Saturday, October 26, 2019

  Elon Musk: Tesla Full Self-Driving in early access this year, without supervision next year

F. Lambert, Oct. 26, "Elon Musk has clarified Tesla’s timeline to achieve “Full Self-Driving,” which he thinks could be in the early access program, at least in a limited way, by the end of the year.


The CEO said: "Yeah, feature-complete, I mean, it’s the car able to drive from one’s house to work, most likely without interventions. So it will still be supervised, but it will be able to drive — it will fill in the gap from low-speed autonomy with Summon. You’ve got high-speed autonomy on the highway, and intermediate speed autonomy, which really just means traffic lights and stop signs."…


"So feature-complete means it’s most likely able to do that without intervention, without human intervention, but it would still be supervised. And I’ve gone through this timeline before several times, but it is often misconstrued that there’s three major levels to autonomy. There’s the car being able to be autonomous, but requiring supervision and intervention at times. That’s feature complete. Then it doesn’t mean like every scenario, everywhere on earth, including ever corner case, it just means most of the time."…


"While it’s going to be tight, it still does appear that we will be at least in limited early access release of a feature-complete Full Self-Driving feature this year. So, it’s not for sure, but it appears to be on track for at least an early access release of a fully functional Full Self-Driving by the end of this year."…


"And then, there’s another level which from a Tesla standpoint, we think the car is safe enough to be driven without supervision. Then the third level would be that regulators are also convinced that the car can be driven autonomously without supervision. Those are three different levels."… "Read more  Hmmmm…  So it will be the ‘regulator’s’  fault????  Reader Beware! All must be read very carefully, especially those that I highlighted.  It’s a roll of the dice (that may be, most likely, doesn’t mean, … are loaded)!


Viewer Beware!   Interesting that the image used in this article doesn’t have a bounding-box around the car immediately in front.  Isn’t this the most important object in that image?  Nor is there one around the nearest stationary object in the lane ahead, the sign.  Has it already determined that the sign can be passed under? I doubt it! 

Elon, you sell cars to individuals at which point you relinquish control and responsibility, and thankfully, liability, for that car.    Please do everything that you can to be certain that your cars are used responsibly at all times and that those individuals are alert and in control at all times; else, you’ll re-acquire the responsibility and the liability.  The burden of liability is not good for any business.  Liability without control is TrainWreck.  The regulators won’t save you.  Alain 

  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 129

F. Fishkin, Oct 27, "Elon Musk is telling Tesla owners that feature complete self driving is coming soon…and surprises Wall Street with a profit. And traffic deaths in the U.S. are declining. Is safety tech playing a role? Join Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that and more.. . "  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

  U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Announces Further Decreases in Roadway Fatalities

Press release, Oct 22, "The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today released highway crash fatality data for 2018, showing a 2.4 percent decline in overall fatalities, the second consecutive year of reduced crash fatalities….Click here to view the 2018 fatal motor vehicle crashes overview research note."  Read more  Hmmmm…

  Traffic fatalities are down in the U.S., but more pedestrians and bicyclists are being killed, officials say

L. Lazo, Oct 22, "Nearly 36,600 people died on U.S. roadways last year, a decrease of 2.4 percent from 2017, according to data released Tuesday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Traffic fatalities fell for the second-straight year in 2018, the agency said, and the downward trend continues, with traffic deaths down 3.4 percent in the first six months of this year.

The statistics should be reassuring to jurisdictions that have in recent years embraced new traffic safety programs targeted at making roads safer and lowering traffic deaths, which have been steadily increasing since 2014…"  Read more  Hmmmm…  Maybe it is general "safety programs" but specifically it is likely that better crash mitigation technology is in more of the vehicles that are on the road each day and that crash avoidance technology is also beginning to be in sufficient cars that it is beginning to appear in the statistics.  I doubt that we are texting less, less distracted or behaving better as we drive.  Alain

  Tesla surprises with a profit in the third quarter

K. Korosec, Oct. 23, "Tesla  returned to profitability in the third quarter after two periods of losses surprising Wall Street and sending shares higher in after-market trading, according to earnings reported after the market closed Wednesday.

The automaker’s third-quarter results included $143 million in net income, or 80 cents a share, compared with $311 million, or $1.82 a share, in the same year-ago period. Tesla earned $342 million, or $1.91 a share, in the third quarter when adjusted for one-time items.  Analysts had expected a loss of 46 cents per share and revenue of $6.42 billion, according to data compiled by FactSet.

