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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024


8th edition of the 12th year of SmartDrivingCars eLetter 


Nvidia Added $272 Billion in Market Value Thursday, the Largest One-Day Gain Ever

C. Laidley, Feb. 22, “Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) recorded the largest-ever single-day jump in market capitalization on Thursday, one day after the chipmaker announced quarterly earnings and a sales outlook that soared past analysts’ expectations amid a boom in demand for artificial intelligence (AI)

Nvidia rose 16.4% to close at $785.38, adding $272 billion to its market capitalization. That blew out of the water the prior record set just two weeks ago by Meta Platforms Inc. (META), which added $205 billion in market cap after it beat earnings forecasts and announced its first dividend. 

Before Meta, no company had added more than $200 billion in market cap in a single session, but Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) had come close. They each gained slightly more than $190 billion on separate days in 2022. ….” Read More  Hmmmm… Hats off!  That’s impressive!  The fundamentals…See also:  Nvidia Touches 800 After Earnings; Is Nvidia A Buy? Data Center upgrades?!  They don’t even bother to mention the “mini data centers” that will be part of every (robo) car.  Whew! Congratulations Danny Shapiro’87 & Marie Labrie J.  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 359 / PodCast 359  NVIDIA soars, robotaxi woes, a step climbing delivery robot & more

F. Fishkin,  Feb. 24, “NVIDIA logs a one day market cap jump of 272 billion dollars, robotaxi woes continue for Waymo while Cruise may resume in Texas. Plus the little delivery robot from Princeton spin-off Vault Robotics and a lunar landing. Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for episode 359 of Smart Driving Cars.

0:00 open

0:38 The Real Case for Driverless Mobility available now and Ken Pyle’s interview with Alain about the book

3:00 NVIDIA adds 272 billion dollars in market value… in a day!

5:16 Waymo, California headlines.. robotaxi wrangling

8:55 Stellantis CEO saying Waymo partnership for self driving delivery vans is still alive

14:35 Princeton spinoff Vault Robotics featured in WSJ…designing delivery robots that can negotiate curbs and steps

18:15 Automotive News reports GM’s Cruise nearing resumption of robotaxi testing….looking at Texas

27:58 Self driving cabs on rails in Germany..

31:35 META chief AI researcher Yan LeCun reportedly critical of OpenAI’s SORA

36:00 NASA/Intuitive Machines land on the moon

46:30 More on The Real Case for Driverless Mobility and the upcoming Smart Driving Cars Summit in Princeton


   In the Driverless Seat with Dr. Kornhauser

K. Pyle, Feb. 21, “Giving people rides who need rides is the message of the book, The Real Case for Driverless Mobility. That is, there is a large segment of the population that cannot engage in, as the book co-author, Alain Kornhauser, calls it, “A do-it-yourself approach to transportation.”

Kornhauser argues that the opportunity for companies promoting driverless mobility is to serve this segment. In doing so, it will improve the quality of life for those who cannot drive themselves for reasons of age, affordability, skills, or other reasons.” Read More  Hmmmm… Watch & Listen to a description of the fundamentals of “The Book”.  Ken: Thank you for making this more than just a shameless promotion.  J  Alain


  Stellantis CEO says there’s still life in Waymo deal for self-driving delivery vans

K. Karosec, Feb. 24, “Stellantis, the automaker that owns 14 brands including Chrysler, Jeep and Ram, and autonomous vehicle technology company Waymo are not only still working together, the companies are deepening the partnership, CEO Carlos Tavares told TechCrunch in a recent interview.

This “deepened” partnership will focus on commercial self-driving Ram delivery vans, a target that was first announced in 2020 and promptly faded from public view. Discussions on this “improved” deal have focused, in part, on a crux around driverless delivery: how does the package get from the vehicle to the customer?

“When you reach the destination, how do you take the parcel out of the van?” Tavares said in a wide-ranging interview. “This has been a point of discussion that doesn’t seem easy to solve and we are now upgrading our collaboration deal with them to take that into consideration.”

….” Read More  Hmmmm… Of course.  Things (non-people) need rides.  They can’t give themselves rides.  Waymo has the secret sauce to give great rides to those who would really appreciate the giving to them what they consider a great ride. That market opportunity includes things. Carlos must have “Read the Book”.     Alain


A close-up of a logo  Description automatically generated  Want Your Packages Delivered Faster and Cheaper? AI Is on the Case

A. Hawkins, Feb. 23, “Order a package? AI researchers are hunting for the best way to get it to your doorstep.

It might be a drone flying from a nearby pharmacy. It might be a robot that hops off a van that is driving down the street. It might be a system that helps drivers anticipate where a parking spot is about to open up near your door.

In the next few years, AI promises to transform the logistics of consumer deliveries with a number of new technologies and improvements to old ones. Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing innovations on the way.

Putting smarter drones in the air

One of the most expensive and resource-intensive parts of delivery is the last mile—getting packages from warehouses or stores to customers’ homes. Delivery drones promise to make the process more efficient, bypassing the traffic and parking issues that often plague delivery trucks….

