34th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, August 10, 2018

cid:<a”>  Why Waymo Is Worth A Staggering $175 Billion Even Before Launching Its Self-Driving Cars

A. Ohnsman, Aug 7,  "Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s multibillion-dollar self-driving vehicle bet hasn’t yet launched commercial operations but that’s not stopping Morgan Stanley from predicting massive potential for the company that’s emerged as the leader in the autonomous tech race.

A year after his initial estimate that Waymo was likely a $75 billion startup, Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas raised it to a staggering $175 billion, citing greater revenue potential from passenger ride services and licensing of its tech. The biggest source of future revenue, however, is likely to come from autonomous trucking and delivery services, which Jonas thinks could generate as much as $90 billion….." Read more Hmmmm…. Wow, a year ago some thought Waymo and Uber were neck2neck in the Driverless horse race. Waymo executed its business plan, had no crashes and went from $75B to $175B.  Uber executed its business plan, had one crash and went from $73B to  ? (<$50B) .  Just in case you thought safety wasn’t important.    Just think, if Waymo continues on its business plan without causing a crash, it means that their "driverless suite" really does work in its expanding geo-fenced areas.  That dynamic evolution suggests that in September, 2020, there will be ~100,000 Waymo aTaxis serving ~5M trips a day throughout many medium density areas across a substantial part of the USA.   And in September 2022 there will be…  (you can do the math…  Kornhauser’s Waymo Law.. 10x every 2 years).   There is a very big "IF… & WITHOUT", but when the "driverless suite" works (and it may well be working now, since it hasn’t caused a crash, but Waymo hasn’t divulged "near misses"..), then the probability that the "driverless suite" causes a crash is really small and there is essentially zero pushback to delivering what is an almost insatiable demand for the affordable mobility services afforded by the"driverless suite".  That’s why it is worth $175B today ….   and potentially $500B in 2020. (Boy this is fun!!).  Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 51

F. Fishkin, Aug 11,  "Waymo worth 175 billion dollars before it starts charging for rides? Join Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for Episode 51 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast. And the latest on Uber and the battle with New York City, Olli shuttles off to Buffalo, Tesla and BMW." 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

cid:<a”>  Self-driving shuttle, Olli, makes University at Buffalo debut

News Release, Aug 9, "The self-driving electric shuttle, which advances New York State as a hub for autonomous vehicle research, will be demonstrated today on the University at Buffalo’s North Campus. The demo is part of the Fourth Annual Symposium on Transportation Informatics, a two-day conference at UB that brings together nationwide leaders in next-generation transportation technologies.

Ultimately, UB researchers will use Olli — as well as other vehicles and simulators — to conduct comprehensive testing of autonomous and connected vehicles. The goal is to inform decisions regarding policy, safety, reliability and other future transportation issues…." …"  Read more Hmmmm…. This is a substantial 1st step.  Congratulations to all @ U of Buffalo especially to Prof. Adel Sadek and Dr. Steve Still and everyone else that came together to say yes (instead of …. I don’t think so..) to this critical 1st step.  See also:  Local Motors Announces Olli Shipment to University at Buffalo  Alain

cid:<a”>  Riders Wonder: With Uber as New York’s Plan B, Is There a Plan C?

W. Hu, Aug 9, "Jenine James no longer worries about getting stranded when the subways and buses are unreliable — a constant frustration these days — or cannot take her to where she needs to go. Her Plan B: Uber.

So Ms. James, 20, a barista in Brooklyn, sees New York’s move to restrict ride-hail services as not just a threat to her own convenience and comfort but also to the alternative transportation system that has sprung up to fill in the gaps left by the city’s failing subways and buses. She does not even want to think about going back to a time when a train was her only option, as unlikely as that might be.  “It was bad, so imagining going back, it’s terrible,” she said.