Tesla reported revenue of $6.3 billion, slightly lower than the $6.35 billion generated in the previous period and more than 7.5% lower than the same quarter last year. But it was in line with analysts expectations.  Tesla said it is “highly confident” deliveries will exceed 360,000 deliveries this year…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Not bad!  Tesla Share Price, Uber Share Price, Lyft Share Price  Alain

  Toyota’s not alone in the slow lane to self-driving cars

N. Shrouzu, Oct 25, "When Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) launches its all-battery Lexus next year, the luxury model will be able to drive autonomously on highways, a big step for the Japanese automaker, which has so far trailed rivals in bringing self-driving cars to market… Right now, component manufacturers and venture companies working on the technology “are revising their timeline for AI deployment significantly,” Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama told a small group of reporters this week…Toyota next year will release its first so-called “Level 2” autonomous car, capable of driving itself on the highway, “from entrance to exit, with traffic merging capability,” Tomoyama said.

Other automakers already market “Level 2” cars, but a growing number are pushing out their schedules to develop future autonomous technologies, citing the high hurdle to clear before enabling cars to perform more driving tasks." …"  Read more  Hmmmm… Not at all surprising.  The traditional OEMs were never going to be disrupters that to put Driverless Mobility-as-a-Service cars out there.  It isn’t their business model, and it won’t be.  Self-driving (I dare say "Level 2") is and has always been their sweet spot.  It sells cars.  Just look at what Elon has done. (even without showrooms!).  Now watch these same companies throw monkey wrenches into those Driverless mobility machines to protect their conventional business model .  "Level 3" will never happen because traditional OEMs would have to assume responsibility/liability after relinquishing control to irresponsible consumers. Never Happen! That would destroy their elegant business model of: "sell it and forgetaboutit"; the buyer is is responsible; the buyer has to maintain it, the buyer has to insure it; not our problem; not our responsibility!  Never Happen! Alain

  INTERVIEW: Autonomous vehicles raise numerous regulatory issues

J. Hsieh, Oct 25, "Regulators frequently apply a not-so-invisible hand to manage the advent of new technology. They weigh the perceived social benefits of the innovation against the perceived dangers (physical, financial and moral). Examples include credit default swaps and other risk-spreading financial instruments, blockchain, bioengineering, fintech and medical advancements. This dynamic is also front-and-center in transportation safety, previously with seat belts, anti-lock brakes and air bags, and now in the field of automated driving systems (ADS).

Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence reached out to Mark Raffman, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Goodwin Procter LLP. Raffman concentrates his practice on complex product liability and consumer products litigation and advice. He advises on regulatory compliance audits and legislation as well as transactions posing product liability risks…

and labor has expressed concern about whether federal safety regulation will be sufficiently robust…"  Read more  Hmmmm…Here come the monkey wrenches.  Alain

  Updated: 42 Primers On Driverless Car Innovation And Disruption 

Chunka Mui, Oct. 22, "“Baloney” and “nonsense” captured the zeitgeist of many reactions to my early articles on the potential of Google’s self-driving car program. But, that was in 2013, when many viewed driverless cars as nothing more than a high-tech dalliance by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

How times have changed! Since then, Google’s self-driving car program has spun out into Waymo, an independent business unit valued at more than $100 billion (down from an earlier estimate of $175 billion). Waymo’s cars have driven more than 10 million miles autonomously on public roads and 10 billion miles in simulation mode using real world data.

While many technical, business, and market hurdles remain, Waymo’s efforts have sparked a global arms race to develop autonomous driving technology….


As I’ve written from the onset of this exploration, such commercialization threatens to throw trillions of dollars of economic value up for grabs in several industries, including automotive, energy, freight, insurance and real estate. Even more important for society, there could be huge potential effects on health, transportation, pollution, congestion and resource usage…. "  Read more  Hmmmm…  Chunka has certainly facilitated and led the ongoing discussion on this mobility/environmental/financial  r/evolution.  Keep up the great work.  Alain 

  Hyundai is launching BotRide, a robotaxi service in California with and Via

K. Korosec, Oct. 25, "A fleet of electric, autonomous Hyundai Kona crossovers — equipped with a self-driving system from Chinese autonomous startup Pony .ai and Via’s ride-hailing platform, will start shuttling customers on public roads next week.

The robotaxi service called BotRide will operate on public roads in Irvine, California, beginning November 4. This isn’t a driverless service; there will be a human safety driver behind the wheel at all times. But it is one of the few ride-hailing pilots on California roads. Only four companies, AutoX,, Waymo  and Zoox have permission to operate a ride-hailing service using autonomous vehicles in the state of the California.

