imap://, We have Liftoff!-120618
52nd edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Thursday, December 6, 2018

cid:<a href=Waymo One, the first commercial robotaxi service, is now picking up passengers in Arizona

R. Mitchell, Dec 5, “Robot cars are now officially a real business. Waymo on Wednesday launched a commercial robot ride-hailing service in Arizona called Waymo One.” …

“This is a game changer. It’s historical in nature,” said Grayson Brulte, who heads driverless car consulting firm Brulte & Co.

Only “a few hundred customers” will have access to the app and participate in the early stages, according to Waymo, which is an arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc. Although the cars will drive themselves, a Waymo engineer will sit behind the wheel in case anything goes wrong. Waymo did not say when the cars will start arriving without a human minder or when the program will be expanded…. ”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Liftoff, We have a liftoff  …” Alain

cid:<a href=Waymo One, the groundbreaking self-driving taxi service, explained

T. Lee, Dec 5, “Today is a day that fans of self-driving cars have been anticipating for years. Waymo—widely seen as the industry leader—is finally launching its “Waymo One” commercial taxi service in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The announcement fulfills Waymo’s long-standing promise to offer a commercial service by the end of the year. But the launch comes with important caveats.

Initially, the new service will only be offered to Waymo’s early riders—the same handpicked test passengers that have been riding in Waymo’s vehicles for the last 18 months. Waymo says it hopes to make the service available to the broader public “over time.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Houston, We have Liftoff Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 70

F. Fishkin, Dec. 6,  “We have liftoff! Waymo One begins offering a commercial self driving transportation service in the suburbs of Phoenix. How does it work? What’s next? Autonomous Vehicle expert and consultant Grayson Brulte joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin on this episode of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast.”  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 href=Even self-driving leader Waymo is struggling to reach full autonomy

T. Lee, Dec 7, “The Wednesday rollout of Waymo One, Waymo’s commercial self-driving taxi service, falls far short of expectations the company itself set earlier in the year.  In late September, a Waymo spokeswoman told Ars by email that the Phoenix service would be fully driverless and open to members of the public—claims I reported in this article.

We now know that Waymo One won’t be fully driverless; there will be a driver in the driver’s seat. And Waymo One is open to the public in only the narrowest, most technical sense: initially it will only be available to early riders—the same people who have been participating in Waymo’s test program for months.

This seems to be the latest sign that Waymo’s technology is progressing more slowly than a lot of people expected—including Waymo’s own leadership a year ago. People who have observed Waymo’s vehicles on public roads in recent months report that the cars still struggle with unprotected left turns, merges, and other tricky situations….”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Initially, liftoff is very slow. 🙁  I hope we are still near full throttle.  Alain


cid:<a href=Tesla’s stock is in unprecedented territory that could completely overhaul how it’s traded

J. Ciolli, Dec. 5, “Elon Musk’s long-running battle with Tesla short sellers is the stuff of legend at this point.  The majority of his crusade has been waged on Twitter, where he’s repeatedly taunted the futility of short sellers and decried their existence. In a Rolling Stone profile last year, he called them “jerks who want us to die.” He’s even called their behavior flat-out illegal.

But Tesla’s short-seller landscape has undergone some big changes in the last few weeks, to the point that it’s almost unrecognizable from the pessimistic wasteland that it once was.  As shown in this chart, the number of Tesla shares borrowed has declined to a year-to-date low, around 22 million …”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Very interesting.  i feel so bad about those short sellers.  :'(  Alain

cid:<a href= Journey: the picture history of the driverless car

R. Glon, Dec 4, “Since then, the technology used to control driverless cars has varied greatly but the main goals have remained surprisingly constant. Driverless and autonomous cars are a way to reduce traffic congestion on crowded roads, improve safety and, last but not least, make money….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  Not to quibble with Roman, but… I would characterize all of those efforts as “the picture history of the Self-driving car”  and would remove two images: Stanford’s Stanley (#19) and Waymo’s Firefly (#20) (and maybe Waymo’s Jaguar (#21)), which are the only images that are intended to be Driverless and are “mobility machines” focused on delivering rides to anyone 24/7, and, if operated in a shared-ride basis, can reduce traffic congestion and enhance safety.  All of the others that are pictured lead to increased congestion, would not be safer than Safe-driving cars and, certainly, would/will make money, as Tesla is experiencing.  Tesla deserves to be pictured in “the picture history of the Self-driving car”.     Alain

cid:<a href=Cruise control: GM’s No. 2 exec to run self-driving car unit

M. Liedtke, Nov 29, “General Motors’ No. 2 executive is moving from Motor City to Silicon Valley to run the automaker’s self-driving car operations as it attempts to cash in on its bet that robotic vehicles will transform transportation.   GM President Dan Ammann will become CEO of the company’s Cruise Automation subsidiary at the beginning of next year. He will replace Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt, who will become chief technology officer. …”   Read moreHmmmm… Following Google/Alphabet’s lead when they replaced Chris with John Krafchick.  Alain

cid:<a href=Smart Paint – Giving Autonomy to Cars and People #SmartDrivingCar

K. Pyle, Dec 5, “Princeton’s Dr. Alain Kornhauser has often emphasized the importance of good signage and road paint to help improve autonomous vehicle guidance. As he points out, good markings are helpful for human drivers as well. It is right then that one of the exhibitors at Kornhauser’s 2018 SmartDrivingCar Summit demonstrated an additive that can integrate paint into the infrastructure of a smart city.

