more.

Explore myriad sessions to learn about the latest developments in mobility — from highly automated and autonomous driving, generative AI and large language models to simulation, safety, design and manufacturing.

Featured sessions include: ….” Read More  Hmmmm… Can’t wait.  Go experience & learn.    Alain


Behind Apple’s Doomed Car Project: False Starts and Wrong Turns


B. Chen, Feb. 28, “For the last decade, many Apple employees working on the company’s secretive car project, internally code-named Titan, had a less flattering name for it: the Titanic disaster. They knew the project was likely to fail.

Throughout its existence, the car effort was scrapped and rebooted several times, shedding hundreds of workers along the way. As a result of dueling views among leaders about what an Apple car should be, it began as an electric vehicle that would compete against Tesla and morphed into a self-driving car to rival Google’s Waymo.

By the time of its death — Tuesday, when executives announced internally that the project was being killed and that many members of the team were being reassigned to work on artificial intelligence — Apple had burned more than $10 billion on the project and the car had reverted to its beginnings as an electric vehicle with driving-assistance features rivaling Tesla’s, according to a half dozen people who worked on the project over the past decade.

The car project’s demise was a testament to the way Apple has struggled to develop new products in the years since Steve Jobs’s death in 2011. The effort had four different leaders and conducted multiple rounds of layoffs. But it festered and ultimately fizzled in large part because developing the software and algorithms for a car with autonomous driving features proved too difficult….”  Read More   Hmmmm… I don’t agree.  I have no inside information but this analysis seems way too simplistic.  Yes, the software is turning out to be very much more difficult than many of us expected; however, building the vehicle that runs the software is no easy task.  Waymo tried and threw in the towel.  Apple tried to make a deal with Elon, but Elon rightfully knew that making the car may actually be way harder than making the software. The only thing that makes the car practical is that, as Elon has proven, one can start with a roadster for the ultra-rich, an S for the rich, a 3 and Y for the upper class and maybe work one’s way down to the “Model T” for the masses.  With the Driverless software revolution, one doesn’t seem to have a similar evolution opportunity unless one starts with the car…. Even then we have one that threw in the towel (Ford), one that is on the ropes (GM), no hope coming from Germany or Japan, and China is an absolute  non-starter strategically.  Only Tesla is left, and that engagement collapsed years ago. 

Given how hard the software is, no potential car partner, no appetite to start a car company, Apple has been DoA for some time now.  Absolutely no surprises here.  Alain


  Rivian pauses plan to build $5B Georgia factory

Z. Hansen, March 7,  “Rivian, the electric vehicle upstart that announced more than two years ago plans to build a $5 billion vehicle and battery plant with 7,500 promised jobs east of Atlanta, is halting the mammoth project.

The California company, which promised in late 2021 to build what was then considered Georgia’s largest-ever economic development project, said Thursday at an event introducing new models that it will now start production of its anticipated R2 crossover at its sole factory in Illinois instead of in the Peach State..” Read More  Hmmmm…  Can’t be good news.   Alain

A blue and red logo  Description automatically generated  Bill allowing self-driving cars and trucks in Kentucky is nearing final passage

M. Vanderhoff, March 7, “Supporters say autonomous vehicles will bring new freedom to the disabled and those who can’t drive while helping companies that struggle to find truck drivers.

But critics fear a tide of job losses and question how safe they are.

Despite the debate, self-driving cars and trucks appear to be headed for Kentucky’s roads.

House Bill 7, which would allow and regulate autonomous vehicles, passed out of a Senate committee on Thursday, paving the way for a final vote on the Senate floor.  ….” Read More  Hmmmm… OK.  Nice to see progressive views in Kentucky.  Alain


Return of C’mon Man Section

(in case you are wondering, yes, I did stumble upon the following Click-bait Journalism)


A green and white logo  Description automatically generated  We’ve Wasted Nearly $50 Billion On Self Driving Cars. Here’s Where That Money Should Have Gone

S. DaSila, March 7,  “The race for fully autonomous passenger cars is a dumb one. Businesses are playing with technology that offers massive downsides for little gain, and just end up clogging up streets with their often-confused computerized vehicles. But there’s more to the story than mere Sisyphean endeavors of trying to teach human behavior to computers: These companies have also wasted tons of money on the whole thing.  ….” Read More  Hmmmm… It would be tough to write a more ridiculous initial sentence. 

Our existing systems don’t have any ‘low hanging fruit” that $50B could pick.  Things aren’t that simple.  If we had really good improvements to the systems that we have, we would have made them years ago. What remains with existing mobility systems are only tough things that even $50B could substantially improve the world with a positive RoI .  We are going to spend between $15B and $20B for just two new rail tunnels.  There is nothing on the horizon that has the opportunity to provide more affordable and flexible mobility that driverless cars.  Nothing close! If there was, we’d be doing it.   C’mon Man! Alain


A purple exclamation mark and a black background  Description automatically generated  Things Just Went From Bad to Worse for General Motors and Self-Driving Start-Up Cruise. Here’s Why I Think Tesla Is the Big Winner

A. Spatacco, March 7, “The automobile market is going through something of a renaissance right now. Car manufacturers worldwide are investing significant sums into battery-powered vehicles — perhaps the bedrock of the green energy movement.….” Read More  Hmmmm… Total click bait.  So bad!  C’mon Man!  Alain



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6th  SmartDrivingCar



May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ

Save The Date!!

Preliminary Program


We promise civil and lively discussions as to how to improve the quality-of-life (QoL) for many while disrupting that quality to as few as possible.


Giving oneself a Ride:

Latest on ADAS Safety & Functionality

Getting a Ride:

Latest on Driverless

“Proof-of-Concept” (Safety Update),

Proof-of-Market” (Arizona, California & beyond)  & 



MOVES – Style Deployments “anywhere”
Design, Analysis, Simulation, Animation & Business Case