32nd edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, July 27,  2018

<img border="0" width="80" height="29" style="width:.8333in;height:.302in" id="_x0000_i1044" src="" alt="“>Ford is taking on Waymo and GM’s Cruise by creating its own standalone self-driving division

M. deBord, July 24, "… The division will be called Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC and will be overseen by Sherif Marakby as CEO; Marakby had been a vice-president of Ford’s self-driving and electrified initiatives…. Ford CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. "Now is the right time to consolidate our autonomous driving platform into one team to best position the business for the opportunities ahead."

According to Ford, the new company will be "structured to take on third-party investment," an indication that the 115-year-old company is paying close attention to the competition….

General Motor’s Cruise division recently announced a $2.25-billion investment from Japan’s SoftBank, which paired with an additional $1.1-billion investment from GM gave Cruise an $11.5-billion valuation. (GM acquired Cruise for a total of around $1 billion in 2016.)

Alphabet’s Waymo unit (formerly the Google Car project) is also heading toward a commercial rollout in the next 12 months, launching a fully autonomous fleet of vehicles in a ride-hailing framework. Standalone valuations for Waymo have been estimated at more than $50 billion.  … not bad given that they’ve likely spent less than $1.5B to create that "valuation" which is likely to be low.  Which would you prefer to own for $50B, Uber or Waymo?  Talk about a no-brainer!.. 

The carmaker said that Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC will include an "ownership stake in Argo AI, the company’s Pittsburgh-based partner for self-driving system development," in which the company "expects to invest $4 billion in its AV efforts through 2023, including its $1 billion investment in Argo AI."j…" Read more Hmmmm…. Ford need this since the legacy piece is focusing on people who want to "haul stuff".  Alain
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imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 49

F. Fishkin, July 27, "When will we shift from buying cars to buying rides? In Episode 49 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast, entrepreneur, speaker and co-author of "The End of Driving: Transportation Systems and Public Policy Planning for Autonomous Vehicles" …Bern Grush joins co-hosts Alain Kornhauser of Princeton and Fred Fishkin. That along with the latest on Ford, Waymo, Uber and more." Hmmmm…. Now you can just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!" .  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay.  Alain

Real information every week.  Lively discussions with the people who are shaping the future of SmartDrivingCars.  Want to become a sustaining sponsor and help us grow the SmartDrivingCars newsletter and podcast? Contact Alain Kornhauser at!  Alain

<img border="0" width="45" height="32" style="width:.4687in;height:.3333in" id="_x0000_i1041" src="" alt="“>Growing Waymo’s Partnerships in Metro Phoenix

Waymo Team, July 25, "Today, our early rider program is helping us build the world’s most experienced driver and a service that is letting people take a self-driving car to the places they go daily. We’ve been busy teaming up with partners this summer to create new experiences, and provide unique value for our riders. We know from our early riders that most of their rides are to run errands, shop for groceries, commute to work, head to dinner or fix their personal vehicles. We’ve tailored our partnerships to meet the top rider needs; in fact, the partnerships below represent eight of the top ten activities our riders do when they get in a Waymo.

Riders spend a significant portion of time each week running errands and shopping. That’s why we’re launching two pilots with Walmart and DDR Corp., to make shopping more convenient. Later this week, Walmart and Waymo will launch a test pilot that gives early riders savings on groceries each week when they are ordered on While orders are being prepared at the store, Waymo vehicles will transport the rider to and from Walmart to collect their groceries.  For those who want to visit Ahwatukee Foothills Towne Center in Chandler, DDR will offer shoppers and diners rides in our self-driving vehicles, letting them avoid the stress of parking lots…"    Read more Hmmmm…. Very interesting, but very Ozzie & Harriet-ish.  Shouldn’t these most valuable mobility assets be deployed to do more than "…avoid the stress of parking lots…  and  if you order on-line, why go get it (except it gives you more time to shop for other stuff??)  "  ???  Bring 1,000 to New Jersey and we’ll put them to much better use! Alain

<img border="0" width="41" height="24" style="width:.427in;height:.25in" id="_x0000_i1040" src="" alt="“>MTA Blames Uber for Decline in New York City Subway, Bus Ridership

