53rd edition of the 6th year of SmartDrivingCars

Thursday, December 13, 2018

cid:<a href=Comments on: Pilot Program for Collaborative Research on Motor Vehicles With High or Full Driving Automation, Docket NHTSA-2018-0092

J. Levine, Dec 10, “In order to assuage public skepticism of AV technology, it is critical for NHTSA to ensure that automated vehicles, and automated vehicle technology, are safe before allowing their introduction onto public roads. The best way to accomplish this goal is a measured approach that guarantees safety prior to deployment, using the tools and authorities provided by the DOT to NHTSA. Unfortunately, the DOT’s continued myopic commitment to voluntary guidance over effective regulation prevents the development of safeguards that would provide the public with basic and reliable information on the safety of AVs, and places users of American roads at the mercy of unproven technology as unwitting participants in potentially life-threatening experiments…. ”  Read more Hmmmm….  Listen to PodCast 71  Alain

imap:// Driving Cars Podcast Episode 71-Nader

F. Fishkin,  Dec. 13,  “When it comes to self driving cars, Ralph Nader says “Not so fast.”  The renowned political activist and author takes the government and the industry to task in a super sized Episode 71 of the Smart Driving Cars Podcast. Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that 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

cid:<a href=SAE International Releases Updated Visual Chart for Its “Levels of Driving Automation” Standard for Self-Driving Vehicles

Staff, Dec 11, “SAE International announces a new visual chart for use with its J3016TM “Levels of Driving Automation” standard that defines the six levels of driving automation, from no automation to full automation….”  Read more Hmmmm….  I thought I won.. but no such luck.  SAE insists on continuing to make things complicated instead of easy…  Level 0 is totally unnecessary. … Level 5 is unachievable… I can’t drive “everywhere under all conditions”  There will never be a thing that will drive “everywhere under all conditions” even though the companies that employ SAE members continue to try to have us all fantasize that we can.(totally irresponsible!!)… so Level 5 is equally USELESS.  Then Level 1,2 are essentially the same and can be merged by simply using “and/or”; even small children readily understand the subtleties between “eating cake and/or ice cream”.  That ends up leaving 3… Safe, Self & Driverless which are each VERY VERY different  and should in NO WAY ever be shown using the same color or with merged columns!!!!   Please go back to the drawing board SAE, you’re still confusing everyone.  Alain

cid:<a href=A slashed tire, a pointed gun, bullies on the road: Why do Waymo self-driving vans get so much hate?

R. Randazzo, Dec 11, “A Waymo self-driving van cruised through a Chandler neighborhood Aug. 1 when test driver Michael Palos saw something startling as he sat behind the wheel — a bearded man in shorts aiming a handgun at him as he passed the man’s driveway.

The incident is one of at least 21 interactions documented by Chandler police during the past two years where people have harassed the autonomous vehicles and their human test drivers.  People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times….”  Read more Hmmmm….  This is very troubling and very serious.  It emphasizes that it is necessary to first create a “welcoming environment” for these entities; else, Driverless doesn’t stand a chance.  Alain

cid:<a href=ChauffeurNet: Learning to Drive by Imitating the Best and Synthesizing the Worst

M. Bansal, Dec 10, “The results on this page depict the ChauffeurNet agent driving in a closed-loop control environment. The teal path depicts the input route, yellow boxes with the faded trail are the positions of the dynamic objects in the scene over the past 1 second,  green box is the agent, blue dots are the agent’s past positions and green dots are the predicted future positions which are used by the controller to drive the agent forward….”  Read more Hmmmm….  Details are in the original paper which is a must read.  “…Recent work by Chen et al. (2015) demonstrated a convolutional net to estimate affordances such as distance to the
preceding car that could be used to program a controller to control the car on the highway…
.”  Alain

cid:<a href=Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret

J. Valentino, Dec 10, “The millions of dots on the map trace highways, side streets and bike trails — each one following the path of an anonymous cellphone user.

One path tracks someone from a home outside Newark to a nearby Planned Parenthood, remaining there for more than an hour. Another represents a person who travels with the mayor of New York during the day and returns to Long Island at night.  Yet another leaves a house in upstate New York at 7 a.m. and travels to a middle school 14 miles away, staying until late afternoon each school day. Only one person makes that trip: Lisa Magrin, a 46-year-old math teacher. Her smartphone goes with her.   An app on the device gathered her location information, which was then sold without her knowledge. It recorded her whereabouts as often as every two seconds, according to a database of more than a million phones in the New York area that was reviewed by The New York Times. While Ms. Magrin’s identity was not disclosed in those records, The Times was able to easily connect her to that dot.   The app tracked her as she went to a Weight Watchers meeting and to her dermatologist’s office for a minor procedure. It followed her hiking with her dog and staying at her ex-boyfriend’s home, information she found disturbing….”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Little that you didn’t already know (or should have known), but the way it is presented is really powerful. Hiding is as easy/hard as turning off your phone and going back/forward to a copper land line.  Scared yet???  Also  see How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location  and Kids Shouldn’t Have to Sacrifice Privacy for Education  Alain

cid:<a href=Tesla’s Elon Musk on ’60 Minutes’: ‘I do not respect the SEC’

