Friday, January 31, 2020
4th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

  2020 Hyundai Sonata stars in Super Bowl ad all about ‘Smaht Pahk’

S. Szymkowski, Jan 27,  "Hyundai is going all in on Boston accents and the 2020 Sonata for its Super Bowl advertisement. As is often the trend these days, the ad made its debut on Monday less than a week before the big game, but it’s quite a clever spot…."  Read more Hmmmm…  This is as irresponsible of Hyundai as StupidSummon is for Tesla.  It may even be more irresponsible because Hyundai hasn’t included the over-the-air-information system that allows them to monitor its use.  Having the car do stuff without an alert and attentive driver in the driver’s seat implies liability on them (their system) if something bad happens.  Plus, squeezing a car into a parking place when the people can’t get into the adjacent cars is not the smartest move unless you’ve also made the Hyundai key proof.  There will be retaliation.  Alain

  Smart Driving Cars Podcast Episode 140

F. Fishkin, Jan 31, "How self driving tech can increase profits in the trucking industry. Locomation’s CEO joins Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser and co-host Fred Fishkin for that plus Waymo’s partnership with UPS, Tesla’s rocket ride, Hyundai’s Smart Park Super Bowl ad and more.  "  Just say "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

Tesla Q4 2019 earnings call: ‘Full Self-Driving’, battery day and insurance discounts

K. Hyatt. Jan 29, "Another Tesla quarterly earnings call has come and gone, and from it, we’ve learned a few things. Namely that there’s still a ways to go until "Full Self-Driving" is realized and that Tesla owners will be able to take advantage of using their vehicles for Tesla ridesharing even before the robotaxi fleet gets off the ground.

According to Elon Musk, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving system is just months away from being feature complete. What does feature-complete mean? Well, it’s not as exciting as it might sound. According to Musk’s definition, a feature-complete FSD system would have a non-zero chance of getting you from your home to your place of business without intervention.

If that takes the wind out of your sails, metaphorically speaking, then we apologize, but it’s almost refreshing to hear Musk talk about autonomy in such grounded terms. When it comes to Autopilot as a whole, we also found out that eventually, Tesla insurance policyholders will receive a discount based on how often they use the system. Musk cites this as making sense because the company will receive nearly real-time updates about a driver’s habits, allowing more accurate actuarial tables…" Read more Hmmmm… This is mostly good.  "Non-Zero chance" means nothing.  Only death and taxes have non-zero chances.   I imagine that Tesla has adopted my definition of Self-driving…  automated driving that requires an alert, attentive and licensed human driver behind the wheel willing and able to override the AV system in order not to crash or substantially violate traffic laws and regulations. This is the antithesis of Driverless… automated driving that does not require, nor desire, an alert,attentive and licensed human driver… . 

Adding "Full" in front of Self-driving is completely redundant.  The issue is not when might the AV work.  The issue is when may the driver stop being alert, attentive and/or licensed?  If it is Self-driving, the the answer is NEVER

For years I’ve been writing that these technologies deserve insurance discounts and that insurance can actually pay for the technology and reduce LOSS ( make $$$$) .  Note Tesla overnight… From $567 to $650. Wow!!!


  Tesla reports a fourth-quarter profit, and its stock soars again

R. Mitchell, Jan. 297, "Tesla is flying high. Its market value recently topped $100 billion. Auto sales have hit record highs. And on Wednesday, Tesla reported a profit for the final quarter of 2019 — its second quarterly profit in a row.

Company officials said the new Model Y crossover vehicle will ship by the end of this quarter, earlier than expected. That and the earnings — which on a per-share basis exceeded analyst expectations — sent Tesla’s stock price jumping again, to more than $600 a share.

While solidly in the black, fourth-quarter net income fell 25% compared with the year-ago quarter, to $105 million, as measured by generally accepted accounting principles. Revenue rose 2% year over year to $7.38 billion for the quarter. Of that, $133 million came from sale of regulatory credits…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Very impressive. But read on. "… That doesn’t mean the future’s all roses. Short sellers, who wager that the company’s share price will tumble, are still in the game, accounting for 20% of Tesla’s outstanding shares….Three of those analysts think Tesla shares are ultimately worth $600 or more, and six of them think it’s worth $300 or less, with one analyst’s target as low at $215…."  Alain

Opinion: More fuel for Tesla? Stock could join the S&P 500 by the end of the year

J. Reeves, Jan. 30, "Tesla has been disrupting the automotive industry and taking Wall Street by storm since its 2010 IPO. Its latest milestone: a trajectory that will take the electric vehicle manufacturer to “comfortably” more than 500,000 vehicles sold this year.  Tesla TSLA, +0.34%  has turned plenty of heads along the way, but one key milestone remains: inclusion in the closely watched S&P 500 index SPX, +0.31%   index of top U.S. stocks.

