39th edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Friday, September 14, 2018

cid:<a”>  Self-driving delivery startup Nuro releases its voluntary safety report   Link2Report

A. Hawkins, Sept 13, "Nuro, the self-driving delivery startup founded by a pair of Google veterans, released its voluntary safety report on Thursday. Titled “Delivering Safety,” the 33-page document outlines the technology and procedures Nuro is using to safely deploy its fleet of autonomous delivery robots.

Formed in 2016, Nuro has set itself apart from other companies that are working on self-driving technology by focusing on delivery rather than ride-hailing. The startup recently announced a pilot delivery service in Arizona in partnership with grocery giant Kroger. In its report, Nuro touts what it believes are its competitive advantages….

With no driver or passengers to worry about, our vehicle can be built to keep what’s outside even safer than what’s inside. It’s lighter, nimbler, and slower than a passenger car, and is equipped with state-of-the-art software and sensing capabilities that never get distracted. With its smaller size and manufacturing costs, we can make vehicles more rapidly. And because it’s electric and fully self-driving, our vehicle can deliver life’s needs at an affordable price…."  Read more Hmmmm….  And if Jeff Bezos is watching, watch out. Link to the report. Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 57

F. Fishkin, Sept 14,  "Uber is investing bigger in self driving research in Toronto, while Apple grows its self driving test fleet in California. Join Princeton University’s Alain Kornhauser along with Fred Fishkin for Episode 57 of the Smart Driving Cars podcast. Also…the latest on Mercedes, Volvo, BMW and Nuro. Tune in and subscribe!"  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”>  Volvo unveils all-electric and autonomous truck without a cab

F. Lambert, Sept 13, "If your truck is completely autonomous, why would you need a cab? Volvo Trucks believes that you don’t and that’s why they built a new all-electric and autonomous truck without a cab called Vera.
Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks, the idea behind Vera:

“The full potential of the transport industry is yet to be seen. Everything suggests that the global need for transportation will continue to significantly increase in the coming decade. If we are to meet this demand in a sustainable and efficient way, we must find new solutions. In order to secure a smoothly functioning goods flow system we also need to exploit existing infrastructure better than currently. The transport system we are developing can be an important complement to today’s solutions and can help meet many of the challenges faced by society, transport companies and transport buyers,”

The solution is mainly for urban transport since while the lack of cab does reduce weight significantly, it also bad for aerodynamic performance, which is important at higher speeds.  Volvo Trucks sees companies using this between their own locations…"  Read more Hmmmm…. See video  See also, Certainly can see this moving chassis and containers around port facilities and doing  local drayage.  This is Volvo Truck, different company from Volvo Cars. Alain

cid:<a”>  France Mulls Cheaper Hack For Autonomous Transport

M. Mawad, Sept 12, "To get rid of the need for a driver, state-owned railway SNCF will upgrade its existing trains and use century-old tracks to keep costs down. The first prototypes will be ready within five years and cost 57 million euros ($70 million) to develop, the company said Wednesday….

“We’re not starting from scratch; we’re building on existing infrastructure,” Pierre Izard, SNCF’s deputy head of rail technologies, said in an interview. “Rail is well positioned.” Some cities, including Paris, already operate partially-autonomous subway trains, with no drivers but attendants present in case of emergency. Existing high-speed trains also feature some basic automated functions….

Train makers might ditch drivers faster than auto manufacturers, as the rail infrastructure is already equipped with smart sensors, and trains aren’t faced with pedestrians, which are carmakers’ biggest autonomous nightmare. Robot freight trains are already a reality in Western Australia, where one of them made the first autonomous delivery of iron ore for miner Rio Tinto Group. SNCF will build two prototypes by 2023, one for passengers and one for freight, it said. .

.. Existing trains will get equipped with autonomous technology on a larger scale from 2025, and SNCF will spend about 100 million euros a year for that, Izard said. Autonomous trains will come on time more often, as computers optimize cruising speeds, allowing SNCF to squeeze more trips in…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Seems so much better than PTC  Maybe Warren Buffet and BN/SF should think about it too!?!?  Alain

cid:<a”>Volvo’s self-driving car concept is what our cities don’t need

A. Walker, Sept 7, "…I don’t see how the 360c concept fits in with Volvo’s safety claims. Expanding the U.S.’s car infrastructure so “first-class” passengers can drive longer distances runs completely counter to Volvo’s own efforts to eliminate traffic deaths. And its auto execs, from a country that prides itself on its fast trains, reliable transit, and safe streets, should be ashamed for trying to sell our country on an idea of more highways, more driving, and more cars."  Read more Hmmmm…  Someone else doesn’t like the 360c.  Yea!! (See Half-baked below).  The problem is the focus on providing private personal mobility, rather than mobility that is shared.  Trains and buses do well when a lot of people want to go between the same places at about the same time.  However, this high density rarely occurs and trying to make it less rare tends to conflict with improved quality of life.  There are many places/times when a few folks want to go between the same places at about the same time.  These folks have no options except driving themselves in their own cars.  The operational , informational and pricing systems don’t exist that would offer a vible alternative.  A completely redesigned 360c focused on that market by serving two, three or a few more riders at a time, when the demand existed, would be fantastic for cities in terms of energy, pollution, and affordability.  Focusing only on individuals traveling alone has ZERO societal value.  Volvo, please go back to the drawing board.  Even Mercedes may be having 2nd thoughts..  see next article.  Alain 