Sending robots to your door

Other companies are tackling the “last 50 feet”—the time-consuming process of getting packages from the delivery truck to the customer’s door. According to research by the University of Washington Urban Freight Lab, this leg of the process accounts for 20% to 50% of overall transportation supply-chain costs.

Vault Robotics, a spinoff from the Princeton University Safe Robotics Lab, is designing robots that can climb curbs and stairs. The robot has a combination of legs and wheels, and a platform with grips on the side to hold a package.

The goal, says Robert Shi’22, co-founder and chief executive of the company, is to deploy the robots from vans without having to park, eliminating the time spent idle. So, while a van is still moving at a cruising pace, robots can move in and out of the vehicle to deliver parcels to doorsteps.  ….” Read More  Hmmmm… Robert Shi’22, congratulations!!  Really good.  Be sure to also see Robert’s  video.  Alain


  For Car Thieves, Toronto Is a ‘Candy Store,’ and Drivers Are Fed Up

V. Isai, Feb. 24, “Whenever Dennis Wilson wants to take a drive in his new SUV, he has to set aside an extra 15 minutes. That’s about how long it takes to remove the car’s steering wheel club, undo four tire locks and lower a yellow bollard before backing out of his driveway.

His Honda CR-V is also fitted with two alarm systems, a vehicle tracking device and, for good measure, four Apple AirTags. Its remote-access key fob rests in a Faraday bag, to jam illicit unlocking signals.

As a final touch, he mounted two motion-sensitive floodlights on his house and aimed them at the driveway in his modest neighborhood in Toronto….

While there has been a surge in car thefts across Canada — up 24 percent in 2022, the most recent year nationwide statistics were available — the scourge has hit the Toronto area particularly hard, creating a mix of paranoia, vigilance and resentment….” Read More  Hmmmm… And you thought it was easy for the wealthy and even the not so wealthy to give themselves a ride.  If getting a high-quality (demand-responsive, affordable, …) ride were only available, some of these folks might just switch to getting a ride rather than shouldering the worry and hassle associated with giving themselves a ride.  However, both giving oneself a ride and getting a ride require respectful behavior by the community at large. Alain


   A Not So Boring Ride with Dr. Kornhauser and Dr. Monroe – #ces2024

K. Pyle, Jan. 20, “A joy ride is one way to describe this video that documents SmartDrivingCars/Princeton’s Dr. Kornhauser’s first adventure through the Boring Company’s Las Vegas tunnel. This brief sojourn under the massive Las Vegas Convention Center at CES2024 provides a glimpse of things to come, as this is the start of a larger network, as outlined in this previous Viodi article and video….” Read More  Hmmmm… Ken: Thank you for putting substance in this fun ride.  Alain


A black numbers on a blue and white background  Description automatically generated   Waymo’s robotaxi expansion plans in California put on hold by regulators

A. Hawkins, Feb. 21, “Waymo’s plan to expand its robotaxi service in Los Angeles and communities south of San Francisco has been put on hold by state regulators. The move follows several incidents involving the Alphabet-owned company’s driverless vehicles, including one in which an autonomous Waymo vehicle struck a cyclist, causing minor injuries.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which voted in favor of allowing robotaxi companies to operate 24/7 last summer, put a hold on Waymo’s application for expanded service “for further staff review,” according to the agency’s website. The hold is set to expire on June 19th, 2024 — 119 days from today.….” Read More  Hmmmm… And the beat goes on…  When we (you) look back on this 50 years from now, you’ll be amazed that the “root-cause” of the demise of RoboTaxis in California was the hit-and-run of a jaywalking pedestrian by a human driver and the torching of an empty car by a bunch of unruly Lunar New Year’s celebrants.  Societal innovations for those in need are NOT easy! Alain


A blue text on a white background  Description automatically generatedGM’s Cruise prepares to resume robotaxi testing after suspension

J. Love, Feb. 23, “General Motors Co.’s Cruise autonomous driving unit is nearing the resumption of robotaxi testing in the coming weeks, with Houston and Dallas emerging as potential locations, following the grounding of its fleet last year, according to people with knowledge of the matter….” Read More  Hmmmm… Some actual good news here.  Mostly that the speculation does not include San Francisco.  Hopefully, they’ve “Read the Book” and they’ve ascertained how they can best fulfill the real mobility aspirations of these communities with what they can really deliver.  Caution:  Going into someone else’s back yard and proclaiming that you’re going to “test” anything, let alone “test a ‘robo’-anything” may not be making a good first impression.  Say, what???  Just sayin’!!  Alain


 A logo for a company  Description automatically generated  NASA CLPS mission set for lunar landing today

F. Fishkin, Feb. 22, “Watch on YouTube” …” Read More  Hmmmm… An it landed successfully.  Been 52 years since US landed on the Moon.  This time spearheaded by company.  Mission Update.  Nice!  Alain


