Friday, February 21, 2020
8th edition of the 8th year of SmartDrivingCars

   Motor Vehicle Deaths are Estimated to Have Dropped 2% in 2019

Press release, Feb. 20, "For the second consecutive year, the U.S. experienced a small decline in roadway deaths, according to preliminary estimates released today from the National Safety Council. In 2019, an estimated 38,800 people lost their lives to car crashes – a 2% decline from 2018 (39,404 deaths) and a 4% decline from 2017 (40,231 deaths). Approximately 4.4 million people were seriously injured[i] in crashes last year – also a 2% decrease over 2018 figures…


Research to definitively determine why fatalities have decreased for the last two years is likely to lag several years. However, the NSC preliminary estimate signals that the country may be experiencing the benefits of several risk mitigation actions implemented in the last few years…


And today, the majority of newly manufactured vehicles include advanced driver assistance systems such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning systems, backup cameras and adaptive headlights, all of which are proven to reduce the severity of crashes or prevent them altogether…."  Read more Hmmmm… Safe-driving cars may well be beginning to deliver real societal benefits.  And , once the OEMs get AEBs to really work, even more lives may be saved.  And, this has come about by the public sector spending almost no money and Washington staying out of it. 


Safe-driving cars that have automated features that keep us from misbehaving when we drive is the way to improved safety.  If we want to also capture the societal benefits of improved mobility, then we have the automated features replace the driver.  We will likely pay a slight safety penalty by completely replacing the driver, but that replacement is necessary in order for us to capture the affordability and scalability necessary to attain substantive societal benefits.  Alain

  Smart Driving Cars Podcat Episode 143 – T. Bolat

F. Fishkin, Feb 20, "Declining roadway deaths and injuries may have something to do with safe vehicle technology says Princeton’s Alain Kornhauser. And new tech from companies like WaveSense mean it is just getting started. Join Kornhauser, co-host Fred Fishkin and WaveSense CEO Tarik Bolat for that plus the latest on Tesla, Subaru, Jaguar Land Rover and more.   "Alexa, play the Smart Driving Cars podcast!".  Ditto with Siri, and GooglePlay …  Alain

    Draft Program  4th Annual Princeton SmartDrivingCar Summit   evening May 19 through May 21, 2020 (Tickets are limited, register before May 1)

A. Kornhauser, Feb 6, "The focus of the Summit this year will be moving beyond the AI and the Sensors to addressing the challenges of Commercialization and  the delivery of tangible value to communities.  We’ve made enormous progress with the technology. We’re doing the investment; however, this investment delivers value only if is commercialized: made available and is used by consumers in large numbers.  Demos and one-offs are "great", but to deliver value that is anywhere near commensurate with the magnitude of the investment made to date, initial deployments need to scale.  We can’t just have "Morgantown PRT Systems" whose initial deployment has been nothing but enormously successful for 45 years (an essentially perfect safety record, an excellent availability record and customer valued mobility).  Unfortunately, the system was never expanded or duplicated anywhere.  It didn’t scale.  It is a one-off. 


Tests, demos and one-offs are nice niche deployments; however, what one really needs are initial deployments that have the opportunity to grow, be replicated and scale.  In 1888, Frank Sprague, successfully deployed a small electric street railway system in Richmond, Va.  which became the reference for many other ciites.  "… By 1889 110 electric railways incorporating Sprague’s equipment had been begun or planned on several continents…" Substantial scaled societal benefits emerged virally from this technology.  It was eventually supplanted by the conventional automobile but for more than 30 years it delivered substantial improvements to the quality-of-life for many. 


In part, the 4th Summit will focus on defining the "Richmond" of Affordable Shared-ride On-demand Mobility-as-a-Service.  The initial Operational Design Domain (ODD) that safely accommodates Driverless Mobility Machines that people actually choose to use and becomes the envy of communities throughout the country. " Read more Hmmmm… Draft Program is in flux.  Consider all named individuals as "Invited yet to be confirmed". Alain