cid:<a”>  Mercedes Vision Urbanetic concept previews a driverless urban future

D. Gibson, Sept 10, "Mercedes-Benz Vans has dusted off its crystal ball and revealed its vision of future urban mobility, the Vision Urbanetic concept. Bosses claim that this fully autonomous design study showcases what city transportation will look like in 2030 and beyond, with the basis of the concept being a fully autonomous chassis with interchangeable bodies to cater for different demands, 24 hours a day.

As part of the concept’s reveal, Mercedes showcased a cargo version and a passenger carrier, both of which are interchangeable with the full electric chassis. The platform features what Mercedes describes as an ‘IT infrastructure’, which uses computer learning and real-time traffic info and a ‘supply and demand’ model that allows Urbanetic to switch between cargo and passenger bodies as and when they’re needed…."  Read more Hmmmm…. See the images.  Maybe interesting.  A real turn-around for Daimler.  Alain

cid:<a”>  BMW made a self-driving motorcycle

S. O’Kane, Sept 12, "Motorcycle riders die at a rate 28 times higher than that of people behind the wheel of a car. It’s safe to say, then, that motorcycles theoretically stand to benefit from the recent boom in the development of driver assistance technology. There are unique challenges, to be sure, but the application looks more possible than ever, thanks to a new video of a self-driving motorcycle released by BMW Motorrad, the company’s two-wheeler division.

BMW Motorrad says it’s been working on the technology for more than two years, and the effort shows. The short video showcases a BMW motorcycle cruising around a test track with no driver, starting from a stop, leaning into turns, and braking all by itself…. " Read more Hmmmm…  Couple of comment… 1.  See video.  it is very good.  2.  There are realy good reasons why this Safe-driving Motorcycle" is a really good idea, especially the safety reason as to why a cyclist should want this.  and 3.  (The) Anthony Levandowski did this (sort of, or at least wanted to do it) back in the 2005 Grand Challenge  See video Alain

cid:<a”>  Few carmakers submit self-driving car safety reports

K. Laing, Sept 10, "The Trump administration has asked automakers to voluntarily outline how they are developing and testing self-driving cars on public roads. But only three companies have complied.

Safety advocates say reports that have been submitted so far — by General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and the Google-affiliated Waymo,  according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — resemble slick marketing brochures instead of stringent regulatory filings. …

Critics say the self-driving assessments should be mandatory to ensure compliance from all automakers. They also say the paperwork already voluntarily submitted does little to reassure the driving public that vigorous testing is being done, an answer to polls showing increasing unease about self-driving cars. ..

"Without public acceptance, automated technology will never reach its full potential," Chao said in a speech at the AV Symposium in San Francisco. "So, we need to work together to get it right." …"  Read more Hmmmm…. The last statement is the most important one.   Without public acceptance, they won’t be purchased and the driverless ones will be trashed in the streets.  Public, grass roots acceptance and tolerance may well be the "Achilles heel" of this technology.  The NIMBYs control everything.   Alain

cid:<a”>  Apple now has 70 self-driving vehicles on the road in California, expanding autonomous testing

P. Cao, Sept 11, "…Today, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has confirmed (via macReports) that Apple now has 70 vehicles and 139 drivers permitted to test autonomous vehicles, up from 66 vehicles and 111 drivers back in July…."   Read more Hmmmm…. See CA DMV Collision Reports, Permit Holders, 2017 Disengagement Reports


K. Finley, Sept 11, "IT MAY BE a long time before you can own a truly self-driving car. But chipmakers are placing bets that you will.

On Tuesday, the Japanese chipmaker Renesas, the second-largest provider of semiconductors for the automotive industry, said it will acquire San Jose based chipmaker Integrated Device Technology (IDT) for $6.7 billion, in part to prepare for autonomous vehicles.

IDT has not historically provided chips for cars, but it does have sensor and wireless technologies that could help Renesas compete in the market for chips for autonomous vehicles. "Renesas and IDT have complementary technologies," says Objective Analysis analyst Jim Handy. "Renesas will be able to help IDT bring up automotive products while IDT helps Renesas deal with very high frequency low-latency digital electronics. While it may not be ‘plug and play,’ it’s certainly a good match."…"  Read more Hmmmm…. Chips are needed by more than "truly self-driving cars".  They are needed by Safe-driving and plain old, today’s Self-driving cars Tesla AutoPilot).  While it will be some amount of time before Driverless cars and trucks are common place, most cars sold 5 years from now will be Safe-driving cars, meaning they will all have automated systems that monitor the driving environment and are waiting patiently to help keep the car from crashing.  Those systems will have cameras, radars, and other sensors producing streams of data that will be processed continuously by the AI algorithms that stand ready to help keep the driver safe.  That’s going to require a lot of chips.  Alain

cid:<a”>This city has a vision for mass transit that doesn’t involve city buses

T. Lee, Aug 31, "Arlington, Texas, has the dubious distinction of being the largest American city without a conventional bus system. Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, the town of nearly 400,000 people launched a single bus line called the MAX in 2013—but even that got shut down last year.

