A logo for a car  Description automatically generated

Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024


4th edition of the 12th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 


  Feature: The Business of Delivering Transport

M. Sena, Jan. 24 “Melting ICE is proving to be a big challenge

WE ARE REMINDED often that 2024 is a big year for voting. One-half of the people in the world will go to the polls. It is a presidential election year in the U.S., and control of the Senate and House of Representatives is once again anyone’s guess. European Union parliamentary elections will be held in June, and the current European Commission President (not elected by popular vote) will attempt to be chosen to continue in her position. Taiwan has already voted, and they did not vote for the China-friendly candidate. Elected officials set the agenda for their country’s (or region’s in the case of the EU) climate policies, often without revealing those policies before they are elected, or giving just a broad brush picture of what they will do once they are safely in the leader’s chair. One U.S. president, state governor, EU Commission leader, or parliamentary majority after the other has made significant changes to legislation in the name of stopping climate change, often without a democratic mandate to do so.

These actions have had consequences, and those consequences are now materializing, coming out in the open for all to see and, more importantly, to experience. Their impacts on the passenger car industry, both for those who make and sell them and those who purchase them, are now clear. Reckoning day for the global passenger car industry will soon arrive. The showdown has been gestating for years, but now all the forces have aligned to bring it to a head. No, my next sentence is not going to be: “Musk wins! The car industry throws in the ICE towel.” Far from it. I believe the big bets made on battery electric vehicles by western governments—and by China—are already backfiring on their car companies. Why? They forgot that consumers decide, with their feet and with their money..….”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Another excellent edition.  A really good presentation of the challenges of going from ICE to EV and approaches to Net Zero emissions.   The Musing about Hybrids is absolutely wonderful.  Read it all, front to back! J.   Alain


A book cover of a book  Description automatically generatedJust Published!!!   Be first on your block to have one J.



SmartDrivingCars ZoomCast 355 / PodCast 355  w/ Michael Sena

F. Fishkin,  Jan. 27, “With the publication of the new book The Real Case for Driverless Mobility, co-authors Alain Kornhauser and Michael Sena join co-host Fred Fishkin. The book, the latest news on driverless mobility from The Dispatcher and the Smart Driving Cars newsletter -Tesla, Volvo, GM/Cruise, Waymo-and more on episode 355 of Smart Driving Cars.

0:00 open

0:39 The Real Case for Driverless Mobility published

10:46 from The Dispatcher-The Business of Delivering Transport

23:30 NHTSA has finally stood up to Tesla

28:00 Volvo cars rate of return

32:00 The Crew comments section of The Dispatcher

34:15 from the Smart Driving Cars Newsletter-Cruise says hostility to regulators led to grounding of its autonomous cars

40:13 San Francisco suing state over “unsafe” self driving cars

46:19 Tesla new Dojo supercomputer coming to Buffalo, TuSimple, Apple electric vehicles and Forbes piece Waymo expansion plans




Staff, Jan. 25,  “….” Read More  Hmmmm…. You really should read the whole thing.  Three enormous lessons we must learn from this.

As we all should already know from numerous other instances:

1.  The cover up is worse than the crime!,

2.  We all must cooperate, NOT compete on safety.  One should not look at safety as a private  Intellectual Property Asset.  It needs to be a public asset protected from “anti-trust” and “collusion” infractions and MUST be shared among all.  As one trips over “corner cases” and discovers elegant and ingenious ways to improve safety, those findings should be treated as “best practices” and shared in detail among all; else, all lose in the long run.  Waymo also lost on Oct. 2.  The Citizens of San Fransisco lost big time!, and

3.  On must look in the very front as well as under the car before on begins to move- every time.  Give all the compute cycles one goes thorough to do any of this, a few cycles should be allocated to making sure the surface ahead is free of obstructions that can’t be readily passed over.  What would it take, one more camera?  There are really only two things that these cars need to do…

     a. pass under any obstruction that might lay ahead and

     b.  pass over any obstruction that might lay ahead. 

It must do these things not only when it is moving but also when it is starting to move.  Starting to move occurs rarely, but it is different than when moving because looking ahead and anticipating (which is really hard) doesn’t cut it.  Looking at what exists (which is easy) is critical. 


A long time ago, I ran over my dog, Benny, because I didn’t look right in front of my car before I put the car in drive and hit the gas.  Yipes!  [he survived, thank goodness.].

One of the best Advanced Driver Assistance Systems in new cars are Rear/Reverse Emergency Braking Systems.  IIHS reported in 2022: “Autobrake slashes rear-end crash rates for pickups, but few are equipped”.  Then there is this in Princeton 2 months ago: “Man crushed to death by car in driveway of Princeton home, police say”. 