  MIT’s Ground-Penetrating Radar Looks Down for Perfect Self-Driving

B. Howard, Feb 18, "Ground-penetrating radar may soon be the sensor that makes your car autonomous in all weather conditions. It turns out that when you scan the 10 feet below the roadway surface, you get a unique identifier that is accurate to an inch or two. Mapping cars would scan the roadways once, then your self-driving car with its own ground-penetrating radar would rescan as you drive, matching its real-time scan to the master map. That would keep your car centered, even if pavement markings are covered by snow or ice, according to WaveSense, an MIT spinoff that already has already tested military applications…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Very interesting for lane centering and at "$100 a pop, may well be practical.   But, we still need to have good paint and plow the roads so that some of us that still drive can safely get to where we’d like to go?  Alain

  Tesla closes stock offering with $2.3 billion, stock price soars to $917

F. Lambert, Feb 19, "Tesla announced today that it closed its new $2 billion stock offering announced last week and the underwriters took the option to purchase an additional $300 million worth of shares.
Last week, Tesla announced a new stock offering of between 2.65 million and 3.1 million shares, which would help Tesla raise over $2 billion.

Today, the automaker confirmed that it closed the offering with the optional 397,500 shares:…

The company set the price of the offering at $767 per share and the stock price has since soared to close at $917 a share today." Read more Hmmmm… Wow!!  Alain

  Some of the Best Self-Driving Safety Tech Is in… a Subaru?

A. George, Feb, 15, "“Self-driving,” and even worse “Autopilot,” is pretty misleading term. Right now, in 2020, the most advanced systems are only capable of a handful of functions, none of which mean that you can check your inbox while behind the wheel. Even Cadillac’s Super Cruise, which allows you to take your hands off the wheel for minutes at a time, will stop working if you look away from the road."  s as "Invited As it should…   ;’;

"But once you temper those Jetsons expectations, modern safety systems are really impressive. … But Subaru is finally bringing this tech to the people. Its new models have automatic braking if you’re about to hit a car or pedestrian, automatic steering to keep the car in its lane, and cruise control that adjusts to traffic. None of those are new, but it’s remarkable to have these things standard have on a $23,000 new car…."  Read more Hmmmm…  Deserving praise! (even though Subaru may have paid for the placement of this article.)  Alain

  Why Dead Sonos Speakers Mean You’ll Never Own a Driverless Car

S. Abuelsamid, Feb 10, "…The beauty of software-defined systems like computers, mobile devices, and smart speakers is that new software can transform a product without touching the hardware. Up to a point. There are of course limits beyond which older hardware can no longer support new features. That’s why early generations of the Apple Watch can’t run WatchOS 6….

Until the rise of Tesla, end-of-support woes have never really been a problem for the auto industry, where support traditionally ended when you drove the car off the lot. This changes radically with the arrival of automated vehicles, and it’s why you will probably never own one.

For more than 130 years, the automotive business model has been to design, build, and sell vehicles to customers (or more precisely to dealers, who then sold to customers). Once you had the title to that vehicle, you were largely on your own. … Hardware changed every year (more or less chrome & fins) to accelerate obsolescence and get you back to the dealer to buy a new one…   For some number of years after purchase, manufacturing defects would be fixed under warranty. But aside from the inevitable effects of wear and tear from actually driving, the vehicle stayed fundamentally the same … But cosmetically/perceptually NOT the same; else you wouldn’t come back to the dealer... Sure you could buy aftermarket upgrades and modifications, but by the time the car was in your garage, the engineers … Stylists… who created it were already working on the next generation…. to change the perception, not the substance…

Up to this point, Teslas have been by far the most software-defined vehicles ever produced. A customer can pay to add the AutoPilot driving assist features to a three-year-old car with an in-app purchase and OTA update because the hardware to accept those updates was built-in at the factory. But you can’t do that to a 2014 model, because the necessary sensors and actuators just weren’t there.  … So the cycle time is longer, but is the grand scheme of things, it is the same… ”…

Automated driving in a vehicle is a safety-critical function… In the AV space, vehicles that don’t stay up to date and within specifications could pose a serious risk not just to the direct users, but to others on the road, including cyclists and pedestrians….

In the AV space, vehicles that don’t stay up to date and within specifications could pose a serious risk not just to the direct users, but to others on the road, including cyclists and pedestrians…"  Read more Hmmmm…  The OEMs can’t sell you a Driverless car because they’ll be on the hook if something happens.  If they put it in your hands they can’t maintain/control them well enough to keep things from happening.  Sharing responsibility here simply won’t work.  Somehow, in the past (and present) , if the wheel came off, it was your responsibility for not maintaining the car.  I can’t see it becoming the responsibility of buyer if the software is not maintained and the car crashes.  Plus, why own something that someone else maintains & controls?  If it really works, others will be out there renting it at very favorable terms.  The market simply isn’t there for personal ownership.  Alain

  Buying a Used Vs. New Car: Which Provides the Better Deals?

