A logo for a car  Description automatically generated

Saturday, March 16, 2024


  11th edition of the 12th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 


A black background with a black square  Description automatically generated with medium confidence    Waymo is the good actor in a sea of robotaxi competitors. Don’t torch its vehicles

Alex Roy,  March 13, “I ride in Waymo robotaxis almost daily in my hometown of Phoenix. My 5-year-old loves them, and so do I. Waymos are immaculate, reliable, comfortable, cost the same or less than ride-hails and feel safer than the average cab. As a cyclist, I’d rather be surrounded by Waymos than human drivers.

So you can imagine my reaction to the San Francisco mob that torched an empty Waymo last month. Some claimed this vandalism was justified as part of a larger anti-autonomous vehicle movement. One tech critic even called it a “beautiful scene.”

I waited for someone to step in and defend Waymo—the only autonomous vehicle company that has successfully deployed driverless robotaxis anywhere. But all I found were venture capital bros on X complaining about Luddites, then Mayor London Breed waving the incident away by writing that there was “no message or intent attached.”…

If the autonomous vehicle industry is ever to be regulated wisely, it needs smarter critics. If the industry is to grow safely and responsibly, it needs better defenders.  …” Read More  Hmmmm… Safety is absolutely paramount.  Without it you’re not even in the building let alone on the bench and can’t even imagine being one of the players; however, it is not the technology’s disruptive element that will enable it to be a player in the mobility business.   All existing conventional players are also very safe, or at least the existing mobility market perceives them to be safe enough; else those means of mobility would have failed long ago.  What is disruptive about driverless is its flexibility and its affordability (of, course without compromising safety else it does not exist) in terms of its cost to deliver high-quality mobility day in and day out.    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 362 / PodCast 362 Alex Roy on Waymo, robotaxis & more

F. Fishkin, March 16, Waymo is the good actor in a sea of robotaxi competitors. That’s what industry veteran Alex Roy says. Alex joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for a spirited discussion on the future of AVs and mobility. Plus the IIHS weighs in, GM sharing data with insurance companies, NVIDIA, SpaceX and more.

0:00 Open

0:53 Alex Roy on opinion piece in SF Standard on Waymo and Robotaxis

9:08 Alain, Alex discuss what the real case for driverless mobility is..and how to get there

15:00 Alain and Alex on the economics of robotaxis and mobility for all

19:21 What are the roadblocks?

44:00 Alex started out in the industry as a skeptic

54:00 IIHS introduces new ratings for partial driving automation systems

57:44 Automakers sharing consumer driving behavior with insurance companies

58:40 NVIDIA GTC about to get underway

59:00 Another Starship launch- followed by latest on upcoming Smart Driving Cars Summit


A black and yellow text  Description automatically generated  First partial driving automation safeguard ratings show industry has work to do

Staff, March 12,  “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is introducing a new ratings program to encourage automakers to incorporate more robust safeguards into their partial driving automation systems. Out of the first 14 systems tested, only one earns an acceptable rating. Two are rated marginal, and 11 are rated poor.

“We evaluated partial automation systems from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “Most of them don’t include adequate measures to prevent misuse and keep drivers from losing focus on what’s happening on the road.”.  ….” Read More  Hmmmm… Really good report!  Yes, indeed, the car industry has much work that they should do!!  Please look carefully at the IIHS new ratings programAlain


A black and yellow text  Description automatically generated  Partial automation safeguard ratings

Staff, March 12,  “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is introducing a new ratings program to encourage automakers to incorporate more robust safeguards into their partial driving automation systems. Out of the first 14 systems tested, only one earns an acceptable rating. Two are rated marginal, and 11 are rated poor.

“We evaluated partial automation systems from BMW, Ford, General Motors, Genesis, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla and Volvo,” IIHS President David Harkey said. “Most of them don’t include adequate measures to prevent misuse and keep drivers from losing focus on what’s happening on the roadPartial driving automation is a convenience feature that is meant to make long drives easier. There’s no evidence that it makes driving safer, and, in fact, it can create new risks by making it easier for the driver’s attention to wander. For this reason, it’s essential that all partial driving automation systems incorporate robust safeguards…