That could change in 2020 for however. Inclusion in the S&P depends on certain criteria, and Tesla already qualifies based on its share liquidity, domestic headquarters and market capitalization.

The final and perhaps most burdensome measure, however, is that “the sum of the most recent four consecutive quarters’ Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) earnings (net income excluding discontinued operations) should be positive as should the most recent quarter.” This is a feat Tesla hasn’t yet managed, but which finally appears within reach…."  Read more Hmmmm… Most impressive. And to think … not only is EV technology at the center of this but so is AV technology.  Tesla may in fact be doing more to get the the public comfortable with AV as it is doing to get the public comfortable with EV. 

Just a thought from my perspective…  Generating the base revenue is the EV aspect. Generating the incremental revenue that is delivering the profitability is the AV aspect.    Alain

Tesla shorts ‘trampled,’ face more than $1.5 billion in paper losses

C. Assis, Jan. 30, "Tesla TSLA, +0.58%  short sellers are out more than $1.5 billion in additional paper losses, S3 Analytics said in a note Thursday, a day after the Silicon Valley car maker topped Wall Street quarterly expectations, said its Model Y is being made ahead of schedule, and set itself to sell more than half a million cars in 2020.

“Tesla’s short squeeze will probably shift into a higher gear as some short sellers re-evaluate their short thesis and begin to trim or close out their short exposure,” said S3, a financial technology and analytics firm….

So far in 2020, Tesla shorts are down $5.6 billion in mark-to-market losses, S3 said.  Tesla short interest is at $14.28 billion with 24.58 million shares, or around 18% of its float, shorted. Short sellers have cut their exposure by 1.78 million shares, or nearly 7%, over the last 30 days. …

Tesla remains the No. 1 shorted U.S. stock, with Apple Inc. AAPL, +0.04%  in second place, garnering $13.5 billion, or 0.9% of its float, in short interest…"  Read more Hmmmm… Speaks for itself.   Alain

  Korean Government Announces Safety Standards for Level 3 Automated Vehicles

Jan 6, " The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) announced safety standards for Level 3 Automated vehicles. This is the first safety standards on automated driving system in the world that enables commercialization of Level 3 automated vehicles….

The main contents of the new standards for Level 3 automated vehicles include Driver Availability Recognition System (DARS), ALKS safety, transition demand, emergency maneuver, minimum risk maneuver and fall back system…

 Criteria for deeming driver availability include: input to vehicle control system in the previous 30 seconds, intentional head and body movement, and no eye closure in the past 4 seconds.… what does this mean? I blink and the system brakes?  Must be a translation issue… 

– As soon as the system detects inability of the driver, the system shall provide a distinctive warning until appropriate actions of the driver are detected or until a transition demand is initiated…"  Read more Hmmmm… This isn’t "Level 3"  its is really Tesla AutoPilot.  In any case, Level 3 is the most problematic of all of the "SAE Levels".  To me, this standard is a "Level 4" Driverless system that goes between Operational Design Domains (ODD) using a human driver.  It is sold to licensed individuals and requires them to remain in the car when using it.  In that process, the OEM/seller is responsible for its operation within the ODDs.  I doubt that any OEM is going to accept that responsibility on a product that it sold to an individual.  It is nice that the Korean Government announced a safety standard, but what it should have done is to require that the OEMs bear the responsibility of the automated operation within the ODDs; else, ban the sale of the item to individuals unless the licnesed individuals remain alert and attentive at all times…  which makes these vehicles "non-Level 3".  Alain

  Open Data Access Challenges Entire Car Ecosystem

M. Sena, Frb 2020,"SERVICE AND PRODUCT providers in the European automotive ecosystem have been growing more and more restive over
the years. These providers include those who contract with the automotive OEMs to deliver services to owners and drivers, such as roadside assistance providers (B2B and B2B2C), and those who sell directly to the owners and  drivers of cars,such as insurance providers(B2C). Their apprehension has escalated in direct proportion to the degree of connectivity the automotive OEMs are embedding into the cars they manufacture and the amount of data being collected and used by the car OEMs. Insurance companies, motor clubs, tire manufacturers, parts distributors, independent repair workshops, among others, have now decided it’s time to act…."  Read more Hmmmm… An in-depth look at the networked car as well as very interesting comments about high speed rail and hyper-loop (which should be in the Sunday Supplement portion of this newsletter.  For may reasons, least of which is NIMBY. I’m not a hyper-loop fan.)  Alain