J. Blackley, Feb 15, "Tesla Model 3 leads the list of cars that are best to buy new
According to the latest study by automotive research firm and car search engine, the average one-year-old used car costs 20.1 percent less than its new version. However, some models have as little as a 5.2 percent difference, while others have price differences as high as 43.4 percent…"   Read more Hmmmm… Very interesting!  Results of old business model versus new business model.  Alain

  Tesla vehicles confirmed to be used in Elon Musk’s Boring Company Las Vegas Loop, watch breakthrough in real time

F. Lambert, Feb 14, "Tesla vehicles are now confirmed to be used in Elon Musk’s Boring Company Loop project to create an electric people mover at Las Vegas’ massive convention center.  You can watch them break through the first tunnel in real time." Read more Hmmmm… Watch video. It is happening.  Alain

  For Self-Driving Startups, Revenue Is Elusive, But Miles Add Up

D. Welsh, Feb 14, "May Mobility Inc.’s boxy white-and-green self-driving shuttle pulls up to a damp corner in downtown Detroit. Its big doors swing out revealing a safety driver and six seats that face each other. It’s more comfortable than a subway car or most buses, but not by much….

May  has managed to get a public service going by keeping it simple. It provides slow rides on easy fixed routes that serve a specific need. “Our progress is that we’ve delivered 200,000 revenue-generating rides,” said May Chief Executive Officer and founder Edwin Olson. “Some companies have the bankroll to be in R&D mode, but a few of us are working toward sustainable operations.”… "  Read more Hmmmm…  Simple is good, but simple needs to be safe enough to replace the    driver; else, we just have a conventional minibus service that has been available for a long time but has nothing but a niche market opportunity.  Alain

  Jaguar Land Rover unveils ‘autonomy ready’ electric shuttle concept

A. Hawkins, Feb 18, "Jaguar Land Rover is the latest automaker to unveil an electric and “autonomy ready” shuttle pod designed for shared use in urban settings. “Project Vector” is just a concept, but the UK carmaker said it hopes to have some version of the vehicle on the road for testing by 2021.

For now, the automaker is keeping most of its specs under wraps. The vehicle is four meters long, with a motor and battery pack built into a flat floor, but JLR won’t reveal the size of the battery or the range of the vehicle. The interior can be adjusted for private or shared use as well as for last-mile delivery service.


Unlike GM and Honda’s recently unveiled Cruise Origin autonomous shuttle, JLR’s concept has a driver’s seat and traditional controls for human use…" Read more Hmmmm…  I guess that it will be easy to remove the driver’s seat and traditional human control, but it shows that Jaguar/Land Rover isn’t really committed to driverless.   Alain

Image removed by sender.  A History of Street Networks: from Grids to Sprawl and Beyond

L. Aurbach, Jan 29, "Roadway networks are the basic frameworks of cities. They endure for centuries, influencing the ways that cities operate and their residents’ quality of life. A History of Street Networks explores the origins and institutionalization of modern roadway networks, particularly the networks of urban sprawl. The book surveys an international history of these powerful yet unheralded infrastructure systems….

More than one hundred individuals, visions, built projects, and policies are examined, representing the most important efforts to make and control roadway patterns. …"  Read more Hmmmm… Interesting reading.  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



  Tesla Autopilot gets tricked into accelerating from 35 to 85 mph with modified speed limit sign

F. Lambert, Feb 19, "A group of hackers has managed to trick Tesla’s first-generation Autopilot into accelerating from 35 to 85 mph with a modified speed limit sign that humans would be able to read correctly…." Read more Hmmmm… Cute, but optical illusions are easy and I might actually read some of these as 85 mph as I’m driving down the street.  By the way, where is the speed limit 85mph?   Certainly nowhere in New Jersey, and certainly nowhere where near where anyone would expect to see a 35mph sign.  So it is an easy over-the-air update to fix this one.  Don’t these folks have anything better to do???  Great, they got another 15 seconds of fame in Un-social media.   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