Maybe now we can readily fill this seemingly innocent gap in our Driverless AI.  Alain


A black and white text  Description automatically generated Cruise Says Hostility to Regulators Led to Grounding of Its Autonomous Cars

T. Mickle and Cade Metz, , Jan. 25, “Cruise, the driverless car subsidiary of General Motors, said in a report on Thursday that an adversarial approach taken by its top executives toward regulators had led to a cascade of events that ended with a nationwide suspension of Cruise’s fleet and investigations by California and federal authorities, including the Justice Department.

The roughly 100-page report was compiled by a law firm that Cruise and G.M. hired to look into whether Cruise’s executives had misled California regulators about an October crash in San Francisco in which one of its vehicles dragged a woman 20 feet. The review found that while the executives had not intentionally misled state officials, they had failed to explain key details about the incident.  .….”  Read More  Hmmmm…. The NY Time’s take on the above, which I’ve encouraged you to read for yourself.   Alain


  Tesla announces new $500 million Dojo supercomputer coming to New York

L. Lambert, Jan 26, “Tesla has announced a new $500 million project to build a giant Dojo supercomputer cluster at Gigafactory New York in Bufallo.

Dojo is a new supercomputer designed from the ground up by Tesla specifically to train AI with videos. The project suffered significant delays, but it seemed to be getting some momentum last year as the first Dojo cluster came online in the summer.  However, we also learned that Tesla let go of some of the program’s top leadership last month.

Furthermore, CEO Elon Musk described the project during Tesla’s earnings call this week as a “long shot” with a “not a high probability” of success

Musk quickly confirmed the news, but he added that Tesla is investing even more in NVIDIA hardware:

“The governor is correct that this is a Dojo Supercomputer, but $500M, while obviously a large sum of money, is only equivalent to a 10k H100 system from Nvidia. Tesla will spend more than that on Nvidia hardware this year. The table stakes for being competitive in AI are at least several billion dollars per year at this point”.  ….”  Read More  Hmmmm …. Very interesting! 

 Steve S. … how about going over and talking with them?  Alain


Tesla Safety Research Day

Staff, Jan. 19, “Join us for our first Safety Research Day and learn about Tesla’s industry-leading, advanced vehicle safety technology. Hear from the Tesla Safety Team and Lars Moravy, VP of Vehicle Engineering, about Tesla’s data-driven safety philosophy, ADAS innovation, high-voltage safety and more….” Join us for our first Safety Research Day and learn about Tesla’s industry-leading, advanced vehicle safety technology. Hear from the Tesla Safety Team and Lars Moravy, VP of Vehicle Engineering, about Tesla’s data-driven safety philosophy, ADAS innovation, high-voltage safety and more….”  Read More  Hmmmm…. It was a most interesting and informative day.  I learned a lot.  It is very welcomed that Tesla is beginning to more openly share their accomplishments and to seek cooperation with others to advance safety in mobility.  As noted above, more needs to be done cooperatively so that we all drive & ride more safely.  Alain


A black and white text  Description automatically generatedCruise Says Hostility to Regulators Led to Grounding of Its Autonomous Cars

M. Richtel, Jan. 26, “Cellphones can track what we say and write, where we go, what we buy and what we search on the internet. But they still aren’t being used to track one of the biggest public health threats: crashes caused by drivers distracted by the phones.

More than a decade after federal and state governments seized on the dangers that cellphone use while driving posed and began enacting laws to stop it, there remains no definitive database of the number of crashes or fatalities caused by cellphone distraction. Safety experts say that current estimates most likely understate a worsening problem.

The absence of clear data comes as collisions are rising. Car crashes recorded by the police rose 16 percent from 2020 to 2021, to 16,700 a day from 14,400 a day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2021, nearly 43,000 Americans died in crashes, a 16-year high..… In 2021, only 377 fatal wrecks — just under 1 percent — were reported as having involved a cellphone-distracted driver, according to the traffic agency. About 8 percent of the 2.5 million nonfatal crashes that year involved a cellphone, according to the highway agency’s data.  C’Mon NHTSA!  This is embarrassingly bad!…    But those figures do not capture all cellphone distraction; they include only crashes in which a police report specifically mentions such distraction. Often, safety experts said, cellphone use goes unmentioned in such reports because it typically relies on a driver to admit distraction, a witness to identify it or, in still rarer cases, the use of cellphone records or other phone forensics that definitively show distraction….”  Read More  Hmmmm… I keep claiming that > 90% car crashes involve human mis-behavior, of which a substantial percentage, >25% ?,  involve cell phone use.  But who’s counting?!.   Alain


A black text on a white background  Description automatically generated  Federal judge blocks overseas move by autonomous trucking company

S. Ribakoff, Jan. 24, “After mulling it over for a day, a federal judge in San Diego granted a temporary restraining order to prevent a company that develops self-driving freight truck technology from selling off its assets and moving overseas, amid claims it’s trying to escape charges of misappropriating trade and national security secrets. 