The ride-hail cars that critics say are choking New York City’s streets have also brought much-needed relief to far corners of the city where just getting to work is a daily chore requiring long rides and multiple transfers, often squeezed into packed trains and buses. The black cars that crisscross transit deserts in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island have become staples in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods where residents complain that yellow taxis often refuse to pick them up. They come to the rescue in the rain, and during taxi shift changes, when rides are notoriously hard to find even in the heart of Manhattan.

New York became the first major American city on Wednesday to put a halt on issuing new vehicle licenses for Uber, Lyft and other ride-hail services amid growing concerns around the world about the impact they are having on cities…"   Read more Hmmmm…. Sinatra told us… "New York City: If You Can Make it Here, You Can Make it Anywhere".  Luckily, If you can’t make it Here, You’ll do just fine everywhere else.  Too bad for NYC!  For more spicy coverage in the Daily News see…New York City Council votes to cap Uber, Lyft and other e-hail taxi apps  including "…Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Queens) blasted the proposal to save a yellow cab industry that was “nostalgic” but, as he put it, “in decline” due to technological changes.  That would be the equivalent of the City Council saying we’re going to put a cap on Netflix subscriptions because we’re worried about Blockbusters closing,” Ulrich said…."  Alain

cid:<a”>  Here’s what you need to know about the Moratorium:

M. Daus, Aug 10, "New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the law imposing a 12-month freeze on new for-hire-vehicle (FHV) licenses on Tuesday, August 14, 2018. The 12-month freeze will take effect immediately after the Mayor signs it!  …

The Clock is Ticking to Add For-Hire Vehicles (FHVs).  If you want to apply for a new FHV license for a vehicle that is not wheelchair-accessible, you must apply before the law takes effect!  …."  Read more Hmmmm…. So go in there and apply before EoD Monday!!! Alain

cid:<a”>  What’s the Right Number of Taxis (or Uber or Lyft Cars) in a City?

E. Badger, Aug 10, "…What’s the right number of vehicles anyway?   The answer isn’t easy because it depends largely on which problem officials are trying to solve. Do they want to minimize wait times for passengers or maximize wages for drivers? Do they want the best experience for individual users, or the best outcome for the city — including for residents who use city streets but never ride taxis or Uber at all?

All of these goals are in tension. If you’re a ride-hailing passenger, you may want cars to materialize at your doorstep instantaneously. But a system that can do something like that probably also has a lot of empty cars waiting around, contributing to congestion and lowering driver wages.

The right number then is best thought of as more of a sweet spot in the trade-offs between convenience and congestion; high wages and short waits; what’s best for individuals and what’s best for everyone…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Yes, but there is much more to the problem… the demand varies by time of day and is non-symmetric spatially.  Plus cabs troll the street empty searching for customers, therefore space wasting street, while app-hailing optimally repositions drivers to wait for customers.  Moreover, ride-sharing and surge pricing hasn’t been put into the mix.  Plus, everything changes with autonomousTaxis (aTaxis).   No longer is "driver livelihood"  in the mix.  Now it is all about the customer and the environment.  The way things are moving with Waymo, many cities will be able to benefit from such mobility opportunities very soon.  Manhattan… not so soon.  Enjoy what the MTA and the TLC will determine as the right number.  Alain

cid:<a”>  Actually, Curbing Uber Won’t Relieve Heavy Traffic

L. Palagashvili, Aug 1, "…Will proposals to limit ride hailing succeed at reducing road congestion? In New York, the answer can be found in a report by the mayor’s office. This $2 million study was conducted by McKinsey and other consultants to investigate whether ride-hailing companies have worsened traffic in the city.

From 2009 (before ride hailing) through 2015, the study finds that reductions in vehicular speeds began long before ride hailing hit the stage, and the pattern did not change after ride hailing. The primary factors of reductions in vehicular speed, according to the study, are increased freight movement, construction activity and tourism, population and job growth.   In short, ride hailing is not responsible for greater road congestion.