. Requirements for a good partial automation safeguard rating

  • Monitors both the driver’s gaze and hand position… ‘Gaze’… Good; but ‘Hand position’… ‘Right foot position’ is much more important!  Ability to brake is much more important that ability to swerve around.  What is also exceeding important is to ensure that an alert driver doesn’t slam on the gas instead of the brake and not oversteer and roll the car in a desperate reaction to avoid a crash. The partial automation system should know that braking should be initiated and should over-ride an alert (or unalert) driver’s ‘slam on the accelerator pedal’.  It should instead kick-in the automated braking system that, in the end, is the most important “partial automation system” that must be working!  And by working, I mean operates properly with essentially zero false alarms!
  • Uses multiple types of rapidly escalating alerts to get driver’s attention … all requirements really good through to last …
  • …. Automation features cannot be used with automatic emergency braking or lane departure prevention/warning disabled.  …. Really should extend this requirement that it is a necessary condition that the ‘automatic emergency braking’ work exceedingly well and if it doesn’t then no partial automation system, not even stupid cruise control,  be permitted on the car.  A necessary condition of any automation (other than gear shifting) must be that a really good working ‘automatic emergency braking system’ be available to “save the day” should everything else fail.  Else operation of the car should revert to that which existed on a ’55 Chevy….” Read More  Hmmmm… Really good rating system; however, it could be much better if it started by insisting that the car have a really excellent emergency braking system augmented with an unintended acceleration over-ride. Alain



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



Staff, March 14 “Starship returned to integrated flight testing with its third launch from Starbase in Texas. While it didn’t happen in a lab or on a test stand, it was absolutely a test. What we achieved on this flight will provide invaluable data to continue rapidly developing Starship.

On March 14, 2024, Starship successfully lifted off at 8:25 a.m. CT from Starbase in Texas and went on to accomplish several major milestones and firsts:.….” Read More  Hmmmm… Absolutely phenomenal.  Congratulations!!! Alain


A black and white logo  Description automatically generated  Waymo Launches Driverless Cars In Austin

Staff, March 8, “Waymo initiated testing of its fully driverless cars March 6 in various Austin, TX, locales, reported KXAN News.

The company’s Chief Product Officer Saswat Panigrahi shared on social media the initiative spans 43 square miles, including downtown, Barton Hills, Riverside, east Austin, Hyde Park and more. Before opening the service to the public through Waymo One, the company plans to offer rides to its employees.….” Read More  Hmmmm… Still selling safety rather than affordability.  Oh well,  I hope, for them, that safety sells to at least a few folks.  We’ll see.  Alain


Automakers Are Sharing Consumers’ Driving Behavior With Insurance Companies

K. Hill, March 11“Kenn Dahl says he has always been a careful driver. The owner of a software company near Seattle, he drives a leased Chevrolet Bolt. He’s never been responsible for an accident.

So Mr. Dahl, 65, was surprised in 2022 when the cost of his car insurance jumped by 21 percent. Quotes from other insurance companies were also high. One insurance agent told him his LexisNexis report was a factor.

LexisNexis is a New York-based global data broker with a “Risk Solutions” division that caters to the auto insurance industry and has traditionally kept tabs on car accidents and tickets. Upon Mr. Dahl’s request, LexisNexis sent him a 258-page “consumer disclosure report,” which it must provide per the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

What it contained stunned him: more than 130 pages detailing each time he or his wife had driven the Bolt over the previous six months. It included the dates of 640 trips, their start and end times, the distance driven and an accounting of any speeding, hard braking or sharp accelerations. The only thing it didn’t have is where they had driven the car..….”  Read More   Hmmmm… You would think that GM would want to use the data that it collects on its customers to serve them better rather than selling it so that others can take advantage of them.  Wow, sounds so fundamentally foolish. Alain



Florida Man Sues G.M. and LexisNexis Over Sale of His Cadillac Data

K. Hill, March 14 “When Romeo Chicco tried to get auto insurance in December, seven different companies rejected him. When he eventually obtained insurance, it was nearly double the rate he was previously paying. According to a federal complaint filed this week seeking class-action status, it was because his 2021 Cadillac XT6 had been spying on him.

Modern cars have been called “smartphones with wheels,” because they are connected to the internet and packed with sensors and cameras. According to the complaint, an agent at Liberty Mutual told Mr. Chicco that he had been rejected because of information in his “LexisNexis report.” LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a data broker, has traditionally kept tabs for insurers on drivers’ moving violations, prior insurance coverage and accidents.

When Mr. Chicco requested his LexisNexis file, it contained details about 258 trips he had taken in his Cadillac over the past six months. His file included the distance he had driven, when the trips started and ended, and an accounting of any speeding and hard braking or accelerating. The data had been provided by General Motors — the manufacturer of his Cadillac.