Stockholders of TuSimple Holdings, a company that develops technology for the self-driving, long-haul trucking industry, filed a lawsuit against the company’s co-founder and other defendants claiming that they took trade secrets, some of which were deemed national security secrets by the U.S. government, and started a similar company with those secrets. …”  Read More  Hmmmm…. How bad was TuSimple?!  Was it ever worthy!  Alain


   Downgraded and Delayed

Staff, Jan. 24, “Apple has pivoted to a less ambitious design with the intent of finally bringing an electric vehicle to market.

After previously envisioning a truly driverless car, the company is now working on an EV with more limited features, people with knowledge of the project told Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman.  …”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Called it! But it wasn’t difficult. No way Apple was ever going to become a “car maker”.  Alain


San Francisco sues California over ‘unsafe,’ ‘disruptive’ self-driving cars

T. Thadani, Jan. 24, “In the most aggressive attempt yet to reduce the number of self-driving vehicles in this city, San Francisco filed a lawsuit against a state commission that allowed Google and General Motors’ autonomous car companies to expand here this summer, despite causing a pattern of “serious problems” on the streets.

The lawsuit, which has not been previously reported and was filed in December, sends a strong message from the nation’s tech capital: autonomous vehicles are not welcome here until they are more vigorously regulated.

…”  Read More  Hmmmm…. This is what happens when you go into a community and fail to focus on serving folks who actually ‘need a ride’.  It seems so obvious; so simple.  But No!   They go in there and focus on serving folks who can readily give themselves a ride or can already get a ride that they like and appreciate.  Your focus is to get them to switch and use you??  And what enticement do you have for them besides a big “LiDaR”??? Not faster, Not easier, Not cheaper, Not safer, Not…  But a “thrill ride!? A “Selfie”!? How long is that going to last??   We are seeing how short… They earned this by having a failed business case focused on the wrong customer! Alain


A white text on a black background  Description automatically generatedWaymo Plans Massive Robotaxi Service Area, But Not Massive Enough

B. Templeton,  Jan. 22, “Waymo has filed a request to the California Public Utilities Commission to expand robotaxi service in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles region. In the SFBA, it grows from just San Francisco to the whole peninsula, all the way to Sunnyvale but not including Marin, the East Bay and Santa Clara/Cupertino/San Jose. The LA area includes everything north and west of Compton, but not the San Fernando valley….


To go beyond being another Uber, Robotaxi services must convince people to give up ownership of a car (possibly the 2nd or 3rd car in a household) and replace it with use of a combination or robotaxi, robotaxi-enhanced transit, taxi and other modes. That’s where the real money is, and where the world-changing is. ….”  Read More  Hmmmm…. Wow!   How many “3 car households” are there in California? How many trips does that 3rd car give in a day?  Assume you got’em all, what do you got?  Not nearly enough to show an RoI on your investment.  And how are you going to entice these folks to get rid of that “3rd car”?  Is it your LiDaR and Selfie again?  You learned this from your focus group meetings with 3rd car owners?  They yearn for thrill rides?  Wow.  Did you also think that the Princeton Bubble was the ideal representative sample.  I guess that California has way too many STEM folks and not enough sociology and behavioral psychology folks.  (Don’t look to Florida.)

 Plus, California has “enhanced transit”?  What?  Where? In New Jersey we wouldn’t expect California  3rd car owners go anywhere near transit.   Whew.  I’ve got to go back to school and learn.  Alain


  Elon Musk: automakers don’t believe Tesla Full Self-Driving is real

L. Lambert, Jan 25, “Elon Musk says that other automakers don’t believe Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) is “real” as Tesla tries to sell FSD licenses.

Back in 2021, Musk did say that he had early discussions with other automakers about licensing self-driving technology, but that didn’t lead to anything.

Last year, the CEO made an announcement that Tesla would be open to licensing Autopilot and FSD to other automakers.

During Tesla’s Q4 conference call that followed the release of the earnings, shareholders asked Musk about talks with other automakers about licensing FSD.

The CEO confirmed that Tesla had conversations about it with other automakers, but they don’t believe it’s “real”

Musk then called again for CEOs of car companies to engage with Tesla about licensing FSD.….”  Read More  Hmmmm …. FSD is not real, but neither is anything else that is substantially better than FSD that they could license to an OEM to put on their cars to be driven by humans.  Not MobilEye, Wayno, Cruise, or the “TuSimples” of this world.  What is interesting here is that Tesla has a published “MSRP” for theirs, which puts a ceiling on MSRPs that others might place on their “FSD equivalent”.  Recall… none are better, so $12K is the ceiling!   Doesn’t leave much room for anyone to do an RoI given that the $12K must cover sensors, actuators, processors, software and RoI.  Alain


A black and orange shield                with white text                Description automatically generated

6th  SmartDrivingCar


May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ

Save The Date!!