  Partnering with UPS to deliver on our mission

T.Mawakana, Jan 29, "We’ve built the Waymo Driver so that it can be deployed across a variety of vehicle platforms, as well as business applications that encompass not only transporting people, but also transporting goods. At Waymo, our mission is to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going so it’s important that we focus on creating a safer driving experience for all types of vehicles, including those that deliver goods to our homes and businesses each day. The Waymo Driver can power a range of use cases from ride-hailing to trucking and logistics, to delivery, to public transportation and even personal cars (down the road!).

For instance, we extended our partnership with AutoNation last year to include an autonomous parts delivery pilot. Through this pilot, AutoNation now delivers car parts that fit safely and securely in our Waymo Chrysler Pacifica minivans, on demand.

In our efforts to continue expanding our delivery business, we’re excited to announce a new strategic partnership with UPS, starting with a first-of-its-kind deal for the Waymo…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Of course.  See also Timothy Lee’s take on this.   Alain

  Aurora can now give the public rides in its self-driving cars

K. Korosec, Jan 29, "…The California Public Utilities Commission granted Aurora a permit, which was posted on its website Wednesday, to participate in the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot. Aurora confirmed the approval.

“This permit lets us give rides powered by the Aurora Driver and shows that we’re committed to being good partners to California and the Commission,” an Aurora spokesperson said when asked about the permit.  The company didn’t provide more details about when it might start letting passengers in its vehicles. And based on the company’s focus, it’s likely this won’t be a broad robotaxi service.

Aurora has never planned to operate a robotaxi service. Instead, it has focused on building the self-driving stack and working with partners to integrate into vehicle platforms. Read more Hmmmm…  Aurora is now the 5th company to obtain such permission from the CPUC.  Only two… Waymo and GM/Cruise are using the permits to any substantial extent.   Alain

  Uber’s self-driving cars are a key to its path to profitability

S. Shetty, Jan 28, "… Khosrowshahi’s goal is to get Uber to profitability by 2021. And the sharpest arrow in the company’s arsenal to achieving profitability is also the least understood. Uber’s self-driving unit, the Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), has an estimated valuation of over $7 billion … If Uber could find a buyer @ $7 Billion they should take it….  , representing more than10% of Uber’s current market cap of about $61 billion.

And yet, Uber’s management or even the analyst community rarely discuss it. But speaking to those in the know you get a sense that this group which houses Uber’s self-driving car ambitions is the real key to Uber owning the future of mobility, a space that’s now seeing fierce competition from tech and automakers alike…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Driverless cars are the key to its profitability.  Certainly what they have now and the other things that they’ve invested in, have no chance at becoming profitable.  Alain


  Why Starship won’t have an abort system… but should it?!

T. Dodd, Dec 16, "SpaceX’s upcoming megarocket, Starship, is quickly coming to life before our eyes. Starship will be the biggest, most powerful rocket to ever fly. Capable of taking 100 people to the surface of Mars AND just as important, back. Not only that, it’ll be a fully reusable rocket. The holy grail of spaceflight… Something that could be absolutely game changing, ushering in a new era of humanity’s access to space.

BUT as excited as I am about Starship, there does seem to be something missing. An abort system. How can Starship be safe enough for humans if it won’t have a way to escape from a failing rocket? An abort system, or a launch escape system, can pull crew away from a doomed rocket, saving their lives in the event of a catastrophe. They’re pretty much universally accepted as a necessity if humans are on board…."  Read more Hmmmm…  What it takes trying to be safe.  Video Blog version.  Alain

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

There are so many bad articles.  I’m overwhelmed.  C’mon Man!  Alain

Sunday Supplement


  GM’s newest Super Cruise feature almost makes it a true Tesla Autopilot rival

S. Lekach, Jan 28, "… The new Enhanced Super Cruise will allow automatic lane changes in the 2021 CT4 and CT5 Cadillac sedans and the 2021 Escalade, all coming out later this year. Super Cruise first came out in 2017…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Half-baked because it currently "vapor ware".  I won’t be out until the end of this year, if you can get it. Am I so lazy that I can’t change lanes by myself??? How often do I change lanes???  Should be few.  Alain


Calendar of Upcoming Events:


4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit

evening May 19 through May 21, 2020

Princeton University

Princeton, NJ

On the More Technical Side