Josh Collins, Intelligent Material’s CTO, explains that their additive allows embedding of multiple levels of information into a standard thermoplastic paint, beyond just what is visible to the human eye.  This sort of invisible QR code provides complementary information to GPS and mapping programs….”   Read more  Hmmmm… Also See video.  Alain

cid:<a href=Surface Transportation Innovations

R. Poole, Dec 6, “In this issue:

Read more  Hmmmm… Very interesting.  Alain

cid:<a href=Tesla (TSLA) becomes more valuable than Daimler (Mercedes-Benz)

F. Lambert, Dec 4, After surpassing BMW last month, Tesla (TSLA) is now becoming more valuable than Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, as it becomes one of the most valuable automakers in terms of market capitalization….”  Read more  Hmmmm…  And the hits just keep on comin’.  Alain

cid:<a href=Waymo taps former NTSB chair to oversee safety of self-driving ride-share fleet 

P.  LeBeau, Nov 27, “Waymo, the Alphabet subsidiary on the cusp of launching the first autonomous rideshare service in the U.S., has hired a former top safety regulator to ensure the company’s fleet of robotaxis operate safely.

Deborah Hersman, who was chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board in the Obama administration, will become chief safety officer for Waymo starting in January. She will focus on ensuring the safe operation of hundreds of driverless vehicles that are expected to shuttle passengers….

In addition to signing Hersman, Waymo has also hired its first chief commercial officer, Amee Chande, who will oversee business strategy, operations, and strategic partnerships as the company starts to monetize its work with driverless vehicles. Chande joins Waymo after serving as managing director of global strategy and operations for Alibaba Group.”  Read more  Hmmmm… Excellent.  Alain

cid:<a href=Your November News

AutonomouStuff, Nov 30, “…The team at AutonomouStuff takes pride in leading the industry in providing cutting-edge products, services and software to enable autonomy. In an effort to expand and produce even more incredible technology, we’ve opened a facility dedicated to engineering. Our Engineering Innovation Center (EIC) in Morton, Illinois is now home to our embedded engineering, software development and validation teams. We are looking forward to a bright future providing even more technology to enable the future of autonomy from our EIC…”  Read more  Hmmmm…Impressive how Bobby has grown autonomouStuff.  Congratulations.  Alain

cid:<a href=Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Are Set to Return in a Downsized Test

D. Wakabayashi, Dec 5, “Eight months after one of Uber’s self-driving cars struck and killed a pedestrian, the ride-hailing company is close to putting its autonomous vehicles back on the road in a drastically reduced version of earlier efforts.

Uber was driving its autonomous vehicles on public roads in four cities — sometimes at night — at speeds as high as 55 miles an hour with a disabled Automated Emergency Braking  when testing was halted after the accident. Starting within a few weeks, it plans to run the vehicles on a mile loop between two company offices in Pittsburgh. They won’t operate at night or in wet weather, and they won’t exceed 25 m.p.h., Uber said Wednesday.

But even as the company has lowered expectations, its autonomous car technology has faced considerable issues. The cars have reacted more slowly than human drivers and struggled to pass so-called track validation tests, the last step before returning to city streets, according to a dozen Uber documents and emails as well as interviews with seven current and former employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk publicly about the company.

The scaled-down street testing would be a humble return for a cutting-edge effort that Uber’s executives once considered a key to its prosperity….” Read more  Hmmmm…  OK, maybe.  Alain


A. Marshall, Dec 5, “… So it’s high time that these new robo-things get firmer rules, regulators, consumer advocates, and even the self-driving industry itself has reasoned. To that end, this week, senators began to circulate new language for the AV Start Act, a bill that has lingered in congressional limbo for almost a year. (That’s the “American Vision for Safer Transportation through Advancement of Revolutionary Technologies Act”, if you fancy.)…” Read more  Hmmmm…  Please don’t screw things up.  Alain

cid:<a href=ITE Statement on Connected and Automated Vehicles

Staff, Dec 4, “The Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) supports the advancement of technology in all areas of transportation and particularly in the development of Connected and Automated Vehicles (CAV). We are optimistic about the innovation and entrepreneurship that the private sector is bringing to our industry. These new technologies have the potential to revolutionize transportation and save thousands of lives.

A strong government role will be critical to ensure that the deployment of CAV improves the quality of life for all citizens. Governments must provide the regulatory oversight to give the public confidence that CAV testing and deployment is being done in a transparent manner and that public safety is not compromised. Governments can also play a key role in working with the private sector to facilitate deployment and remove regulatory barriers to the widespread deployment of proven technologies. …”  Read more  Hmmmm…   Much improved Statement; however, ITE continues to implicitly and explicitly prioritize “Connected” by not even succumbing to alphabetization:  “Automated & Connected”…  even though “Connected” has fallen to the bottom of its list of “Key Tenets”.  ITE also doesn’t appreciate that the most expeditious way to “zero fatalities” is via “Safe-driving” technology that has nothing to do with taking hands off wheels or feet off pedals, but everything to do with  ITE’s 4th Tenet pushing for substantial improvement of” “…  vigilant safety systems that automatically ensure safety rather than simply assist safety“.  For example, ITE should call for the enhancement of automatic braking systems that actually work and lane keeping systems that don’t allow you to cross a double line when another car is on-coming.     Alain

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

cid:<a href=How a Chinese robotics company made Segway (almost) cool

Nov 22, “…It took Segway a decade to hit its initial 13-month target to sell 100,000 units of its original two-wheeler. In 2018, just three years into production, Segway-Ninebot will sell 1m scooters, up from sales of 600,000 last year. Ninebot’s factory in Changzhou builds over 5,000 scooters a day. The firm’s backers, which include Xiaomi, valued it at $1.5bn in its latest funding round…” Read more  Hmmmm…  “almost” should be the emphasis, not the parenthesis.  Short sellers must be all over this (although who knows what the Chinese government thinks is cool!?  Once a SegHole, always a SegHole????).  Alain

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

Calendar of Upcoming Events:

imap:<a href=

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