But just as some developing countries have leapfrogged past landline telephones in favor of cellular technology, Arlington is trying to turn its status as a mass-transit laggard into an advantage by embracing cutting-edge transportation technologies.

Last week, the city announced a new partnership with the self-driving car startup Starting in October, free shuttles will circulate on public streets in Arlington’s Entertainment District, past a Six Flags amusement park and the stadiums where the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers play.

At the same time, Arlington is sponsoring a human-driven on-demand service operated by Via, a competitor to Uber and Lyft that focuses on shared rides. Residents in a portion of Arlington can use an app to take $3 rides anywhere in the service area, which includes Arlington’s major stadiums and Six Flags, as well as the University of Texas at Arlington, city hall, and at least three high schools.

Together, these two projects point toward a radically different vision for public transportation in the 21st century. Rather than having full-size city buses with fixed routes and schedules, Via’s service uses six-passenger Mercedes vans to offer on-demand, nearly door-to-door service. Right now, Via’s service is heavily subsidized. But self-driving technology could help to bring down these costs, making fares of $3 per ride—or even less—economically viable…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Very interesting!  Alain

cid:<a”>  The big timeline of Uber’s 2 years of testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh

M. Slaby, Sept 12, "Two years ago, reporters from across the country flocked to Pittsburgh for two days of secretive media briefings on a new pilot program from Uber.  The company had opened its Advanced Technologies Group here the previous year and was already testing autonomous cars on Pittsburgh streets. But two years ago Friday, Uber started allowing ride share users to be picked up and dropped off in its self-driving cars.

While Uber wasn’t the first autonomous vehicle tester in Pittsburgh — or the latest one — the company has been the most visible, both on the streets and in headlines. But Uber paused testing for nearly four months this year after a fatal crash in Arizona, effectively ending the pilot program for riders for now.  "  Read more Hmmmm…. Very interesting!  Alain  

cid:<a”>  The Best Electric Skateboards of 2018

S. O’Kane,  Jul 20, "Electric motors are in almost everything these days — bikes, scooters, cars. But one of the most fun things to ride is an electric skateboard. And as this market has grown over the last few years, some of them have gotten so good that they’re actually practical to use every day. If you live in a city, you can use electric skateboards in place of other transportation options….It’s Boosted vs. the world"  Read more  Hmmmm…. See Video  In case you’re not into the whole SmartDrivingCar thing.  Alain



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

cid:<a”>  GM’s Plan to Test Autonomous Cars in New York City Seems to Have Gone up in Smoke

R. Felton, Sept 10, "Just short of a year ago, General Motors garnered widespread national attention by announcing it planned to start testing autonomous cars on the busy streets of Manhattan in “early 2018.” But the automaker’s pilot has yet to launch, and no one is willing to publicly offer a detailed explanation for the delay. What happened? Did it get eaten by bureaucracy, or caught up in the war between New York City’s mayor and the state’s governor?… " Read more Hmmmm…. Hopefully all of the above.  The last thing Manhattan needs is another mode of transportation.  It have a subway, sidewalks and certainly enough Lyfts, Ubers, Yellow cabs and Black cars.  The last thing it needs is driverless cars.  Outer Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island, maybe, but NOT Manhattan and certainly NOT Lower Mahattan/Wall Street.  Those 1%ers have enough, they’ll never share a ride anyway and they deserve their chauffeurs.  Alain 

cid:<a”>  Volvo’s futuristic 360c concept ‘car’ is at once a hot-desk, hotel room and flight cabin

N. Shahmanesh, Sept 11, "…The Volvo 360c concept car we are about to see represents a grand vision. It is at once a self-driving office offering hot-desking on the move, as well as a social hub with food and champagne, relaxing imagery and moody music. Or it can be a tranquil bedroom-on-wheels – upper-class air travel on land…."  Read more Hmmmm…. Is this absolutely the last thing that we need?  Even more for those who already have too much????   Alain

cid:<a”>  Autonomous vehicles won’t automatically end congestion

J. Manning, Sept 9, "Shifting passengers away from public transport and into self-driving cars may have the effect of increasing traffic volumes, warn experts. …"  Read more Hmmmm…. Don’t worry, most of the people on Public Transport can’t afford a normal car, let alone an autonomous car, so they’ll still be stuck taking the bus.  If the autonomous cars are actually driverless and fleet managed and operated, then, hopefully, common carriage obligations / public oversight will instill a ride-sharing behavior that could help alleviate congestion.   Alain

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

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5th Symposium on
Autonomous & Connected vehicles

October 23-24, 2018
Brooklyn, NY

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3rd Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit
evening May 14 through May 16, 2019
Save the Date; Reserve your Sponsorship

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