P. Berger, July 23, "It is a question that has vexed transit officials for some time: Why, even as New York City’s population increases, is subway and bus ridership declining?   Now, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority thinks it has the answer: Uber…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Poor Uber.  It gets blamed for everything.  While investors are subsidizing riders, tax payers are subsidizing MTA riders at a much higher rate.  Shame on the MTA that even with higher subsidies, they can’t compete.  Moreover MTA has lost many more riders to other forms of transportation for trips in which the MTA simply comes out 2nd best.  Given the decline in transit service, I suspect more people are choosing to walk.  Others have discovered the shared bikes (and soon the electric scooters) and, of course, millions went out and bought cars because the MTA simply didn’t meet their mobility needs.  Maybe NYC should forbid car sales and force people not to walk so as to increase MTA ridership.  MTA… if you want more riders, focus on upping your game rather than tearing down the opposition to your low level.  Alain

<img border="0" width="35" height="28" style="width:.3645in;height:.2916in" id="_x0000_i1039" src="" alt="“>Uber’s self-driving cars are back on the road, but hands must be on the wheel at all times

C. Linder, July 24, "Ending a four-month hiatus from roads in Pittsburgh, Uber’s familiar slate-gray autonomous Volvo XC90s will once again dot city streets — but with human hands on the wheel at all times.   Uber will reintroduce a small handful of its Pittsburgh-based fleet beginning Tuesday, the company said, following a batch of safety improvements to the cars and increased training for vehicle operators.  ….  The cars will not yet be reinstated in other cities where Uber tests the tech, including San Francisco and Toronto….

Mr. Meyhofer said returning the cars to the road in manual mode first is important because it allows the company to see real-time scenarios play out on the road. Uber can then recreate them in simulations and on the company’s test track in Hazelwood to improve the cars’ performance on public roads once autonomous mode is reinstated….At all times, two mission specialists will be in each car: one will drive and the other will document any notable events from the passenger’s seat. "  Read more Hmmmm…. Better than not being back on the road, but not by much.  Alain

<img border="0" width="138" height="18" style="width:1.4375in;height:.1875in" id="_x0000_i1038" src="" alt="“>  A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse

F. Sidddiqui, July 25, "The explosive growth of Uber and Lyft has created a new traffic problem for major U.S. cities and ride-sharing options such as UberPool and Lyft Line are exacerbating the issue by appealing directly to customers who would otherwise have taken transit, walked, biked or not used a ride-hail service at all, according to a new study.

The report by Bruce Schaller, author of the influential study, “Unsustainable?”, which found ride-hail services were making traffic congestion in New York City worse, constructs a detailed profile of the typical ride-hail user and issues a stark warning to cities: make efforts to counter the growth of ride-hail services, or surrender city streets to fleets of private cars, creating a more hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists and ultimately make urban cores less desirable places to live….

Ride sharing has added 5.7 billion vehicle miles to nine major urban areas over six years,  … as perspective… the +10M households in those 9 urban area contributed more than 100x VMT  (> 600 Billion  VMT) in those 6 years (with essentially none of those miles in a true share-ride fashion… all "selfish traveling").  Point being that the increase in VMT is small"

"….It “strains logic to expect that as [ride-hailing] shared trips become more like conventional transit trips, this service will attract more people from their personal auto than has been the case up until now. It seems far more credible that [ride-hailing companies] will continue to attract predominantly non-auto users.”… … Auto-users are using autos because conventional transit has been completely unable to serve them.  Every trip served by TNCs that wasn’t shifted from transit improves the city’s quality-of-life and is largely free of public subsidy.  These deserve accolades and not scorn, especially those that bring people home from the watering holes!  …. Plus, In the NYC case, most of the trips have been diverted from yellow cabs. Did anyone ever complain that Yellow Cabs were stealing travelers from the Subway system????  Whatever!! 

Read more Hmmmm…. More bad news for Uber & Lyft… "No good deed shall go unpunished".  Here we have a mobility system that tends to not discriminate, provides mobility to all, and especially to a segment of the population that transit doesn’t/can’t serve (people not living near a transit stops or wanting to go where transit doesn’t go or traveling at times when transit chooses not to operate.) and not asking for any public subsidy to deliver the service. You would think that Public Transit and Mayors would be heralding such a partner.  Mayors could actually be adding the TNC ridership numbers to transit ridership and boasting about the amount of mobility provided to  his/her citizenry  by public mobility providers.  But no… TNCs are being blamed for congestion which consists of +90% selfish, non-shared-ride, personally owned autos.  The solution to congestion is not dumping on those that finally get to use a small fraction of the roadway capacity to improve their lives but to have the majority to not be so selfish in their existing use of that capacity.  The Schaller report is excellent, but doesn’t go deep enough to really describe the character of the trips now being taken by Uber/Lyft/Didi.  More on that next week.  Alain

<img border="0" width="105" height="19" style="width:1.0937in;height:.1979in" id="_x0000_i1037" src="" alt="“>Self-driving car testing bill may get Senate vote

Y. Liu, July 27, " An industry-backed bill to speed up the rollout of automated vehicles may get a Senate vote after months of delay.