From 2009 to 2015, pedestrian growth in Manhattan’s central business district grew by about 18 to 24 percent. This slows cars down; at turns, they have to wait for crossing pedestrians. Furthermore, last year, New York City set a record of hosting almost 63 million tourists — a nearly 30 percent increase from 2010…"  Read more Hmmmm…  No comment, except, what will Mayor de Blasio do when Waymo shows up in Brooklyn with a couple thousand Driverless Pacificas?  I guess that won’t happen because why waste your time and go where you’re wanted and appreciated only by the people you’ll serve, but not the Mayor or a majority of the City Council. NYC, enjoy Blockbuster!  Alain

cid:<a”>  Get ready for a commuter apocalypse

D. Furfaro, Aug 9, "It’s a good thing that New York is the city that never sleeps — since it takes all day to get anywhere.

A perfect storm of subway repairs, highway construction, commuter rail woes and worsening gridlock is creating a commuter doomsday the likes of which the city has never seen before…."  Read more Hmmmm…  This is a SmartCity???? Alain

cid:<a”>  Two Teslas Perform the Worst In IIHS Automatic Braking Test

J. Huges, Aug 7, "The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published the results of its driver assistance systems tests in five cars Tuesday. Two of the five cars failed the automatic braking test: the 2016 Tesla Model S, and the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

In this particular test, the five cars—also including the 2017 BMW 5-Series, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the 2018 Volvo S90—were driven toward a stationary object at 31 mph with their advanced driver assistance systems, such as Tesla’s Autopilot, turned off, and automatic braking turned on. While the Teslas did slow down before hitting the object, the other cars managed to stop before hitting it. The Teslas did not.

However, with Autopilot turned on, the Teslas performed the best in this test. Both the older Model S and the new Model 3 started braking earlier than the other cars, slowing down more smoothly and easily stopping before the object. …"  Read more Hmmmm….Unfortunately, tapping the brakes turns off Autopilot, which then, as is reported above, effectively disables the AEB.  This is such a BAD design!!!  Here you are driving down the road, something starts happening on front of you and you react by taping the brakes, ant the "system" interprets this as being "turn everything off, I don’t need any help braking" right when more help might indeed be just what I needed.  This is BAD DESIGN!!!  If the system is going to respond to the tapping of the brakes, it should ONLY turn off the throttle, NOT the brakes or the steering!!!  (as David Zuby of IIHS reminded me… If my car has automated lane centering, it doesn’t turn it off if i touch the steering wheel and in Intelligent Cruise Control, it doesn’t turn off the top speed setting if I push on the gas pedal… so why, if I tap the brakes, it turns off the braking function???)   This is a terrible design hold-over from stupid cruise control where taping the brakes, meant turn off the throttle, but since only the throttle was being operated, it was simplified to just turn off everything (which was only one thing that was active, the throttle!).  Unfortunately as the system added other controls, such as braking and steering, the designers, continued the simplification of turning everything off, rather than turning off the throttle, which is what should be implied from taping of the brakes.  NHTSA, please issue a recall on all of the intelligent cruise control system that turn off the braking function if brakes are tapped by the driver. Alain

cid:part47.61BF772A.0FC8EAA5@princeton.eduEVALUATING AUTONOMY:  IIHS examines driver assistance features in road, track tests