Customers will be able to order rides through a smartphone app, which will direct passengers to nearby stops for pick up and drop off. Via’s expertise is on shared rides, and this platform aims for the same multiple rider goal. …"  Read more  Hmmmm…OK.  I hope that they will report their disengagements while providing this service separately from their other drivered-driverless operations and tests. Alain

   I rode in one of Zoox’s self-driving cars in San Francisco — and it was more comfortable than the …

M. Matousek, Oct 26, "…My vehicle’s safety driver appeared to take control from the autonomous-driving software at least three times.  A Zoox representative said the vehicle’s safety driver took control only once for "a non-safety-related-reason."…

My ride with Zoox showed that its technology, at least in the narrow confines of a company-selected route …Operational Design Domain… , can handle at least some of the challenges of city driving…." Read more  Hmmmm…  Impressive, but not yet good enough in this Operational Design Domain (this route under these environmental/traffic conditions).  To have anything other than academic value, it can’t have the driver "take control".  To deliver societal value it can’t afford to have a driver/attendant.. Until then it can only loose money.  Alain  

  Steve Wozniak: No Self-Driving Cars in My Lifetime

B. Howard, Oct 25, "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak believes in technology. But that doesn’t extend to believing autonomous driving is happening soon. Wozniak, now 69, says autonomous cars that don’t need a backup driver on board probably won’t happen “in my lifetime.” One culprit: Artificial intelligence probably isn’t intelligent or flexible enough to be better than even the worst drivers.

Wozniak was a keynote speaker at the first J.D. Power Auto Revolution conference, which the company set up to  “fuel innovation and drive an auto revolution,” with a bit less emphasis on the how-to of selling and marketing cars than some other Power programs….

Wozniak said, " .. We’ve got to have this machine learning, artificial intelligence we call it. It’s not really intelligent. AI is ‘alien influenza.’"
…"  Read more  Hmmmm… I love it…"AI is ‘alien influenza.’"  Alain

  Boeing Pilot Complained of ‘Egregious’ Issue With 737 Max in 2016

D. Gelles, Oct 18, "For months, Boeing has said it had no idea that a new automated system in the 737 Max jet, which played a role in two fatal crashes, was unsafe.  But on Friday, the company gave lawmakers a transcript revealing that a top pilot working on the plane had raised concerns about the system in messages to a colleague in 2016, more than two years before the Max was grounded because of the accidents, which left 346 people dead.

In the messages, the pilot, Mark Forkner, who played a central role in the development of the plane, complained that the system, known as MCAS, was acting unpredictably in a flight simulator: “It’s running rampant.”…  “Based on what he was told, Mark thought the plane was safe, and the simulator would be fixed.”

Flight simulators replicate real cockpits and are used to test planes during development. They can sometimes behave unpredictably, depending on their configuration…. "  Read more  Hmmmm… A fundamental problem with simulators.  What were pilots seeing in the planes that they were actually test flying???   Also: "… Read the messages between the Boeing pilot and his colleague about the MCAS issue…"   Alain

  Who tips best on Uber? Economists analyzed 40 million trips

A. Van Dam, Oct 22, "Nearly 60 percent of Uber riders never tip, about 1 percent always tip, and those who tip leave an average of $3, according to a new analysis of the company’s rollout of in-app tipping in 2017. And if you loved those gratuity factoids, rest assured these are just the tip of the iceberg.

We all have theories or stereotypes about who tips best and which workers earn the most, but honest-to-goodness tipping facts are rare. Economists struggle to get data on gratuities, even though they total about $36.4 billion each year in the U.S. and form a load-bearing pillar of many Americans’ livelihoods.  …

But this week, we got a truckload of new tip factoids in an analysis of more than 40 million Uber trips circulated as a working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research. " Read more  Hmmmm…  A most interesting paper.  I always tip (unless I forget). One must keep in mind that tipping was frowned upon at Uber for years.  "… The data was collected during four weeks in August and September of 2017, soon after Uber added tip support in June and July of that year. …"  To me this puts a damper on the findings unless one is interested in what happens during a transition.  But apparently, things haven’t changed much.