The measure, which would allow manufacturers to test self-driving cars before the adoption of comprehensive federal safety rules and prevent states from introducing their own stricter rules, was approved in October by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, but has not been scheduled for a vote by the full Senate.  Now, supporters are working to attach it as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act, a must-pass bill that is expected to reach Senate floor in the coming weeks.

Frederick Hill, spokesman for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said in an email Wednesday that attaching the measure to the FAA bill “hasn’t been ruled out.”   “If (the bill) gets attached to the FAA bill, then it’s most likely to get the votes it needs to get through,” said Alice Grossman, a policy analyst at the Eno Center for Transportation, a transportation think tank, in a phone interview. “If it doesn’t, it’s much less to get to the floor at all, which means when the next legislative session we start next year, they’re likely have to start over.”…"  Read more Hmmmm…. Isn’t it wonderful that Washington may well be trying to do something positive and encouraging.  Alain

<img border="0" width="124" height="21" style="width:1.2916in;height:.2187in" id="_x0000_i1036" src="" alt="“>How autonomous vehicles disrupt transportation planning

K. Webster, July 26, "Evolving technologies — particularly the promise of driverless cars — raise questions about how California and its cities should solve their transportation problems.   If autonomous  … Driverless… cars are on the horizon does the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority need to continue to build its light rail … probably not … and rapid bus transit networks … no…? Would a dedicated autonomous-car highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles be a better solution than continuing to build a California high-speed rail system … no, a fundamental tenet of driverless cars is sharing.  That includes lanes of roads as well as seats in cars.  Please don’t start dedicating anything...? Could parking garages be converted to housing  … Why not?! …? Or are these tech utopian fantasies that distract Californians from the less glamorous infrastructure tasks at hand .. Is there anything less "glamorous" than making better use of our existing infrastructure through sharing.  Please,  just make sure the roads are smooth, well stripped and marked with easily readable signs.  We don’t need more infrastructure.  Let’s first stop wasting what we have and use it better.  That’s good transportation planning!  …?

Melissa Ruhl, a transportation planner … said over the last two years she has watched conversations around the concept change from “That is just science fiction” to “How should we be planning for this?”  Read more Hmmmm…. It is really good that "transportation planners" are helping change the conversation; however, the change in the conversation should not be as to how this technology now gives us a new excuse to build more roads.  The beauty of this technology is that it is going to let more people use our existing roads more safely and efficiently to improve the quality of their lives.  It is not how to let those that selfishly abuse our current system go farther faster.  Alain

<img border="0" width="70" height="22" style="width:.7291in;height:.2291in" id="_x0000_i1035" src="" alt="“>Raise Gas Taxes Temporarily for Highway Trust Fund, Shuster Says

S. Courtney, July 25, "A plan to raise the gas tax before phasing it out with a new revenue source to shore up the Highway Trust Fund is the parting gift that outgoing House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) wants to leave for his fellow Republicans.

Shuster released his infrastructure legislative framework Monday night and included in it provisions to raise the gas tax by 15 cents, the diesel tax by 20 cents, and then to eliminate the tax by 2028. Shuster would replace the gas tax with new user fees—including a vehicle-miles-traveled program to feed the highway fund ….Oh sure!   Once you’ve gotten the per gallon tax increase, go ahead and dismantle a most elegant, simple and fair user fee system and replace it with a "vehicle-miles-traveled program" which is laden with gizmos,  invades everyone’s privacy, and is a reporting and cash collection nightmare.  C’mon Bill!!  …., as well as taxes on electric vehicle batteries and bike tires …"bike tires", really???; why not also tax "shoe leather" to pay for sidewalks and paint for cross walks???  C’mon Bill!   Just increase the gas road-user-fee and increase it by way more than $0.15 a gallon.  How about $0.15 a quart or even $0.15 a pint! if you are stuck on 15….  among other road users. The Highway Trust Fund will become insolvent in 2020, according to the Congressional Budget Office….The U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised Shuster’s proposal. The Chamber previously proposed a gas tax increase of 25 cents when the White House was first assembling an infrastructure proposal….How can the Chamber "praise" a proposal that discounts their proposal by 40%?  Wasn’t it serious about its "25 cents"?   "

….Not everyone was pleased. Shuster proposed eliminating the current 17-cent partial fuel tax exemption for motor coaches, which would also then see its gas tax increased by 20 cents for an overall increase of 37 cents a gallon, American Bus Association President & CEO Peter Pantuso said in a statement.