IIHS, Aug 7, "On-road and track tests are helping IIHS craft a consumer ratings program for advanced driver assistance systems. Evaluations of adaptive cruise control and active lane-keeping show variable performance in typical driving situations, such as approaching stopped vehicles and negotiating hills and curves. The early results underscore the fact that today’s systems aren’t robust substitutes for human drivers."  …a substantial understatement… There is enormous confusion as to how well these systems work and I applaud IIHS for beginning to classify and actually rate the performance of these system.  While wrt to crash tests, each of an OEM’s model has different structural characteristics such that each model needs to be crash tested.  One hopes, that this isn’t the case for each ACC or AEB or … While there will be performance differences between different "release versions", one would hope that the same release version of,  say ACC of OEM X, performs essentially the same on each car model, so that the performance reported by IIHS for a MB E-class ACC, is essentially the same for MB C-class, S-class, ….  If that is NOT the case, then IIHS, should make it clear, that the results reported here are only for these 5 specific makes and models and should also report the name and version #s of the systems tested so that a consumer can properly assess what he/she is buying at the dealership.  At present, I sense total confusion by the buying public…. "The 2017 BMW 5-series with "Driving Assistant Plus," 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class with "Drive Pilot," 2018 Tesla Model 3 and 2016 Model S with "Autopilot" (software versions 8.1 and 7.1, respectively) and 2018 Volvo S90 with "Pilot Assist" were evaluated. All five have automatic emergency braking systems rated superior by IIHS."… Please tell us what that means???  If approaching a stationary object in the lane ahead, what is the maximum speed at which the car will not crash into that stationary object to earn a superior rating???  12 mph, 25 mph, 31 mph, 55 mph, 75 mph, 90 mph????? (please don’t tell me 31 mph. suggests that it is 25mph.  Please no!!)   "….  One series involved driving at 31 mph toward a stationary vehicle target with ACC off and autobrake turned on to evaluate autobrake performance….

Engineers focused on two situations that challenge active lane-keeping systems — curves and hills — in tests on open roads with no other vehicles around. They also observed how the systems performed in traffic….IIHS continues to run track and on-road tests as it moves toward a consumer rating system for advanced driver assistance systems. Apart from questions about whether the systems perform as drivers expect, one of the many factors to consider is how much of the driving task can safely be handed over to technology without drivers checking out altogether?

"Designers are struggling with trade-offs inherent in automated assistance," says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. "If they limit functionality to keep drivers engaged, they risk a backlash that the systems are too rudimentary. If the systems seem too capable, then drivers may not give them the attention required to use them safely."…  Real-world crashes involving vehicles with Level 2 automation demonstrate the matter isn’t settled.

"We’re not ready to say yet which company has the safest implementation of Level 2 driver assistance, but it’s important to note that none of these vehicles is capable of driving safely on its own," Zuby says. "A production autonomous vehicle that can go anywhere, anytime isn’t available at your local car dealer and won’t be for quite some time. We aren’t there yet."  Read more Hmmmm….  Very nice report on the performance of 5 models, unfortunately, if everything is not confusing enough, one now has the IIHS adopting the SAE’s Levels to complete confuse all but the most dire engineer.  What IIHS should be focusing on is answering the question of, to what extent are these systems going to keep me safe.  Will they help me not run into things? Will they help me stay in my lane? Will they help me not back up into things?  Will they keep me from over-speeding?  Will they keep me from tailgating? Will they keep me from mis-behaving?  Will they enable me to relax a little on some stretches of road in some situations?  Alain

cid:<a”>  Not all level 2 driver assists are equal, IIHS finds after testing

J. Gitlin, Aug 9, "Not all adaptive cruise control and lane keeping systems are created equal. That should be obvious, but in case it isn’t, recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will serve as proof. On Tuesday, IIHS published the results of some road and track testing with several different makes of vehicle, measuring how well each was able to stay within its lane around corners and up hills….

On several occasions, readers have asked us to put together a group test of different ADAS implementations, but it’s the sort of project that quickly requires a lot of time and resources if you want to do it properly.
Perhaps the best attempt so far was the one conducted by our friend Alex Roy over at The Drive back in 2016. But two years is a long time in this space. Even within a single OEM’s range, it’s possible to find quite different performance between different models, and the older the system, the less capable it is, by and large. In the meantime, whether you drive a Tesla or a Toyota, if you’re going to use adaptive cruise and lane keeping, just remember: it’s always your job to keep your eyes on the road."  Read more Hmmmm….  Even though it is tough, someone needs to do it because the car buying public is totally confused!  Alex, maybe you should give it a go once again.Alain

cid:<a”>  Uber Death May Have Been Avoidable With Volvo’s Technology

S. Gardner, Aug 7, "The Uber Technologies Inc. self-driving test vehicle that killed a pedestrian in Arizona earlier this year may have been able to avoid the crash had the ride-hailing company not disabled Volvo Cars’ safety system, according to a safety group.