R. Mitchell, Dec 10, “Elon Musk stuck a finger in the SEC’s eye Sunday night on “60 Minutes.”

“I want to be clear: I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them,” the Tesla chief executive told Lesley Stahl on the nationally broadcast CBS news program….Musk also said no one is reviewing his tweets, as called for in the settlement. “The only tweets that would have to be, say, reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock,” Musk said. “Otherwise, it’s hello 1st Amendment. Freedom of speech is fundamental.”…”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Very entertaining .  See 60 Minutes episode and one from 10 years ago.  Alain   EVEN ELON MUSK ABUSES TESLA’S AUTOPILOT

J. Stewart, Dec 10, “DO YOU FEEL safe?” Leslie Stahl asked Elon Musk on Sunday’s episode of 60 Minutes, as the scene showed her riding on the freeway with Musk in a red Tesla Model 3. “Yeah,” the CEO answered, settling back into the driver’s seat, his hands clasped together over his stomach, after turning on the car’s semiautonomous driving system. “Now you’re not driving at all,” Stahl said, incredulously, looking over at his feet….Meanwhile, Musk continues to talk up Tesla’s goal of making its cars drive themselves in situations far beyond the highway, with no human oversight or involvement. And so he risks widening the gap between what the car seems to do and what it actually does….”  Read more Hmmmm….  the “… no human oversight ….”  part is what the SEC or NHTSA or ??? should really come down hard on Elon.  That part will  cause people to die, not just have to cover their shorts.  Alain

cid:<a href=Uber manager in March: “We shouldn’t be hitting things every 15,000 miles”

T. Lee, Dec 11, “…Miller quit his job at Uber in March 2018 and went on to lidar startup Luminar. Before he left the company he sent an email to Eric Meyhofer, the leader of Uber’s self-driving car project, about safety problems at the company. The email, which was obtained by The Information’s Amir Efrati, is absolutely scathing…. “A car was damaged nearly every other day in February,” Miller said. “We shouldn’t be hitting things every 15,000 miles.”…”  Read more Hmmmm….  Yipes!! Alain

cid:<a href=Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot takes on LA’s insane freeways

R. Baldwin, Dec 11, “I’m talking and not paying attention to the Model 3’s turn-by-turn navigation when the vehicle’s blinker turns on. Tesla’s “Navigate on Autopilot” turns the wheel to take the off-ramp to an interchange. My hands are on the wheel (as they should be with all driver assist features) and I double-check the traffic around me. No problems to be seen, and I let the car do its thing. It’s smooth, it’s impressive and it’s available to all US Teslas with full self-driving hardware (All Teslas built on or after October 19, 2016, that is)….Tesla’s latest update to driver assistance takes your destination and, just like CoPilotGPS, figures out the quickest way to get there. ”  Read more Hmmmm….  Actually sounds pretty good; HOWEVER, you MUST remain alert so it really isn’t focused on “Driverless” because there is nothing here that begins to suggest that you don’t need to remain alert.  The statement “…  Driver-assist features like Autopilot are a helpful way to determine how far along an automaker is in its research towards truly autonomous driving…” is TOTALLY MISLEADING whatever your perception of the meaning of “Autonomous”.  NHTSA should sanction him for misleading potential customers, then Elon won’t respect SEC nor NHTSA. Alain

cid:<a href=Columbus is first city to offer public self-driving shuttle

V. Wicker, Dec 10, “Monday, Columbus became the first city in the country to offer a self-driving shuttle service to the public.

Smart Columbus and DriveOhio unveiled “Smart Circuit,” Ohio’s first self-driving shuttle and the country’s first of it’s kind to open to the public.  “The first thing you’ll notice when you go up to the car is that there are sensors on it. So, lights, radars and cameras — and those are the eyes of the car. So, we can see in every direction all the time,” said Edwin Olson, CEO May Mobility….” Read more Hmmmm….  See the video.  Another major step forward.  Alain

cid:<a href=Forget Tesla Buying A GM Factory, Tesla Could Buy GM

K. Lowder, Dec 11, “Currently, Tesla has a market capitalization of $62.71 billion, whereas GM is only valued at $48.58 billion. However, keep in mind that in 2009, GM fell to a value of $1.06 billion. Many economists are starting to predict another recession on the horizon. Moreover, self-driving taxis could take annual global demand for cars from 88 million to a notably smaller fraction of that. Even if that does not occur, the largest car market, China, is rapidly switching to electric. It appears that GM is flatfooted and not prepared for either scenario…. 10 Top Automakers by Market Cap…”  Read more Hmmmm….  Largely tongue-in-cheek but … when you consider Adam Jonas’ $175B cap value for Waymo?!? Alain

cid:<a href=High-Tech Degrees and the Price of an Avocado: The Data New York Gave to Amazon