Germany: Self-driving cabs on rails can be ordered like taxis via app

N. Dominikowski, Feb. 14, “The MonoCab is a self-driving cabin on rails. Unlike conventional trains, which run according to a fixed timetable, the compact MonoCab can be ordered 24/7, 365 days a year, simply by using an app on your mobile phone. The passenger will then be picked up at the location of their choice..”.” Read More  Hmmmm… What?? This is taking me back 50 years, except I didn’t envision the “via app” piece.  This is so retro!  Amazing how little has changed for some.  J   This is also so undoable.  L   Alain


A black and white logo  Description automatically generatedMeta’s chief AI researcher says OpenAI’s “world simulator” Sora is a dead end

M. Bastian, Feb. 16, “Sora is widely perceived primarily as a text and video-to-video model. However, the real research goal of OpenAI is a world simulator.

But according to Yann LeCun, head of Meta’s AI department, Sora is not suited for that. The renowned AI researcher has harsh words for OpenAI’s simulator theory: “Modeling the world for action by generating pixels is as wasteful and doomed to failure.”  .” Read More  Hmmmm… Whew!  Please pay attention to the fundamentals from Yann.  See also: A Conversation with Yann LeCun AI: Lifeline or Landmine?  Alain


 A blue and white logo  Description automatically generated San Mateo County is having second thoughts about allowing driverless cars

L. Peters, Jan. 16, “San Mateo County‘s Board of Supervisors says it wants the California Public Utility Commission to reconsider allowing Waymo to operate in the county. The board is also supporting a proposed bill that will allow local governments to decide if they want driverless cars on the road. 

The Board cited safety concerns and technical issues as major factors in its stance. Senator Dave Cortese also says the bill will give local governments more control and hold driverless car companies more accountable.  …”   Read More  Hmmmm… I guess everybody on the Board of Supervisors can and loves driving themselves and they certainly don’t want their comfort and convenience associated with driving themselves be reduced by having these things give rides to others since there are no others in San Mateo that don’t drive themselves.  Nice!  Plus, they didn’t “Read the Book”.  Alain


A logo of a company  Description automatically generated  Is MOVES-style Mobility for Rural Areas Disruptive?  The Tuscarora Reservation Opportunity…

A. Kornhauser, Slides used in his class Feb. 7, “…Total Addressable Market is 3,165 personTrips per day…,”. Read More  Hmmmm… (and be sure to watch the video on the last slide).  Not that much, but the area is really rural, and many of those rides are really needed.  What these slides and the end video reveal explicitly is that 1,000 of these rides could actually be given most days at a very good demand-responsive  level-of-service (less than 5 minute wait, direct to destination with minimal circuity in the few ride-share opportunities) achieving vehicle productivities of >40 personTrips/Vehicle-day (>12,500personTrips/Vehicle year, implying that capital costs for such a system could be financed by less than $2/personTrip and break-even fares of  >$3/ride.  Now that’s what I call affordable high-quality mobility.  All we need is a Vehicle that works and we or almost any franchise could offer Mobility within even some of the most rural settings in the nation.  Now that’s interesting!!  Alain [and thanks, Bryce Rasmussen’25 , for getting the analysis system and simulation to work!!]



Return of C’mon Man Section

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


A black numbers on a blue and white background  Description automatically generated   Driverless car chaos in SF is on the decline.

A. Hawkins, Feb. 23, “For a while, it seemed like each week brought news of another driverless car making a mess of things in San Francisco. But the number of incidents is actually going down, according to data provided to the San Francisco Chronicle by the city’s fire department. Most of which can be chalked up to GM’s Cruise grounding its fleet following a grisly pedestrian-dragging incident. And now Waymo’s expansion plans are on hold too. ….” Read More  Hmmmm… How far does one have to have fallen for this to be a worthy news item?  Where is the ctrl-alt-delt button? C’Mon Man!             Alain


  Activists gather in Chinatown to demand immediate ban on self-driving taxis in California

G. Kelly, Feb. 21, “A coalition of San Francisco residents, safety advocates and workers is demanding Gov. Gavin Newsom immediately ban self-driving taxis, accusing the companies that operate them of endangering public safety.

The group, called the Network for Safety in Our Streets & for Working People, held a press conference in Chinatown Monday calling on Newsom to remove all Waymo autonomous vehicles from city streets and revoke permits for other self-driving car companies like Cruise.

The demands follow an incident in Chinatown where a Waymo robotaxi was set on fire during Lunar New Year celebrations and a serious accident in October where a Cruise vehicle struck and dragged a San Francisco pedestrian….

Read More  Hmmmm…   Must have been a slow news day in SF.  Picture shows 5 angry old … under an overpass posing for selfies.  That’s a heck of a “coalition”.  SF is not the place to be these days.  Too many “activists” trying anything to become “influencers”.  RoboTaxis beware! Alain



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6th  SmartDrivingCar


May 29 (evening) -> May 31, 2024

Princeton, NJ

Save The Date!!


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


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