In a report Tuesday (above),  the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety criticized Uber for turning off Volvo’s collision-avoidance technology in the XC90 sport utility vehicle that struck and killed a woman in Tempe on March 18. The insurer group’s chief research officer, David Zuby, vouched for the effectiveness of Volvo’s system, saying it would have prevented or mitigated the crash.

“I think it’s possible that, had the system been able to intervene, the fatality may not have occurred,” Zuby said in a phone interview. “I would argue that if developers of self-driving …  AND Driverless  ..   technology really intend to make our roads safer, they had better make sure they have the best crash-avoidance systems in place before they go out on the road.”…."  Read more Hmmmm…  David, I agree.  Pretty much what I Hummmed ….!   AND that system actually works at the speeds that they intend "Self-driving" &  "Driverless" to operate.  So if Elon Musk, Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, etc are going to let a customer engage Self-driving at 80 mph, then the AEB better be good enough to not hit a stationary object in the lane ahead.  If a curve or the crest of a hill doesn’t enable sighting early enough then the car should slow down so as to allow sufficient distance for the emergency braking action to enable the car to stop before hitting the object.  NHTSA / IIHS  should establish this (or equivalent) as a minimum safety condition.  In the Uber Herzberg crash, "the system " saw the object 6 seconds before the crash which was more than enough time/distance (350 ft @ 40mph) for an AEB to stop the car. The systems should also be smart enough to know surface conditions and visibility condition so that speed is regulated or the self-driving system in disengaged when visibility (fog) or surface conditions (rain/snow/ice) dictate different conditions.  Anyone using Intelligent cruise control (ACC) or any other self-driving feature irrespective of what "Level" expects that system to not go running into stationary objects in the lane ahead as an absolute minimum performance expectation.   If it can’t do that then it should continuously remind the driver that can’t stop.  And if it can’t keep the car in the lane, it should slow down until it can, or the driver regains the steering function.  If NHTSA and the OEMs aren’t going to do this, then the Insurance industry, through IIHS and David Zuby should lead the way.  The insurance industry could provide substantial encouragement and discounts to its customers to buy cars equipped with SAFE "Self-driving" technology and really penalize and surge-price cars that have irresponsible implementations of "Self-driving" technology.  If the so-called advanced Autopilot that Tesla is about to release (next article) doesn’t abide by such conditions, the IIHS and the whole insurance industry and all of the rest of us that Musk will be putting at risk should protest the irresponsible introduction of such technology on our public streets.  

cid:<a”>Enhanced Autopilot Trial

Support, Aug. 9, "The Enhanced Autopilot trial provides you with the opportunity to experience our latest driver assistance features for 14 days, at no cost. This includes access to Autosteer, Traffic Aware Cruise Control, Auto Lane Change, Summon and Autopark.

… What is Enhanced Autopilot?
Enhanced Autopilot is a suite of advanced driver assistance features designed to improve safety and convenience on the road. Features include:

Autosteer – Assisted steering within your lane
Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) – Cruise control that matches speed to traffic
Auto Lane Change – Assisted lane changes while driving on the highway
Summon- Automatically park and retrieve your car
Autopark – Parallel and perpendicular parking, with a single touch…"  Read more Hmmmm…  What it doesn’t include is AEB  (Automated Emergency Braking)  !!!!!  can you imagine who knows how many innocent Tesla owners, expecting that such systems, as a minimum, won’t allow you to crash into stationary objects in your lane ahead and that basic functionality is NOT part of the design (see IIHS report above).  How many "parked firetrucks", "ends of NJ barriers" and "Jonathan Brown Truck Cutoffs" are going to be endured by these novice/gullible customers during their "free 14 day trials"????   Totally irresponsible of Tesla releasing such capabilities without the supporting AEB.   Jonathan Brown b paid the ultimate price, as did Wei Huang, that should have been enough.  We don’t need a bunch more in the next few weeks.  Tesla, please fix your AEB before making any more AutoPilot releases.  Alain