In a complaint against General Motors and LexisNexis Risk Solutions filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Mr. Chicco accused the companies of violation of privacy and consumer protection laws. The lawsuit follows a report by The New York Times that, unknown to consumers, automakers have been sharing information on their driving behavior with the insurance industry, resulting in increased insurance rates for some drivers. LexisNexis Risk Solutions, and another data broker called Verisk, claim to have real-world driving behavior from millions of cars.….”  Read More   Hmmmm… I guess GM will need to explain what they are doing in court and all will become public. Shame on you GM.  Alain



  Americans’ faith in self-driving cars has tanked, AAA study suggests

Z. Hansen, March 7,  “Americans remain largely untrustworthy of self-driving cars, AAA’s latest study of attitudes toward autonomous vehicles found, suggesting last year’s spike in negativity was not only an accurate measurement of buyer sentiment, but a sign of even more headwinds for an already troubled sector

Conducted mostly online (phone interviewers were available to reach those without internet access), the 2024 survey’s results came in nearly identical to those from 2023. 66% of respondents said they’re flat-out afraid of it; 25% remain unsure. Only 9% said they trusted the technology. While the percentage of respondents who claimed to fear autonomous cars did tick down slightly in this year’s study, they found a home in the “unsure” camp. 

It’s apparent from the results below that attitudes shifted sharply in 2022. A Tesla driver blamed the car’s “Full Self-Driving” tech after causing a multi-car pileup during the 2022 Thanksgiving holiday rush in San Francisco. Such high-profile incidents likely help shape public attitudes toward the technology. But AAA cautions automakers not to pull the plug on their safety suites just yet. Drivers still want advanced tech, just without the self-driving stuff. ….” Read More  Hmmmm…  Luckily this is just a reporting of those that read the Sunday Supplements.  The real community involvement that will lead to successful deployments has yet to begin.   Alain


A black and white sign with white text  Description automatically generated  Tesla Autopilot and similar automated driving systems get ‘poor’ rating from prominent safety group

P. Valdes-Dapena, March 12, “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which rates cars and SUVs for safety, examined so-called advanced driver assistance systems such as Tesla Autopilot and found them wanting.

These systems combine different sensors and technologies to help a driver keep their vehicle in its lane and avoid hitting other vehicles in front and to the sides. Usually, these systems work only on highways. Some can even allow drivers to remove their hands from the steering wheel but all require drivers to pay attention to the road and vehicles around them at all times.

Of the 14 systems tested by the agency, 11 earned a “poor” rating including Tesla’s Autopilot and so-called Full Self Driving systems. (Full Self Driving is not actually fully self driving but, unlike Autopilot and almost all other such systems, it is designed to work on city and suburban streets.).  ….” Read More  Hmmmm… Look at the actual report IIHS above.  Alain


  Hertz swaps out its CEO as it looks to revitalize business after failed EV push

E. Bary, March 15, “Hertz Global Holdings Inc.’s chief executive is leaving after just over two years, to be replaced by a Delta Airlines Inc. and General Motors Co. veteran.

Stephen Scherr, a retired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker, is stepping down as Hertz’s HTZ, +1.20% CEO at the end of the month. He’ll be succeeded by Gil West, who served as chief operating officer at Delta DAL, +0.14% and the general manager of GM’s GM, +3.33% Cruise autonomous-driving unit.

West’s “success in leading over 70,000 people at Delta and orchestrating highly effective operational turnarounds will position him well to lead Hertz,” said in a statement Colin Farmer, the lead director on Hertz’s board.….

Scherr had expressed confidence in the business on Hertz’s last earnings call in early February, saying that his optimistic view was “based on the continued stability of the demand and rate environment, the expected benefits of the strategic decision that we made in the fourth quarter regarding our EV fleet, which is also expected to reduce operational distraction, and the continued execution of our enhanced profitability plan” Read More  Hmmmm… How could EVs be anything but an ‘operational distraction’ since only but a very few of Hertz’ potential customers have any experience with EVs.  Absolutely last place one wants to become acquainted with the idiosyncrasies of EVs (regenerative braking, return fully charged, …) is when one is trying to get from the airport to where one is actually trying to go on the front end and catch a flight on the back end.  I guess none of these recent hertz CEOs remember OJ and why the qualities of the old Hertz (pre bankruptcy) were so important to him.  Ala


  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




Return of C’mon Man Section

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




A black and orange shield                with white text                Description automatically generated

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