“I’m not entirely sure why the Chairman chose this course when our industry provides the most economical form of public transportation for so many travelers, commuters and students alike,”Pantuso said. …what a mess!!  Can you imagine what special treatment Pantuso is going to request of the VMT system?  …"  Read more Hmmmm…. See Discussion Draft  Section by Section for a more complete description of the Shuster proposal.  Alain

<img border="0" width="72" height="26" style="width:.75in;height:.2708in" id="_x0000_i1034" src="" alt="“>Authorizing Automated Vehicle Platooning, 2018 Edition

M. Scribner, July 25, "…Smith concluded that in most U.S. jurisdictions, automated vehicles are not explicitly prohibited by current laws, although he highlighted several potential conflicts in state motor vehicle codes that may preclude certain operations.[5] One problem he identified is states’ following-too-closely (FTC) statutes, which outlaw many automated vehicle platooning applications…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of platooning in the near term, so fixing the "following-too-close statutes" is not even on my radar screen.  We are all still trying to get a few automated vehicles to perform well by themselves and deliver some value.  Focusing on capturing value from even just a pair of vehicles traveling together when the adoption rate of the technology is so low that there is essentially zero chance that two such vehicles would find themselves in such close proximity in space-time to engage in platooning simply isn’t sufficient to make the list.  Also consider that, unless there are very special circumstances,  the probability to be better than a coin flip that two vehicle that have platooning capabilities find themselves in time-space such that they could do platooning requires that that more than 70% of the vehicles have the capability.  That level of penetration is NOT coming any time soon.  At 30% penetration, platooning is "available" only 10% of the time.  Consequently, essentially all of the early deployment goes completely unusable, delivering zero return.  That’s tough to justify!  Alain


Interested in working in Toronto?   Have a good background and interest in working on safety and security for autonomous driving vehicles and fleets?  Contact Dr. Fengmin Gong, DiDi Labs

Half-baked stuff that probably doesn’t deserve your time

<img border="0" width="45" height="45" style="width:.4687in;height:.4687in" id="_x0000_i1031" src="" alt="“>Experts Believe Autonomous Vehicles & Ride-Sharing Services Will End Traditional Car Ownership

V. Patel, July 23, "Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft have transformed the way people get around. Instead of having to own a car, users can opt for someone else to drive them to their destination. Why deal with insurance, parking, and car payments when you can have someone else deal with the headache while you still have a reliable source of transportation? In some cities in the United States, using Uber and Lyft can actually be cheaper than owning a car, too. Autonomousg…Driverless… vehicles are also expected to drastically alter the way we get around. With the rise of autonomous vehicles, individuals are expected to depend on ride-sharing services even more. Another thing autonomous cars are expected to do in tandem with ride-sharing services is change the way people will own vehicles.

…The first thing is that this could be the last vehicle you’ll ever buy. The second thing is that leasing is the more attractive option, as that brand new car will be worth nothing in the next four to five years….

…Americans will ditch traditional automobile ownership by 2030. Fast forward a year, and Seba believes that things are accelerating more quickly than he anticipated last year. With automakers and technology companies working on perfecting self-driving technology every day, we’re not surprised to hear that.    According to Seba, the number of passenger cars in the United States will drop by 80 percent between 2020 and 2030. Fleet operators will own a large proportion of vehicles that are left on the road, approximately 60 percent of them  … I continue to think that… essentially all (~95%). He also claims that 95 percent of all miles driven will be accounted for by on-demand autonomous vehicles in fleets. …" Read more Hmmmm…. Just letting everyone know that I’m not the most weird. "…the number of passenger cars  ….in use on a daily basis…  "…in the United States will drop by 80 percent "… a ridiculously large number, but even 20% would be a very impressive number… "…percent between 2020 and 2030."   Ditto    "…95 percent of all miles driven…" … If we are at 20% the world will have changed enormously.  Alain

 C’mon Man!  (These folks didn’t get/read the memo)

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

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3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
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Catalog of Videos of Presentations @ 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
Photos from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

Program & Links to slides from 2nd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

  On the More Technical Side