cid:<a”>Tesla Dumps Nvidia, Goes It Alone on AI Hardware

D. Cardinal, Aug, 3, "It’s been two years since Elon Musk said that Tesla would develop its own chips to facilitate autonomous driving and began hiring a team of designers and executives to make it happen. This week Musk went public with the results. Tesla has developed its own silicon for running the neural networks it uses to do vision processing in its AutoPilot software. The company is building it into a computer that’s a plug-in replacement for the Nvidia Drive PX2 systems it currently uses for AutoPilot 2.5-equipped cars.

Musk touts Tesla’s homegrown processor as being 10 times faster than what they can buy from Nvidia or anyone else today, …. So far, so good. However, Nvidia is already shipping samples of a new car computer, Drive Xavier, that is an order of magnitude faster than the PX2. It is built around Nvidia’s new, and AI-targeted, Volta architecture that features Tensor Cores rather than the much older and more general purpose Pascal chips used in the PX2…

However, Nvidia says Xavier is the culmination of four years of work by 2,000 engineers and an investment of $2 billion — a complexity attested to by its 9 billion transistors. My speculation is that power usage and economics are bigger drivers of Tesla’s decision than pure performance. It is certainly reasonable that by building a chip and computer that only does exactly what it needs, Tesla can lower the power required — not a huge amount by server farm standards, but always a consideration in electric vehicles…"  Read more Hmmmm…  David, very interesting.  Alain

cid:<a”>The Elevator Pitch – Share the Road, Share a Ride

K. Pyle, Aug 1, "Share a ride in the same way that an elevator is shared is Dr. Alain Kornhauser’s plea in above interview filmed at the AVS18 conference. Further, in a recent SmartDrivingCar podcast with Fred Fishkin, Kornhauser calculated that with the 80,000+ vehicles Waymo has on order, they could be providing 4 million rides per day within 24 months…"  Read more Hmmmm….also see video.  Alain

cid:<a”>Why is the man who built Tesla’s Model 3 returning   to Apple?

P. DeWitt, Aug 10, "…Doug Field — who left Tesla in May after overseeing Model 3 production — has returned to Apple, working in Bob Mansfield’s project Titan group…."  Read more Hmmmm….Apple building a driverless car???? Alain

cid:<a”>The Best One-Liners in America Are on the Highway

J. Levitz, Aug 9, "…As summer car travelers are noticing, state transportation officials have become a bit of a trip. Traffic specialists who once stuck to dispatches like “Westbound I-70 left lane closed at Wentzville Parkway” are spicing up electronic billboards with snark, dad jokes and the occasional eyebrow-raiser….
The Missouri Department of Transportation featured “Hit the road, Jack… Don’t text back no more” on digital billboards this summer.
Maine went with “Spend money on lobstahs, not speeding tickets.”
Utah DOT… “Get your head out of your apps.”  …“Gambling is illegal in Utah. Buckle up.”
Massachusetts DoT…   “Use yah blinkah.”
Iowa DoT…  “Santa’s coming. Have you been a good driver?”  …“Deck the halls, not the guy who cut you off”“
Colorado DoT… "Who ya gonna call? Nobody—You’re driving”…
Read more Hmmmm….Who knew?? Traffic Engineers have a sense of humor. 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

cid:<a”>BMW questions feasibility of driverless cars

AFP Relaxnews, Aug 9, "Ian Robertson, BMW’s special representative to the UK, was speaking to a summit of the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

While highlighting the Bavarian motor manufacturer’s leading role in the development of autonomous drive technology, Robertson conceded that for some it may never be morally acceptable to hand over decision-making power, especially in difficult circumstances, to a machine…."  Read more Hmmmm….BMW wants to protect their $54B "Ultimate Driving Machine" Market Cap and Jonas says Waymo is worth $175B making the "ultimate Riding Machine"!  that’s a real Hmmmm! Alain

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


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3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
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