K. Weise, Dec 12, “An avocado at Whole Foods costs $1.25. Columbia University handed out 724 graduate degrees in computer science over the past three years. And 10 potential land parcels in Long Island City are zoned M1-4, for light manufacturing.  New York provided all of these data points, and thousands more, to Amazon as part of its successful bid to woo the tech giant to town.

On Monday, New York City posted online the 253-page proposal it submitted, along with New York State, to Amazon in March. …”  Read more  Hmmmm….  Where some of the personal data goes.  Alain

cid:<a href=Uber Is Said to File for an I.P.O. as It Races Lyft to a Public Debut

M. Issac, Dec 7, “Uber confidentially filed paperwork on Thursday to go public, according to two people with knowledge of the matter, officially moving toward what is expected to be one of the biggest and most anticipated tech company stock market debuts ever.

The ride-hailing company filed its paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission on the same day that its rival Lyft also filed for an offering, said the people, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. Each company is rushing to beat the other to the public markets in the first half of next year amid a fair climate for technology I.P.O.s and worries of a potential economic recession….”  Read more Hmmmm….  I buy high, sell low, so I guess that I’ll be all over this one. 😉 Alain

cid:<a href=Ethics, Politics, and Whistleblowing in Engineering

R. Milleron, Dec 2018, “The aim of this book is to generate a strong operational ethic in the work of engineers from all disciplines. It provides numerous examples of engineers who sought to meet the highest ethical standards, risking both professional and personal retaliations. In short, it presents the fields of engineering ethics in the context of actual conflict situations on the job, and points to an urgent need for a strong ethical framework for the profession. This book is about engineering students and practitioners truly understanding, valuing, and championing their wider critical role. Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate and champion of engineers, wrote the preface….” Read more Hmmmm….  Really important!  Alain

cid:<a href=Riding with Waymo One today

Waymo team, Dec 5, “…How does Waymo One work? We’ll start by giving riders access to our app. They can use it to call our self-driving vehicles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can ride across several cities in the Metro Phoenix area, including Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, and Gilbert. Whether it’s for a fun night out or just to get a break from driving, our riders get the same clean vehicles every time and our Waymo driver with over 10 million miles of experience on public roads. Riders will see price estimates before they accept the trip based on factors like the time and distance to their destination…”  Read more Hmmmm….  FYI  Alain

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

cid:<a href=Check out this hilariously awesome Vespa-inspired electric monowheel

M. Toll, Dec 13, “I think it’s fair to say that Vespa has defined the classic scooter style that has lasted in one form or another for over half a century. Interestingly though, that design hasn’t only been limited to scooters. A Barcelona-based company has borrowed those classic looks for a totally new type of vehicle: an electric monowheel.

And before you laugh, check out the specs. You might be more interested in this thing than you’d think…  The Monowheel Z-One can reach speeds as high as 35 km/h (22 mph) with its 1,000W central motor. The built-in 60V lithium-ion battery provides a range of between 45-60 km (28-37 miles) on a single charge. The entire device weighs around 70 kg (154 lbs) but can be easily rolled next to you and maneuvered due to its self-balancing nature.”  …”  Read more Hmmmm….   ?????? Alain

cid:<a href=Autonomous Vehicles Are Likely to Be a Slowly-Arriving Commodity

T. Davenport, Dec 12, “…One thing that the Honda lacks compared to my Tesla Model 3 is the “Autopilot” feature, for which I believe I paid an extra $5000. This was another bad decision on my part. Autopilot is an amusing feature to play around with, but thinking of it as a true autopilot would be a bad idea…I think Teslas are great cars, but I don’t think any auto manufacturer should charge big dollars for capabilities a car doesn’t really have.”  Read more Hmmmm….   Tesla charges for AutoPilot’s capabilities… $5,000 for 15 seconds on some road sections under some conditions.  That’s today’s marketplace price/performance.  Confusion exists throughout this marketplace.  Autonomy’s fantasy is simply no where near equivalent to AutoPilot’s reality.  Equating them is equivalent to equating pâté de foie gras with chopped liver or 24 karat gold with gold plating.  Very different. What is troubling is that Forbes and the auto companies perpetuate this confusion/conflation for obvious reasons… consumers pay more for fantasies than they do for realities.    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