Comment from one of my good friends that drives for Uber: "Alain: if you divide the number of trips into total amount tipped, its pennies on the dollar. Maybe for every 25 rides someone will tip (maybe $2-$3). It’s not worth recording or tracking. This is why Uber and Lyft have so many other built-in incentives in the app to increase revenue for the driver. However, you have to realize, drivers are getting financially screwed no matter which way you total and count it. The wear and tear on the car, gasoline expense and the wear and tear on the drivers physical and mental health should be looked at." Larry.    Alain

  Lime’s Loss to Top $300 Million in 2019

C. Weinberg, Oct 21, "Scooter rental operator Lime has touted itself as one of the fastest-growing startups ever, blanketing cities such as Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles with thousands of two-wheeled electric vehicles. But the firm is losing money nearly as quickly as it expands in part because the company’s vehicles tend to break down before they can generate much cash.

Lime’s operating loss is likely to surpass $300 million this year, on more than $420 million of gross revenue, according to financial projections viewed by The Information. This is the first detailed picture to emerge of Lime’s financial performance, but details of the previous year’s results couldn’t be learned.  The big loss in 2019 is largely due to significant expenses such as the depreciation of its scooters and how much it costs to run warehouses that repair and position the vehicles. The company has projected it would cut operating losses in half next year as the reliability of its scooters improves, while pushing gross revenue past $1 billion, according to the financial information…."  Read more  Hmmmm…   Lyft Stock Price, Uber Stock Price, Not pretty.  We need some lipstick here. Alain

  In the Van With the ‘Juicers’ Who Round Up and Recharge Lime Scooters

S. Carpenter, Oct 25, "Michelle and Gonzalo Cabezas begin their nightly scavenger hunt at 10. That’s when they start looking for the Lime scooters that people rent and ride by the minute — and leave wherever they please.

“People take them to the darnedest spots,” Mrs. Cabezas said from the passenger seat of her husband’s cargo van in northeast Los Angeles.

The Lime app was open on her iPhone, navigating toward the night’s first bounty, a sideways scooter a few houses from their own driveway. They’d earn $4.50 to pick up and recharge it…"  Read more  Hmmmm… Optimal Empty Vehicle Repositioning the GigWorker way.  Does it scale?  Related read.  Alain


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

  Researchers develop platform for scalable testing of autonomous vehicle safety

A. Arp, Oct 25, "…The group analyzed all the safety reports submitted from 2014-2017, covering 144 AVs driving a cumulative 1,116,605 autonomous miles. They found that for the same number of miles driven, human-driven cars were up to 4000 times less likely than AVs to have an accident. … OK, we now have the ceiling, now what about the floor and some characteristics about the distribution between the floor and the ceiling.  Without that you can’t conclude anything and especially not the next sentence! …   "This means that the autonomous technology failed, at an alarming rate, to appropriately handle a situation and disengaged the technology, often relying on the human driver to take over…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  C’mon Man!  The data reported by California DMV doesn’t include the traffic or roadway conditions during which those data were collected and no data was collected in those same conditions as to the "safety" of conventionally driven cars during those conditions.  For all we know, some/many of those conditions included those where conventional drivers would have crashed and disengagements didn’t occur.  For all we know, the floor might be that AVs were up to 4000 times less-likely than human-driven cars to have a crash (they aren’t accidents).  Its all about the assumptions and the assumptions aren’t stated, and if they were we may well find them to be questionable at best.  C’mon Man!!!  Alain

Simply ClickBait


Tesla Smart Summon Bonanza — 7 Races

Z. Shahan, Oct. 22, "Tesla Smart Summon was all the rage for a few days on Tesla Twitter and Tesla YouTube. For one obvious reason — it’s fun! More thoughtfully (putting on my serious face), it’s an amazing step forward toward door-to-door fully self-driving Teslas. That’s at least half the excitement — what it indicates is coming, much more than what is here today.

As soon as Smart Summon rolled out, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Tesla owners were eager to see what Smart Summon could do and what its limitations were. That included me, a new Tesla buddy of mine, and a friend of his who happened to be in town at the Supercharger where we had decided to meet…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  See videos… So incredibly bad and totally irresponsible of Tesla to have put this out there.  Can you imagine what these irresponsibles would do if they had access to a driverless car.  I guess I need to start calling for the imposition of regulations that ban the sale of driverless and remote controlled cars the general public.  Given the way that many misuse their conventional car maybe all personal car ownership should be banned…. Just kidding 😉. Alain

Tesla’s ‘Smart Summon’ Doesn’t Act So Smart In Parking Lot Incident

B. Anderson, Oct 26, "…the Tesla begins to aggressively veer to the left at the very same moment a black Honda Accord makes a turn in…."  Read more  Hmmmm…  See video  So bad!!!  Not at cute!  Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events:

4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

evening May 19 through May 21, 2020

On the More Technical Side